Punishment & Heaven
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: I find your articles very encouraging and very uplifting. Thank you so much for your site. My husband and I are both recent converts (only about 3 years), but we have a long history of studying Judaism prior to our actual conversion. While I especially am in the very learning stage..I know 'basics', but desire to know more..I only hope and pray that I am able to go to bible studies or some place where I can learn more of Hashem's ways.
I have a few questions for you. First of all, I read in the book of Jeremiah about how G-d will punish those who practice idolatry, etc. yet, many Christians of which I was one, bow down to statutes or kiss them or pay money to them. Yet at the same time, I have believed now that all righteous people will inherit a place in the World to Come. Is this correct? That these people who either willingly or unwillingly do these things, plus worship on the wrong day (Sunday instead of Saturday) or do not follow the feasts ordained by G-d, will still have a place in the 'after life'? Then who are the people that Jeremiah talks of that will be destroyed? And what exactly then happens after a Jewish person dies? Do we go to a 'heaven' ? A 'peaceful' state...are we as Christianity teaches, reunited with loved ones?
Thanks again. I may have other questions for you at another time. Hope I can write to you again.
Mesora: I have not read or heard of being reunited with loved ones. But idolaters will have no heaven. One cannot enjoy a “heaven” (union with G-d's truth) if he denies G-d in his life.
There are varying views among the Rabbis regarding heaven. Ramban holds that after life here, our soul abides in what he refers to as the World of Souls, until at some point the Messiah comes. Then, one is resurrected into a physical human form again for eternity on Earth. Maimonides is of the opinion that one’s final state is not physical.
According to either view, one who denies G-d and is an idolater will not receive such a reward. As no attachment to truth was forged in his life, he has not prepared his soul for what is eternal, i.e., truth.