Do Jews believe in heaven and hell?
When it comes to the subject of the existence of heaven and hell, most contemporary Jews – meaning Jews who have graduated college, who are essentially secular and who consider themselves progressive – know exactly where they stand: There is no heaven, and there is no hell.
Most Jews deem belief in heaven and hell highly unsophisticated, even primitive.
But like many other positions held by contemporary Jews, this one, too, demands an explanation.
On almost no level – the Jewish, the religious, the moral, the emotional, the intellectual – does denying heaven and hell make sense.
By heaven and hell, I mean reward and punishment in the afterlife. I am not referring to a hell of eternal fire or a heaven filled with harp-playing angels. Any attempt to describe either heaven or hell is likely to sound silly. I remember one of my yeshiva rabbis telling us students that heaven is eternal study of the Torah. Now this may well have sounded terrific to my rabbi, but all I recall is wondering what the alternative is like – and I actually liked studying the Torah.Continue reading at www.jewishjournal.com