Text from my Second Afterlife Class - Rabbinic Understandings of the Afterlife:
For video click here - Second Afterlife Class Video
Terms & Concepts:
Mechiyat ha-metim – “the resurrection of the dead” views differ in Judaism but eventually it comes to be understood that the souls of all who have died will be judged and their fates determined.
Nefesh, ruach, neshamah – the three levels to the soul, roughly can be thought of as: life-force, personality, and spirit.
Yom ha-Din – Judgement Day, which may or not be associated with the end of time, but rather may follow for each person upon his or her own death.
Resurrection of the Dead - Sanhedrin 90-92 All Jews have a share in the World to Come, as it says, (Isaiah 60:21), “Thy people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” These have no share in the World to Come: One who says that [the belief of] resurrection of the dead is not from the Torah, [one who says that] that the Torah is not from Heaven, and one who denigrates the Torah. Rabbi Akiva says: also, one who reads outside books, and one who whispers [an incantation] over a wound, saying, (Exodus 15:26) “I will bring none of these diseases upon thee that I brought upon the Egyptians for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Abba Shaul says, also one who utters the Divine Name as it is spelled.
And why such [severity]? — A Tanna taught: Since he denied the resurrection of the dead, therefore he shall not share in that resurrection, for in all the measures [of punishment or reward] taken by the Holy One, blessed be He, the Divine act befits the [human] deed…
How is resurrection derived from the Torah? — As it is written, And ye shall give thereof the Lord's heave offering to Aaron the priest. But would Aaron live forever; he did not even enter Palestine, that terumah should be given him? But it teaches that he would be resurrected, and Israel give him terumah. Thus resurrection is derived from the Torah.
It has been taught: R. Simai said: Whence do we learn resurrection from the Torah? — From the verse, And I also have established my covenant with them, [sc. the Patriarchs] to give them the land of Canaan: '[to give] you' is not said, but 'to give them' [personally]; thus resurrection is proved from the Torah. (Exod. 6)
The Romans asked R. Joshua b. Hananiah: Whence do we know that the the Holy One, blessed he He, will resurrect the dead and knows the future? — He replied: Both are deduced from this verse, And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and rise up again; (Deut. 31.16)
It has been taught: R. Eliezer, son of R. Jose, said: In this matter, I refuted the books of the sectarians, who maintained that resurrection is not deducible from the Torah. I said to them: You have falsified your Torah, yet it has availed you nothing. For ye maintain that resurrection is not a Biblical doctrine, but it is written, [Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment], that soul shall utterly be cut off [Heb. hikkareth tikkareth]; his iniquity shall be upon him. Now, [seeing that] he shall utterly be cut off in this world, when shall his iniquity be upon him? surely in the next world. R. Papa said to Abaye: Could he not have deduced both [this world, and the next] from he shall be utterly cut off? — They would have replied: The Torah employed human phraseology.
This is disputed by Tannaim: That soul shall utterly be cut off [hikkareth] he shall be cut off in this world and [tikkareth] in the next: this is R. Akiba's view. R. Ishmael said: But the verse has previously stated, he reproacheth the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off are there then three worlds? But [interpret thus]: and [that soul] shall be cut off — in this world: hikkareth, he is to be cut off — in the next; whilst as for [the repetition] tikkareth, that is because the Torah employs human phraseology. How do both R. Ishmael and R. Akiba utilize his iniquity shall be upon him? — For that which has been taught: I might think that [this is so] even if he repented: therefore Scripture saith, his iniquity is upon him: I decreed [that he shall be cut off] only if his iniquity is still in him.
The Way of the Soul – Shabbat 152: R. Isaac also said: Worms are as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living, for it is said, But his flesh upon him hath pain. R. Hisda said: A man's soul (nefesh) mourns for him [after death] seven whole [days]. for it is said, And his soul mourneth for him; and it is written, and he made a mourning for his father seven days.
Rab Judah said: If there are none to be comforted for a dead person. ten people go and sit in his place. A certain man died in the neighborhood of Rab Judah. As there were none to be comforted, Rab Judah assembled ten men every day and they sat in his place. After seven days he [the dead man] appeared to him in a dream and said to him, 'Thy mind be at rest, for thou hast set my mind at rest.' R. Abbahu said: The dead man knows all that is said in his presence until the top-stone [golel] closes [the grave].1 R. Hiyya and R. Simeon b. Rabbi differ therein: one maintains, until the top-stone closes [the grave]; whilst the other says, until the flesh rots away. He who says, until the flesh rots away. — because it is written, But his flesh upon him hath pain and his soul within him mourneth.2 He who says, until the top-stone closes [the grave]. — because it is written, and the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit return unto God. (Eccl. 12:7)
Our Rabbis taught: 'And the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit return unto God who gave it': Render it back to him as He gave it to thee, [viz.,] in purity, so do thou [return it] in purity. This may be compared to a mortal king who distributed royal apparel to his servants. The wise among them folded it up and laid it away in a chest, whereas the fools among them went and did their work in them. After a time the king demanded his garments: the wise among them returned them to him immaculate, [but] the fools among them returned them soiled. The king was pleased with the wise but angry with the fools. Of the wise he said, 'Let my robes be placed in my treasury and they can go home in peace'; while of the fools he said, 'Let my robes be given to the fuller, and let them be confined in prison.' Thus too, with the Holy One, blessed be He: concerning the bodies of the righteous He says, He entereth into peace, they rest in their beds; while concerning their souls He says, yet the soul of my Lord shall be bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God. But concerning the bodies of the wicked He says, There is no peace saith the Lord, unto the wicked; while concerning their souls He says, and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as from the hollow of a sling.
It was taught, R. Eliezer said: The souls of the righteous are hidden under the Throne of Glory, as it is said, yet the soul of thine Lord shall be bound up in the bundle of life. But those of the wicked continue to be imprisoned, while one angel stands at one end of the world and a second stands at the other end, and they sling their souls to each other, for it is said, and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as from the hollow of a sling. Rabbah asked R. Nahman: What about those who are intermediate? Had I died I could not have told you this, he replied. Thus did Samuel say: Both these and those are delivered to Dumah (the guardian angel of the departed “Silence”) these enjoy rest, whereas the others have no rest. R. Mari said: [Even] the righteous are fated to be dust, for it is written… 'But it is written, for dust art thou, and unto dust thou shalt return? (Gen. 11:19).
Judgement Day – Rosh Hashanah 16b: It has been taught: Beth Shammai say, There will be three groups at the Day of Judgment— one of thoroughly righteous, one of thoroughly wicked, and one of intermediate. The thoroughly righteous will forthwith be inscribed definitively as entitled to everlasting life; the thoroughly wicked will forthwith be inscribed definitively as doomed to Gehinnom, as it says. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence. The intermediate will go down to Gehinnom and squeal and rise again, as it says, And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name and I will answer them. Of them, too, Hannah said, The Lord killeth and maketh alive, he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up.
Wrongdoers of Israel who sin with their body and wrongdoers of the Gentiles who sin with their body go down to Gehinnom and are punished there for twelve months. After twelve months their body is consumed and their soul is burnt and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous as it says, And ye shall tread down the wicked, and they shall be as ashes under the soles of your feet (Malachi 3). But as for the minim and the informers and the scoffers, who rejected the Torah and denied the resurrection of the dead, and those who abandoned the ways of the community, and those who ‘spread their terror in the land of the living’, and who sinned and made the masses sin— these will go down to Gehinnom and be punished there for all generations.