Journey to Heaven: Exploring Jewish Views of the Afterlife surveys Jewish sources and historical periods as they relate to the question of the afterlife. Author Leila Leah Bronner has tackled a difficult and complicated subject. Throughout Jewish history – from the bible up until today – the “afterlife” has meant completely different things.
Bronner explains the difference between nefesh (soul or will), neshama (breath) , and ruach (spirit). While we tend to think of them as synonyms, they are very different terms and concepts and in different periods thinkers referred to them each differently. She describes the term to “take” and explains that in Psalms it may mean much more than simply “to die by God’s hand.”
The author takes on difficult concepts and expounds upon them through clear examples. She cites and explains the traditional Jewish understanding of Psalm 73:24 “You will lead me with your counsel and afterward take me with glory” to mean everlasting life in heaven. This is contrasted with “Sheol” which is some type of hell, as in Psalm 49:16, which reads “But God will redeem my soul from the hand of Sheol, for He will take me.”
Even more poignant is Read the rest of this entry »