Why the Afterlife Isn’t Mentioned in the Torah

Three classic explanations.

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Comments (15)

(13) Emil Friedman, July 31, 2018 5:54 PM

The author of Psalm 30 did not appear to believe in the afterlife.

He said, "I pleased with the Lord: 'What gain would there be if I died and went down to the grave? Can dust thank you?...'"

Emil Friedman, August 5, 2018 5:05 PM

Psalm 6 (in Tachnun) says something similar:

"No one remembers You when he is dead. Who can praise You from the grave?

(12) Anonymous, July 26, 2018 5:17 PM

If there's no clear source in the written Torah,...

how do we know thatOlam Haba isn't just a theory that the writers of the Talmud came up with?

(11) Fred Ripley, May 12, 2018 3:36 AM


Thank you for offering your insight on this subject in the Torah.

I like all three ideas equally. Idea number one is we are to do right because it is the right thing to do rings true. The motivation for many things is not made clear by Moses but he says do it anyway. Reminds me of child training: if the child is about to put his hand on the hot stove then time does not permit a complete explanation as to why it is best not to do that.

Thank you again,

Fred Ripley

(10) Anonymous, May 11, 2018 3:43 PM


Cogent thought on a difficult question, Thank You for that display of wisdom.

(9) Anonymous, May 10, 2018 11:31 PM

The absence is why Judaism is shrinking

I don't expect my comments to persuade, because its against tradition, but the lack of some great reward has likely contributed to Judaism's small scale, despite our ability as a people, to 'punch above our weigh class." Way above. The smallness makes us more vulnerable, in a purely, tactical and logistical sense, Pure anthropology here, guys.

As far as an actual afterlife, I am guessing that the 'answer' exists in physics and cosmology, and the crazy thing know as computer science. 99.99 of the researchers in these studies are passionate atheists, so my expectation of a 'theory' emerging, having read about this all my life, will be very long in coming.

So, that's my take, please ignore as desired, for I am not selling posy's at the airport, for this observation. But a genuine a-life theory, beating out gilgul, and the mystical, might actually make life better for our peeps.

Adios all.

(8) David Levine, May 10, 2018 6:31 PM

Well Done Indeed

Well done indeed. The Rambam put it well and so well that the agnostic "Humanists" couldn't improve on it--be good for goodness sake. Don't look for rewards in either the afterlife or this life for good behavior and its manifestations, e.g. respect for other people, lending a helping hand to someone who needs it, and charitable giving. If the forgoing and other manifestations of good behavior cause you to feel better about yourself and the world, that's sufficient.

(7) Me’irah Iliinsky, May 10, 2018 2:58 PM

Well done!

This is a good articulation re: metaphor and the limits of human understanding of Olam haBa. Thank you.

(6) B. E., May 10, 2018 2:10 PM

I Agree with the Rabbi.....

It is abundantly clear that some religions focus on an afterlife rather than doing good on earth for good's sake. Some are so focused, and misled, that murdering those not of their religion motivates them because they are relying on it getting them to a better afterlife..That Torah does not explicitly mention afterlife in no way implies there is not one, but what we do HERE is vital to life HERE.

(5) Jim Wherry, May 10, 2018 1:36 PM

Great Video!

Hey, that's a really great discussion and I thank you!

- Jim Wherry

(4) Aviel, May 10, 2018 11:30 AM

Seems no point in going into depth about what is to a great extent unknown and/or uncomprehendable

Karet seems very undefined .I've heard being eternaly cut off form the source Gd, or premature death at the hand of heaven, Very different answers.Any thoughts?
Why would one run a greater risk of doing atrocities if too focused on next world, when it's clear that by doing atrocities one will not exp good in the world to come?
Why would one expect physical reward in a world that is purely spiritual? There is no body to enjoy physical sensations?
The closest we seem to get to experiencing a non physical reality is with dreams where we are certain that it is happening, only to wake up and know it was a dream.It seems to me one can rarely if ever understand their true meanings . Similarly it would make sense that the living are not able to understand "olam haba" so the Torah does not go into it as one will likely get it very wrong.

(3) Alaine Apap Bologna, May 8, 2018 8:49 PM

Superb explanation

Well done! You couldn't have explained it better.

(2) LOIS BARUCH, May 8, 2018 3:23 AM


(1) Dov, May 7, 2018 1:35 AM


First, can you please provide the citations for the 3 sources?
Next, the Rambam still has to deal with the fact that the Torah explicitly describes Reward and punishment in many places - like Parshat Bechukotai and Eikev.

Anonymous, May 11, 2018 2:07 AM

The Rambam answers your second question

I do't remember where (ironic given your first question) but I remember hearing it quoted from the Rambam that all the rewards mentioned in the Torah for observing the Torah are not actually given as reward but to facilitate performing more mitzvos. Rav Dessler uses this concept to clarify the whole concept of 'the reward for a mitzvah is a mitzvah' so you could find the citation in the Michtav MiEliyahu or it's English translation 'Strive for Truth' (volume 1)


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