A rabbi got a phone call from a college student. He said to rabbi, “I am on my way and I need to ask you a question”. The boy sounds very anxious. He pulls up in front of a house, screeching to a stop, jumps out of the car, and in a panic he said to rabbi, “Am I going to hell?” The rabbi said,” Hold on your nerve”. This boy was not particularly religious or observant. The boy said to rabbi, “I have a roommate on campus, an evangelist, and who has been telling me that if I don’t convert I am gonna go to hell. So, for couple of months his roommate humoured him, for couple of months he ignored him and now it is getting to him. This boy now wants to know from rabbi whether he is going to go hell or not. The rabbi said to the boy, “why did you have to come all the way from Minneapolis to Saint Paul to ask me”. There is a Rabi on campus. Why didn’t you ask him? He said, “I did”. “What did the rabbi say?” He said, “We don’t believe in hell”. Rabi said, “You don’t like that answer”. The boy said that is not an answer. If I end up in hell, am I going say my rabbi doesn’t believe in it. The boy said I don’t want to know what he believes in, I want to know if I am going or not.
Are we really going to go hell? Do we even know what it is? What happens after death? There is a very sad story. There was a woman up in the Louth where Bob Dillon was born. She lost her husband at a very young age and she had two little girls. She went into trauma; she went into therapies for many years. She was now doing fine but her children had grown a little bit and they were asking where is daddy? She didn’t know what to answer. She was doing laundry in a Laundromat and there was a catholic friend who was doing laundry next to her, whom she knew. She asked her catholic friend the girls are asking for daddy I don’t know what to tell them. The friend said to her tell them that the daddy is now with the God, he is in paradise, among the angels and so on. She thought wow that is a beautiful idea. I am gonna go and tell my children. But then she thought, wait a minute, that is Catholicism. So, she called a rabbi in Minneapolis, which is a three hour drive from Louth. She made an appointment with the rabbi to come down to see him. She came down and asked rabbi do we believe in life after death. The rabbi said personally I don’t, my wife does, so you can believe it or not. She got very offended and was too polite to say anything to rabbi. She told her friend back in the Louth that I didn’t go there to ask him about his personal or wife’s opinion. I wanted to know what Judaism says about life after death. She went back to the catholic friend and said to her, “tell me more”. Walkaway there was an Israeli couple and she spoke to them as well and they said to her you went to a wrong rabbi.
The rabbi who is narrating this story met this rabbi who gave her a personal opinion at some convention. The narrating rabbi said to that rabbi that do you know that woman from Louth to whom you met. She is very angry at you. The rabbi said, “why?” The narrating rabbi said she came all the way down to hear what Torah says about life after death? You didn’t give her a satisfying answer. He said, “Oh these people… they want simplistic answers”. The narrating rabbi said, “ why simplistic, simple may be”. The narrating rabbi, “what do we know about life after death?” First thing, is there life after death? It is a ridiculous question. Life is a life. Life lives. Life can’t die. Just like death can’t live, life can’t die. Living things live. So, the question “is life after death a nonsense question”. Is there death after life? Can a living thing die? That is a good question and the answer is no. So, what happens is that the soul that is a living being enters the body and the body borrows the life from the soul because inherently the body is not a living thing, the soul is a living thing, and when they separate they go on their own ways. What happens, the body returns to the dust and the soul goes back being a soul among souls. So, you can call it anything but you are describing a continuous process of the living soul. So what die’s is dead and what is alive lives. So what lives on? Every aspect of your life. Your emotions, your memories, your relationships, your wisdom, your knowledge, your pains and pleasures.
They all live on……..
Life is true, life is real, and the death is not its ultimate goal. The dust you are and the dust you shall returnth was never said about the soul.
Dr. Arif Bashir is a PhD in Clinical Biochemistry and is an invited referee of Springers Tumor Biology, the Netherland