The Jewish Two Age Model with intermediate Messianic Age






The above diagram is a summary of the Judaic life scheme.  At the end of the present period of life a person dies and goes to Sheol where his spirit remains asleep.  At the end of the Messianic age all the dead both righteous and unrighteous will be resurrected by giving them a material body akin their own and are made to appear before the throne of judgment.  If they are found worthy of the eternal life they goes on to live in the Gan Eden and can eat from the tree of life.  If they are found wanting a period probation to make up the deficit is given in the GeHanna for a period of 12 months (usually) at the end of which if they are found worthy they go into the Gan Eden, If not depending on their status they may continue in the GeHenna or as for the most wicked they as annihilated separating body and soul.


As discussed previously there are difference in the period of probation as it can be repeated ages after ages till they are fully acceptable and worthy of the Gan Eden and fellowship with God.  Others maintain that the unrighteous if found unworthy are annihilated after the 12 months.



What the next world is, however, is far from clear. 

Olam HaZeh-  העולם הזה- means "this world". 


Olam Hazeh - This world; this present age.  According to the sages the Olam Hazeh will endure for 6000 years from the time of the impartation of the neshman (soul) to Adam in the Garden of Eden to the coming of the Messiah (the idea that there are 6000 years comes from that fact that there are 6 Alephs in the first verse of Tanakh, and each aleph represenets the numer 1000.)


The Olam Hazeh is sometimes divided into three distinct periods:

1.   the Age of Tohu - The age of desolation.  The first 2000 years of the Olam, I.e from the fall of Adam until the calling of Abraham

2.  The Age of Torah - The age of instruction, During this age, each of us is given the opportunity to honor the Name of the Lord, by performing mitzvot and learning Torah.  This is the time of "schooling" before the Messiah

3. The Age of Messiah - "Yemot Hamashiach" or the Messianic Era.  This is the period of time when the spirit of Messiah will usher in Yon YHVH, the "Day of the Lord", and the sabbatical millennium, the 1000 year reign of King Messiah will commence.  Prior to the arrival of the Messiah, however is the "time of Jacob's trouble," a period of tribulation and distress for Israel.



wpsF4B2Olam Habbah  

The world to come; the place of Reward for the Righteous.  This term is also used to refer to the Messiahnic Age.
Olam Habbah is sometimes divided into two distinct periods.

1.  The World of Souls - "Sheol"  Concurrent with the Olam Hazeh this is considered to be the place the soul's go after death.  This seems to be a disembodied state of preparation for reunification with body.

2. wpsF4B3 The World of Resurrection - Olam Ha -techiah 

For the righteous, this is the utopic world of future which "no eye hath seen" (Sanhedrin 99a, ! Cor 2:9).  In this  future state, the body ans soul are reunited to live eternally in perfection.  The world of Resurrection is thus the ultimate reward, the "new heavens and new earth" envisioned by the prophets.  The wicked and unbelieving, however, are consigned to Gehenna, a place of torment "


When the olam hazeh (this world / this age) is coming to an end and olam haba (the world to come) is about to begin.  According to Webster's New World Hebrew dictionary, olam haba also means Heaven or Paradise. The rabbis use the term Olam Ha-Ba to refer to a heaven-like afterlife as well as to the messianic era or the age of resurrection, and it is often difficult to know which one is being referred to. When the does speak of Olam Ha-Ba in connection to the afterlife, it often uses it interchangeably with the term Gan Eden (“the Garden of Eden”), referring to a heavenly realm where souls reside after physical death.


One general definition of the word olam: “What is hidden; specially hidden time, long; the beginning or end of which is either uncertain or else not defined; eternity, perpetuity.” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, pg 612, by H.W.F. Gesenius)  Hence the beginning and the end of these ages are undefined and depends on how history turns out to be.



In contemporary Judaism, the traditional, mainstream view of resurrection is maintained by the orthodox, but generally not by the non-orthodox. Outside the orthodox fold, ordinary believers often accept the notion of an immortal soul, not unlike the notion held by most Christians. Many also accepted reincarnation. And many secular and Reform Jews continue to view themselves as part of the tradition of Judaism, without adhering to any sort of afterlife belief.



In Hebrew there is no word for eternity?

There is no word for eternity in Hebrew language also.  Olam only means a period.  Life is one period after another. In Judaism we have only two periods as we have seen.  It is continuous life and you make tomorrow.


"The pure idea of eternity is too abstract to have been conceived in the early ages of the world, and accordingly  is ; not found expressed by any word in the ancient languages.   But as cultivation advanced and this idea. became more distinctly developed, it became necessary in order to express it to invent new words in a new sense, as was done with the words eternitas, perennitas etc, The Hebrews were destitute of any single word to express endless duration. To express a past eternity they said before the world was ; a future,when the world shall be no more. . . . The Hebrews and other ancient people have no one word for expressing the precise idea of eternity……………..


I pause here long enough to raise this question : Is it‘ possible that our heavenly Father had created a world of endless torture, to which his children for thousands of years were crowding in myriads, and that he not Only had not revealed the fact to them, but was so shortsighted that he had not given them a word to express the fact, or even a capacity sufficient to bring the idea of the eternal suffering to which they were liable, within the compass of their cognition? He created the horse for man's use, and created man capable of comprehending the horse; he surrounded him with multitudes of animate and inanimate objects, each of which he could name and comprehend, but the most important subject of all—-one which must be believed in, or eternal woe is the penalty, he not only had no name for, out was incapable of the faintest conception of the mere fact! Would, or could a good Father be guilty of such an omission?

The Greek Word Aiōn-aiōnios, Translated Everlasting - Eternal in the Holy Bible, Shown to Denote Limited Duration – John Wesley Hanson


Remember that God made the world with Hebrew letters by his words and it does not contain a word for eternity either as reward in heaven or as punishment in hell.


Resurrection and Reincarnation

Belief in the eventual resurrection of the dead is a fundamental belief of traditional Judaism. It was a belief that distinguished the Pharisees (intellectual ancestors of Rabbinical Judaism) from the Sadducees. The Sadducees rejected the concept, because it is not explicitly mentioned in the Torah. The Pharisees found the concept implied in certain verses.


Belief in resurrection of the dead is one of Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith. The second blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, which is recited three times daily, goes as follows,  Note that it contains several references to resurrection.


"You, O Lord, are mighty forever, You are the Reviver of the dead, You are greatlv able to save.* You sustain the living in lovingkindness, You revive the dead with greatcompassion, You support the falling, heal the sick, set free the bound and keep faith with those who sleep in the dust. Who is like You, O Master of mightv deeds? Who compares to You, a king who puts to death and restores to life, and brings forth salvation? And You are faithful to revive the dead. Blessed are You, O Lord, who revives the dead."


(Note: the Reform movement, which apparently rejects this belief, has rewritten the second blessing accordingly).


 As a result of the first sin all of Mankind became blemished together with Adam; all must take part in repairing the damage. If Mankind was to live forever in this new state, Man would remain imperfect forever. So, G-d, in His infinite wisdom, decreed that Man must die, for only through death and decay could the body and soul acquire their full tikun (repair) and eventually regain the perfection (shleimut) that was once theirs.


After the sin, the body became much more attached to evil, and the soul's job of refining and elevating the physical body became so difficult that one lifetime would no longer be enough.

The world at large was also affected by Man's sin and must also be fixed.

This is the deeper meaning of what the Sages say, that the world will be for six thousand years, then for one thousand years the world will be desolate, and then G-d will rebuild the world anew.

At that time G-d will resurrect the dead, reuniting body and soul. In this new state the soul will be able to purify the body completely, resulting in their total unification.

Body and soul will then both partake of the eternal life of reward which was intended from the beginning

The use of the term Gan Eden to describe “heaven” suggests that the rabbis conceived of the afterlife as a return to the blissful existence of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the “fall.” It is generally believed that in Gan Eden the human soul exists in a disembodied state until the time of bodily resurrection in the days of the Messiah.




wpsF4D5Although there are strains of modern Judaism that would argue against life after death, the vast majority of Judaism, Jewish history, Jewish theology and Jews themselves unequivocally believed in Olam Habah—the world to come.


Yes, there is heaven. Although the Hebrew Bible devotes little time to speculating upon it, the Jewish tradition is replete with varying efforts and depictions of what the “world to come” might be. Some notions imagine God as Avenu Malkenu (Our Father and King) sitting in judgment, delivering reward or punishment within the heavenly court. Others imagine a supernal Beit Midrash (House of Study) where the Tzaddikim (Righteous) study Torah all “day” long. The more mystical Jewish traditions envision a ladder of consciousness, at the very top of which resides the ineffable: God beyond description. As you descend down the ladder, distinction sets in with arch-angels, angels, spirits and other divine beings all the way down to this world, where souls are coming and going, entering this world and leaving this world (and even a Jewish notion of reincarnation—returning to this world once again).


Yes, Judaism believes in “heaven,” and yes, Judaism also believes in “hell.”


Again, there is no one depiction of the world on high, so too “the world below” is equally nuanced, sophisticated and diverse in description. The Torah refers to a place called “Sheol,” originally a physical location and later a spiritual destination for sinners and troubled souls. Some, particularly the Kabbalists, viewed Sheol as a necessary stopping point for all souls on their journey from this world to the next, a place to work through the sins of this life. Later, the Jewish mystical tradition expanded upon this notion, describing an even more complex version called “Gehinom.” Whereas some souls ascend straight to the Garden of Eden on High, the vast majority of souls have some length of a layover, most less than 12 months, at airport Gehinom—a place to work through life’s hangovers as they prepare for Olam Habah. The truly evil, however, are either eternally dammed to Gehinom or disposed of into the cosmic evil trash heap.


Thankfully, according to this view, for most of us it is just a matter of time before we’re on the next flight out (or up), en route to, yes, heaven.



Maimonides also referred to by the acronym Rambam for Rabbeinu Mōšeh bēn Maimon, "Our Rabbi Moses son of Maimon"






















Olam Ha-Ba: The Afterlife

Level: Basic

    Judaism believes in an afterlife but has little dogma about it

    The Jewish afterlife is called Olam Ha-Ba (The World to Come)

    Resurrection and reincarnation are within the range of traditional Jewish belief

    Temporary (but not eternal) punishment after death is within traditional belief

Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence.


However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. It is possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes, or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah, when they will be resurrected. Likewise, Orthodox Jews can believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented by demons of their own creation, or that wicked souls are simply destroyed at death, ceasing to exist.


The resurrection of the dead will occur in the messianic age, a time referred to in Hebrew as the Olam Ha-Ba, the World to Come, but that term is also used to refer to the spiritual afterlife. When the messiah comes to initiate the perfect world of peace and prosperity, the righteous dead will be brought back to life and given the opportunity to experience the perfected world that their righteousness helped to create. The wicked dead will not be resurrected.


There are some mystical schools of thought that believe resurrection is not a one-time event, but is an ongoing process. The souls of the righteous are reborn in to continue the ongoing process of tikkun olam, mending of the world. Some sources indicate that reincarnation is a routine process, while others indicate that it only occurs in unusual circumstances, where the soul left unfinished business behind. Belief in reincarnation is also one way to explain the traditional Jewish belief that every Jewish soul in history was present at Sinai and agreed to the covenant with G-d. (Another explanation: that the soul exists before the body, and these unborn souls were present in some form at Sinai). Belief in reincarnation is commonly held by many Chasidic sects, as well as some other mystically-inclined Jews.


The spiritual afterlife is referred to in Hebrew as Olam Ha-Ba (oh-LAHM hah-BAH), the World to Come, although this term is also used to refer to the messianic age. The Olam Ha-Ba is another, higher state of being.


In the Mishnah, one rabbi says, "This world is like a lobby before the Olam Ha-Ba. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall." Similarly, the Talmud says, "This world is like the eve of Shabbat, and the Olam Ha-Ba is like Shabbat. He who prepares on the eve of Shabbat will have food to eat on Shabbat." We prepare ourselves for the Olam Ha-Ba through Torah study and good deeds.


The Talmud states that all Israel has a share in the Olam Ha-Ba. However, not all "shares" are equal. A particularly righteous person will have a greater share in the Olam Ha-Ba than the average person. In addition, a person can lose his share through wicked actions. There are many statements in the Talmud that a particular mitzvah will guarantee a person a place in the Olam Ha-Ba, or that a particular sin will lose a person's share in the Olam Ha-Ba, but these are generally regarded as hyperbole, excessive expressions of approval or disapproval.


"Some people look at these teachings and deduce that Jews try to "earn our way into Heaven" by performing the mitzvot. This is a gross mis-characterization of our religion. It is important to remember that unlike some religions, Judaism is not focused on the question of how to get into heaven. Judaism is focused on life and how to live it. Non-Jews frequently ask me, "do you really think you're going to go to Hell if you don't do such-and-such?" It always catches me a bit off balance, because the question of where I am going after death simply doesn't enter into the equation when I think about the mitzvot. We perform the mitzvot because it is our privilege and our sacred obligation to do so. We perform them out of a sense of love and duty, not out of a desire to get something in return. In fact, one of the first bits of ethical advice in Pirkei Avot (a book of the Mishnah) is: "Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of receiving a reward; instead, be like servants who serve their master not for the sake of receiving a reward, and let the awe of Heaven [meaning G-d, not the afterlife] be upon you."


Nevertheless, we definitely believe that your place in the Olam Ha-Ba is determined by a merit system based on your actions, not by who you are or what religion you profess. In addition, we definitely believe that humanity is capable of being considered righteous in God's eyes, or at least good enough to merit paradise after a suitable period of purification.


Do non-Jews have a place in Olam Ha-Ba? Although there are a few statements to the contrary in the Talmud, the predominant view of Judaism is that the righteous of all nations have a share in the Olam Ha-Ba. Statements to the contrary were not based on the notion that membership in Judaism was required to get into Olam Ha-Ba, but were grounded in the observation that non-Jews were not righteous people. If you consider the behavior of the surrounding peoples at the time that the Talmud was written, you can understand the rabbis' attitudes. By the time of Rambam, the belief was firmly entrenched that the righteous of all nations have a share in the Olam Ha-Ba.





The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus stated that the Pharisees, the Jewish sect that founded rabbinic Judaism to which Paul once belonged, believed in reincarnation. He writes that the Pharisees believed the souls of evil men are punished after death. The souls of good men are "removed into other bodies" and they will "have power to revive and live again."





Prophets were reborn: Principle of Reincarnation.


From time to time in Jewish history, there had been an insistent belief that their prophets were reborn. Reincarnation was part of the Jewish dogmas, being taught under the name of "resurrection". On the other hand it can be interpreted just as the continuation of the Spirit of the Prophets.  We have strong evidence in Elisha's request for double the spirit of Elijah when Elijah was taken away in the chariot.  Thus in this case certainly we have no reason to suppose that prophets came back to life.


2 Kings 2:9When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you." And Elisha said, "Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." 10He said, "You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so."…

At least the spirit of prophecy was a transferable gift.


Sadducees, who believed that everything ended with death, did not accept the idea of reincarnation.



Jewish ideas included the concept that people could live again without knowing exactly the manners by which this could happen.


Josephus records that the Essenes of the Dead Sea Scrolls lived "the same kind of life" as the followers of Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher who taught reincarnation. According to Josephus, the Essenes believed that the soul is both immortal and preexistent, necessary for tenets for belief in reincarnation.


The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that the Jewish mystical tradition of divine union went back to the first, perhaps even the third century B.C.E. Jewish mysticism has its origins in Greek mysticism, a system of belief which included reincarnation. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of the hymns found are similar to the Hekhaloth hymns of the Jewish mystics. One text of hymns gives us clear evidence of Jewish mysticism. The text is called "Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice." Fragments of 1 Enoch, which is considered the oldest text of Jewish mysticism, were also found with the Scrolls. Since evidence shows Jewish mysticism existed in the third century B.C.E., as Enoch indicates, then it would certainly have existed in first-century Israel.



Kabbalah is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought that originated in Judaism. A traditional Kabbalist in Judaism is called a Mekubbal. Kabbalah is the ancient Jewish tradition of mystical interpretation of the Bible, first transmitted orally and using esoteric methods (including ciphers). It reached the height of its influence in the later Middle Ages and remains significant today in Hasidism.


Kabbalists are people who strongly supports the concept of reincarnation of people till they are made perfect for the entry into paradise.


Reincarnation has been a belief for thousands of years for orthodox Jews. The Zohar is a book of great authority among Kabbalistic Jews. It states the following:


"All souls are subject to revolutions. Men do not know the way they have been judged in all time." (Zohar II, 199b).  That is, in their "revolutions" they lose all memory of the actions that led to their being judged.

Another Kabbalistic book, the Kether Malkuth states:


"If she, the soul, be pure, then she shall obtain favor... but if she has been defiled, then she shall wander for a time in pain and despair... until the days of her purification." (Kether Malkuth)


How can the soul be defiled before birth? Where does the soul wander if not on this or some other world until the days of her purification? The rabbis explained this verse to mean that the defiled soul wanders down from paradise through many births until the soul regained its purity.


In the Talmud, "gilgul neshamot" (i.e., reincarnation) is constantly mentioned. The term literally means "the judgment of the revolutions of the souls." In this view, people who had committed extraordinary sins were given an opportunity to return to life in order to set things right. More particularly, they were reincarnated in circumstances similar to those of their previous incarnation. Thus, Moses and Jethro, for example, were supposed to be the gilgulim of Cain and Abel.


Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel (1604-1657), one of the most revered Rabbis in Israel, states in his book entitled Nishmat Hayyim:


"The belief or the doctrine of the transmigration of souls is a firm and infallible dogma accepted by the whole assemblage of our church with one accord, so that there is none to be found who would dare to deny it ... Indeed, there is a great number of sages in Israel who hold firm to this doctrine so that they made it a dogma, a fundamental point of our religion. We are therefore in duty bound to obey and to accept this dogma with acclamation ... as the truth of it has been incontestably demonstrated by the Zohar, and all books of the Kabalists." (Nishmat Hayyim)


This then is a statement of universal salvation whereby God the Father disciplines his children and brings them all back home purified into the family. This is not considered a new thought but existed as oral teachings at least since the time of Moses.






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