Friday, October 22, 2010

Jewish Belief in Heaven

Dear Tanta Golda,
Recently a boy in my son’s class told him that he (my son) was going to hell if he didn’t accept Jesus. My son was more annoyed than upset. I can’t say the same. Once I calmed down, I began to wonder if Judaism believes that only Jews go to heaven? Can you help us out?
 Protective Jewish mother and son.
My darling Protective (and what good Jewish mother isn’t?),
According to my sources, Judaism places a great deal of emphasis on the way a Jew must live, and the rewards that come with good living. In fact, making a good life in the here and now is much more important than the world to come. 

While we have laws that set us apart from the rest of the world, such as kashrut and the keeping of Shabbat, the Torah does not ignore non-Jews.
Unlike the many other religions, who feel their way is the only way-period, the Torah says that Jewish law is the correct way for Jews to live. Other people may still be able to receive reward in the next world by faithfully following the Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach, the Seven Laws of the sons of Noah. These are:
1. Prohibition of idolatry
2. Prohibition of murder
3. Prohibition of theft
4. Prohibition of sexual immorality
5. Prohibition of blasphemy
6. Prohibition of eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive

7. Requirement to have an effective judiciary to establish civil laws and enforce the preceding six laws fairly
So, being non-Jewish does not bar one from the rewards of the next world. Perhaps your son can use this opportunity to teach his classmate that Judaism believes that heaven is open to all faiths and he hopes to see him there some day a long, long time from now.

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