Question:

Shalom Rabbi
I was always wondering how do rabbies know that the soul of the departed, except for Czadikim who meet G-d immediately, go to sheol ( ie. purgatory) for 12 months before entering Olam Chaba. Was it a result of a mystic vision of some Czadik(s), or the outcome of Talmudic ideas on the topic or perhaps, as Christians do, a result of a conference or a meeting of Sanhedrin once upon a time. If we follow that logic than there is Adolf Hitler queueing at the bottom of the stairs as well, to use a metaphor, if not already let in. I don’t think he is willing to repent on both worlds. On the other hand do good people whose merrits overcome their bad actions, no matter what kind of or the level of gravity implied, have to indure, with no exception in duration, 12 months in Sheol or Gehinom , if there is a difference at all (my ignorance on Halachic topics is significant). Please explain the mathematics Hashem uses to setle the account with people from the rabbinic point of view. Thanks in advance.

Baruch Hashem

Answer:

 

The topic of reward and punishment that the soul undergoes after it departs this world is discussed extensively in the kabbalistic works, Zohar, Arizal and others. A lot of it is part of the oral torah that was handed down from Rabbi to disciple, from Moses who received it from G-d Himself. The way Judaism looks at the topic of retribution, is not an issue of “settling an account” by G-d. G-d Is infinite and we essentially cannot “hurt” him, however the sins and impurities that we have attached to our souls as a result of our sins, have to be cleaned, in order to be able to enter the place that is close to G-d.  Since most people, even if they are generally righteous, but almost everyone has certain iniquities that need cleaning, if it wasn’t taken care of in this world, then it has to get cleaned in the next world before the soul can enter gan eden. We are taught that he soul of a righteous person will not go to gehinom  (purgatory) for more than 11 months. If the person according to the heavenly way of deciding things is considered a wicked person, then it can be longer, 1months or even longer.

Regarding he way that things are calculated in heaven, there is no way for any mortal to be able to tell you all of the mathematics, calculations, and considerations that go into G-d’s decision regarding a particular person’s retribution or reward. Some of the factors though are the difficulty or pleasure that was involved in the good or bad act, the type of sin or good deed, what affects it had on others, how the act was done, i.e. if it was done by accident, on purpose or in spite. Besides this, the person’s situation, back round, and nature are taken into account.   Our Job though is not to be too busy with these things, but to try and to G-d’s will to the best of our ability, try to minimize the sins that we do, and to repent for any sins that we did do. The rest we leave up to G-d.

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