Judaism doesn’t attempt to describe the afterlife very often. No matter how it’s described it is always unverifiable. It’s always a matter of interpretation and belief. What we believe takes a back seat to what we do. Life is now. Heaven can wait.
Christianity is much more inclined to talk about heaven and they want you to know the only way to get there is with the help of JC. Of course, a logical outcome of this thinking is that non-Christians will NOT go to heaven, which can be very problematic, but that’s a different story.
Either way, it’s one thing to talk about getting to heaven. It’s another thing to describe what it’s like, and neither Judaism nor Christianity has much to tell us. Is it a cloud-like place with pearly gates and angels flying around everywhere? Is the music in heaven limited to harps and angel choruses? What exactly are our days going to be like (if days and nights even happen there)?
Once I heard a rabbi say that if heaven is relaxing on the beach with a Pina Colada, you still wouldn’t want to spend the rest of your life there. So then, what exactly is heaven really like? What will we do there? Can we play video games? Tennis?
The most satisfying answers I’ve ever found indeed comes from Jewish thought…and why Christians were robbed of this interesting explanation is a mystery. It’s not complicated. Rather, it’s a fairly “down to earth” story (pun intended). Heaven is closer than you think. In fact we are already there, because Heaven is on earth!
Now before you say, “It’s more like hell here on earth” it must be clarified this does NOT mean the earth we are experiencing now. We have some work to do before it will technically be “heavenly”. But it’s our job to make it happen. We are to bring it about. Its our job to transpose it into the spiritual World to Come. In future postings we will examine the tools G-d provided us in order to do so, but in the meantime I have a question… or two.
When Torah speaks of heaven or heavens – does it always refer to an abstract place? A spiritual place? Does Torah tell us we will “go there” or does it always refer to an abstract place? Is it a spiritual place or both spiritual and physical? We know in Genesis it says G-d created the heavens and earth, so if G-d created it then where is G-d if not in heaven? And if the World to Come is where we spend eternity, what is it about heaven we need to know?
Obviously a word study on “heaven” is needed. If for no other reason, because our current description seems so incomplete. While fluffy clouds might be fun for a day or two, earth has far more potential. It’s awesome, it’s beautiful, it’s diverse and filled with fascinating life forms, nature, animals, weather, oceans, mountains and even caves! You just can’t get any better than this. Just look around! G-d is an Artist!
Let the angels can come and visit us here! I can’t imagine a better place to entertain. There’s only one thing I hope we figure out in the transformation. I hope the World to Come provides us with a way to fly around all over the universe. From the pictures I’ve seen, it’s quite beautiful up there too!
Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven… (Job 38:37)