Heaven and Hell in Jewish Tradition

Though there is no official Jewish conception of the afterlife, Jewish sources do provide images of a torturous hell and heavenly paradise.

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However, the rise of interest in mysticism in the last several decades has prompted a renewed discussion about the afterlife. Given the rich mythical descriptions of the afterlife in the classical Jewish tradition, we must ask how such imagery impacts our views of heaven and hell and the destiny of the human soul.

Are these ideas to be dismissed as the wishes of earlier, less sophisticated religious seekers? Have advances in the natural sciences made it impossible for us to believe in life after death? Or has our disillusionment with certain aspects of modernity--particularly its great reliance on rationality--reopened the possibility of belief in the afterlife in our day?