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People often say (e.g. at s'machot and other such events) things like "Grandpa Chaim would have loved to be here today, but we know he is smiling down on us from shamayim"

Is this really a traditional Jewish belief? Is there some sort of one-way window between olam ha'ba and olam ha'zeh? Where are the sources for this?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

The G'mara in B'rachos 18 says that the deceased are [at least] aware in the sense that they are alive and sentient.

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can you clarify the antecedent of "they"? – Double AA Mar 12 '14 at 19:22
  • Numbers 20:15

    Our fathers went down to Egypt, and we sojourned in Egypt for a long time. And the Egyptians mistreated us and our forefathers.

  • Midrash Tanchuma Chukath 12, Num. Rabbah 19:15, Rashi 20:15

    And our forefathers: From here [we learn] that when Israel is afflicted with punishment, the Patriarchs grieve in the grave.

  • Rabbi Israel Isserlein on Rashi 20:15

    Since "And the Egyptians mistreated our forefathers and us," is not written, which would have been in order, rather "our forefathers" is at the end, the indication is that that is another matter, not of the same nature as the first misfortune [of "us", though it's still related].

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The Zohar says they come down for simchas.

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Can you cite that? – Double AA Jul 18 '12 at 16:30

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