What do our sources say about what happens the second you die. I’m pretty sure I heard somewhere that one’s soul comes out of their body and they float around the room. Are there any fascinating things that happen to one’s soul the moment they die or minutes after? Please cite sources.

  • read this: beta.hebrewbooks.org/…
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Apr 12, 2019 at 2:39
  • 2
    I've often heard that the neshama hangs around the body for a few days after death. I don't know the source for this, though. Honestly, mi yodeya?
    – ezra
    Apr 12, 2019 at 3:55
  • Shaare hqagmul from Ramban
    – kouty
    Apr 12, 2019 at 13:41
  • @Daniel "... things that happen to one’s soul the moment they die or minutes after?" We live in a world of time, therefore, after we die, there is no one-second after, one-minute after, one-hour after, etc., because death ushers into a world of no-time. As attested in the TaNaKH and the Talmud, I wrote in my answer about the two ultimate happenings.
    – ninamag
    Apr 15, 2019 at 8:19
  • 1
    @Dr.Shmuel please summarize your reading recommendation.
    – ninamag
    Apr 15, 2019 at 13:55

6 Answers 6


There seem to be quite a handful of 'fascinating' things which happen immediately after death.

The first step may be the Michtav Me'Eliyahu who explains that the Satan has one final test where he makes it appear that there is nothing after death. You thought there was an Almighty, Torah, and Olam Haba?! No, it's all darkness! Rav Dessler explains that it's a powerful test which many unfortunately won't pass as it shakes your faith to the core.

The next step seems to be a state of confusion as this article quotes Rav Aryeh Kaplan (Handbook II:p.355)

Immediately after death the soul is in a state of great confusion. It is therefore customary to stay near a dying person, so that he not die alone. The disembodied soul is intensely aware of the physical surroundings of its body. This is especially true before the body is buried. The soul then literally mourns for its body for seven days. This is alluded to in the verse, “His soul mourns for him” (Job 14:22)

Then comes the proverbial "light" which this article quotes from the Yaaros Devash (2:7):

When a person dies, in order to separate what was attached his whole life, God shines a great light from above, to which the soul clings, as the nature of every spiritual essence is to attach to that which is spiritual – so too the life-force and the spirit, all of which leave the body.

There are no doubt many more 'fascinating' things immediately after death, but hopefully this provides a good foundation to guide you in your searching - and may we not need to find out what really happens any time soon! (As for your side note about out of body experiences, you may find this lecture helpful)


'Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?' Qohelet 3:19-

'For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing.' Qohelet 9:5a

'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Qohelet 9:10

  • This is not really the way things are , A person does come from dust and returned to him, but only the physical body,Not for the soul that is eternal!!!
    – user19027
    Apr 14, 2019 at 9:20
  • @Tahel The text (in bold) questions that. Apr 14, 2019 at 9:23
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    the meaning of the text in the bold by Rashi:Who knows - like "Who knows a settlement" (Joel 2:14) - He who understands that gives notice, that the spirit of human beings - is rising above the law, and the spirit of the animal - is descending to the land, and it can not be accountable. And we must not behave like a beast that does not care about its actions.
    – user19027
    Apr 14, 2019 at 9:51
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    the dead know nothing-the meaning by Rashbam:Because life knows they will die, so they have to do Teshuvah while they are still alive. And the dead know nothing, and they can no longer repent and repent, and they will not have the reward and reward for the evil of their deeds, for their memory is forgotten.
    – user19027
    Apr 14, 2019 at 10:09
  • The Bible should be read with any interpretation(!) because we are small and can not understand people who wrote it many years ago
    – user19027
    Apr 14, 2019 at 10:13

The exodus from the human body isnwt simple. At the time of the death itself, the soul sees the God.

In the Zohar ( זוהר פרשת ויחי ריח, עב) the Holy One is brought: The soul does not emerge from the body, until the Holy One, blessed be He, reveals itself to it.

The Holy Zohar says: At the moment of death, man is allowed to see the invisible and then he sees his relatives and friends who are already in the World to Come. They look to him as they looked in this world and he knows them and if he is worthy of the World to Come, they are happy.

In death, man moves to another world. True, the mind lacks the body, but it has a clear idea of ​​what is happening in the physical world. The person knows that he has died. For the first seven days after the death, the soul wanders back and forth from the house to the grave, and weeps over her body. In those days the Jews used the custom of mourning - to sit "Shiva" this sorrow of the soul is not physical pain. The soul mourns its physical veneer, just as a man mourns his ruined home.

By the way: Thirty days before the death, the soul begins to separate from the body and it is known that people with high spiritual sensitivity are able to notice the approach of this stage and feel that their death is approaching.


Taanis 11a

צדיק וישר הוא (אמרו בשעת) פטירתו של אדם לבית עולמו כל מעשיו (נפטרין) לפניו ואומרים לו כך וכך עשית במקום פלוני ביום פלוני והוא אומר (הין) ואומרים לו חתום וחותם שנאמר (איוב לז, ז) ביד כל אדם יחתום ולא עוד אלא שמצדיק עליו את הדין ואומר להם יפה דנתוני לקיים מה שנאמר (תהלים נא, ו) למען תצדק בדברך With regard to the third section of the verse: “He is just and righteous,” the Sages said: At the hour of a person’s departure to his eternal home, all his deeds are enumerated before him and are rendered visible to him once again, and the deeds themselves say to him: You did such and such, in such and such a place, on such and such a day, and he says: Yes, that is exactly what happened. And they say to him: Sign a statement that this is correct, and he signs it, as it is stated: “He makes the hand of every man sign” (Job 37:7). And not only that, but after a one has been shown all his deeds, he justifies the judgment upon himself, and says to them: You have judged me well. This response serves to fulfill that which is stated: “That You may be justified when You speak and be right when You judge” (Psalms 51:6) (Sefaria Translation).


Whether it happens one-second after we die, or one-minute after we die, or one-hour after we die, there are two ultimate destinations.

We live in a world of time, and after we die, we enter into a world of no-time. Therefore, after we die, there is no one-second after, there is no one-minute after, there is no one-hour after, etc....

From the TaNaKH and from the Talmud, we read about these ultimate destinations, inclusive of a time-frame:

"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence."

(Daniel 12:2)

Death is like sleep. Just as we wake-up from sleep, we also wake-up from death.

Yochanan Ben-Zakkai said, "I have two paths before me, one of the Garden of Eden and one of Gehenna, and I do not know on which they are leading me;"


Dying is like walking, a continuous process of being, and therefore upon death (upon the continuous process of being), we encounter a fork on the road, one fork leads to Gan-Eden, and the other to Gehenna.

Master of the Universe, You have judged properly, You have acquitted properly, You have condemned properly, and it is befitting that You have prepared Gehenna for the wicked and the Garden of Eden for the righteous.


This quote, from the Talmud, tells us the courtroom time-frame after death, there is judgment ("You have judged properly"), which either leads to acquittal ("You have acquitted properly") or condemnation ("You have condemned properly"). A sentence of condemnation condemns one into the hellish "Gehenna"-Destination, whereas an acquittal leads into the heavenly "Garden of Eden"-Destination.


Many are convinced that science is unable to prove that a soul exists. Yet others insist that there is enough evidence for a soul. For example, a celebrated, world-class renowned British theoretical physicist, Sir Roger Penrose, and American anesthesiologist, Stuart Hameroff have a good peer-reviewed, scientific model for the soul. They seem to suggest that the soul hovers over the body or that it goes through a blue tunnel. Some call these experiences “near death experiences.”

My own opinion is that the intellect, and not the soul survives death. I happen to agree with Aristotle and Maimonides that nothing disappears from the earth. It only changes its shape. Thus, the intellect (and not the soul because the soul is the life force, the bodily organs) gets absorbed by the active intellect. Thus, the intellect exists after death. There are no souls, only intellects.

Although most people feel uncomfortable when they do not know something that is important to them, I think the answer is that we simply do not know and may never know.

  • the soul is the consciousness
    – Adam
    Aug 16, 2020 at 2:00
  • @Adam I agree. Tho I would tend to think that the intellect (and not the soul since the soul is the bodily functions) is consciousness. As I wrote in my answer, Sir Roger Penrose, a renowned British scientist, wrote in his book The Emperor's New Mind, that consciousness (ie intellect), gets absorbed by greater consciousness (intellect). This not only makes sense but is highly useful, and is consistent with the views of Aristotle and Maimonides, that nothing disappears from the earth. Thank you for your comment.
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 18, 2020 at 21:15

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