I am puzzled by this line in the Mishna [Sanhedrin 10:1]:

וְאֵלּוּ שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, הָאוֹמֵר אֵין תְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים מִן הַתּוֹרָה

And these are the ones who have no portion in the World to Come: He who says that the resurrection of the dead is not from the Torah.

What does it mean?

(1) That you must believe in the resurrection of the dead or you are penalized big time, even though you may otherwise be a fully observant Jew? That can't be, because Judaism does not mandate belief. (The Rambam believed it did, other luminaries disagreed, but the fact is that you can't make yourself believe. In Eichah Rabbah, Prologue II (see also Yerushalmi, Chagigah 1:7), we read:

It is written "They have forsaken Me and have not kept My law" [Jer. 16:11]. [This means that God said:] I wish they had forsaken Me but still kept My law, because by occupying themselves with it, the light which it contains would have led them back to the right path.)

(2) That you may believe what you want, but you may not SAY or preach certain things out loud? That's a matter of action, not belief, and you can certainly control yourself. (The Mishnah says: He who SAYS.)

(3) That it's your belief that CAUSES your portion in the World to Come to become real? (Mind over matter, as it were, which gets us into esoterica, philosophy, and even physics.)

  • 1
    Even accepting arguendo that Judaism does not ‘mandate’ beliefs, your first question does not follow. Maybe being excluded from the World to Come is not a punishment but an inevitable consequence of disbelief.
    – Joel K
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 5:47
  • This line is only "a statement", "a proposition" - it is not "an empirical truth". Rabbis can't force G-d to accept or reject a soul or decide on the soul's future destiny. Therefore we juggle it like all other Mishnaic statements - sometimes accepting, sometimes denying, sometimes finding a metaphoric explanation. To remind you that the statement is meaningless without explaining the essence of the WTC (World to come) which is notoriously lacking from all of our sources.
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 11:44
  • I feel like this was asked or discussed before
    – robev
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 12:54
  • @JoelK -- That's option 3. Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 20:31

2 Answers 2


The Gemara (Sanhedrin 90a) understands the Mishnah as follows:

גמ׳ וכל כך למה תנא הוא כפר בתחיית המתים לפיכך לא יהיה לו חלק בתחיית המתים שכל מדותיו של הקב"ה מדה כנגד מדה

Why all of this [punishment]? It was taught: “He denied resurrection of the dead; therefore, he will not have a portion in the resurrection of the dead, for all the measures of Hashem are measure for measure.”

This seems to preclude your second option. If the whole point is that one who doesn’t believe in the resurrection will not personally take part in it, saying it shouldn’t be required, only believing it.

Regarding the question posed by your first option: The Mishnah says that only one who says there’s no resurrection from the Torah loses his portion of it, and the Gemara spends the next daf or so bringing some fifteen sources from the Chumash that the dead will rise again. So it’s not strict belief, once you accept a proof of the Torah’s Divine origin.

You are correct that it’s better that one learn Torah and not keep Mitzvos, as learning Torah will cause him to keep Mitzvos; it’s for this reason that the Rambam (who, interestingly, leaves out “from the Torah” when quoting this Halacha in Teshuvah 3:6) writes that one who does Teshuvah before he dies from this or other sins for which one loses his portion, even from denying Hashem’s existence, will regain his portion (Teshuvah 3:14).

While this still doesn’t fully answer the question, I hope it provides some clarity which can aid the OP or someone else to come to a fuller answer.


You may be onto something. While I don't have halachic sources "on hand," it depends on ones definition of "alive" and "dead."

  1. It can be for when Moshiach comes, that all souls will be resurrected. How that works is something that only Hashem knows, since at 8.2 billion people with millions of births and deaths per second, it seems to make more sense that one or four souls goes into one body (touching on a bit of Shaar HaGilgulim), each one being the product of many reincarnations, as opposed to EVERY single person that ever existed popping up.
  2. It can be in that the next world, which is the World of Truth, is where one is truly "alive", and therefore not believing in Resurrection of the Dead" means that the "dead" in this world won't be "alive" in the next world and therefore one simply won't be able to gain a portion of what he doesn't already believe in - that here he's "dead" and there he's "alive" and is making his portion here instead of there.

Those are a couple of personal thoughts on the matter.

  • In #1, are you saying that, in fact, nobody loses their portion in the World to Come? That seems to directly contradict the source brought by the OP, among many others.
    – DonielF
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 13:46
  • They do lose their portion. What did I write suggesting otherwise? All I wrote in 1 is a suggestion of the definition of alive and dead. The world when Moshiach comes won’t be the next world, but this world. It doesn’t take anything away that people still lose their portion in the world to come.
    – Rafi Hecht
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 14:12
  • Oh, so your points 1 and 2 are two parts of the same point, not two separate answers? I completely missed that.
    – DonielF
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 14:16
  • They are two different ideas, but it doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t relinquish his share in the next world.
    – Rafi Hecht
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 17:05
  • I would add a third suggestion in that resurrection of the dead is literal in today’s time as well, when many clinically dead cases miraculously come back to life in the operating room.
    – Rafi Hecht
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 17:08

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