1

Inspired by this answer:

Are there any documented stories of deceased people appearing after death to live people? [I am not looking for stories where someone dead appeared in a dream]

The Gemara in Kesuvos 112 records that Rebbi would descend every Friday night to make Kiddush for his family, and to participate in the Shabbos seuda. Do we know of this happening since?

  • In the hakdamah to Tochachas Mussar from the Maharsha, the publishers quote a story where the Maharsha summoned a dead partner to a din torah in his beis din. – chortkov2 Jul 17 at 9:46
  • Please clarify what you mean by "later generations". There is a general belief that Eliyahu appears every time there is a brit milah, during Havdallah after Shabbat, and during the Pesach Seder. Personally, I haven't actually seen him, but, then again, I'm quite myopic. – DanF Jul 17 at 14:59
  • @DafF - Doesn't have to be later generations; see edit. Eliyahu doesn't count.. Both because he is now a malach, and because he doesn't physically appear. I'm looking for stories where they appear as human, – chortkov2 Jul 17 at 17:00
  • 1
    Shmuel Hanavi who was dead, appeared to King Sha'ul. There is also a story mentioned about a farmer who overheard 2 dead women discussing the produce yield for the following year. (Mentioned in Avot D'Rav Nattan as well as somewhere else.) Are you specific about dead people appearing, or could it be any type of contact such as speaking? – DanF Jul 17 at 18:15
  • @DanF I think the story you're referring to is in Berachos 18b, and there he saw the women in a dream, so it wouldn't fit the OP's criteria. – Meir Jul 17 at 20:42
-5

No. There is no evidence that the deceased ever visited or interacted with a live person, be it a dream or an actual event. Reason dictates that truth is what we can experience. Thus, no-one has ever experienced conversing with the dead. So why does the Torah prohibit this act? Because it's impossible. They couldn't possibly respond because they're dead. That is the definition of being "dead."

An example is King Saul who believed he spoke to Samuel, who foretold his impending death in his next activity, war. But in fact, it was only his imagination. He was desperate to conquer which thrilled his emotions to the point where he would latch onto anything ridiculous. He mistook a daydream of Samuel for a title of absolute authority, rendering his vision a fact, which has become so prevalent in many religious circles today.

In his commentary to Leviticus, 19:31, Ibn Ezra says that the Torah rejects that which is unavailable not because it is true but because it is false. This is precisely the reason why G-d forbids such silly actions. Even Talmudic sages understood these stories as Aggadah (allegory).

There even are Rishonim who claim there was no prophecy involved. Plus in Kohelet 12:7 it says, “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to G-d, Who gave it.” The spirit (soul) goes to G-d. How then, could the soul speak to a descendant? But Rashi interprets the dust to mean Babylon and spirt to mean to be the holy spirit. After careful review of his grandson's (Rashbam) book, Rashi said that if he had more time, he would rewrite his entier commentary based on a rationalist perspective. I like to read the text for what it says. And the text does not signify that the dead can interact.

Truth is, the Torah has no basis for mysticism. It is a belief system void of reasoning. The Prophets never turned to mystical demons for assistance. Needless to say, the Prophets have always accused the Jews of turning to useless methods such as amulets, or some other "unseen force." The Prophets admonished Israel of such notions, which were in violation of Torah law.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .