What does Torah say about an afterlife for animals? Is there somewhere animals go after they die? Please include the sources of your answers.

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    See Koheles (3:21): מִי יוֹדֵעַ רוּחַ בְּנֵי הָאָדָם הָעֹלָה הִיא לְמָעְלָה וְרוּחַ הַבְּהֵמָה הַיֹּרֶדֶת הִיא לְמַטָּה לָאָרֶץ. This is subject to various interpretations that have bearing on the question.
    – Fred
    Mar 10, 2014 at 0:51
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16875
    – Fred
    Mar 10, 2014 at 0:52
  • 1
    @Fred Ruch HaAdam, Mi Yodeya?
    – Double AA
    Jun 20, 2014 at 17:08

5 Answers 5


The Rambam writes (Teshuva 8:1):

וכל מי שאינו זוכה לחיים אלו הוא המת שאינו חי לעולם אלא נכרת ברשעו ואבד כבהמה. ... כלומר שאותה הנפש שפירשה מן הגוף בעולם הזה אינה זוכה לחיי העולם הבא אלא גם מן העולם הבא נכרתת

Whoever does not merit to this life he is the dead that does not live forever, rather is cut off in his wickedness and lost like an animal ... that is to say that this soul which leaves the body in this world does not merit the world to come, rather even from the world to come it is cut off.

(Emphasis added).

Thus the Rambam takes an animal as an obvious example of a living thing that does not have an afterlife.

Kabbalistically, a person can be reincarnated into an animal, so a given animal may have such a soul in it.



Did some research and found this. (Seen here http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Theology/Afterlife_and_Messiah/Life_After_Death/Animals.shtml) Rabbi Saadiah Gaon in Book of Doctrines and Beliefs talks about this.

Rav Saadiah Gaon deals with the fundamental question of why the Torah commands us to sacrifice innocent animals as an act of worship. After explaining that God has ordained matters in such a way that the time of an animal's slaughter is metaphysically equivalent to the natural life-span of a human, Saadiah ponders whether death by the slaughterer's knife really causes the beast more suffering than a natural demise. To this he replies that if that were the case, then the all-knowing and perfectly just God would certainly reward the beast for the suffering that was inflicted upon it.

The Rambam rejects this concept though in the Guide for the Perplexed.

  • there is nothing left to reward in the higher worlds, because an animal's body AND soul comes from this world as explained in shaarei kedusha gate 1. when the animal's body dies, its soul dissolves with it. like a fire on a candle wick.
    – ray
    Mar 6, 2014 at 11:13
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    @ray Are you asking a question on R' Saadiah Gaon from R' Chaim Vital 700 years later? Mar 6, 2014 at 13:10
  • I think it is pretty clear that the Rambam would argue. It also is not at all clear what reward R. Saadiah Gaon has in mind.
    – Yishai
    Mar 6, 2014 at 15:17
  • Rabbi Louis Jacobs references this answer in We Have Permission To Believe, chapter 5 final footnote.
    – bondonk
    May 23, 2021 at 19:13

the Pas Lechem commentary to Shaar Bechina ch.3 of Chovos Halevavos

Chovos Halevavos:

"It is proper that you should know that the whole world is synthesized of the physical and the spiritual, so intimately mixed and fused, that each of them sustains the other, like body and soul in living creatures. "

Pas Lechem commentary:

Likewise, the [animal] body sustains the animal soul (nefesh) in animals, and when the animal soul leaves the animal's body, it (the animal soul) ceases and nullifies. Likewise, for the nefesh tzomachat (plant soul) in plants. For the nefesh medaberet (human soul) we can say the same regarding its existing in this physical world, because immediately after the human soul leaves the body, it returns to its place in the higher worlds [as written (Eccl. 12:7) "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto G-d who gave it."]

The nature of these "souls" is explained in more detail in Shaarei Kedusha of Rabbi Chaim Vital part 1.

  • Hi I found a source for there being an afterlife for animals, you could see it below. Would you comment on whether there is a contradiction to the Rambam there. Thanks
    – TreeKing
    Mar 6, 2014 at 10:22

Animals do not have an afterlife. Because the animal ony has a nefesh behami. While a person has a nefesh Behami and a nefesh tzelem Elohim. The afterlife is only for creations (humans) who had to struggle with the nefesh Behami and nefesh tzelem Elohim. An animal doesn't have bichirah (free will) the animal is pretty much programmed to do what it was created for which is to serve mankind.

  • 7
    Sources for this answer will improve its value.
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2014 at 18:50

If the source of the animal soul is this world or if it is from G-d and at the end vanishes, it would mean that this world is separated from H'. If this was the case Hv'S our One G-d would be an object and not the One. Even if you say He is the Subject and the world is object you are giving Him a size (of not being the object)... Hv'S. Moroever you are telling what is what so you are not just separating the Lord from His creation but your own self from both because the thinker must be detached from the two 'arguments' to speak in those ways. This is very well hidden 'avodà zarah. Basically if the animals are without free will they are still made of G-d and being that H' does not die ever, they won't die either. In which way they still exist is uknown but we could say that if they are just without free will the will come back in H's Own Consciousness or that they are a form of malachim that are usually said to have one heart and not two because of the verse in Vayerà or that they will exist as they would have been in 'Eden, eating just vegetables and without attacking one another. Lot of options you can have but not REAL DISPEARREANCE of anything because it would mean the H' has a 'hole somewhere' Hv'S! Rambam could be explained in other ways, he says that an animal is lost and this is used as a metaphore, but this does not mean the the animal'soul after death is no more, but that the animal during this life is lost and lives with difficulties because of the sin of men. It could be read in different ways. I usually say if peloni does so and so will be lost like a dog roaming around but this does not mean that the dog will roam in the afterlife. Maybe mr Peloni Hv'S will roam in the afterlife because he has done 5% of his good potential but the dog in the case we say that he does not have free will at all will have done his 100%. He will be rewarded, or he will appear as pure H' will as a malach or something I can't even imagine. My opinion. Sefer, Sofèr and Sippur are in truth just One and so death does not exist at all as a real thing but just as relative. If death is relative G-d is absolute and omnipresent, but if death is real in that very idea the presence of G-d's Counsiousness would l'a disappear and He would be Hv'S relative. So is the gods of other religions: one, two, three... but still objects and not ABSOLUTE ONENESS. B"H Shabbat Shalom umevoràch lekullam!!

  • 3
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. I'm having a lot of trouble following this (and couldn't read to the end). Could you try organizing your answer a little more (like into logical paragraphs)? Thanks. There's an edit link under your answer. Jun 20, 2014 at 14:13
  • it's possible to get it even if i'm not a native-english speaker. 1 if nothingness (the final end of animal soul) does exist, in there even H' wouldn't be (and if you're saying that He is there, in that case the animal'soul has vanished in G-d himself having reached the Supreme existence of G-d Himself). Jun 20, 2014 at 16:01
  • 2 the animal could have or could not have a certain level of free will: if he does not have it, he is at the peak of his pureness because he's doing his best 100%. Would H' punish him with total destruction??? if you say he was not conscious as a being but was move by divine willing it means that he had just one yetzer as the malachim. Some of them vanish when they finish their job, while some of them are recreated each day, while some of them live... Jun 20, 2014 at 16:09
  • The ones who 'vanish' as someone say like the animals, they don't really vanish, being the materialization of G-d will, they just come back in the source of Divine will that is Eternity and Devine Presence. Jun 20, 2014 at 16:10
  • @MrdchybnDaniela - according to your line of thought, rocks and grass, wind and fire, dark and light also have a soul. You clearly need to define what you mean by soul. Jun 22, 2014 at 8:15

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