I want to give a shiur in Shul about Shabbat and how it Rambam and others say that one gets Kares if one doesn't keep it and it says in the Chumash 'that he is cut of from his people'.

A person came up to me and got annoyed saying I was a fundamentalist and says that it means that you are cut off from your community, not in the afterlife and that Kares doesn't mean you lose your afterlife. I quoted him the Rambam and he said that Rambam wrote a book 10 years later contradicting himself?

My questions is, what does Kares actually mean? and do you have any sources/names of rabbi's?

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    related (dupe?) judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/30805/… Commented Aug 17, 2014 at 2:00
  • @YEZ, both questions are asking whether kares applies to the afterlife. Seems like a duplicate to me, no?
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 19, 2014 at 6:34
  • @YEZ it's one out of three or so questions there. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 1:14
  • @ShmuelBrin does that make it less of a dupe? Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 1:23
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    @ShmuelBrin Isn't that just a lacking in the answer there, not to the fact that this question is already asked? Someone answering the question there, as asked there, would answer this question. Why is it any different than if there would just not be any answers there? It remains the same question. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 1:39

1 Answer 1


The Ramban on Vayikra 18:29 discusses three types of Kares.

One is dying young, but retaining a portion in the world to come - both the spiritual world and the ultimate world of the Resurrection.

The second is living a longer life, but losing the world of souls after death, but still retaining a portion in the Resurrection.

(The Ramban - pace the Rambam - holds that the Resurrection is the ultimate world, and the world of souls is an intermediate stage).

Which one of those two things happens depends on the worthiness of the person and their general conduct outside of this sin.

The third option is for specific particularly egregious sins (like idolatry and blasphemy). There the person loses a place in the Resurrection as well.

As far as I know, no traditional Jewish source supports this idea of "being cut off from your community" having no impact beyond relationships with other Jews. However, apparently some academics have tried to say that the meaning is excommunication. This is not a view supported by traditional Jewish sources, as far as I could determine.

  • Thanks so much. I have been waiting ages for this. You say 'egregious sins like idolatry', however Eruvin 69B says idolatry and Shabbat desecration are of equal gravity? So to include Shabbat in the most egregious sins? Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 20:54
  • Also, it says, Mot Umat, I heard that means Mot = BOlam Haseh and Umat = BOlam Haba. Are there are sources for this? Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 20:55
  • @MosheBaron, re: Shabbos maybe. Not clear if the Ramban is exhaustive or not. Re: Mot Umat - Perhaps you are thinking of Sanhedrin 64b - הכרת תכרת הכרת בעולם הזה תכרת לעולם הבא. Cut off from this world and the next?
    – Yishai
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 21:01
  • Ah yes. Is it the general attitude to that phrase, or do other Rabbis suggest an alternate explanation. What is the exact translation of Mot Umat? Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 21:06
  • @MosheBaron, The gemarra is talking about Kares, in english you would translate that as "he shall surely be cut off" which is emphasis - and how Rabbi Yishmoel understands it there. Rabbi Akiva puts the cut off in this world and the next. Mot Umat is the same applied to the death penalty מות יומת - he shall surely die. Google tells me the עקידת יצחק - a late Rishon - has that drasha on that posuk as well.
    – Yishai
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 21:14

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