On one hand, we are told that the body is a simply container holding our soul. We have to take care of it while alive because we are borrowing it for our time on Earth. It is widely believed that our Neshama moves on to another body until it has really completed its mission. From dust to dust.

On the other hand, we visit the cemetery to see our relatives, we visit burial sites of Tzadikim, we try not to show our Tzitzit to the dead, and we are told that Hashem will make the dead rise at the end of days.

To me, it seems those 2 aspects of Judaism contradict each other somehow. If the body is a temporary container, why do we care so much about burial sites?

If our soul visits several bodies - which of our bodies will rise at the end of days?


3 Answers 3


Many Jewish thinkers have actually challenged your assumption that the body is merely a "vessel" for the soul. I'll just copy and paste from an answer of mine elsewhere:

R' Yaakov Weinberg in Fundamentals and Faith explains that the resurrection of the dead implies a profound and fundamentally necessary understanding of the relationship between the body and the soul. The body could be viewed as a vessel, which is shed at the end of your life and is now a thing of the past, while your soul is "you." Resurrection is what shows that "you" is the combination of the soul and the body, and your existence as an "entity" is defined by that combination. Therefore, the soul must be reunited with the body to meet the "person's" final destiny.

He uses Chazal's analogy (Sanhedrin 91b) of the blind man and the lame man who join forces, by the lame piggybacking on the blind, to steal fruit from an orchard and then each claim innocence, as each of them individually was incapable of committing the act independently. The owner of the orchard puts them back together and punishes them that way. So too, the soul and the body do not make up an entity with free will until they are together, and so too do they receive their reward.


(building on yez's answer) have heard rabbi becher say in his shiurim that the soul without the nefesh (which is associated with and bound to the body even after death to some extent) is like an intellect without a personality.


There are two general approached to this question.

One approach, which I have seen in multiple sources, is that the body is also a future vessel of the soul, after the resurrection. This body will ultimately be reunited with the soul share in the pleasures of the ultimate reward post-resurrection. The earliest source that I know of for this idea is the Kol Bo (siman 114):

החזק והצריך לאמונתנו בתחיית המתים, כי אלו היו משליכין גוף האדם המת כאחת הנבלות, היו בני אדם אומרים נמשל כבהמות נדמו ולא היו מקבלין אמונת התחייה, כמו שהן מקבלין עם קבורתו, בראותם כי יבנו לו בית וילבישנו. וכל שכן בראותם כי יקברוהו אצל אבותיו ובני משפחתו, להיות עתידים לעמוד יחד בני המשפחה ולקיים זאת האמונה ההכרחית נכתב בתורה, מה שבא בקבורת האבות ובקפדותם במקום קבורתם ושכבתי עם אבותי, ורבותי ז"ל אמרו על זה, למה האבות תובעין ומחבבין קבורת ארץ ישראל, אמר רבי פלוני דברים בגו "אתהלך לפני ה' בארצות החיים" נמצא שהכוונה היא לאמונת התחייה לחזק האמונה הזאת אמרו "עתידין צדיקים שיעמדו בלבושיהן" ולא על כל אדם אמרו רק על הצדיקים, ועל הדרך הזה היא ההקפדה ברוב כבוד גופות המתים

Another approach is that specifically because the body was used as a tool for the soul does it retain some of that holiness. This is stated by the Chosam Sofer (Y.D. 336) in distinguishing between how the non-Jews and Jews treat their dead bodies: non-Jews have no need to respect the body once there's no longer 'someone in there', so to speak, but because we believe that the soul uses the body, it's only the combination of body and soul that is actually called "man"

דכל העכו"ם חושבים בפירוד הנשמה מהגוף נשאר הגוף בלי שום לחלוחית רוחניות, על כן קוראים הרוח זעליג (=רוח) והגוף פגר (געקערפערט), שהוא כולו גוף (קערפער), ועל כן מנתחים אותו ואינם חוששים לביזיונו... אך בני ישראל מאמינים גם אדם כי ימות באוהל עדיין במותו נקרא אדם פנימי ולא פגר, כי גם בגופו שהיה נרתק לנשמה נשאר בו לחלוחית קדושה, ונוהגים בו כבוד

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