I read somewhere in the Internet (Sorry, I forget where it is...) that Gehinnom is a temporary place. Is it true?

If it is true, how about the notorious reshaim (ex: Hitler Y"SH)? Are they punished in Gehinnom forever?

  • According to a b'raisa (Rosh HaShana 17a), certain exceptionally evil people are indeed punished eternally ("כגון ירבעם בן נבט וחביריו יורדין לגיהנם ונידונין בה לדורי דורות").
    – Fred
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 22:27
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/29576/759
    – Double AA
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:46
  • @Fred How do you translate לדורי דורות as eternally?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 0:45
  • @RabbiKaii The term is generally taken to mean "never-ending", though a more direct translation would be something like "for all generations". Some opinions suggest that even this does not necessarily refer to eternal punishment (and they also interpret "גיהנם כלה והם אינם כלים" [ad loc.] in a more optimistic manner), such as the Rama' MiFano (Chikur Din 5:1, in describing the sixth category of sinners).
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


R Avigdor Miller (in Rav Avigdor Miller on Olam Haba, pp. 272-274) answers your question specifically saying the punishment can last forever for some

Hitler is not being purified. Hitler is in Gehinnom and undergoing what Hashem is capable of giving - and he can do a lot. He is in the "incinerator". It's a great revenge [see MT Teshuva 8:5].And it's the foundation of our emunah. Just as a Jew believes in Hashem, he believes in a Gehinnom. They are inseparable, because there is no justice if there is no Gehinnom. [...]

No question about it. All the Nazis [...] are sitting in Gehinnom together - and are not being purified. The indescribable pain they go through is not for their benefit. It won't make them any better. [...] They are receiving the nekamah hagedolah [great vengeance].

That is the fire of Gehinnom that never goes out.

  • Nowhere in this answer does he explicitly state that their punishment is eternal?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 0:42
  • @RabbiKaii "That is the fire of Gehinnom that never goes out." Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 1:32
  • @TerjijKassal ...until Gehinnom itself goes out
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 1:42

Sanhedrin - cheilek (chapter 11) discusses "Olam Haba" and people who didn't get to go there. Among their number is "Bilam Ha-Rasha". Because Bilam wasn't Jewish it acts as a proof that righteous gentiles can obtain "Olam Haba" (otherwise Bilam didn't lose anything, he never had a chance in the first place)

In Gittin there is a whole section (around daf 52) discussing the destruction of the Temple which is commonly read Erev Tisha B'Av in the afternoon (as one of the sections you are allowed to study when general study is prohibited). During this section it goes through various sinners and what they suffered in the "afterlife". Bilam is among their number, so there was a kind of "life after death" for him and it continued at least until the time of this Gemara.

If that is the meaning of "Gehinnom" then yes indeed they are published "forever" or at least for a long time.

With regards to Moshal (stories) in Gemara they are not always intended to be taken literally (unlike Halacha which is) but may be there to teach morals. So one cannot use this as a definitive "proof". I guess we'll find out more when we get there.

  • It doesn't say he 'lost' olam haba. It says he didn't get it. You have not presented a logical proof.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 14:55
  • The Mishnah states he didn't get Olam Haba, the Gemara (I tnink) uses it as proof that righteous gentiles do and his reason for not getting it was his wickedness, not because he wasn't Jewish.
    – CashCow
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 14:57
  • If the gemara says it, please indicate as much. Your current 'proof' is lacking.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 14:59
  • 1
    The "afterlife" whatever it is...
    – CashCow
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 15:14
  • 1
    @yEz Who, Bilaam?
    – HaLeiVi
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 21:32

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