I am Jewish and I know that in Tibet, in Buddhism, there is a Book of the Dead. It is a text that describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness experiences after death. So I was wondering if there is something similar in Judaism?

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    Eli welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for the interesting question! If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest and stay learning with us.
    – mbloch
    Mar 8 '16 at 15:15
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    There are two books that much interesting for you. The Rambam's introduction to Perek Chelek The Shaar Hagmul written by Ramban. I do not make a 'response' because it is not strictly your topic. But this books contain precisely the responses. If you read Hebrew, see the links, if not I am sure that you may find an english traduction
    – kouty
    Mar 8 '16 at 19:44
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    Possible duplicate of What is the Orthodox Jewish view of the afterlife?
    – Zev Spitz
    Feb 6 '17 at 9:57
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    @ZevSpitz I don't think this is a duplicate. The linked question wants to know about the Jewish (particularly, Orthodox) view on the afterlife. This question is looking for a book that describes the afterlife, akin to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Related, but not duplicate.
    – MTL
    Feb 6 '17 at 16:56
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    (I also see some close votes for comparative religion. This is not a question "that requires of its answerers any knowledge of a religion besides Judaism," so I think it's OK. Voting to leave open.
    – MTL
    Feb 6 '17 at 16:57

There is no book of the dead in Judaism. We have a Torah, which is called Torat Hayim, a Torah of Life. It does include a Jewish philosophy of life after death including the neshama (soul) rejoining its source, reward and punishment for its actions on earth, and kabbalistic perspectives on reincarnation.

For further reading, see for instance here, here and here. The Torah itself is quite cryptic on these events, see e.g., here why. See also a related questions on MiYodeya here and there.

There is a rich non-Jewish literature on near-death experiences and reports of how people alive today have experienced events very close to what traditional literature describes.


We don't ignore the dead and we show them respect with a proper burial, we do good things in the name of the diseased, and we don't observe the commandments openly nearby graves or wear nice clothing (leather shoes) so as to not appear that we are mocking the dead.


we don't concern ourselves as much with the dead as the living as our divine purpose is fulfilled by carrying out G-d's will when we are alive. Once a person passes on there is nothing left they can add to what they did during their lifetime. Consider that life is like a market. While the market is open we can barter and make deals. The same is true in our divine service when we are alive we have the opportunity to fulfill G-d's commandments.


While agreeing with both answers posted above, I wonder whether the following extracts from "The Way of G-d" by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (1707 – 1746) may supply a little of what you seek.

This comes from Section I, Chapter 3 of the book as presented by torah.org.

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Our having to experience death -- and the universe itself having to go through a form of it too -- is also due to Adam and Eve’s sin. For neither any one person nor the universe in its entirety can attain perfection while wrongfulness prevails over goodness as it does now. That state of affairs has to be transcended through (each individual’s) death and (the universe’s) destruction.

It’s also true that the soul can’t purify a body until it’s first separated from it at death and the body decomposes. Only then can a new edifice that can achieve perfection be set up. That explains the need for The Resurrection of the Dead, and for the eventual destruction of the physical universe and its own “resurrection” in the course of the seventh millennium .

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Thus, true reward will come about after the Resurrection of the Dead, and after the world would have been undone and redone -- when body and soul would have been reunited, after the soul would have purified the body, and when both could then enjoy the great goodness of that reward .

Not everyone there would enjoy the same degree of reward, though, even when there. The more one struggled in this world to grow and perfect himself, the greater would his reward (and experience there) be . Since those efforts would determine the degree to which his body (and its associated aspects) would have been purified by his soul , and would also determine how “close they (i.e., body and soul in combination) would merit drawing to G-d, to basking in the light of His countenance, and to enjoying His true goodness” .

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Body and soul each go their own way at death. The body returns to the dust from which it was made , and the soul goes to The Soul World .

That is, the soul doesn’t just passively anticipate its true and infinite reward in The World to Come while the body decomposes, is purified, and then returns to the soul . It enjoys something of the delight it will enjoy in The World to Come , according to the merits it will have earned in the physical world there in The Soul World (just as the delight it will experience in The World to Come will correspond to its merits) . Nonetheless, as we said , true and fulsome reward and delight will ultimately be experienced by the body and soul together.

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The soul enjoys a couple of other advantages in the Soul World which will ultimately benefit it and the body when they’re rejoined .

Since it was decreed that one could only achieve perfection after having experienced death, it follows then that even if someone actually earned it while he was alive (which is in fact the only environment in which one could earn it ), he’ll have to wait for it.

What that implies is that the soul has to be exposed to sin and wrongfulness to one degree or another while the individual is in this world , and to become darkened and dimmed as a result of that exposure. It also implies that the soul can’t express its full inherent luster while the individual is still alive , having been tinged that way.

Consequently, the body which could have benefited and been purified from the soul’s luster can’t experience that in this world. And the soul suffers from the fact that it can’t manifest its luster in life too, since it can’t fulfill its raison d’être then, which is to purify the body, given that “things only achieve perfection when they fulfill their G-d-given purpose” . It’s clear then that both the soul and the body lose a lot in life.

Ramchal’s point, then, is that the soul attains some of what it lacked for in life while in The Soul World. It can radiate fully there, and its ability to purify the body is bolstered there, too .

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In fact, by all rights the soul should actually and quite naturally purify the body to a truly supernatural degree when an individual is born, whether he’s worthy of that or not, given how inherently pure the soul is.

But the point is that G-d purposefully disallowed for that , and keeps the soul at bay, if you will, in the course of one’s life, so that His intentions can be fulfilled. So the soul does what it does while it is in the body, and no more, where it otherwise sits stifled and withdrawn, so to speak .

It’s also true that the soul should likewise be able to expand and irradiate as the individual engages in good deeds in his life, and to purify the body then to a degree. But that, too, was denied the soul in life.

But those restraints will all be removed in the course of the Resurrection of the Dead, when the soul will purify the body in one fell swoop. And the combination of body and soul will grow higher and higher to the degree that accords with the sort of person that individual had come to be in life , until they become worthy of the World to Come where they can continue to grow .

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