Purgatory-like and fiery, Gehenna is purportedly where, for one year tops, sinners go to agonize over the past. Once atoned, they’re permitted to move on—but if they haven’t, they essentially embody their own awful conscience, continuously consumed by regret. Gehenna, an ancient valley south of Jerusalem, was a popular spot to sacrifice children for apostate Israelites and followers of Moloch. So it’s no wonder the word became synonymous with hell.
The Talmud says this procedure is the case for everyone, that “all Israel has a share in the world to come.” But what it also tells us is that are a few exceptions. Specifically, three kings and four strange and rather evil commoners who forfeited their share in the World to Come.
For the next week, we’ll be looking at those four commoners. Check back here every day. Meanwhile, to ensure your spot in the afterlife, follow these simple rules: don’t deny the Torah’s mention of resurrection and definitely don’t deny the Torah’s divine authorship.
And the four commoners are (drumroll, please):
1. Evil Balaam and His Talking Donkey (Though not actually Jewish, Balaam is counted among the four.)
2. Ahitophel, King David’s Divine Betrayer
3. Doeg the Edomite (and Priest Slayer)
4. Gehazi The Unfairly Punished
» Read the Talmud on the World to Come
» Learn more about Gehenna
» Prepare yourself for the afterlife
» Dive into the text yourself
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November 17, 2014