The God Squad: We're not privy to mysteries of heaven

November 05, 2010|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

I get a huge number of questions about heaven, and even though I keep reminding readers that I'm in sales, not management, the queries keep coming:

Q: Raised in a religious atmosphere, I was led to believe that when we reach heaven, we'll experience eternal joy and happiness. But what if our loved ones don't get to heaven, and we do? How could we then experience eternal joy and happiness?

A: There are only two possible entrance standards for heaven: 1) Almost every soul gets in except for Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Osama bin Laden, and telemarketers who call at dinnertime, and 2) only true believers in whatever turns out to be the true faith get in. I vote for No. 1.


Q: I'm in a second marriage and often wonder what heaven will be like. My hubby's first wife died of cancer. Will they meet again in heaven (as I've always thought) and then ... what of me?

A: I think all three of your souls will be together in heaven. I think there will be no jealousy because you'll all realize the inclusive power of love. I also believe that your husband's first wife will ask you, "Did you ever get him to pick up his socks?" Some things even heaven can't change.

Q: With regard to pets in heaven, I came across this Bible verse: "For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place." Ecclesiastes 3:19-20. Any thoughts?

A: I know this verse, but 1) there's no concept of heaven for people or animals in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament); 2) the author of Ecclesiastes was a grumpy cynic. The author of, "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity" never had his granddaughter, Daisy, wrap her arms around him and say, "Pappa, I love you!"

Q: Do Jews believe in signs or angels? I lost my dear father in June 2009, and I never stop thinking about him. Several weeks ago, right after Rosh Hashanah, while driving home, a white Jeep pulled into my lane, directly in front of me. The license plate read, "ILUVWILL." I gasped. My dad's name was William. Was this a sign or just a happy coincidence?

A: Abraham received a visit from angels, Jacob wrestled with an angel, and an angel spoke to Moses from the burning bush. However, none of them had license plates. I believe in angels. I believe in signs but try not to make too much of them. (It makes people think I'm crazy and there are already too many people who think that about me already.)

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