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Kabbalah/Brother in the afterlife ?


Dear honoured Rabbi, my brother grew up in a religious home but took to drink and declared himself an Atheist..... He died suddenly too young and my parents are not coping well at all. Their Christian beliefs have failed them and they can find no answers or peace !!

From the Jewish or Kaballah perspective what can I say / do to help them. My father says his life is not worth living......... He has left behind a small child but they live abroad so we do not see her either now. Her mother is a nutter and is not interested in us.....  Is my brothers soul in hell because of his drinking and unbelief ??
He also neglected us and could be quite abusive at times also-more pain
Thank you for reading this...... I hope very much to hear from you. With kindest regards, Vanessa xo

Hi Vanessa

That is truly tragic! I wish you and your family strength and comfort at this time.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that no human being, regardless of how educated or religious they are, is qualified to judge another person's circumstances and life choice's. We are certainly also unqualified to judge what happens to a person in the Afterlife. Sure, we read much about the Afterlife, but the main thing that we read is that G-d decides how to deal with each person and that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. In simple English, this means that we can never guess how G-d will choose to judge a person for their actions.

People always tend to make the mistake of counting positives against negatives. So, if in our opinion, a person did more bad things than good things in his/ her life, we imagine that they will be punished in the next world. But, the truth is that we never know the value of the good or bad things that people do. It is possible, sometimes, that one good deed is way more powerful than a whole lot of bad ones. For example, if you find it really difficult to be friendly to a particular person because they have hurt you or they simply annoy you, when you show them kindness that is a lot more powerful than if you are kind to someone you like.

Likewise, your brother probably did certain things in his life that were really hard for him- maybe praying to G-d at times that you were unaware of (despite his claiming not to believe) or being good to people that society normally ignores (who he may very well have met because of his own unfortunate circumstances). Who knows? Those little things that you will never know about may carry great spiritual weight. Who knows? Perhaps G-d sent his soul to this world to touch people that ordinary citizens would never come close to.

There are so many mysteries and so many unanswered questions. And, because there is so much unknown, there is so much pain. G-d is a loving Father and has an infinite capacity to show love to people we could never show love to and an infinite capacity to forgive people we believe are beyond redemption.

You and your family are surely going through a terrible time right now, and probably had many difficulties with your brother during his life. I hope that you can find some comfort in knowing that G-d felt your brother was valuable enough to put into this world and that He sees things about Him that He can love, despite his mistakes.


Rabbi Shishler


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Rabbi Ari Shishler


I'm happy to answer questions on Jewish belief, Jewish spirituality & Kabbalah.


Rabbi, lecturer on Talmud and Jewish spirituality at Chabad House, Johannesburg, South Africa 1997-present. Talmud teacher at local Jewish high school 1996- present.

Chabad Lubavitch.

Monthly column in Jewish Life magazine, South Africa. Jewish Tradition, South Africa. Jewish Report, South Africa. South African Union of Jewish Students annual Holiday guide. Jewish Observer, South Africa. Nshei Chabad Newsletter, NY. Jewish Online Magazine.

Six years of tertiary education at Rabbinical seminaries in South Africa, Israel and New York.

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