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The Belief

The Purpose Of Creation

The World To Come: Why A Bodily Resurrection?


Who Will Rise?

When Will The Resurrection Take Place?

Where Will The Resurrection Take Place?

Who Will Rise First?

In What Manner Will The Resurrection Take Place?

Life After The Resurrection

Mitzvos After The Resurrection Eternity Of Torah And Mitzvos

Halachic Considerations

Prayers And Customs

The Concept Of Resurrection In Avodas Hashem

"To Understand The Concept Of Techiyas Hameisim, The Resurrection Of The Dead"

"All Israel Have A Share In The World To Come"

To Live And Live Again
An Overview of Techiyas Hameisim
Based On The Classical Sources And On The Teachings Of Chabad Chassidism

Chapter 1
The Belief

by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov
edited by Uri Kaploun

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  ForewardThe Purpose Of Creation  

"I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when G-d wills it to happen."[1]

Rambam's Definition

In his Discourse on the Resurrection,[2] Rambam writes: "The concept of Resurrection - which is well known among our people and accepted throughout all its circles, and which is often mentioned in the prayers and aggadic teachings and supplications (written by the prophets and the foremost Sages) with which the Talmud and the Midrashim are replete - signifies the following: The soul will return to the body after they have been separated [by death]. No Jew has disputed this concept, and it cannot be interpreted other than literally. One may not accept the view of any Jew who believes otherwise.

"As I shall explain in the present discourse: Why should we not interpret these verses [regarding the Resurrection] allegorically, as we have done with many other Biblical verses, departing from their literal meaning? The reason is as follows: The concept of Resurrection, namely, that the soul will return to the body after death, is expressed by Daniel[3] in such a manner that it cannot be interpreted other than literally: 'Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awaken, some to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting contempt.' Daniel was likewise told by the angel,[4] 'Now go your way to the end and rest, and you shall arise to your destiny at the end of days.'"

The Talmud[5] teaches that those who deny Resurrection will have no share in the World to Come, and Rambam in Mishneh Torah[6] rules that this teaching has the authority of Halachah.

Selections From The Talmud

[R. Elazar HaKapar[7]] used to say: "Those who are born are destined to die: those who are dead are destined to live again" (another version: 'to be resurrected')."

All[8] Israel have a share in the World to Come....[9] The following, however, have no share therein: He who maintains that Resurrection is not a Biblical doctrine....[10]

How[11] is Resurrection deduced from the Torah?[12]

It is written,[13] "Of [these tithes] you shall give G-d's heave-offering to Aharon the priest." But would Aharon live forever?! After all, he did not enter the Land of Israel and thereby make it possible that terumah be given to him! Rather, this verse teaches that he will ultimately be resurrected, and the Jewish people will give him terumah....[14]

R. Simai[11] says: "Whence do we learn Resurrection from the Torah? - From the verse,[15] 'And I also have established My covenant with them (i.e., the Patriarchs) to give them the Land of Canaan.' The verse does not say 'to give you' but 'to give them.' [Since, as Rashi points out, the Land was given to their descendants, and has not yet been given to them personally,] their future Resurrection is thus proved from the Torah."

Sectarians[11] asked Rabban Gamliel: "From where do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect the dead?"

He answered them from the Torah, the Prophets and the Hagiographa....

Queen[11] Cleopatra said to R. Meir: "I know that the dead will live again, for it is written,[16] 'And they shall blossom out of the city like grass from the earth';[17] but when they arise, will they arise naked or clothed?"

He replied, "You may deduce the answer by observing a wheat grain.[18] If a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, sprouts forth in many robes, how much more so the righteous, who are buried in their garments."

An[11] emperor said to Rabban Gamliel: "You maintain that the dead will live again; but they turn to dust - and can dust come to life?!"

Thereupon the [emperor's] daughter[19] said to [Rabban Gamliel]: "Here, let me answer him. In our town there are two potters: one fashions his vessels from water, and the other from clay. Who is the more praiseworthy?"

"He who fashions them from water," replied [her father].

She concluded: "If He can fashion man from water,[20] surely he can do so from clay."[21]

According[22] to the School of R. Yishmael, [in the above exchange the emperor's daughter answered her father with] a different analogy: If glassware, made by the breath of mere flesh and blood, can be reconstituted when shattered, then how much more so man, who was created by the breath of the Holy One, blessed be He.

A[22] sectarian challenged R. Ami: "You maintain that the dead will live again; but they turn to dust - and can dust come to life?!"

He replied, "Let me offer you a parable. A mortal king commanded his servants to build him great palaces in a place where there was neither water nor earth [for making bricks]. They went and built them. After some time they collapsed, so he commanded them to rebuild them in a place which did have water and earth, but they said, 'We cannot.' The king was indignant: 'If you could build in a place that had neither water nor earth, surely you can build in a place where there is!'"[23]

R. Ami concluded: "And if you do not believe [that G-d can form creatures from dust], go out to the field and you will see a certain mouse; today it is part flesh and part dust,[24] and yet by tomorrow it has become entirely flesh. And should you say that this metamorphosis takes a long time ['and hence argue that G-d does not revive the dead in an instant' - Rashi], go up to the mountain; there you will see but one snail, whilst after tomorrow's rain the mountain will be covered with snails ['which are generated immediately' - Rashi]."

A[22] sectarian said to Geviha ben Pesisa: "Woe to you, you wicked ones, who maintain that the dead will revive! The living indeed die, but shall the dead live?!"

He replied: "Woe to you, you wicked ones, who maintain the dead will not revive. If those who never lived, now live, surely those who have lived, will live again!"

Resh Lakish[25] contrasted two verses: "One verse promises,[26] 'I will gather them in...; among them there will be the blind and the lame, the woman with child together with the woman in labor.' Another verse, however, states:[27] "Then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing, for waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.' How so? - They shall rise with their defects[28] and then be healed."

Ulla[25] contrasted two verses: "It is written,[29] 'He will destroy death forever, and G-d will wipe away tears from all faces,' whilst elsewhere it is written,[30] 'For a child shall die a hundred years old....' However, this presents no difficulty: one verse refers to Jews, the other to heathens. But what business have heathens there? - The reference is to those of whom it is written,[31] 'And strangers shall stand and pasture your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.'"[32]

Rava[25] also contrasted two quotations: "It is written,[33] 'I kill, and I make alive.' [Rashi: 'This implies that a man is resurrected in the same state (e.g., wounded) as he was at the time of death.'] The same verse goes on to say, 'I have wounded, and I heal!' [Rashi: 'This implies that a wounded man is resurrected whole.'] Yet there is no contradiction here, for in this verse the Holy One, blessed be He, is saying: 'What I kill I make alive' [i.e., in the same state], and 'What I have wounded, I then heal.'"[34]

On[25] the verse,33 "I kill, and I make alive," our Sages commented: "One might understand this to mean, 'I kill one person and give life to another,' as is the way of the world, ['so that one man dies and another is born' - Rashi]. The same verse therefore goes on to say, 'I have wounded, and I heal.' Just as wounding and healing [obviously] refer to the same person, so putting to death and bringing to life refer to the same person. This is an answer to those who maintain that Resurrection is not intimated in the Torah."

R. Meir[25] said: "From where do we learn Resurrection from the Torah? - From the verse,[35] Oz Yoshir Moshe ('Moshe and the Children of Israel then sang this song to G-d'). The literal meaning of the verb is not 'sang' but 'shall sing.' Thus Techiyas HaMeisim is taught in the Torah."[36]

R. Yehoshua ben Levi[25] said: "Where is Resurrection derived from the Torah? - From the verse,[37] Ashrei Yoshvei Beisecha, Od Yehalelucha Selah ('Happy are those who dwell in Your house; they shall praise You forever'). The verse does not say, 'they praised You,' but 'they shall praise you.' Thus Techiyas HaMeisim is taught in the Torah.

R. Chiya bar Abba[25] said in the name of R. Yochanan: "Where in the Torah do we learn of Resurrection? - From the verse,[38] 'The voice of your watchmen is raised aloft: together shall they sing.' The verb Veranenu does not mean 'sang' but 'shall sing'. Here, then, is a source in the Torah for Techiyas HaMeisim."

Rava[39] said: "Where is Resurrection derived from the Torah? - From the verse,[40] 'May Reuven live and not die.' [This seeming repetition implies:] 'May Reuven live in this world, and not die in the next."

Ravina said it is derived from this verse:3 "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awaken, some to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting contempt."[41]

R. Ashi said it is derived from this verse:4 "Now go your way to the end and rest, and you shall arise to your destiny at the end of days."

R. Tavi[39] said in the name of R. Yoshia: "What do we learn from the following text?[42] 'There are three things that are never satisfied:... the grave and the womb....' How comes the grave next to the womb? - This juxtaposition teaches you that just as the womb takes in and gives forth again, so the grave takes in and will give forth again. Moreover, if the womb which takes in silently gives forth with loud noise [i.e., the crying of the infant], does it not stand to reason that the grave which takes in with a loud noise [i.e., the wailing of the mourners], will give forth [those who are revived] with a loud noise?[43] Here is an answer for those who deny that Techiyas HaMeisim is taught in the Torah."

Tanna dvei Eliyahu[39] states: "The righteous whom G-d will resurrect will not revert to dust, for it is said,[44] 'And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and he who remains in Jerusalem shall be called holy: everyone in Jerusalem who is inscribed for life.' Just as the Holy One endures forever, so too shall they endure forever."

Three[45] keys have not been entrusted to an agent: the keys to birth, rain and Resurrection.[46]

R. Eleazar[47] said: "The illiterate will not be resurrected, for it is written,[48] 'The dead will not live...,' but since this might be assumed to refer to all, the verse goes on to say, 'The shades of the dead shall not rise,' thus alluding specifically to him who is lax in studying the words of the Torah."

Said R. Yochanan to him: "It gives no satisfaction to their Master that you should speak of such people in this manner.[49] That text speaks of a man who was so lax as to worship idols!"

Replied [R. Elazar]: "Then let me base my exposition [to the same effect] on another text. It is written,[50] '[Your dead shall live, my dead body shall arise; awake and sing, you who repose in the dust.] For Your dew is a dew of light, and the earth shall cast down the shades of the dead.' This means that he who makes use of the light of the Torah, him will the light[51] of the Torah revive, but as to him who does not make use of the light of the Torah, him will the light of the Torah not revive."

Observing however, that [R. Yochanan] was [still] distressed, [R. Elazar] said to him: "Master, I have found a remedy for [the illiterate] in the Torah, for it is written,[52] 'But you who cleave to the L-rd your G-d are all alive today.' Now is it possible to cleave to the Divine Presence, concerning Whom it is written,[53] 'For the L-rd your G-d is a consuming fire'?! The meaning is this: Any man who marries his daughter to a scholar, invests on behalf of scholars, or benefits scholars from his estate is regarded by the Torah as if he had cleaved to the Divine Presence."

R. Chiya bar Yosef[47] said: "A time will come when the righteous will break through the soil and rise up in Jerusalem, for it is written,16 'And they shall blossom out of the city like grass from the earth'[17] - and 'city' can allude only to Jerusalem, as in the phrase,[54] 'For I shall defend this city.'"



  1. (Back to text) This is the 13th and last of Rambam's Principles of Faith, in the paraphrased form that many Siddurim append to the morning prayers. (In their original form, the Principles appear in the Rambam's introduction to his Commentary on the Mishnah of Sanhedrin, ch. 10.) See also Maimonides' Principles by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (N.C.S.Y.).

  2. (Back to text) Maamar Techiyas HaMeisim, (also known as Iggeres Techiyas HaMeisim - Letter on the Resurrection), beginning of ch. 4.

  3. (Back to text) Daniel 12:2.

  4. (Back to text) Ibid., v. 13.

  5. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 90a.

  6. (Back to text) Hilchos Teshuvah 3:6.

  7. (Back to text) Avos ("Ethics of the Fathers") 4:22.

  8. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 90a, in the mishnah.

  9. (Back to text) See at length in ch. 5 and in Appendix 2 (below). See also Rashi on the above-quoted mishnah. Midrash Shmuel on Avos understands Rashi to mean - and Bartenura holds likewise - that although the previous chapter of Sanhedrin referred to those liable for capital punishment, they too have a share in the World to Come.

    In the Hebrew text, the literal translation of the above-quoted phrase is not "in the World to Come" but "to the World to Come". See Margaliyos HaYam, citing Ruach Chaim, for an explanation of this observation and others.

    The phrase "to the World to Come" calls to mind a teaching of the Rebbe Rayatz on the following phrase from the Mishnah (Berachos 1:5) that is quoted in the Haggadah: "The phrase 'All the days of your life' includes (lit., 'is to bring') the Messianic Era." The plain meaning of this phrase is that the Exodus is to be recalled not only during the days of our present life, but even in the days of the Messianic Era. Noting the literal meaning of the verb lehavi ("to bring"), the Rebbe Rayatz perceived an additional teaching in these words: Throughout all the days of your life, your avodah should be directed to bringing about the days of Mashiach.

    Along these lines, in the phrase "All Israel have a share to the World to Come" one may perhaps find a hint that every Jew should play an active role in hastening the advent of the World to Come.

  10. (Back to text) Rashi comments: "I.e., he denies the validity of the Scriptural interpretations - at the [non-literal] level of derush - through which the Gemara below proceeds to derive Scriptural authority for the concept of Resurrection. Even if he concedes and believes that the dead will be resurrected, but denies that this belief is alluded to in the Torah, he is a heretic (kofer). Since he denies its Biblical source, of what value to us is his faith? From where does he know that this is the case? Accordingly, he is unequivocally considered a heretic."

    The author of Beer Sheva states that the above thought is originally quoted in Yad Ramah in the name of Rabbeinu Shlomo. See also the Responsa of Rashba, sec. 9.

  11. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 90b.

  12. (Back to text) In the expositions that follow, the word "Torah" sometimes embraces the entire Tanach. See at length in Margaliyos HaYam on Sanhedrin 92a, sec. 3.

  13. (Back to text) Bamidbar 18:28.

  14. (Back to text) See ch. 11 below.

  15. (Back to text) Shmos 6:4. See Maharsha and Rif on Ein Yaakov.

    The Gemara in Sanhedrin 90b quotes a similar verse (Devarim 11:21, which is read in the course of the daily Shema) as part of Rabban Gamliel's response to the heretics. Ben Yehoyada (on Sanhedrin, loc. cit.) discusses why Rabban Gamliel did not instead refer his disputants to the earlier verse in Shmos.

  16. (Back to text) Tehillim 72:16.

  17. (Back to text) Citing Kesubbos 111a, Rashi teaches that the righteous will pass through subterranean tunnels and be resurrected in Jerusalem. See ch. 7 below.

  18. (Back to text) The Gemara often draws analogies with the wheat grain. (In Kesubbos 111b the Gemara cites the same answer in the name of R. Chiya bar Yosef.) Ben Yehoyada (on Sanhedrin 91a) points out that arguments of this kind are intended merely to provide additional support for beliefs which are based on Biblical verses. He aptly quotes the verse (Devarim 8:3), "Man does not live by bread alone: man lives on that which comes forth from G-d's mouth," and concludes: Ultimately, our faith is not nourished by arguments based on a grain of wheat, but by the words that come forth from G-d's mouth.

  19. (Back to text) Why did she interject? Ben Yehoyada explains that since she was afraid that Rabban Gamliel might say that gentiles would not be resurrected, she offered her own inoffensive answer. He goes on to explain that the emperor in fact believed in G-d, but he was perplexed by the concept of Resurrection, for it appeared to defy the principle that "there is nothing new under the sun" (Koheles 1:9). Hence his daughter's answer: any process which already exists may be a prototype for Resurrection.

  20. (Back to text) Rashi: "From a drop of semen which resembles water."

  21. (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, p. 247.

  22. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 91a.

  23. (Back to text) Rashi offers two alternative ways of understanding this parable: (a) If G-d can create man from a small drop which is almost intangible, surely He can create him from dust; (b) G-d created the entire universe out of chaos.

  24. (Back to text) Margaliyos HaYam cites Tiferes Yisrael on Chullin 9:6 to the effect that such a mouse exists in Egypt.

  25. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 91b.

  26. (Back to text) Yirmeyahu 31:8.

  27. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 35:6.

  28. (Back to text) And thus be identifiable (Bereishis Rabbah 95:1) See also Margaliyos HaYam, and ch. 9 below.

  29. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 25:8.

  30. (Back to text) Ibid. 65:20.

  31. (Back to text) Ibid. 61:5.

  32. (Back to text) See ch. 10 below.

  33. (Back to text) Devarim 32:39.

  34. (Back to text) Rashi: "As with the above teaching [of Resh Lakish]."

  35. (Back to text) Shmos 15:1.

  36. (Back to text) Margaliyos HaYam cites many sources for this teaching in the Zohar.

  37. (Back to text) Tehillim 84:5.

  38. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 52:8.

  39. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 92a.

  40. (Back to text) Devarim 33:6.

  41. (Back to text) "The verse does not say 'all who sleep...shall awaken,' because this... would include all of mankind, and G-d made this promise only to Israel; hence the verse says, 'Many of those who sleep...shall awaken.' Moreover: the phrase, 'some to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting contempt,' does not mean that among those who are resurrected some will be rewarded and some punished, for those who deserve punishment will not be resurrected at the time of the Redemption. Rather, it means that those who awaken will have everlasting life, and those who will not awaken will be destined to reproach and everlasting contempt. For all the righteous [including those] who repented, will live; only the unbelieving and those who died without repentance will remain. All this will happen at the time of the Redemption." - R. Saadiah Gaon, Emunos VeDeos, ch. 7.

    See also Ibn Ezra (ad loc.); Rambam, Peirush HaMishnah, on Sanhedrin, ch. 10; Ramban, Shaar HeGemul, ch. 11; Or HaShem, Part 3, 4:4, p. 77. See, however, Abarbanel, Maayanei HaYeshuah, p. 11a.

  42. (Back to text) Mishlei 30:15, 16.

  43. (Back to text) Rashi cites the verse (Yeshayahu 27:13), "And it shall be on that day, that a great Shofar shall be sounded...." The Midrash entitled Osios deRabbi Akiva elaborates (sec. 9): "How will the A-mighty resurrect the dead in the time to come? He will take up a Shofar a thousand cubits long and will sound it, and it will reverberate from one end of the world to another. With the first blast the world will be in an uproar; with the second, the earth will split," and so on. See also Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer, sec. 34.

  44. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 4:3.

  45. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 113a.

  46. (Back to text) Cf. the mishnah at the end of Tractate Sotah, "Resurrection comes through Eliyahu (the Prophet Elijah)." (According to Emek HaMelech, Shaar Olam HaTohu, sec. 29, this means that the key to the dew of Resurrection was entrusted to the hands of Eliyahu.) The Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 3:3) states, "Resurrection brings about [the coming of] Eliyahu." See the comment of Ran on Avodah Zarah 20b.

  47. (Back to text) Kesubbos 111b. See also Tanna dvei Eliyahu, sec. 5.

  48. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 26:14.

  49. (Back to text) "G-d does not desire that you judge Israel so harshly" (Rashi on the same sentence in Sanhedrin 111a).

  50. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 26:19.

  51. (Back to text) A footnote in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, p. 193, observes that Yalkut Shimoni on this verse writes that "the dew of the Torah will revive him"; so, too, Tanya, ch. 36. See also: Jerusalem Talmud, Berachos 5:2; Shabbos 88b; Likkutei Torah, Parshas Haazinu, p. 73c.

    The maamar entitled Samchuni (in Sefer HaMaamarim 5660) explains that or Torah ("the light of the Torah") signifies razin (the secrets of the Torah) while tal Torah ("the dew of the Torah") signifies razin derazin (the innermost secrets of the Torah).

  52. (Back to text) Devarim 4:4.

  53. (Back to text) Ibid., v. 24.

  54. (Back to text) II Melachim 19:34.

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