Updated: Apr 25
What the Torah really says about eternal hell (Gehenna)
"...all of these people descend to Gehenna and are judged there for generations and generations...Gehenna will terminate, but they still will not terminate..."
(Rosh Hashanah 17a)
In Judiasm, is there Eternal Punishment?
The Gemara, masechet Rosh Hashanah, page 17a says, it depends what level of Gehinnom (hell) a person is in.
There are seven levels of Gehinom. The Reshit Chochmah gives detailed explanations of what happens in every one of the chambers in Gehinom. It also tells us what kind of sins you do in order to get into a certain chamber.
For example, the fourth chamber of Gehinom is where they put people that have arrogance, people that make fun of poor people, people that waste seed unintentionally, and also Jewish men that go with goyot (gentile women). That's the the place for them – the fourth
level of Gehinom.
As another example, the fifth level is called Sheol. Over there, they put people that are moserim (informers). If you go call the cops on a jew or call the IRS on a jew, you
have a serious problem. You're called a moser – an informer. If you tell people to donate money to a church, you're called a moser.
Also in the fifth level is someone who's an Apikoris – a heretic. And a Kofer – a different type of heretic. Someone that's a kofer, they don't believe in resurrection of the dead, they go to the fifth level.
The First Six Levels of Gehinom – A Limited Sentence
The Gemara says that the first six levels have a certain amount of time frame. Different sins, different sentence. Let's say sin "a" has one year, sin "b" has two years, sin "c" has ten years and so on and so forth. So the Gemara says certain people go and have to pay only for one year, or for two years, or for a thousand years, etc.
But, when the Mashiach comes they'll be taken out and they'll join the rest of Am Yisrael as Tzaddikim. They'll have an eternity of good, BeEzrat Hashem.
But there's a seventh level.
The Seventh Level of Gehinom – Anyone Who Enters Does Not Leave
In the seventh level of Gehinom, anyone that enters does not leave. They go in there and they never leave. Gemara says even after Mashiach comes, and even after the end of this world. It's an eternity of Gehinom until the neshama is officially destroyed. Which could be millions and millions of years.
And the sins that a person does in order to get to the seventh level of Gehinom are so
easy to make you wouldn't believe it.
How people are mamash, putting themselves in eternity of Gehinom with a simple sin.
1) Violating Shabbat on Purpose
One of those sins is someone that violates shabbat on purpose and
does not do teshuva, dies without doing teshuva. They go into the seventh level of gehinom
and it does not end. Moshiach, resurrection of the dead, all that stuff does not apply to them.
Someone who goes into it, the seventh level, someone that goes into it does not come out and it says that here there's different parts of it one of
it is boiling feces another part is boiling
seed, other is different types of fire.
One person is a mechalel Shabbat that goes in there, dies a mechalel Shabbat. They didn't do teshuva.
If they did teshuva, they don't have to worry about it. But if they
didn't do teshuva they have a very very serious permanent problem.
2) Wasting Seed on Purpose
Second is someone that's wasting seed. Meaning, they waste seed on purpose. Like unfortunately many guys today, young and old, they're addicted to it. They do it sometimes daily, sometimes multiple times daily sometimes a few times a week. If you die without doing teshuva for wasting seed my friend, it doesn't matter if you kept shabbat.
Gehinom starts and doesn't end for you. It's not a joke.
When I learned about Gehinom I started crying. It's not a place you want anyone in there including yourself or anyone you love.
Wasting seed is a serious crime against Hashem.
3) Causing Others to Sin – A Woman Who Dresses Immodest
Next one it says someone that causes other people to sin a woman that walks around immodest she causes guys to sin, they end up wasting seed because of her, what do you think she goes away free while he's in jail forever? No my friends. A woman that walks around immodest that causes other men to sin, she's considered a "machtei harabim" (someone who causes others to sin) this could be our sisters, this could be our daughters, this could be people that we know this could be our mothers, that causes men to sin. A woman needs to take on modesty. You don't want to go with such a crime in shamayim.
I know it seems hard to be modest in this world because everybody else is immodest. I know it seems like it's hot and therefore if you're going to put more layers or at least longer clothes it's going to be unbearable but i promise you, it's not that hot. And I promise you it's not hotter when you wear longer sleeves. In fact, many times it's hotter when you wear shorter sleeves.
Same thing with guys. Guys that don't take advantage of the mitzvah of tzitzit because they think it's too hot, you're wasting a big opportunity to make a mitzvah and every second you're going to need that mitzvah. You're going to need that mitzvah to protect you. So guys that have the excuse: "oh no i'm not wearing tzitzit because it's too hot". When you wear tzitzit it's actually less hot and the reason why is because you have layers. When you have layers you'll have actually less heat. You'll have more wind coming into your body, i promise you it's not more hot with tzitzit . It's the opposite, just your Yetzer Hara telling you.
How Long is Punishment in Gehinom? Time There is Different.
If a person goes to the first six levels of Gehinom for whatever sins they've committed, there is a punishment and it's a very serious punishment. (You can learn more from my shiur about Gehinom.) But it ends at some point.
It can be a month, it could be 5 thousand years, it could be five million years, but at some point it ends.
Remember, time over there is not like time over here. So even if mashiach comes, it doesn't mean that the person, let's say mashiach comes next year, it doesn't mean that a person that goes to gehinom tomorrow is only going to be in gehinom for one year. It doesn't mean that. There's no time over there.
Meaning, that moshiach could come next year, but that person went to Gehinom for 50,000 years. Why? Because there's no time there.
Here it's a year. Over there could be fifty thousand years.
One of the places we learn this in the torah is parashat shelach. What did Hakodesh Baruch Hu say to Am Yisrael? He says: you said something against the land and said lashon hara about the land after going there for forty days. For every one of your days I'm going to count a year. That's a forty year punishment. Forty days trip, one second actual sin, became a forty year punishment. No one from that generation entered Eretz Yisrael. Here we already see that Hakodesh Baruch Hu's time span and clock is very different than ours. A one second sin could be centuries of punishment.
Do Teshuva and Don't Go to the Seventh Level of Gehinom
We have to do teshuva. Little by little you'll do more. Little by little you'll get better and you'll see that this is the best thing you've ever done for yourself. Not just in the next world, but also i this one. So, if a person goes to the first six levels of Geheniom, it ends at some point but that's not necessarily good news. It just means it ends at some point. However, if they go into the seventh place because of these three major crimes:
1) causing others to sin
2) wasting seed
3) desecrating Shabbat
(there's a few others but those three are most common) then they have a permanent problem. Because they'll enter and they will not leave.
And it's not going to be fun.
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