Many Jews are confused about their attitude to heaven and hell.
Often I hear Jews say, “Oh, we don’t believe in that….”
Of-course what we believe in, is defined by the Torah.
It is very interesting that the Torah doesn’t explicitly (only hints) to heaven and hell (in fact, the classic word for hell / Gehinnom comes from the verse, “And he defiled the Topheth that was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so that no man would pass his son or his daughter in the fire to the Molech.”)
The reason the Torah explicitly doesn’t mention heaven or hell, is because life is about making this world heaven.
So while it is obvious that a soul / life / a spark of God, is born in the heaven, and comes into a body (remarkably at the formation of the zygote, the merging of the male and female cell, a flash of light is seen, and whenever one passes, a 3/4 of an ounce of weight (no matter how old or young…) dissipates – so the soul comes from above with a mission – as the Tanya teaches, before we come into the body it is charged: “Be good and not evil, and even if the whole world will tell you that you are righteous, consider yourself as if you are evil” – in other words, never be arrogant.)
However while we are on earth, as we have freedom, which is the allure of foolish (which the majority often follow) pursuits, (for everyone is afraid of being shamed, which is the tactic of the shameful, (themselves having been bullied) but if we hold fast to God’s instruction – which remarkably over three thousand, three hundred years have passed, and did not change (the only religion! with absolute consistency…) then we are able to be fully dressed in the beautiful light garments, each Mitzvah (for every Mitzvah has a light aura, like Teffilin over the head and hand, Torah in the mind etc.) and we merit to receive esoteric secrets – however, if we God-forbid indulge in evil: lust, anger, bullying etc. then our poor soul, that is stained, so now its garments are dark (notwithstanding the good that we did is held in our account – but in order to get to the palace, we must have beautiful clothing) so we go through cosmic washing machines – fire, for having been passionate about bad things, snow for having been lazy and dereliction (additionally getting into hell itself is a reward, for after the washing machine, one gets into heaven!
Five additional facts:
1. If a person is really bad they don’t even get to go into hell, demonic angels harass the person and – usually – only through the intersession of a Tzaddik do they get redeemed – also (I am not exactly sure, I think this is how it goes…) if hell doesn’t work (for ultimately a person must reach a state of complete humility) one can come back down into an animal (no fun…) or worse vegetation (bad scenery…) or even worse, a rock….)
Our soul, as the Arizal teaches, actually comes through multiple reincarnations to fulfil all the 613 Mitzvos (apart from those obligatory on a king – as he does it for everyone… in this way, the 613 garments of the soul, are all bright.)
Ultimately, Moshiach – as the Rebbe (who was also a great Kabbalist, based on Kabbalah teaches, we are the final generation – in fact the reincarnation of the Jews, who left Egypt, and just as then it was in the merit of the righteous Jewish woman who saved us, it is those same reincarnated righteous Jewish women, who light Shabbos candles, and dress Tznius, in whose merit Moshiach comes!) and forever we live with the light of all our Mitzvos on earth.