The God Squad: Do you want to know your death day?

Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Content Agency on

Q: I don’t know if destiny is in the hands of God. If God is all knowing, He at least knows when we’ll die. Did He set the date I guess is the question? My question is if you are a member of the God Squad wouldn’t your prayer be that you hope your number will be up as soon as possible to enjoy the benefits of heaven? – (From M)

A: Two huge questions:

Why don’t I want to go to Heaven right now?

Do I want to know my death day in advance?

The first of your questions…

I believe in Heaven. I call it The World To Come but it is the same place that Christians call Heaven. I believe that we are composed of body and soul and that death is only the end of our bodies. I believe that after bodily death our souls are reconnected in Heaven with the souls of those we have loved and lost and with those ancestors who came before us long ago. I believe that the beauty and joys of Heaven far surpass any of the beauty and joys we experience during our embodied life.


However, I am willing to wait for Heaven because I want to honor the gift of ensouled bodily life. God gave us a span of time when we can experience the bodily joys of life like all animals and the spiritual joys of life like all human beings created in the image of God.

The only joys Heaven can provide are disembodied spiritual joys and count me among those folks who believe that God is somehow behind the joys of a pastrami sandwich or a perfect cookie or a hug from my grandchildren or a cool breeze on a hot day or sinking a 30-foot putt. I know there are higher pleasures but there are real pleasures waiting for us in this life.

An old teaching from the old rabbis says that we will be held to account in Heaven for all the (legitimate) pleasures we were offered here in this life but did not accept.

I also believe that Heaven will include a reckoning for all my sins and although I hope I am way down the list of the world’s most notable sinners, I am not anxious to re-live or explain or suffer for all the moments in this life when I foolishly ignored the better angels of my nature.


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