13th principle Judaism from of the Rambam Resurrection of the Dead.
Judaism teaches that we are not a body with a soul. We are also not a soul with a body. Soul and body are two halves of a whole. The 13th principle states that resurrection of the dead is one of the fundamental principles in the Torah of our master Moses. The Rambam strongly believed that anyone who denies the concept of resurrection of the dead forfeit their share in Olam HaBa - the world to come (Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Teshuvah 3:6).
Most Christians believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead and ascended to Heaven in a material body, although some believe it was spiritual and not physical. There are also stories in the Christian bible of Jesus bringing a few dead people back to life. The Christian bible even says that after Jesus’ resurrection many dead came out of their graves and walked around. (You’d think something so dramatic might have made Roman records, but the only record of it is in Matthew).
The Christian bible states “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) which would make it appear that resurrection means Jesus’ resurrection makes him a a part of the triune god and worthy of worship.
Yet the T’nach tells us that resurrection has already happened – and that in the time of the real messiah all of the righteous will be resurrected (it says nothing about the messiah dying and being resurrected. Indeed if the messiah dies prior to fulfilling the messianic prophecies he can’t be the messiah). . . There are three resurrections in the T’nach:
The prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) prays and G-d raises a young boy from death (1 Kings 17:17-24);
The prophet Elisha raises a boy whose birth he had prophesied (2 Kings 4:8-16 and 32-37);
A dead man's body thrown into Elisha's tomb is resurrected when the body touches Elisha's bones (2 Kings 13:21).
In other words, what many Christians see as the very reason for believing in Christianity (the resurrection of Jesus) is not unique to Jesus. Neither it is a messianic requirement for the messiah to be resurrected. The messiah IS required to resurrect the righteous dead (all of them) -- and this is something Jesus did not do.
As shown above there are examples of Elijah and Elisha raising the dead in the T’nach – and we know that all the righteous will be resurrected in the messianic age.
A Jew would say “so what?” to the resurrection of Jesus (if it ever happened). It does not prove he was the messiah, and it certainly doesn’t show he was part of G-d.
When the messiah comes the righteous will be resurrected and the soul reunited with body; this is why Jews do not believe in cremation or embalming (Isaiah 26). The T'nach seems to tell us that only the righteous will be resurrected (Daniel 12). Yet, there is a school of thought that every Jewish soul that ever lived will be resurrected. “Even the empty ones amongst you [Israel] are filled with mitzvot as a pomegranate [is filled with seeds]"—Talmud, Berachot 57a and The soul of every Jew is a "veritable portion of G‑d," and as such is eternal and indestructible.
There was a disagreement between the Rambam (Maimonides) and the Ramban (Nachmonides) on the existence of the resurrected. The Rambam says no one will eat, drink or sleep after the resurrection In essence, the Rambam believed that after resurrection, the body will cease to be a body as we know it, having become so holy that it transcends the physical limitations of the current world (in the world to come, Olam HaBa). The resurrected to retain their sense of individuality – the sense of being (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Teshuvah 8:2).
The Ramban disagreed with the Rambam that the resurrected body ceases to exist in a physical sense. He believed that the resurrected person will have its physical limitations as it did in this life.
Eventually we’ll find out which one was correct.
What about people who are alive at the time of the resurrection of the dead? One school says that people who are alive will momentarily die, and then promptly be resurrected. This is in fulfillment of the verse (B’reshit / Genesis 3:19), "For you are dust and to dust you shall return." Also, this short death serves a spiritual purpose—it will cleanse the souls of all traces of the imperfect and tainted world it inhabited. They will then rise with a clean and pure slate.
Bottom line? Judaism definitely believes in resurrection of the dead -- but the details are up for debate. They don't really matter (this is another one of "we know what will happen, just not exactly how!).
Principle 13: The dead will be resurrected to life in the world to come.
Sophiee Saguy has been countering false missionary claims about Judaism and the T'nach (Jewish bible) for nearly twenty years. You may find her on FaceBook and at the Messiah Truth forum.