Do modern Jews believe in purgatory?


#1

Since 2 Maccabees 12:45 speaks of a Jewish belief in purgatory, do modern day Jews believe in purgatory?


#2

Actually, all this verse speaks of is that Judah offered atonement for the sins of the dead in the hopes that they would enjoy heaven. This verse certainly supports the Catholic belief in purgatory, but does not indicate an ancient Jewish belief in purgatory. It indicates only that ancient Jews believed that prayers and offerings for the dead were somehow beneficial to the dead.

Although the theology of the afterlife is not very developed in Judaism – due, in part, to Judaism’s emphasis on the importance of this life – traditional modern Jews do offer prayers and memorials on behalf of their deceased loved ones. They do not recognize the Catholic doctrine of purgatory per se, but their actions are in line with Catholic concern for the souls of the deceased. In any event, the books of the Maccabees are generally not included in the modern Jewish canons of the Hebrew Scripture and are considered by most modern Jews to be part of the apocrypha.


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