Does Judaism teach Purgatory?


Or Catholicism found Purgatory in the Bible? Thank you very much.


One must ask if Sheol was not an accurate representation of purgatory. Dim, dreary, cold and lonely… Seems like punishment. Indeed. The flames were added much later.


Could you re-phrase your question? It is not clear as is.

As to Judaism, “teach” versus “practice” may be two different things.

Look in 2 Maccabees 12, verse 38 and following.

And now, recalling his men from the pursuit, he made his way to the city of Adollam; the week had gone round, and here, duly cleansed from defilement, they kept the sabbath. 39 Next day, with Judas at their head, they went back to recover the bodies of the slain, for burial among their own folk in their fathers’ graves; 40 and what found they? Each of the fallen was wearing, under his shirt, some token carried away from the false gods of Jamnia. Here was defiance of the Jewish law, and none doubted it was the cause of their undoing; 41 none but praised the Lord for his just retribution, that had brought hidden things to light; 42 and so they fell to prayer, pleading that the sin might go unremembered. Judas himself, their gallant commander, gave public warning to his men, of fault they should evermore keep clear, with the fate of these transgressors under their eyes. 43 Then he would have contribution made; a sum of twelve thousand silver pieces he levied, and sent it to Jerusalem, to have sacrifice made there for the guilt of their dead companions. Was not this well done and piously? Here was a man kept the resurrection ever in mind; 44 he had done fondly and foolishly indeed, to pray for the dead, if these might rise no more, that once were fallen! 45 And these had made a godly end; could he doubt, a rich recompense awaited them? 46 A holy and wholesome thought it is to pray for the dead, for their guilt’s undoing.


Does Judaism not recognize Maccabees?


I don’t think that the mainline branches of Judaism do. However, 1 Maccabees describes the first Hanukkah - which as we know, is still celebrated.


Judaism does teach its own variation of Purgatory except, unlike Catholic Purgatory, the period of cleansing from sin is a limited time of one year (in practice 11 months with the hope that no one can be so evil as to need a full year of prayers). During that time period, we do pray for our deceased loved ones. Yet the prayers for the deceased continue well beyond the one-year period on every major holiday, during which candles are lit, as well as every Friday night Sabbath at candle-lighting according to my grandmother.


Is it true that Purgatory originated from Judaism? Thank you.


My wife is a Conservative Jew and her father was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family. I’ve attended services with her for dead family and they always pray for the deceased that they may be released from purification. They continue praying for their release for 11 months after their death. The reason being that they believe the maximum duration of post-mortem purification to be 12 months. To pray for someone for a full 12 means that one believes that person to have been in need of the most severe purification, so prayer stops at 11 months as an act of charitable assumption, knowing that the person has at most one month left without the aid of prayers. Aside from the fixed time period, this is very close to the concept of purgatory.


I think the biblical basis is in the psalms someplace, where it states that nothing unclean can come into the Divine presence. this may not be the only glancing reference to purgatory or its equivalent, but that is what comes to mind.

From a tv show, I recall that Islam teaches that there is some hell-like place of purification or punishment. The believe that all go to heaven (or the equivalent) eventually.

Hell is a different subject. Wasn’t there some Windows joke about 3.1 being heaven and 4.0 was hell? Millenials will not understand. That joke is the cosmic equivalent of a burned out white dwarf star.


The passage from Maccabees someone posted above is usually cited as a basis for the Church teaching on purgatory and why we pray for the dead. The Maccabees were Jewish warrior heroes. So yes, Purgatory did originate from Judaism.


A beautiful, loving and thoughtful practice! It is clear where many Catholic practices originate.


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