The Talmud on The Resurrection

Below is a collection of eight quotesthat substantiate that there will in fact be a resurrection. Each quote is followed by notes and insights. Scroll down to see the next quote.

The stuff here is a little intense. I suggest that you print it out on paper, reading it that way will make it easier to concentrate.

1. Sanhedrin 90b:

Where do we find an allusion to the Resurrection of the Dead in the Written Torah [1]? For it states (Numbers 18:28): And you shall give from it G-d’s Terumah [2] to Aaron the Priest.

Now, is Aaron alive forever? Why, he never even entered the Land of Israel – that they should give him Terumah! [3] Rather, this teaches that [Aaron] is destined to live again in bodily form, and the people of Israel will then give him terumah [4].

Notes:

1. Though the verse that will be cited is from the Pentateuch itself, the expression  “in the Torah” can refer to all of Scripture, as evident from the end of Sanhedrin 91b, where this same expression is used regarding proofs brought from prophets (Neviim) and the Holy Writings.

2. Terumah – the first portion of the crop separated and given to a Kohen, usually between 1/40 and 1/60 of the total crop. It is separated prior to maser, and upon separation attains a state of sanctity that prohibits it from being eaten by a non-Kohen.

3. Aaron died in the Wilderness in the fortieth year after the Exodus, and never entered the Holy Land (see Numbers 20:28, 33:38). The obligation to separate terumah, however, did not commence until the Jews entered the Holy Land (see Kiddushin 36b ff.). Thus, the Torah’s command that terumah be given to Aaron was never fulfilled! [Though the mention here of “Aaron the Priest” could be understood as reference to Priestly family in general, who are all his descendants, elsewhere the Torah refers to the Priestly family in general as “the sons of Aaron” (see, for example, Leviticus 6:2). This specific mention of Aaron himself, then, indicates that it is Aaron himself who is meant.]

4. The Talmud here, which states that Aaron will be given terumah upon his resurrection, seems to indicate that the resurrected will engage in eating and drinking (and all bodily functions.) This presents a difficulty to the view of Ramban et al. (which maintains that the time of the Resurrection is what is meant by “the World to Come”) in light of Rav’s teaching (Talmud Berachos 17a) that “in the World to Come there is no eating or drinking…”. Aruch LaNer suggests (on the basis of Yoma 5b) that Moses and Aaron [and other great Tzaddikim] will be resurrected at the beginning of the Messianic reign, at which time the natural order of the world – including all bodily functions – will remain in force. The other statements cited above concerning the era of Resurrection, apply to the era of the general resurrection, which will take place at the end of the Messianic reign.

[Another issue that has bearing here is the applicability of mitzvos (such as terumah) upon resurrection – see Niddah 61b, with Ritva at length; see also Kovetz Shiurim II 29.]

2. Sanhedrin 90b (continued)

Rabbi Simai says: Where do we find an allusion to the resurrection of the dead in the written torah?  For it is stated:  And I have also established my covenant with them to give to them the land of Canaan [1]. Note that to “you” is not stated, but rather to “them” [2].

Notes:

1. Exodus 6:4. In this verse, G-d speaks to Moses, describing to him the covenant He made with the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give them the Land of Canaan.

2. If the Torah referred to G-d’s promise to the Patriarchs that their descendants – the generation of Moses – would inherit the Land of Canaan, the verse should have stated: to give to “you” the Land of Canaan, which would have indicated that the Divine promise was to be fulfilled in the time of Moses’ generation. By stating instead: to give to “them” the Land of Canaan, the verse implies that the Patriarchs themselves were to inherit the Land of Canaan. And since the Patriarchs had already died, the promise can only be fulfilled in the future when the Patriarchs will be resurrected.

• • •

3. Sanhedrin 90b (continued)

Caesar said to Rabban Gamliel: You Jews say that the dead will live again. How can this be? Why, they become dust, and can dust come alive?!

[Caesar’s] daughter said to [Rabban Gamliel]: Rabbi, leave him be and I will answer him for you. She then turned to her father and said:  Suppose there were two potters in our city, one who fashions pottery out of water and one who fashions pottery out of clay. Which one of them would you say is superior? [Caesar] replied to her: The one who fashions pottery out of water.

For any potter can fashion pottery out of clay, but it is quite a feat to fashion a piece of solid pottery out of water!

She then said to him: By the same token, if [G-d] fashions human beings out of water I.e. from a fluid – a fetid drop [of semen] (Rashi) – is it not certain that He can fashion them out of clay or dust?!

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4. Sanhedrin 90b (continued)

A certain sectarian said to R. Ami: You Jews say that the dead will live again. How can this be? Why, they become dust, and can dust come alive?  [R’ Ami] replied to him: I will give you a parable: To what can the matter of your objection be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who said to his servants: “Go and build me a great palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks.”

They went and build it using other materials. Some days later, [the palace] collapsed. [The King] said to them: “Rebuild it in a place where there in earth and water.” They said to him: “We are unable to do so.” [The king] became angry with them and said to them: “If you built the palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks, now that there is water and earth, how much more so should you be able to build it!”

Similarly, your objection to the notion of resurrection on grounds that earth cannot be infused with life is specious. For even you admit that G-d fashions human beings fro a mere drop of semen. Will you now claim it inconceivable that He should do so from earth, which is more substantive? (Rashi). Alternatively, if you admit that He created the world out of nothing, will you now claim it inconceivable that he should fashion man out of dust? (ibid). 

And if you do not find yourselves able to believe that living beings can be formed from dust, go out to the field and see the squirrel that one day is half flesh and half earth (see notes) and by the morrow it has metamorphosed into a creeping thing and become entirely flesh! [1] Thus, such a thing is not only possible, but takes place before our very eyes!

Perhaps you will say that it takes a long time for this for this creature to develop from the earth [2]. Thus, you cannot accept that as a precedent for an immediate resurrection. Then go up to the mountain and see that one day there is but a single chilazon [3] there, and on the morrow rain falls and the whole [mountain] is full of chilzonos! The rapid development of chilazon, then should illustrate to you G-d’s ability to resurrect the dead very quickly (Rashi).

Notes:

1. Ancient explorers and naturalists (notably Pliny in his Natural History) report the existence of such a creature, which does not appear to reproduce sexually, but rather to be generated spontaneously from the earth. It is discussed by the Mishnah and Talmud in Chullin 126b-127a. Ramban (Commentary to the Mishnah there) writes: “The existence of such a creature is widely known, and uncounted people have told me that they have seen one, though the existence of such a creature is baffling.” Tiferes Yisrael there cites a German scholar by the name of Link, who describes in his book (Urwelt, I:327) this type of creature, called springmaus in German, found in Egypt in the area of Thebes. He writes that the front quarters of the body, viz. the head, the chest and the forelegs are well formed, while the rear quarters still appear to be unformed earth. A few days later, the entire mouse turns to flesh. [This description, however, does not appear to exactly match the one stated in the in Chullin.]

2. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for this creature to develop. (Rashi)

3. Rashi identifies the chilazon (pl. chilzonos) discussed here as the Mediterranean Sea creature whose blood is used to manufacture the techeiles dye. This creature emerges from the sea once every seventy years and climbs onto the land. At first only one chilazon appears, but after rain falls, its eggs hatch very quickly and the whole mountain is covered with them. [Others object to this identification (for a variety of reasons) and explain that chilazon here refers to a different creature (see Yad Ramah, Aruch (Chilazon) and Be’er Sheva).]

• • •

5. Sanhedrin 90b (continued)

A certain sectarian said to R. Ami: You Jews say that the dead will live again. How can this be? Why, they become dust, and can dust come alive?  [R’ Ami] replied to him: I will give you a parable: To what can the matter of your objection be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who said to his servants: “Go and build me a great palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks.”

They went and build it using other materials. Some days later, [the palace] collapsed. [The King] said to them: “Rebuild it in a place where there in earth and water.” They said to him: “We are unable to do so.” [The king] became angry with them and said to them: “If you built the palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks, now that there is water and earth, how much more so should you be able to build it!”

Similarly, your objection to the notion of resurrection on grounds that earth cannot be infused with life is specious. For even you admit that G-d fashions human beings fro a mere drop of semen. Will you now claim it inconceivable that He should do so from earth, which is more substantive? (Rashi). Alternatively, if you admit that He created the world out of nothing, will you now claim it inconceivable that he should fashion man out of dust? (ibid). 

And if you do not find yourselves able to believe that living beings can be formed from dust, go out to the field and see the squirrel that one day is half flesh and half earth (see notes) and by the morrow it has metamorphosed into a creeping thing and become entirely flesh! [1] Thus, such a thing is not only possible, but takes place before our very eyes!

Perhaps you will say that it takes a long time for this for this creature to develop from the earth [2]. Thus, you cannot accept that as a precedent for an immediate resurrection. Then go up to the mountain and see that one day there is but a single chilazon [3] there, and on the morrow rain falls and the whole [mountain] is full of chilzonos! The rapid development of chilazon, then should illustrate to you G-d’s ability to resurrect the dead very quickly (Rashi).

Notes:

1. Ancient explorers and naturalists (notably Pliny in his Natural History) report the existence of such a creature, which does not appear to reproduce sexually, but rather to be generated spontaneously from the earth. It is discussed by the Mishnah and Talmud in Chullin 126b-127a. Ramban (Commentary to the Mishnah there) writes: “The existence of such a creature is widely known, and uncounted people have told me that they have seen one, though the existence of such a creature is baffling.” Tiferes Yisrael there cites a German scholar by the name of Link, who describes in his book (Urwelt, I:327) this type of creature, called springmaus in German, found in Egypt in the area of Thebes. He writes that the front quarters of the body, viz. the head, the chest and the forelegs are well formed, while the rear quarters still appear to be unformed earth. A few days later, the entire mouse turns to flesh. [This description, however, does not appear to exactly match the one stated in the in Chullin.]

2. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for this creature to develop. (Rashi)

3. Rashi identifies the chilazon (pl. chilzonos) discussed here as the Mediterranean Sea creature whose blood is used to manufacture the techeiles dye. This creature emerges from the sea once every seventy years and climbs onto the land. At first only one chilazon appears, but after rain falls, its eggs hatch very quickly and the whole mountain is covered with them. [Others object to this identification (for a variety of reasons) and explain that chilazon here refers to a different creature (see Yad Ramah, Aruch (Chilazon) and Be’er Sheva).]

• • •

6. Sanhedrin 90b (continued)

A certain sectarian said to R. Ami: You Jews say that the dead will live again. How can this be? Why, they become dust, and can dust come alive?  [R’ Ami] replied to him: I will give you a parable: To what can the matter of your objection be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who said to his servants: “Go and build me a great palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks.”

They went and build it using other materials. Some days later, [the palace] collapsed. [The King] said to them: “Rebuild it in a place where there in earth and water.” They said to him: “We are unable to do so.” [The king] became angry with them and said to them: “If you built the palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks, now that there is water and earth, how much more so should you be able to build it!”

Similarly, your objection to the notion of resurrection on grounds that earth cannot be infused with life is specious. For even you admit that G-d fashions human beings fro a mere drop of semen. Will you now claim it inconceivable that He should do so from earth, which is more substantive? (Rashi). Alternatively, if you admit that He created the world out of nothing, will you now claim it inconceivable that he should fashion man out of dust? (ibid). 

And if you do not find yourselves able to believe that living beings can be formed from dust, go out to the field and see the squirrel that one day is half flesh and half earth (see notes) and by the morrow it has metamorphosed into a creeping thing and become entirely flesh! [1] Thus, such a thing is not only possible, but takes place before our very eyes!

Perhaps you will say that it takes a long time for this for this creature to develop from the earth [2]. Thus, you cannot accept that as a precedent for an immediate resurrection. Then go up to the mountain and see that one day there is but a single chilazon [3] there, and on the morrow rain falls and the whole [mountain] is full of chilzonos! The rapid development of chilazon, then should illustrate to you G-d’s ability to resurrect the dead very quickly (Rashi).

Notes:

1. Ancient explorers and naturalists (notably Pliny in his Natural History) report the existence of such a creature, which does not appear to reproduce sexually, but rather to be generated spontaneously from the earth. It is discussed by the Mishnah and Talmud in Chullin 126b-127a. Ramban (Commentary to the Mishnah there) writes: “The existence of such a creature is widely known, and uncounted people have told me that they have seen one, though the existence of such a creature is baffling.” Tiferes Yisrael there cites a German scholar by the name of Link, who describes in his book (Urwelt, I:327) this type of creature, called springmaus in German, found in Egypt in the area of Thebes. He writes that the front quarters of the body, viz. the head, the chest and the forelegs are well formed, while the rear quarters still appear to be unformed earth. A few days later, the entire mouse turns to flesh. [This description, however, does not appear to exactly match the one stated in the in Chullin.]

2. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for this creature to develop. (Rashi)

3. Rashi identifies the chilazon (pl. chilzonos) discussed here as the Mediterranean Sea creature whose blood is used to manufacture the techeiles dye. This creature emerges from the sea once every seventy years and climbs onto the land. At first only one chilazon appears, but after rain falls, its eggs hatch very quickly and the whole mountain is covered with them. [Others object to this identification (for a variety of reasons) and explain that chilazon here refers to a different creature (see Yad Ramah, Aruch (Chilazon) and Be’er Sheva).]

• • •

7. Sanhedrin 90b (continued)

A certain sectarian said to R. Ami: You Jews say that the dead will live again. How can this be? Why, they become dust, and can dust come alive?  [R’ Ami] replied to him: I will give you a parable: To what can the matter of your objection be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who said to his servants: “Go and build me a great palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks.”

They went and build it using other materials. Some days later, [the palace] collapsed. [The King] said to them: “Rebuild it in a place where there in earth and water.” They said to him: “We are unable to do so.” [The king] became angry with them and said to them: “If you built the palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks, now that there is water and earth, how much more so should you be able to build it!”

Similarly, your objection to the notion of resurrection on grounds that earth cannot be infused with life is specious. For even you admit that G-d fashions human beings fro a mere drop of semen. Will you now claim it inconceivable that He should do so from earth, which is more substantive? (Rashi). Alternatively, if you admit that He created the world out of nothing, will you now claim it inconceivable that he should fashion man out of dust? (ibid). 

And if you do not find yourselves able to believe that living beings can be formed from dust, go out to the field and see the squirrel that one day is half flesh and half earth (see notes) and by the morrow it has metamorphosed into a creeping thing and become entirely flesh! [1] Thus, such a thing is not only possible, but takes place before our very eyes!

Perhaps you will say that it takes a long time for this for this creature to develop from the earth [2]. Thus, you cannot accept that as a precedent for an immediate resurrection. Then go up to the mountain and see that one day there is but a single chilazon [3] there, and on the morrow rain falls and the whole [mountain] is full of chilzonos! The rapid development of chilazon, then should illustrate to you G-d’s ability to resurrect the dead very quickly (Rashi).

Notes:

1. Ancient explorers and naturalists (notably Pliny in his Natural History) report the existence of such a creature, which does not appear to reproduce sexually, but rather to be generated spontaneously from the earth. It is discussed by the Mishnah and Talmud in Chullin 126b-127a. Ramban (Commentary to the Mishnah there) writes: “The existence of such a creature is widely known, and uncounted people have told me that they have seen one, though the existence of such a creature is baffling.” Tiferes Yisrael there cites a German scholar by the name of Link, who describes in his book (Urwelt, I:327) this type of creature, called springmaus in German, found in Egypt in the area of Thebes. He writes that the front quarters of the body, viz. the head, the chest and the forelegs are well formed, while the rear quarters still appear to be unformed earth. A few days later, the entire mouse turns to flesh. [This description, however, does not appear to exactly match the one stated in the in Chullin.]

2. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for this creature to develop. (Rashi)

3. Rashi identifies the chilazon (pl. chilzonos) discussed here as the Mediterranean Sea creature whose blood is used to manufacture the techeiles dye. This creature emerges from the sea once every seventy years and climbs onto the land. At first only one chilazon appears, but after rain falls, its eggs hatch very quickly and the whole mountain is covered with them. [Others object to this identification (for a variety of reasons) and explain that chilazon here refers to a different creature (see Yad Ramah, Aruch (Chilazon) and Be’er Sheva).]

• • •

8. Sanhedrin 90b (continued)

A certain sectarian said to R. Ami: You Jews say that the dead will live again. How can this be? Why, they become dust, and can dust come alive?  [R’ Ami] replied to him: I will give you a parable: To what can the matter of your objection be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who said to his servants: “Go and build me a great palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks.”

They went and build it using other materials. Some days later, [the palace] collapsed. [The King] said to them: “Rebuild it in a place where there in earth and water.” They said to him: “We are unable to do so.” [The king] became angry with them and said to them: “If you built the palace in a place where there is no water or earth with which to make bricks, now that there is water and earth, how much more so should you be able to build it!”

Similarly, your objection to the notion of resurrection on grounds that earth cannot be infused with life is specious. For even you admit that G-d fashions human beings fro a mere drop of semen. Will you now claim it inconceivable that He should do so from earth, which is more substantive? (Rashi). Alternatively, if you admit that He created the world out of nothing, will you now claim it inconceivable that he should fashion man out of dust? (ibid). 

And if you do not find yourselves able to believe that living beings can be formed from dust, go out to the field and see the squirrel that one day is half flesh and half earth (see notes) and by the morrow it has metamorphosed into a creeping thing and become entirely flesh! [1] Thus, such a thing is not only possible, but takes place before our very eyes!

Perhaps you will say that it takes a long time for this for this creature to develop from the earth [2]. Thus, you cannot accept that as a precedent for an immediate resurrection. Then go up to the mountain and see that one day there is but a single chilazon [3] there, and on the morrow rain falls and the whole [mountain] is full of chilzonos! The rapid development of chilazon, then should illustrate to you G-d’s ability to resurrect the dead very quickly (Rashi).

Notes:

1. Ancient explorers and naturalists (notably Pliny in his Natural History) report the existence of such a creature, which does not appear to reproduce sexually, but rather to be generated spontaneously from the earth. It is discussed by the Mishnah and Talmud in Chullin 126b-127a. Ramban (Commentary to the Mishnah there) writes: “The existence of such a creature is widely known, and uncounted people have told me that they have seen one, though the existence of such a creature is baffling.” Tiferes Yisrael there cites a German scholar by the name of Link, who describes in his book (Urwelt, I:327) this type of creature, called springmaus in German, found in Egypt in the area of Thebes. He writes that the front quarters of the body, viz. the head, the chest and the forelegs are well formed, while the rear quarters still appear to be unformed earth. A few days later, the entire mouse turns to flesh. [This description, however, does not appear to exactly match the one stated in the in Chullin.]

2. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for this creature to develop. (Rashi)

3. Rashi identifies the chilazon (pl. chilzonos) discussed here as the Mediterranean Sea creature whose blood is used to manufacture the techeiles dye. This creature emerges from the sea once every seventy years and climbs onto the land. At first only one chilazon appears, but after rain falls, its eggs hatch very quickly and the whole mountain is covered with them. [Others object to this identification (for a variety of reasons) and explain that chilazon here refers to a different creature (see Yad Ramah, Aruch (Chilazon) and Be’er Sheva).]

• • •

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