There is a place in Eden and in Gehenna for every soul. The Zaddik receives his place and the place of a wicked man as well. By the same token, the wicked man receives his own place and the place of a Zaddik.
~ Hagigah, 15
No on partakes of the enjoyments of the World-to-Come because of his father’s merits.
~ Midrash Tehillim, 146, 2
There are three persons who have a share in the World-to-Come: he who resides in Palestine: he who raises his children to be scholars, and he who honors the Sabbath.
~ Pesahim, 113
Who is a son of the World-to-Come? He who is included among those concerning whom Isaiah saith: “And before His Elders shall be Glory” (24:23).
~ Baba Batra, 10
Rab used to say: “The World-to-Come is not like this world. In the World-to-Come there is no eating and drinking, no begetting of children, no bargaining, no jealousy and hatred, and no strife. But the Righteous sit with their crowns on their heads, enjoying the effulgence of the Shekinah.”
~ Berakot, 17a
Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish was wont to study Torah in a cave in Tiberias. Nearby a potter had his shop, and he was accustomed to place a pitcher in the cave with cool water for the Rabbi to drink. Once the potter entered the cave and said: “Rabbi, doubtless you recollect that both of us studied together in the same primary school. You were fortunate enough to attain high position, whereas I was unlucky. Will you not promise to endeavour to have me as your companion in Paradise?” The Rabbi answered: “What wouldst thou do, my friend, among persons of great learning, and how wouldst thou feel among those whom you cannot understand? Let me rather pray that thou take thy place among the pious ones of thine own class. In this fashion wilt thou enjoy they share in Paradise.”
~ Kohelet Rabbah, 3
Rabbi Johanan said: “The praises of God that ascend from Gehenna are more than those that ascend from Paradise. For each one who is a step higher than his neighbor praises God, saying: ‘Happy am I that I am a step nearer the portal of exit than the one below me.'”
~ Yalkut Shimeoni to Psalm 84:7
Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai prayed that he might behold his neighbor in Paradise, and was informed in a dream that it would be a certain butcher whose name and place of residence were also given him. The Rabbi paid the butcher a visit and found him to be a wealthy and charitable man. He called him aside and said: “Pray, tell me the good deeds you have performed.” The butcher replied that he distributed meat to the poor without charge. This, however, did not satisfy the Rabbi, and he continued: “Tell me of some unusual deed of goodness you have done.” The butcher bethought himself and siad: “I am the collector of the customs at this port. Once the captain of an arriving ship declared to me: ‘I have a secret treasure on my vessel; buy it from me for ten thousand gold pieces, sight unseen.’ I protested, but he was firm, saying: ‘If you do not make the purchase, you will regret it.’ I counted the money into his hand, and he delivered to me two hundred Jewish prisoners, men and women. I welcomed them, clothed them, gave them shelter, and later presented them with dowries for marriage among themselves, since they were all youths. The most beautiful girl I gave to my own son, and invited them to the wedding feast. Everyone rejoiced, except one young man who could not restrain his tears. On being questioned, he said to me: ‘Your son’s bride was my betrothed before we were made captives.’ I offered him a fortune as a compensation for surrendering her, but he answered: ‘She is dearer to me than all the gold of the world.’ Thereupon I commanded my son to divorce her, and delivered her in marriage to the youth, together with the money wherewith I had sought to test him.” Rabbi Simeon, on hearing this tale, exclaimed: “I thank the Lord for deeming me worthy to be your neighbor in Paradise.”
~ Introduction to Tanhuma, Buber, 135
Antoninus, the Emperor, once asked Rabbi Judah, the Patriarch: “Will I have a share in the World-to-Come?” Rabbi Judah replied: “Yes.” “But is it no written,” the heathen demanded,”‘And there shall not be any remaining in the house of Esau?'” “Yes,” came the quick reply of Rabbi Judah, “but that applies only to those who commit Esau’s acts of violence!”
~ Abodah Zarah, 10b
This world is only the vestibule to another; you must prepare yourself in the vestibule so that you may enter the banquet hall.
~ Abot, 4, 21.
In Paradise there are seven sections for the various types of pious souls, and a separate division of seven sections for the souls of pious women.
~ Hagigah, 12b
In Paradise there will be reserved for the righteous a sumptuous banquet, at which the huge leviathan, the mythical fish, will be the principal dish.
~ Baba Batra, 74-75
Rabbi Johanan claimed that a partition of only a handbreadth, the width of four inches, separates Hell and Heaven.
~ Kohelet Rabbah, 7
Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish said: “In the future that is to be, there will be no Gehenna. But God will take the sun out of its orbit, and in its heat the righteous will be healed and the wicked consumed.”
~ Nedarim, 8
The Rabbis ask the question: “Whence came this darkness? From where did such a thick darkness emanate?” Rabbi Judah said: “The darkness came from above.” Rabbi Nehemiah said: “The darkness came from below. Gehenna opened its jaws and let loose part of its own thick darkness.”
~ Shemot Rabbah, 14
The wise ones find rest neither in this world nor in the World-to-Come, but “they shall ascend from strength to strength until they appear before God in Zion.” (Psalm 84:8)
~ Berakot, 64
Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar said that in this world the wicked are not punished until the righteous are rewarded, for in the next world “his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his dust!” (Psalm 146:4)
~ Abot de-R. Nathan, 32
Rabbi Jacob said: “Better is one day of repentance and good deeds in this world than all the life of the World-to-Come!”
~ Abot 4, 22
Rabbi Johanan said: “All our Prophets foretell only what will happen in the days of the Messiah, in the ideal future state here on earth; but as for the world beyond the grave, no eye hath seen, and no ear hath heard, but God alone knows what He hath prepared for those who wait for Him!”
~ Berakot, 34
N.T. Wright Surprised By Colbert