Monday, November 26, 2012

Neurosurgeon's near-death revelation is a best-seller

NYTimes   For years Dr. Eben Alexander III had dismissed near-death revelations of God and heaven as explainable by the hard wiring of the human brain. He was, after all, a neurosurgeon with sophisticated medical training. 

But then in 2008 Dr. Alexander contracted bacterial meningitis. The deadly infection soaked his brain and sent him into a deep coma

During that week, as life slipped away, he now says, he was living intensely in his mind. He was reborn into a primitive mucky Jell-o-like substance and then guided by “a beautiful girl with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes” on the wings of a butterfly to an “immense void” that is both “pitch black” and “brimming with light” coming from an “orb” that interprets for an all-loving God.

Dr. Alexander, 58, was so changed by the experience that he felt compelled to write a book, “Proof of Heaven,” that recounts his experience. He knew full well that he was gambling his professional reputation by writing it, but his hope is that his expertise will be enough to persuade skeptics, particularly medical skeptics, as he used to be, to open their minds to an afterworld. 

See Rav Wolbe's discussion of near death experience


  1. The only problem is that his description of what he saw doesn't exactly match with what Chazal describe as happening after you die. He says he entered a place filled with clouds and the sound of chanting, and was met by a beautiful blue-eyed woman. I don't think anyone of us expects to be met by a beautiful woman when we die, that is the wrong religion.

    There is an old saying you can't be half pregnant. The same thing applies here. If you believe the guy about the near death experience then you need to believe him about the details as well, which are much more Christian (unconditional love, beautiful women and music, etc.) then Jewish.

  2. See Rav Wolbe's discussion of near death experiences

  3. There is a fascinating book called Soul Searching by Yaakov Astor, which describes in detail the scientific findings on such things as near death experiences and reincarnation, and explains how they're consistent with traditional Jewish views on the afterlife. Highly recommended.

    There have been a number of people who have had near death experiences and gone on to become baalei teshuvah (I'm thinking in particular of certain Israeli examples). Some of them have described experiences strikingly similar to what Jewish sources describe. Most experiences, though, seem less specific and do not necessarily validate one religion over the other.

    One baal teshuvah kept talking about based on his experience in the afterlife, we should put more emphasis on mitzvos between man and man! Interesting, because the prophets (who accordingly to later mystics were involved in all kinds of meditations and soul ascents of the kind the classical kabbalists and early chassidic rebbes describe) kinds of said the same thing.


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