What happens to a person right before and after he dies?
When someone is about to pass away on Earth, four kinds of angels come to him. The angel that taught him Torah in his mother’s stomach comes to see if he learned the Torah again in his lifetime. The Angel of Death comes to greet him. The angel that writes down how the person used all of his time throughout his life comes. And two angels that write down all of the soul’s actions in his lifetime come as well.
The two angels that watched over the soul throughout its lifetime come to the soul and inform it that its time in this world has come to an end. The soul then replies that it is not ready to depart yet. The angels then open the soul’s eyes to see the angel of death whose size is immense, from one end of the world to the other. The angel of death’s appearance is also specifically described. He is filled with eye balls and wears a garment that is on fire. The angel of death also has a poisoned knife that he carries with him. This knife causes a person to die and decay as well as for their face to change colors. The person who is about to pass on is frightened and overwhelmed during this whole process.
The angels ask the soul if it studied Torah throughout its lifetime. They then ask if it was ethical in business and if tried to have children. Another question they ask the soul is if it performed acts of kindness throughout its life on Earth. They also inquire if the soul declared G-D as king in the morning and at night by praying and if it was kind to its family and friends.
If the soul answers positively to these questions, the poison from the angel of death’s knife is dropped into his mouth and his death is a painless one. If the soul does not, however, answer positively to these question then his death is a very painful one.
A person does not die until he sees G-D himself since the only time a person can see G-D is a second before death. After a soul sees G-d, everything becomes clear and all of its questions are answered. Immediately after this, the soul testifies for itself and all of its actions throughout its lifetime. G-d then sends a sign that the soul completed its testimony. If the soul was a righteous person, G-d will remain with it and it will have an easy departure to the next world. If the soul was a sinner, however, then G-d leaves it and its departure is very difficult. This sinning soul rebels against G-d and tries to fight the decree but fails to do so.
One who dies on a Friday or within the land of Israel does not have to go through this difficult process.
Rabbi Eliezer was asked what happens after a person is buried?
After the deceased is buried, on the first day an angel comes and sits on his grave. The angel smacks the deceased person on his hand and asks him for his name. The deceased then responds that it is clear before the creator of the world that it does not know its name. The angel then gives the deceased the three things that a person has at all times while alive: his spirit, soul, and Neshama. The angel places them back together and stands the person up in judgment.
Rabbi Yehoushua Ben Levi says that the angel has fiery iron chains and it hits the person three times. The pain is no different than if he was alive. After the first hit, his body becomes detached. After the second, his bones become dislocated. The angels then collect all of his body parts and stand him again on trial. The third hit he gets for every bad attribute that he didn’t work on or he didn’t control throughout his lifetime.
On the second and third day after burial, the angels judge the soul for not controlling his eyes, ears, and mouth which it misused for sin.
Rabbi Meir says in the name of Rabbi Eliezer that the judgment and punishment by the burial spot is worse than hell itself. Hell only applies to a person who is over 20 years of age. The judgment by the burial place, however, happens to everyone including righteous people and infants.
What should a person do to be saved from this? He should love to give charity. He should love to be corrected when he does something wrong. He should love to do acts of kindness. He should invite guests to his house and pray with sincerity. Even a person who doesn’t live in Israel and doesn’t die on a Friday, but works on the above list will also be spared from this process.
All of the content from this article can be cited back to chapters 1 and 2 of מסכת חיבוט הקבר מספר נשמת ישראל.