We'll begin by stressing that Jewish law forbids initiating or participating in a séance in any way whatsoever. Nevertheless, for the sake of our discussion, we cite the existence of séances as further proof of the eternal nature of the soul.
One of the most famous figures in the various fields studying the spirit and soul was British researcher, Arthur Findlay, recipient of numerous honorary degrees. His book On the Edge of the Etheric, Or Survival after Death Scientifically Explained, has been translated into nineteen languages and has been published in forty-five editions in England alone. As part of a very brief glimpse into this book, we first visit Findlay’s introduction:
“I know that if thirteen years ago I myself had been asked to believe these strange accounts I should have found it impossible to do so, but then my mental development was not sufficiently advanced to enable me to comprehend the subject. I then did not understand that these psychical manifestations, which it has been my privilege to experience, are like the other manifestations of nature, ruled by law and governed by order, and it is only when our knowledge advances sufficiently that this new science is found to harmonize with all that is already known…
The Direct Voice (a voice formed by a discorporate entity) is the highest psychical phenomenon yet discovered, and it is the most convincing besides being quite the most wonderful. All the other discoveries of man fade into insignificance when compared with this great discovery, the discovery of a direct method of communication between us and the departed, not by means of raps or taps (or via a Ouija board – Z.C.), but by the most intimate of all forms of communication, the human voice. Other forms of psychic phenomena can be simulated by a fraudulent medium, but the Direct Voice at its best cannot be. Often have I, and others with me, heard two and sometimes three separate voices of different tone and personality speaking to those present at one and the same time, on different topics, known only to the person addressed, while the medium was either talking on some other subject to the person sitting next to him, or I had my ear close up not a sound was proceeding from his lips…
In concluding this introduction to the subject, I wish to say, with all the strength at my command, that there is continuity of life, that nothing is lost, and life is no exception.”
We now turn to Chapter 11: Nights of Instruction, which records a dialogue held between Findlay and a spirit during a séance:
“This first séance I am now reporting took place on 4th December 1923, at 7 p.m., and a few minutes after taking our seats and putting out the light this strange male voice spoke to me as follows: 'Mr. Findlay, the last time you sat with my medium you expressed the desire for information relating to our world. I have been requested by those who are responsible for what takes place here, to come tonight to help you in any way within my power. If you will ask me what you wish to know I shall do my best to answer.'
This voice spoke from high up above my head. I was sitting facing Sloan, my hands holding his, my feet touching his feet. As it spoke I leaned forward to make certain it did not proceed from his lips, but there was neither a sound nor a whisper. Ventriloquism could not account for it, as any ventriloquist will testify that this form of deception is impossible in the dark.
I thanked the speaker for his kindness in coming, and the conversation proceeded in the form of question and answer, each reply being instant.
Question: 'Here on earth we can only appreciate the physical, namely, the earth, the sun and stars. What is contained in what we call space?'
Answer: 'I can only answer you so far as my knowledge permits me. Interpenetrating your world is another world of substance in a higher state of vibration to the one you sense. The universe is one stupendous whole, but you only appreciate what you see and hear and feel. Believe me, there are other worlds of substance, finer than physical matter, in which life exists and of which you on earth can form no conception. Connected with your earth is this world to which I came after what you call death. Encircling your world are planes of different density, and these move in rotation with the rotation of the earth.
Question: 'Is your world, then, a real and tangible world?'
Answer: 'Yes, it is very real to us…'
Question: 'I cannot see you, but if I could, what would you look like?'
Answer: 'I have a body which is a duplicate of what I had on earth, the same hands, legs and feet, and they move the same way as yours. This etheric body I had on earth interpenetrated the physical body. The etheric is the real body and an exact duplicate of our earth body. At death we just emerge from our flesh covering and continue our life in the etheric world, functioning by means of the etheric body just as we functioned on earth in the physical body. This etheric body is just as substantial to us now, as the physical body was to us when we lived on earth. We have the same sensations. When we touch an object we can feel it, when we look at something we can see it. Although our bodies are not material, as you understand the word, yet they have form and feature and expression. We move from place to place as you do, but much more quickly than you can…'
Question: 'I have noticed in my many conversations with different people, that those who had titles on earth never give them, only just their Christian and surnames. Sir William Barrett, for instance, asked me to drop the 'Sir' when speaking to him.'
Answer: 'Yes, that is correct. Earth titles mean nothing to us. As soon as those bearing them arrive here these prefixes are dropped, they are meaningless to us.'”
Findlay’s book contains many accounts from other séances, all analyzed scientifically. For our purposes, however, these examples will suffice.
Any information conveyed by a dead person during a séance is only as reliable as the person himself, according to the spiritual level he attained in this world. (For instance, a person who was a liar in this world, who died without repentance, will continue telling lies in the afterlife. See for example, the responses of the dybbuk of Kelm to the questions posed of it, as well as the case of the dybbuk described by Rabbi Yehudah Fetayah). For this reason, information supplied by the souls of an average person (or one who did not merit living according to God’s commandments) is considered weak and spurious when compared to information transmitted by the souls of righteous individuals who perfected themselves in this world – whether the individual is a Jew who has perfected himself through the fulfillment of the Torah’s 613 commandments, or a Gentile, who fully observes the Noachide Laws, also given by God at Sinai. These laws fall into the following seven basic categories:
1. Believe in the transcendent, incorporeal God.
2. Respect God and Do Not Blaspheme His Name.
3. Respect Human Life and Do Not Murder.
4. Respect the Family and Do Not Commit Acts of immorality.
5. Respect Others’ Rights and Do Not Steal.
6. Create a Judicial System and Pursue Justice.
7. Respect all Creatures and Do Not Eat the Flesh of a Living Animal.
Adapted from The Revolution by Rabbi Zamir Cohen