Are the Dead Bound by Mitzvos?

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Reader: The Talmud says that the dead are not bound by mitzvos. 

Rabbi Yohanan said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Set apart among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom you remember no more” (Psalms 88:6)? [This means] once a person dies, he becomes free from the mitzvot. Rambam codifies it as halacha, “It is permitted to make shrouds for the deceased from kilayim, for the deceased are not obligated in any mitzvot.”

Interestingly, some even extrapolated this to apply to the future resurrected people, since mitzvos will no longer apply. Are these sources really saying the deceased are free from doing mitzvot in heaven?

Turk Hill

Rabbi: Mitzvos are physical actions, and the dead are no longer physical. God gave Torah to the living. Torah is eternal, even after the era of messiah and resurrection mitzvos apply.  

Isaiah 64:3 says “Such things had never been heard or note…no eye has seen them God, but You alone…” On this verse, Talmud Brachos 34b says as follows: “And Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: ‘All the prophets only prophesied with regard to the change in world order in the end of days with regard to the days of the Messiah. However, with regard to the World-to-Come, “No eye has seen it, God, aside from You.’”  From here we learn that knowledge of the afterlife is not a matter we know anything about. And this is because God wants man to engage Torah study and mitzvahs for their own sake, and not for an ultimate reward later. If however we are focused on the reward, then we do not learn for the joy of learning itself. Therefore, the reward is hidden, thereby enabling us to pursue wisdom for its own sake. Ironically, this increases our reward.