Essays & Readings

Essays and readings reflecting on death, bereavement and mourning according to Jewish tradition.

I’m fasting today, but I’ll be feasting tonight.
Why? Reflections On The Loss Of A Loved one
A Chassidic Perspective
An attempt to obey this compassionate, humane instruction of our Talmudic Sages -- to reach out through the written word and offer solace and comfort to others who, like me, have suffered bereavement.
Remembrance as the Secret of Redemption
Healing the Pain of Loss Through Memory
"Remembrance" provides context to deal with the most painful of losses
Bad Things, Good People
It's probably the oldest question in the history of human thought. It's surely the most disturbing, the most frequently asked and the least satisfactorily answered. Why, oh why, do bad things happen to good people?
Why Do Some of the Best Die Young?
I don't understand. Why do the good die young? I have lost a friend who was the best person I know. And I can think of plenty of not-so-good people who are living it up. Where is the justice? Can you make any sense of this upside down world?
Does G-d Care When I'm Sad?
Or perhaps it's the other way around: we care, simply and only, because You, G-d, care
In and Out
The doctor and a team of nurses surround the laboring woman. One wipes her furrowed brow with a damp cloth. Another grasps her clenched fist. Anticipation fills the sterile, white room
Swallowed Up Forever
From every incident in a person's life, one can acquire profound insight into the service of the Creator. So says the holy Baal Shem Tov. Fortified by this idea, I began my descent in the morgue elevator of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University
Pain
How to translate PAIN into action, and tears into growth
The power to be silent at certain moments of life and of history is an important strength. It expresses the awareness that G-d is infinite, and cannot be encapsulated in our human conceptions of what should take place...
Eternity
Why not / As a withered bloom / As a beast of field / Whose time has come / Meek and tranquil / Do I bow my head / And cease?
Life After Death
The events recounted in the Torah section of Chayei Sarah all take place after Sarah's death. Not only that -- they seem to all underscore the fact of her demise. Yet "Chayei Sarah" means "the life of Sarah"!
Death Redefined
Just about everything imaginable was happening--except for what everyone had predicted would happen
When Bad Things Happen
Bad things happen. They happen to good people. Contrary to common perception, bad things also happen to bad people. The difference is not so much in what happens, but in what happens to the person
Make Yourself Useful
There's nary a shul bench in Mineola or a park bench in Jerusalem that does not bear the inscription "In memory of ...." Is that what it's about -- memorializing the dead? or is there something more significant at play here?
Human Being
Ours is a culture, after all, where human worth is often measured by the capacity to impersonate a character or to accurately hit, kick or throw a ball... things that may no longer be possible in the confines of a hospital bed under tangles of tubes and monitors
Coping with Bereavement
It is natural to ask the question “why?” in a time of anguish. One general answer, which is really self-evident though often hard to accept in a state of emotional distress, is that it is surely illogical to limit the Creator in His designs and actions to conform to the understanding of a created human being.
The Value of a Life
Can a human life be assigned a relative "value" based on its quality? And if it can, where does it end?
Life After Death, The Concept of Immortality The Messiah, Resurrection: A Symbolic Idea, G-d Is Just, The Meaning of Death
A Testament of Faith
A loved one dies, who do we blame? The doctor, the hospital, the nursing staff, illness, smoking, bad lifestyle habits? Ultimately, after all is said and done, where does the buck stop?
The Calf's Mother
King Solomon was baffled; Moses turned pale. Indeed, only the most incomprehensible of Divine decrees—the law of the red heifer—can act as an antidote for the most incomprehensible of human experiences—the phenomenon of death.
The Resurrection of the Dead
If the body is but a temporary and deficient container for the soul, why recompose and revive it?
Related Topics

Introduction: Dealing with Death; The Jewish Approach
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