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the taharah, funeral and burial

Readings, insights and personal reflections on what is perhaps the most difficult mitzvah -- the funeral and the burial of the dead.

Why Are Jews Buried in White Linen Shrouds?
Breaking an Ancient Social Stigma
This dates back two millennia to the times of Rabban Gamliel the Elder in the early 1st century.
The Chevra Kadisha
It is considered a sacred duty and a great kindness to be a part of the Chevra Kadisha, and it is an honor to be included in this group of dedicated volunteers.
The Best-Kept Jewish Secret
“You should do it. It’ll give you something to write about!” my husband’s cousin Rochel effused in her inimitable, hard-to-refuse way.
Baruch Israelnaya
Fresh snow covers the ground, thinking I’m too young to know. On the other side of the pit four Russians dressed like railroad or construction workers look me up and down. I try not to look back.
Why Does Judaism Forbid Cremation?
Judaism's position on cremation touches on some of its most basic and principal beliefs. This article offers a detailed explanation reagrding the origins of this prohibitions, as well as the implications of such an act.
The Rebbe's Response to a Planned Cremation
Letter to My Cremated Father
My hope is that this letter, an artifice to ease my double grief over your death and cremation, will reach other Jews in the same plight, children and parents.
Cremation or Burial?
Why you should bury your loved one the Jewish way
Who are funerals for, the dead or the living?
Why Does Judaism Not Allow Cremations?
My grandmother recently revealed that she intends to be cremated. This disturbed me, as I know Judaism doesn't allow cremations, but I'm not sure why. What should I tell her?
From One World to the Next
She was so beautiful as she lay there on her back, perfectly still. I cradled her head in my arms as we washed her face. Her skin was smooth and her limbs remarkably flexible . . .
My First Taharah
Imagine for just one horrible moment that you have died. Your soul is hovering over your body, and you are frightened and confused. “What is going on? Am I dead? What happens now...?”
My Hardest Mitzvah
As I walked behind the hearse, I thought about what we had done. I have been to funerals and been among the mourners, where everyone focuses on dealing with the living. Having now participated with those who focus on the dead, I have a new perspective
Why Do We Tear Our Clothes After a Death?
When someone passes on, it is a tragedy. They have been lost to their family and friends, and there is a feeling of separation and distance that seems beyond repair.
Who Should Fill in the Grave?
I noticed at a Jewish funeral that the rabbi called forward family members to fill in the grave with dirt. What is the reason for this?
Handle With Care
We were a group of five women, eager to fulfill this mitzvah. This was my first time and I was a tad anxious. But this was something I had wanted to volunteer for, so I came with a positive attitude.
Looking for Connections
Prayer at the Resting Places of Holy People
I know that sincere prayer is effective anywhere, even in one's living room. So why am I here in Rostov, Russia, the resting place of Rabbi Shalom DovBer of Lubavitch, as I write these words?
The Gift
All I could think of in that funeral home was how my father had given so very much to me, and in my deep sadness, with his coffin a few feet away, I struggled to figure out what I had given him in return.
Why the Rush for the Jewish Funeral?
The reason behind the Jewish custom of burying a person almost immediately after his or her passing.
Is Interment at Sea Permitted According to Jewish Law?
What does Jewish law say about where a person can be buried?
Why No Flowers on Jewish Graves?
I have noticed that Jewish graves are usually flowerless. Is there anything wrong with placing a nice bouquet on my grandmother's grave?
‘By Accident’ Doesn't Exist in Judaism
Many people on both sides of the ocean come together to bury a Jew whom no one knew.
Why Do Jews Put Pebbles on Tombstones?
There are a number of reasons given for this custom, on both a basic level as well as a more esoteric one.
Why Don't Jews Have Open-Casket Funerals?
I always appreciated getting one last look at the deceased . . .
Why Do Jews Fly Their Dead to Israel for Burial?
The custom of burying our loved ones specifically in Israel is as old as the Jewish nation itself.
The sanctity of the human body after death
Why Wash Hands After a Funeral or Cemetery Visit?
Whenever holiness departs, negative forces try to fill the void.
Why Do Some Jews Not Say Eulogies?
A eulogy honors the deceased and celebrates all the beautiful deeds and qualities he or she possessed. Why is this not done in Chabad?
Is Wearing Black at a Funeral a Jewish Thing?
At one point in Jewish history, some had the custom to wear black as a sign of mourning. What changed?
Why Do Some Put Earth From Israel in the Coffin?
Placing some earth from Israel in the coffin helps the soul find some measure of forgiveness and is related to the resurrection of the dead.
Related Topics

Introduction: Dealing with Death; The Jewish Approach
Life to Life Library


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