My father passed away this past Friday. Is there any significance to passing away on the eve of Shabbat?


I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I am confident that from the World of Truth he takes great pride in the mitzvot and charity done by his descendants in his memory and merit.

The Talmud writes,1 “It is a good sign for one who passes away on the eve of Shabbat.” On the most simple level this is because they enter Shabbat, a true day of rest, shortly after their passing. The holy Shabbat is a day of rest not only for those who observe it on this physical realm, but also for the souls in the hereafter. Souls that are being cleansed of their sins in Gehinnom are relieved of this painful process for the duration of Shabbat, free to experience the Shabbat rest. One who passes away on Friday is assured of entering a restful state immediately upon reaching the world of souls, which is certainly a “good sign.”

Furthermore, we find in the writings of the Arizal2 that one who passes away on Friday is spared from chibbut ha-kever,3 because the holiness of Shabbat cleanses the soul, without it having to experience chibbut ha-kever.

In chassidic teaching it is explained that on the first Friday, the sixth day of Creation, G‑d caused Adam to fall into a deep slumber in order to facilitate the creation of Eve. Thus, sleep—which constitutes a temporary suspension of many human faculties including the conscious mind—brought Adam great gain. It allowed him to have children, transforming him from a lone man to one with the capacity to sire an infinite amount of descendants—and an eternal legacy.

Using this idea, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained the abovementioned Talmudic statement: When one passes away on Friday, it is reminiscent of the first Friday. Just as the temporary loss of life and vitality experienced by Adam presaged eternal growth, so too, when one’s descendants continue to follow the Torah values imparted by their parent even after their parent’s passing, they demonstrate that their parent’s life did not end with his or her passing, but rather it continues in the lives of the children, through the lessons they taught, for all eternity. A life that was limited by time is transformed into an eternal legacy.

And we firmly believe that death is only a preamble to a more tangible form of eternal life, that which we will experience during the messianic era, when the dead will be resurrected, when we will be reunited for all eternity with all who have departed.

All the above is true regarding every person who passes on, but is most emphasized by one who passes away on Friday—the day when a lack of vitality spawned eternal life.

May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. And may you know only of good news in the future.

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson