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Mourning

The Jewish law attaches great importance to the observance of mourning for the dead relatives. This is not only a tribute to the universal tradition, but also the prescribed commandment of the Torah.

Judaism expresses a realistic attitude to death and does not consider it as a tragedy. Tragedy can only be premature death. When a person moves to another world, blessed by the Creator with long righteous life, death is perceived as something natural however great our grief is.

Pain of irretrievable loss, bitterness and despair, filling the soul of a grieving person – especially in case of premature and tragic death - often cause feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and fear of “blind fate” in regard to people far from religion, It happens that as a psychological defense a person develops a cynical indifference to the fact of death of even closest people...

[The basis of these psychological reactions – is misperception of the world as the game arena beyond the control of indifferent to a man forces, blind chance, which is typical of ancient Greek philosophy. Judaism teaches to see manifestation of the will of the Creator in all aspects of being. Therefore, the Jewish soul is requested genuine empathy, immersiveness to pain and needs of others – and an integral part of this mental attitude is, undoubtedly, manifestation of feelings of grief for the dead. On the other hand, the mourning period even for the closesrt relatives lasts for a certain time only, with a gradual decrease in the degree of restrictions imposed on a grieving person. And this is natural, since otherwise the psyche of people who lost their loved ones, will be irreparably broken. Life must go on.]

Compliance with the traditional requirements of mourning has two goals. The first goal – is giving honor to the memory of the deceased. The second – the main – is motivation of the grieving person to think over the meaning of life, his path in it, introspection and honest assessment of his actions. The consequence of this spiritual work should be an awakening sense of shame and remorse for committed sins and striving to purify in front of the Highest, who gave us life, but who can take it away from us at any time...

Proper compliance with the requirements of the Jewish laws of mourning assumes that the grieving persons observe certain limitations in daily life: food, work, marital relations, leisure activities and the like. It is very important that Kaddish – a special prayer for the soul of the deceased – is regularly read in the synagogue, that a grieving person allocates a certain amount of money to charity, devotes time to regular Torah study for the ascension of the soul of the deceased.

And holding Jewish burial itself requires compliance with all sorts of regulations and traditions (choice of a cemetery, ritual bath of the body, ceremony Kria – tearing up clothes in sign of mourning, presence of a minyan – ten adult Jews, reading certain prayers and Scripture passages, and more). A special Jewish burial society – Chevra Kadisha – is doing everything; participation in this society has always been considered one of the most honorable missions for a Jew.

It must be said that the Jewish tradition has an extremely negative attitude to post-mortem examination. After all, even after death (especially in the first days), the soul of a person is still connected with the body. In the present state of medical science in the majority of cases it is possible to establish the cause of death without an autopsy. And the use of the body of the deceased in anatomical purposes contradicts the judgment of Judaism regarding respect for the deceased, causing emotional trauma to his relatives.

Body of the deceased should be inhumed as soon as possible, because God said to Adam: “... the dust of the ground you are dust and you will return as ash” (Genesis 3:19). Cremation is strictly prohibited! Jewish tradition has always considered cremation as an offensive ritual dating back to the pagan practice of burning the dead on funeral piles.

In the Gentile nations surrounding us a custom to put the remains of the deceased on public display is widely spread. This ceremony is emphatically rejected by the Jewish tradition and is considered as disrespect to the deceased, a jest about him. It is necessary that people remember him the way he lived and not lifeless corpse maked up and perfumed.

Laying flowers at the grave – is a custom which is hardly appropriate in the Jewish cemetery.

Remember that burying your dead relatives by ceremonies strange for the Jews, you bring innumerable suffering to their souls!

Rabbi Gorodetsky

In our community you can get advice and help with the funeral and mourning compliance in accordance with Jewish tradition. For information contact: 13b Daumana str. (athletic complex “Dynamo” district).

Contact phone number: +375 29 6760747(Velcom).




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