Judaica Guide: A Complete Guide to Essential Judaica & Hebrew

Death in Judaism

The Jewish belief values life above most other things. The Talmud even states that "Saving one life is like saving an entire world". On the other hand, Death is not a tragedy, even if it happens early in one's life or through unfortunate circumstances, because death is considered to be a natural process, which is written as part of God's plan for us. Death has a meaning, but we can not, and should not, try to understand why it happens.

The Jewish belief sees the afterlife as the place where those who lived their life in a worthy manner will be rewarded.

The practices of mourning the dead are extensive, buy they do not show fear of death, but are simply a way to show one's respect (kavod ha-met) for the person who died, and to help the living cope with the dead of their loved one (nihum avelim).

Straight after the death, a yahrzeit candle is lit in the mourner's house, for the ascent of the soul of the departed. It is preferable to hold the funeral as soon as possible. Until the funeral, the mourner is exempted from prayers and blessings, so he can honor the dead and take care of the funeral arrangements. At the funeral, the mourner must make a tear in an outer garment, and continue wearing it throughout the Shivah. The act of tearing the clothes is called "keriah".

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