Celebration & Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism

By Rela M. Geffen | Go to book overview

for the coming year. It is appropriate to recite psalms at the graveside and also the Memorial Prayer (El molei rahamim).


Conclusion

Judaism is a life-affirming and joy-affirming religion. At the same time, it recognizes the preciousness of each individual and for this reason prescribes rites of mourning that proclaim to the world the irreparable loss that a single death brings to the family, the community, the Jewish people, and the entire world. The laws of mourning also recognize the difficulty a mourner has in confronting the rupture of a valued relationship, the finality of death, and the emptiness left in its wake. Rites of mourning that take the mourner through the first few days, the first week, the first month, and the first year ease the transition, enabling him or her to come to terms with death and return to life in the real world in a gentle, incremental way.


NOTES
1.
Mo'ed Katan 21a, Tosafot, s.v. Aylu devarim.
2.
All references of this sort are to the Shulḥan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah, section, and paragraph.
3.
The Hebrew terms will be presented throughout in masculine form, even though the English translation will render them, on occasion, in feminine form.
4.
Keri'ah (rending the garment) used to be mandatory for all those present at the moment of death. Since fear of loss of valuable garments discouraged people from remaining with the dying, the ritual of keri'ah was moved to the day of burial.
5.
From this point on, shomerim are provided by the funeral home.
6.
The Talmud (Mo'ed Katan 27a-b) does not speak of caskets but of plain and fancy biers.
7.
For parents the rip is made on the left; for all others on the right.
8.
The customary statement of condolence appears below in the section called "Other Shivah Practices."
9.
Medieval commentators permitted the study of Job, parts of Jeremiah, Kinot, and the laws of mourning (Moed Katan 21a, Tosafot, s.v. Ve-asur likrot ba-torah). Therefore, if one wishes to bring the mourner something, a book on the laws of death and mourning is appropriate.

-249-

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Celebration & Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • Be Fruitful and Multiply - Issues Relating to Birth in Judaism 12
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 31
  • Parents as Partners with God - Parenting Young Children 32
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 52
  • From Bar/Bat Mitzvah Through the Teen Years - Challenges to Parent and Community 53
  • Notes 70
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 70
  • Choosing Judaism - Issues Relating to Conversion 71
  • Notes 88
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 88
  • Marriage - Judaism's "Other" Covenantal Relationship 90
  • Notes 122
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 130
  • Midlife - From Understanding to Wisdom 132
  • Notes 147
  • The Altar Weeps" - Divorce in Jewish Law 151
  • Introduction 151
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 166
  • Bikkur Ḥolim - Sickness in Jewish Law 167
  • Notes 196
  • The Crown of Glory - Aging in the Jewish Tradition 202
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 223
  • Death and Mourning - A Time for Weeping, A Time for Healing 226
  • Conclusion 249
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 249
  • Glossary 252
  • Contributors 258
  • Index 261
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