Ultimate Journey: Death and Dying in the World's Major Religions

By Steven J. Rosen | Go to book overview

1
Judaism: The Journey of
the Soul

Rabbi Arthur Seltzer


THE MAINSTREAM: AN OVERVIEW

In the Jewish tradition, death is considered an integral part of the experience of life, leading from the antechamber of this life into the next. The time of transition of the soul from its incarnation in the physical body to the beginning of its journey in the next is considered to be a time of great sacredness, for if man is created in the image of God, then the form that once contained that soul is now relieved of its task, and the godly soul begins its return to its divine source.

Judaism has developed a large body of quite specific rituals and traditions with which to mark this time of transition, and these are intended to assist in the process of the separation of the soul from the body. Inherent in these traditions is the understanding that those remaining in life, the mourners, by their actions, contribute significantly to the separation, elevation, and transformation of the soul.

Before death comes, it is considered to be of great merit to recite the “Viddui,” the confessional, with the dying. If it is possible for the dying person to recite the “Viddui” on his own, he should do so. If it is not possible, then one close to him should recite the confessional on his behalf, seeking forgiveness for his sins, asking for healing, even at this extreme time, but accepting the divine decree whatever it is to be.

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