Questions relating to the nature, function, or process of Death in Jewish thought.

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The proper term for responding — “Boruch Dayan HaEmes” or just “Emes”?

When an an avel makes the brocha "Boruch Dayan HaEmes," the term is "HaEmes". However, I often hear people reply "Boruch Dayan Emes" when they hear news of a death. Is that a proper term or should ...
7
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4answers
98 views

Why believe angels' showing Aaron dead after being fooled about Moses?

When Moses didn't come down from Sinai, the Jews requested a replacement leader, explaining (Exodus 32:1) that this Moses man who lifted us out of the land of Egypt — we don't know what has ...
7
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2answers
209 views

Could the destroyer in Egypt discriminate?

In Rashi's comment to Shemos 12:22 we read ואתם לא תצאו וגו': מגיד שמאחר שנתנה רשות למשחית לחבל אינו מבחין בין צדיק לרשע …once permission has been given to the משחית (destroyer) to ...
7
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1answer
227 views

Can Mamzeirim live?

The gemarah in Yevamos (78b) says "mamzer eino chai" (A mamzer [who is not known, look later in the daf] doesn't live [for more than 12 months] so not to proliferate mamzeirim). On the other hand: ...
7
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3answers
81 views

What is the importance of the human body after death?

On one hand, we are told that the body is a simply container holding our soul. We have to take care of it while alive because we are borrowing it for our time on Earth. It is widely believed that our ...
7
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1answer
158 views

Saying Baruch Dayan HaEmeth when you don't know the person

Is it appropriate to say "Baruch Dayan HaEmeth" when you hear of sad news about a person you don't know, or a person you have corresponded with but haven't met? Does it make a difference if you've ...
7
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1answer
172 views

Halakhic problem with indirectly effecting posthumous Mormon baptism?

Would there be any halakhic problem with using LDS resources to do family history research, if you knew it would result in deceased Jews being named in posthumous baptism rituals? Or is this ...
7
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1answer
153 views

What is the correct emotion to feel upon hearing about enemy civilian casualties?

Recent missiles sent by Hamas landed in Hebron. When my neighbor told me about this, it was unclear whether they had hurt any Arab civilians. I said that I hoped not, while my neighbor basically said ...
7
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2answers
88 views

Do you have to judge dead people favorably?

In Avot we learn that one should judge all people favorably ("והוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות"). I would like to know if that includes the deceased. Meaning, can I look back on the life of a person who is ...
6
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4answers
181 views

Commemorating Death

What are some sources about when it is appropriate - if ever - to celebrate the death of an enemy? My question is inspired by last night's news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, naturally, as well as ...
6
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3answers
224 views

Cities of Refuge when Moshiach comes?

Why do we need Cities of Refuge when Moshiach comes if at that time there will be no more death?
6
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2answers
184 views

Double portion for firstborn

I need to designate beneficiaries for a life insurance plan. I've designated my wife as the primary beneficiary and my children as contingent beneficiaries. My son is a firstborn and he has two ...
6
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1answer
112 views

Do cremated remains contaminate with tumas mes?

If a body is cremated, do the ashes transmit tumah as do other human remains, or does cremation render the body no longer tamei?
6
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1answer
254 views

How to be prepared for participation in the Chevra Kaddisha

What are some things that I (or anyone) should take into consideration before participating in a tahara, the ritual preparation of a body for burial?
6
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2answers
93 views

Kill a no-longer-profitable horse?

My understanding is that a horse is killed when its profit no longer matches its expense. Is this something Jews should/may do? I can think of some pros and cons, but wonder what authorities have ...
6
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1answer
76 views

Reciting Boruch Dayan HaEmes on Shabbos

If someone's parent dies, one must recite Boruch Dayan HaEmes. What happens if this occurs on Shabbos? Is the customary Boruch Dayan HaEmes recited or not?
6
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1answer
100 views

התראה by phone?

Can warning for a capital crime be accomplished by telephone? Hello? Are you aware that it is currently שבת where you are? Yes. I am aware of the punishment and prepared to do it anyway. Are ...
6
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1answer
166 views

Answering Amen to kaddish for a dog

I once attended a synagogue regularly where a particular congregant was infatuated with his dog. Upon the passing of the dog the congregant began to say kaddish. He was unclear of his reasons for ...
6
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1answer
972 views

Why do mourning practices surrounding suicide differ from Shulchan Aruch?

It used to be that a person who committed suicide was buried in a separate part of the cemetery and the relatives did not sit shiva (see Shulchan Aruch YD 345). We no longer do these things and we ...
6
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1answer
60 views

Can Moshe die at will?

Devarim 32:49-50 עֲלֵה אֶל-הַר הָעֲבָרִים הַזֶּה הַר-נְבוֹ, אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב, אֲשֶׁר, עַל-פְּנֵי יְרֵחוֹ; וּרְאֵה אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲחֻזָּה. נ ...
6
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2answers
359 views

May one say kaddish for a non-Jew?

I have read that Jews recited kaddish on behalf of Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated. What is the halachic basis for this and has kaddish ever been said en-masse on behalf of other non-Jews?
6
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1answer
126 views

Can Yizkor obligations be paid from Maaser money?

When a person goes to Shul to say Yizkor they obligate themselves to give Tzedaka in memory of the deceased. Can this obligation be paid from Maaser or does it have to be paid from the persons ...
6
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1answer
275 views

Why did Miriam die in the desert?

We are told why Moshe and Aharon passed away in the desert (Bamidbar 20:12), but we are not told why Miriam died. According to Rashi (Bamidbar 1:49, 26:64), only the men who were counted in the ...
6
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2answers
158 views

In Modeh Ani we thank Hashem for our neshama's return. Where do neshamas go?

In Modeh Ani we thank Hashem for returning our Neshomos when we arise. Where do they go during our sleep? Do they go to the same place as the neshomos of the deceased?
6
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1answer
147 views

Does anyone know where this prayer comes from?

I've always been struck by the beauty of the following Hebrew prayer for the dead (translated into early modern English): O Lord and King, who art full of compassion, God of the spirits of all ...
6
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2answers
59 views

Can one accomplish Tzedaka through a will?

If one gives Tzedaka through a will -- so it is meant to be given after death -- does that person get the Mitzvah of Tzedaka? The reason I would think "no" is because it is difficult to understand ...
6
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1answer
86 views

Why is sleeping with shoes on a taste of death?

The gemarah in Yoma 78b teaches that sleeping with shoes is a taste of death. This is also codified in halacha. I would like to understand why this is the case. What is it about sleeping with shoes ...
6
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1answer
112 views

May one publish or read the private diary of a deceased person?

Recently the private diary of Rav Kook was published; diaries of other Rabbis have also been published posthumously. Is there any halachic problem with publishing these documents, and, if there is, is ...
6
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0answers
32 views

How do you avoid 'al tiftah peh l'satan'?

There is a principle of al tiftach peh l'satan (Ketubot 8b) - literally "don't open your mouth to the Satan". How can concern for this principle be avoided when discussing possible bad future ...
6
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0answers
69 views

What is the timeline of the connection of the soul to the body after death?

Speaking to the Rabbi who runs the chevra kadisha in my neighborhood recently, regarding the pending cremation of the mother of a friend, he mentioned several interesting concepts with respect to the ...
6
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0answers
65 views

Why were מִישָׁאֵל and אֶלְצָפָן chosen to remove Nadav and Avihu?

There were many other people who could have been chosen to remove the dead bodies of Nadav and Avihu from the Mishkan (Vayikra 10:4). Why were מִישָׁאֵל and אֶלְצָפָן chosen for this task as opposed ...
5
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3answers
220 views

What sages were known to have revived the dead?

The Talmud speaks of several rabbis who successfully appealed to G-d to revive a deceased colleague or some other individual. As I recall, one revived rabbi asked to be return to the world of the ...
5
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3answers
223 views

Have not gone to parents grave in seven years

A friend recently mentioned that she has not gone to her parents grave in over ten years due to its distance and when she wanted to go she was told by a Rabbi that if she has not been there for over ...
5
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3answers
159 views

Can one person say Kaddish for two different deceased people?

Can one person say Kaddish for two different deceased people?
5
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1answer
316 views

Source for eulogy of lost bookcases

I recall learning a gemarah (Bavli) where a certain scholar passed away and when another scholar was asked to eulogize him he responded with something akin to, "What should I say? We lost our ...
5
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1answer
2k views

How long does one say Kaddish for a parent?

For example, if one's parent died on 1 Nissan, and was buried on 2 Nissan, what is the last day on which kaddish would be said for them?
5
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1answer
67 views

Chevra Kadisha knots

I recently did a tahara and I was curious about where a lot of the practices came from and what the meaning behind them is. One thing we did was that when we tied any knots, we twist-wrapped the two ...
5
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5answers
282 views

Do Animals Have an Afterlife

What does Torah say about an afterlife for animals? Is there somewhere animals go after they die? Please include the sources of your answers.
5
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2answers
218 views

Killing insects on Yom Tov

Is one allowed to kill an insect on Yom Tov that is "bothering" them (causing some sort of tzar)? (I'm inclined to think, based on the Halachic concept of "m'toch", that since we are allowed to shecht ...
5
votes
2answers
225 views

Life support for a dead pregnant woman for the sake of a pre-viable baby

Suppose a pregnant woman dies*, and it's too early in the pregnancy for the baby inside her to have any chance of viability if delivered now, but if the woman's body is kept connected to life-support ...
5
votes
1answer
438 views

Whence is the idea that the deceased is a meilitz yosher?

At funerals I have often heard it said that the deceased should be a meilitz yosher (one who relates rectitude). Where does this idea come from?
5
votes
1answer
190 views

Travel on same plane as body to Israel?

After a recent death here in South Africa it arose in conversation that there is a problem for mourners to fly on the same plane as the body to its burial in Israel. Aside from Kehuna issues (which ...
5
votes
2answers
445 views

Killing animals for tefillin — how?

Are there halachas for how an animal for tefillin must be killed? Or can it, for example, be shot, assuming it was shot by a non Jew. If there are no restrictions, why not? (one would think that we ...
5
votes
1answer
415 views

What is the kaf hakelah

A punishment for souls that do not immediately merit to enter gan eden (olam haba?) is to be flung about in the "kaf hakelah". What exactly is that? What is its purpose? Why specifically is that form ...
5
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2answers
207 views

When is a Yartziet Observed?

When is a Yartzeit observed, the day of death or the day of burial? I ask this question in response to the news of the terrible death of the three boys in Eretz Yisrael who died weeks before their ...
5
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2answers
120 views

Why is Yosef's age at death given twice?

At the end of Genesis, Yosef dies at the age of 110 years. 50:22–26: וַיֵּשֶׁב יוֹסֵף בְּמִצְרַיִם הוּא וּבֵית אָבִיו וַיְחִי יוֹסֵף מֵאָה וָעֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים. וַיַּרְא יוֹסֵף לְאֶפְרַיִם ...
5
votes
1answer
199 views

How to handle cadavers

My fiancée is going to university, working towards a degree in dentistry. For about a year, she will be required to handle cadavers in the classes. First of all, is this forbidden in Torah? Secondly, ...
5
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1answer
160 views

Postmortem organ donation in halacha

I know we generally accord respect to our dead, which includes not mangling their bodies. On the other hand, obviously saving lives is more important than, well, almost anything, including respect for ...
5
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2answers
162 views

How to reconcile conflicting statements on martyrs feeling pain

According to the Maharam M'Rotenberg (explained in this answer) martyrs don't feel the pain of death. How then can we understand these following medrashim? When R' Chanina ben Tradyoin was being ...
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2answers
301 views

Is there a source that the Messiah can die and return?

Is there a source in Judaism that indicates that Moshiach (Ben David, not Ben Yosef) will die before having fulfilled his role and then return to posthumously achieve it?