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

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21
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3answers
300 views

Must EMTs and others rend Kriyah each time they see a patient die?

I was looking at Yoreh De'ah 40:5 (יו"ד סימן ש"מ ס"ק ה) and Moed Katan 25b (כה עמוד ב), which require Kriyah (garment-rending) for all who are there at the time of death. It would seem to me that an ...
19
votes
2answers
459 views

Is it a sin to escape the death penalty?

If someone is sentenced to death by a Jewish court and is being held prisoner until the sentence can be carried out, if he escapes, is that a sin for him?
17
votes
4answers
492 views

Did courts ever execute?

The laws of capital crimes elucidated in Sanhedrin and elsewhere make conviction very unlikely. Makkot 1:10 famously tells us that a court that executes once in seven years is bloodthirsty, R. ...
16
votes
2answers
386 views

What's the leading medical explanation for the “woman whose husbands keep dying” (“katlanit”) phenomenon?

The Gemara says that if a woman gets married, then her husband dies; then marries another guy and is widowed from him; then once more; we then assume something about her is causing her husbands to die ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it better to kill 1 person or let 5 die?

I was recently reading about the Trolley Problem A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, ...
14
votes
4answers
953 views

Why do we say “You should live till 120”?

Prior to the Mabul people lived for hundreds of years. After the Mabul lifespans shortened although we see that the Avos lived in the 180 year range. In the Pasuk in Tehilim we say Yemei Shenoseinu ...
14
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5answers
2k views

Can you be buried in a Jewish Cemetery if you have a tattoo?

Can you be buried in a Jewish Cemetery if you have a tattoo? I.e., is it just urban legend that you can't?
14
votes
3answers
366 views

May a Jewish cemetery refuse a body?

Based on a recent news item wherein cemeteries have been refusing to inter the body of one of the (alleged) Boston bombers, I am curious whether a Jewish cemetery's operators are allowed to refuse to ...
14
votes
2answers
269 views

Why does the Torah not record the passing of Leah?

The Torah records the passing of all the patriarchs and matriarchs: Sarah - Bereishis 23:1-2 Avraham - Bereishis 25:8-9 Rochel - Bereishis 35:19 Yitzchak - Bereishis 35:29 Then Rivkah is not ...
14
votes
2answers
226 views

Why should the patriarchs have lived to 180?

Rashi to B'reshis 25:30 says that Avraham should have lived to the age of 180 had his life not been cut short. Yitzchak lived to 180. The Daas Z'kenim to B'reshis 47:8 quotes a midrash as saying ...
13
votes
3answers
686 views

Can you ask God to kill you?

I know that out of desperation Moshe asks God to kill him and I don't necessarily see any reason it would be forbidden but I was curious if there was any discussion, halachic or otherwise, as to ...
13
votes
2answers
882 views

Is it inappropriate to say Baruch Dayan Haemes on a Ben Noach? Why or why not?

Is it inappropriate to say Baruch Dayan Haemes on a Ben Noach? What about someone who may have been an oved avoda zarah? Someone who is definitely such? I'm asking because I've seen such discussion ...
12
votes
1answer
298 views

2.4 million killed according to Rashi in B'shalach. Why does no one talk about it?

In the begining of Parshat B'shalach, Rashi says that one p'shat for "Vachamushim" means one fifth, because during Makas Choshech, 4 out of 5 were killed out, and it happened during the time it was ...
11
votes
2answers
379 views

Cryonics in Judaism

I was recently reading an article about cryogenics, there are around 200 bodies frozen in cryogenics labs around the world, and in the article they said that in the near future they may be able to ...
11
votes
3answers
288 views

Why was there a distinction made for women captives?

In Numbers 31, God tells the Israelites to wipe out the Midianites (and incidentally, Balaam) by killing every male. But they spared certain women (v17-18): Now therefore kill every male among the ...
11
votes
1answer
282 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: ...
11
votes
3answers
138 views

Origin of Unveiling

Often, the family of the deceased will have an unveiling service for the presentation of the matzevah.* What is the origin of this custom? *Source: Goldin, Hyman. Hamadrikh. Hebrew Publishing Company:...
11
votes
1answer
156 views

Tahara procedure for a body with an infectious disease

I've heard that one vector for the spread of Ebola is ceremonial contact that family members have with the body of their deceased relative. That led me to think about how Judaism deals with this issue....
11
votes
1answer
91 views

Why didn't Joshua appoint a leader after him?

When Joshua dies, he doesn't (at least not explicitly in Joshua 24 or Judges 1) appoint a spiritual or military leader after him. Joshua was appointed by Moses (Numbers 27:15-23) and that appears to ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

Non-Jews (Gentiles) in Olam Haba (Jewish Afterlife)?

Are there non-Jews in Olam Haba (the world to come), either in Gehenom (Hell) or Gan Eden (Heaven)?
10
votes
2answers
462 views

Are Jews permitted to martyr themselves?

Are Jews permitted to martyr themselves? For example, if it is a question of converting or being killed, is the Jew permitted to sacrifice himself rather than convert? Separately: which would be ...
10
votes
4answers
340 views

Cremations for Jews?

Why shouldn't Jews be cremated?
10
votes
3answers
258 views

Can our deceased relatives observe us?

People often say (e.g. at s'machot and other such events) things like "Grandpa Chaim would have loved to be here today, but we know he is smiling down on us from shamayim" Is this really a ...
10
votes
1answer
141 views

Is a ban on government workers wearing religious symbols a gezeirat hamalchut for which one would be obligated to give up his life?

So, i haven't heard that anyone today is making this punishable by death, but still... France has a law that prohibits government workers from wearing religious symbols on their job. This naturally ...
10
votes
2answers
809 views

Did Abraham know that Lot Survived the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?

In last week's Parasha, we all know the story of Abraham arguing with God to have God spare the cities on account of the righteous. However, I haven't heard much about the end of the story. ...
10
votes
3answers
143 views

What to do before death

If a doctor tells a person that he is certain to die shortly (e.g., within one hour), what should that person do during his remaining minutes?
10
votes
1answer
157 views

What does a tahara accomplish for a dead person?

What does a tahara, the process of washing and dressing a dead person, accomplish spiritually for the meis?
10
votes
4answers
423 views

Why is giluey arayos one of the big 3?

I get why murder and idol worship are things you have to give your life up for. But why is giluy arayos - sexual sin so fundamental as to require a person to give up one's life? I'm looking for a ...
10
votes
1answer
164 views

When did Ben Azzai die?

Rabbi Shimeon ben Azzai is listed as having died twice, once as part of the 4 who enter "pardes" (chagigah 14b) and again as one of the 10 martyrs. Which of these traditions is correct, or is there a ...
10
votes
2answers
231 views

Can one write one's own Hespid?

Tragically, I have an incurable disease and have little time left. I have told a number of friends about this and said good-bye to them in an email. In return, I have received a number of emails ...
10
votes
2answers
677 views

Do Jews pray to deceased forefathers?

Shalom, I would like to know if Jews consider it acceptable to pray to deceased ancestors, forefathers, or "saints" like some Christians in the Catholic tradition do. Deuteronomy 18:11 would seem to ...
9
votes
2answers
622 views

What are the characteristics of Sheol?

The Wikipedia article on Sheol is very unclear as to what it is and combined with the Christian understanding: quoting the New Testament in several places. Who goes to Sheol once they die (Jews and/...
9
votes
2answers
403 views

Does one make a blessing if preparing to die al kiddush Hashem?

If one is reasonably sure that he is about to die al kiddush Hashem does he make a blessing before fulfilling this mitzvah? What would the nusach (text) of this blessing be? Note: I realize that even ...
9
votes
2answers
225 views

Davening for someone to end a painful life

Are you allowed to daven for a person to die because he is in a lot of pain?
9
votes
2answers
441 views

What is the kiss of death?

Chazal tell us (need help with the source) that at least 3 people died "b'neshika" with a 'kiss' from God, Moshe, Aron and Miriam. (Rashi on Bamidbar 20:1, 33:38; Devarim 34:5) What is exactly does ...
9
votes
4answers
301 views

Can the living negatively affect the dead?

As far as I know, living people can positively affect the dead. This is the reason we say Kaddish and learn Mishnayos for the souls of the deceased. (Feel free to comment with more examples of this.) ...
9
votes
2answers
140 views

When saying Shema Yisroel as your last words, should you say “בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד”?

Ad 120 Since the "Baruch shem..." that follows the statement of "Shema yisroel" was collocated to "Shema yisroel" by rabbis, and is subordinate to the extent that we say it in an undertone, must it ...
9
votes
1answer
212 views

Kaddish by proxy [duplicate]

If a more distant family member passes, and none of the mourners (spouse, parents, siblings, children) regularly attend prayer services (minyan) - should another unrelated person say kaddish for the ...
9
votes
0answers
86 views

Post mortem Tahara

I'm looking for sources discussing the religious aspect of the Tahara done on deceased Jews. I recall someone mentioning that the religious aspect of it was a practice we picked up from the Muslims ...
8
votes
1answer
214 views

Kohen Gadol Yibum

Is it ever possible for a Kohen Gadol to perform the Mitzvah of Yibum. After all, every case of Yibum involves a widow which the Kohen Gadol is not allowed to marry?
8
votes
1answer
840 views

How to Tear Kriyah

What is the proper procedure for tearing Kriyah (e.g. for Aveilus* or visiting the Kosel)? * May we never have to do so
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Naming your child using a dead relative's initial

Is there a Jewish tradition of naming your child using the first letter of the name of a recently deceased relative?
8
votes
2answers
98 views

Would they have died anyway?

I preface my question by noting that this question can be uncomfortable to some people, but hope that this great community can answer it Take any tragic event where people died, be it 9/11 or the ...
8
votes
1answer
66 views

How to express thanks for G-d's salvation when others weren't as fortunate

It is customary that one who was miraculously saved from death acknowledge G-d's kindness by making a celebratory meal (Seudat Hoda'ah). See here, here, and the Chayei Adam 154:41 Does anyone discuss ...
8
votes
1answer
244 views

Issues of Tumah vis a vis non-Jewish human remains

I was once told that there's a crypt in the Old City of Jerusalem near one of the gates (I forget which one), which houses the remains of a well-regarded non-Jew (once again, I forget the exact ...
8
votes
2answers
610 views

May a non-Jew have an abortion?

Are non-Jews permitted to have abortions? (Consider the gemara in Sanhedrin 57b where "a baraita brings in the name of Rabbi Yishmael that a Ben Noach gets capital punishment if he intentionally ...
8
votes
1answer
112 views

Why do fish die?

There's an interesting Rashi in Parshas Bereishis (3:6): וַתֵּ֣רֶא הָֽאִשָּׁ֡ה כִּ֣י טוֹב֩ הָעֵ֨ץ לְמַאֲכָ֜ל וְכִ֧י תַֽאֲוָה־ה֣וּא לָעֵינַ֗יִם וְנֶחְמָ֤ד הָעֵץ֙ לְהַשְׂכִּ֔יל וַתִּקַּ֥ח ...
7
votes
4answers
190 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
296 views

When did Leah die?

Leah died some time before Jacob (according to Genesis 49:31) but we are not told exactly when. Please cite a source as to exactly when Leah died.
7
votes
2answers
290 views

History of Capital Punishment

When is the most recent documented occurrence in Jewish history of a beit din carrying out the death penalty? Or if historical documentation is lacking, when is the most recent time in Jewish history ...