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

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21
votes
3answers
276 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
430 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
461 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
344 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
792 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
837 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
votes
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
350 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
246 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
214 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
545 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
603 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
285 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
1answer
269 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
3answers
260 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
148 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
2k 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
3answers
252 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
125 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
3answers
136 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
148 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
354 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
154 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
216 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
1answer
270 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: ...
10
votes
1answer
81 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
473 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
337 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
203 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
4answers
286 views

Cremations for Jews?

Why shouldn't Jews be cremated?
9
votes
1answer
192 views

Kaddish by proxy

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
2answers
385 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
399 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
197 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
4answers
270 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.) ...
8
votes
2answers
828 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
89 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
63 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
181 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
1answer
471 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
2answers
75 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
257 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
272 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
341 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
288 views

Do “most leading Orthodox rabbis” really hold that brain-stem death is death?

According to a recent NYTimes piece on the new organ donation law in Israel, Most leading Orthodox rabbis -- as well as Israeli law -- agree that a person dies when his brain-stem stops ...
7
votes
2answers
340 views

Help with Tosfot “v'HaAmar R. Yochanan” on Brachot 5b

The Gmara on Brachot 5b quotes R. Yochanon: R. Yochanan says: Leprosy and children are not chastisements of love. The Gmara later questions this statement: But is children not a ...
7
votes
1answer
133 views

What is the Orthodox Jewish position regarding a criminal ban on abortion?

I know that many Orthodox Jews oppose abortion - presumably because they see this as a religious requirement - but does Orthodox Judaism see it as required or preferable to support a secular law ...
7
votes
1answer
247 views

How was Rabbi Yochanan allowed to walk with his son's bone?

It says in Brachos 5B that R' Yochanan used to show people his tenth son's bone (all of his children passed away, and he used to carry a bone of his tenth child). How was he allowed to not bury this ...
7
votes
1answer
605 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
7
votes
1answer
187 views

Proliferation of species after the flood

I am curious as to how many species didn't go extinct immediately after the flood. There were 2 of each non-kosher animal that came off of the ark. I assume that the foxes and lions got hungry ...