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

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19
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3answers
372 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?
18
votes
3answers
232 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
337 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. ...
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
1answer
267 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
305 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
208 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
640 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
526 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, ...
13
votes
3answers
369 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
316 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
1answer
240 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
237 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
3answers
112 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
126 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
288 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
168 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
130 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
255 views

Cremations for Jews?

Why shouldn't Jews be cremated?
9
votes
3answers
224 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
179 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
165 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
247 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
341 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
173 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
2answers
164 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?
8
votes
4answers
223 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
208 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
446 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?
7
votes
2answers
351 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
190 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
229 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
263 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
230 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
1answer
96 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
148 views

What is the significance of the skull of Araunah the Yevusi?

Araunah the Yevusi sells the land upon which the beis hamikdash will eventually be built to Dovid HaMelech (II Shemuel 24:18). Subsequently his skull is found underneath the mizbeach at least twice ...
7
votes
1answer
104 views

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
votes
1answer
155 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
votes
1answer
123 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
votes
1answer
66 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
302 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
940 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)?
6
votes
4answers
174 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
votes
3answers
185 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
votes
1answer
96 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
votes
1answer
70 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
votes
1answer
135 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
votes
1answer
641 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
votes
1answer
446 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
6
votes
2answers
255 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?