Q in short: I can think of ways in which remembering those who have died benefits us (e.g. reminds us that our time here is limited). And of course, the common לעילוי נשמת of doing (or causing) a mitzvah in their merit - benefits them. However, in what way does *simply stating their name זכירה benefit the deceased themselves as it seems from the Rashi below and practice of some form of memorial (attaching their name to shul, sefer, etc)?

More detail: Rashi in Megillah 3:9- explains that when Rus asked Boaz to marry her (it wasn't for the sake of yibum as Rashi holds (1:12) that she converted after Machlon died, and thus wasn't זקוק ליבום) therefore he explains her request for marriage was as a package with the acquisition of his field so that "שיזכר שם המת על נחלתו כשאבא אל השדה יאמרו זאת אשת מחלון" (so that people will remember the name of the deceased (Machlon) - when I (Rus) come to the field they'll say this is the wife of Machlon.) see ציץ אליעזר חלק יז ס' מב

Thus it seems that there is a benefit to the deceased themselves when their name is mentioned "down here" (or at least in connection with their field). My question is how/why should it benefit them? Being that this world is a "corridor" to עולם האמת, once they've gotten there, to what benefit could it be to them to have their name mentioned in עולם השקר? Especially as it seems from that Rashi that it's not even being mentioned in relation to their good deeds (כענין זכרהו לטובה) but simply the mention of their name (at least in connection to their field)

  • Does anyone hold Rus was actually doing Yibbum? Boaz wasn't Machlon's brother afaik.
    – Double AA
    Dec 4, 2020 at 19:04
  • The ציץ אליעזר raises that Q, so techincally it couldn't have been yibum. He references the RambaN (this coming week's parasha Beraishis 38:8) who explains that (based on the knowledge of gilgulim?) there was a practice that preceeded the Torah whereby any relative (closer the better) married the deceased wife. After the Torah was given and only permitted the brother, the practice continued (I assume in cases where there was no brother) with relatives who are permitted (e.g. uncle - such as Boaz) - this was called "גאולה"
    – Chaim
    Dec 8, 2020 at 4:44
  • See the Malbim and peirush of Seforno to Rus. See also Rabbeinu Bechaye on parsha of yibbum. Basically it is a kabbalistic concept.
    – N.T.
    May 6, 2021 at 0:32
  • Somewhat related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34365 judaism.stackexchange.com/q/84788
    – Fred
    Dec 25, 2022 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


So from a hashkafah perspective, Rb Mordechai Miller explained this by means of this Ramban


או שמא יש לו חלק לעולם הבא שאמרו חז"ל בזכות בנו והיא הבשורה שהוא לא היה יודע עד שנתבשר בכך בעת שאמר לו ואתה תבא אל אבותיך בשלום וכן מצאתי במדרש (לק"ט ויקרא ד ב) כל העצים כשרין חוץ -משל זית ושל גפן שהשמן והיין קרבין לגבי מזבח הצילו הפירות האילנות וכן מצינו באברהם שהציל את תרח שנאמר ואתה תבוא אל אבותיך בשלום

In summary, the Ramban says even if Terach was a rasha and never did teshuva he still received olam habah because of the zechus of Avraham.

Which appears to be difficult to understand.

Rb Mordechai Miller explained that the kiddush Hashem a person makes in their life is amplified through association with other forms of kiddush Hashem performed in close proximity to the original kiddush Hashem.

Therefore because Avraham was so great, even if Terach only did a very few small good deeds in his life, they would be so amplified by their proximity to Avraham's that Terach would still merit olam habah through them.

Similarly when you do a mitzva in the zechus of the departed what this means is that since you associate your mitzva with the deceased, this amplifies the original maasim tovim that the niftar performed.

Hence the usefulness of those who have passed away, being remembered.

  • Thanks however in the case of Boaz he wasn't doing a mitzvah according to Rashi as she wasn't זקוק ליבום since she converted after Machlon died. So there was no zechus just zechirah alone
    – Chaim
    Dec 4, 2020 at 18:43
  • @Chaim It's conceptual, not halachical
    – The GRAPKE
    Dec 6, 2020 at 21:58
  • @Gapke Sorry, I'm still not following - Rashi implies that even without any good deed association, just people simply saying "that's Mrs. Machlon" (and thus the mention of Machlon) is a benefit. No association to good deeds (halachic or conceptual) needed. The only association, seems to be to his field (which I don't understand either)
    – Chaim
    Dec 8, 2020 at 0:32
  • 2
    @Chaim Yes correct. As long as people carry on doing what they are doing in the context of that person having existed then what they do is an extrapolation of that person's existence and therefore what that person did is embellished by what they do henceforth.
    – The GRAPKE
    Dec 8, 2020 at 0:44
  • @Grapke - That would explain how merely mentioning the deceased can connect a living person's GOOD DEED to the deceased. However, Rashi doesn't seem to be stressing any good deeds being done by the living. It's not like he said (in the name of Rus) that people should see me giving Maaser from his field (or other mitzvah) and say that is Machlon's wife giving Maaser. Nonetheless, I appreciate that pshat by Rabbi Mordechai Miller - where can I find that?
    – Chaim
    Dec 8, 2020 at 3:55

It doesn't say anything about him getting benefit from his name being remembered, just a fact. You can say since the Navi mentions this, it must have a purpose.

I could argue that it was Naomi trying to memorialize her family (as even non believers* do) Naomi was also being nice to Rut by attaching her marriage as a condition on the sale. See Understanding Naomi selling a field

An incidental benefit may arise if his name being remembered causes someone else to do a good deed, like the Ramban mentioned by @The GRAPKE.

*Yosifon mentions that Alexander the Great was offered that Jews should be named after him. Based on the popularity of that name among some Jews, Alexander took the offer. Unless this was some sort of Pascal's wager between him and Shimon Hatzadik.

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