At most burials that I have attended, I have noticed that the mourners, and frequently the rav and other friends ask forgiveness from the dead person for any sins they have caused them. Is it the occasion of the burial itself (i.e., death) that can offer forgiveness? If not, how does this work? How can a dead person forgive someone if he is dead?

  • vosizneias.com/99006/2012/01/16/…
    – rosends
    Sep 27, 2016 at 13:54
  • imamother.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18725 scroll down to 1:37PM
    – rosends
    Sep 27, 2016 at 13:56
  • Again, what makes you think that because someone is dead it automatically follows that they can no longer forgive? Is it that you believe that the soul cannot be aware of the request for forgiveness, or that even though it's aware it should nevertheless not be allowed to forgive for some reason, or something else? What is the reasoning behind your assumption?
    – Jay
    Sep 27, 2016 at 20:56
  • 3
    @DanF How does the deceased forgive and how the wrongdoer knows the deceased forgave are different questions.
    – Double AA
    Sep 28, 2016 at 2:46
  • 1
    How can a deceased person bless someone?
    – Lee
    Jul 24, 2017 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


it's not that the dead person forgives but rather that you do your best and God absolves you. As the Chovot Halevavot writes in the Gate of Repentance ch.9-10

But for the sins towards G-d and man, it will be difficult to repent for several reasons:

  1. He may not be able to find the person he oppressed, or the person died or moved far away...

What strategy should be adopted by one for whom repentance is difficult? We will answer this question as follows

Whatever category it belongs to, if the repentance is difficult due to one of the factors we previously mentioned which cause repentance to be difficult, then if the person takes on himself to fulfill the requirements of repentance with all its conditions to the utmost extent that is in his power and ability to do, then the Creator will make his repentance easier, and will pardon what is hidden from him and not in his ability to do, and will give him a nearer exit for deliverance from his sin and allow him to absolve himself in this way...

If the oppressed died, he should return the money to his heirs. If he hurt him physically or he spoke badly of him, he should confess at his grave with a minyan of ten Jews and he will be forgiven for his sin, as our sages on this matter said: "And if he had died, he should bring ten persons and make them stand by his grave and say: I have sinned against the L-ord, the G-d of Israel, and against this man, whom I have hurt." (Yoma 87a).

  • @mevaqesh how would you translate that וישים לו מוצא קרוב מחטאו וירחיב אמתלאתו בו
    – ray
    Sep 28, 2016 at 20:32
  • 1
    Whose translation is this?
    – Double AA
    Sep 28, 2016 at 20:53
  • @ray I don't know. At the minimum, I would use Rav Qafih's Hovot Halevavot which tends to be a little easier, and I would consult an English transliteration, e.g. Feldheim for the English.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 28, 2016 at 21:46

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