Questions tagged [death]

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

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26
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2answers
247 views

How can I pray for Jewish people as they approach death? I am a hospice chaplain

I am a chaplain in a hospice, serving those who are terminally ill. As a chaplain, I do not promote my faith, rather, I help those walk in their faith as death approaches. One of the sad issues I ...
24
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3answers
393 views

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

I was looking at Yoreh De'ah 340:5 (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 ...
24
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5answers
875 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?
21
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5answers
738 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 considered "destructive",...
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4answers
2k 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, you ...
19
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5answers
402 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 ...
17
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3answers
299 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 ...
16
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5answers
3k 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?
16
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2answers
559 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 ...
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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 ...
15
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3answers
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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 ...
15
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3answers
454 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:...
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6answers
6k 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)?
14
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2answers
670 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 ...
14
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3answers
545 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
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2answers
363 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
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3answers
2k 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 ...
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4answers
484 views

Cremations for Jews?

Why shouldn't Jews be cremated?
13
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2answers
1k views

Why did Miriam die in the desert?

We are told why Moshe and Aharon passed away in the desert (Bamidbar 20:12), but we are not told why Miriam died. According to Rashi (Bamidbar 1:49, 26:64), only the men who were counted in the ...
13
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4answers
757 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 ...
13
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1answer
435 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 ...
13
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2answers
465 views

What are we celebrating on Lag B'Omer?

To the best of my knowledge we celebrate on Lag B'Omer as this is the day the students of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying. This reason seems incomprehensible. The reason they stopped dying was because there ...
13
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1answer
149 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 ...
13
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2answers
2k 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
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2answers
710 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 ...
12
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1answer
987 views

“Die, but don't transgress”: what about torture?

There is a principle in Jewish law that there are three transgressions that should not be committed, even on pain of death: murder, "sexual immorality" (a reference, presumably, to the sorts of ...
12
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2answers
511 views

What causes a person to remain in this world as a ghost?

A baraita on Berakhot 18b relates a story where a pious man sleeps in a cemetery and hears two spirits talking. One of them suggests they wander the world, and the other says she can't because she ...
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3answers
463 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 ...
12
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1answer
329 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
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2answers
630 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 ...
11
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2answers
3k 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. Genesis ...
11
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3answers
167 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?
11
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1answer
197 views

Should you save yourself and let one person die, or the other way round

If a car is going down the road and there is no way to stop it and someone walks out in front of the car, should the driver swerve and kill themselves, or should they continue and let the other person ...
11
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1answer
193 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....
10
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2answers
1k 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/...
10
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1answer
1k views

How does one receive forgiveness from someone they have wronged after their death?

Say you sinned against a fellow Jew. You decide you want to seek forgiveness from that person but then discover that person has passed away. G-d forgives sins against Him but man must seek forgiveness ...
10
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2answers
299 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?
10
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3answers
975 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 ...
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3answers
319 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
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1answer
177 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 ...
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2answers
213 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 ...
10
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1answer
154 views

Why were מִישָׁאֵל and אֶלְצָפָן chosen to remove Nadav and Avihu?

There were many other people who could have been chosen to remove the dead bodies of Nadav and Avihu from the Mishkan (Vayikra 10:4). Why were מִישָׁאֵל and אֶלְצָפָן chosen for this task as opposed ...
10
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1answer
188 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
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1answer
219 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
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2answers
275 views

Saying shema before death in inappropriate circumstances

There are circumstances under which a person should not recite the Shema: if they are in the presence of naked people, if they are themselves undressed, if there is nearby fecal matter, if they need ...
10
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2answers
284 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
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1answer
260 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 ...
10
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1answer
155 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 ...
9
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2answers
970 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.
9
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4answers
445 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.) ...