Last Kindness! Lessons from This Week’s Parsha

This week’s Torah portion speaks three times regarding Jewish burial. While it is an uncomfortable topic to discuss, these conversations are obviously very important!

Best – when it’s not immediately relevant. Over the years, I have unfortunately witnessed many challenges arise during the difficult moments of end-of-life, due to the lack of clear communication between parents and their children regarding their Jewish burial wishes.

Here are some examples from this week’s Torah reading:

1) Before Jacob passes away in Egypt, he blesses his children, each with a unique blessing. He makes them promise that he will be brought to a Jewish burial in Israel.

2) We also read in this week’s Torah portion, about Joseph, where he makes a similar request of his children.

3) We learn of the importance of erecting a tombstone from how Jacob built one for his wife Rachel in Bet Lechem.

It seems that there must be a special reason for these repeated teachings in the Torah about burial and end-of-life.

Perhaps, it is to serve as an eternal reminder about the critical need for making proper Jewish end-of-life plans, just like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, and millions of our Jewish ancestors have been doing since creation.

In Jewish law and tradition, being buried in a Jewish cemetery is the sacred, proper, and necessary way to give our soul eternal peace, because an eternal connection has been fused between the body and soul.

Judaism views our bodies as having unique sanctity and requiring special care. During our lifetime those include, healthy eating, sleep, exercise and more! After we pass, God’s guidebook for life – the Torah – instructs that the appropriate care is burial.

Important lessons and reminders to each of us:

  • Prepare a fully executed and signed will (with a legal professional) for yourself (and your spouse).
  • Make certain your loved ones know that you want a Jewish funeral and burial. Best to include it in your will, in writing.
  • Better yet, you can make pre-need arrangements with a funeral home and/or buy plots in a Jewish cemetery.
  • Leaving a portion of your estate to Tzedakah (Charity) is appropriate. ensuring that your Neshama/Soul eternally benefits from your good deeds on earth!

We are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to get together with Chany or me for an in-depth compassionate conversation on the topic. (720) 422-6776 or lbkosher@gmail.com.

To read about the Jewish perspective on death and burial, click here.

Here is the compelling presentation that noted author and speaker Doron Kornblith gave at the Boulder JCC last year when we brought him to Boulder to speak on the topic.

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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