Sunday, June 09, 2013

Honoring the Dead, Jewish Style

I've been following the blog "Adventures of a Chief Rabbi" the past few months, ever since it began.  His latest post is about doing "tahara" the cleansing, cleaning of a dead body.   The Jewish laws for how to prepare a body for burial are different from other religions.  I've never been involved in this great mitzvah, but I think it's a very special one.

I recommend that you read the post.

A Jewish body is prepared to rejoin the earth by being thoroughly and gently cleaned.  It's then covered with soft clothing before wrapped for burial.  In Israel there is no coffin.  In countries that mandate a box, the box must have holes on the bottom so the decomposition will not be delayed.

Once the body is prepared, no one is to see the body.  There are no preservations, dressing in party clothes and covering the face with stage make-up.

Lihavdil, to differentiate, I'm very impressed as to how the staff in the "memory facility" where my elderly parents are treat them.  Sometimes the job is neither simple nor pleasant.  I could never do it.  I'm glad they treat my parents with dignity and gentleness.


Anonymous said...

My heart aches for you. You are mourning, living "the long good-bye," made worse by the physical distance that separates you from your parents.

I will never forget the day I visited my father, comfortably settled at home in his own bed, a week or so before his death, and I knew the time was short, that perhaps this would be the last time I saw him. He was not responsive, although I do think he knew who I was and that I was there. I searched for the right words. "I love you daddy" is what came out. I held his hand for a long time, then left the room and cried. It's never easy, even when expected.

Take comfort in the knowledge that your parents have lived full, happy lives. This time you have with them are bonus days.

Do mourn. Say what feels right. Say good-bye. So hard. I think about you, and them, often.


Batya said...

Connie, thanks. Your parents were very special. They were all quite a generation and tough act to follow. I'm so glad we've reconnected.