Ask The Rabbi

Cremation

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Cremation, Consequences

Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I am a ba'alas teshuva (newly observant). My parents are close to 90 years old, and my mother has directed that her body be cremated. I have tried to bring up this issue with no success. Do you have any advice for me? Perhaps you know of an article I can send them which may be easier than me speaking to them about it. Thank you.


Dear Name@Withheld,

I suggest "The Bridge of Life" by Rabbi Y. M. Tuchichinsky.

In the right time and place, you might respectfully point out to your parents that according to Jewish law, one should not "sit shiva" (observe Jewish mourning rites) for someone who was cremated voluntarily, nor is one obliged to bury their ashes. You will not be able to properly mourn for her, and no kaddish will be said for her. This may have an impact. In addition, the body of a voluntarily cremated person is not liable for resurrection; this is not so much because of the physical impediment, but rather in line with the concept that one who doesn't believe in resurrection will not experience it.

Cremation declares that this world is the beginning and end of Man. A basis of Jewish faith is that this is not true. The body is held on deposit, and together with the soul, it really belongs to G-d. G-d decides when and where a person should die, and what should be done with the body once it has fulfilled its "this-worldly" purpose.

 
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