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Death, Burial, and Bereavement

Why do we mourn if we should be content with Gd’s judgment?

Question: We practice a period of mourning after a death of someone close. How does that work with the approach of accepting Gd’sactions? One would think when we accept Gd’s actions we would be content with the way the world is, not needing to sink in our sorrow.

Answer: You are right. It would seem that if we should accept G-d’s will then there would be no need to mourn. The truth, however, is that mourning is not for G-d, but for us. Mourning in the Jewish tradition is about helping the soul of the departed and helping us deal with the loss. As humans we have feelings that are real and affect us. We are not angels and therefore when someone leaves this world it does affect us even if we know that they are in a better place. We miss them and are sad because of this. A person could accept that this came from G-d, but miss them and wish their loved ones were back.

This is a human feeling even for the most devout. If you read the words of the kaddish prayer, for example, you will notice that it does not mention death at all, but rather focuses on the power and greatness of G-d. This may seem like a strange thing to focus on at the time of death, but if you realize that G-d brings life and G-d takes life, that we are really souls that are doing a job inside a physical body, then death is not as difficult to deal with.

So the Jewish mourning practices are there to help the living, help us recognize where all happenings in this world come from, and to force us to deal with death instead of putting it on the back burner like so many people do in our day. We face it head on, sit shiva, say kaddish, go through the mourning practices, and then hopefully we are able to move on with our lives instead of being haunted by never dealing properly with losing a loved one.

It is impossible to give a full answer in this format, but I hope that this clarifies the issue a little more for you.

Be Well,
Rabbi Litt

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