Jewish Funeral, Burial, And Mourning Essay

1050 words - 4 pages

Diverse funerary and burial customs can be found throughout the world. Among these customs, many are directly influenced by religion. In many cultures religion plays a vast importance in the lives of those it encompasses and how we view and cope with death. This aspect of religion is ever so prevalent in Judaism. Although, all funerals have different procedures and customs influenced by religion, Judaism is no exception to this. Despite the numerous customs found in the world today, Jewish customs are unique from the rest. In fact, Jewish funeral procedures are directly influenced by religion and Jewish laws govern customs regarding funerals and mourning. In order to understand the process of a Jewish funeral, we must examine all aspects of the funeral and burial.Upon death, a Jew is never left alone until after the burial. This process known as Shemira is based on the principle of honoring the dead. Those who stay with the body are known as the shomerim or guards. During this time, the eyes of the deceased are closed; candles are lit and placed around the body. Also during this time, the shomerim are not able to drink or eat around the body. The reason for this is because it is seen as mockery to the dead since they are no longer able to do such thing. The body is clothed in a white linen shroud called a tachrich. These shrouds are traditionally sewn with no knots or pockets. The reason for the absence of pockets is to symbolize the fact that they can't take anything with them. Typically, the body is watched over by the "holy society" known as Chevra Kaddisha. This group watches over the dead, washes the body, and prepares it for burial.It is Jewish tradition that the body be buried immediately. If possible, Jews are buried on the same day as the death. If this is not possible, they must be buried not more than two days after the death. If the body is not laid to rest in this time frame, it is viewed with great shame because the body it being kept with the living although its soul has returned to God. Jewish people do not have any form of viewing before the funeral. This is forbidden because it would be disrespectful to the dead to allow and enemies to view them in their helpless state. It is also a strict custom of Judaism that the body not be cremated. The reason for this is that Jews do not believe in desecrating a body because it is not the will of the "Father in Heaven." Jewish people believe that we must take care or ourselves and return to God in the best condition possibleFollowing a Jewish death, it is specified by Jewish customs, who is allowed to mourn for the deceased. Only seven immediate family members are expected to directly participate in the mourning period. These people include only mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband and wife.In Jewish funerals, only wooden coffins are used. The coffin cannot have any metal on it including metal handles or nails. Therefore, these caskets are put...

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