Ask the Rabbi: Questions and Answers about Death & Mourning
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Death - Misc.

Defining the Moment of Death - It is my understanding that in order for someone to be a candidate to donate their organs, they need to be declared "brain dead" by two to three physicians, one of whom, I believe, must be a... More
Martyrdom & Sanctifying God's Name - In the Yizkor memorial prayer which we say on the holidays, we commemorate the souls of the martyrs who were "killed, murdered, slaughtered, burned, drowned and strangled" for the sanctification of the... More
Saving Your Life over Another’s - One of the most beloved ideals that Jews uphold is the utmost value on human life. What do we do when we have to choose between two innocent lives? Here’s an example: Someone is driving along a narrow... More
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Burial & Graves

Largest Jewish Funeral? - I saw on the news that the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was attended by 850,000 people. What amazed me even more is that funeral was held just 4 hours after he died! I was wondering – when was the... More
Pregnant Woman Visiting Cemetery - I am currently 21 weeks pregnant (thank you Hashem!). My best friend's mother passed away recently, and the family will be having an unveiling sometime next month. I have heard there is a custom that... More
Sanctity of Human Body - You recently referred to the “Bodies” exhibit in which you elucidated your opinion that it flies in the face of the sanctity of the human body. I have trouble fathoming what sanctity there is to the human... More
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Mourning & Kaddish

A Cappella - I know we don’t listen to music during the Three Weeks and Sefirah, as well as mourners. What about a cappella? Some groups even use their voices to mimic instrumentation, and I can hardly tell I’m not... More
Attending Child's Wedding - My mother passed away about two months ago while on a more positive note, my son recently became engaged. Unless we delay the wedding inordinately long, it will fall out while I am still in mourning. Are... More
Completion of Kaddish - My father passed away on June 14, which was 24 Sivan, but was not buried until the Sunday after, 27 Sivan. Until when should I recite the kaddish? More
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Yahrtzeit & Yizkor

Yahrtzeit Candle – First Wife - My husband and I married 6 years ago. My husband's first wife passed away from an illness 2 years before we married. Should he continue to lighting a yahrtzeit candle for his first wife even though he is... More
Yahrtzeit Commemoration - My mother passed away last year and now it is coming up to her yahrtzeit. Are there special things I should be doing on that day? What about the yahrtzeit of a grandparent or cousin, etc.? More
Yahrtzeit – 2 Adars - My mother passed away on 10 Adar of a year with only a single Adar. I see this year is a leap year with two Adars. On which one do I observe the yahrtzeit? More
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Suicide

Assisted Suicide - I am a university student in Alberta, Canada and I am doing a research paper on euthanasia from the Jewish perspective. Can you direct me to more information? Thank you. More
Jumping from the Tower - In the terrible 9-11 terror attack on New York, some people jumped from the burning tower. On one side was a raging fire with no escape, and on the other side was a jump to near-certain death. What does... More
Suicide - A guy who works at the same company just committed suicide. Some people are saying that this is a terrible crime, while others say it's okay because he didn't harm anyone. Can help put this into... More

Soul & Afterlife

Afterlife Video - I was interested to read your explanation on the afterlife. However, perhaps you could clarify one point. I heard that "time" is a concept unique to this world, not existing in the World to Come. How,... More
Cloning & Immortality - In the various life choices I’ve made – career, family, etc – I notice one common denominator: I am on a quest for immortality. I want to leave a legacy. Wouldn’t it simply solve... More
Dybbuk - I recently received tickets to a ballet called "The Dybbuk," with music by Leonard Bernstein. It sounds like something like the "Jewish Exorcist." Please tell me what this is all about. More
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