EXPLORE THE JEWISH VIEW

The basis for burial

You Shall Certainly Bury On that Very Day
~ Deuteronomy 21:23

The obligation to bury is an explicit mitzvah in the Torah.  Fascinatingly, the circumstance of this directive is the case of a criminal found deserving of corporal punishment. We are commanded to ensure that burial takes place before nightfall. The context is revealing – Every person regardless of how he or she lived their life, deserves the dignity of burial.

The dust returns to the earth as it was and the spirit returns to G-D Who gifted it
~ Ecclesiastes 12:7
Jewish theology views our body as the physical container of our soul. The soul, spiritual in nature and emanating directly from G-D in its origin, is eternal. Our soul is the essence of who we are; our consciousness, our knowledge, our feelings, and our totality. Through our soul, we continue to live forever.
At the time of death, the body and the soul separate, each needing to return to its source. Although no longer connected as in life, after death the soul is greatly concerned with the needs and treatment of its lifetime partner, its’ body. From both a classical and mystical perspective, burial is the ultimate kindness to both the body and the soul.

An irreversible, break with tradition

The Jews bury rather than burn their dead
~ Tacitus, Histories 5:5
These words, penned by Roman historian Tacitus two millennia ago, noted the Jewish adherence to burial throughout history. Cremation, historically associated with pagan ritual and until recently banned by every monotheistic religion, has now become commonplace in the Western world.
Unless they’ve researched the topic, people don’t realize that cremation is neither quick nor clean, and certainly not gentle. Ashes have no DNA, no organic connection to the person who lived and was loved. It is as if they no longer exist.

Burial, as relevant in 2022 as it always was

Respect for the deceased is an integral Jewish value. Historically, Jews have gone to great lengths to ensure a proper burial. It’s not uncommon for strangers to pay for the burial costs of the indigent.
In Israel, the IDF is known to have agreed to outrageously imbalanced prisoner swaps, trading thousands of live terrorists for the bodies of a few soldiers. When a terrorist attack occurs, heroic efforts are made to ensure that every body remnant and every drop of blood of each victim is retrieved and respectfully buried.

Respect for the deceased is an integral Jewish value. Respect for the deceased is a timeless value.

Historically, Jews have gone to great lengths to ensure a proper burial. It’s not uncommon for strangers to pay for the burial costs of the indigent.

In Israel, the IDF is known to have agreed to outrageously imbalanced prisoner swaps, trading thousands of live terrorists for the bodies of a few soldiers. When a terrorist attack occurs, heroic efforts are made to ensure that every body remnant and every drop of blood of each victim is retrieved and respectfully buried.

Kind to the planet

Even for people with no Jewish affiliation, burial is the eco-friendly and more natural choice. In alignment with the lifecycle of nature, burial allows the elements of the body to replenish the earth. In contrast, crematoria have large carbon footprints utilizing enormous amounts of fossil fuels and pollute the environment. Traditional Jewish burial is green burial — the kind choice to the planet.

Burial is always the safer choice. Cremation can never be undone.

When cremation seems to be the only option

Most often, people who consider cremation do so because it seems to be the simpler, cheaper option. If you have no financial ability to fund a pricey burial plot, and no headspace to coordinate a funeral, headstone, and transport, a quick pick-up and direct cremation can seem so much easier. In truth, there are ways to have a dignified, yet affordable funeral service and burial. Some funeral homes won’t offer the more economical options, so it helps to have someone with experience guiding you.
That’s exactly what we do here at Last Kindness.
It is our privilege to answer any of your questions about the Jewish approach to death, mourning and after-life care. We can also share resources and guide you towards affordable burial options.

All you need to do is reach out!