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The Principle of Honoring the Divine Image in the Human Body

 

Return to Guide to Death and Mourning for Interfaith Families

 

Jewish death and mourning practices are based on the principle that human beings are created in the divine image, and that people should therefore treat dead bodies with respect. Jewish legal thinkers consider the appropriate burial of the dead a major mitzvah. The rabbis of the Talmud called burying the dead an act of the highest degree of loving kindness, because the dead cannot reciprocate. It is also a mitzvah to comfort mourners. By being present and compassionate, family and community members, whether they are Jewish or not, participate in one of life's most meaningful psychological and spiritual experiences.

The Guide to Death and Mourning for Interfaith Families is also available as a downloadable PDF and Word document.

Hebrew for "commandment," it has two meanings. The first are the commandments given in the Torah. ("You should obey the mitzvah of honoring your parents!") The second is a good deed. ("Helping her carry her groceries home was such a mitzvah!") Hebrew for "instruction" or "learning," a central text of Judaism, recording the rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history. It has two parts: Mishnah (redacted c. 200 CE) and Gemara (c. 500 CE), an elucidation of the Mishnah.
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