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What happens if someone was cremated against their will?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

Library » Life Cycle » Death » Burial/Cemetery | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Question: 

I have a question about cremation. My mother passed away in August and wanted to be cremated. My father, although not agreeing with her wishes, followed her wishes and had her cremated. My question is if this means my mother will not be part of the world to come? What about the people who were murdered and burned during the Shoah at places like Auschwitz?

I'm sorry, this is a bit of a heavy subject, but I've been tossing with this question since August and I just can't find the answer anywhere. Thanks, Bitah.

Answer:

It is true that cremation is a sin, but like all sins one is not liable if it was done forcefully. Force can mean physical force (like in the holocaust), or mental force (like your mother) where two thousand years of exile can forcefully deprive a person of a solid Jewish education.

This is especially true in the case of cremation, inasmuch as the sin of cremation is very much connected to rejection. One of our Thirteen Principles of Faith is that there will be a resurrection of the dead - i.e. the soul will return to the body and the body will come back to life. Someone who willingly requests to be cremated is essentially rejecting this principle.

Thus when it is done unknowingly and/or unwillingly it can hardly be called a rejection.

Nonetheless, now that the body is completely destroyed special Divine mercy is required for the soul to be resurrected. It is therefore recommended for a descendant of the deceased to give charity and do mitzvahs for the benefit of his/her ancestor and thus help correct the predicament forcibly imposed on his/her soul.


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