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May I still speak to my relative who passed away?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

Library » Philosophy » Afterlife | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Question:

When a family member dies, can I contact him/her through the grave? If so, by what means?

Answer:

It is indeed painful when a family member dies, and we wish that we would never lose contact with them.

But contact is not only via the physical means we are accustomed to. We function in a very physical reality and get use to limited ways of communication. Those means of communication do in fact cease when someone passes away. There is no way to talk to them as we used to. But there is an entire spiritual realm out there, a realm in which a soul lives after it departs the body.

Imagine I were to tell you a hundred years ago that you can communicate with someone across the world by hitting little plastic buttons on your desk. You would think I am crazy. "What, i don't have to open my mouth? They don't have to hear? No one will deliver the letter?"

But you are doing that right now. Using a plastic, soundless, keyboard to communicate with me.

Similarly, the forms of communication with a soul may sound foreign to us, but they are very real.

And they are:

Giving charity in his/her memory

Studying Torah in his/her memory

Reciting Psalms

Also, it is not an uncommon Jewish custom for people to go to the gravesites of a deceased relatives to invite them to family celebrations. In fact, the souls of deceased parents and grandparents do attend their children's/granchildren's weddings.

Also, just as one would ask a parent to pray to G-d on his/her behalf while alive, so too, one may go to a relative's gravesite and ask that person to pray in Heaven for his/her sake. (NOT to be confused with praying to the person or that soul! Prayer is only and always to G-d.)

You might also want to read: "Is it forbidden for me to talk to my deceased grandmother?" and also "Why do people pray by the gravesites of holy people?".

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Death » Afterlife
Life Cycle » Death » Passing On

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Psalms
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.