a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

7th of Elul

Posted on: August 13, 2013

From Jewels of Elul

We welcome the companionship but wish the circumstances were different. Will we know the meit (the deceased) or recognize the body that was loaned to him for his journey on this earth? We were told his name and the name of his parents – not much more. We know even less about his neshama, his soul, the essence of his being. But it is our task to usher his soul onward, to help him continue on his journey.

Entering the tahara room, we ask forgiveness for anything that we may do that might be inappropriate. Thetahara (purification) requires us to clean him and lovingly pour water over him. We dress him in whitetachrichim (burial garments), raising him to a level of symbolic purity, and then place him in the aron (wooden casket). At the cemetery he will continue his journey back to the earth and forward toward eternal life, into the heavenly sphere where, perchance, he will meet the Divine. His neshama and the memory of him will live on long after his body has returned to the earth.

We all live along the continuum of life – some at the beginning, others in the middle, and yet others at the end. At each stage, we need to be greeted and welcomed. Those of us in the Chevra Kadisha (Holy Society) hear it said often that we cannot be repaid for this mitzvah. But we also know that we really are repaid in the knowledge that we have comforted the family, assisted the soul, connected with our team, and developed a greater respect for the gift of life.

We are repaid with the understanding that every soul is precious and every human being is unique. We are repaid with the ability to see the world with new eyes.

1 Response to "7th of Elul"

So beautiful!

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