Sep 20, 2012

Interesting Psak: Saying Kaddish Against The Wishes Of The Dead

Yesterday, Haim Hefer, one of the old Israeli poets, died at age 86. Hefer seems to have been one of those people with a "spicy" personality. I don't know much about him, besides for little tidbits I have heard over the years, but I was reading about some things he had said. The one that got me laughing, while at the same time disheartened as it indicated his position on Jewish tradition, is when he referenced that in the future the tzadikim will be sitting at a table and will eat the meat of the leviathan and of the wild ox. Hefer said, "when I was on Norway I ate leviathan (RG: commonly translated today as whale), and I say phooya - disgusting!"

Anyways, Hefer had left instructions regarding his death and burial. He did not want anything too unusual and against Jewish tradition, as some do, but he did say he did not want the kaddish or the "Kel Maleh" to be recited at his funeral.

In light of those instructions, which Hefer seems to have made known well before his actual death, Rav Baruch Efrati was asked about the priority of Jewish tradition or fulfilling the wish of the dead person. In other words, someone suggested that despite the wishes of Haim Hefer, when he would die, perhaps they should bring a minyan to his funeral and say kaddish anyway.

Rav Efrati responded, according to this report on Ynet, saying that it would be a mitzva to ignore his living will and to say kaddish at his funeral. Rav Efrati said it should not be done in a way that would cause a disruption, but it should be done on the side and quietly. Efrati referred to a psak of the Chasam Sofer who said that kaddish must be said even for someone who is not God-fearing... and especially for someone like Hefer  who was a good person, who loved Eretz Yisrael and the Jewish people...

Reports of his funeral left no indication that anybody actually went ahead and arranged a minyan against his wishes to say kaddish. Either they did it so quietly and non-intrusively that it went unnoticed, or it just did not happen....
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  1. Is reciting kaddish against the wishes of the deceased, Lahavdil, like baptizing the dead per the Mormons?

  2. not sure what you mean. reciting kaddish doesnt change his religion, by anybody's belief, so its not like baptizing the dead. but it is against his wishes, and he has the right to reject religion just like we have the right to accept religion. After he is dead, what rigth does he have to say what someone else should do? I dont know. any more or less than any other living will request....

  3. This discussion could not be more timely as far as I am concerned.

    Yesterday I attended the funeral, here in St Helier, Jersey, of a woman who was nominally Jewish but who had avoided formal contact with the local Jewish community for many years.

    The funeral service, in accordance with her wishes, was a "Humanitarian" one. Nevertheless, when the bat-minan's husband stood to eulogize his wife, he "slipped in" a full mourner's kaddish.

  4. Baptizing the dead doesn't change their religion either. Either they believe or they don't. If the Mormon view is true then the dead have already found that out and accepted it, and are grateful that someone has been thoughtful enough to baptise them; if it's not then they know that too, and don't care what some silly person does in their name.

    Since the Torah is true, as soon as someone is in the World of Truth they know that, regret all their previous foolishness, and are happy when they are buried according to halacha, kaddish is said for them, mitzvot are done for their zechut, etc. This is not a chidush; as far as I know it's well-established halacha.

  5. "Bat-minan"?! What on earth is that?

  6. Bar-minan is a euphemism for a dead person.


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