Judaism and Suicide

Posted on August 21st, 2017
BY BEN HARRIS for myjewishlearning.com 


Taking one's life is officially a violation of Jewish law, but many contemporary rabbis recognize that most suicides result from struggles with mental illness.


The suicide of a loved one is among the most challenging tragedies a person can face. In addition to the sudden loss, mourners often grapple with feelings of anger and guilt toward the deceased. In addition, there remains a stigma attached to suicide in many parts of the Jewish community born of the fact that Jewish tradition is deeply opposed to the taking of one’s own life in nearly all cases.

Is suicide against Jewish law?

While there is no explicit biblical prohibition on suicide, later rabbinic authorities derived a prohibition from the verse in Genesis 9:5, “And surely your blood of your lives, will I require.” Rashi and other early rabbinic authorities understood the verse as a prohibition against taking one’s own life. Contemporary rulings from all three major religious streams have upheld the view that suicide is fundamentally incompatible with Jewish law and values.

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The Brit Milah (Bris): What You Need to Know

Posted on August 14th, 2017
BY MJL STAFF


Questions and answers about the circumcision ceremony for Jewish baby boys.


What is a brit milah, and what are the reasons for it?

A brit milah, also known as a bris, is the Jewish ceremony in which a baby boy is circumcised. Circumcision dates back to the Book of Genesis, when God commands Abraham to circumcise himself and his offspring as a sign of the covenant between Jews and God. Throughout history, rabbis and thinkers have offered additional arguments in favor of circumcision, and many modern Jews see it as an important tradition that connects the generations.

When does a brit milah occur?

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Lailah, the Angel of Conception, Left Her Mark On Your Face

Posted on August 6th, 2017
BY TEMIM FRUCHTER for Jewniverse


You might not know it, but you have a philtrum and everyone who looks at you can see it. The philtrum—that groove we all have above our upper lips—may not be a commonly-referenced body part, but in Jewish mystical tradition, it’s quite significant. And it’s said to be the result of a tap from Lailah, the angel of conception, administered the moment a baby is born.

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The Biblical Book Jews Turn to for Healing and Comfort

Posted on July 31st, 2017
BY RABBI PERETZ RODMAN for myjewishlearning.com 


The Book of Psalms (Tehillim)


These 150 poems feature prominently in Jewish liturgy and are among the Bible's most widely read verses.


“The LORD is my shepherd” “Out of the mouths of babes ….” “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, as we remembered Zion.”

Some of the most widely recognized phrases and sentences from the Bible come to us from the Book of Psalms, referred to in Hebrew as Tehillim. (The above are Psalm 23:1, Psalm 8:2 and Psalm 137:1 as translated in the King James Version.) And it’s no wonder. While the Torah presents itself as the divine word imparted to the people Israel, the 150 poems in the Book of Psalms represent a range of human voices: the sounds of lament and of thanksgiving to God, individuals extolling God’s beneficence or imploring God to bring rescue and redemption.

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Tisha B’Av 2017

Posted on July 24th, 2017
BY MJL STAFF


Tisha B'Av (the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av) begins at sunset on Monday, July 31, and continues until the evening of August 1.


What is Tisha B’Av?
Tisha B’Av is the major day of communal mourning. First and foremost Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of both the first and second temples in Jerusalem (586 B.C.E, and 70 C.E respectively), but many other travesties have occured on the same date.

How is Tisha B’Av observed?
On Tisha B’Av Eicha (the book of Lamentations) is read with a unique nusah, a special melody.

As a sign of mourning it is customary to fast, refrain from bathing, wearing leather shoes, and having sexual relations.

To read more about Tisha B’Av rituals and practices click here.
 

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