Preparing for Death

 Congregation Emeth’s Year of Living Jewishly

Mitzvah of the Week*Preparing for Death


This week’s mitzvah comes from the Torah reading, Chaye Sarah, the “life of Sarah.”  In truth, it is about the death of our Matriarch Sarah.  It begins with a statement about the span of her life, and then tells us about Abraham’s mourning and burial of his beloved wife.


This week’s mitzvah focuses on burying the dead and comforting the mourner. Here are suggestions for fulfilling this mitzvah:


1.  On Emeth’s website, find the copy of our Rachamim Guide (  The Guide gives instructions on all aspects of confronting death, including concerns that adults of all ages should be considering.  For some of you, the issues may be regarding elderly relatives or those confronting end of life matters.  Some issues are true for all of us and are best considered while we are in good health – wills, living wills, end of life decisions, etc.  Please review the Guide – at a minimum you will be learning about Jewish considerations regarding death and burial.


2.  Regardless of age, one expresses love to those who survive us by preplanning. This week’s Torah portion teaches us how Abraham made arrangements to bury Sarah. You could fulfill this week’s mitzvah by having a conversation with Grant Gordon about pre-purchasing a cemetery plot in Gan Emeth, our Jewish section in the cemetery.


3.  Attend a funeral or visit a house in mourning.  God willing, you won’t have the opportunity to fulfill this mitzvah this week.  But during the past months, you probably know someone who endured a loss.  Call them and see how they are doing.  In the time immediately following burial, the survivor receives attention, but the pain continues beyond the week of mourning. Reach out to those who experienced a loss during the past year.


May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace,

​Rabbi Debbie Israel