My close friend, a Jew, died, and for the first time I found myself in a Jewish cemetery. His family decided to bury him according to Jewish law. The first shock for me was that he was buried the next morning. Why were they in such a hurry? No one really had time to say goodbye to him.
Also, this tearing of clothes in the cemetery, what for? And the fact that they throw the body into the ground without a coffin, just wrap it in some rag and bury it. These customs seem to me somehow inhuman, they do not have the warmth of a farewell, everything happens quickly, without love. Why? After all, the Jews are so family-orientated, and we see just coldness here.
My Reply: First, the fact that a person is buried not in a coffin but in the ground is natural. As it is written: “From dust you are and unto dust you shall return.” And there is nothing closer to our animalistic body that is already dead than the earth. It is necessary to allow a body to decompose normally in this environment. To disappear. And everything to completely decompose.
You have to turn to dust so that there is absolutely nothing left of you. This is first.
Second, the dead must be buried as quickly as possible. The fact that he said it was done the next day is already not a Jewish custom. It is necessarily to bury the body on the same day, on the same evening. If, for example, a person died unexpectedly, no matter how, at 8, at 10 pm, he should be buried by midnight. As quickly as possible.
Question: Why such a hurry? Not even to say goodbye to the dead?
Answer: There is no need to say goodbye to him and see him! No! The body should not be touched. Life has gone out of the body, the body is already considered untouchable. It is impure.
Question: What about tearing the clothes?
Answer: It is a sign of mourning to tear the clothes.
Question: Can you explain why, from the point of view of Kabbalah?
Answer: Clothes are called “Levush“—it is the external form of the soul. Since our loved one has left us, a part of our soul has gone with him.
Question: Why does he write that there is coldness here, there is no warmth, there is no respect for the body?
Answer: Why? On the contrary, this is respect for the body but in a way that he does not understand.
It is not about treating a dead body like someone living, but what is required to be done to a dead body; you must fulfill everything. This is our attitude toward the dead. Besides, this is done in such a way that any person who has lost his life would be equal to all others. He is not buried in rich clothes, not in a golden coffin. Nothing like that!
Even more, they do everything as much as possible so that the body rots as quickly as possible, breaks away from its shells.
Comment: Here I remember the Pharaoh…
My Response: To the contrary. Quite the opposite.
Comment: Yes. You also were in the basements of the Hermitage [The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg]. There are mummies there and you can even distinguish facial features. They were able to preserve them so well. That is, humanity has a completely different attitude.
My Response: The opposite one.
Answer: It is, I would say, a hymn to egoism.
Question: A hymn to egoism, yes. That is what I wanted to talk about. Is this a hymn to egoism to bury in such a way, with honors?
Answer: Of course! That is, he is eternal, he is perfect, he continues to exist. We will bury his servants and horses and everything else with him. We will cook him some dishes, and so on.
And the Jews, on the contrary, even have custom to put lime in the ground with the body, so that the body decomposes faster.
Question: Does it mean that it should turn to dust as quickly as possible?
Answer: Yes. To break away from our lowest, worst world. That is, wrap it in a rag, in a simple white cloth, nothing more, put it in the ground, and bury it.
Comment: The world has not accepted this centuries-old tradition.
My Response: Of course. Because it is far from egoism. Egoism does not allow the body to be so disrespected.
Comment: That is, we live in a world that respects the body. It is even evident from the letter where he writes that there is no warmth, everything is very cold. We need to say goodbye to the body.
My Response: And there is nothing of it here. Here is a dead shell that is worthless and should rot as quickly as possible. It is not necessary to regard it in any way. Everything that remains went to the spiritual root, and it exists there.
Question: Can you call it reincarnation? That is, the faster the body decomposes, the faster the soul will return for future correction.
Answer: Of course. This is also considered, but the body has nothing to do with this. The soul broke away from the body and that’s all.
Comment: If only people would hear when the Kaddish is read and what it says. In effect, it does not say “What a grief that he is gone! How could he leave us!” But thank You, Creator, that You took this body. A person cannot understand that, of course!
My Response: Of course. How great You are, the Lord, for doing this to our loved one. May Your great name be exalted, the Creator.
Comment: Could you please explain this?
My Response: There is no cessation of life and there is no death. It is simply a transition in our understanding from one state to another. So why should we suffer?
When water turns to steam and then steam condenses and falls as rain, and again, the cycle of water in nature, should we regret the past, the present, and so on? No. We just say: “Thank you for these transformations.”
Question: I wonder, will this come to the world? When we start treating the body this way, will it be called advancement?
Answer: Of course.
Question: What are the seven days called “Shiva“?
Answer: Seven days of mourning are absolutely Kabbalistic concepts.
Question: Do they sit at home for seven days?
Answer: Yes. Until the soul is completely separated with the body, does not completely leave the body, and does not break the connection with it.
Question: Does it take seven days?
Answer: Seven days. Then 30 days. Then a year.
Question: Can we conclude this with one sentence? Something about the body and the soul.
Answer: I think the best thing to say is: try to live in the soul, not in the body.
From KabTV’s “News with Michael Laitman” 11/30/20