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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Tzorchei ha-met


What's it mean to be part of the Chevera Kadisha?

I wish I could tell you but I'm not sure its meant to be entirely told.

Parts of our work are not unlike the study of Kabbalah and I think some of the old limitations and warnings about the pursuit of the mystical could apply as a benchmark for individuals doing this service for the community too.  Likewise, what ever revelations that occur to you  might be meant for you alone.

We do this, women and men, out of love. We look not only after the deceased but the living. We look after our community.

In some places we are called "the washers." This makes sense from a literal perspective. Other places we are the "burial society," and again very sensable.  

I would call us
שומרי להבה
Shomray lahava flame keepers.

להבה flame
אהבה love
לב heart

These words are mere letters apart.

And in the moments and hours and days when the community suffers loss and calls on the Chevera Kadisha it's a time to remember you were chosen to hold the flame or the love or the heart of your fellows when it became too heavy for them to do so alone.

You were asked because you are strong enough to do this task. Not just looking after the dead and maintaining the dignity of the departed but of keeping your community functioning when life is otherwise interrupted by death.

Tzorchei ha-met, the needs of the dead are the needs of the living. 

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