Text size

Shas Rabbi Ovadia Yossef published recently a new volume in his well-known series of books under the title of Chazon Ovadia, which contains laws concerning Shabbat, medicine, burial rituals, holidays and other topics.

In the new volume, Rabbi Ovadia rules on topics focusing around mourning and burial practices relating to various irregular cases that go against the traditional Jewish law, such as donating one's body to science, cremation, and suicide.

For example, one of the new religious rulings states that any Jew who donates his body to science should not be mourned.

"He who donates his body to science, to have his organs dissected, even though his intention is to advance scientific research, he is committing a serious offense, and might be relinquishing the chance of resurrection of his soul and body, and therefore we must not mourn his death," Rabbi Ovadia wrote.

Regarding organ donations, Rabbi Ovadia has stated in the past that it is permitted and even desired as it saves lives.

Along these lines, Rabbi Ovadia was asked what should happen in the event that a Jewish person's will states that he wishes to be cremated, to which he responded that the will should be breached.

"This request should not be adhered to, as it is prohibited by out holy torah (?) he who requests to be cremated, denied his right to keep his sole in limbo and the belief of the resurrection of the sole, and it is equivalent to sinning against the ten commandments and the entire Torah, therefore his request should not be granted," Rabbi Ovadia said.

These types of questions are raised to his attention by people facing these ver real dilemmas. Another example of a question brought before the Rabbi, considered an authority relating to Jewish law, was brought forth by a man, who wanted to know what he should do in the instance that one of his parent's writes in their will that he should not say Kaddish ? the prayer for the dead - over the second parent.

"If the mother dies and she states in her will that the son should not say Kaddish over the father, then the son should not obey the will. However, if the father writes in his will that he wishes the son refrains from saying the prayer over the mother, then the son should adhere to his wish," Rabbi Ovadia wrote.

The Rabbi stressed, however, that if the father's request was based on his personal feelings towards the mother, then the request "should not be fulfilled.

On a different matter, Rabbi Ovadia ruled that "in the case of an adopted son, even though he is not required to mourn a deceased parent according to Jewish law, he is required to say the prayer for the rising of their souls, he must respect them in their lives and in their deaths, in recognition of the good deeds they did that brought him to where he is today."

Rabbi Ovadia deals also with the delicate subject of suicide in Judaism, and determines a severe ruling stating that those who take their own lives should not be mourned, but he doesn?t rule out exceptions to the rule.

"even if a person severely suffers and is poor he cannot take his own life, and must accept his pain with love and acceptance," Rabbi Ovadia wrote and added that this is relevant "especially to the young generation that have transgressed and learned to from the actions of the gentiles in Europe, who lose themselves over every minor thing, because they do not believe in the timely, supporting, rushing and healing Hashem [God]."