Jewish Faith in Life and Death of Essay
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Jewish Faith in Life and Death
Of the main components of the human life cycle, dying is probably the one most people prefer to avoid or at least ignore until the last possible moment. Nevertheless, even though many of us prefer not to think about it, death is as much part of humanity as birth and life. Hence, every religion has its particular views on death and rituals to help those who have passed on their way to whatever concept of the afterlife exists in that religion. In this, the Jewish religion is not unique. Centuries of tradition still survive today as modern Jews practice the ancient art of their religion, both in life and when death occurs. When considered in terms of Foucault's "Technologies of the Self," one might say the elaborate Jewish rituals surrounding dying and death can be seen from the viewpoint of both self-care and self-renunciation.
One of the central tenets of the Jewish faith and lifestyle is that no person should face life, or death, alone (Diamant, 1998, p. 8). This is evident in the way in which
the Jewish community and tradition approach the event of death. Once death occurs, the bereaved is seldom left to grieve in privacy. Instead, care for mourners is seen as an important communal activity, including many rituals. According to Diamant (1998, p. xvii), the mitzvah is a Jewish law requiring the comfort of those who mourn. In a very moving story relating to the death of her own father, Diamant considers how intensely comforting the rituals of her faith and community were during her bereavement. This is the purpose of many of the communal rituals around death and dying.
When relating this to Foucault's ideas, one might view the communal Jewish rituals to comfort mourners, one might view this as one of the ways to care for the self by caring for others. When one is in mourning, accepting the comfort of others is a matter of caring for the self. Grief is a time of need for the individual. By allowing others to help during this process speeds he healing process, as professed by Diamant herself.
One might also see this from the self-renunciation viewpoint. In other words, those who care for he needs…
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