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What is Taharah?

03/08/2023 02:06:10 PM


A Mitzvah that is unlike any other…

What is Taharah? It is the tradition of washing and preparing our dead for burial. To be honest, I never paid attention to this until my mother passed away. When I learned the details, I decided to help prepare my mom. It was an amazing experience. Six women donned protective garments, ritually washed their hands, and then lovingly washed my mother's hair and removed her nail polish. Next, they dried her, combed her hair with tenderness, and took great care to protect her dignity.

As they were washing, I recited the prayers and gave instructions so everyone could follow the sacred ritual. No casual conversation; all focus was on my mom and treating her with respect and love. 

At the end of the washing, the ritual of purification began. Water was poured over my mother in an unending stream from head to toe, first down one side of her body and then the other. We repeatedly said, taharah hi ("pure is she"), as the water poured. It brought tears to my eyes.

Then she was dried, dressed in her shroud, and placed in the casket with earth sprinkled from the Holy Land.  At the end of the ritual, we all asked her to forgive us if we violated her modesty in any way. It was so moving.

Now, it is your turn to learn about this amazing mitzvah. It feels good to be a part of the Chevra Kaddisha, this “Sacred Fellowship.” You are doing something for someone you may not know. No reward or thank you. Just helping someone in the community.

Please join us on Saturday, March 25th, after Shabbat services for lunch and a training session (1hr), in the Sy Juster Aud, on how to participate in Taharah. After that, if you decide to continue, you will have the opportunity to help when the need arises and you are available. It is a sacred task. It is performed discreetly and respectfully. You will feel truly blessed when you give your time to help one of your own community.

Tue, June 6 2023 17 Sivan 5783