Source Materials

The Torah’s View of the Sanctity of Life vs. the Medical/Secular View That Defines Life By Its Quality

Modern culture and medical ethics are trending away from Torah values. The Torah’s view is that every moment of life is of infinite value, regardless of one’s ability to enjoy or “accomplish,” whereas the view of western culture and of many in the medical world is to judge the value of life by its “quality.” This has many ramifications, including the need for a Halachic living will and careful preparation for and consideration of one’s medical decisions. Articles on this topic

Life Insurance

Life insurance is sometimes viewed as a lack of bitachon, faith, in Hashem. Our rabbis assure us that nothing could be farther from the truth. Articles on this topic

Caring for Elderly Parents

It’s physically and emotionally draining to be a member of the ‘sandwich’ generation. However, it’s a great Zechus to be able to care for those who cared for you. Oftentimes, parents themselves say they don’t want to be a burden on their children. However, when it becomes necessary, the Torah way is for the children to embrace the responsibility. Kibud Av v’Em is one of those Mitzvos we eat the fruits of in this world and indeed the benefits are many. Articles on this topic

Writing a Will in Accordance with Halachah

The Torah’s order of yerushah and the secular laws of inheritance are often at odds. Unless a will is written in accordance with halachah, a family may end up violating Torah law, force difficult compromises that could have been avoided, and cause lasting enmity in the family. Articles on this topic

Traditional Jewish Burial

There are many customs and traditions involved in a Jewish funeral. They ensure the appropriate respect for the body, reflecting our beliefs regarding the significance of this period in the journey of the Neshamah, the soul to the Olam Habah, The Eternal Life. These also provide comfort to the mourners. Articles on this topic

Pre-Need Funeral Arrangements

It is always a good idea to consider making arrangements in advance. However, States differ in the level of security the law provides for such contracts and choosing where to execute such a contract does matter. To be prepared pre-need is especially important where the people likely to make decisions at the time of death may be of a different level of Jewish observance, where there might be discord within the family regarding the arrangements, where there is financial hardship involved, where there is no family in the immediate area, etc. Articles on this topic

Burial - Here or in Israel

What are the considerations to balance when making this choice with far-reaching consequence. Why do some people opt for burial in Eretz Yisroel? Are all places in Eretz Yisroel the same? Articles on this topic

Respecting the Body After Death / Preventing Autopsy

The same idea in the Torah that tells humankind that murder is not to be tolerated (Bereishis 9:6) is the same concept that teaches us that the body is hallowed even after death (Deuteronomy 21:23) Articles on this topic

Halachic Living Wills / EMES Cards

Who will make medical decisions for you in the case of severe illness and you are unable to make them? Who in your circle is best suited for this task? Do they know what you want, and what Halacha demands? What if there is a disagreement amongst your closest relatives? What laws pertain to making such decisions. What to do with the Halachic Living Will once it is executed? Articles on this topic

End-of-Life Discussions for Kiruv Purposes

When a loved one is lost people often turn to spirituality for comfort. At this difficult time, the laws and traditions of our Torah can prove to be the difference between enduring and living with an aching grief and being depressed and paralyzed by overwhelming anguish. This sensitive time is an opportune moment that can be used to guide others to connect to Hashem in a meaningful way. Articles on this topic

Discussing Cremation and Burial with the Non-Observant

Jewish law requires burial and prohibits cremation. Yet, so many unaffiliated Jews have cast aside tradition and choose cremation over burial. What can we do to open such a conversation reaching out to the less observant and unaffiliated? We can focus on respect for the body, the “Tzelem Elokim,” closure and family unity that K’vurah provides, etc. Of course, there is no better segue into discussion of an eternal soul, Olam Habah and so many of our “Principles of Faith.” How we treat our dead tells us a lot about ourselves and our society. “We burn trash. We bury treasure.” Articles on this topic

Buying Graves

People are unaware of the ramifications, considerations and Halachos that pertain to the purchase of a burial plot. There are many things to consider and doing so earlier in life, certainly before it becomes a necessity, is wise and responsible. Articles on this topic

Ethical Wills

An ethical will is not just for the Gedolim and Tzadikim of yesteryear. An ethical will is not a legal document; it does not distribute your material wealth. It is a heartfelt expression of what truly matters most in your life. An ethical will is a way to share your values, blessings, life’s lessons, hopes and dreams for the future. It is an opportunity to express love and forgiveness to your family, friends, and community. It’s a great tool for growth, your own growth and the growth of those around us. Articles on this topic

Chesed Shel Emes: Joining and Appreciating the Chevra Kadisha

The Chevra Kadisha does its work quietly, diligently and faithfully. Every Chevra Kadisha can use support, either through time, direct volunteering, or financially. Although its work is done with Tznius there is often a need to increase its numbers, raise its standards and give Chizuk to its members. Articles on this topic

Parshas Vayechi

Parshas Vayechi’s themes of illness, death, Tzava’ah and K’vurah are often overshadowed by the Drashah-rich Pesukim of Yaakov’s Brachos. We have assembled a group of general sources that discuss the themes of the Parsha. Articles on this topic

For practical Halachic questions about Pikuach Nefesh and end-of-life treatments, please contact:

Chayim Aruchim:
718-301-9800 |

YU/RIETS End-of-Life Care Halachic Advisory Program