Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hashgacha Pratis, Divine Providence in My Grandmother’s Levaya

There were two events surrounding the arrangements of my Grandmother’s funeral which were total Hashgacha Pratis, Divine Providence (though of course everything always is).

First of all, the original plan was that my grandmother would, ChV’Sh, be placed in a mausoleum, rather than being buried in the earth. I knew this was wrong but I didn’t understand the full halachic implications of it until my rebbe explained to me that all of the obligations of Shiva and Kadish, etc., are triggered by burial. And when a person is, ChV”Sh, placed in a building (mausoleum) instead of being buried, those halachos never kick in. Furthermore, the person’s neshoma, soul, usually stays with the body until burial, since it has been so accustomed to identifying its self with the body for so many years. Therefore, if a person is never buried, it has a very negative impact on the soul. At any rate, before my father met with the funeral home director, I asked him if he could have it changed to a regular burial, rather that the mausoleum arrangement. He thought that it would be impossible, since she’s specified that she be placed next to her second husband (who she married after my grandfather was niftar) in the mausoleum.

But here is where the first apparent Hashgacha Pratis, Divine Providence, comes in. It turns out that even though everyone in the family was sure that a place had been saved next to her husband, there was no space available for her at all in the mausoleum. Therefore, they had to go about contacting the local Temple for a burial plot that was not only in the ground, B”H, thank G-d, but also in the Jewish section of the cemetery. Thank G-d, it worked out and my Grandmother was saved from the fate of being placed in some mausoleum.

The second Divine Providence story is this. Had the reform rabbi been in town for the funeral, he would have conducted the funeral and it would not have been done according to halacha, Jewish law and custom. Also, it would not have been as personal since my grandmother only met this rabbi a few times before, when he conducted her husband’s funeral, and in the hospital. But as Divine Providence would have it, he was away in Israel, leading a trip, so I was asked to officiate the funeral. This had several benefits. Halachicly, I appreciated this because it allowed me to have some (not total at all) say over how things were done at the funeral, so that I could see to it, to the best of my limited knowledge, that the minhagim, the traditions of how we show respect to the niftar, the deceased, would be kept. Also, it meant so much more to the family that my Grandmother’s grandson could lead her own funeral, than a virtual stranger. So Baruch Hashem, thank G-d, for several reasons, that turned out for the best as well.

Lo Yidach mimenu nidach. Hashem does not forget about anyone, no matter how ostensibly distant they are from the ways of the traditional Jewish practice.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of wikipedia)

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