“The Neshamah Should Have An Aliyah,” By Rabbi Tzvi Hebel
The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult and traumatic events one can face. Many may struggle with the loss of connection to their loved ones, wondering what can be done to keep that connection alive.
Actually, we are imbued with the power to go beyond merely maintaining the connection. Our actions can also give our departed loved ones a powerful aliyah in Shamayim. A plethora of opportunities exist for us to positively and productively channel our efforts to benefit the neshamos of our loved ones.
The Neshama Should Have an Aliyah has become a standard in the English-speaking global Jewish community. Painstakingly researched and masterfully written, it is an inspirational and practical guide that deals with the topic of how to properly memorialize a deceased loved one according to halachah.
Rabbi Hebel has provided us with a user-friendly guide to a topic that is often confronted in a time of great emotional distress. The book begins with an overview of the different concepts that overlie the various Jewish traditions for memorializing the departed. All of these concepts are based upon the basic principle that the niftar does not cease to exist at death, and that even after death, it is possible for us, the living, to continue to contribute to the welfare of our loved ones who have passed on. Moreover, the departed continue to gain merit through the good deeds of their children and family members.
What makes this work unique is the next section: “What You Can Do — A Practical Guide.” Peruse the table of contents to truly appreciate how comprehensive this book is. Included among the topics covered are Torah study (both during the period of mourning and afterward), charity and chesed, tefillah (covering the recitation of Kaddish, Yizkor, and other such practices), the matzeivah, visiting the kevarim, naming children after the deceased, the yahrzeit, and other significant matters.
Featured with each topic is advice that is both practical and informative. For example, regarding the practice of studying Mishnayos during the shiva based upon the name of the niftar (in which each Mishnah begins with a letter from the Hebrew name of the deceased), the publishers included an appendix to the book that features a translation corresponding to each letter of the alphabet.
As well, when discussing tzedakah and chesed, the author has included an introduction to setting up a gemach that can be an exemplary z’chus for both the deceased and the living. The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah even includes the names and phone numbers of organizations and experienced individuals who are willing to help you set up a gemach as a powerful z’chus for an aliyas neshamah for your loved one.
Visiting the kevarim of our dearly departed as well as the kevarim of great tzadikim and gedolim is a highly emotionally and spiritually charged experience. Because that precious moment is conducive to immersing oneself in tefillah, we carry a Siddur, Tehillim, and perhaps a sefer and Maaneh Lashon to ensure that every appropriate prayer has been recited. Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, the publishers of this outstanding work, have included a separate pamphlet printed on glossy card stock, with the traditional tefillos recited at the cemetery. Also included is a CD with a presentation, both in audio (for a conventional CD player) and in video, titled, “Providing Eternal Merit” by the internationally acclaimed speakers Rabbi Yissochar Frand and Rabbi Paysach Krohn.
Whether you have suffered a recent loss, R’l, or many years have passed since learning the concepts and practices of aliyas neshamah, this book will open your eyes with its profound insights into aliyas neshamah. It is ideal for any caring individual who wonders, “What can I do?”
This article is dedicated l’ilui nishmas my precious zaidy, HaRav Tzvi ben HaRav Asher, zt’l, upon his 77th yahrzeit, 7 Elul, and l’ilui nishmas my beloved uncle, Reb Asher ben HaRav Tzvi, zt’l, upon his 58th yahrzeit, 12 Elul. Yehi zichronam baruch.
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator, and writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.