Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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More on a Digg–Rituals of Strictly Orthodox Jews

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths … All images in this article © Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

Today’s Digg grabs a photoset from an interesting photographer, Yaakov Naumi.  Mr. Naumi is (or was, it’s unclear) a charedi ultra-orthodox Jew from Israel, and specializes in taking news style photographs of charedi life and charedi news events.  It notes that because Mr. Naumi is (or was) part of the community, it opens the doors for him to come and take the photos.  He provides brief descriptions of what’s being shown, but because of the brevity often misses many interesting aspects.

I’ve decided to grab a few photos and give those interesting details…

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This is a Jewish ultra-orthodox wedding.  The father or rabbi or Rebbe is “dancing” with the bride.  But why, and why like this?  First some details…

-> The man is dressed in a gold kaftan, this being a special occasion garment of ultra-orthodox in Jerusalem.  It’s a unique garment of Jerusalem and actually involves a special number of buttons and ties from kabbalah.

Why?

a – It’s a mitzvah, biblical commandment, to “rejoice with the bride and groom”, to make them happy! 

b – Your father, brothers and/or rabbi coming to honor you and dance with you as a bride will make you happy.

c – But, restrictions on gender interaction (only with your spouse) mean your rabbi isn’t going to come and touch you.  Hence the rope.

d - The sheer curtain in front of the women is not to separate the women from the men, but to separate the men from the women.  It’s there so the man can fulfill the mitzvah without having his gaze drawn to any women other than his wife – the exclusive focus of his womanly interaction.

e – Besides the rope, the bride is also not dancing – because the dancing of a woman is considered attractive and therefore would only be done alone with one’s spouse or in a gender segregated situation.  At ultra-orthodox weddings, the dancing is gender segregated with a barrier between the men’s and women’s sections.

So it has culturally evolved that the rabbi or Rebbe will honor and rejoice with the bride with a dance, but a rope, curtain, and no dancing by the bride are all required to keep it kosher.

This practice is somewhat exclusive to chassidim, and often only with one’s Rebbe or a rabbi of significant stature.  It is also sometimes done with a father upon marrying off one’s youngest child.

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There’s a live man lying in a grave!  And he’s not a vampire, zombie, nor some type of Goth groupie.

So how does “lying in a grave lengthen one’s life expectancy”?  By selecting a grave site, purchasing a grave site, going there, and/or actually lying in a grave, one is brought to consider that life is fleeting, one’s end will come, and one better be prepared to stand before the Beis Din Shel Maala, stand before the Heavenly Court and give an accounting of one’s life and sins.  By involving oneself in one’s future eternal home in this world one should come to Teshuva, repentance and return/re-connect with G-d.

Some become involved in Chessed Shel Emes, literally the True Kindness, but meaning the holy burial societies that are responsible for preparing Jewish bodies for burial and performing the actual burial, to similarly be involved in end-of-life issues and thereby keep the limits of this physical world constantly in mind.

The physical grave site shown above is in Israel, where nowadays they pre-prepare the area by pouring concrete over the graveyard to be, with cutouts for each individual grave.  This allows for a higher graveyard density.  Further, the custom in Israel is not to use coffins.  Rather, the bodies are wrapped in layers and placed directly into the grave.

While the practice of lying in a grave is known and discussed in some Torah sources, I’ve never known anyone who has actually done so.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

He is still a charedi

Anonymous said...

But why was a body taken out of it?

Anonymous said...

Looks quite creepy actually - a strange ritual/fetish straight out of the 15th century, and in front of huge crowds of men. And the bride's face, heavily veiled, - brings to mind visions of a sacrificial lamb.

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