Updated 5th April 2016
Judaism Prayers for Death and Emergencies
Jewish Prayers for Death, Dying and Life-Threatening Situations
Submitted by Rabbi Dovid Sears of Breslov Center New York, USA and Solitude-hisbodedus blogspot
Breslov Center of New York: http://breslovcenter.blogspot.com/
Jewish Meditation and Retreat:
For the Choir-Leader, a song of David: God will answer you on a day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob will strengthen you.
He will send you help from the Sanctuary, and support you from Zion. He will remember all of your offerings, and accept your burnt offering with favor. Selah.
He will grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all of your counsel. We will rejoice in Your salvation, and make God’s Name our banner. God will fulfill all of your requests.
Now I know that God saves His annointed, and He will answer him from His holy dwelling in the heavens with the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will call on the Name of the Lord, our God. They have bent over and fallen, but we have arisen and gained sway. God save us! O King, answer us on the day we call!
Those in the company of a dying person should speak encouragingly to him or her, citing scriptural verses such as
: “Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed – for God is with you, wherever you go.”
It is also customary to add the Priestly Blessing:
“May God bless you and keep you. May God cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May God lift up His face toward you and grant you peace.” Additional prayers may be found in traditional Jewish prayer books.
* A person who is dying should not be left alone. It is a religious duty to remain with him or her at this time.
* It is appropriate for the dying person to confess his or her sins privately to God. This may be in a general way or a specific way.
* A Jewish person who is dying should recite the verse from the Shema Prayer:
Shema Yisrael Ado-noy Elo-hey-nu Ado-noy Echad “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
(see the Shema Prayer at bottom of page)
If necessary, others should assist him or her to do so.
* Those in attendance should be extremely careful not touch a person who is dying, so as to avoid hastening death. *
Close relatives of the deceased should consult a rabbi about the religious laws and practices related to preparation for burial, the act of burial and conduct during the mourning period (shiva), etc. It is also a time-honored custom to give charity (tzedakah) as a source of spiritual merit for the dead. *
The following mystical prayers were written by Rabbi Nathan of Breslov (1780-1844), as translated by Rabbi Dovid Sears, The Flame of the Heart (Breslov Research Institute 1999).
Turning Darkness Into Light
O God, Whose goodness never ceases, may I be worthy of receiving Your true goodness. Satisfy the deepest desire of my soul and enable me to merge into Your Oneness—to reach the ultimate state of self-nullification and spiritual harmony. May I progress along the spiritual path like the angels in Ezekiel’s vision, “advancing and returning”—advancing toward the eternal and retreating toward the temporal world—until I attain the full realization that everything in life is a manifestation of pure goodness, and that evil has no essential existence. For when one contemplates that all suffering and affliction is in fact hidden goodness, the disguise of suffering falls away. Help me to accept whatever suffering I must endure with love and joy, and enable me to nullify myself to the Ultimate Reality, which is true goodness.
The Path of Return
Master of the Universe, Cause of all causes, Who brings about all things: You transcend everything and nothing transcends You. No thought can grasp you. “Unto You silence is praise,” for You are above all blessings and praise.
For this I beseech You, for this I entreat You: pave a clear path, a path that traverses all the worlds and spiritual levels, even to the place where I stand, according to the true good that is revealed to You alone, Knower of Secrets. Through this path, cause Your Light to shine upon me, and bring me back to You with a whole heart, as if I had requested this with the pure desire of one who is spiritually refined. Do not let my mind be disturbed by impure thoughts, or by any confusion or thought that is contrary to Your will. Let my thoughts cleave only to worthy and holy matters, to divine service, divine perception and divine wisdom. Incline my heart to Your Torah, and instill a pure heart within me, that I may serve You in truth. From the depths of the sea rescue me without a moment’s delay—for “God’s deliverance comes in the blink of an eye.” Mau I be illuminated by the Light of Life all my days on the face of the earth.
May I renew the days of my youth, the days when I wandered in darkness, and restore them to the realm of holiness; thus may my departure from the world ne like my birth, without sin. God, bestow Your favor upon me, that I may gaze upon Your pleasantness and explore Your palace, where everything declares Your glory.
The Hebrew Bible Deuteronomy 6: 4-9
Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Blessed is His name, whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might. These words that I command you today shall be upon your heart. Repeat them to your children, and talk about them when you sit in your home, and when you walk in the street; when you lie down, and when you rise up. Hold fast to them as a sign upon your hand, and let them be as reminders before your eyes. Write them on the doorposts of your home and at your gates.
Transliteration: Shema yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai echad. [barukh shem kevod malkhuto le’olam va’ed.] ve’ahavta et Adonai eloheykha bekhol-levavkha u’vekhol nafshekha u’vekhol me’odekha. ve’hayu hadevarim ha’eileh asher anokhi metzavekha haiyom al-levavekha. veshinantam levanekha vedibarta bam beshivtekha beveitekha u’velekhtekha vaderekh u’vshakhbekha u’vkumekha. u’kshartam le’ot al-yadekha vehayu letotafot bein einekha. u’khtavtam al-mezuzot beitekha u’visharekha.