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Copyright (c) 2006 Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Loyola University Chicago Law Journal

CONFERENCE ON THE LAW OF DEATH AND DYING: ARTICLE: The Shattered Vessel: The Dying Person in Jewish Law and Ethics

Winter, 2006

37 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 433


Philip J. Bentley, DD*


I. Introduction
On the day when Rabbi died the Rabbis decreed a public fast and offered prayers for heavenly mercy. They furthermore announced that whoever said that Rabbi was dead would be stabbed with a sword.

Rabbi's handmaid ascended the roof and prayed: "The immortals desire Rabbi [to join them] and the mortals desire Rabbi [to remain with them]; may it be the will [of God] that the mortals may overpower the immortals.' When, however, she saw how often he resorted to the privy, painfully taking off his tefillin and putting them on again, she prayed: "May it be the will [of the Almighty] that the immortals may overpower the mortals.' As the Rabbis incessantly continued their prayers for [heavenly] mercy she took up a jar and threw it down from the roof to the ground. [For a moment] they ceased praying and the soul of Rabbi departed to its eternal rest. "Go,' said the Rabbis to Bar Kappara, "and investigate.' He went and, finding that [Rabbi] was dead, he tore his cloak and turned the tear backwards. [On returning to the Rabbis] he began: "The angels and the mortals have taken hold of the holy ark. The angels overpowered the mortals and the holy ark has been captured.' "Has he,' they asked him, "gone to his eternal rest?' - "You,' he replied, "said it; I did not say it.' 1
This account of the death of the editor of the Mishnah, Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nassi in ...
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