My Mishnah Project
The study of the Mishnah encompasses a vast amount of detail, intricate discussions, and seemingly endless, yet finite possibilities in regard to halacha (Judaic law). Having finally begun this journey, after many years of intending to do so, I find my first endeavors intriguing, rewarding, and, fulfilling. I am already enriched by the experience. Thus, I am looking forward to continuing with this project.
What I realized is that there is an actual feeling of fulfillment for myself, in studying the Mishnah. My first impression was that the claim is true; in other words, that study of the Mishnah for the sake of honoring a loved one who has passed away is significant. If studying the Mishnah benefits the soul of the deceased, then, perhaps, there is also an affect on the soul of the one who studies. I find this to be true for myself, according to my own initial experience.
For, I feel a tangible sense of relief and renewal, now, after three years to the month after my father passed away. Up until this point, it is as if I had still been grieving for an extended period of mourning. Baruch H’Shem. Praise G-d for the light that may enter the soul through this effort. The letters that make up the word MiShNaH may be re-arranged to spell the word NeShaMaH. This is why the connection is made, in regard to the benefit of studying the Mishnah.
Mishnah Insights: Berachos 3
Mishnah Berachos 3:2
“After they buried the deceased and returned, if they have sufficient time to begin to recite Shema and conclude before they arrive at the row, formed by those who attended the burial, through which the bereaved family will pass in order to receive consolation, they should begin [even if they will only have an opportunity to recite the first verse (Deuteronomy 6:4)].” – sefaria.org
From this we learn in the commentary, that the main part of the Shema prayer is the first verse; and, that this verse is minimally permissible to recite by a comforter, between the time after the deceased is buried, until reaching the line, where one would line up to approach and comfort the mourners, by offering one’s condolences. Seemingly so, the only motivating factor, according to halacha, to say the Shema at this time if necessary, would be if one was not able to do so that morning prior to the funeral. Incidentally, the Shema is a comforting prayer, in and of itself, and, if said, quietly to oneself, can offer divine consolation, regardless of who may take the opportunity to recite the prayer. Yet, it is forbidden to say the Shema while walking; so, this more or less throws a monkeywrench, figuratively speaking, of course, into the entire discussion.
Perforce, to say that these and similar guidelines within perek (chapter) 3:2, have to do with being exempt from performing a mitzvah, while engaged at the time with the performance of another mitzvah; for example, consoling a mourner. That so much consideration is given, in regard to the exact details of the situation, compels me to have more respect and appreciation of such a mitzvah. The gravity of the situation at a funeral, would certainly elicit proper respect towards the mourner and the mitzvah of consolation itself; yet, knowing that consoling a mourner takes precedence over the most important prayer in Judaism, demonstrates the kindness and compassion that we are to show to mourners. Also, this priority demonstrates as well, the kavanah (proper focus and intention) necessary to offer a meaningful consolation, without the distraction of having another mitzvah preoccupying one’s thoughts.
As an afterthought, I would add that Jewish mysticism teaches that every person has a divine spark within their soul, that originates with G-d. By treating others with respect, we are also honoring others as being created in G-d’s image. Therefore, I would imagine that G-d would not feel the least bit slighted in any way, if we set aside the obligation to say the Shema, for the sake of consoling a mourner.
Mishnah Berachos 3:3 has to do with more general exemptions and obligations, in regard to the following: tefillin (phylacteries), Shemonah Esrei, mezuzah, and Birchas HaMazon (Grace after Meals). Amongst the discussion on mezuzot is a commentary that obligates a father to make sure that a mezuzah is placed upon the doorpost of a child that lives alone. This is emotionally moving to me; and, I imagine the father himself placing the mezuzah on the doorpost of his child’s place of residence. For myself, this speaks of the continuity of values and traditions, within the framework of Judaism.
1 Nissan 5781 Running, the tempest behind me, still present in my thoughts and dreams; yet, somewhere on the horizon, I can see in the distance, there is a place serene. Joyous within myself, outwardly smiling, my emotions never surface enough to be visible; perhaps, a trait from my ancestors upbringing, learned men of books, […]Promise — Breathing Inspiration
poetry: A Legacy
In memory of Shlomo Adler – 25 Adar 5781 (March 9, 2021) Careful footsteps are traced,across the ages,bringing to light new faces,from past lineage. A living link dies;life preserved on pages –ancient memories. dVerse promptA Legacy — Breathing Inspiration