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The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah

What you can do in memory of a departed loved one (Sefer Aliyas Neshamah) was written to fill a need.

reviewed by Rochelle Maruch Miller, 5 Towns Jewish Times

The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah - by Rabbi Tzvi Hebel

The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah
by Rabbi Tzvi Hebel

Rabbi Tzvi Hebel’s book The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah: What you can do in memory of a departed loved one (Sefer Aliyas Neshamah) was written to fill a need.

There is nothing as daunting or traumatic in life as the loss of a loved one. For many of us, losing the connection with a loved one is a constant struggle immediately following the loss or for years afterward. As we deal with our grief and the reality of our loss, we wonder what we can do to keep the connection alive.

The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah (2009, The Judaica Press, in conjunction with Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah) is an inspirational and powerful guide for anyone who wishes to remember a loved one in a meaningful way. Painstakingly researched and masterfully written, it explains the fundamental ideas underlying the concept of providing merit for a soul and then offers hands-on, practical guidance for all the many aliyah opportunities that our tradition describes.

“The halachic issues that confront a surviving relative from the moment of the soul’s departure are numerous, and it is quite a task to properly negotiate what is often unchartered territory,” Rabbi Hebel writes in his introduction. “The uniqueness of this book lies in its intended beneficiaries. Those who stand to benefit the most from this book’s dissemination are the departed themselves.”

The author’s primary purpose in writing this book is to help those who are no longer able to help themselves. As Torah-observant Jews, we are aware that a person’s life does not end with his passing, but that his neshamah continues its existence in Olam HaBa after its departure from the physical world. No longer can the departed help themselves spiritually; what will accompany them are the merits they have accrued during their lives.

But the surviving family and friends have the power to accomplish the loftiest level of lovingkindness—chesed shel emes—by gathering further merits for the neshamah of the departed loved one by giving it an aliyah. Indeed, many opportunities exist for us to positively and productively channel our efforts for the benefit of our loved ones’ neshamos and for our benefit, as well.

“When sons and daughters, grandchildren, parents, nieces, nephews, and friends realize that it is within their power to continue to help their departed loved ones, their own lives can take on new meaning,” Rabbi Hebel explains. “It can serve as an infusion of strength, helping them to carry on as they come to appreciate that the bond with their loved one is not severed, but continues to grow stronger on a daily basis.”

For those individuals who feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of options that exist to honor departed loved ones and know not where to begin, the author guides them to readily available assistance provided by Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, an extraordinary organization.

In 2006, Rabbi Moshe Haikins, a visionary talmid chacham, undertook a tremendous project. He perceived a specific need in the Jewish world. Many people who had recently experienced the tragic loss of a loved one felt a strong desire to do something in their merit and to maintain the connection with their loved one. Yet their plans were not always so easily fulfilled; finding a sufficient number of people who were able or agreeable to commit to the significant undertaking of learning the Mishnah was no simple matter. All too often Mishnah charts were distributed or posted, only to remain unfinished.

Aiming to fulfill this need, Rabbi Haikins assembled a team of fellow Torah scholars, many of whom possess expertise in particular masechtos. Through this group, the great merit of Mishnah study would be available to all those who sought it. When contacted, this group would be ready to learn whatever was requested of them. This was the beginning of Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, the Society for Mishnah Study.

With the written approval of a number of prominent rabbanim, Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah has made their Mishnah-study services available to a great many households the world over. At almost a moment’s notice they are able to carry out the study of Mishnah on behalf of a loved one. Any and all of the numerous study options included in The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah are available upon request, as well as numerous other services. Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah can obviously handle learning on their own, but can dispatch scholars to learn with the surviving relative, regardless of the level of expertise, based on the preference of the individual. Whether it is completing a few difficult masechtos remaining on the unfinished list, or learning the entire Talmud by a particular date, Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah is there to help with sensitivity and compassion.

Rabbi Hebel is to be commended for including this vital information in this informative, practical, and touching book.

Whether one has suffered a recent loss or many years have passed, The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah will open the reader’s eyes with its profound insights into the concepts and practices of aliyas neshamah. The book includes an enhanced video CD featuring inspirational words on topics covered in the book, presented by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and Rabbi Paysach Krohn.

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