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Twelve Things that Appease the Soul of the Deceased

Published on Sunday May 26th, 2019

Who sits at the entrance of Gehinnom (hell)?

Our Masters of blessed memory explain that Asher, Yaakov Avinu’s son, sits at the entrance of Gehinnom to save any soul who studies one Mishna per day (the same applies if someone else studies on his behalf). This is the reason that holy books stress the importance of learning Mishnayot for the soul’s elevation of the departed, as testified in the verse: “Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties”. The term “shmena” contains the letters of the word Nechama (soul).

The greatest Tikkun (repair) for the soul.  The author of Torah Or writes: “Studying Mishnayot is a greater Tikkun then leading prayer services”.

Studying Torah has a greater impact than prayer.  In the book Yosef Ometz, the subject of the Kaddish prayer is dealt at length: “This Tikkun is for the ignorant. Torah study is much more powerful and effective than any prayer and may usher the deceased into Gan Eden”.


A son’s chidush Torah is an enormous honor to his father.

The Yosef Ometz also points out the following: “If the son has a chidush Torah ( a new insight on the Torah) the honor bestowed upon his father in the heavenly yeshiva is unparalleled. See also the Midrash Neelam.


The main source of satisfaction


The main source of satisfaction for the deceased is the study of the Torah, as mentioned in the Zohar.

One must stress that studying Mishnayot for the elevation of the deceased’s soul must be preceded by adding his mother's name. Before beginning to study, one must pronounce the name of the deceased and that of his mother, and explicitly mention that the study is dedicated to the elevation of his/her soul.

What should one who doesn’t know how to study Mishnayot do instead?  He/she may pick a different Torah subject, such as Pirkei Avot, Halacha, etc. One may also learn from books such as VeTen Chelkeinu, offering teachings in a language accessible to all.

It is particularly laudable to study Zohar. The book Shivchei Ha’Ari Zal mentions the value of studying the Zohar and the Tikkun it exerts on the soul of the departed. Likewise, the Chida, in his book Avodat Hakodesh, stresses the importance and influence of this study on the elevation of the soul of the defunct. The Kabbalist, Rav Yehuda Moshe Petia zatzal, delves on this subject in his book Minchat Yehuda, where he describes what happens to a man after his demise.  

The most effective Kaddish prayer is the one recited after a Torah lesson.

When the deceased appears to a family member in a dream and mentions he is cold, how should this be interpreted?  This means that he is asking for a Tikkun, knowing that he needs garments for his Neshama (these garments are acquired throughout a man’s life, through his thoughts, words, and actions, as explained in the Tanya). This lack of garments may be a source of great distress for his soul.

After his death, man can no longer elevate his soul, as indicated in the Treatise of Brachot in the Babylonian Talmud, and as quoted in a passage from Psalms: “Abandoned amid the dead”. Indeed, a dead man is no longer bound or able to observe the Mitzvot.

Why does the Almighty, blessed be He, open the Book of the Dead every year? The Babylonian Talmud In the Tractate of Rosh Hashanah reports that every year the books of the living and of the dead are opened before the Holy One, Blessed be He. Regarding the Book of Life, it goes without saying that it deals with judging the living. But why open the Book of the Dead? To examine what the living have done to honor the dead. Therefore, it is worthwhile to increase Torah study in general, and Mishnayot in particular, in order to elevate the Neshamot of our deceased loved ones.

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