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  • build the new Jewish cemetery in Thailand
  • sponsor people who can not afford burial
  • bring fellow Jews to their final resting place in dignity and peace 


Question from the community


Subject: Question of cremation — one case of respecting your father and your mother.


Dear Rabbi Kornbluth, 


What would our ancestral laws conclude in this case? 

I was asked by my father  to cremate him, but bury or sprinkle his ashes someday near or with my mother when she passes.

He said he had considered this many times in the past month as cancer had grown in him but did not take him because his heart, lungs and liver were all so strong that they would not stop no matter that the tumour was pushing them out of the way. He was a very strong bike-racing 74.

The cancer tumour he explained was the size of a baby ... the pain was tremendous, but worse was the thought that the toxic tomour would go into the earth with him .... .

This he believed would be a curse to the earth and his spirit could not rest and he felt his spirit after he passed would have guilt, knowing he could prevent the earth being poisoned that way and prevent his body being accompanied by such a mass of poison.

I was in tears and could not argue. He worried I would not follow his direction and asked my eldest sister to come in an witness his demand. 

He finished by telling me that if I did not cremate him, my spirit also might be tormented by the thought of the tumour outliving him, and he would like me to rest peacefully knowing his spirit and my spirit did the right thing for G‑d's earth. 

It was so hard and still feels hard and I cry as I tell the story, but I believe I did what was right in the spirit of G-D. 

What are your insights into decision of our ancestral laws in this case?



Rabbi Doron Kornbluth answers 

Subject: Fwd: Question of cremation — one case of respecting your father and your mother.

Your question is a very good one.


First, and most importantly, you were in an extremely difficult position. No easy answers. I feel for you, your pain, and your loss. Life is not easy. Respecting Parents is one of the hardest mitzvos to do fully, the Talmud says, as it is sometimes complicated.


The Jewish Tradition insists on Burial. There are many reasons for this. You can see a general explanation at also has some great short pieces of info.


But this wasn’t your question.


In general, in almost all cases, Judaism insists that children follow their parents’ wishes, even those of the deceased. There is an exception to the rule: if we know that the soul of the deceased - who is now CLOSER to G‑d and has more access to TRUTH would ask something different based on what they now know, we don’t listen to their previous mistaken request. Meaning when the deceased had insufficient information, and made a mistake, we do what his soul really would have wanted - and, up in Heaven, now wants. 


There is no problem of tumors being buried and polluting the ground. Cancer is unfortunately the second leading cause of death in the USA ( My father is struggling with cancer right now. The tumors disintegrate and are not harmful to the environment. Cremation, in general, on the other hand is problematic to the environment. I am a big environmentalist. My book and talks focus on this. Specifically in the cases of cancer, cremation is even more problematic: or


Still, despite the stereotype, guilt is not a positive Jewish quality. YOU DID WHAT YOU FELT WAS BEST AT THAT TIME, under very difficult circumstances. Don’t get stuck on the past. Maybe do a mitzvah in his memory (tefillin? tzedakah? - we all have areas we can improve on!) and move on. G‑d is good and things will be okay. You tried to be a good son. You were a good son. Continue to be one, and do your best to bring even more light into the world.


I hope this helps

all the best


Doron Kornbluth