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    Death of the righteous – Balak

    kever rachel pray grave“May my soul die the death of the righteous” (Num. 23:10) – these are Bilam’s words and our own heartfelt prayer. The death of the righteous is a Divine kiss.

    Rabbi Yose b. Avin says in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Yev. 15:2), “The day of death is when two worlds meet with a kiss: this world going out, the future world coming in”.

    This is death in calmness, serenity and holiness. The modern phrase would call it death with dignity, except that “death with dignity” is one of those phrases that has been hijacked and given a highly questionable connotation.

    The proponents of euthanasia have somehow been allowed to appropriate the phrase: “Let a person die with dignity,” they claim, and what they mean is euthanasia. What an insult to language, and to all who put themselves in the hands of God and leave their lives to ebb as God decrees.

    When a person dies a natural death, is that not dying with dignity? How can anyone imply that euthanasia, but nothing else, is dignified? (One could of course also argue that those who argue for euthanasia are less concerned with the patient’s dignity but their own.)

    The Jewish way is to hope and pray that one will live to 120 and die as Moses did with the Divine kiss, but even more important than the means and moment of death is to be spiritually ready to leave the earthly world.

    No-one should leave it to some unspecified future time to make peace with God. Who knows whether they may not die in the meantime? The day to be at peace with God – and man – is today and every day.

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