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    Speaking well of the dead – Acharei Mot

    One should speak well of a person acharei mot, after their death. It is good advice for rabbis, who sometimes have to give eulogies for people who were not always upright.

    How is one to handle the acharei mot situation? Beth Hillel and Bet Shammai debated how to describe a bride. Bet Shammai said, “Tell the truth”; Bet Hillel said, “Say nice things!” (Ket. 16b).

    On the one hand, one can more or less whitewash a person: on the other hand, there is a poem, “Be the matter what it may, always tell the truth!” In Jewish ethics, one may tell a white lie for the sake of peace in a marriage or family.

    A eulogy would possibly follow the same rule. It depends on the circumstances, and one should try to speak l’kaf z’chut, kindly and charitably, about everybody, whether they are live or dead.

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