I enquired why Jews do not allow a body to be crematied, and why they must bury their dead within 24 hours. I got the reasons from Rabbi Maury Kelman's online post.
Why Jews cannot be cremated - by Rabbi Maury Kelman
Rabbi Kelman - "First, it is important to note that Jewish tradition views the body as the repository of the soul, and thus the body is considered a holy vessel which has been entrusted to each person to lovingly preserve."
COMMENT: The reason Jews cannot be cremated was established by MAN'S tradition. Assuming that Jesus is the Savior and Messiah (redeemer and king), He had this to say to the Jewish Pharisees (lawyers of the Holy Temple)...eyeball to eyeball: "For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do." This means, the Pharisees held strictly to the letter of the Laws of Moses (614 of them) and to the TRADITIONS set forth by MEN of the Jewish faith. The Scriptures say, in Genesis 3:19 - "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Jews take this to mean that the body (intact) must return to the ground. Dust is not an intact body. Dust is dust.
Rabbi Kelman - God breathed into man “the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7), endowing each individual with a “Tzelem Elokim”, a divine image, which should guide us in how we take care of ourselves both in life and death. Accordingly, when a Jew dies, we treat the body with the utmost respect, ritually purifying it and burying the body as soon as possible, ideally within one day, unless there are serious extenuating circumstances, such as children arriving from out of town.
COMMENT: Jews say that the body (intact - and not dust or cremated) must be buried within 24 hours. The Bible (Old Testament Jewish writings) declared that the body of a murderer must be buried within 24 hours so as not to defile those living above the earth. Let me get that for you...Deuteronomy 21: 22-23 - " And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance." Therefore...burying a dead man who has NOT committed a sin worthy of death can be buried at any time! - This is why I stopped taking what any MAN from any pulpit (Catholic, Protestant, Jew or otherwise) as the truth. The Bible was written TO US so that WE can understand it (if we ask God to show us what He meant to tell us).
Rabbi Kelman - "Cremation is antithetical to both Jewish law and philosophy, as this is considered a great sign of disrespect for the divinely infused body. From a legal standpoint, the Torah, or Bible, explicitly states that the body must be buried in the ground (see Deuteronomy 21:23 in the context of capital punishment).
COMMENT: This is where the Rabbi admits that the burial in the ground stems from CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - but the lay people never investigate what the Bible says so as to complete the true picture of what God has said.
Rabbi Kelman - "In addition, the Talmud explains that the verse “You are dust/earth and to dust/earth shall you return” (Genesis 3:19) indicates that we must have underground burial.
COMMENT: Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a body must be buried in the ground. The TRADITION OF MEN say so, but God clearly spelled out that we were "dust" or "ashes" in the beginning, and we shall all turn back to "dust or ashes" at some point. Some great Jews died at sea. Is that "buried underground"? NO. Some have been swallowed by sharks....is that "buried underground"? NO - Are their souls, therefore, not going to heaven (If they have been born-again)? Sure, the dead body returns to the earth (whether going through the digestive system of a shark or not, but nowhere does it say "underground burial is God's requirement.
Rabbi Kelman - "In the creation story, we are told that God created man from the “dust of the earth”, so it is appropriate that we return to that same earth upon our bodies’ end. This is codified in the authoritative Code of Jewish Law (Yoreh Deah 362:1) and has been normative Jewish practice throughout the ages.
COMMENT: My comment above should cover that comment by Rabbi Kelman as well. "This has been a normal Jewish PRACTICE -"TRADITION OF MEN".
Rabbi Kelman - "In addition to the positive commandment to bury the dead, there is a specific commandment against mistreating the body or showing disrespect to it (Babba Batra 154a), which is clearly violated by cremation, which destroys the body, a practice best kept to things of which we want to rid ourselves.
COMMENT: From Wikipedia - " Bava Batra - "the last gate" is the third of the three tractates in the Talmud. It deals with a person's responsibilities and rights as the owner of property. It is part of Judaism's ORAL LAW. ORAL LAW is NOT God's WRITTEN LAW - the Bible. ORAL LAW is the TRADITION OF MEN. Here is what God said about adding to or taking away from His Word: Revelation 22:19 - "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." - It's dangerous to add to or take out words to God's Bible.
Rabbi Kelman - "Philosophically, taking care of a loved one’s body is the last act that we perform upon the physical form of the individual. What sort of message are we sending if our final action is a destructive one, physically obliterating the body? When a scroll of Torah or other sacred writings are beyond repair, we do not burn or destroy them in any way, but rather bury them lovingly. Should we do any less to an actual person/body which was once sanctified and was an expression of the Divine manifestation in this world?
COMMENT: The Rabbi is stating that - in his opinion - cremation is destroying the physical body. God said, "Man was formed from dust, and to dust he will return"....whether that dust is strewn on the ocean, buried in the earth, set upon a mantel, placed in a tomb above the ground...wherever. DUST IS DUST.
Is DUST really ASHES? YES! Father Abraham had this to say to his Creator - God - in Genesis 18:27 - "And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:" That is in The Jewish BIBLE.
John Tyler - Author
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