5 Ways to Elevate Their Soul

What happens to the souls of our loved ones? First and foremost, it is imperative that we understand the essence of a Jewish soul. Specially, one needs to internalize that the Jewish soul does not die when our body expires. Rather, it remains intact and longs for elevation in the next world. As such, the Jewish soul, separated from our body, seeks to constantly ascend and reach closer to our Creator, G_D.

Fortunately for us, our Holy Torah has indicated several ways in which we can aid the soul of our loved ones.

Torah Study:

One should make every effort to study Torah in the merit of the deceased. Moreover, this is a particular merit when it is done on the yartzeit. Many people learn mishna on the yahrzeit, such as the chapters that begin with the initial of your loved one (afterwards it is also customary to learn the last 4 Mishnayot of the 7th chapter in Masechta Mikvaot, whose initial letters spell the word, Neshama — soul), and Perek 24 of Masecheta Kelim (Pnei Baruch 39:13), however any Torah will suffice whether it be the Bible, Prophets, Mishna, Talmud, whether in English or in Hebrew.

Charity (Tzedakah):

Giving charity to those who need it is another great merit to your loved one as this is one of G-d’s commandments. Giving money to the poor, orphans, or to Torah study among others are very worthwhile causes. We have listed here a list which is in our opinion some of the best charities to give money to.

Teshuva (Repentance):

As long as we are still alive we can repair our lives and atone for our sins. It is a tremendous elevation for the person’s soul for us to repent with all of our heart for any sins that we may have committed in his life, whether against G-d or his fellow man. One should do whatever he or she can, and seek out whoever he offended and ask them for forgiveness. Our Talmud records that G-d can only accepts our forgiveness, once the person we offended has forgiven us (Rosh Hashanah 17b). However, on all matters that are strictly between the person and G-d, as long as a person does sincere teshuva (repentance), his teshuva will be answered (Yoma 85b).

Our sages have informed us that no matter how grave a sin a person may have done “nothing can stand in the way of teshuva.†(Rambam Hilchos Teshuvah 3:14; Yerushalmi Pe’ah 1:1, Sanhedrin 103a).

Teshuva (Repentance) is a 3 Step Process: (Rambam Teshuvah 2:2 lists these 3 and abandoning sin. Sha’arei Teshuivah Perek 1 gives 20 steps, and Sefer Charedim and Orchos Tzadikim agree. Sefer ha’Toda’ah (35) lists abandoning sin, regret and Confession. Hakdmas Derech Pikudecha lists abandoning sin, regret and Resolution.)

1. Regret: Acknowledging your misdeeds, recognizing the damage, and feeling sincere regret for what you have done.

2. Confession: If it is teshuva between you and G-d, you must verbalize your misdeeds out loud to G-d, but soft enough so that no one else can hear you. If it is teshuva between you and someone else, you must ask this person for forgiveness directly. (Rambam Teshuvah 2:5)

3. Resolution: Sincerely resolve to change your ways. This may involve resolving to desist from continuing ones misdeeds and coming up with a plan so that one do not go revert to his or her prior ways.

Reciting Kaddish:

Many people believe that when their loved ones die, there is nothing further to do for them. However, the opposite is true. Our Torah teaches us that the mourners have the power to elevate the soul of their deceased loved one by reciting the Mourners Kaddish. Surely, we would want to help our deceased loved ones, in any way that we could.

When we recite Kaddish with proper concentration, we are in effect, ascribing to G-d’s greatness, and marshalling the powerful energy toward elevating the soul of our loved ones.

We are in effect saying that, though I have lost my loved one, I still ascribe G-d as the just ruler of the world, and His Name should grow greater and greater. This act of commitment to G-d is a tremendous source of merit to your loved one and is an elevation for their soul. When Kaddish is said on behalf of your loved one, you are doing an action which says “you care”, in a tangible way. While your loved one is deceased, you are still able to perform this true act of kindness.

Our Talmud, Masekta Brachos, teaches us that by reciting the words in Kaddish “Amen, Yhei Shmei Rabba” (“May His great Name be blessed forever and ever) with deep sincerity, this has the ability to combat a lifetime of hardships, and unlock the gates of mercy (mercy or paradise).

Berachos 57a says that one who answers, “Amen, Yehei Shemei Raba Mevorach,” is guaranteed a place in Olam ha’Ba. Shabbos 119b says that if one answers it with all his Ko’ach (strength/Kavanah), his decree is torn up.

The Zohar (Terumah 129:2) teaches that by reciting in Kaddish the words “Yhei Shmei Rabbah,” that this can eradicate evil forces, which surfaced because of human errors (ethical shortcomings).

Disclaimer

The articles are not meant to be halachic rulings, so please contact a posek regarding your situation. Our website is intended to be a helpful guide, but for everything contained in the articles, or to the extent that we inadvertantly made a mistake on one of the articles, please contact your local Orthodox Rabbi regarding it.