May 17, 2024
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May 17, 2024
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Take Action: Few Emotions Are as Painful as Regret

In fact, the baalei mussar teach that regret is an overwhelming emotion that a person feels when they enter the Olam Ha’Emes.

I have been on the front lines of caring for those who die and their families. I have unfortunately witnessed the pain of regret when families realize they have not fully protected themselves and the people they love.

We spend so much time caring for our family, but there is one aspect of care that is almost always neglected to some degree: making sure our family is taken care of in case of a medical or end-of-life emergency. It is understandable that people avoid thinking about a medical crisis—or even worse, a sudden loss of life. However, if we would take action on a few issues, we could avoid so much tragedy and so much regret.

Do we have a halachic living will? Everyone over the age of 18 needs this essential document. Without it, a medical emergency may put our lives in the hands of people who do not share the Torah view of life’s sanctity.

If we have a will, is it written in accordance with halacha? If it is not, we may cause pain and strife in our family for generations to come.

Do we have enough life insurance to protect our family? Too often, financial hardship compounds the tragedy of the sudden loss of a parent. How would our family fare in such a circumstance? Are we putting them at risk of becoming a burden on the community?

Do we know a Jew who may be planning to be cremated, whether they are a relative, friend or co-worker? We often try to intervene only after they have died, when it is a race against the clock (and very unlikely to succeed). Have we ever spoken to them directly about their choice, whose effects will last for eternity?

These issues may be hard to face, but ignoring them leads to devastating consequences—and to regret that can last a lifetime.

Shabbos Vayechi, a project of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha (NASCK), joins hundreds of shuls and communities around the globe in addressing these issues and other end-of-life issues together.

Learn about and be inspired to take action on these topics by watching our worldwide livestream on Motzei Shabbos, Parshas Vayechi, December 18, at 8 p.m. ET. You can also visit our website at

May we never know the regret of missed opportunities.

Rabbi Elchonon Zohn
Director, Chevra Kadisha of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens
Founder and President, National Association of Chevra Kadisha (NASCK)
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