Dying

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Finally, the bedside vigil can also serve the purpose of encouraging the dying person to recite a traditional last confessional, perhaps her or his last rite of passage. This type of confessional occurs throughout the Jewish lifecycle at moments of transition.

Many people are surprised to learn that there is a Jewish deathbed confession, or viddui. Lest the suggestion to a dying person induce fear or lack of confidence in his or her medical care, we are encouraged to remind the person: “Many have said the viddui and not died, and many have not said the viddui and have died.”

The viddui may be said by the dying person or by someone on his or her behalf.  It ends with the Shema, perhaps the best known Jewish prayer and the core statement of God's oneness. In this context, by implication, it can also be viewed as a statement of faith in one’s re-union with the Divine.

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