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Suicide in the Jewish scriptures 

Suicide in the Jewish scriptures
Chapter:
Suicide in the Jewish scriptures
Author(s):

Israel Orbach

and Aron Rabinowitz

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198570059.003.0007
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date: 22 July 2019

The Jewish scriptures and the commentaries of the scriptures throughout history present a very complex approach toward suicide. There is a categorical prohibition against suicide, but also an obligation to submit to death when there is an external coercion to transgress Jewish laws that pertain to the essence of the faith. Talmudic sages have shown a psychological and empathic understanding of the suicidal state of mind, but they have harshly condemned suicide and punished it by omissions of certain religious rituals for the dead. Yet, Jewish law defines suicide in a very minimalistic way, so it is very rare that a death is defined as a suicide. Inherent in this approach is the attempt to avoid further suffering by the family, to show respect for the frailty of the human being, but at the same time, to condemn self-destructive behaviour.

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