“What should you do if your parent is drawing close to dying but doesn’t want to talk about it?” I asked.
Madoff, who is serving 150 years at a North Carolina federal prison after pleading guilty to swindling more than $65 billion, has been telling fellow inmate he doesn't have much longer to live.
A traditional Jewish funeral is simple and not ostentatious -- good news for people concerned about the high cost of dying. But while Jewish law doesn't require embalming, elaborate floral displays or 16-gauge metal caskets with tufted crepe interiors, it does require Jews to be buried in the ground. And that costs money.
I spoke to Fred several days before he died. He didn't want to be on hospice, didn't want to think about dying -- or to let me visit him in the hospital -- but he said he thought that he had danced his last dance. I was honored to have shared it with him -- asher hu bam.
In this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, we have the most intimate description of a deathbed scene and the most elaborate description of a le'vayah (funeral) contained in the Torah.
Art Buchwald is living and dying in a Washington, D.C., hospice. If you don't know his story, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a very sad time for the 80-year-old Jewish columnist. Just the opposite, Buchwald says. "I am," he announces, "having the time of my life."
How often do we let feuds linger on believing that we have so much more time left on this earth?
Excerpt from "More Money Than God: Living a Rich Life Without Losing Your Soul," by Steven Z. Leder
A few years ago, I was called to see an extremely famous and wealthy movie director. He was a friend of a friend, and he was in the hospital. We were strangers, this dying old man and I. Entering his room, I noticed amid the monitors, tubes, and fluorescent lights of the sterile ICU, there was only one solitary breath of humanity tacked up on the wall -- one small black-and-white photograph, some sixty years old, of a young couple in their twenties holding hands on a park bench.
The Florida case of a woman on life support for 13 years has put issues of how we die and when and how doctors and others should intervene on the front page. Whatever the courts say about that case, however, will only apply to federal and Florida law.
What would Jewish law say about such a case? That question is important because the issues raised in that case confront Jews often as they care for their parents, spouse and other loved ones and as they contemplate their own dying process.
The basic Jewish principle about these matters is clear: We are, on the one hand, not allowed to hasten the dying process, but on the other, we are not supposed to prolong it either.