Next Monday, according to the Hebrew calendar, is the third anniversary of the death of Ariel Sharon, the late prime minister of Israel. Thinking about that event has brought to my mind El maley raḥamim (“God full of mercy”), the brief prayer for the departed that is recited at funeral services, on the anniversary (yortsayt) of a death, and on visiting the graves of deceased relatives. Before reverting to Sharon’s death and funeral service, I want to explore the prayer itself.
Prayers for the Departed
The two disparate texts intoned at Ariel Sharon’s funeral tell us much about contemporary Jewish attitudes toward life, death, and the land of Israel.