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Prayer and Deeds for Deceased Ancestors

With fathers day approaching, I was thinking of going to my grandfathers graves and I was wondering what the guidelines are as far as praying at the graves of the deceased goes. I know that one shouldn't pray to their souls (G-d Forbid) and I believe that one shouldn't ask them to intercede in Heaven as this would attribute power to them (G-d forbid).

A few questions:
1. What Psalms would be good to recite on behalf of the deceased?
2. Can I say things like "I wish I could have spent more time with you." or "I hope you merit a share in the world to come."?
3. Should I not go if the grave is in a Xtian cemetary?

Any guidelines/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Shalom Donny,

These questions are not the standard type of questions, and they required much thought and research. I will answer straight off that I don't intend for these to be clear-cut authoritative answers.

I do not see any prohibition in Noahides going to an ancestral grave.

Noahides are not commanded in honoring their parents, other than being careful to not embarass them (as we see that Lavan showed that he was a wicked person when he embarassed his father Besuel - Rashi on Gen. 24:50). It is however praiseworthy if a Noahide does choose to actively honor a parent during the parent's lifetime, not as a commanded obligation, but to be rewarded by heaven for such a good deed.

The reason Jews pray at graves of righteous individuals is to invoke G-d's mercy upon us in the merit of the souls of the righteous whose bodies are interred there. This custom is extended to the graves of one's ancestors also.

As for which chapters of Psalms, all are acceptable, as there are many customs among Jews as to which ones to say. For example, Psalm 90.

A faithful Noahide should not worry about going to pay respects to a deceased parent in a non-Jewish cemetary. Just focus on your own personal reason for being there.
Rabbi Yitz
As a further reference, please see the section of our web site on the subject of Noahide Mourning:

The web pages in this section include halachic information for Bnai Noach about burial practices and organ donations. It also includes recommended prayers for funeral and memorial services, which were provided to Ask Noah International by Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, o.b.m.
I would suggest the following recitation for funeral and memorial services for Noahides:

The Rock - His working is perfect, for all His paths are justice; a G-d of faithfulness and without iniquity, He is righteous and fair! (Deuteronomy 32:4)

We know, G-d, that Your judgment is righteous; You are righteous when You speak and pure when You judge. There is naught to murmur about the way of Your judgment. You are righteous, G-d, and Your judgments are fair.

G-d gave, and G-d took; blessed be the Name of G-d!

[Memorial Prayer for a specific Gentile]:

May G-d remember the soul of [my father, mother, husband, wife, etc. - recite name of the deceased with names of parents, and if desired one can add the family name], who has gone on to [his/her] world. By virtue of my praying on [his/her] behalf, and, without making a vow, my intent to donate to charity on [his/her] behalf, may [his/her] soul be bound in the Bond of Life together with the souls of the righteous, and let us respond: Amen.

Psalm 49 and/or Psalm 139 should be recited as meditations on earthly life.

All the above - or part thereof - can be recited at most daily, at funeral, memorial meetings, anniversary of death or other special occasions that they feel appropriate.

Is it appropriate to say daily prayers for the ascent of souls? and to do good deeds in their name? Should one in fact dedicate all one's learning, mitzvot observance and good deeds for those who can no longer do them?
And may these be done for any soul, or must there be a personal connection?

Thank you.
Please see post #4 above from Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, for suggested prayers and Psalms that are appropriate to be recited for departed souls.

If you live with love and fear/awe of the One True G-d, learn the Torah subjects and observe the mitzvot that are associated with the Noahide Code, and do acts of goodness and kindness, your righteousness will surely be a good reflection upon the souls of your parents, in this world and the next world. But in general, Gentiles are not held responsible for each other, and the main Heavenly judgment for a particular lifetime is based on one's own thoughts, speech and actions.

If you follow a Torah-true path of righteousness as you learned from the teachings and example of a truly righteous person (a tzadik), you make a connection between your soul and the elevated soul of the tzadik, which of course is greatly to your benefit.

The Rebbe taught that when someone observes seven days of mourning after the burial of a deceased close relative - a Jew or a Gentile - it gives honor to the soul of the deceased, and to the Divine mission he/she fulfilled during the physical lifetime in this world.

Does one say prayers for the soul ascent of a child who dies (G-d forbid) in the womb?
No, because the soul assigned for that fetus didn't descend, or didn't fully descend, into the physical world.
(06-16-2007, 02:42 AM)rabbiyitz Wrote: I do not see any prohibition in Noahides going to an ancestral grave....Just focus on your own personal reason for being there.


Does this also apply if a Noahide goes to an ancestral grave during an idolatrous festival? I have family members who pay their respects at the beginning of November, as a custom associated with their religious tradition. My refusing to go would cause hard feelings. The dominant spirit of the visit is to pay our respects to our deceased ancestors, not to attend or participate in an actual service or worship of an idol. Nevertheless, a short prayer to an idol is likely.

Thank You,

This situation you described is included in the same category as the situation discussed in "The Divine Code," p.145, by Rabbi Moshe Weiner, in regard to a wedding celebration that has some connection with idolatry, but some participants would be angered if a Noahide family member would not attend:*

if bad feelings, anger or hatred will arise if one does not attend a wedding that is connected with idol worship, for example if a brother or a sister is getting married in a house of idol worship and most of the family will be attending, one is allowed to join the celebration even if the others engage in idol worship in honor of the occasion. But each person is individually forbidden to join in any type of celebration or prayer in which the idol is mentioned.


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