Title: From This World to the Next
By Rabbi Gavriel Goldman
Over the past year and a half, death has cast its long shadow over our community and the world. Be it from Covid, from tragedy, or simply from old age, many members of our community have had to deal with both practical and halachic aspects of death and mourning. In his book From This World to the Next Rabbi Gavriel Goldman paves a unique path in the world of aveilut literature, guiding the reader through both arenas.
Any English book on aveilut will inevitably draw comparisons with Rabbi Maurice Lamm’s The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning. In addition, Maggid has already produced a quality guide to hilchot aveilut by Rabbi David Brofsky. However, this book takes a unique approach that differentiates it from other works on this topic.
This book is set up fascinatingly, as it is broken down into various sections, which not only deal with theoretical halachic aspects of death and mourning but also the practicalities. For example, regarding the process of burial, it is easy to assume that a book on the subject would deal with the liturgy, and perhaps the emotions and procedures involved. However, Rabbi Goldman goes far beyond that, enumerating important points such as how chevra kadishas in both the United States and Israel work, the importance of sending out funeral announcements, and more. He also engages with tough and controversial topics, such as suicide and organ donation.
These topics lead to a sizable 600-plus page volume, but the book is incredibly well organized, allowing ease of reading for one who is studying the topic for a quick search for a particular halacha. Additionally, Rabbi Goldman provides an exhaustive dictionary of aveilut-related terms in the back of the book.
It is also comforting that Rabbi Goldman is not merely writing as a scholar and talmid chacham, but also as a communal rabbi in Kfar Adumim and the head of the Binyamin region’s burial society. This, of all things, perhaps brings the most clarity to his writing, as he has significant experience with the topic at hand.
One hopes to never have to purchase a book on death and mourning. However, in From This World to the Next Rabbi Goldman fulfills the dictum of Akiva Ben Mahalalel, “Know from where you come, and where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give an account and reckoning.” While our own deaths and the inevitable demise of our loved ones is a scary thought, Rabbi Goldman guides his readers through the tension and pain in a clear, concise, and much-needed path from this world into the next one.