A Jewish ethical will, crafted with thought and insight, can memorialize your legacy and story for eternity. Our Jewish ethical wills writing tips will make your Tzava’ah unique in the genre.

What echo will your life story leave in the world? For centuries, Jews have answered that question by turning to a unique genre of literature: the Jewish ethical will. How to draft a will of this kind takes knowledge, insight, and inspiration – but we’ve got you covered.

Writing a Will: The Ethical and Spiritual Side

Legal wills and advance healthcare directives are crucial documents that, together, comprise what is commonly referred to as a Jewish will. However, another kind of document is also sometimes called a Jewish will: the Tzava’ah (or zavaah, the Jewish ethical will). Although an ethical will is a separate document that your lawyer will not formally append to your civil will, many people do store it with their legal will as a matter of practical convenience.

A beautiful age-old custom, writing a Jewish ethical will is an inspiring and self-revelatory process that will push you to define for yourself what you see as your greatest accomplishments, contributions, and eternal wishes. Jewish ethical wills are unique in that they convey spiritual and ethical values, life lessons, and personal beliefs. While Jewish ethical wills are therefore not legally binding document, but it serves as a way to pass on your values and wisdom to posterity.

Leave a Lasting Imprint on Hearts & Souls

With a charitable bequest to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness tzedakah in your will, you set us up as your messengers to replace difficulty and sadness with joy for many years to come.

Let’s Discuss Your Options

Leave a Lasting Imprint on Hearts & Souls

cases for Reb Meir Baal Haness tzedakah food distribution

With a charitable bequest to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness tzedakah in your will, you set us up as your 
messengers to replace difficulty 
and sadness with joy for many 
years to come.

Let’s Discuss Your Options

What Should Be Included In An Ethical Will?

Ask people what are common motifs of a Jewish ethical will, and you’ll get as many answers as people you ask. Still, there are some tried-and-true aspects of the genre which are important to keep in mind as you sit down to pen your own Jewish ethical will.

1. Reminisce about the past:

This is a great way to find a lawyer. When you know your family member or friend had a positive experience with the lawyer, you’ll have more confidence in that lawyer’s skill. Ask questions like, “Was the lawyer helpful? Did he answer your questions? How much did he charge?” to get a feeling of what the experience using a specific lawyer might be. You can check online lawyer directories to get some more names of local lawyers in the estate planning field.

2. Request, spiritually:

Many ethical wills, unsurprisingly, contain requests of a spiritual or ethical nature. But the kinds of requests obviously vary from person to person and family to family, and should be personalized so they are meaningful to your nearest and dearest. Across the board, though, it is common to ask that various practices which were meaningful to the deceased be perpetuated by descendants, specifically on the anniversary of death. For example, one can ask that charity be given on the yahrtzeit (day of death anniversary), or that a special joint family Torah learning project be undertaken as a merit. If a specific charitable cause spoke to you or your life work, be sure to mention it – carrying on the legacy of your giving provides meaning and comfort to mourners.

3. Exhort, wisely:

Conversely, it is also common to see requests specifying the importance of avoiding certain behaviors, practices, or temptations. For example, one famous Jewish ethical will authored by the Chasam Sofer – the illustrious nineteenth century Rav of Pressburg, Bratislava – beseeched readers of the will to stay away from works of literature authored by dubious personalities. When that request was penned, religious skepticism had just begun to gather momentum in nineteenth century Europe, and when the will was read out to the entire community at his funeral, its words and insight brought the assembled to tears. Until this very day, that exhortation is loyally upheld by descendants and disciples alike.

4. Focus on family:

Ethical wills can also be used as a way to further family unity. One nineteenth century rabbi, for example, used his ethical will as an opportunity to instruct his children to always send good wishes to siblings on each other’s birthdays. The Vilna Gaon, the figure whose Torah scholarship has lit up the galaxy of learning since the eighteenth century, similarly requested of his wife and daughters that they avoid lashon hora (speaking ill of others).

5. Keep it personal:

Those reading your Jewish ethical will want to hear your personality and life story reflected in its contents. The humor and style that are uniquely yours should be incorporated as you write this part of your Jewish will. Make sure your stories have detail: a good rule of thumb is that at least one anecdote should be used to more strongly bring home the point of every request. Ask yourself: can the person reading my ethical will see, feel, or smell a part of an experience that I am describing?

6. Keep it genuine:

Avoid vague generalities and cliches about spirituality, and try to stay true to your own voice by mentioning the life experiences which shaped you – and your ethical will. Be forthright about your accomplishments (while acknowledging your gratitude to G-d for those successes!), but don’t be afraid to own up to mistakes at the same time. Future generations will learn best from a human ethical will, and recounting errors and obstacles you overcame can inspire others to tackle their own challenges head-on.

An Ethical Will that Gives: Supporting Rebbe Meir Baal Haness Tzedakah

Jews, by nature, are givers. Not for nothing are charity and loving kindness core principles of Judaism’s world view. Your personal legacy of giving, as memorialized in your Jewish ethical will, can live on through the countless individuals and families who will benefit from the support and services provided by Rebbe Meir Baal Haness Tzedakah. You can take pride in knowing that your ethical will will inspire and actuate charitable giving by those nearest and dearest to you. Simultaneously, it will also empower Rebbe Meir Baal Haness Tzedakah’s mission to spread happiness and ease pain for the poverty-stricken. In this way, you can make a powerful point about the centrality of giving to all those who will seek to perpetuate your legacy and memory.

Requesting in your Jewish ethical will that a charitable bequest to Rebbe Meir Baal Haness Tzedakah be distributed as a merit to your soul means that you will inspire future generations to follow your example of selflessness and generosity. Moreover, those acts of charity, as fueled by your request, will exponentially accrue merit to your soul. Your actions – as a testament to your dedication to the values of compassion, empathy, and community that are at the heart of our Jewish heritage – will have an infinite ripple effect. Not only that: through your thoughtful and impactful request, you will truly embody the spirit of Rebbe Meir Baal Haness in a way that will leave an indelible mark on the world for years to come.

Leaving a charitable bequest to RMBH charities (Tax ID# 11-3471447) is a meaningful way to support individuals and families in need, perpetuating your legacy of kindness and compassion. Don’t hesitate to reach out to RMBH charities for guidance and support as you consider including a charitable bequest in your will.

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