In Judaism, often good deeds done in memory of a dead person are designated as an "ILUI NESHAMA" – an elevation of the soul or spirit. It is believed that the prayers of "ILUI NESHAMA" help elevate the deceased's soul to paradise.
According to the Talmud this concept is in many places, among them in tractate Shabbat (152b-153a): “For twelve months the body still persists, and the soul ascends and descends; after twelve months, the body is nullified and the soul ascends and from then on never descends”.
In the Sephardic tradition (Jews of Spanish-Portuguese origin), during the "Mishmara", also referred to as "Arayat" (for Jews of Eastern European origin referred to as "Yahrzeit") it is customary for visitors to say a short prayer for "ILUI NESHAMA" - elevation of the soul (or spirit) of the deceased when they eat something. This is done during the week of Shiva, in the 30 days memorial after burial, after the 11 months period of mourning - for the memorial of the first year of the death, and during each subsequent yearly "Mishmara" ("Arayat" each yearly anniversary of the death | memorial),
The impact of a person’s acts may not always be evident until after their passing. A person may during their lifetime inspire other people to study Torah, engage in acts of kindness, and so on; there is no question that the deceased will receive a reward. But sometimes the acts done during the deceased’s lifetime continues to inspire others after their passing. That is why a person’s achievements continue to be re-evaluated even after their departure from this world.
The Zohar identifies the various stages of the journey of the soul with a series of judgments (Vayakhel, II:199). At various times after death, a new judgment is done to re-evaluate a person’s impact on the world of the living, and with each re-evaluation the deceased's soul continues to ascend more and more.
Some scholars have written that each "Mishmara" ("Arayat", anniversary of the death) is a day of judgment; thus it is a natural time for the family, friends or other people who were influenced by the deceased to demonstrate the continuing positive impact of the deceased's life and deeds, by continuing their legacy of kindness and good deeds in the deceased's honour and precious memory.
Pondering the concept of the "ILUI NESHAMA" should induce us to reflect on the lives of the deceased loved ones and consider how their personal example can continue to inspire us to continue to do good deeds.
Mona Daniella was a sensitive, gentle, kind, and caring person. She epitomized "Chessed", Loving-Kindness. She fought extremely hard. In a 2014 email I wrote to her that she was the bravest, the brightest, the most determined and the most resilient. Indeed she was. And much more.