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Why was a Jewish Zaka volunteer summoned to bury 50-year-old human skull?

Zaka colunteer with human skull
A ZAKA volunteer with human skull

The Yeshiva World reports that an elderly doctor in Rishon L’Tzion called ZAKA Tel Aviv last week with a highly unusual request – the burial of a human skull that she’s had in her possession for fifty years.

ZAKA is an international non-profit Jewish organization that assists ambulance crews to identify victims of terrorism, road accidents and other disasters, and where necessary gather body parts and spilled blood for proper burial.

The skull was part of a body (apparently a Jew) donated to science and the doctor has studied anatomy on that very skull and then saved it as a memento in a place of honor in her living room, unaware that it is forbidden by Jewish law.

One of the doctor’s relatives who recently became closer to Yiddishkeit told the doctor that keeping the skull is completely forbidden and the skull must be brought to burial. The doctor, extremely perturbed that she had unwittingly done something wrong for so many years, called ZAKA Tel Aviv.

A ZAKA volunteer retrieved the skull from the doctor’s home and buried it. “We learned that there’s no boundary or time limit to Chessed shel Emmes,” he said.

Chessed shel Emmes translated from Hebrew to English means "True Kindness." It is often used in Torah teachings to describe acts which are performed for the dead, defined as "True Kindness," because the benefactor can never be repaid and is therefore not doing it for any ulterior motive.

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