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Jewish Funeral Services

Justification of the Divine Decree

Once the grave is completely filled with earth the prayer of Tzidduk HaDin / צידוק הדין — justification of the Divine decree, is recited. With this moving prayer the mourners declare their acceptance of the Divine decree and pray to God to have mercy upon the living.

Origin of the prayer. Both the name and the substance of this prayer were probably inspired by the story of the martyrdom of Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon and his family (Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zarah 18a). When the Romans brought Rabbi Chanina to be burned at the stake, he expressed his acceptance of the Divine decree by quoting the beginning of the biblical verse from the Book of Deuteronomy 32:4 — “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice / הצור תמים פעלו, כי כל דרכיו משפט”. His wife continued the verse: “God of faithfulness and without iniquity, righteous and fair is He / אל אמונה ואין עול, צדיק וישר הוא”. Their daughter then quoted from the Book of Jeremiah 32:19“Great in counsel and mighty in action, whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the children of man, to give man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his actions / גדול העצה ורב העליליה אשר עיניך פּקוחות על כל דרכי בני אדם לתת לאיש כדרכיו וכפרי מעלליו”.

The verses from the Books of Deuteronomy 32:4 and Jeremiah 32:19 as well as from the Books of Samuel I 2:6, Job 1:21 and 12:10, Psalms 48:11, 51:6, 78:38, 92:16, 119:75 and 119:137 are interwoven into the Ashkenazic version of Tzidduk HaDin / צידוק הדין. Sephardim, however, recite a different version of Tzidduk HaDin, which is basically a selection of verses from the Books of Deuteronomy 32:4, Job 23:13, 3:18, 4:18 and 25:6, Psalms 119:137, 145:17, 119:142, 19:10, 48:11 and Ecclesiastes 8:4.

When to recite it. The original custom was to recite this prayer at the moment of death, but now the prevailing custom is to recite it either immediately before the internment or immediately after, which is more common. Tzidduk HaDin / צידוק הדין is recited during the daytime and even at dusk, but not at night. Unlike Sephardim, Ashkenazim do not recite Tzidduk HaDin on days of communal rejoicing when eulogizing is not permitted. On those days Psalm 16 is substituted for Tzidduk HaDin.

After the Tzidduk HaDin, some have a custom to recite Psalm 49 or Psalm 16.

The following sections contain the text of the Tzidduk HaDin prayer:

Tzidduk HaDin (Ashkenazim)    
Tzidduk HaDin (Sephardim)