Funeral orations in which the praises of the departed are sung (in the older Jewish tradition literally ‘sung’, in a special mourning chant); Heb. hesped. There are references to eulogies in the Bible; the two best known are Abraham's lament over Sarah (Genesis 23: 2) and David's lament over Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1: 12). The Talmud (Moed Katan 21b) gives a list of eulogies over famous Rabbis from which it appears that eulogies were in poetic form. The Talmud has a lengthy discussion (Sanhedrin 46b–47a) on whether the eulogy is in honour of the dead or of the living. The practical difference here is seen where the deceased left in his will that he was not to be eulogized. If the eulogy is out of respect for the living, the man's instructions can be disregarded since the honour being paid is not to him but to his family. The conclusion is that the eulogy is to pay respect to the dead, so that if such an instruction in made it must be heeded. One hears, occasionally, of prominent scholars who, out of humility, left instruction that no eulogies were to be recited over them.
Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.