JEWISH FUNERAL CEREMONY IN 18TH CENTURY AMSTERDAM
“Les Acafoth ou les sept tours, autour le cercueil” and “Les Assistans jettent de la terre sur le corps”. Copper engravings on one sheet made by Bernard Picard in 1723 for “Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde”. Coloured by a later hand. Size. (plate): both 16,5 x 21,5 cm.
The upper scene shows us the hakafot ceremony. With Portugese Jews in 18th century Amsterdam, after the coffin is nailed down, ten chosen persons of the most considerable relations and friends of the deceased turn seven times round the coffin, and all the time offer up their prayers to God for his departed soul. The inscription on the wall in the back mentions the name of the deceased: David Spinoza, and his profession “administrator”. And below “Charity escapes death” (צדקה תציל ממות).
In the cemetery during the burial on the second scene, an eulogy is given, praising the good deeds of the deceased. After the coffin is lowerd into the grave, those present throw earth on the coffin by hand or with a shovel. Matter returns to the earth from which it originated; but the soul returns to God who gave it.