Jewish practices related to the Catholic Faith?


i was wondering if the practice of asking for a saints intercession, and praying for the soul of someone deceased (in a purgatorial state) is something that comes directly from the Jewish faith.

I’ve been doing some research and discovered that Jews resight a prayer called the Mourners Kaddish, which aids the soul of the dead while they are in a state of purification.

also, Jews also may ask a deceased tzaddik to pray on their behalf.

Are these Jewish practices old enough to influence the Catholic faith. if not when did Catholics start these practices?

Catholics have prayed for the dead as early as St. Pauls letter in second Timothy 1:18.

The Jews prayed for the dead as evidenced by the sacrifices for the sinners in 2 Maccabees, so this was definitely pre-Christianity.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah is very similar to a Catholic Confirmation. In both religions, you are considered as an adult in the faith during these cermonies

This is a (n extremely common) misunderstanding of the Catholic sacrament.


You are right…it has Jewish roots…

The first real blow to this interpretation came when I read Peter Brown’s book, The Cult of Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity.

Brown challenged my view that the place of saints and relics in the church was a mere holdover from paganism, and that the practice was somehow peripheral to true Christianity. Instead, Brown painted a picture of ancient Christianity and paganism in which relics were indispensable to the former, and repulsive to the latter. Far from a holdover from paganism, the place of relics in the Church appeared as something intensely Jewish, Hebraic, and Old Testament. Pagans, like Julian-the-Apostate, found the practice revolting and legislated against it. (Paganism, with its notions of ritual purity, had strictly delimited the realm of divine worship and neatly separated it from the realm of corpses and the dead.)

The Jewish Church did not have any way to officially promulgate doctrine (and this is still the case today). There is no such thing as an “official” Jewish teaching. Most teachings are a consensus of rabbis but carry no definitive authority.

In Biblical times the Jews were divided on even the question of an afterlife (and any spiritual existence other than God - even angels were disputed). Paul used this difference of opinion to distract the Sanhedrin, who had put him on trial:

Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.) [Acts 23:6-8]

This caused a knock-down, drag-out fight and angered the Sadducees so much that they plotted to kill Paul in an ambush of 40 men - the plot was thwarted by the protection of the Roman governor.

Obviously, if you don’t even believe in an afterlife, you won’t believe that prayers affect it.

Yup, in addition to the Mourners Kaddish prayed on behalf of the dead, it is a Jewish practice to light candles on behalf of the dead.

it seems like most of the info on Jewish people asking for intercession of deceased people can be found mostly in the Babylonian Talmud. which is around 100ad.

Maccabees is from one or two hundred years BC.

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