Purchasing Life insurance

Purchasing Life insurance:

Many Poskim[1] rule that it is permitted [and one is to be encouraged[2]] to purchase life insurance and doing so is not a sign of lack of Bitachon and the like. Others[3] however take a colder stance towards its purchase.[4] There is no clear directive of the Rebbe in either direction[5] although in one instance the Rebbe spoke negatively about the matter.[6]

A Kosher policy: One who decides to purchase a life insurance policy must verify that the policy does not involve any Ribis prohibitions, if the policy is taking place through a Jewish owned company or agent. Likewise, some policies ask the owner to allow or provide an autopsy report in order to make a claim in the event of death.  According to Halacha, it is forbidden to sign away the rights for autopsy on a Jewish corpse, due to it being desecration of the dead.



[1] Lechem Shlomo Y.D. 2/67 [Shlomo Zalman Ehrinreich, Rav of Silvaniei 1863-1944]; Peri Hasadeh 2/44; Kochavei Yitzchak 1/22 in the name of the Shinaver Rav; Igros Moshe 2/111; 4/48; Beir Moshe 8/118; Cheshev Haeifod 3/50; Yabia Omer 3/85; Rav Elyashiv in Koveitz Teshuyvos 1/19; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 4/325; Kav Hachaim 26

[2] Rav Meir Shapiro, the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, had a very large life insurance policy, even though he unfortunately had no children. His reason was that since fundraising for the yeshiva was completely on his shoulders, he was concerned that in the event of his premature death, the yeshiva would be forced to close. We see that he was not concerned with any of the above issues and felt that purchasing insurance was an appropriate course of action.

[3] Even Yisrael 9/161 writes he does not feel right to obligate people to buy life insurance as perhaps the fact that one ‘s family is dependent on him monetarily is a reason in heaven to keep him alive. Likewise, it will remove the great Mitzvah and Zechus that Klal Yisrael has in providing for orphans and widows; See Teshuvos Vehanhagos ibid

[4] The reason: Several reasons and rebuttals are suggested for why one should not purchase life insurance.

1) The Gemara [Sota 48b] states that anyone who has money in his pocket and states “How will I live tomorrow” is amongst those that have little faith. From here it is possible to learn that one should not worry about what will happen after 120 years. On the other hand, the same way one is to continue working each day even though he has money in the bank to last him until tomorrow, so too he should make a life insurance policy. The Gemara’s words mean to say that one should not worry about the issue, however certainly one is to place physical effort to achieve tomorrow’s pay. [Igros Moshe ibid; Yabia Omer ibid]

2) One is not to open the mouth of the Satan and begin discussing matters of death. [See Brachos 19a and 60a; Kesubos 8b; M”A 239/7] Since the policies are based on the death of the policy holder, and it mentions his death in various places of the document, therefore one should not make a policy. On the other hand the Rivash 114 [based on Menachos 42a and Beis Yosef Yoreh Deah 339] rules that one may purchase a Kever while alive, and hence we see that doing matters that prepare for death is not considered that one is opening the mouth of the Satan. [Lechem Shlomo ibid]

3) Perhaps the fact that one’s family is dependent on him monetarily is a reason in heaven to keep him alive. If one purchases a life insurance policy then this merit will disappear. [Even Yisrael ibid] A counter claim to this is that to contrary, having a life insurance is a Segula for long life being that the Mazal of life insurance companies is to be wealthy, and hence prevent thjem from losing money by having to pay out a policy in the event of death. [Kochavei Yitzchak ibid]

[5] In response to the authors query addressed to Rabbi Leibal Groner regarding the Rebbe’s position on life insurance, and the rumors that the Rebbe encouraged it he replied: I have never heard that the Rebbe should encourage it.

[6] In Sichas 13th Tamuz 1951 the Rebbe stated as follows: “The concept of selling life insurance is a business from the side of Kelipa. Instead of going and announcing to people that they can purchase life, he announces on the contrary that one is to already now to arrange what will happen after 120 years, and therefore everyone should buy a policy through giving a small amount each year and thus being secure that when the time come they will take care of him monetarily. This job requires great effort and is contrary to logic: Why does one need to speak with others about what will happen after 120 years when he can speak to him about joyful matters. The Rebbe Rashab once told a Chassid who desired to write a will which included giving money to charity, that he should give the money now to charity and not wait for later.”

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