This paper aims at contributing to the evolving debate over the rights of the dead by providing it with concrete empirical socio-legal context. A pioneering study of succession disputes, conducted in Israel, exposes a gap between a prominent judicial promise to respect the wishes and guard the dignity of the deceased testator, and the actual action taking place behind this rhetoric. The findings reveal that the testator’s dignity and wishes are trampled during testamentary procedures, when demeaning allegations about his or her mental and physical competence are allowed, and personal and medical information is exposed, and when the judge approves settlements that diverge from the testator’s last will in the name of familial reconciliation, even though in most cases there are no nuclear family ties between the rival parties. These findings are discussed in the light of an original typology mapping the theoretical controversies over posthumous rights, to highlight some of the possible normative implications of the project for the law on the books and law in action related to property division after death.
The Soloveitchik family is one of the most distinguished rabbinic families in modern Jewish history. Despite the fact that the Soloveitchik family includes diverse varieties of Orthodoxy among its members, tensions between the different branches rarely surface publicly. However, in 1984, on the occasion of a publication in honor of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik’s 80th birthday, this unwritten rule was broken. Unnamed followers of the hard-line Brisk faction in Jerusalem, founded by R. Yitzhak Zev (Velvel) Soloveitchik, fiercely denounced Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, and his supporters, in a venomous broadside that briefly circulated in Israel and then disappeared from sight. It is being published here for the first time, bringing to the light of day sharp divergences in perspective among Orthodox Jews of the same family.