There is nothing in the law of Moses that comes close to advocating prayers for the dead.
..But today prayers for the dead form part of the Jewish services. The prayers offered on behalf of the deceased consist of: Recitation of Psalms; Reciting a thrice daily communal prayer in Aramaic known as “Kaddish” which actually means “Sanctification” (or “[Prayer of] Making Holy”) which is a prayer “In Praise of God”; or other special remembrances known as Yizkor; and also a Hazkara said either on the annual commemoration known as the Yahrzeit as well on Jewish holidays.
El Molai Rachamim is the actual Jewish prayer for the dead although less well know then the Mourner’s Kaddish. While the Kaddish does not mention death but rather affirms the steadfast faith of the mourners in God’s goodness.
Traditional Judaism: Annual remembrances
“Yahrtzeit”, יאָרצײַט, means “Time (of) Year” in Yiddish [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=139&letter=J] . (Alternative spellings include “yortsayt” (using the YIVO standard Yiddish orthography), “Yohr Tzeit”, “yahrzeit,” and “yartzeit.”) The word is also used by non-Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews, and refers to the annual anniversary of the day of death of a relative. Yahrtzeit literally means “time of [one] year”.
The commemoration is known in Ladino as “nahala”. It is widely observed, and based on the Jewish tradition that mourners are required to commemorate the death of a relative.
Mourners required to fulfill this observance are the children, siblings, spouses and parents of the deceased. The custom is first discussed in detail in “Sefer HaMinhagim” (pub. 1566) by Rabbi Isaac Tyrnau.
The “Yahrtzeit” falls annually on the Hebrew date of the deceased relative’s death according to the Hebrew calendar.
“Yizkor” (“remembrance”) prayers are recited by those that have lost either one or both of their parents. There is a custom that those who do not recite the “Yizkor” prayers leave the synagogue until the completion of Yizkor; the symbolic reason for this is to respect the life of one’s living parents. Some rabbinic authorities regard this custom as a superstition.
The “Yizkor” prayers are recited four times a year, and are intended to be recited in a synagogue with a minyan; if one is unable be with a minyan, one can recite it without one. These four “Yizkor” services are held on Yom Kippur, Shmini Atzeret, on the eighth day of Passover in most of the world (in Israel on the seventh), and on the second day of Shavuot (in Israel on the only day of Shavuot). In the “Yizkor” prayers God is asked to remember and grant to the souls of the departed.
In Sephardic custom there is no Yizkor prayer, but “Hashkabóth” are recited on Yom Kippur for all members of the community who have died during the last year. A person called up to the Torah may also request the reader to recite “Hashkabah” for his deceased parents.
Prayer for the dead is well-documented within early Christianity, both among prominent “Church Fathers” and the Catholic community in general. In Eastern Orthodoxy Catholics pray for “such souls as have departed with faith, but without having had time to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance”. In the Catholic Church the assistance that the dead receive by prayer on their behalf is linked with the process of purification known as purgatory. While prayer for the dead continues in both these traditions and in those of Oriental Orthodoxy and of the Assyrian Church of the East, many Protestant, Messianic Jews and Biblical Judaism groups reject the practice.
In Pagan Rome, purgatory was equally held up before the minds of men; but there, there seems to have been no hope held out to any of exemption from its pains.
Go wherever we may, in ancient or modern times, we shall find that Paganism leaves hop after death for sinners, who, at the time of their departure, were consciously unfit for the abodes of the blest. For this purpose middle state has been feigned, in which, by means of purgatorial pains, guilt unremoved in time may in a future would be purged away, and the soul be made meet for final beatitude. In Greece the doctrine of a purgatory was inculcated by the very chief of the philosophers.
In Egypt, substantially the same doctrine of purgatory was inculcated. But when once this doctrine of purgatory was admitted into the popular mid, then the door was opened for all manner of priestly extortions. Prayers for the dead ever go hand in hand with purgatory; but no prayers can be completely efficacious without the interposition of the priests; and no priestly functions can be rendered unless there be special pay for them. Therefore, in every land we find the Pagan priesthood “devouring widows’ houses,” and making merchandise of the tender feelings of sorrowing relatives, sensitively alive to the immortal happiness of the beloved dead.
Second Maccabees 12:39-46 and Prayers for the dead
This passage from Aprocrypha says nothing about “purgotory” we make the note also for catholics as they hold that as doctrine. It is merely the interpretation of the writer concerning a bizarre incident. A closer reading of this text indicates four things . First, second Macabees makes not direct reference to purgatory. Second, the passage is self-contradictory and inconsistent. It states that these dead warriors were idolaters, killed by G-d due to their idolatry. Third there is nothing in the law of Moses that comes close to advocating prayers for the dead. What we find in Second Macabees and rabbinical writings surrounding these events are the syncretistic merging of pagan ideas with Israelite religion. Fourth , the Aprocrypha , -the same like Talmud–, while useful for background information, is full of historical inaccuracies, myth, superstition and idea contrary to the rest of the Scripture. The anonymous author of Second Maccabees does not purport to speak for G-d, but rather merely to cndense some five volumes of a man named Jason of Cyrene (2 Macc 3:23). We cannot and should not look to Second Maccabee for Scripture-based doctrines.
First Peter 3:18:-22 and the idea of Post-Death Probation.
What Peter sets forth in this passage is not Yeshua the Messiah going to ‘purgatory’ or hell to preach to people in order to help them get to ‘heaven’. Peter simply states that the crucified and dead Messiah ws raised by the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit by whom Noah preached to the people of his day prior to the flood “long ago” (v. 20). Those souls now in prison (hell) are there because they refused to heed Noah’s call to repentance and faith. Messiah is compared to the ark of Noaj- if people enter into Messiah by Faith and inmersion, they will be saved from G-d’s final judgment just as Noah and his family were saved from the flood by faith and the ark. The passage describes no second chance for repentence after death. Even less does it promise universal salvation.
The Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) testifies, it is forbidden to make use of pagan-sources.
On this blog Hineni writers will put forth some little known diseases in “Orthodox” , “Rabbinic” or “Talmudic” Judaism which could use some healing, we mean — obliteration. (we’ not into promoting ignorance or complete censorship — by obliteration we mean obliterating it from among texts which are treated with holiness, and to obliterate such texts as texts central to Torah-study. Torah-scholars should be aware of major idolatrous practices and thoughts in order to warn against such things and to know it when one sees it.)
If someone wants to water down the intent of these texts by going to far extremes to make them be in accordance with Torah and rid them of their idolatrious meaning, be my guest; but do not deceive yourself into thinking that the original intent of these texts become hidden; to the contrary, they will remain painfully clear to those who read them with open eyes and a mind purified from foolishness, as well as to the ignorant masses who neither have the patience nor the developed skills of reason to understand any complex rectifications of such texts with true Torah principles.
The truth is that in the end, eventually, we must do as we are commanded and destroy such teachings together with the texts which clearly propose them. As my friends have heard me say in the past, coming from one who once studied the New Test. with full devotion and seriousness — it is EASIER to rectify the teachings of the New Test.(Good News) with true Torah principles [understand it in a way that does not contradict Torah] than it is to rectify certain corruptions which have come to be identified with the terms “Orthodox” or “Rabbinical” or “Talmudic” and Authentic Judaism during the past 800 or so years. Read more here