Cemetery Behavior

It is of paramount importance that people properly conduct themselves while at the cemetery.

Our holy Torah tells us that the cemetery is on the same spiritual level as that of a Synogague. Thus, we need to be careful to act in a dignified manner, both in thoughts and actions. We should be careful not to do the following,

  1. Benefit – We are not allowed to benefit from the cemetery in any way. Thus, we are not allowed to walk for pleasure at the cemetery, or benefit in a similar way. (YD 364:1 forbids a built grave, but permits the ground. Taz 1 brings more stringent opinions )
  2. Clothes – The funeral is not a fashion show. The clothes should be dignified, but modest. “Showy†and or tight, outfits is an abomination to the dead and should be avoided.
  3. Eating – Eating should not take place at the cemetery. (Rema 368:1)
  4. Stepping over Gravestones – Consistent with Jewish Law, people are prohibited from stepping directly over a grave. (Taz 364:1, but he permits to step over for a short time when taking the deceased to burial.)
  5. Cohen — In general, a Cohen is only allowed to become ritually impure according to Torah law to his father, mother, son, daughter, brother from his father, unmarried sister from his father and wife (kosher) (yd 373:4) and therefore he may enter the cemetery and even escort/carry the decease until the grave is covered. The above is true only if the Cohen will not come within 6 feet of another grave (yd 373:7). According to the Chazon Ish, one should be stringent until 7.5 feet, also for laws below

Mocking the Dead

Now that the deceased has entered the next world, “The World of Truthâ€, the value of mitzvahs becomes blatantly clear to the deceased as to the value of mitvahs. In fact, our Holy Torah tells us that the deceased craves to do more mitzvahs, and thinks, “if only I could do more†That said, participating in mitzvahs in front of the dead is considered “mocking of the dead†and is prohibited within six feet of any grave.

Thus, the following mitzvahs are prohibited

  1. Studying Torah – This is prohibited as well as reciting psalms. One should not study Torah, or recite the Psalms, or conduct formal, daily services within approximately six feet of a grave. (unless it is for the honor of the deceased – yd 344:16, 367:3)
  2. Wearing Tefilin — One should not carry tefillin or a Torah with him into the cemetery. (yd 3672,3 forbids wearing Tefilin unless they are covered, or carrying a Torah

Wearing Tzitzis — One wearing tzitzis should be careful to tuck them inside of his garment before entering into the cemetery (There is a disagreement as to whether one should tuck them in 6 feet from the grave or 7.5 feet) (367:4)

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