This article is an excerpt from our Sefer
Chapter 5: The Taharah
A. The Mitzvah of Taharah and its order:
- It is a Jewish custom dating back many generations to wash, cleanse and prepare the body of the deceased prior to burial. This is formally known as “Taharah” or purification.
- Not to swerve from any of the traditions: Each and every tradition involved in the Taharah and burial of the deceased is to be strictly followed. Swerving from the community custom can lead to danger for the community.
- The spiritual effect of the Taharah: The Jewish custom is to refer to the cleansing process of the deceased as “Taharah/Purity.” The reason for this because the Taharah effects a spiritual refinement of the soul of the deceased. It cleanses the soul form its attachment to this world, and thus the soul’s knowledge of this world is decreased after the Taharah.
- Slow and methodically: The Taharah procedure is to be done slowly and methodically so that the body is pure and clean, similar to how he would prepare himself to go to Shul each Shabbos.
- The Seder Taharah for women: The same order of the Taharah that is followed for the body of a man is likewise followed for the body of a woman [with exception to the order of dressing the corpse, as will be explained].
B. The Chevra Kadisha:
- It is a Jewish tradition for each and every community to have a group of people which are designated to deal with all the matters relating to the Taharah and burial of the deceased. They are cordially known as the “Chevra Kadisha” or the Holy assembly.
- The members: Those chosen as part of the Chevra Kadisha are to be men [and women] of peace and good character. They are to be expert in the laws and customs of the Taharah and review them periodically. [Customarily, each of the Chabad Rabbeim were members of the Chevra Kadisha of their city.] Prior to someone joining the Chevra Kadisha, his knowledge is to be tested.
- Payment for work: It is permitted for the members of the Chevra Kadisha to be paid, although the widespread custom is to do so as voluntary work.
- Precedence in Taharah: The Chevra Kadisha of a city have precedence over anyone else in performing the Taharah.
- The Chevra Kadisha fast: It is customary for the members of the Chevra Kadisha in each city to choose a day throughout the year to fast and discuss matters relating to burial. The custom of many cities is to fast on the 15th of Kisleiv, and so is the Chabad custom. The custom of Jerusalem, and other cities, is to fast on the 7th of Adar. See Volume 1 Chapter 5 in Introduction for further details
- The following matters are done to the body of the deceased during the Taharah process. Each matter listed here will be elaborated on in the coming Halachos.
- The entire body is washed.
- The orifices of the deceased are to be washed and stuffed with good smelling scents.
- One combs the hair of the deceased.
- One cuts or cleans the nails of the deceased.
- The body is immersed in a Mikveh or has nine Kavin poured over him.
- One closes the eyes of the deceased.
- One closes the mouth of the deceased.
- One smears raw eggs and wine on the head of the deceased.
- The body is dressed in Tachrichin.
- A Tallis is wrapped around the body of a male.
- The Taharah process is performed to all Jews who have deceased, whether male or female, observant or non-observant.
- This is with exception to a murder victim, woman who died in childbirth, or one who died an unnatural death, as will be explained in Halachos 10-13 the details of when the Taharah is not done in such cases.
- A Nefel: A Nefel [i.e. still born, or baby who died within thirty days] receives a regular Taharah, including the placing of earth on the eyes. However, some communities are accustomed not to perform Taharah on a Nefel.
- The burial garments, known as Tachrichin, are not garbed on a Nefel. He is simply wrapped in a white sheet.
- The age-old custom is for the Taharah to take place as close as possible to the burial. [Lechatchila, it should be done within three hours from the burial, although in a time of need, it may be done earlier.]
- In the event that the burial will be delayed for some time [i.e. a few days], then the Taharah is to be done right after the death, and it is then to be repeated prior to the burial in a lighter version.
- Jew versus gentile: The Taharah may only be done by [religious] Jews. It is forbidden to be done by a gentile. In general, a gentile is not to touch the deceased at all, whether during the Taharah or afterwards.
- One is to prevent a gentile from even seeing the body.
- Man versus woman: A man is not to perform the Taharah on the body of a woman, although a woman may perform the Taharah on the body of a man. [Practically, the custom is for men to do Taharah onto men and women onto women.]
- A single man who never got married is to abstain from doing the Taharah.
- It is proper for the women to be ritually pure, and thus in most communities, the female members of the Chevra Kadisha are older women.
- A pregnant woman should not perform the Taharah, even though there is no Halachic prohibition for her to do so.
- The women are to be dressed modestly and are to cover their hair.
- If the deceased asked for an individual to be excluded from his Taharah, then his wishes are to be respected.
- The water used for the Taharah is not to be drawn by a woman.
- Relatives: A man is not to be involved in the Taharah of his father, step father, father in-law, or sisters’ husband. Likewise, a woman is not to be involved in the Taharah of her mother, step mother, mother in-law, and brother’s wife. Other relatives, however, may be involved in the Taharah. Some, however, are accustomed that no relatives partake in the Taharah.
- If no one else is available who knows how to do the Taharah, then all relatives are valid.
- Sons: Based on Kabbalah, it is proper for the sons to be involved in certain aspects of the Taharah and burial of their father. Practically, the Chabad custom is for the sons not to be involved in any of the aspects of the burial of their father, including the Taharah, carrying the body, or any other matter. [Thus, if non-relatives are not available, relatives other than the sons should be given precedence to perform the Taharah.]
- How many people: Some are accustomed to have ten people involved in the Taharah, and at the very least not less than 3-4 people.
- Immersing in a Mikveh beforehand: Those performing the Taharah are to immerse in a Mikveh beforehand.
- The Taharah room is the room in which the body is washed, cleansed and immersed in a Mikveh or nine Kavin. Every established Chevra Kadisha contains a room designated for the Taharah, which is equipped with all that they will need for the process.
- This room is often positioned and built in the entrance to the cemetery.
- Many Taharah rooms contain a Mikveh for the purpose of immersing the body.
- Other deceased people in the room: There should be no other bodies in the Taharah room while the Taharah is being performed on the given body.
- Lighting candles: The widespread custom is to light candles in the room while the Taharah is being performed. After the Taharah, a candle is to remain lit near the deceased until the Levayah.
- No spectators: Only those involved in the Taharah may remain in the Taharah room. Spectators are not to be allowed to see the Taharah.
- Prior to beginning the Taharah, all items that will be needed throughout the Taharah are to be prepared and ready for use.
- The people doing the Taharah are to verify the name, and name of the mother, of the deceased in order to say it within the customary prayers recited. Whenever the name is mentioned, it is mentioned plainly without mentioning any titles, such as Gaon and Rav.
- Immersing in a Mikveh beforehand: Those performing the Taharah are to immerse in a Mikveh beforehand.
- Hat and Gartel: Some are accustomed to wear a hat and Gartel while performing the Taharah.
- Washing hands: Prior to the Taharah, each member is to wash their hands three times, as is done upon awakening in the morning.
- They are not to dry their hands from this washing.
- After the Chevra Kadisha completes the Taharah process, they are to wash their hands three times inconsecutively, as explained in Halacha 10.
- Prayer: After the washing, the prayer recorded in Mavor Yabok is recited. In this prayer, the word Rachamim is repeated seven times, and mentions the name of the deceased and his mother. A list of prayers is recorded at the end of this chapter.
- The prayers recorded in Mavor Yabok which are said during the Taharah process may not be said near feces, and thus if there is excrement on the body, it is to be covered or washed off while reciting the prayers.
- Likewise, the private area must be covered while the prayers are recited.
- Asking forgiveness: It is proper to ask for forgiveness from the deceased prior to beginning the Taharah.
- Speaking: One is to beware not to speak of unrelated matters upon doing the Taharah.
- Looking at face: One is not to look/stare at the face of the deceased. [It is thus customary for the face to remain covered throughout the Taharah, unless it is needed to be revealed for a certain purpose.]
- Handing an item to each other: Some are accustomed not to hand each other any of the Taharah items during the Taharah process, and rather put it down first.
- Learning Mishnayos: Some are accustomed to learning Mishnayos in a nearby room while the Taharah is being performed.
- On a designated board: The body of the deceased is to rest flat on a board that has been designated for Taharah by the Chevra Kadisha. [If a board is not available, the body is to rest on a table.]
- This board is to have water poured over it before purifying the body.
- Some are accustomed to immersing the board in a Mikveh.
- One must be very careful not to turn over the Taharah board from the side that the body rested during the Taharah, as there is a danger in this matter. After the burial, the board may be overturned.
- Resting on back: The body is to rest on its back, facing up towards the ceiling, [with his feet towards the door of the room]. The body is not to rest on its stomach, face down, anytime during the Taharah process [unless absolutely necessary].
- The body is to be covered by a white sheet until the start of the Taharah.
- No part of body sticking out of board: Throughout the Taharah process, one is to be very careful that no part of the body sticks out of the Taharah board.
- Elevated head: Throughout the Taharah, the head of the deceased is to be slightly elevated. This is accomplished through placing a stone and the like under his head.
- Moving the deceased: Whenever one moves the body, it is to be done with 2-3 people as opposed to being dragged on the ground.
A. Washing the body:
- The deceased is to be washed well in all areas of the body, in order so it is cleaned of any dirt and impurities. The orifices of the deceased are especially to be washed.
- A large quantity of is to be prepared in the room for the sake of this washing.
- The deceased is placed on a board throughout the Taharah process, as stated above in Halacha 6.
- Who prepares the water: The water is not to be drawn by a woman, or gentile, or man who did not immerse in a Mikveh.
- Hot versus cold: The water used to wash the body is to be hot or warm.
- Covering the body: The body is to be covered by a sheet prior to the washing, and is to remain covered throughout the washing process, lifting it only when a specific area needs to be washed. This especially applies to the Erva area, that it should always remain covered.
- Some communities are accustomed to performing the entire washing through the sheet.
- How to wash:
- One first washes the head, including the right ear and nostril, and then the left ear and nostril.
- One then washes the rest of the body, first washing the right side and then the left side.
- One cleans between the fingers of the hands and toes on the right side and then the left side.
- The entire washing is done twice; the first time with plain water, and the second time with soap and a scrub.
- The soap is then washed off using clean water.
- After the front part of the body is washed, the body is turned on its side and the back is washed in the same way stated above.
- Some communities are accustomed to make sure that water does not enter the mouth throughout the washing process.
- By a woman, her hair is to remain covered until its turn comes to be washed.
- Areas of the body that are dirty with blood, are not to be washed.
- Prayers: Some are accustomed to reciting verses and prayers during the washing. These verses are found in Gesher Hachaim 9:1-2. A list of prayers is recorded at the end of this chapter.
- Smearing the body with oil: In previous times, it was customary to smear oil on the body in order to remove the sweat from his body. [This is no longer practiced today.]
- The orifices of the deceased are to be washed and stuffed with good smelling scents.
- Some are accustomed to performing a “Bedikas Penim/inner check” to the rectum area to clean it from excrement. This consists of pouring water inside the rectum and cleaning out the large intestine with one’s hand and a bag of soap, and repeating the process until the water comes out clean. Others, however, oppose doing an inner check in the rectum and suffice with a mere external cleaning, and so is the Chabad custom.
- If any blood is seen during the Bedika Penim, it is to immediately be ceased.
- After the washing, the rectum is stuffed with unwoven flax.
- Cutting the hair: One cuts the hair of the deceased. [However, the widespread custom today is to no longer cut the hair but to simply clean it and brush it. The hair of the head and beard is to be thoroughly combed. Any hairs that come off the body are to be buried together with him.]
- Cutting the nails: One cuts the nails of the deceased. [However, the widespread custom today is to no longer cut the nails but to simply clean them.]
- See Halacha’s 9-12. The following steps [E-G] take place after the immersion and dressing of the body, but prior to wrapping the body in the Tallis.
- Closing the eyes and smearing earth: One closes the eyes of the deceased. [The custom is to place earth and shards of earthenware on the eyes, as explained in F.]
- Closing the mouth and smearing earth: If the mouth of the deceased has opened, one is to close it through tying a string around his chin. [The custom is to place earth and shards of earthenware on the mouth, as explained in F.]
- Leaving the hands open: One is to beware that the hands of the deceased remain open and not clutched in a fist.
- Sons closing eyes: See Chapter 2 Halacha 4B and in next Halacha F!
- The custom is to place earth and shards of earthenware on the eyes [and mouth] of the deceased.
- The earth is not to be smeared on other areas of the face.
- This is done at the end of the Taharah.
- It is best to do so only after the body is placed in the casket.
- Only a small amount of earth should be placed, so it does not dirty the Tachrichin.
- This done for both a man and woman.
- The custom is to use earth from Eretz Yisrael for this purpose, as explained in H.]
- The sons: Based on Kabbalah, it is proper for the sons to smear the earth on the body of his father. Practically, the custom is for the sons not to do so.
- Some are accustomed to place the earth of Eretz Yisrael in the grave. This custom has upon what to rely.
- Preferably, earth from Har Hazeisim is to be used.
- Practically, this is done at the conclusion of the Taharah, although some do it only after lowering the body into the grave.
- It is customary to smear earth of Eretz Yisrael on the face [i.e. eyes/mouth], body, heart, palms of hand, and Bris of the deceased.
- It is best to do so only after the body is placed in the casket.
- One also places earth of Eretz Yisrael in a small bag, and places it under the head of the deceased, inside the casket.
- One also scatters earth of Eretz Yisrael within the casket, prior to placing the body and Tallis/Soveiv inside.
- One mixes raw eggs together with their shell [and wine or vinegar or water] and smears it on the head of the deceased.
- Some are accustomed to smear it throughout the body, while others are accustomed to not smear it at all, not even on the head. The Chabad custom is to smear it only on the head, and only after the Tachrichin are placed on the body.
- It is best to do so only after the body is placed in the casket.
- Some are accustomed to place pieces of wood [called Geflich] into the hands of the deceased and to close the hands. Some Poskim, however, negate this custom as it has no source, and goes against the age-old tradition that the hands of the deceased remain open. If they nevertheless desire to do so, the wood should be placed without closing the hands.
- Practically, the Chabad custom is not to do so at all, and even those who do so, many do it after the Taharah, although some delay doing it until the body is lowered into the grave.
The vessels used for the Taharah:
Some are accustomed to use only silver vessels for the Taharah.
It is permitted for the Chevra Kadisha to wear gloves upon performing the Taharah in order not to contract any diseases.
Tubes that are attached to the body are not to be removed if doing so will cause blood to ooze out. Alternatively, as soon as they are removed, one is to place a gauze on the area to stop the blood.
Clothing that contain blood:
Any clothing that contains blood is to be placed in the Aron near the feet of the deceased and buried with it.
Blood that is expelled during the Taharah:
Any blood that is expelled from the body during the Taharah is to be gathered and placed near the feet of the body and buried with it.
- The original custom of Taharah was to pour nine Kavin of water [see below for amount] onto the body of the deceased. However, in today’s times, the custom is to immerse everyone in a Mikveh instead of performing nine Kavim.
- Many Taharah rooms today contain a built in Mikveh for this purpose.
- In a time of need that the body is not able to be immersed in a Mikveh, one is to pour nine Kavim of water onto the body, as was the original custom.
- The water: The water is not to be drawn by a woman, or gentile, or man who did not previously immerse in a Mikveh.
- The water is to be drinkable according to Halacha, and is to be Kosher for washing hands in the morning.
- Removing Chatzitzas: Prior to the Tevila, or nine Kavin being poured, the body is to be washed and cleaned of all impurities, and intervals, such as bandages, and have dentures and the like removed.
- The sheet that was covering the body during the initial washing is removed during the Tevila or pouring.
- Kavanah and prayers: Upon pouring the water over the body, or immersing it in the Mikveh, the Chevra Kadisha are to intend to purify the body through doing so. They are to recite the prayers printed in Mavor Yabok upon doing the pouring or immersing. A list of prayers is recorded at the end of this chapter.
- It is customary to immerse the body three times in the Mikveh.
- Some are accustomed to hold a sheet over the genitals throughout the immersion, in order so it not be seen.
- The people holding the body should loosen their grip in order to allow water to flow in the area of their grasp.
- A Kosher Mikveh: Initially, a Kosher Mikveh is to be used for the immersion. If this is not available, then a pool of drawn water may be used for the Taharah immersion.
- If one is not able to immerse the body in a pool of water, then he is to pour nine Kavim [12.5 Liters or 3.3 gallons] of water over his body, as stated in A.
- Position of the body during the pouring: The body is to be held in a standing position and have the water poured over his head.
- The custom is to place wet straw, or a wet piece of wood, under the feet of the body prior to pouring the water.
- If enough people are not present, then the body remains in a lying position on the Taharah board.
- Some communities are accustomed to even initially perform the pouring while the body is in a lying position.
- Pouring the water: Some are accustomed for the leader of the group to pour the water.
- Upon the water being poured the Chevra Kadisha are to say “Tahur Hu” three times.
- Many are also accustomed to say the Mishneh of Rebbe Akiva Ashreichem Yisrael.
- How many buckets of water may be used: One may use up to 2 or 3 buckets of water for this purpose, pouring each bucket one after the other, if in total they contain nine Kavim of water.
- In such a case, one must begin pouring the second bucket prior to finishing the pouring of the first bucket, and so too one must begin pouring the third bucket prior to finishing the pouring of the second bucket.
- It is invalid to use four buckets of water for the accumulation of nine Kavim, [and hence if the first three buckets or last three buckets do not contain nine Kavim in total it is invalid].
- Even when pouring from one vessel, one must be careful that the water continuously falls on the body without any interval at all.
- If one entered the body halfway into a Mikveh and nine Kavim were poured on his top half, it is valid. [See Q&A regarding shower.]
Q&A on Nine Kavim
Can one perform “nine Kavim” in the shower?
Yes. One can do so by staying under the shower head for 3-4 minutes consecutively without turning the water off for even a moment in between. One is to stand straight under the shower head with his hands weakly folded over his chest as explained next. It is invalid when one is lying in the bath.
- When to say the prayers: Some say the prayers recorded in Mavor Yabok only after performing the washing and Taharah of Mikveh, or nine Kavin. Others, however, say it during the actual washing.
- Some Gedolim were accustomed to instructing that they receive Malkus and “Daled Misos Beis Din” after the Taharah process and immersion in the Mikveh.
- Drying the body: After the immersion or pouring of nine Kavin, the body is immediately wrapped in a clean and dry sheet, and placed on the Taharah board where the entire body is dried.
- Some are accustomed not to use the Taharah board but to use a different board.
- The board is to have a sheet placed on it prior to resting the body on it.
- Positioning the body: The body is to be positioned facing the opening of the room, and is not to be replaced in the same area in which the Taharah took place.
- Protecting from touch: One is to be very careful after the Taharah that a gentile does not touch the deceased. Likewise, a Baal Keri or Nida is not to touch the body.
- Not to turn over the Taharah board: One must be very careful not to turn over the Taharah board from the side that the body rested during the Taharah, as there is a danger in this matter. After the burial, the board may be overturned.
- Washing hands: [Immediately] after the Chevra Kadisha completes the Taharah process, they are to wash their hands [three times inconsecutively, being that the evil spirits escorts the person until he washes his hands].
- The burial garments are called Tachrichin, as they are used to garb the dead.
- These garments have extreme effect on the soul of the deceased, and one is thus not to swerve from any of the laws and regulations mentioned below, or from the community custom.
- Not being careful in the above can lead to danger for the community.
- The cost and elegance: One may not bury the deceased in expensive burial garments. Nonetheless, the garments are to look nice, as whoever makes pleasant looking burial garments for the deceased shows that he believes in the resurrection, and he will be blessed.
- The custom of some is to purchase nice looking flax garments.
- If the burial garment is dirty, it is to be laundered.
- If it is torn, it is to be sewn.
- The color: The custom is for all the burial garments to be white.
- The material and production: From the letter of the law, the garment may be made of any material, including a mixture of Kilayim, wool and linen. Nevertheless, it is customary to bury the dead in a linen garment [if possible].
- It is imperative that no other material be mixed with the linen or be worn by the deceased. Hence the garment is to be sewed with linen strings.
- It is customary for the burial garment to be woven by hand, and by Jewish women who are pure.
- The garment is not to contain any pockets or knots.
- The number of garments: Some are accustomed to dress the dead with three, or five, garments corresponding to the three/five soul levels. Others are accustomed to dress the dead with eight garments, corresponding to the eight garments worn by the Kohen Gadol. Each community is to follow their custom.
- The Chabad tradition is to dress the body of a man in six/seven garments:
- A turban that covers the head, neck and face;
- “Soveiv” wrapping [a white sheet].
- The Kittul: It is customary to bury the dead in a Kittul.
- The custom is to use the Kittul that he wore on Yom Kippur.
- All the buttons are removed beforehand.
- The Kittul is worn even if it is not made of linen. However, some are particular that the Kittul be made of linen.
- Dressing the corpse: A man may not dress the corpse of a woman, although a woman may dress the corpse of a man.
- The body is to be dried prior to dressing it.
- The garment is not to be placed inside out and is not to have any of its parts folded.
- One is also to be careful that no part of the garment enters the mouth of the corpse.
- While dressing the corpse, they are to have in mind that just as they are dressing the body, so too G-d is dressing the soul in Gan Eden.
- When passing the clothing from one person to another, some are accustomed not to thank each other for it.
- Some are accustomed to dress the dead in the same order as a Kohen, with the pants first and only then the shirt. Others are accustomed to begin with the head and work their way down. Each community is to follow their custom. The Chabad custom is like the former approach.
- One is not to place two garments onto the body simultaneously.
- The belt is not to be tied with a knot but is rather to be fastened with a bow. It is tied a total of 13 times.
- Some are accustomed to have the sons wrap the belt around the deceased.
- The prayers written in the Sefer Mavor Yabok are recited while they dress the dead. A list of prayers is recorded at the end of this chapter.
- The custom of all Jewry is to garb a [male] corpse in a Tallis Gadol at the time of his funeral and burial, as his form of Tachrichim.
- The custom is to wrap him in the Tallis Gadol that he wore while alive.
- If the deceased had a Shabbos and weekday Tallis, the Shabbos Tallis is to be used. If this is not available, then a new Tallis may be used.
- The deceased is not garbed with a Tallis Katan.
- There is a difference of opinion and custom as to whether a child or Bochur who did not yet begin wearing a Tallis Gadol should be wrapped in a Tallis Gadol or Tallis Katan. If a child below age three passed away, some do not wrap him in a Tallis at all.
- In Eretz Yisrael, the custom is to bury the corpse without a Tallis, although he is garbed in a Tallis throughout the funeral, until the burial. In Eretz Yisrael, one may not swerve from this custom.
- Invalidating the Tzitzis: It is disputed amongst the Poskim as to whether the corpse is to be buried in a Tallis that contains [Kosher] Tzitzis. Practically the custom is to bury him with Tzitzis, however some are accustomed to invalidating one corner of Tzitzis prior to the burial, and so is the Chabad custom. Others tie the Tzitzis to each other or tuck them into the corner.
- Wrapping the deceased in the Tallis: The Tallis is to be wrapped around the deceased and is to cover his head.
- The Soveiv wrapping: In addition to wrapping the body in a Tallis, one wraps it also in a white sheet, called a Soveiv.
- The Chabad custom is to first cover the body with a Tallis and only then with the Soveiv. Others do it in the opposite order and each is to follow his custom.
- Covering the face: In previous times it was customary to allow the faces of the wealthy to be revealed by the funeral, however, today the custom is for the face of all deceased to be covered to prevent shaming the poor.
- It is covered by both the Tallis and the Soveiv.
- The body is to be placed into the casket in a gentle and respectful manner.
- The body is placed into the coffin on his back, facing up, like a person who is sleeping.
- The hands are to be straightened and placed by his sides, with the right hand by his right side and left hand by his left side.
- One is to be careful in the above-mentioned matters [see Halacha 8E] that the mouth and eyes are closed, and his hands are open.
- Prior to closing the casket, the Chevra Kadisha requests forgiveness from the deceased.
- Once the casket is closed, it is no longer to initially be opened.
- Eretz Yisrael: In Eretz Yisrael, where the custom is to bury without a casket, the body is placed on a makeshift bed/cot, following all the details mentioned above.
14. Leaving the Taharah room/home:
- Upon taking the body out of the Taharah room, or home housing the body prior to the funeral, the body is to be the first to leave the room, and all the people inside are then to follow. However, prior to the exit of the body, it is permitted for people to come and go. Likewise, those people who are needed to carry the body, may be the first to exit in the process of carrying.
- Some are accustomed to place shattered earthenware by the entrance of the door upon taking the body out. This is not the Chabad custom.
- The body is to exit with its feet first.
- Upon the body leaving the Taharah room, the verses of Yosheiv Besisar are to be recited.
- Charity is to be given at this time in merit of the elevation of the soul of the deceased.
- Kaddish: In the event that the sons will not be participating in the funeral or burial [i.e. is in other country, or Minhag Yerushalayim] then Kaddish is to be recited by the sons prior to the body leaving the room. The custom of many in the Diaspora, however, is for Kaddish to be said only after the burial, and not during the Levaya.]
- Not to place one coffin on top of another: One is not to place the casket of the deceased on top of another casket that contains a body, and doing is a grave danger.
- A murder victim is to be buried in the state that he is found.
- He does not go through the Taharah process.
- None of his clothing is to be removed, not even his shoes.
- If the victim was murdered by a gentile, then this applies even if the murder victim does not contain open injuries which release blood, such as if he was drowned or strangled.
- The Tachrichin: The custom is not to make the same Tachrichin for the murder victims, as is done for others who have passed away, but rather to bury them in their clothing and then place a [white] sheet over them as is done for others who pass away.
- Blood stained clothing and earth: All material that has absorbed the blood of the victim, such as clothing and earth, is to be buried with him. Hence, the custom is to dig around the area that the murder victim was found and to bury that earth together with the body.
Burying the victim with a knife:
Some are accustomed to burying a murder victim with a knife in his hands, representing the fact that he will avenge his death. It is forbidden to get benefit from this knife if the body becomes unearthed.
The murder weapon:
It is forbidden to get benefit from a murder weapon, such as a murder knife, and it is to be buried with the victim.
The murder victim does not rest until the murderer is killed:
See Volume 1 Chapter 5 Halacha 15!
Saying Hashem Yikom Damo:
It brings satisfaction to the soul of the murder victim when one says “Hashem Yikom Damo/May Hashem avenge his death” after mentioning his name.
- The widespread custom today isto perform the Taharah to any Yoledes who dies due to birth, and to dress her in Tachrichin, and to then place her clothing on top of her Tachrichin, and then above that to place the sheet.
- Removing the child from a pregnant woman who died: It is widely accustomed to remove the fetus from the womb. Practically, while spiritual tactics and gentle massaging may be used to have her expel the child after death, one may not surgically remove it. See Volume 1 Chapter 5 Halacha 16!
17. Taharah for person who died an unnatural death [i.e. drowning, blunt force injury, accident, etc]:
- One who dies tragically due to unnatural causes, such as due to blunt injury and the like, then if the person contains open wounds which release blood at the time of death, then he is to be buried in the state that he is found [without Taharah or Tachrichin], just as explained above regarding a murder victim. See Volume 1 Chapter 5 Halacha 17!
- One who committed suicide, is to have Taharah performed, is to be garbed in Tachrichin, and is to be buried in a Jewish cemetery [an 8 Amos distance from other graves]. [This applies even if his clothing is stained with blood.]
- A Jewish male who was not circumcised during his lifetime, due to whatever reason, including a child who died prior to circumcision [i.e. Nefel/stillborn], is to be circumcised [by a Jew] prior to the burial.
- The foreskin is to be buried on its own.
- A blessing is not recited over the circumcision.
- He is also to be named at that time, if he was never given a name [i.e. Nefel].
- Some are accustomed to performing the circumcision during the Taharah process, and not by the burial.
- He is circumcised with any sharp material, such as a rock, glass, or knife.
- The circumcision may be done even at night.
- Peria is not performed.
- If the child was buried without a circumcision, it is permitted for the child to be unearthed and circumcised. See Chapter 10 Halacha 4 for the full details of this matter!
Darkei Chesed p. 264
The names of Hashem/G-d in the above texts have been altered in order to avoid printing the Divine name unnecessarily, and prevent sacrilege of the name. However, they are to be read regularly, with saying the actual name!