Nov 22, 2007

interesting psak from Rav Elyashiv

Somebody's mother died last week. As the funeral concluded at the funeral home in Jerusalem (Shamgar) the procession began towards the Mt. of Olives (Har Ha'Zeisim). Rav Noibert who was present due to his being close with the family asked the driver of the hevra kadisha what route he would be using to get to Har Ha'Zeisim.

The driver described the route, which included a tunnel. Rav Noibert said that that route is problematic because as the van carrying the body goes through the tunnel, there might be a kohein in the tunnel driving (in another car). The hevra kadisha van would then be causing the kohein to become tamei (without his even knowing about it).

The driver at the time had no choice to divert from his route and had to go through the tunnel anyway, despite Rav Noibert's objection.

The kicker of the story is, that when the van actually got to the tunnel he had to drive through,, it turned out the tunnel was closed for roadworks and he had to go via an alternate route.

This was looked at as being Heaven sent because Rav Noibert had just paskened that the tunnel should be avoided.

Afterwards, the hevra kadisha asked Rav Elyashiv his stance on using the tunnel road. Rav Elyashiv concurred with Rav Noibert's psak and added that they should never use the tunnel, even if by using an alternate road (that is longer) it would cause them to do the funeral past sunset (a very big issue according to the custom of Jerusalem).

I wonder if Rav Elyashiv would tell kohanim to not use tunnel roads because there might be hevra kadisha vans going through at the same time (hevra kadisha vans affiliated with other hevra kadishas not under Rav Elyashiv's authority).

I would suspect not because a kohein probably does not need to be concerned about a dead body in the tunnel, as it is rare. A hevra kadisha would have to be concerned of a kohein because it is fairly common.


  1. MINHAG Yerushalayim vs. ISSUR MIDEORAITA.

    It's a no-brainer- or it should be.

    We kohanim won't agree to be excluded from roads or tunnels- and we shouldn't even be put in such a situation where it could happen.

  2. Why can't a hearse be outfitted such that the Tumah "stops" at its roof (similar to the way El-Al keeps bodies on the plane)? I'm not an expert, but there's money to be made in "mehadrin: hearses which can go through tunnels without this being a concern.


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