Nov 13, 2008

unusual funeral minhagim

Going to a funeral in Jerusalem is always an experience. Especially when it is on Har Hazeisim. Granted, there are places most people would rather be than a funeral, but once you have to go to one, it is an experience.

Minhag Yerushalayim. The chevra kadishas of Jerusalem follow minhagim that people don't do in most other places.

I just went the other day to a funeral on Har HaZeisim. The chevra kadisha was the chevra kadisha of k'hal hachassidim. So they use minhag Yerushalayim, but they also do some other stuff.

They did some stuff there that I had never seen before. Allow me to describe it,to the best of my abilities...

We brought the body of the niftar to the grave. They placed the body on the floor, next to the grave, and asked the women to stay back and not come past a certain point until they would finish what they have to do. After saying some psukim, the members of the chevra kadisha surrounded the body (still laying on the ground), connected in a circle holding hands completely surrounding the body. Then they started encircling the body while saying some psukim. Each time they completed a circle, they would all stop, and the head guy would say some psukim, take a small piece of metal (I don't know what it was) out of his pocket, put it on the body for a moment and then throw it far away.

They would then encircle the body again, and go through the same thing. They did this 4 or 5 times....

Another minhag I had never seen was when we finished the burial. After the grave was filled in, they surrounded the grave completely with a border of stones. They were makpid that each stone had to be touching the one beside it.

I thought these minhagim were very strange and I have never before seen them.

Has anybody seen that before? Do you know what it means and the explanation for what they were doing?


  1. I dunno, those chevra kadihsha guys have a real dead job.

  2. They do that quite often in eretz hachaim. i think its yerushalmi.

    the best bet is to ask one of the chevra kadisha guys.

  3. עד כמה שאני יודע מדובר במנהג קבלי שמיועד לגרש מזיקים (?) מלפני הנפטר.
    זורקים מטבעות (נדמה לי ש-7 פעמים) והפסוק שאומרים בזמן הזריקה:
    "ולבני הפלגשים אשר לאברהם נתן אברהם מתנות ..." (בראשית כה/ו)

  4. c'mon Rafi,

    who else but Sy would get a kick out of people dancing on his grave?

  5. lol... Joel said a few words at graveside. He said that his dad had embroidered on his tallis bag a circle of chassidim dancing. When he saw the chassidim dancing around his body, he remembered that, and thought that his father must have been planning the connection between his life and death...

  6. Us Yekkes have a minhag that a close relative places a sock on the foot (right foot, I think) of the niftar before burial.

  7. really? I never heard that before... I thought the niftar is buried in nothing but the shrouds....

  8. Rabbi Sperber discusses in minhagei yisrael (iirc vol 5)
    Joel Rich

  9. Another minhag I've heard of, is that the son of the deceased puts earth in the eyes of the deceased.
    They made my father do it to my grandmother A"H.
    My father afterwards commented that now she was sure she was dead...


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