Feb 23, 2011

Interesting Psak: Moving Bodies

Rav Eliyahu Zein, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Ohr V'Yeshua in Haifa, was asked a question in light of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, a family wants to move the body of a deceased relative buried in Algeria. is it halachically ok to do so, and being that the body is buried already for 70 years, is there a point - would there be anything left to move anyway?

Rav Zeini responded that if the person was not a great talmid chochom (who measures that and how?) then we already know Chazal have said in the gemara that bringing the bodies of such people defiles the land. Therefore, there is no mitzva to bring a regular Jew's body to eretz yisrael for burial, and for sure not since the expense is great in both the host country and in eretz yisrael.

Instead, the family should donate money to support torah and mitzvos in the memory of, and for the merit of, the deceased relative. This will provide the deceased with great merit of building the Land of Israel even posthumously. (source: Srugim)

It seems a bit strange as the haacha discussing the details of when reinterring a body is allowed grants the reinterrment of the body to Eretz Yisrael as the one time you can do it with no questions asked. To move a body anywhere else in chutz la'aretz, it requires a very good reason, a great need. To move the body to eretz yisrael is always allowed. if it was a defilement, why would the halacha give such carte blanche allowance?

There are also other benefits, such as kavod ha'meis to be buried in Eretz Yisrael. Also the concern of the seforim regarding having the pain of the body "rolling" to eretz Yisrael in the future, in the time of techiyas hameisim, also gives burial in Eretz Yisrael halachic preference. We don't find in halacha, that i am aware of, a limitation that this only applies to the great talmidei chachomim.

Regarding the expense, I am in agreement with Rav Zeini, that it might be considered excessive. I would suggest though that such a decision is in the hands of the family - only they can decide if it is something affordable or excessive, and how much priority this has. People do plenty of things, and waste plenty of money on trivial things when they could be using it to support torah. This seems better than many of the other things.


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  2. The 'defilement' is of the Land, not the deceased. G'mara near the end of K'tuvot. But since you're speculating about a specific instruction given by a rav, the appropriate way to get to the bottom of this is to ask him.

  3. I wrote that it defiles the land (not the deceased).
    does burying in eretz yisroel non-talmidei chachomim that live in eretz yisroel also defile the land? should non-talmidei chachomim be exported for burial?
    I have to go look up the gemara and see what it is referring to..


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