Introduction] When & Where] The Funeral Procession] The Funeral Home] The Rending Ritual] Eulogies] Kaddish] Mourner's Kaddish] Walking to the Grave] Burial] Kaddish HaGadol] El Malei Rachamim] Request for Forgiveness] Leaving the Grave] Leaving the Cemetery]
When the funeral procession reaches the grave, people gather around the open grave and generally a member of the chevra kadisha enters the grave to insure that it is ready for burial. Some have the custom to encircle the deceased seven times while reciting various verses. The members of the chevra kadisha then place the body, facing upwards in its grave, saying, ‘Let him/her rest in peace’. Jewish law forbids burying any objects or possessions with the deceased so he is buried alone. The finality of these last steps of burial can be very shocking and painful. If you need some time to recover before continuing, it can be arranged.
After the body is placed in its grave, the chevra kadisha workers place concrete blocks on it, and those present fill the grave with the earth that the chevra kadisha had set aside for this purpose. Since this act shows respect for the dead, as many people as possible take a turn shoveling a token amount of earth onto the grave. Though it is customary for men to participate in this process, women may also take part. Because of the sensitivity of this moment, the shovel is placed on the floor after each person’s turn rather than passed from hand to hand. When the grave is completely covered, a marker is placed on it with the name of the deceased. Selected verses and psalms are then recited, chosen according to the customs of the place and of the chevra kadisha. If the prayer of Tzidduk Hadin was not recited in the funeral home, it is often said at this point. Usually a member of the chevra kadisha recites Psalm 16.
Click to read the Psalm:
|A Mikhtam of David. Preserve me, O God: for in Thee do I put my trust. I have said to the Lord, You are my Lord: I have no good apart from You; And to the saints that are on the earth, They are the excellent, in whom is all my delight. Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god; their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names upon my lips. The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; my reins also admonish me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me: surely He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For You will not abandon my soul to She'ol; nor will You suffer your holy one to see the pit. You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures for evermore. |
Kaddish Hagadol (the Great Kaddish)
After burial, the mourners stand near the grave and recite Kaddish Hagadol, otherwise known as Kaddish D'Etchadita. Further on in this pamphlet, you can read more about the Kaddish prayer, its status, content, translation, and manner in which it is recited.
Click to Read the Kaddish:
|May His great name grow exalted and sanctified In the world which will be renewed, and where He will resuscitate the dead and raise them up to eternal life, and rebuild the city of Jerusalem and complete His Temple within it, and uproot alien worship from the earth, and return the service of heaven to its place and where the Holy One Blessed is He, will reign in His sovereignty and splendor, [Nusach Sephard: and cause His salvation to sprout, and bring near His Messiah], In your lifetimes and in your days, and in the lifetimes of the entire family of Israel, swiftly and soon. Now respond: Amen. May His great name be blessed forever and ever. Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised, and lauded be the name of the Holy One, Blessed is He Beyond any blessing and song, praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now respond: Amen. May there be abundant peace from heaven and good life upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen. He who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace upon us, and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen. |
El Malei Rachamim
Either a member of the chevra kadisha or one of the deceased's friends or relatives ends the burial ceremony with the recitation of El Malei Rachamim. This prayer, written in Germany after the Crusades, entreats God to allow the deceased's soul to find peace, in merit of the charity given in his name.
Click to Read:
|O God, full of mercy, who dwells on high, grant proper rest on the wings of the divine presence – in the lofty levels of the holy and the pure ones who shine like the glow of the firmament – for the soul of (deceased's Hebrew name) the [son/daughter] of (deceased's father's name) who went on to [his/her] world, because they will contribute to charity in remembrance of [his/her] soul. May [his/her] resting place be in the Garden of Eden – therefore may the master of mercy shelter [him/her] in the shelter of His wings for eternity; and may He bind [his/her] soul in the bond of life. God is [his/her] heritage and may [he/she] repose in peace on [his/her] resting place. Now let us respond: Amen.|
Request for Forgiveness
At the end of the burial ceremony, in certain communities, the chevra kadisha member who buried the deceased turns to him and requests his forgiveness for any unintentional slights to his honor.
Leaving the Grave
As the people leave the graveside, they place grass or a rock on the grave, saying
He remembers that we are dust (Psalms 103:14). This practice is customary not only at the burial, but every time one visits the grave – a grave covered with rocks signifies that many people have visited the grave, an honor for the deceased. Though it wasn't originally a Jewish custom to place wreaths and candles on a grave, many people have adopted this practice as it accords respect to the dead.
Before leaving the grave, those present form two parallel rows of comforters facing each other and the mourners remove their shoes and walk between these rows. The comforters say to them:
In some communities, males form rows to comfort the male mourners, and females form rows to comfort the females. Other communities form rows only for males. This formal act of comforting clearly does not come to replace personal contact with the mourners and efforts to console them that will follow during the week of shiva.
Leaving the Cemetery
Upon leaving the cemetery, one should wash (but not dry) one's hands at the sinks located at the entrance to the cemetery, to symbolize one's disassociation from death and its impurity. Some recite the verse from Isaiah 25:8 while washing:
He will destroy death forever and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the insult of His people shall He take away from off all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.