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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q11.6.14 TOC Q11.6.16 >

Question 11.6.15:
Death and Burial: Why do Jews emphasize burial within 24 hours?


Jews normally bury the dead within 24 hours, however, there are exceptions. A funeral could be held up for a day or two if it would save a mourner the additional pain of missing the funeral. Second, we do not bury people on the Sabbath or any of the holidays on which work is prohibited.

Why do Jews do this? The most straightforward reason is that the Torah says so. In discussing capital punishment, the Torah says the body must be buried before nightfall. And if a murderer deserves that much, so ought any deceased person.

But this isn't enough? Why might there be this commandment? It's considered disrespectful toward the dead to leave the body unburied. Perhaps it's because it means people will witness the body's decay, or see and remember something that seems like the person, but is inanimate and without fears or dreams. There is a second reason, based on kabbalah. During the course of a lifetime, a soul forms an attachment to the body. Part of the punishment for sins comitted out of a pursuit of the physical is the subsequent disillusionment with the body and with the values that lead to that pursuit. This is called "chibut haqever" (attachment to the grave). Burial hastens the end of this punishment, by bringing the soul "closure" in its relationship to the body. It is therefore merciful to the deceased to bury as soon as possible.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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