Beth Abraham Orthodox Synagogue

Today's Date

24 Av 5781

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Before the Burial

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  1. From the time of death until after the burial, the close relatives, which are the father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, brother and sister, are considered onenim, which means:
    1. They should be involved in the burial preparations
    2. They are to respect the deceased:
      1. by not behaving in a light-headed manner
      2. by not eating in the presence of the body
      3. by not eating meat or drinking wine
    3. They are exempt from mitzvos:
      1. not to say berachos (even for eating, berachos are not required, but the hands are washed for bread without a beracha)
      2. not to pray, or say Amen or put on tefillin
    4. They may not bathe, teke haircuts, or do work, but they may wear shoes until the burial at the cemetery. They may also leave the house to take care of the needs of the deceased.
  2. An autopsy is forbidden because the Torah considers it a defilement to the departed. In case one is requested by authorities to do so, you may call our number: (213) 653-8886.
  3. The deceased may not be left alone. A person is therefore designated to serve as a shomer (watchman) in honor of the deceased. Since the watchman is exempt from mitzvos while on duty, it is helpful to appoint two watchmen so that they may relieve each other. (If there is no alternative, the watchman may leave for brief periods.) They may not study Torah, but they may say Tehillim (Psalms). They may not eat while on guard. (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 195:11)
  4. A. Beware of funeral homes that are ignorant of the Torah laws and Jewish traditional customs. Check with a competent Orthodox Rabbi or with a reliable friend for a reference to authentic Jewish services and proper pre-burial preparations for the deceased (taharah).
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