Monday, July 28, 2014

Going to the cemetery on Tisha b'Av


Is it appropriate to visit a cemetery on Tishah b'Av?

The Talmud records a practice of visiting cemeteries on public fast days, and it offers two rationales:
  • The visitor says he is "as though he is dead" in his suffering, and
  • The visitor asks those who are buried there to pray on his behalf.
Commentators offer a third reason: the visitors are reminded that if they do not repent, they will meet the fate of those who are already in the cemetery.

Based on this ancient practice, many Jews visit cemeteries after concluding kinos on Tishah b'Av. For mystical reasons regarding impurity, some stay at least seven feet from the graves, or even refrain altogether.

Halachic authorities warn that people should not go to the cemetery on Tishah b'Av in groups, lest the visit lose the introspective and mournful character appropriate for Tishah b'Av.

(Taanit 16a, Tosafot ibid. Yotzin; Beit Yosef Orach Chaim 559:end; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 559:10, 579:3; Magen Avraham 559:3, 15; Mishneh Berurah 559:12, 41; Aruch haShulchan Orach Chaim 554:18, 559:7; Piskei Teshuvos 559:11)

המצפה לישועה,

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