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Delaying a burial until the evening

Regarding a person who received capital punishment from a Beis Din, the Torah states that it is forbidden to leave his body overnight; the burial must take place by daybreak. Chazal extended this prohibition to all burials. The poskim discuss whether delaying a burial from the day until the night is a transgression of this prohibition as well. Some opinions hold that although there is no transgression of a prohibition involved, there is a positive commandment to bury a person on the very same day that he passes away. As mentioned in the previous section, delaying a burial is permitted when necessary to accord honor to the deceased.

[ביה"ל ד"ה אבל; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 30]

Piling a mound of dirt upon a grave

There is a longstanding custom to pile a mound of dirt upon a freshly dug grave. This is considered the final step of the burial and serves as a marker of the grave. Piling the dirt upon the grave is permissible on Yom Tov.

It is forbidden to derive benefit from any part of a grave. The poskim disagree about whether the prohibition encompasses the entire pile of dirt on the grave or only the layer that covers the body. Regarding the second opinion, there is further disagreement about whether the prohibition involves only a thin layer of dirt covering the body or whether it includes the first three tefachim of dirt covering the body.

[שו"ע תקכו, ד, ומשנ"ב כח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 25-26]

Melachos for a burial after Yom Tov

As we have learned, Rema holds that if there is a non-Jew available to perform a burial on the second day of Yom Tov, a Jew should not do it. If a non-Jew is available but will cost significantly more (over a third]  of the going rate extra), a Jew may see to the burial. If a burial is planned for after Yom Tov, all opinions agree that it is forbidden to do any melacha, or to request from a non-Jew to do any melacha, on Yom Tov for the burial.

[שו"ע תקכו, א ו־ד, ומשנ"ב כה ו־ל; (וראה שם, ו ו־כח, ושעה"צ לח); ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 24]
  • Shulchon Aruch rules that a Jew may perform any melacha necessary for kevuras hameis (burying the deceased) on Yom Tov Sheini. This halacha also applies to the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

  • Rema disagrees with the above-mentioned ruling, maintaining that if it is possible to retain the services of a non-Jew, a Jew may not participate in a burial, even on Yom Tov Sheini. If there are no non-Jews available, the burial may be done by Jews.

  • Some contemporary poskim argue that since the basis of the leniency allowing burials on Yom Tov Sheini is to hasten burial before a body decays, the leniency should not apply today, when bodies are stored in a refrigerated morgue and decay is no longer an issue.

  • Escorting the deceased outside the techum

  • Returning home after a burial

  • Children escorting a parent to burial 
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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