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Escorting the deceased outside the techum

As we have learned, melachos mid’rabonon may be done on the first day of Yom Tov for the sake of kevuras hameis. Nonetheless, it is forbidden to escort the deceased past the boundaries of the techum. Although the prohibition of walking past the techum is only mid’rabonon, Chazal did not waive this prohibition for the sake of burial. According to some Achronim, those who are actually carrying the body may walk past the techum, while the rest of the funeral party is subject to the restrictions of techumin. On Yom Tov Sheini, all people can escort the body to its burial. It is only permitted to escort the body; escorting a mourner (without the body) is forbidden beyond the boundaries of the techum.

[שו"ע תקכו, ו, משנ"ב לג-לד, ושעה"צ מג-מד]

Returning home after the burial

If a person leaves his techum on Shabbos or Yom Tov, he is constrained (for the rest of Shabbos or Yom Tov) to an area of four amos. One who leaves the techum for kevuras hameis (when it is permitted), however, may return home after the completion of the burial. This is because Chazal did not want to discourage people from escorting a meis outside the techum. If there is another Jewish settlement within the techum of the cemetery, however, a person would only be permitted to walk to that city and not to his home. A paid member of the burial crew or a family member may not return home (past the techum). It is assumed that people in these categories would walk to a burial despite the restriction, so there is no concern about discouraging them from escorting the meis.

[שו"ע תקכו, ו, משנ"ב לה, וביה"ל ד"ה וחוזרין; וראה שעה"צ מו]

Children escorting a parent to burial 

In certain communities in Eretz Yisroel, it is customary for the descendants of a male not to escort his body to burial. This custom, which has a kabbalistic source, is meant to deter impure forces from attaching themselves to the deceased. In areas where this custom is not practiced, the poskim hold that children must escort their father as part of the mitzvah of kibud av.

[ביה"ל תקכו, ו, ד"ה וחוזרין; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 39]
  • There is a longstanding custom to pile a mound of dirt upon a freshly dug grave. This is considered the final step of a burial and serves as a monument of the grave. Piling the dirt upon the grave is permitted on Yom Tov.

  • It is forbidden to derive benefit from any part of a grave. The poskim disagree about whether this prohibition includes the entire pile of dirt on the grave or only the layer that covers the body.

  • Rema’s opinion is that if there is a non-Jew available to perform a burial on the second day of Yom Tov, he (and not a Jew) should be the one to do it. If a non-Jew is available but will charge significantly more than the going rate (over a third extra), a Jew may perform the burial.

  • Burying a meis mitzvah on Yom Tov

  • The proper place to bury a meis mitzvah

  • Traveling by car to a cemetery on Yom Tov
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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