Friday, May 20, 2022

Moed Koton 8: A Question of Honor

On this daf, we find some discussion of re-internment of a parent.

A certain family buried their deceased wife and mother in the first three rows of the cemetery, since that was what was available to them at the time. They noticed that near the place of interment was the doghouse of the hound that guarded the cemetery, and they felt that this was a disgrace to their mother. In addition, they recalled that their mother had always asked not to be buried near the gates of the cemetery. For both of these reasons, the family went to the local vaad harabbonim to request that she be moved.

Although at times it is permitted to re-inter a Jewish body, the vaad did not believe that this was one of them. After all, many important rabbis were buried there and clearly it was a respectable burial place, so why move her?

When this question was presented to Rav Moshe Feinstein, he agreed with the vaad. “It is obvious that the area near the fence of the cemetery is at least as respectable a burial place as the middle of the cemetery, and perhaps it is even more respectable. This section of the cemetery is the place where kohanin and their wives should be buried to ensure that the relatives do not enter the cemetery and defile themselves, as we find in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch.

“Although some kohanim bury in the middle of the cemetery, since they rely on Rabbeinu Tam who is lenient in this matter, this does not detract from the respectability of the woman’s burial place. Now, if there were wicked people buried near her, then the family would have had a valid claim, but since there are rabbonim, there is certainly no diminishment of the respectability of her resting place.

“As far as the claim of the dog house’s proximity, I don’t think this is a disgrace to the deceased at all. And if the family disagrees, they can pay to distance the dog house from the fence for a fraction of the cost of re-interment” (Shu”t Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deiah 1:242).

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