National Association of Chevra Kadisha

What May Be Included in an Aron

Note that in all cases, when an item is being included, it should be placed at the foot of the aron. If it will not fit at the foot, it may be placed at the side. Nothing other than tachrichim or a tallis should ever be placed underneath or on top of the body.

ITEMS THAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE ARON

Blood. All blood that was collected before or during the tahara should be placed at the foot of the aron, taking precautions that it will not stain the tachrichim.

Removable prosthetics that the person used during their lifetime, such as dentures, a glass eye, or a prosthetic limb. If these items have been removed from the body and cannot be easily replaced where they belong, they should be placed in the aron.  

ITEMS THAT MAY NEVER BE INCLUDED IN THE ARON

Ashes from a cremation. A family will sometimes ask to include the remains of someone who was cremated in the aron of someone who is now being buried. This is absolutely forbidden, regardless of whether the remains were from a Jew or a non-Jew, or a family member. It is a bizayon, a disgrace, for the niftar, and in some jurisdictions, it may also be illegal or in violation of cemetery regulations.

Jewelry. This prohibition is part of the same Takanas Rabban Gamliel which instituted the use of simple tachrichim.

Kosher tefillin. It is better to donate the niftar’s tefillin or pass it on to a family member, rather than bury them with him. However, if the tefillin are passul, unusable, they may be included in the aron, especially when requested by the niftar.

Shaimos, holy books or texts that are no longer fit for use, and require burial. Shaimos, whether or not they belonged to the niftar, may be buried in the grave, but should not be placed in the aron.

ITEMS THAT ARE PERMITTED, BUT NOT REQUIRED TO BE INCLUDED IN THE ARON

Tashmishei kedusha, religious items, that the niftar used are sometimes included as a zechus, merit, for the niftar, upon their request. These items include: 

Tehillim, Siddur, or Machzor the niftar used, even if they are still usable, and especially when requested by the niftar.

Passul tefillin that belonged to the niftar.

Non-linen kittel the niftar wore and requested to be buried with, in a situation where linen tachrichim are being used, and include a linen kittel.

Note: Sefarim and passul tefillin which are put into the aron should be placed in a plastic bag to prevent them from becoming soiled as the body returns to the earth.

ITEMS THAT ARE DISCOURAGED BUT NOT FORBIDDEN TO BE INCLUDED IN THE ARON

Sentimental items, such as a favorite blanket or teddy bear, baseball cap, or photographs. These items have no spiritual value, and including them in the aron should be discouraged. However, if it is important to the family, it is permitted to include them.

NOTE

If any of these rulings conflict with the established practice of your chevra, please confer with the rav who rules on your chevra’s halachic questions. You should also feel free to email Rabbi Zohn at chevra@nasck.org or call him at any time to discuss this or any other issue that may arise.

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