National Association of Chevra Kadisha

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What is a tahara?

By NASCK Staff
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After death, a Jewish body is not simply put into the ground. It is cared for and prepared, both physically and spiritually, during a process called a tahara, Hebrew for purification.

The body is gently washed with warm water, immersed in a mikvah for the purpose of purification, and then dressed in tachrichim. It is placed in a simple wooden coffin, usually pine, that has no metal or plastic components such as nails or handles. Earth from the land of Israel is sprinkled on the body prior to burial. 

Throughout the entire process, respect and decorum are maintained and prayers are said on behalf of the deceased. The reverential manner in which a tahara is performed affirms the sanctity of the body itself as a tzelem Elokim, as well as the understanding that the soul is still present near the body, and is sensitive to and concerned about the treatment of its lifelong partner.

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