National Association of Chevra Kadisha



Why does Judaism require burial as quickly as possible?

By NASCK Staff
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It is an act of kindness to the deceased to bury the body as soon as possible. 

The dust returns to the earth, as it once was; and the soul returns to G-d, who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Upon death, both body and soul begin a return to their source. But this verse does not merely note the parallel returns of the body and the soul; it links them.

The complete separation of body and soul does not take place immediately at death. Although it leaves the body at the moment of death, the soul still hovers near the body. It only begins its return to G-d when the body begins its return to the earth.

Until then, the soul is “trapped.” In addition, it suffers as it sees its former body, now shorn of life.

Swift burial alleviates the soul’s discomfort, and enables it to return as quickly as possible to G-d. 

The return of the body to its source is of utmost importance in Jewish law, and all aspects of Jewish burial are in consonance with this ideal. 

Jewish law follows the path G-d set into nature. It does not permit anything to inhibit the return of the body to the earth, such as embalming, or the use of non-biodegradable burial materials. Jewish law certainly does not allow us to prevent the body’s return altogether, through cremation.


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