It can be puzzling when we encounter a religious tradition that is dissimilar from our own. Additionally, when it comes to rituals surrounding death, it can make us even more curious. It is safe to say that many Jewish people and funeral directors have been asked, “Why are Jewish people buried within 24 hours? What’s the rush?” If you do not know how to answer that besides, “It’s just always been how Jewish people did it,” do not worry; you are not alone.
Here are three reasons why Jews conduct a burial within 24 hours from the date of death. In addition, why the short period is a sign of respect for both the deceased and those in mourning.
Traditional Jewish law requires that a person be buried within 24 hours from the time of death. The law is in accordance with the Torah, our sacred Jewish scripture, which reads, “You shall bury him the same day. His body should not remain all night.” The religious concept underlying this law is that a human, made in the image of G-d, should be given the deepest respect.
Various situations justify a delay even though a funeral within 24 hours is established as a general principle. This includes allowing time for family members to assemble. In these cases, some still opt to commit to the funeral within 24 hours. They will then hold memorial services at a later date when more people can attend. Furthermore, circumstances may necessitate a delay, such as when death falls on the eve of the Sabbath (a Friday night). Since the Sabbath prohibits burial, the funeral becomes delayed.
Jewish law predominantly dictates a burial within 24 hours. However, the second reason is incredibly important- the psychological benefit. The mental strain of funeral planning while simultaneously entering the stage of mourning is almost unbearable. To dwell in “the valley of the shadow of death,” being subjected to the anguish of being in the physical company of the deceased for any longer than necessary, is intolerable. Jewish mourning advises that the family members not undergo that type of pain any longer than required.
Between death and burial, the departed’s soul is in limbo, in a state of disorientation. The soul no longer inhabits the body after death. It also cannot fully leave the body until the body is laid to rest. Once the body returns to the dust from where it came, the soul can return to heaven from where it came. The soul’s onward journey begins upon interment. We do not want to delay this process, hence the funeral within a day of passing.
You Now Have the Answer to why Jewish People Buried Within 24 Hours :
In summary, to answer the title question, we do not consider the burial a ‘rush job.’ If anything, we somehow find the strength to put our own selves and emotions aside and put every last ounce of thought and love into the recently deceased. It is a way of honoring the deceased, the family members of the deceased, and G-d. The priority is to lessen the pain of those here on earth and send loved ones to heaven as quickly as possible.
Few questions surrounding a death, whether sudden or foreseen, are easy to ask. Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels on Long Island, New York, are prepared to provide the answers you need with sensitivity and professionalism. Please get in touch with us at 631-454-9600.