From the Rav’s Desk: Distances between graves in a cemetery

  1. Question: [Tuesday, 13th Marcheshvan 5782]

How much space must there be between graves in a cemetery and what is one to do if there is not enough space in the cemetery to have the proper distance between the graves?



Ideally there is to be a minimum of six Tefachim [i.e. 48 centimeters] between each grave, whether the graves are lying next to each other or on top of each other. This regulation, however, only applies if it is possible to bury the bodies at this distance. If, however, there is no other viable burial option, such as there is no other cemetery available, and there is no space in the cemetery, then certainly one may bury them next to each other even though there isn’t a six Tefach distance between them.  Accordingly, it was accustomed in many cemeteries to bury the dead without a six Tefach distance, as there was simply not enough burial space. Nevertheless, one should keep a distance of 6 finger worth’s, 12 centimeters, between the graves.

Sources: Michaber 362:4; Tur 362:4 in name of Rav Haiy Gaon; Shach 364:4; Shvus Yaakov 2:95, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 362:3, that these regulations were only established in an area with a lot of burial land available. Teshuvas Chacham Tzevi 149, brought in Gilyon Maharsha 362:3 and Yad Avraham 362; Rav Akiva Eiger 362; Bach 362; Chochmas Adama Matzeivas Moshe 10; See Gesher Hachaim 27:5; Darkei Chesed 17:3

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