Ask The Rabbi

What happens at an "Unveiling"

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Unveiling

Daniel Kelber wrote:

My grandfather's "headstone" will be erected soon, just over a year after his death. I would appreciate some information regarding the Halacha concerning this ceremony; a source to look up would be helpful.

Toda Raba


Dear Daniel,

There are three basic reasons for a Headstone:

  1. To mark the place as Tameh (impure and off limits for Kohanim).
  2. To mark the place for people who want to visit it.
  3. To honor the deceased.

According to the book "Gesher HaChaim", when visiting the grave during the first year it is customary to say seven paragraphs of Psalms: 33, 16, 17, 72, 91, 104, and 130. Afterwards one says Psalm 119 and recites the verses that spell the name of the deceased and the letters of the word "Neshama". Different communities have different customs.

The Halachic section of the book "Gesher HaChaim" is soon to be published in English. There is another excellent book called "Mourning in Halacha" which is published by Artscroll. Also, a popular work is "The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning" by Rabbi Maurice Lamm.
"May He swallow up death forever; may Hashem G-d wipe away tears from every face. (Isaiah 25:8)

 
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