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Cohanim and cemetery


Rabbi David Sperling

Elul 3, 5774
Our son died recently and was buried a few months ago. My husband is a Cohen. Is he allowed to enter the cemetery to visit our son’s grave?
Shalom, First of all let me send condolences – may you be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion. A cohen is not allowed to come close to a grave, even to visit the grave of a relative – except when the cohen is burying one of his own close relatives. So, the simple answer to your question is – no, he is not allowed to go near graves. However, there certainly is a way for him to visit his son's grave. If he stays more than 4 cubits (around 2 meters or 8 feet) away from any grave – or behind a fence that is at least 80cm – 1 meter high – it is acceptable. For this reason they very often bury those who are cohens next to the edge of a plot in the cemetery, so that their families can visit by staying on the roadway. With this in mind, your husband should look at the cemetery and figure out the closest place he can stand and see your son's grave, without being within 4 cubits of any grave. From there he can say all the traditional prayers recited upon visiting a grave. Blessings.
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