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The Significance of Placing Stones on a Grave in Judaism

The Meaning of Placing Stones on a Grave

In Judaism, placing stones on a grave is a significant and symbolic act. It is a way to honor and remember the deceased and show respect for their memory.

Placing stones on a grave dates back to ancient times and is rooted in Jewish tradition.

According to Jewish custom, when a person dies, their soul continues to exist in the afterlife. The placing of stones on the grave is a way to show that someone has visited and honored the deceased and to signify that the person’s soul is not forgotten and continues to be remembered.

Stones or Flowers?

Stones are preferred over flowers or other objects, as they symbolize permanence and strength. Flowers may wither and die, but stones endure. By placing stones on the grave, mourners demonstrate that the memory of the deceased remains strong and enduring.

Stones are thought to be simple, but strong and enduring.  Many Jews regard stones as a symbol of potency, perseverance, and religious and family ties. 

Early in the Torah, Abraham takes his son to be sacrificed, on a stone.  This ancient stone has a special name even hashityah, the foundation stone of the world. 

Western Wall

In Jerusalem, the Western Wall is just a pile of stone and in the Bible, an altar was described as having been built from stone. 

In addition to the symbolic significance, there is also a practical reason for placing stones on a grave in Jewish tradition. Jewish law prohibits placing objects or anything else on a grave that could be considered a marker, such as flowers or statues. Therefore, stones serve as a permissible way to mark the grave and show respect for the deceased.

Overall, the practice of placing stones on a grave is a meaningful and enduring tradition in Jewish culture. It serves as a way to honor the deceased, keep their memory alive, and show respect for the ongoing existence of their soul.

Mark Sunshine

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