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Why do we put rocks on the gravestone, and why do we wait so long for the unveiling?

Question of the Month:

My brother recently attended a funeral and had a few questions about Jewish funeral customs. They were: why do we put rocks on the gravestone, and why do we wait so long for the unveiling?

Answer:

Placing rocks on graves that we visit is a minhag - some connect it to the use of the term Tzur Yisrael - Rock of Isreal as a name for God. Others trace it back to our early nomadic days, as a way of marking that a visit had been made to a gravesite. The only time you are not supposed to put rocks on graves is when you go to the cemetery for a funeral. The custom is not to visit other graves when you attend a funeral. But rather to go for the express purpose of burying the dead.

There are different custom as to unveilings - in the Sephardic community they do it after Sheloshim - while in the Ashkenazic community is has become a way of marking the first yahrzeit and combines with the idea of visiting the grave yahrzeits.

Sat, December 14 2019 16 Kislev 5780