Shabbat Parashat Beha'alotcha| 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Exhuming a Grave - Part II - Based on Amud Hay’mini, siman 35
[Last time, we began discussing whether it is appropriate to exhume a grave of a woman in order to transfer the remains from a plot of her family to a plot bought for her and her husband. We brought sources that one can exhume in order to bury next to closer relatives and saw sources indicating that a husband is the closest relative. The question remains if all sources agree that the full level of marital relationship continues after death].
Tosafot (Bava Batra 114b) brings two explanations for why a deceased husband does not “inherit his wife in the grave,” which would have allowed his inheritors to receive the wife’s estate through him even when he died before her. The Rivan says that it is because their relationship, which the Torah calls “sh’er” (implying great closeness), is severed by death. The second opinion tries to disprove this assertion from a reference in Yevamot 55b to a deceased wife as still being a married woman.
The Maharsha (ad loc.) distinguishes between the case where the husband dies and one where the wife dies. The Rivan may have said that the relationship is severed only when the husband dies, but not when the wife dies. In the latter case, one would need a special pasuk that “inheritance in the grave” does not occur. What logic is there for the Maharsha’s distinction? When a husband dies, his wife is permitted to remarry. In order for that to happen, she must no longer be considered married. However, when a wife dies, the fact that her husband can remarry is not, according to Torah-level law, a change in status. Therefore, we can continue to preserve the husband-wife relationship after she dies.
According to our understanding of the Maharsha, another issue can be reconciled. The Yad Shaul says that when a woman dies during the life of her second husband, she should be buried next to him. The Even Ya’akov asks from the Zohar that after resurrection, a woman will be reunited with her first husband, not her second. We can now reconcile as follows. The Zohar is talking about a case where the second husband also died before the wife. Then, with both marriages similarly severed, the preference is to the first husband, as a first marriage is of higher significance.
In summary, in our case, where the wife died first, burial next to the husband is certainly preferred to burial next to other relatives. We also see confirmation of the importance of a husband and wife being buried together from Ya’akov’s stress that he buried Leah in his plot and his need to justify why he did not do so for Rachel. There is even room to say that when she was buried, it was as if there was a condition that she would be re-interred if she could not be by her husband.
However, it does not seem that the exhuming should be done while the husband is still alive. What gain is there for her before he is buried next to her? (It is also better to make the transfer after the flesh has decomposed). The proper arrangement would, thus, be to leave instructions to exhume the wife’s grave after the husband’s burial.
An even better solution all around is to bury both parties in Eretz Yisrael. Burial in the Diaspora does not bode well for having a secure grave, and there is great significance to burial in Israel. It is clear in the Shulchan Aruch that one can immediately re-inter the deceased from a cemetery in the Diaspora to one in Israel.
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