1. In the city of Luban, Russia lived a sinister man who made it his life’s mission to inform on his Jewish brothers and gaining fevers from local government officials in return for juicy gossip and dirt on the Jews of the city. As a result of his information often fictitious and spiteful he caused great hardship to the residence of Luban. He was understandably a hated and feared man. His day finally came and the informant took ill and died. The Chevra Kadisha discovered a letter that was addressed to them where the deceased wrote ” my fellow Jewish brothers I feel terrible for all that I have done the people of the city. I regret my actions. To complete my penitence I hereby request that in preparation for my burial my body be defiled and debased that I am to be buried outside the cemetery in an unbecoming manner. Although willing to happily accede to this request the members of The Chevra Kadisha were still unsure as to how to proceed. They decided to bring the matter before the rabbi of Luban, Rav Moshe Feinstein, and allow him to decide the matter. rav Moshe thought about the question for a long moment and then nade his ruling. “A human being is not the possessive owner of his body and is not in any position especially after his death to decide what is to be done with it. Therefore this man must be buried according to the normal standards of Jewish law with a proper burial within the confines of the Jewish cemetery. The Chevra Kadisha members however persisted in their arguments. But rabbi this man wants to do teshuva. Why should we not take pity on him and allow  his final request to be carried out.Rav Moshe waved them away. it is your responsibility to handle the dead according to the law and not by what the deceased writes. It’s my responsibility as Rav of this city to ensure that this is properly carried out. As for hiw the heavenly  court will look up on him and his feelings of regret,  that is their business. The man was buried in the Jewish cemetery respectfully and with little fanfare. A number of days later a cemetery attendant noticed a groups of uniformed men gathered around the grave of the former informant. They dug out his body and unwrapped the shroud to peer closely at his buddy. After a moment’s they rewrapped his shroud and reinterred him into his grave. The attendant walked over and asked them what they were doing. They explained that they had just received a posthumous letter from the man in question informing them that since his Jewish brothers and hated him so for his frequent negative reports against them they would no doubt defile his body after his death and bury him with little or no respect outside the Jewish cemetery. He had hoped he wrote that the authorities would not let this grievance go unpunished. They had come to determine if he was right about the Jews but it seemed that I was in order and nothing further would be done. The Jewish Attendant ran to the synagogue and excitedly told over what he saw and how this evil man hope to get his last laugh at the expense of the Jews of the city from beyond the grave. If not for the tenacious conformance of Rav Moshe to the letter of the Halachic law disaster would have befallen his people. (nivul hames) (Heroes of Spirit, 100 Rabbinic Tales of the Holocaust. By Rabbi Dovid Hoffman)
  1. His end was drawing near. Mr. Wolf Lazerson, one of the richest Jews in the country, was on his deathbed with all his children surrounding him. “There are two last requests that l‘d like to make,” he said in a weak voice. “The first is that you don’t open my will until the end of the shloshim. The second is that you bury me with my socks on.” “But Dad,” his son Yechiel Aryeh protested, “halacha doesn’t allow such a thing.” “l don’t care,” Wolf said. “That’s what I want.” No amount of explaining helped. He insisted on having socks on and that was that. His children were very disturbed by their father’s insisting on something which he himself knew was contrary to halacha. When he was niftar a few days later, his children consulted a poseik, who told them Mr. Lazerson’s wish would have to be ignored, and so he was buried without the socks. At the shloshim, they opened his will. “My dear children,” they read. “l left you a lot of money and a large estate. I wanted you to realize before dividing it up that in the end you can’t take any of it with you – not even your socks. Love. Dad.” (Impact Volume Four) (kevura)
  1. When a married student passed away, his family had to make a quick decision about where he should be buried. They had the option of selecting a single plot that was available in an area of the cemetery where some of their distinguished ancestors were interred, or alternatively, they could purchase a double plot in a different area, so that after one hundred. and twenty, his widow could be laid to rest in the vacant site adjacent to his. They consulted Reb Shlomo Zalman who, without any hesitation, ruled that the student should be buried in the single plot near his ancestors and relatives. His rationale, as he later explained, was that buying the double plot would place an unfair emotional burden upon the young widow: The poor woman had every right to remarry; however, if there were a burial plot waiting for her alongside her deceased husband, she would always be plagued with the thought that perhaps it was inappropriate for her to remarry. She would feel she had a commitment to her husband, to lie at his side after one hundred and twenty.    (kevura) (From Jerusalem His Word)
  1. Abraham Axelrod, the late deputy-mayor of Jerusalem, once related: I chanced to be standing once near Rav Aryeh during a funeral at the Sanhedria cemetery. After the grave was filled he said to me with a smile “Many times people have tried to persuade me to move to larger, more comfortable living quarters; and I have refused. “Come and see (he continued). After his long life on earth is over, a man is brought from his home—here. For me the move, the transition will not be hard, because between my room and here the contrast is not so very sharp. But when a man has grown accustomed to living comfortably in a splendid home, how hard it will be for him at the end of his days to move his ‘residence’ to this small bit of space . . .” (pursue materialism, burial) (A Tzadik in Our Times)
  1. During Rav Arye Levine’s life he purchased a burial plot in the cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mt of Olives. When his life on earth ended however, his family was in doubt whether to bury him there, in the grave he had bought, or next to the grave of his dear wife Channah in the Sanhedria cemetery (in Jerusalem). Then one of his devoted students recalled that after the Six-Day War, when the Mount of Olives was again in Israel’s possession, Reb Aryeh had told him that his true desire was to be interred near her, since she had been so pious and virtuous, and his love for her had remained constant and even grown stronger after her death. It was therefore decided to bury him beside her; and sure enough, when his la will came to light, it was found that in it he had written this very wish The funeral had to be held on Friday, the very day he died (since as a rule no lifeless body may be left overnight in the holy city). Friday morning the family asked the members of the burial society to hurry please with the digging of the grave in the Sanhedria cemetery, so this the burial could he completed in the hours before noon, leaving enough time for his multitude of friends and admirers who lived outside Jerusalem to return home before the approach of sunset would usher in Shabbos. The burial society, however, wished to delay the funeral for several hours, so that they would have enough time to dig the grave, since ground was hard and stony. As they stood at the entrance of the cemetery debating the matter, the watchman of the graveyard came over, to tell a strange tale: A few years earlier, said he, Reb Aryeh came to him in privacy and asked him to prepare a grave next to the burial plot of his wife to dig up the earth and turn it over, so that it would be all broken and soft. “Why would you want me to do a peculiar thing like that the watchman had asked him. And the good rabbi had replied, “Who ever knows the timetable of a man’s life? Perhaps I may depart this w on a Friday, and they will find difficulty in digging the grave, since ground is so rocky and stony; and then the people attending the funeral will be unable to reach their homes before the Sabbath has begun. I beg you: do me this favor, and dig the grave as l have asked you. Let it please be ready…” Discreetly, without letting anyone catch sight of it, the watchman fulfilled the good rabbi’s request. This wish too was granted him those who came to pay him the last honor should be able to return home before the Sabbath.  (shabbos, kevurah) (A Tzadik in Our Times)
  1. During the shivah of Reb Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, a secular taxi driver in Jerusalem told a passenger, “I heard on the radio that Rabbi Auerbach did not want his tombstone higher khan fhose of his parents. In today’s world, which child honors his parents? My children hardly look at me! And the Rav was concerned with honoring his parents who died many years ago! Ah, if l would be a bit younger, l would become a baa! beshuvah… (kevurah) (5 Great Lives)
  1. Rav Yechezkel Abramsky’s rebbetzin’s funeral, took place on a motzei Shabbos. It was almost midnight when she was laid to rest on Har Hamenuchos. Rav Abramsky stood at her graveside while many of his talmidim, worked at filling the grave. He must have thought he noticed the hoe strike the foot of one of his talmidim who was standing nearby. A few days later,  When that talmid came to comfort him at the shivah, Ray Abramsky said to him, Firstly, tell me how your foot is. I’ve been uneasy for the past few days, since motzei Shabbos when I saw your foot was hit…” The talmid set his teachers mind at ease. (comfort mourners, kevura) (In Their Shadow Volume Three)
  1. Moshe Friedman was born in Poland in 1930, and his family survived the war through a series of miracles that brought them to Siberia. When the war was over, Moshe’s father heard that the Nazis ym”sh had made soap out of Jewish bodies, and he decided to return to Poland to buy as many of these bars of soap as he could and give these remains a Jewish burial. Father and son traveled back to their hometown, and spent days combing the streets and offering to purchase the townspeople’s Nazi-supplied soap. 7 This part of Moshe Friedman’s life story was known to the family; the rest was not — until it became revealed through Harav Ovadia. Mr. Friedman moved to America, married, and had children. When he was getting on in years, one of his sons— in-law, who is of Syrian descent, offered to accompany him to Eretz Yisrael. Mr. Friedman was delighted to visit the H0ly Land, and especially to see gedolei Yisrael and receive blessings. One of the stops they made was at Harav Ovadia’s home. No sooner had Mr. Friedman walked into the study than Harav Ovadia asked, “Why do I detect the scent of Gan Eden on your clothing?” Mr. Friedman did not know what to answer.  special deed have you done in your life?” Harav Ovadia  asked . At first Mr.‘ Friedman would not answer, but when Harav Ovadia kept repeating the question, he said, ”Well, I have a several children whom I support so they can devote their lives to studying Torah.” “That’s not it, ” Harav Ovadia said. “Others do that as well and their clothing doesn’t have the scent of Gan Eden. What else did you do?” Harav Ovadia sensed that Mr. Friedman knew the answer, but wasn’t willing to say it in front of others. He sent  all the people present out of his room, including Mr. Friedman’s son—in—law. The only other person who remained was a young man named David, who acted as an interpreter, translating Mr. Friedman’s English and Harav Ovadia’s Hebrew.    When everyone left, Mr. Friedman told Harav Ovadia a story that had happened on the last day he and his father had attempted to buy and bury human soap in Poland — a tale, he said, he had not shared with anybody. ‘ After spending a few weeks in Poland, they had already bought and buried all the soap they could find, and they decided it was time to rejoin their family in Siberia. The day they were planning to leave, however, a non- Jewish man approached the 15-year-old Moshe Friedman and asked, ‘1Are you the one who is buying the human soap?” Moshe confirmed that he was. “I have a full box of such soap, and I’m willing to sell it to you.” The man named a price, but Moshe did not have enough money on him, and his father was nowhere sight. ”I don ’t have money here,” he said, “but give me the soap, I’ll bury it, and I’ll bring you money later. ” , “No, I want the money up—front,” insisted the seller. Moshe thought for a while and then said, “Look, I have this pair of warm, woolen pants, and yours are thin cotton. I ’m willing to trade my pants for yours  you’ll allow me to buy the soap.”  The man quickly agreed to the deal; a pair  m woolen pants were a premium commodity in the harsh European winters. After the two traded pants, Moshe buried the box of soap, and then rejoined his family in Siberia, undoubtedly shivering his way through the winter in those cotton pants. When Harav Ovadia heard this story, he said, ”This explains why your clothes have the scent of Gan Eden. The neshamot of all the Jews whose remains you buried were all kedoshim, who died ’al Kiddush Hashem’ and are therefore in Gan Eden, and these neshamot have been accompanying you throughout your life. ”  (Rav Ovadia)   (kevurah)
  1. “During the summer of 1931, the last summer of his life, R’ Chaim was already very weak. Yet, over the protests of his family and doctors, he insisted on returning home to the Old City earlier than usual. When I asked him why he did not stay longer in the country, since the fresh air was so good for his health, he confided, ’I will‘ tell you one of my reasons. I feel that my end is near and I do not want the chevra kadisha to have to carry my body all the way from here to the Mount of Olives] Disturbed by this response, I anxiously asked, ‘Does the Rav: think it wise-. to indulge in such depressing thoughts?’ – ” ’Do not worry,’ R’ Chaim calmly reassured me, ‘These thoughts do not depress me at all. From the time I turned forty, the prospect of death has never been far from my thoughts and has absolutely no ill effect on my health.’ ” 129 Guardian of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Sonnenfeld, Published by Artscroll Mesorah (burial)
  1. It was difficult to walk behind the coffin. The way was packed with people – along the streets of Krakow, over the bridge and through Podgorze to the new Jewish cemetery. Although the old cemetery was still being used to inter important and wealthy people, Sarah Schenirer, in her last will, expressed her wish to be buried in the new cemetery, where she could stay with the plain, simple people whom she loved. Several years later, during the Holocaust, the Nazis established the Plaszow concentration camp on the grounds of the new cemetery. Bais Yaakov girls were forced to help build the camp and, later on, to uproot the tombstones and with their own hands use them to pave the camp paths. The old cemetery in Krakow, in contrast, remained intact. Thus Frau Schenirer shared her daughters’ fate, as she had wished. Just as they had neither graves nor tombstones, so has no trace of Frau Schenirer’ s resting place survived. The same was said of Moshe Rabbeinu: Lo yada ish es kevuraso – “No one knows his burial place until this very day. “Moshe, who suffered with and dedicated his life to his People, died in the desert together with his entire generation. No trace of his burial place is known. Thus was our mother Sarah reunited in fate with her daughters and her People: as their place of burial is not known, so, too, is hers not to be found. Carry Me in Your Heart, By Pearl Benisch, page 319 (burial)
  1. Rav Yitzchak Epstein traveling up to ‘Rosh Hanikrah to welcome Rabv Shach and his family when he first arrived in Eretz Yisrael. Rav Shach was forever grateful to him. His gratitude brought him to give Rav Yitzchak his own burial plot on Har Hamenuchos, next to that of his‘Rav and uncle, Rav Isser Zalman. Here is the story as told by my father and teacher Rabbi Meir Tzvi Bergman, shlita, in the eulogy he gave for Rav Shach during the    shivah: When Rav Isser Zalman departed to the eternal world and was buried on the heights of Har Hamenuchos, that plot of land, in which some of our greatest men are buried today, was still empty. Rav lsser Zalman was one of the first to be buried there, and Rav Shach, the Rosh Yeshivah, whose soul was bound with that of his great Rav, expressed a wish that when the time came, he would like to be buried near him, and he acted upon his Wish, purchasing a burial plot near that of the gaon Rav lsser Zalman. Some years later, Rabbi Yitzchalc Epstein, zt”l, who served as a dayan on the bets din of Tel Aviv and was a regular visitor at Rav lsser Zalman’s house, passed away at an early age. By that time, there was no longer an available spot in that burial ground, Rav Shach, zt”l, was grateful to him ever since the day he came IE1 Eretz Yisrael, for having come to escort him from Rosh Hanikrah at Rav Imus, Zalman’s behest. And that being the case, he gave up the plot he had bought; next to Rav lsser Zalman’s grave, and gave instructions for Rabbi Yitzchack Epstein to be buried there. On the same occasion, my father and teacher, shlita, spoke of Rav Shach’s sincere and devoted concern for Rav Yitzchak’s family after his passing.  An example he related that every Shabbos Ray Shach would leave his house in Kiryat Ponevezh, Bnei Brak, and climb the hill of Givat Rokach,  he would visit Rebbetzin Epstein’s house to test her young children on      Path to Greatness by Rabbi Asher Bergman, Published by Feldheim, page 433 (bury, gratitude)