By Holly Blue Hawkins
© 15 March 2021
The Rabbi’s voice rang out, singing the words of the 18th century sage Rebbe Nachman, above the wailing of mourners guiding the pallbearers. “All the world is just a narrow bridge….” We paused seven times along the way as if to say, “We don’t want to do this,” then resolutely moved on to fulfill the divine decree “you shall surely bury.” The open grave with mounds of dirt piled to either side seem like earthen wings spread wide to gather this one back into the nest. The opening is hand-carved with care, its floor gently arched to the center so that the lowering straps can be gracefully removed.
Within the simple, kosher casket lies a body that has been prayed over, bathed, ceremonially purified with flowing water and guarded. “You are a garden spring, a well of fresh water, a rill of Lebanon….” It has been dressed in the simple, white garments of the High Priest on Yom Kippur, casketed with the utmost care, enveloped in a shroud of natural fiber and (if it was their custom) wrapped in a prayer shawl.
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