jewish Funeral Guide

Jewish Funeral Services - לוויה

Leaving the Cemetery

On the way out of the cemetery, it is customary to pluck some grass and throw it over one's shoulder while saying one or both of the following verses:

Psalms 72:16

וְיָצִיצוּ מֵעִיר
כְּעֵשֶׂב הָאָרֶץ׃

May they blossom from the city
like grass of the earth.

Psalms 103:14

זָכוּר כִּי עָפָר אֲנָחְנוּ׃

He remembers that we are dust.

These verses symbolize the resurrection of the dead who will come back to life from the dust of the earth.

Upon leaving the cemetery, everyone should wash their hands, preferably from a vessel, pouring water alternately on each hand three times, to symbolize their disassociation from death and its impurity. Some wash their face as well. After washing, the custom is to pour out any remaining water, overturn the vessel and put it down — the vessel is not passed from hand to hand. The hands are not wiped with a towel but left to dry by themselves. It is customary to recite the following verse while washing one's hands:

Isaiah 25:8

בִּלַּע הַמָּוֶת לָנֶצַח
וּמָחָה אֲדנָי אֱלהיִם
דִּמְעָה מֵעַל כָּל פָּנִים וְחֶרְפַּת
עַמּוֹ יָסִיר מֵעַל כָּל
הָאָרֶץ כִּי יְיָ דִּבֵּר׃

May He swallow up death forever
and may the Almighty God wipe away
tears from every face and the scorn
of His people He will remove from all
the earth, because the Lord said so.

In some communities it is also customary to stop and sit down seven times when leaving the cemetery. At each stop they recite Psalm 90:17 followed by the recitation of Psalm 91 in the manner described above. Some sit only three times, however.

This is a perfect time to give Tzedakah / צדקה — charity on behalf of the deceased, saying: “This is for the benefit of the departed soul of (name of the deceased)”.

Those who did not have a chance to wash their hands as described above, should definitely do so before entering their homes. Some wash their hands both upon leaving the cemetery and before entering their home.