Death and Mourning – 39

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One of the first symbolic acts in the Torah connecting the Jewish people to the land of Israel is Abraham’s purchase of a burial cave in Hebron for Sarah (Genesis 23). Since burial represents a deeply emotional and long-term connection to a particular piece of land, it stands to reason that in studying the beliefs and customs centered around burial, we will discover various dimensions of our connection to the land of Israel. Beyond the historical and halachic questions, thinking about burial practices and places leads to a discussion of the nature of “holy ground:” what makes a place holy?

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