2 thoughts on “A Child Thinks about Death – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Please do not find this question offensive, for that is not why it’s asked. I regularly visit the cemetary where my parents are buried and have noticed something that is baffling me. Why do jewish people put small rocks on their headstones? I see some with MANY and wonder what the significance is each time I see them. My curiousity has found me searching unsuccessfully on the net. Thank you for taking the time to resepond.
    Respectfully yours,

  2. Brenda: I don’t at all take offense at yr question. Just the opposite. I’m grateful to you for asking it.

    It’s true that Jews place small rocks on headstones rather than flowers. I don’t really know the precise answer myself. I just did a Google search on yr. behalf & found this plausible set of possible explanations written by Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner:

    There are various explanations.

    The most probable origin is in ancient times when people were concerned about protecting the body from animals or grave-robbers. They would either use a tomb or cover the grave with rocks. At the same time, the mound of rocks would serve as a grave marker, much as we have a tombstone today.

    At about the same time, people were afraid that the spirit – being separate somehow from the body – might “stay around” and they wanted to be sure that body and spirit stayed in one place – and thus they weighted down the body and the coffin if it were used with stones. (That’s one of the reasons mourners stay in their homes for a week; after a week the spirit of the dead depart naturally for another place and can’t be “carried” into someone else’s home.)

    Afterwards, when we wanted to let others know that people had visited the grave, they marked it with rocks. The higher the pile, the more visitors.

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