Why we bury our dead?

It is from Genensis

The First Death: Death as a Mystery
“Cain said to his brother Abel…and when they were in the field, Cain set upon his brother Abel and killed him” [Gen.4:8].

How did Cain slay Abel? He took a stone and inflicted many contusions and bruises on Abel’s arms and legs, for he did not know what part of the body the soul goes out of, until, when he got to his neck, Abel died. After he slew him, Cain said: I must flee from my father and mother….Abel was lying in a field, his blood spattered over sticks and stones. The dog who had been guarding Abel’s flock now also guarded his corpse from the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky.

Adam and Eve came and sat by the corpse, weeping and mourning for him – but they did not know what to do with Abel’s body. A raven whose companion had just died said: I will teach Adam what to do. The raven took his dead companion, dug up the earth before the eyes of Adam and his mate, and buried his companion. Adam said: We will do as the raven. At once he took Abel’s corpse and buried it in the ground.

n  From Midrash Pirkei Eliezer [Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer], ch. 21; it is found also in two medieval Midrashic compilations (Yalkut Shimoni and Midrash Haggadol)

This is the documentation on why we bury our dead now as well…

Many of the customs around death are found directly in Torah and the related Midrash from this first death in the Bible to Abraham’s purchase of the cave to bury Sarah and also the concept of putting a stone marker to commemorate the names of those who have died.

Thank you to Rabbi Janet Marder from her talk on Death at Gesharim 11/6/11

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