Adjectives on Tombstones (Was "Unusual Hebrew words on #general


Shlomo Katz <SKATZ@...>
 

One should not read too much into the adjectives on tombstones (e.g.
"ha'chashuvah"). Families could, and did, write whatever they wanted
(true or not) or they could choose >from a finite number of standard
inscriptions. (I base this assertion on my personal examination of more
than 1,000 photographs of tombstones >from various countries in Eastern
Europe.) There is a famous, perhaps apocryphal, story about a rabbi who
took a sledgehammer and destroyed a tombstone because he said that the
Heavenly court was taking the deceased to task for not having all the fine
qualities that his tombstone listed. Similarly, one can find complaints
in 16th and 17th century halachic (legal) works about exaggerated
eulogies.
Shlomo Katz
Silver Spring Maryland

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