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The MY question Why don't Jewish people put flowers on graves? asks about a visitor leaving flowers on a grave. The reason we don’t is that it’s “chukas hagoyim”

Does the same logic apply for a the dead person themselves. Meaning could I request that flowers be planted on my grave. Just because I think flowers are pretty and if I’m going to be paying for a random plot of land I might as well get some use out of it.

Or is there any other halachik reason I can’t have flowers planted on my grave?

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  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/56872/…
    – Loewian
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 21:08
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    Why should chukas hagoyim not apply? The deceased isn’t the one who’s putting the flowers there – the living people who are still obligated are.
    – DonielF
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 23:05

2 Answers 2

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The prohibition of placing flowers on a grave is not a strict prohibition, and appears to be more of a matter of custom. I had never seen this outside of Israel but, having gone to too many military funerals during the 2023-2024 Gaza War, I was surprised to see all of them had wreaths of flowers. Apparently, this is the custom in Israel for these funerals, and as such is not part of the "chukat ha-goyim" prohibition (see also here on this).

R Ari Enkin writes on the topic

The practice of decorating a grave with flowers is not of Jewish origin and should be avoided (Yaskil Avdi 4:25, Melamed L'hoil Y.D. 109, Minchat Yitzchak 1:31, Seridei Aish Y.D. 108) though there are authorities who justify the practice. (Har Tzvi Y.D. 279, Yabia Omer Y.D. 3:24:10, Aseh Lecha Rav 1:44)

So the answer to your question will very likely depend on the local custom.

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See Flowers, Jews & Gravesites by Eliezer Zalmanov https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1218970/jewish/Flowers-Jews-Gravesites.htm

Response: You are right. Planting flowers on a grave is indeed not a Jewish tradition.

Why is this? Allow me to share with you the contents of a letter written by the great Hungarian chassidic rebbe and halachist, Rabbi Chaim Elazar Spira of Munkacs (1871–1937), to a rabbi in whose town some people had wanted to plant flowers on the graves of the wealthy Jews. Rabbi Spira was of the opinion that this was not to be done. Here were the reasons behind his ruling:

  1. Our sages taught that the rich and the poor must be buried alike. (This is why all Jews—regardless of means—are buried in identical linen shrouds.) Placing flowers on the graves of the wealthy drives unnecessary barriers between the classes.
  2. Placing edible items into a casket is forbidden according to Jewish law, as it a waste of G‑d’s bounty. Similarly, putting good, fragrant flowers (which could possibly be used as spices) in a place where they will not be used, says Rabbi Spira, is an infraction of the same law.
  3. It is forbidden to use or benefit from the casket or anything associated with the dead—even the earth which covers them. As such, enjoying the fragrance of flowers placed on graves would be forbidden, and planting flowers there in the first place is just inviting trouble.
  4. The most important reason is that, as you pointed out, it is not a Jewish custom, but rather a non-Jewish practice. We read in Leviticus 18:3, “Like the practices of the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you, you shall not do, and you shall not follow their statutes.” This means that a Jew must be careful not to follow the practices of the non-Jews. It was primarily because of this reason that Rabbi Spira ruled that it is to be avoided.

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