It says in Brachos 5B that R' Yochanan used to show people his tenth son's bone (all of his children passed away, and he used to carry a bone of his tenth child).

How was he allowed to not bury this bone?

  • I'm guessing this has something to do with ossuary style burials.
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2012 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


See the Q&A cited in yydl's answer to a related question:

Rashi to Berachos there says that it was a piece less than the size of a barleycorn, which isn't subject to tum'ah and therefore doesn't require burial. Aruch, and Rashbam to Bava Basra 116a (both cited in Mesores Hashas to Berachos there) explain that it was a tooth, which according to many posekim doesn't require burial either.

Aside from this, some other commentaries (cited in the back of the Nehardea edition of Berachos) explain the phrase differently, as "a bone from the bereavement meal (סעודת הבראה)." According to this approach, it wasn't a human bone at all.

  • The only reason a body part requires kevura is to avoid spreading tumah?
    – Double AA
    Jun 4, 2012 at 20:11
  • 1
    @DoubleAA, it looks like there's a dispute about this point. R. Chanoch (Heinrich) Ehrentreu of Munich (grandfather of Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, יבלח"ט) argued that indeed Rashi is implying that a fragment of bone this small doesn't require burial; R. Meir Lerner of Altona took sharp issue with this, and argued that indeed even larger pieces (short of a complete skull and most of the rest of the body) may not require it.
    – Alex
    Jun 4, 2012 at 21:16

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