Is there a law or any guidance about bringing a dead body into the house of God? I seem to remember there was something in Leviticus, but I can't find it.

  • We know that people died in the Beit Hamikdash, particularly with instances of improperly appointed kohanim gedolim, however, I have never heard an instance of someone bringing a niftar into the Temple. Apr 20, 2014 at 18:06
  • 1
    I'm going to assume you mean a human body. If not, please clarify,
    – Shmuel
    Apr 20, 2014 at 21:44

3 Answers 3


We learn from the Gemoro Pesachim 67 - extract:

Someone who is tamei from a dead body may enter Machaneh Leviyah. Even a Mes (dead body ) itself may be brought there!

The areas in the mishkan and later in the Beis Hamikdosh are described here

Three concentric levels of sanctity existed in the encampment: the innermost area called Machaneh Shechinah, the Divine Camp that contained the mishkan (Tabernacle); Machaneh Leviyah, the encampment of the Levites that surrounded Machaneh Shechinah, and Machaneh Yisrael, an area beyond Machaneh Leviyah where the rest of the Jews encamped. When the Jews settled the Land of Israel these “camps” were represented by the following sanctified areas: the Azarah (Temple Courtyard), which started at Sha’ar Nikanor (the Nikanor Gate) and included the Beit Hamikdash building and the altar (Machaneh Shechinah); Har HaBayit (Machaneh Leviyah) and the rest of Jerusalem (Machaneh Yisrael).

Follow the virtual tour of the Temple Mount here and you will see that there was the Ezrat Nashim - The Women's Courtyard which was part of the temple from which the Sha’ar Nikanor led on to the Azarah, the courtyard.

So we see that a dead body can be taken into the Temple up to Sha’ar Nikanor.

  • 1
    That's deorayta. Derabanan it has to stay outside the Cheil IIRC
    – Double AA
    Apr 23, 2014 at 16:01
  • @DoubleAA Oh. Can you please find a source? Apr 23, 2014 at 17:17
  • @DoubleAA Rambam Hilchos Bias Mikdosh 3:4 paskens טמא מת אפילו המת עצמו מותר להכנס להר הבית שנאמר ויקח משה את עצמות יוסף עמו עמו במחנה הלויה: Apr 23, 2014 at 17:30
  • Right but where's the boundary? The cheil is on Har habayit but outside the ezrat nashim
    – Double AA
    Apr 23, 2014 at 19:08
  • Mishnah/Tosefta/Commentaries to the first chapter of Keilim May 23, 2014 at 20:16

As indicated by the other answers here, no corpses (nor anyone who had recently touched one) were allowed in the Temple.

Today's synagogues are not the Temple in Jerusalem, and many funerals will begin at the synagogue, with the coffin inside the sanctuary, before proceeding to the cemetery. (If they do this, then Kohanim -- those of priestly descent -- will have to remain outside the synagogue while the coffin is in it.)

  • What of tumat met in the sanctuary? May 23, 2014 at 12:36
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt "sanctuary" == the big, main prayer room in the synagogue. Yes, they'll have coffins there. I'm not aware of any rule against tumat met in our synagogues today.
    – Shalom
    May 23, 2014 at 13:14
  • However kohanim are still advised to avoid tumat met, I recall that for my grandfather's funeral, his coffin was in the hearse outside so that my brother and I could attend the funeral (we're kohanim) May 23, 2014 at 14:39
  • Thank you everyone, for all your answers and insight. Thank you 'Shalom' for your recent answer, which is very helpful.
    – Shona
    May 25, 2014 at 9:22

In Numbers 19, God commands that one who is impure from touching a dead body is prohibited from entering the House of God.

13 Whoever touches a corpse, the body of a person who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the Lord’s Tabernacle

This is put into practice in Numbers 9, where we are told of a group of people who became impure, and were unable to bring the Paschal sacrifice.

In Leviticus 16 Aaron is warned

that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die.

He is told this after Leviticus 10, in which Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, brought an improper sacrifice, and died in the House of God.

  • I hope this answers your question. If not, please clarify.
    – Shmuel
    Apr 20, 2014 at 22:47
  • How about bringing a corpse into the House without thereby becoming defiled and/or without entering the House?
    – msh210
    Apr 20, 2014 at 23:01
  • Pretty sure not explicitly dealt with in Tanach, and I wouldn't even know where to start looking in Gemara for this.
    – Shmuel
    Apr 20, 2014 at 23:03
  • The well known gemoro in yuma, when the kohanim were racing and one stuck a knife, the father said take him out before he dies.
    – preferred
    Jun 22, 2014 at 14:35

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