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Inspired by the film Avatar (2009)

In the opening scene of the film, set in the mid 22nd century, we see a non-Jewish funeral for the protagonist's brother, in which his body (in a cardboard aron) is put into an incinerator.

While cremation is assur, the scene made me wonder whether a cardboard coffin would be appropriate. As far as I'm aware, there is no halachic issue with being buried in cardboard, as it biodegrades relatively quickly. However, would it be acceptable, from the angle of kavod hamet to bury a body in the above described aron, rather than in a wooden box or just a tallit/tachrichim?

  • Are you assuming it's strong enough to "survive" the burial-ceremony intact? If so, what's the question? – Danny Schoemann Sep 20 '15 at 12:12
  • @DannySchoemann, I assume that there is a cardboard that is strong enough. I am wondering whether it would be "kovoddik" to bury the niftar in a cardboard box. – Noach MiFrankfurt Sep 20 '15 at 14:06
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    Probably depends on circumstances. If the niftar was a tree hugger, then a recycled-cardboard coffin would be approriate. If he was a master carpenter then that would be an insult. For the rest of us, if it doesn't look like it's headed for the garbage dump, then why not? Who would even know the difference? :-) – Danny Schoemann Sep 21 '15 at 8:44
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I was in a box plant which makes biodegradable cardboard coffins amongst other things and they had one in the boardroom standing up against the wall.

The coffins were for burial, not cremation.

I assume they are for use in an arid cemetery where the coffin will last long enough to prevent rotting flesh being swept out of the grave by rain.

In which case the only gemara this calls to mind is the gemara where a chossid slept in a graveyard and overheard the spirit of a girl complaining she had been buried in a machatzeles shel kanim, a mat of reeds.

Similarly here the deceased may not be impressed.

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    Impressed? What value is there in having a nice coffin? In many places in Israel they don't even use coffins. – Double AA Apr 13 '16 at 1:13
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    Pretty sure the custom used to be not to use coffins but due to burial laws coffins are used now – Dude May 13 '16 at 2:45
  • I've seen burials, and generally they bury the body very deep (with a coffin), way to deep for the rain to wash away the earth – user613 May 13 '16 at 3:34
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    @Dude Al pi halachah the body has to be buried in the ground, not in a coffin that happens to be in the ground. There's several ways to get around it, like making a hole in the bottom, possibility biodegradable is alright. – user613 May 13 '16 at 3:36
  • According to אמונת התחיה, the issue wasn't the coffin but the clothes. books.google.com/… – Shmuel Brin Mar 9 '17 at 9:09

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