Another question on this website deals with the issue of kohanim in Auschwitz. To be "strict", a kohen today could simply avoid going to death camps altogether. Elsewhere, however, is not so easy. Are there published teshuvot that address the problems for kohanim of going walking through forests and fields in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states? Sadly, many of these locations are the sites of mass graves, a great deal of which are unmarked and most of which contain the remains of dead Jews.

I am not a kohen and I am not asking for a psak. I just want to know if there are published teshuvot that speak of this issue, and what kohanim residing in these places do in order to avoid it. My guess is that in most places it's a safek sfeika (safek that the site is a mass grave, plus the additional safek that the people murdered there were Jewish), but in some places those sfeikot collapse into reasonable certainty.

So, for example, while a kohen might not be able to visit Babi Yar, Ponary, Serniki and other such places, does that mean that they also cannot wander through the woods and fields in their environs?

  • Re "safek sfeika (safek that the site is a mass grave, plus the additional safek that the people murdered there were Jewish)": that doesn't look like a s'fek s'feka to me: you can't turn it around: "maybe the people in the grave aren't Jews and, even if they are, maybe it's not a grave" doesn't work. – msh210 Jul 20 '16 at 7:11
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    @msh210 - really? I'm not aware that a sfek sfeka needs to be reversible in that way - do you have a source for that?? (Sorry to ask a question under a question, but this also changes my reading of Taharot in the Mishna. Are you sure?) – Shimon bM Jul 20 '16 at 7:44
  • I don't know the answer, but if this was true, there would be no end. I would think that all of Europe and Eretz Yisrael has the status of a safek for Jews having being murdered there. Not just the Shoah - add pogroms, inquisitions, crusades, and expulsions going back to the first Temple being destroyed :(. – Miriam Jul 20 '16 at 8:21
  • @Miriam Eretz Yisroel has a chezkas Kashrus... Don't have a source for that, but it's what I have heard while discussing. I live here. There are places which are very questionable. For example I know of Kohanim that wouldn't step foot into Teveriya as it is rumored that all parts of the city today (not the old city) might have been a cemetery at one point or another. Another problematic city is Tzfas. It is said that the Arizal purified Eretz Yisroel by marking all scattered graves. (He is the source for the locations of all the known tanaims graves) – Mennyg Jul 20 '16 at 8:42
  • No, I don't, sorry. – msh210 Jul 20 '16 at 14:12

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