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I've seen various methods occurring during a burial.

After the casket (or body) is laid in the grave, people shovel dirt to cover the grave up to a certain point (usually). After that, I've seen:

  1. Some rabbis say that only Jews should cover the grave all the way to the top (meaning until the dirt is level with the land surrounding the grave.)
  2. Other rabbis have said that people should shovel until you can't see the casket any longer. Then a machine can cover the rest.
  3. Other rabbis say the same as 2, but the rest must be manually shoveled but can be done by non-Jews. However, a machine should never be used.

My questions:

  • The common denominator in all 3 methods is that it seems that Jews have to do some minimal amount of shoveling. Is this true? Can a non-Jew do all or part of the shoveling? If not, how much is the minimum that Jews must do?

  • Can a machine be used for any of the remainder of the shoveling?

  • Can any of the shoveling be done by a non-Jew

  • In any of the above 3 methods, which are halacha vs. minhag?

  • מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו – Double AA Aug 10 '17 at 21:19
  • There's a custom to shovel with the back of the blade so as not to seem excited to be burying the person. Seemingly using a machine would be similar. – Double AA Aug 10 '17 at 21:20
  • @DoubleAA My, this is certainly true at a funeral. The question is what's required. Re: 2nd comment - yes and no. Perhaps, manually doing it indicates more direct involvement in the mitzvah than using a machine? One thing seems certain is that manual shoveling perhaps allows more of an opportunity for more people to be involved. Maybe that's the main reason? The machine can shovel far more dirt at a time than people can. – DanF Aug 10 '17 at 21:20
  • @DoubleAA I was told (back of blade) only the first 3 times but the rest can be done the normal way, (where can I find sources about this), (is he not asking what is the mitzvah (the covering of the casket or the leveling with the ground)? – hazoriz Aug 11 '17 at 0:57
  • @hazoriz Correct. I am asking what the actual mitzvah / halacha is in 3 areas - What must be done by Jews only; what the minimal amount of covering is, and when can a machine be used. – DanF Aug 11 '17 at 15:41

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