I was recently reading an article which suggested planting trees over graves which made me think of this question...

How long does Jewish law require a grave to remain as a grave for the original person buried there and are we required to make sure it remains recognizable as a grave always?

May the grave be used for a secondary purpose such as planting a tree upon it?

How does this different for Jews versus gentiles?

  • pretty sure we had this question already
    – Double AA
    Feb 6, 2019 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


The Shulchan Aruch (YD 364:1) writes that a grave is forbidden for profitable use forever

A built grave is forbidden for profitable use [...] This [ruling] that a built grave is prohibited [for profitable use] forever [...]

He later writes this also applies if the remains were removed, as long as they were placed with the intent to be there forever. However one may use the earth between the graves (see here at length, also regarding exemptions permitting use of a cemetery, e.g., when interfering with the rights of the public), and for instance one could plant trees there.

The one permitted use of a grave I know of is to layer another grave onto it as was famously done in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague where as many as twelve layers exist (see also here).

Regarding non-Jews, it is a controversy, see here section E.

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