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Wearing tzitzis in a cemetery
MBY 23:1-3 Many people who wear tzitzis - especially those who wear them hanging outside of their pants(!) - are familiar with the custom of tucking them in when one attends a funeral (R”L) or visits a cemetery. This custom is based upon a concept known as ‘loeg la-rash’ (lit. mocking the poor), which means “flaunting” how one is able to perform mitzvos in front of those who can no longer do so, because they have passed on to the spiritual world! What is not well-known is that this custom has gotten stricter over time. It used to be that many people wore four-cornered garments as part of normal dress. They wore tzitzis because they had to; not because they chose to, as we do, when we go out of our way to make and purchase a four-cornered garment in order to grab the mitzvah. In those days, it was not “mockery” to wear tzitzis; the only thing they had to be careful of was not “rubbing it in” by letting the tzitzis inadvertently drag directly on top of the kever (grave). In our times, however, when we voluntarily take the luxury of doing the mitzvah, we have to be even more sensitive. For us, we must completely hide the tzitzis from sight, such as by tucking them in our pants or covering them by an outer coat etc.

‘Loeg la-rash’ applies equally when one is in the proximity (i.e. 4 ‘amos’/cubits) of even a single ‘meis’ (corpse) or ‘kever’ (grave), if the ‘meis’ is a male - even a child.

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