Why Reserve a Burial Plot in Israel?

The Cemetery on the Mount of Olives
The Cemetery on the Mount of Olives

The Bible tells us that our forefather Abraham went to great lengths to purchase the Cave of Machpela for himself and his family. Jacob asked Joseph to swear that he would take his body from Egypt to be buried in Eretz Yisroel.

The Sages of blessed memory explain “Why did the Patriarchs prefer burial in the Land of Israel? Because those buried in the Land of Israel will be the first to come to life at the time of Techiat Hamaitim” (Beraishit Rabbah). They also explained “To be buried in the Land of Israel is as though one is buried under the Altar” (Talmud Ketubot). “The person’s soul will rise directly through the gates of heaven” (Gesher Hachaim). “The soul will be freed of the pain of Gilgul Mechilos and Chibbut Hakever” (Ibid).

Over the past centuries righteous Jews made great sacrifices to be buried in the Land of Israel, especially on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In the last fifty years, improved travel and communications have enabled many thousands of Jews from all over the world to achieve the merit of burial in the Land of Israel. They do so because of the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel and also because reserving a plot during one’s lifetime is traditionally regarded as a ‘Segulah’ for a long life.

There may be more pragmatic reasons. Perhaps their children live in Israel and after ‘one hundred and twenty’ it will be easier for future generations to visit the gravesite.

Furthermore, we have recently seen the re-emergence of anti-semitism and desecrations of Jewish cemeteries are all too frequent. Commercial and sporting interests take precedence over the preservation of “an old cemetery”. Who knows whether there will be strong Jewish communities in the Diaspora in fifty years time to protect our cemeteries.