What is an Aron?
What is an Aron? An Aron is a simple Jewish casket constructed of wood. Aron is a Yiddish word meaning chest, box, or ark.
Every human being is equal.
So, unfortunately, in death, this same thought does not seem to apply. Some people die as paupers, and others die to leave behind millions. Also, some cannot afford the most basic burial, while others have funerals costing what amounts to more than what some people earn in a year.
What led to the construction of the Aron, What is an Aron?
- In the past, about 1800 years ago, people used to bring food to the home of the mourning family. The rich brought their items in baskets made from gold and silver. The poor brought in baskets of willow twigs.
So a law, authorised by the rabbis, that all people, both wealthy and poor, should use willow twigs to make their baskets.
- The dead were brought for burial on big ornamental beds with fancy covers. The poor used a plain bier.
So again a law that all people should only use a plain bier.
- The rich in expensive garments, the poor were often naked. A rabbi decided for a plain linen shroud, and as such set a precedent.
So the law made it a matter of principle that all are buried in a simple shroud, or with their prayer shawl. Also, in Israel, people are often buried naked, with no covering at all.
- For all the same reasons, and to keep all people equal, the Aron, or casket, was created.
The Aron, What is an Aron
In Judaism, the simplicity of the coffin is of the utmost importance:
- Made from natural materials
- It should lack any ornamental trimmings
- The body needs to be in contact with the earth
The Jewish people were concerned with making sure that the body returns to the earth as soon as possible after death. For this reason, they constructed the Aron, using wood, and having no metal parts.
With a wooden casket, everything decomposes at the same rate, returning to the earth.
- There is no plush lining inside – it is just the bare wooden shell.
- Some of the coffins have four holes in the bottom, allowing the body to come into contact with the earth. The earth causes the ultimate decay of the body.
- Made with pine. Redwood is also fairly common. Generally speaking, though, the type of wood used doesn’t matter.
- The wood is polished or left natural.
- Sometimes a wooden Magen David (Star of David) is on the coffin lid.
- Traditionally, nothing is with the body in the casket. Also, the exception to this is a little bit of earth from the Holy Land (Israel), and the prayer shawl (tallit), as a covering. That ties in with the principle of everyone coming into the world empty-handed, and therefore needing to depart this way as well.
So with the cost of funerals being exorbitantly high, it might be a good idea for us all to consider doing our average burial along similar lines.
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