Dear Cyber Rav,
At a recent family discussion, just after the funeral of a relative, some of my relatives said that it is not proper to visit other graves while at another funeral or unveiling. Is this real Halakhah or just a bubemysah?
This is a good CyberRav question. Thanks.
There is a minhag, a custom, to not visit any other grave when you have gone to the cemetery specifically for burial. The idea here is to not use a sad event like a burial as a convenience to fulfill one's obligations to visit others. Trips to the cemetery, therefore, need to be dedicated. When we go for burial, it is for burial alone. When we go for a visit, and this would include an unveiling (an unveiling, however popular, has very little foundation in Jewish tradition), we can visit as many loved ones who have passed on as necessary.
Having stated the minhag, let me tell you of my kulot (lax rulings) on the matter. The Jewish community no longer lives within a radius of fifty miles from the cemetery. When someone from out of town is in for a funeral and wishes to visit the graves of loved ones, I think it is wrong to prevent them from so doing on the basis of this minhag alone. If the visitor is a mourner and at the cemetery for burial, I would definitely discourage any additional visits to other graves. If the people who intend on the visit are not mourners, but who live within a reasonable radius of the cemetery, I would also discourage the visit. But when someone is not a mourner, even if he/she is at the cemetery for a burial, and this person lives a distance that would prevent routine visits to the cemetery, I would be hard-pressed to deny them such a visit.
I hope this helps and I hope that you will be invited to many more B’nei Mitzvah and weddings, than funerals.
Rabbi Rafi Rank
The Cyber Rav