Causes of Tum'a - Part I


Wash your hands with a cup, using the One-Time Method, after touching any animal.

REASON: Due to the dirt (which may carry tum'a due to fecal matter and other impure substances) assumed to be on the animal.


Music in the Bathroom

You should not listen to Jewish music containing lines from the Torah (psukim) while you are in the bathroom.

Reading Material in the Bathroom

You may not take a Jewish publication into the bathroom if it contains words of Torah. You may read a newspaper or magazine that is printed in Hebrew as long as there is no Torah content.


Washing Hands and Books

You do not need to wash your hands before reading a book of hashkafa/halacha/Jewish philosophy or even Torah or Talmud from a book, unless you have touched something impure/tamei before reading.


Tum'a above Cemetery

Ritual impurity from a cemetery goes up to the sky, so a cohen should not fly over a cemetery.

Tum'a within Cemetery

Ritual impurity (tum'a) in a cemetery comes from being within 4 amot (7 feet) of a grave. This is horizontal distance, regardless of how deep the body is buried.

NOTE A cohen may be in a cemetery as long as he does not get closer than 4 amot (7 feet) to any grave and he does not stand under any tree which extends over a grave.

Cemetery Blessings

Once inside a cemetery, after not having been in one for at least 30 days, say:

Baruch ata adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam asher yatzar etchem ba'din, v'zan v'chilkeil etchem ba'din, v'heimit etchem ba'din, v'yodei'a mispar kulchem ba'din, v'hu atid l'hachazir u'lhachayot etchem ba'din. Baruch ata adonai mechayeh ha'meitim.

Then say Ata gibor l'olam adonai (the second paragraph of the amida) to the end of the paragraph. Omit the blessing at the end as well as mashiv ha'ruach and morid ha'tal.


Contact with the body of a dead non-Jew confers tum'a, just as does contact with the body of a dead Jew.

Cohen Touching the Dead

cohen is forbidden from touching or picking up a dead body of a non-Jew as well as the dead body of a Jew.

Cohen and Non-Jewish Cemetery

A cohen should not walk through a non-Jewish cemetery unless he has an urgent need to do so.

Cohen Flying on Plane Carrying a Body

cohen should not fly on a flight that has a dead body on it, even if the body is in the hold or baggage compartment (where it normally will be).

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of Visit their website for more information.