HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky: ‘You May Burn the Body’


According to a report appearing in the weekly BaKehilla, a chareidi woman appeared before Maran Hagon Rav Chaim Kanievsky this week, explaining her not observant father just passed away and in his will he requested that the children turn his corpse over to a firm for cremation. She wanted to know if she is compelled or permitted to adhere to his wishes.

R’ Kanievsky surprised the woman by telling her “you can burn his body as requested in the will”.

After the woman left one of the aides to R’ Kanievsky asked for an explanation, receiving the following response. “A person who asked to be cremated after his neshama leaves his body is a non-jew”.

“But the woman is chareidi!”

“Yes indeed. It appears her mother was Jewish but the father was a non-jew and therefore, there is nothing preventing them from adhering to his wishes”.

NOTE: As stated in the opening of this article, this was reported by the weekly BaKehilla newspaper, and translated by YWN.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


  1. This is very unclear. Was the Rav basing his decision on and saying explicitly that this man was not jewish so cremation was ok ? or just that based on his request as per his will, could have been a jew?

    Its really sad actually because even a goy who was good can have a chaylik and get up at techias hamaysim. Why take that away from them ?

  2. This story is highly suspect. Did Maran R’ Kanievsky know b’ruach hakodesh that this man was a non-Jew, or did he posken that a Jew who requests cremation in his will is somehow not a Jew?

  3. Am I to be considered an apikores if I don’t believe this story at all? #3 it seems both. he “knew” the reason and then he paskened accordingly. I still don’t believe any part of this story. Good old days back when nobody made up “chasidishe” masos on Litvish roshei yeshivo. Now all the yeshivish guys who always laughed at baal shem stories believe the same type of stories about Rav Elayshiv or Rav Kanievsky. Time for moshiach to come.

  4. I assume it there is a typo. It probably should read “THE person who asked to be cremated..” and not “A person…”.

    Furthermore, assuming the story true, he probably understood from her words that her father was a goy.

    theprof1 – one has to be careful will hearsay, especially if it effects halacha. So in this story there is nothing wrong with not believing it. Although it may be true, but the facts are probably slightly distorted.

  5. it sounds to me that what he’s saying is that someone who can request such a thing like cremation after his death obviously doesn’t believe in olam haba and Hashem and is therefore not considered jewish anymore because he’s a kofer and therefore can be cremated.

  6. #9 How can you compare the two? The 6 million Yidden were not given a choice and were killed Al Kiddush Hashem, the same for those Kedoshem who were burned to death on 9/11. Here the cremation was a request.

  7. Here’s a shaila:

    There are two secular sisters, born from a secular Jewish mother.

    One of them dies, donating her body to science and requesting the remains be cremated.

    The other one has children who become ba’alei teshuva.

    By R’ Kanievsky’s psak, the sister who had her body cremated would seem not to be Jewish. Yet she has the exact same halachic claim to being a Jew as the mother of the ba’alei t’shuva. If the one who had her body cremated wasn’t Jewish by virtue of having a Jewish mother, then why is the sister who bore BT children not also a non-Jew? And are the ba’alei t’shuva children not really Jewish?

    Perhaps bored123 (no. 8) has the right interpretation of what R’ Kanievsky was saying.

  8. #10, When someone comments on what someone else wrote, you’re supposed to first read the comment he his commenting on, in order to properly understand what he is saying.

  9. i dont believe that he did that. ra moshe was asked about burying a man who had turned in many many jews in communist russia, the chevra kadisha said to bury him a ‘kvuras chamor’, to be buried standing, and rav moshe said that according to shulchan aruch it’s not allowed.
    there is an issue in hilchos aveilus about doing the will of a parent who asked for something k’neged halacha, and indeed it is not permitted.
    this leads me to conclude that the whole story isn’t true, because any rav who poskins such a thing, especially in declaring a known jew to be a non jew, would be doing k’neged the shulchan aruch. a rav who poskins k’neged the shulchan aruch with no basis in gemara rishonim or achronim would not be a kosher rav, but harav kanyevsky is not that type of person.
    the story is false