Robe in which the dead are arrayed for burial. The shroud is made of white linen cloth ("sadin," the σινδόν of the New Testament; see Matt. xxvii. 59), which is cut and sewed together with large stitches; the ends of the thread are left unknotted, the garment being intended to last only until the body has decayed. As a general rule, however, several garments are used instead of a single shroud; in the case of a man these are a cap (in the form of a miter), breeches, shirt, an over-garment somewhat similar to a surplice, and a girdle. For a woman, an apron with strings replaces the breeches and the girdle, and the cap is flat. Toa prominent man's attire is added the ṭallit he wore at prayers, but with the fringes removed or cut. The shroud, as being a garment for the dead and not for the living, is not subject to the law concerning mixed material (= "sha'atnez"; Kil. ix. 4).
Prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jews were buried in the garments they were wont to wear during life. When the woman of Endor saw the prophet Samuel rise from the grave he was covered with a mantle (I Sam. xxviii. 14), the same he had worn when living (Lev. R. xxvi. 7). The poor, however, were probably swathed like Egyptian dead, as the term "takrikin" seems to indicate. Later the attire of the corpse became more elaborate. The rich grew very extravagant in this respect, securing fanciful and costly garments, and establishing a custom which became a burden upon mourners of the middle and poorer classes, who could ill endure the expense and yet desired to show the highest respect for their dead. This caused R. Gamaliel, about fifty years after the destruction of the Temple, to inaugurate the custom of using a simple linen shroud for rich and poor alike (M. Ḳ. 27b).
One who dies as a result of an act of violence, or in consequence of loss of blood, or a woman who dies in confinement, must be buried in the bloody garments worn at the time of death, and not in a shroud. This custom is based on the view that the last drops of blood, the loss of which is the immediate cause of death, are part of the body, and as such require burial; and since they can not be removed from the garments, these must go into the grave. But one who is killed by drowning or hanging, without loss of blood, is buried in the usual way, as is also one who is injured, loses blood, but partially recovers, though he dies later as a result of the injury (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 364). Even where the corpse is buried with the garments it is covered with a white sheet (ib.).
The shroud is figuratively termed "zewada" (provision for a journey; Ket. 67b); and by many it was prepared during their own lifetime, before ill health and age had overtaken them (Men. 41a; see Rashi). Several reasons are advanced for this ("Shelah," p. 145a, Amsterdam, 1698). See also Burial; Sargenes.
- Modena, Ma'abar Yabboḳ, ii. 32, iii. 13;
- Lewysohn, Meḳore Minhagim, p. 85;
- Landshuth, Seder Biḳḳur Ḥolim, Introduction, § 23, Berlin, 1867.