Tachrichim (Hebrew: תכריכים) are traditional simple white
burial furnishings, usually made from 100% pure linen, in which the
bodies of deceased Jews are dressed by the Chevra Kadisha, or other
burial group, for interment after undergoing a taharah (ritual
In Hebrew, tachrichim means to "enwrap" or "bind." It comes from the
Biblical verse (Esther 8:15) "And
Mordechai left the king's presence
in royal apparel of blue and white and a huge golden crown and a wrap
of linen (tachrich butz) and purple, and the city of Shushan rejoiced
and was happy".
The traditional clothing for burying the dead are tachrichim, simple
white garments or furnishings, including a winding sheet (sovev).
Their use dates back to Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel II, who, in the
second century CE, asked to be buried in inexpensive linen garments.
According to the Talmud,
Rabban Gamliel observed that the custom of
dressing the deceased in expensive clothing put such a terrible burden
on the relatives of the deceased, that they would "abandon the body
The custom he initiated - which set both a decorous minimum and a
limit on ostentation - has been followed by observant Jews ever since.
"Whoever heaps elaborate shrouds upon the dead transgresses the
injunction against wanton destruction. Such a one disgraces the
deceased." The universal use of shrouds protected the poor from
embarrassment at not being able to afford lavish burial clothes. Since
shrouds have no pockets, wealth or status cannot be expressed or
acknowledged in death. In every generation, these garments reaffirmed
a fundamental belief in human equality.
Tachrichim are white and entirely hand stitched, without tying knots.
They are made without buttons, zippers, or fasteners. Tahrihim come in
muslin or linen, fabrics that recall the garments of the ancient
Hebrew priesthood. There is little difference in appearance or cost
between them; the funeral home may or may not offer a choice. Tahrihim
come packaged in sets for men and women. Regardless of gender, they
include a tunic, pants, hood, and belt. The belt is tied to form the
shape of the
Hebrew letter shin, which stands for Shaddai, one of the
accepted representations of God's ineffable Name. If the pants are not
closed at the bottom to cover the feet, "booties" are additionally
provided. The face is generally covered with a sudarium, much as in
traditional artistic representations of Lazarus or Jesus in His tomb.
Men may also be wrapped in a kittel, a simple, white ceremonial robe
that some Jews wear on Yom Kippur, at the Passover seder, and under
the wedding canopy. In earlier times, the sisterhoods or women's
auxiliaries would make shrouds for their community; this practice may
still occur in traditional communities.
If the body has been prepared for burial with ritual cleansing
(taharah), the body will automatically be dressed in tahrihim. Jewish
funeral homes and burial societies (chevra kadishim) in general have a
supply on hand, and the cost may be covered by their honorarium.
In addition to tachrichim, some Jewish men are wrapped in the prayer
shawl (tallit) in which they prayed. In this case, before the tallit
is placed on a body for burial, one of its sets of fringes (tzitzit)
is cut to demonstrate that the person is no longer bound by the
religious obligations of the living.
Tahrihim swaddle the entire body, including the face, so that the
deceased is both clothed and protected against the gaze of other
people. If shrouds are used, the body is placed in the coffin, which
is then closed. In Israel, it is customary to bury the deceased
(except soldiers) without a coffin.
Today, virtually all (Jewish) mortuaries carry tachrichim. The prices
vary, depending on whether it is cotton or linen, or whether it is
Bereavement in Judaism