Babylonian Talmud, Moed Katan 27b
תלמוד בבלי מועד קטן כז:
בראשונה היתה הוצאת המת קשה לקרוביו יותר ממיתתו עד שהיו קרוביו מניחין אותו ובורחין עד שבא רבן גמליאל ונהג קלות ראש בעצמו ויצא בכלי פשתן ונהגו העם אחריו לצאת בכלי פשתן אמר רב פפא והאידנא נהוג עלמא אפילו בצרדא בר זוזא
It used to be that funeral expenses were harder for the relatives of the deceased than the death itself. This was to the extent that the relatives of the dead would abandon the body and run away from it. Until Rabban Gamliel treated himself disrespectfully, being buried in cotton garments. The people followed him, adopting the practice of being buried in cotton garments. Rav Pappa said, "In our time, people are buried even in one-dinar cloaks." [translated by Mechon Hadar]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What tensions are at play between the emotional and financial losses in burying a loved one?

2. Do you think Rabban Gamliel encountered resistance in his wanting to be buried cheaply?

3. Is this story about choosing frugality over honor of the dead, or about finding other ways of honoring them?

Time Period: Rabbinic (Maccabees through the Talmud)