Q. If an error was made on the date of the death of the deceased, engraved on the matzeiva. It was discovered many years later, and is hard to correct it now without it looking fixed and unattractive. Can the date be totally erased? Is the date essential in a gravestone? Should a new matzeiva be placed?
A. Maharil (Y.D. 348), Nitei Gavriel (Avelus 2: 66: n. 10) and others mention that the minhag and tradition is to write on the matzeiva the date of the decease. In principle, one should make a matzeiva similar to the others on that cemetery. Certainly there should be no errors inscribed on the date of the monument.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that if fixing the matzeiva will make it unattractive, it may be preferable to replace it with a new one. If that is not an option, a plaque with the corrected date should be firmly attached to the old matzeiva.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a