The kittel must be the most profound garment in Jewish tradition. The first time it is worn is under the chuppah at the start of a new life, mirroring the purity of the kallah dressed in white, and the last time it is worn is in the burial grave. How many other garments are worn decade after decade, not only until death, but accompanying the wearer to the grave?
In between, the kittel is worn year after year on Yom Kippur and seder after seder on Pesach. It witnesses so much life, yet is a physical reminder of the reality of death. Wearing one’s burial shrouds throughout some of the most significant moments in one’s life seems morbid. But when you remember the kittel has no pockets, as we can’t bring anything with us at death, the message is apparent: our most meaningful experiences in life have nothing to do with our possessions.