As far as I know, all Avelus starts with the burial, not with the actual death.

Particularly, why saying Kaddish does not start with the moment of death? And is it just a general Minhag or there are some secret matters?

  • I have been instructed (by a chevra kadisha in Yerushalayim) to say kaddish for a relative before he was buried. May 1, 2019 at 8:36
  • Can you source any of your claims? They are all easily disputable.
    – Double AA
    May 1, 2019 at 12:12
  • @DoubleAA I sat Shivah twice, and I said clearly "AFAIK". Go ahead and dispute it.
    – Al Berko
    May 1, 2019 at 12:19
  • 1
    All prohibitions of Avelut (except leather shoes) apply from death (Rama YD 341:5). Kaddish is recited even before burial (Kitzur ShA 196:9) though I accept there are different active customs about the last point.
    – Double AA
    May 1, 2019 at 13:11
  • I haven't heard Kaddish said until after burial is done. I surmise that one reason may be that an Onein I stoo "emotionally busy" with burial and would not have proper kavana for the Kaddish. Another reason may be to mark a clear distinction between Aninut and Aveilut, which in "name" doesn't begin until after burial. Additionally, I gather that graveside services were far more common years ago than they are now. So, it may have been common to recite the Kaddish after burial at the gravesite.
    – DanF
    May 1, 2019 at 13:28

2 Answers 2


Well, since Kadish is said by the mourners, and they are exempt from davening, they won't be in shul to say Kadish, and may not even be allowed to say it (same way they cannot daven or bentsch.)

That said, at a funeral the Kadish is already said, before the burial.

Also, if one has given up hope of finding somebody presumed dead (e.g. they drowned and were never located) then one can usually say Kadish for them, even though there was no burial. See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 204:4 for details.

Also ibid 204:3 we see that one can start all Shiva procedures before the burial, when the burial is out of town.

We also see from the Kitzur 196:9 that Kaddish can be said on Shabbat if the burial is delayed until after Shabbat.

So, it seems - like I already postulated - that the mourners usually don't say Kaddish before the burial because they are not allowed to be doing any positive Mitzvos; their full-time Mitzva is to deal with the burial.

  • Thank you, you're saying it's customary, are there any עניינים not to say Kaddish before the burial?
    – Al Berko
    May 1, 2019 at 11:02
  • 1
    About 1/7 deaths though there's a Shabbat before the burial when they are obligated in prayer
    – Double AA
    May 1, 2019 at 12:11
  • @AlBerko - I don't deal with those things. Unless they are clearly documented in classic sources. May 2, 2019 at 12:10
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    @DoubleAA - correct - Kitzur SA 196:9: מִי שֶׁמֵּת לוֹ מֵת בַּשַׁבָּת, כֵּיוָן דְּאָסוּר לְקָבְרוֹ הַיוֹם, לֹא חָלָה עָלָיו אֲנִינוּת, וּמֻתָּר בְּבָשָׂר וָיַיִן, וְחַיָּב בְּכָל הַמִצְוֹת...אִם הַמֵּת הוּא אָבִיו אוֹ אִמּוֹ, יָכוֹל לוֹמַר קַדִּישׁ בִּמְקוֹם שֶׁאֵין שְאָר אֲבֵלִים. אֲבָל בִּמְקוֹם שְׁאָר אֲבֵלִים, לֹא יֹאמַר קַדִּישׁ קֹדֶם הַקְּבוּרָה (עַיֵּן בספר שערי דעה). Actually that could be added into the answer/ May 2, 2019 at 12:26

Who exactly is qualified to say so and so has just experienced "the moment of death"?

Nobody, in good conscience, can testify to something he or she is unsure of; therefore, the waiting period (even if less than 24 hours) before the burial is a way to be certain that one is not wrong on the issue.

Isn't that simply a practicality, that Kaddish is not mentioned at the moment of death but at/after/with burial?

Therefore it has become "easier" to diagnose somebody as dead at/after/with burial rather than at the moment of perceived death?

In secular first world countries, like Great Britain, for example, "there is no legal definition of death" (www.bbc.com/news/health-19968625). There are only "guidelines for the diagnosis", which therefore opens the door for a misdiagnosis, which is ripe in second and third world countries.

Doesn't even the Torah (for example Devarim 31:16) uses the verb to sleep/lie-down when somebody dies because by sight, before burial, death and sleep look the same?

Devarim 31:16 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Behold, thou art about to sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go astray after the foreign gods of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have made with them.

  • Thank you, while I'd like to +1 your interesting idea and your effort, I can't agree with you Halachicly. Practically, if two witnesses saw a person dead, really dead, say decapitated, he's considered Halachicly dead with all the implications - his wife is single, his kids divide the money, etc. This is equally true if one drowned or fell in a pit with lions or tarantulas. On the other hand, the fact that somebody's body is buried does not prove his death any better.
    – Al Berko
    May 1, 2019 at 12:16
  • 1
    @AlBerko: I believe his argument was that the witnesses cannot, in good conscience, testify to something they are unsure of themselves, and the inevitable waiting period before the burial is a way for them to be certain that they are not wrong on the issue.
    – user18041
    May 6, 2019 at 11:34
  • @Lucian If that’s true it’s even more halachically incorrect.
    – DonielF
    May 6, 2019 at 19:06
  • @DonielF: How so ?
    – user18041
    May 6, 2019 at 19:09
  • @Lucian Consider literally any Mishnah on the topic of witnesses testifying to someone’s death. There’s no basis for waiting until he’s buried. Also, by that logic, basically any murderer could claim “Prove it was me - maybe I just knocked him out, and he was killed when you buried him alive.”
    – DonielF
    May 6, 2019 at 19:14

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