5

The Talmud (Bavli, B'rachos 18 amud 1) mentions a prohibition on wearing tzitzis or t'filin, or reading from a Torah scroll, in a cemetery, based on "one who taunts the pauper, that makes him a blasphemer" (Proverbs 17:5).

Based on this, the Shulchan Aruch forbids the following in a cemetery near a grave: wearing tzitzis exposed to view (OC 23, YD 367:4), wearing t'filin exposed to view (OC 45:1, YD 367:2), saying "Sh'ma" (OC 71:7, per Mishna B'rura :15), holding a Torah scroll (YD 282:4, per Shach :6), reciting from the Torah except in honor of the deceased (YD 367:3, Kaf Hachayim OC 23:1), and praying (YD 367:3) even kadish (Shach :3). (As always, consult your rabbi for practical guidance.)

Seemingly, the pauper-taunting is the fulfilling of a mitzva (command), alluding to the fact that he can still do so and the deceased cannot.

Is there a prohibition, then, on fulfilling other commands also, when apparent to onlookers, except in honor of the deceased? (If my father and I are near a grave and he asks me for his sweater that I'm holding, so that he may wear it, am I not allowed to pass it to him, because that would be obviously fulfilling the mitzva of honoring my father? If someone begs for charity near a grave, am I not allowed to give? If there's a fall hazard near a grave, am I forbidden from putting a railing up?) If (as I suspect) fulfilling all mitzvos is not prohibited, then why not? What's special about tzitzis, t'filin, reciting Torah and prayers, and holding a Torah scroll? And if fulfilling all mitzvos is in fact prohibited (when apparent to onlookers), why doesn't Shulchan Aruch say so as a blanket rule?

  • 1
    Interesetingly enough, all(?) of the mitzvot you list are discussed in Sefer Ahavah of Rambam's Mishneh Torah. – Joel K May 30 at 11:55
  • All those other Mitzvohs can be done not within 4 Amos. However by burying the dead which is also a mitzvah, and being that I'm within 4 Amos, can I bury the deceased, or is that also "taunting the pauper"!? @msh210 – Moshe May 31 at 6:05
  • @Moshe I thought of that but that's in honor of the deceased – msh210 May 31 at 12:17
  • Or because: if you say that "taunting the dead is always when they're dead", but if he was alive he wouldn't be able to bury himself either way - so we must bury him now and "taunting the dead" doesn't apply to burying the deceased. Or because not burying him a lo saseh and burying him is an aseh and (aseh docha lo saseh) therefore you can to bury him. Or yeah, just kavod the meis. @msh210 – Moshe May 31 at 19:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .