Is it appropriate to learn the laws of aveilut when both your parents are alive? Or is there a superstition that it could be dangerous to them?

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    I know the Rabbanut in Israel and Yeshiva University both require studying these laws to be ordained and neither TTBOMK has a requirement or even a suggestion that their rabbis be missing a parent. Does this information qualify as an answer?
    – Double AA
    Dec 1, 2014 at 0:17
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    @DoubleAA Yes IMO. But one can distinguish those who need the knowledge for others (rabanim) from others.
    – msh210
    Dec 1, 2014 at 3:51
  • @msh210 We could also distinguish students with black hair from those with red hair, but I don't see why either distinction is relevant. There's very little which would justify endangering one's parents lives.
    – Double AA
    Dec 1, 2014 at 4:00
  • 2
    @DoubleAA Very little justifies endangering their lives, but perhaps whatever mechanism learning avelus endangers lives by doesn't work if the learning is necessary for others. (It's plausible if we grant that such a mechanism exists. After all, perhaps the mechanism is because the knowledge needs applicability, which is present already for rabbinic students. Or something.)
    – msh210
    Dec 1, 2014 at 5:39
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    Can learning ever cause a negative effect? Aderabah!
    – bondonk
    Dec 1, 2014 at 6:36

5 Answers 5


Here it brings the following sources on the matter:

The Chasam Sofer (Shut Y.D. 346) was concerned about it and spoke about pushing off the learning until the coming Tisha B'Av.

Sefer Chassidim (261) is an interesting source. He says you should learn them because they aren't learned generally. So there you have the existing practice of not learning them except when needed, but the Sefer Chassidim not agreeing with it and regarding it as a neglected part of Torah.

R Shlomo Zalman Aurebach was not at all concerned about it, and found it surprising that these Halachos were not learned.

Kenses HaGedola (Y.D. 245:3) writes that the concern is only when it is part of a group study, however privately learning them is not a problem.

  • 1
    +1 - my question to R' Berger (in my answer) was actually regarding learning in a group setting. Now that you mention it, I think he actually said that it should be done in private. I guess he held like the Knesses HaGedola. Dec 3, 2014 at 19:11
  • +1 Chassam Soffer also had his Yeshiva fast before they started learning Gitten and Chulin.
    – user6591
    Aug 10, 2015 at 16:52
  • Please see the hemshech of the Sefer Chasidim. He actually was somewhat concerned and said to daven no harm befalls you, and also only to learn it privately. He is actually the source in the Shayarei Kenesess Hagedola they bring. See them inside. (Also the Shut Chasam Sofer is 346, not 341)
    – Shmerel
    May 1 at 10:44

When we learned for Smiche, Dayan Zimmermann (The Rov in Gateshead) told us that people should learn Aveilus BEFORE they need it. Otherwise one will make mistakes when it needed.


R' Yosef Berger told me not to learn the latter half of Mo'ed Katan while both parents are living. This was to learn through the sugyas of the gemaras, not just to learn the laws of aveilus, and he said not to. The question I asked him was about if the group I was learning with should begin this topic. He said that it should be done in private. He seems to have held of the Knesses HaGedolah in Yishai's answer.

R' Moshe Heinemann also advises people not to. There is an old "legend" told in Ner Israel, which I never confirmed, that R' Heinemann had a small chabura of 5 guys who wanted to learn hilchos aveilus with whom he began studying. Over the course of a year, 2 or 3 of them had a parent pass away. R' Heinemann cancelled the chabura.

  • 1
    I bet cancelling their learning was a great Zechus for the Niftar.
    – Double AA
    Dec 1, 2014 at 3:54
  • @DoubleAA You assume instead they went and watched football? I don't know why you would assume that. Dec 1, 2014 at 3:55
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    I do not assume that.
    – Double AA
    Dec 1, 2014 at 3:57
  • @DoubleAA So then I don't understand your seemingly sarcastic remark. You could clarify for me or we could just leave it at that. Dec 1, 2014 at 3:58
  • sounds like nichush according to Rambam.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 26, 2015 at 5:23

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was asked if a sick person is in critical condition is it permissible for the relatives to learn hilchos aveilus or is it poseach peh l'Satan? Rav Chaim answered that when it comes to learning Torah and halachos there is no concern, and one is able to learn these halachos, but it is preferable to give a little bit of tezedaka before to protect them.

Text Leket Halos Hameetzyos 3:page 108 :

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  • A public lecture may be diff as noted in one of the answers
    – sam
    Dec 2, 2019 at 14:43
  • Interesting. I learned Masechet Moed Katan in depth, once a week, with a group in Israel. The Rav (from Bnei Brak) was worried about chapter 3 (laws of aveilut) and went to R Chaim to ask what do to. R Chaim told him to start ch. 3 during the three weeks; once we had started, we could continue at anytime. So we learned chapter 1, jumped to chapter 3 during the three weeks, then went back to where we stopped in ch. 1 and finished to the end.
    – mbloch
    Dec 2, 2019 at 19:51

When Rabbi Eli Mansour was teaching Gittin, I believe in the 11th Daf Yomi cycle, he noted at the beginning of each lecture that the sponsor was sponsoring it in the merit of it not needing to be a practical reality. As such, one might see learning the laws of avelut as a good thing before one becomes an avel in the merit of not becoming an avel.

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