If someone dies and their body cannot be released for burial for an extended length of time, how are aninut* and aveilut approached?

This question might have some similarities to whether there is aninut on Shabbat and yom tov, as one may not prepare for the funeral during those days.

*Aninut is only applicable during preparations for a funeral. As no preparations for the funeral are possible, it would stand to reason that aninut is not observed until the body is released. However, this seems overly simplistic, as one might still be exempt from mitzvot 'aseh shezman grama

  • I know someone to whom this happened, however I feel that it would be inappropriate to ask them (despite the fact that they work for their national chevrah kedishah) Jun 5, 2017 at 22:23
  • אנינות is not with an ע in your title
    – Double AA
    Jun 5, 2017 at 22:24
  • 3
    Why do you think this sort of situation would change the law? I'm guessing it's because you have a thought of what the law would be otherwise and think something is different in this case. Try including that background so 1) more people can appreciate your question, and 2) any mistake in your assumptions can be clarified, 3) probably other benefits.
    – Double AA
    Jun 5, 2017 at 22:26
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    See ShA YD 341:4 and 375:5 (and I guess 346), Magen Avraham 548:5, Noda Bihuda 211. Probably YD 400 would apply to Rama 375:7
    – Double AA
    Jun 5, 2017 at 22:32
  • Useful info - link in a source that specifies that the definition of aninut is specific to preparation of the body for burial. Based on what you said, if the county medical examiner says that he needs to do an autoposy by law (say to discover DNA left by a murderer), even if you are in the process of getting a court order to get the body released sooner, this is not considered "preparation", right?
    – DanF
    Jun 5, 2017 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


R Chaim Binyamin Goldberg (Mourning in Halacha, p. 153) addresses this and writes regarding someone executed by hostile government authorities who do not permit burial.

After a time, the relatives of the deceased give up hope of getting the government's permission for burial, but only subsequently do they also give up hope of stealing the body and giving it proper burial.

From the time they gave up hope of government permission, the laws of mourning apply and the count of shivah begins, even though they may not yet have given up hope of stealing and burying the body (SA YD 375:5). It makes no difference whether they gave up hope within or after thirty days from the death.


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