I'm trying to help a co-worker decipher some history about his great grandfather.

He showed me a picture of a poster - notice written in Hebrew that announced the funeral of his great grandfather. In Hebrew, it said that all merchants are required to close their stores in order to honor the deceased.

My co-worker didn't have much more info about his great grandfather. The announcement doesn't list the town / village or the date. He assumes that since the announcement was in Hebrew, this occurred in Israel and he estimates this to be about 70 years ago. We both assume that his great grandfather must have been an extremely prominent rav, in order to make this type of request.

We're both curious if halachically a town / village Va'ad Harabanim or even a single rabbi can require merchants to close their store to honor a prominent rav's funeral.

  • 1
    Refraining from work ("bitul melachah") is pronounced in MK (27b); it wasn't so rare in recent times. IAE, this begs the q: name?
    – Oliver
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


The Aruch Hashulchan Yore Dea 361,4 says that even if the person buried is ignorant of Torah everyone should stop working in his honour, and for someone who has learnt Torah we stop learning in order to attend his Levaya.

ודע דזה שנתבאר דלמאן דלא קרי ולא תני אין מבטלין מתלמוד תורה כשיש מתעסקים כדי צרכו – זהו רק מתלמוד תורה. אבל משארי מלכות – צריכים להתבטל בשעת הלוויה. וחייבים ללוותו אפילו כשיש חבורות בעיר.

Nowadays it seems that in big cities people are unaware of other people dying so it's not their fault for not knowing about levayas.
If they don't see the coffin going past even if they know the levaya is taking place the Netsiv (Emek Sheylah Chaye Sara 14:3, Vayechi 34:2 thanks mbloch) says it's ok not to go when one is preoccupied though if one can it is a Mitzva to attend.
But no doubt if they saw a Coffin go past they should stop whatever they are doing and pay respect the Dead as Mistama every Jew has learnt a little Torah, and that warrants stopping learning and working for the short period of the Levaya.

  • Are we not all aware that every day in modern Jerusalem there must be at least a dozen funerals?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 20:38
  • @doubleaa i have been past funerals in Jerusalem and accompanied a little, i guess being unaware is a passable excuse, but contrary to the questions suggestion, the real question is nowadays (i don't even know if there is a satisfactory answer) what is the Heter to not attend Levayas one hears about on the Ramkol? rather than why did the shtetl stop working to attend a levaya 70 years ago which dos conform with Halacha
    – user15464
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 21:14
  • 1
    @user15464 interesting indeed. See footnote 3 here
    – mbloch
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 4:46
  • @mbloch thank you very much I have added the Netziv quoted in that note 3
    – user15464
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 8:20

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