In Hilchos Kriyas Shema, the SA (OC 71:1) says

מִי שֶׁמֵּת לוֹ מֵת שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לְהִתְאַבֵּל עָלָיו, אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ מֻטָּל עָלָיו לְקָבְרוֹ, פָּטוּר מִקְּרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּמִתְּפִלָּה.

Someone who's relative died, one who they must mourn for, even if the body isn't their responsibility to bury, they are exempt from reciting the Shema and praying.

They're exempt from other mitzvos as well (Mishnah Berurah s.k. 4).

‏ (ד) ומתפלה - וכן מכל הברכות אפילו ברכת הנהנין ומכל מצות האמורות בתורה

From prayer - and also all other blessings, even blessings on items of pleasure, and from all mitzvos in the Torah.

The Mishnah Berurah s.k. 3 adds an important detail:

‏ (ג) פטור וכו' - ואם קרא אינו יוצא וצריך לחזור ולקרות אחר הקבורה. [חידושי רע"א]:

And if you recited shema, you haven't fulfilled your mitzvah and you have to recite it again after the burial

We see from here that someone who is exempt from a mitzvah, doing the act isn't considered doing the mitzvah, so they haven't fulfilled the obligation (meaning if they become obligated later they can't rely on what they did earlier).

However, in Hilchos Pesach the SA (OC 475:5) says

אָכַל כַּזַּיִת מַצָּה וְהוּא נִכְפֶּה, בְּעֵת שְׁטוּתוֹ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִתְרַפֵּא, חַיָּב לֶאֱכֹל אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְרַפֵּא, לְפִי שֶׁאוֹתָהּ אֲכִילָה הָיְתָה בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהָיָה פָּטוּר מִכָּל הַמִּצְוֹת.

Someone who was in a state of insanity and ate matzah and later became better, they have to eat matzah again. This is because when they ate the matzah the first time, they were exempt from all mitzvos.

The Shaar HaTziyun s.k. 39 adds a case:

‏לאפוקי שומר אבדה או משמר המת, אף דהוא גם-כן פטור אז מכל המצות [ואפילו יכול לקיים שניהם, אם צריך לטרוח אחר זה]...אם אכל אז מצה יצא ידי חובתו, דהוא איש, אלא שאז לא חייבתו התורה מפני שהוא עוסק במצוה אחרת.

Unlike someone guarding a lost object or a dead body, even though they are also exempt from all mitzvos (even if they could fulfill both, in the case that they have to add exertion to fulfill the second mitzvah)...if they ate matzah at that point, they have fulfilled their obligation. This is because they are a normal person (unlike someone deranged), just the Torah exempted them because they're doing a different mitzvah.

I see a glaring contradiction here. Someone exempt from a mitzvah who does it anyways, did they fulfill it or not? You could argue one is a case of אונן and one עוסק במצוה, but I don't see the distinction. Besides, I believe an onen is exempt because they have the status of one who is עוסק במצוה, (I found the Magen Avraham says this, although Rashi in Berachos says onen is equivalent to a chasan on his wedding night, טרוד במצוה which is related to עוסק במצוה).

  • 2
    Perhaps the אונן is presumed unable to have כוונה which is required for קריאת שמע and this is the reason he is not יוצא בדיעבד, not because of עוסק במצוה. – Dov F Mar 29 '18 at 17:46
  • @Dov-F see my edit. The question is is s.k. 3 only shema or all mitzvos as in s.k. 4 – robev Mar 29 '18 at 18:08
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    When a person is an Onen, Shotah, or whatever, they themselves (the person) is Patur from all mitzvos, so when they do it, they cannot fulfill the Chiyuv that they have as a regular person. However, when a person who is technically Chayav in the mitzvah simply cannot do it right now, if he does it, his mitzvah was good enough to be Motzi himself. כנלע"ד. – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 18:12
  • מה שהקשה בספר טורי אבן להגאון שאגת אריה בראש השנה כח עמוד א בהא דמבואר שם: כפאו ואכל מצה יצא, דכפאו מאן, אילימא כפאו שד, והתניא וכו' כשהוא שוטה הרי הוא כשוטה לכל דבריו וכו', ומבואר שם דעל כן לא יצא ידי חובה באכילת מצה כשהוא שוטה כיון דאז פטור מן המצוות, ואינו נפטר בזמן החיוב במה שעשה בזמן הפטור. Minchas Chinuch 1 – רבות מחשבות Mar 29 '18 at 18:15
  • עוסק במצוה פטור מן במצוה...if he was oseik the whole morning he doesn't have to daven twice since he was never chayiv to daven, unlike a shogeg/ones who has to daven twice in the afternoon. – robev Mar 29 '18 at 18:17

The Mishna Berura answers this question by saying that he's not technically Patur when he is an Osek Bamitzvah, but rather, it's just a matter of priorities:

משנה ברורה סימן ע ס"ק יח: " (יח) לא יפסיק - ואם יכול להפסיק לק"ש ואח"כ לחזור ולגמור צרכי צבור בלא טורח יפסיק. כתב הפמ"ג דאע"ג דהעוסק בצרכי רבים פטור מק"ש מ"מ אם פסק וקרא שפיר יצא ידי חובה דלא פטור ממש מק"ש אלא שהוא אז עוסק במצוה אחרת:‏

If follows that when one is an Onen or Shotah, they are actually Patur from Mitzvos, as we see in the Shulchan Aruch you quoted:

אָכַל כַּזַּיִת מַצָּה וְהוּא נִכְפֶּה, בְּעֵת שְׁטוּתוֹ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִתְרַפֵּא, חַיָּב לֶאֱכֹל אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְרַפֵּא, לְפִי שֶׁאוֹתָהּ אֲכִילָה הָיְתָה בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהָיָה פָּטוּר מִכָּל הַמִּצְוֹת.‏

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  • 2
    You failed to differentiate between an onen and osek bemitzvah, which was my question. Although you do point out the din seems to be different between the two of them. If an onen is considered osek bemitzvah I don't know why that would be. – robev Mar 29 '18 at 22:03

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