6

The condition of the “onen” (a bereaved person whose close relative who has not yet been buried) and the laws are described here.

There it says:

Because of the need to make and conclude the funeral arrangements, the onen is released from the obligations of prayer, and many other specific positive observances, such as reciting the motzi over bread or the grace after meals. He, therefore, cannot be included in a minyan. While he is exempt from performing the positive commandments, he remains part of society and must obey all the negative commands. The onen should not perform commandments from which he is exempted. This would indicate a lack of concern for the deceased, and the Rabbis insisted that there is no virtue in this action.

So when presented with, say, a drink, he cannot say the requisite blessing. Saying the blessing would take at maximum 10 seconds. Any decision about the funeral arrangements could surely wait 10 secs. Would such a short interruption really “indicate a lack of concern for the deceased”?

Why is it then that a bereaved person cannot even make a short blessing over his food?

Related: Practical Halachas after death of a close relative

  • If he's considered עוסק במצוה this would depend on the machlokes in Sukkah between Tosafos and the Ran if you could do both without losing the other should/could you – robev Apr 18 '18 at 12:32
  • See Berakhot 17b and Moed Katan 23b – Kazi bácsi Apr 18 '18 at 13:04
  • 1
    I don't understand why you're asking this. The last sentence in the citation seems to be the reason! It has nothing to do with the funeral arrangements. It has to do with respect to the deceased that requires undivided attention. The question seems more general. Why can't we divert any attention away from the deceased for any reason? – DanF Apr 18 '18 at 14:03
  • Well, @DanF consider the sentence I quote, "Because of the need to make and conclude the funeral arrangements, the onen is released from the obligations of prayer, and many other specific positive observances, such as reciting the motzi over bread or the grace after meals." I agree that it also says "The onen should not perform commandments from which he is exempted. This would indicate a lack of concern for the deceased..." but we can't forget the first sentence. – Avrohom Yitzchok Apr 18 '18 at 15:58
  • 2
    If I'm understanding the question correctly, you concede that a 'distraction' from preparing for the funeral is prohibited, but question why a bracha-lengthed 'distraction' is long enough. The Halachah says that any lengthed 'distraction' is prohibited. How else would the length of time be quantified? A cutoff had to be somewhere, and other reasons notwithstanding, making a blanket rule on all positive commandments is the easiest to follow. – Salmononius2 Apr 18 '18 at 18:02
1

Actually there is a debate between Rashi and other rishonim regarding his comments at Berakhot 17b and Moed Katan 23b. Rashi says that the mourner doesn't need to perform these mitzvot, while others say that he is forbidden (see Artscroll Berakhot 17b/4):

The Rishonim understand Rashi as implying that, although an onein is not required to recite these blessings, he may volunteer to do so. Most Rishonim, basing themselves on Yerushalmi, take issue with Rashi and maintain that an onein is not allowed to recite these blessings - nor, indeed, to perform any positive mitzvah - until after the burial. This is either because respect for the dead requires that he focus his attention exclusively on the preparations for the funeral and burial, or because if he allows himself to be distracted with other mitzvos he may not take proper care of the burial.

There is a lengthy comment from the Tosafot at both places. Shulchan Arukh at Yoreh Deah 341:1 repeats these two views, while Mishneh Torah Avel 4:6 doesn't permit the mourner to say the blessings.

Another argument for not reciting a blessing is that the dead can't perform this mitzvah. Based on Proverbs 17:5 it is forbidden (Orach Chayim 71:7 and Keriat Shema 3:2) to say Shema in a cemetery (see Berakhot 18a) or in the proximity of dead (see Sotah 43b).

רבי חייא ורבי יונתן הוו שקלי ואזלי בבית הקברות הוה קשדיא תכלתא דרבי יונתן אמר ליה רבי חייא דלייה כדי שלא יאמרו למחר באין אצלנו ועכשיו מחרפין אותנו

Rabbi Ḥiyya and Rabbi Yonatan were walking in a cemetery and the sky-blue string of Rabbi Yonatan’s ritual fringes was cast to the ground and dragging across the graves. Rabbi Ḥiyya said to him: Lift it, so the dead will not say: Tomorrow, when their day comes, they will come to be buried with us, and now they are insulting us.

Translation from Sefaria

1

I was recently an onein and had this question which I asked various Rabbonim at the shiva. I received three answers which I have recorded below as three separate answers so that support for each one can be recorded.

Answer 1 From a grandson of Rabbi S Z Auerbach.

The onein is "nosei be'ol with" (shares the plight of) the deceased. Since the deceased cannot make a brocho neither can the onein.

  • There is a different argument for this in the Gemara, I'll edit in – Kazi bácsi Apr 19 '18 at 9:44
0

I was recently an onein and had this question which I asked various Rabbonim at the shiva. I received three answers which I have recorded below as three separate answers so that support for each one can be recorded.

Answer 3

There is a separate mitzva during the aninus period. This is "Tzidduk Hadin" (accepting the Divine judgement). This is continuous during the period and no break can be tolerated.

  • 1
    But there are other constant mitzvot (to believe in the oneness of Hashem, to love him, to fear him, etc.) and they don't prevent us from making brachot – mbloch Apr 19 '18 at 10:32
0

I was recently an onein and had this question which I asked various Rabbonim at the shiva. I received three answers which I have recorded below as three separate answers so that support for each one can be recorded.

Answer 2

Illustrated by a story:

The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva had a stomach ulcer and had to drink milk regularly. Once he had a guest. He excused himself to the guest saying that now he had to make a brocho. The guest was puzzled by this request. But after the Rosh Yeshiva had made the brocho, he understood the need for an excuse.

From the story we see that one has to give oneself over totally to the brocho - there must be no reserve. The feeling of loss is enough reserve to forbid a brocho.

You must log in to answer this question.

protected by Community Apr 19 '18 at 9:48

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .