Are there any halachos pertaining to how one should or should not give a hesped?

If so, what are they?

If not, are there general guidelines based on what the goal of a hesped is?

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    Rav Leuchter takes issue with the maspidim who says that the niftar should be a meilitz yosher (advocate). At the moment of the hesped the niftar has not yet gone for his Din in heaven. Since everyone has some charges of their own to answer, it is inappropriate to be asking now that he should be an advocate for us! – Avrohom Yitzchok Dec 1 at 19:17
  • @AvrohomYitzchok I think when people say that the intention is when the deceased is “settled in” he/she should be an advocate. Saying something like “when __ is finished with the heavenly tribunal may they be an advocate” is somewhat crass given the moment. OTOH saying it altogether might just be more words of comfort to the family. (BTW, who’s Rav Leuchter?) – Oliver Dec 2 at 16:19
  • @Oliver torahdownloads.com/s-245-rabbi-reuven-leuchter.html Rav Leuchter is one of the leading mussar personalities in Eretz Yisrael. His weekly shiurim in Yerushalayim and Kiryat Sefer, as well as his worldwide teleconference classes, inspire growth in Avodas Hashem for listeners including young bnei Torah and established rabbanim. Born in 1956 and raised in Lucerne, Switzerland, Rav Leuchter studied mathematics at University of Zurich before emigrating to Eretz Yisrael to learn at Yeshivas Mir. Beginning in 1980, Rav Leuchter became a primary disciple of Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l, – Avrohom Yitzchok Dec 2 at 20:00

R Yirmiyohu Kaganoff has an essay on this question.

A few relevant quotes from there

  • It is a great mitzvah to eulogize the deceased appropriately. The mitzvah is to raise one’s voice, saying about him things that break the heart in order to increase crying and to commemorate his praise. However, it is prohibited to exaggerate his praise excessively. One mentions his good qualities and adds a little… If the person had no positive qualities, say nothing about him (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 344:1)
  • The eulogy should be appropriate to the purpose and extent of the tragedy. For example, a young person should be eulogized more intensely than an older one, and a person without surviving descendants should be eulogized more intensely than someone who had children (Meiri, Moed Katan 27b). Also, the crying of every hesped should not be to excess (Meiri, ad loc.).
  • “I have heard eulogies where the speaker seemed more interested in demonstrating his speaking prowess or saying clever divrei Torah than in commemorating the departed. Is this the proper way to eulogize?” Despite its frequency, such eulogies are halachically wrong. This sin of eulogizing for one’s own self aggrandizement or exaggerating excessively, is so serious and apparently is so commonplace that there were places that developed a custom never to eulogize and to forgo the mitzvah altogether, despite its importance (see Gesher HaChayim 1:13:4).

See the full essay for more.

There is a custom to not recite eulogies at all, as recorded in the Aruch Hashulchan. (Y.D. 344:7; ibid. 344:14) I know this to be the custom in Chabad, but I can't speak for other communities who follow this way.

  • I believe this is also mentioned in the Nitei Gavriel, but I don't remember the place. – ezra Dec 2 at 6:47

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