An elderly woman cares for her sick husband for many years with great devotion until she can't do it anymore and has to put him in a nursing home. Her children convince her to take a long cruise to recuperate. A few days into the cruise the husband dies. The children try to convince her to complete the cruise and skip the funeral.

Is the decision at her own discretion or is she halachically obligated to do one or the other?

(The high cost of a cruise and her need to recuperate are factors.)

  • See Nitei Gavriel 67:7 & Michaber 359:1 Feb 17, 2019 at 22:14
  • Could you quote them? Feb 17, 2019 at 22:16
  • The Mitzva is to bury the deceased ASAP. Rarely, historically, would anyone travel to a funeral.
    – Double AA
    Feb 17, 2019 at 22:52
  • 3
    @Mau No such thing. Shiva can be sat anywhere.
    – Double AA
    Feb 17, 2019 at 23:05
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    @Maurice The point of shiva is not to entertain visitors. The point of Shiva is to honor the deceased. Probably someone alone on a cruise ship would be yotzeh their mitzvah better than having the open house circus that is the modern shiva house.
    – user6591
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:41

1 Answer 1

  1. There's only one funeral-related Rabbinical obligation, and it is for the husband to fund the burial for his wife. Not even participate. This is a monetary obligation, not moral or (Rambam Ishus 22)

  2. There are no obligations on the wife's side toward her husband's funeral - neither monetary or moral. No moral ones because Judaism generally does not intervene with couple's relations and no monetary obligations because she becomes instantly and formally "divorced" with his death (קונה את עצמה במיתת הבעל - Kidd 1,1).

    Clarification: she still mourns DeRabanan (the Shiv'ah) but it's not between her and her husband - it's between her and G-d.

    Also it's a far bigger Mitzvah DeOrayso for the kids to take care of and attend the funeral of their father.

  3. The funeral is considered a Chessed Shel Emes (a branch of Gmilus Chassadim) and it is a big positive Mitzvah on its own which however cannot be forced to do (a Beis Din can not force a wife to care for her husband's funeral).

  • 6
    This is at best a gross oversimplification that implies things which are clearly false. For example, your number 2 implies that's a wife doesn't sit Shiva when her husband passes away. Whether or not that's what you meant, it's clearly not true and highly misleading. Feb 17, 2019 at 23:00
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    As I said in the first comment, your bullet point number 2 implies that a woman does not sit Shiva for her husband. Feb 17, 2019 at 23:30
  • 2
    You did not say that, but that's what your answer implies. Feb 17, 2019 at 23:41
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    Your answer would be improved by explaining what it means for the wife to be "free with his death" as well as specifically addressing whether she is obligated in sitting Shiva as well
    – Dude
    Feb 18, 2019 at 13:30
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    Apparently, in a number of Hassidic customs. no women are allowed at the cemetery during burial. Thus, if there is a graveside "funeral", the wife does not attend. I have heard of some customs where the wife will be in a separate room in the funeral prior to the funeral ceremony. However, she remains in that room during the funeral, as she is not allowed to be at the funeral. I have no idea of the reasoning to the minhag. I'm surmising that one factor may be the lack of a mechitza (I don't think it's required.) in the funeral home, as there were no women at all attending the funeral I was in.
    – DanF
    Feb 18, 2019 at 17:08

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