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71:2. When do we say [that a mourner whose close relative has not yet been buried is exempt from reading the Shema and the Amidah]? On a weekday; but on Shabbos (8) he is obligated the whole day until evening [ie. until evening starts which is at sunset -SP] if he goes to the boundary of (9) the Techum (*) in order to make some arrangements for the burial [as soon as Shabbos ends] but if (10) he does not go to the boundary of the Techum then he is obligated [to read the Shema etc.] even at evening time [ie. from sunset right up to nightfall proper –SP]. And the second day of a Festival [when burial is permitted, even if carried out by Jews –SP] (11) is treated for these purposes as a weekday {and see Siman 548 paragraph 5}. On the first day of a Festival if he wants to have the burial on that day carried out by non-Jews then that day is treated for these purposes as a weekday [and therefore he is exempt from Positive Commandments (Mitzvos Assei) –SP], but if he does not want to have the burial on that day then it is treated like Shabbos.

[(*) The “Techum” (also referred to as the “Techum Shabbos”) is a notional boundary around where one lives and extends 2,000 Amos (cubits – approx 1 kilometre) beyond the village, town or city limits. On Shabbos one is not permitted to walk beyond this boundary. Usually one is not permitted to make preparations on Shabbos for the following day. But where (as in the case brought by the Shulchan Aruch) a Mitzvah needs to be performed immediately after Shabbos that requires one to travel beyond the Techum, one is permitted to go to the boundary of the Techum on Shabbos so that he may then proceed further as soon as Shabbos ends. –SP]

MB 8: he is obligated – to recite all Blessings and to perform all Mitzvos [Commandments] (except those which are performed privately only (**)) and he is permitted to go to Shul.

[(**) On Shabbos there is no public mourning (so a mourner may go to Shul) but in privacy of a mourner’s home the laws of mourning (eg. the prohibition against learning Torah) still apply. –SP]

MB 9: the Techum – The same law applies in a place where it is necessary to bring the Gabo’im [communal officials] after Mincha [afternoon service] to level the ground leading to the grave or to tend to some other needs of the deceased (Chochmas Odom [the book on the Yoreh De’ah section of the Shulchan Aruch written by the author of the Chayei Odom, Rabbi Danzig]).

MB 10: he does not go to the boundary of the Techum – The Taz writes “It seems to me that since at that time he has an obligation [to read the Shema, as it is in that period when there is a doubt about whether it is night or not] he should read the evening Shema while it is still day even though the congregation will only be reading the Shema at night. Nevertheless, this person [the mourner] who will be exempt [from reading the Shema] at night should not dispense from himself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven [acceptance of which is brought about by reading the Shema –SP]”. But from the Magen Avrohom sub-pararaph 3 it seems that he does not hold like this, and so writes the Eliyahu Raboh that one should not read the Shema and its Blessings while it is still day, and all the more so [should one not while it is still day] pray the Amidah.

It seems that [in the case brought by the Shulchan Aruch] he should read the Shema without its Blessings. When Shabbos has ended he may eat without reciting Havdoloh [the prayer said over wine, spices and a candle without which one may not eat –SP] and he should not pray [the evening service]. After the deceased has been buried [the mourner] should make Havdoloh [and may do so] right up to Tuesday (***).

[(***) The Kedushah (holiness) of the days up to and including Tuesday is considered to be influenced by the Shabbos just passed, whereas the Kedushah of the subsequent days is considered to be influenced by the following Shabbos. Thus, it is permissable to make Havdoloh (on wine only if not on Saturday night itself) up to Tuesday if for any reason one could not have made it earlier. –SP]

MB 11: is treated for these purposes as a weekday – And even if he does not wish to bury the deceased, nevertheless all the laws of an Onein [one whose close relative has not yet been buried] apply to him, but this is only where he is able to bury the deceased but he does not to wish to do so. If, however, it is impossible for him to bury the deceased because of problems with the non-Jews or some other circumstance beyond his control, then the laws of an Onein do not apply to him [and he must read the Shema].

The Chochmas Odom writes that if one of his close relatives [see MB1] dies during the morning service on a Festival in a place where the custom is to bring together the communal officials [to arrange for the burial on the Festival itself] and he is not able to gather them together until after the service, then the laws of an Onein do not apply to him and he must pray the whole service since he is considered like an “Oneis” [one who has no control of the circumstances].

72:3. One who guards the deceased, even if it is not a close relative of his [for whom he would be obligated to mourn and therefore make arrangements for burial] (12) is exempt.

MB 12: is exempt – From reading the Shema and the Amidah and from performing all [positive] Commandments [see the very first Bi’ur Halacha on this Siman –SP] because he is engaged in performing a Mitzvah, namely he is guarding the deceased from rats (****); and even on a ship we are afraid of rats [attacking the deceased] (Gemarah). He is not even permitted to be strict on himself [and read the Shema], even if he is sitting more than 4 Amos [cubits – approximately 2 metres] (*****) from the deceased (Magen Giborim), and see what we wrote above in Siman 38.

[(****) When a person dies, it is incumbent on his or her relatives (or if none are available, then the community, usually the “Chevra Shemira”) to guard the body of the deceased as (originally, at least) they were afraid that rats may come and attack and eat it. There is also the concern that no-one should steal the body. Nowadays, even when such concerns may be no longer applicable (namy bodies are kept in mortuaries, we still have the custom to guard the body. –SP]

[(*****) A person’s “domain” (for various purposes, including for example the laws concerning carrying on Shabbos where we say that a person may carry within his own “domain”) extends for 4 Amos in each direction. So if the person guarding the deceased is beyond this, one might say that as he is outside the deceased’s “domain” (almost as if he were in another room) he is permitted to read the Shema, etc.. The Mishnah Berurah, therefore, comes to tell us that this is not so. –SP]

72:4. If two people were guarding the deceased, one of them may read [the Shema] while the other is guarding and then the other may read [the Shema] while the first one guards.

Stephen Phillips [email protected]

Siman 72. The Laws regarding those who carry the coffin, the comforters and those who accompany the deceased

72:4. Once they have buried the deceased, and the mourners turned to accept comfort and the people followed them from the graveyard to the place where the mourners stand to make a row to accept comfort – if the people can start and complete even one verse before they reach the row (12) they should start but if not they should not start. {Rama: If (13) there is still time to read the Shema later}. [There used to be a custom for mourners to stand in a row, and accept comfort from all others who had attended while the latter were leaving. The others would form a row of their own, in order to offer comfort one by one. — YM]

MB 12: They should start – and read whatever they can.

MB 13: There is still time – but if they will miss the time for the Shema they should read the Shema first, because they have not yet started the Mitzvah of comforting the mourners.

72:5. Those who stand in the row to comfort: those who stand on the inside facing the mourners are exempt [from saying the Shema], but those that stand on the outside not facing the mourners are obliged [to say the Shema].