SECTION 71 The Exemption of a Mourner and Those Involved with a Burial from Reciting the Shema. (1–6)

סימן עא אָבֵל וְהָעוֹסְקִים בַּמֵּת פְּטוּרִים מִקְּרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּבוֹ ו' סְעִיפִים:

1 When [a close relative for whom] one is obligated to mourn1 dies, one is exempt from the recitation of the Shema and of She­moneh Esreh, from all blessings,2 even from answering Amen,3 and from all the mitzvos recorded in the Torah4 [until after the burial]. [This applies] even if he is not obligated to bury [the deceased], e.g., his married sister passed away, in which instance her husband is obligated to bury her, or even if he has someone who will undertake the burial arrangements on his behalf,5 or even if he has already done whatever was necessary.

Even if he desires to be stringent and recite [the Shema] or even [merely] to respond Amen, in which case he is not neglecting any of the needs of the deceased, a Rabbinic ordinance forbids him to do so, as an expression of respect for the departed.6 [In this way] his heart will not be distracted, so that he can think about the needs of the departed and focus on them at all times. Even if he is in another city,7 but received the news before the burial, he is forbidden [to observe positive mitzvos], for the Sages [enforced their ordinance uniformly], without making distinctions.

Some authorities permit [one to observe the positive mitzvos] if there is someone available to tend to [the burial arrangements] on his behalf, or, needless to say, if one is in another city where he is unable to tend to the matter.8 [Nevertheless,] it is customary to follow the first opinion. (According to all opinions, a son who is in a state of acute grief9 may go to the synagogue and recite Kaddish for his father,10 for this is an expression of respect for his father.)

All of the above applies before burial, but immediately after people have begun to cast earth on the corpse, a mourner is obligated to recite the Shema if its appointed time has not passed. The [morning] Shemoneh Esreh can be recited alone, even after its appointed time, i.e., a third of the day, if it is not yet noon.11 [If the burial takes place after noon,] the mourner should not recite an additional Shemoneh Esreh at the Afternoon Service as compensation for the Morning Service, since he was exempt at [the time of] the Morning Service.

For the same reason he should not recite any of the Morning Blessings,12 even if the burial took place before the time for the recitation of the Shema and Shemoneh Esreh passed. [The rationale is that] since he was exempt at the time the obligation [to recite] the blessings took effect, i.e., the moment he rose from bed, he is not required to compensate for [their recitation] afterwards. [Indeed,] if he recited them, he has recited blessings in vain.

א מִי שֶׁמֵּת לוֹ מֵת שֶׁחַיָּב לְהִתְאַבֵּל עָלָיו,1 אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ מֻטָּל עָלָיו לְקָבְרוֹ,א כְּגוֹן שֶׁמֵּתָה אֲחוֹתוֹ נְשׂוּאָה שֶׁבַּעְלָהּ חַיָּב בִּקְבוּרָתָהּ,ב אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ יֵשׁ לוֹ מִי שֶׁיִּשְׁתַּדֵּל בִּשְׁבִילוֹ לַעֲסֹק בְּצָרְכֵי הַקְּבוּרָה,5 אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ כְּבָר עָסַק כָּל צְרָכּוג – פָּטוּר מִקְּרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּתְפִלָּה וּמִכָּל הַבְּרָכוֹתד,2 וַאֲפִלּוּ מֵעֲנִיַּת אָמֵןה,3 וּמִכָּל הַמִּצְווֹת הָאֲמוּרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה.ו,4 וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם רוֹצֶה לְהַחֲמִיר עַל עַצְמוֹ וְלִקְרוֹת, אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ לַעֲנוֹת אָמֵן שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְבַּטֵּל בִּשְׁבִילוֹ מִצָּרְכֵי הַמֵּתז – אָסוּר מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִיםח מִפְּנֵי כְּבוֹדוֹ שֶׁל מֵת,ט,6 שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לִבּוֹ פָּנוּיי לְחַשֵּׁב בְּצָרְכֵי הַמֵּת וְיַחְשֹׁב בָּהֶם תָּמִיד. וַאֲפִלּוּ הוּא בְּעִיר אַחֶרֶת7 וְנוֹדַע לוֹ קֹדֶם הַקְּבוּרָה – אָסוּר, שֶׁלֹּא חִלְּקוּ חֲכָמִים.יא וְיֵשׁ מַתִּירִיםיב אִם יֵשׁ לוֹ מִי שֶׁיִּתְעַסֵּק בִּשְׁבִילוֹ, וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם הוּא בְּעִיר אַחֶרֶת שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִתְעַסֵּק.8 וְנוֹהֲגִין כִּסְבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָהיג (וּלְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל בֵּן שֶׁהוּא אוֹנֵן עַל אָבִיו9 – יָכוֹל לֵילֵךְ לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְלוֹמַר קַדִּישׁ עַל אָבִיו,10 כִּי זֶהוּ כְּבוֹדוֹ שֶׁל אָבִיויד).

וְכָל זֶה קֹדֶם הַקְּבוּרָה, אֲבָל מִיָּד שֶׁמַּתְחִילִין לְהַשְׁלִיךְ עָפָר עַל הַמֵּת – חַיָּב בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אִם לֹא עָבַר זְמַנָּהּ.טו וּתְפִלַּת י"ח בִּלְבַדָּהּ יָכוֹל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אֲפִלּוּ אַחַר זְמַנָּהּ שֶׁהוּא שְׁלִישׁ הַיּוֹם, אִם לֹא עָבַר עֲדַיִן חֲצוֹת הַיּוֹם.טז,11 אֲבָל אַחַר כָּךְ לֹא יִתְפַּלֵּל מִנְחָה שְׁתַּיִם לְתַשְׁלוּמִין שֶׁל שַׁחֲרִית, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהָיָה פָּטוּר בְּשַׁחֲרִית.יז וּמִטַּעַם זֶה לֹא יֹאמַר כָּל בִּרְכוֹת הַשַּׁחַר,12 אֲפִלּוּ נִקְבַּר קֹדֶם שֶׁעָבַר זְמַן קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּתְפִלָּה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁחָל חִיּוּב הַבְּרָכוֹת דְּהַיְנוּ כְּשֶׁקָּם מִמִּטָּתוֹ הָיָה פָּטוּר מֵהֶן – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַשְׁלִימָן אַחַר כָּךְ. וְאִם מְבָרֵךְ – בְּרָכָה לְבַטָּלָה הִיא:יח

2 All of the above applies during the week. On Shabbos, since it is impossible to see to the burial of the deceased and [the laws concerning] the initial state of acute grief are not practiced at all,13 one is obligated to recite the Shema and Shemoneh Esreh and [to observe] all the mitzvos recorded in the Torah throughout the day.14

Towards evening, if the mourner proceeds to the end of the Shabbos limits15 so that at nightfall he will be able to tend to the needs of the burial,16 he is exempt. If, however, he is not proceeding to the end of the Shabbos limits as evening approaches, he is obligated [to observe] all the mitzvos at that time.

He should also read the evening Shema while it is still day, even though the congregation does not recite the Shema on Saturday night until nightfall. Nevertheless, since he will be exempt at night,17 he should not be deprived of [the acceptance of] the yoke of the sovereignty of Heaven as long as he can recite [the Shema] before nightfall. For throughout the week, most of the congregation read [the evening Shema] while it is still day; if so, the mourner can rely on this precedent on that Shabbos. Needless to say, he should recite the Evening Service of Saturday night while it is still day, from plag haminchah18 onward, for with regard to prayer, this is night in the full sense according to R. Yehudah.19 Even a person who has always followed the view of the Sages can rely on R. Yehudah’s words, even on Saturday night,20 if factors beyond his control prevent him from praying at night, as will be explained in sec. 293[2].21

ב וְכָל זֶה בְּחֹל, אֲבָל בְּשַׁבָּתיט כֵּיוָן שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לַעֲסֹק בְּצָרְכֵי הַמֵּת בִּקְבוּרָתוֹכ וְאֵין אֲנִינוּת נוֹהֶגֶת כְּלָל13 – חַיָּב בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּתְפִלָּה וּבְכָל הַמִּצְווֹת הָאֲמוּרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה כָּל הַיּוֹם.14

וּלְעֵת עֶרֶב, אִם הוּא מַחְשִׁיךְ עַל הַתְּחוּם15 לְהִתְעַסֵּק בְּצָרְכֵי הַקְּבוּרָהכא,16 – פָּטוּר. אֲבָל אִם אֵינוֹ מַחְשִׁיךְ עַל הַתְּחוּם – חַיָּב גַּם לְעֵת עֶרֶב בְּכָל הַמִּצְווֹת.כב

וְיֵשׁ לוֹ גַּם כֵּן לִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁל עַרְבִית מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין הַקָּהָל קוֹרִין בְּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת עַד הַלַּיְלָה,כג מִכָּל מָקוֹם זֶה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה פָּטוּר בַּלַּיְלָה17 – לֹא יְבַטֵּל מִמֶּנּוּ עֹל מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם כָּל שֶׁיָכוֹל לִקְרוֹת קֹדֶם הַלַּיְלָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי רֹב הַקָּהָל קוֹרִין כָּל יְמוֹת הַשָּׁבוּעַ מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם, אִם כֵּן יָכוֹל זֶה לִסְמֹךְ עַל זֶה בְּאוֹתוֹ שַׁבָּת.כד וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל תְּפִלַּת עַרְבִית שֶׁל מוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם מִפְּלַג הַמִנְחָה וּלְמַעְלָה,18 שֶׁהוּא לַיְלָה גָּמוּר לְעִנְיַן תְּפִלָּה לְר' יְהוּדָה.כה,19 וְאַף מִי שֶׁנָּהַג לְעוֹלָם כַּחֲכָמִיםכו – יָכוֹל לִסְמֹךְ עַל דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אֲפִלּוּ בְּמוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת20 בִּמְקוֹם אֵיזֶה אֹנֶס שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַּלַּיְלָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן רצ"ג:כז,21

3 The laws pertaining to the second day of a festival22 are the same [in this context] as those pertaining to a weekday, for it is permissible to bury the deceased on such a day.23 With regard to the first day of a festival: If one desires to proceed with the burial on that day with the [help of gentiles],24 the laws that relate to weekdays apply, for he must provide them with a coffin and shrouds. If one does not desire to proceed with the burial on that day, the laws that relate to Shabbos apply.

The laws that apply on the night of a festival in places where burials are not conducted at night, and during the day in places where forces beyond one’s control do not allow a burial to be conducted, are discussed in sec. 548.25

ג יוֹם טוֹב שֵׁנִי22 – דִּינוֹ כְּחֹל,כח שֶׁהֲרֵי יָכוֹל לְקָבְרוֹ הַיּוֹם כְּמוֹ בְּחֹל.כט,23 וְיוֹם טוֹב רִאשׁוֹן אִם רוֹצֶה לְקָבְרוֹ בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם עַל יְדֵי נָכְרִיםל,24 – דִּינוֹ כְּחֹל, שֶׁהֲרֵי צָרִיךְ לְהַמְצִיא לָהֶם אָרוֹן וְתַכְרִיכִין. וְאִם אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְקָבְרוֹ בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם – דִּינוֹ כְּמוֹ בְּשַׁבָּת.

וְדִין לֵיל יוֹם טוֹב בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין קוֹבְרִין מֵת בַּלַּיְלָה, וְכֵן בַּיּוֹם בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְקָבְרוֹ מֵחֲמַת אֵיזֶה אֹנֶס – יִתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תקמ"ח:לא,25

4 When one is watching over a corpse, even when it is not a person for whom one must mourn, he is exempt from the recitation of the Shema, Shemoneh Esreh, and all the mitzvos recorded in the Torah,26 because he is involved in the observance of a mitzvah. And whenever one is involved in the observance of a mitzvah, the Torah did not require him to exert himself [and observe] other mitzvos even though he is capable of doing so, as explained in sec. 38[:7]. If two people were watching over [a corpse], one should keep watch while the other recites [the Shema] and then the other should keep watch while the first recites [the Shema].

ד הַמְשַׁמֵּר אֶת הַמֵּת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֵתוֹ – פָּטוּר מִקְּרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּמִתְּפִלָּה וּמִכָּל מִּצְווֹת הָאֲמוּרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה,לב,26 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא עוֹסֵק בְּמִצְוָה,לג וְכָל הָעוֹסֵק בְּמִצְוָה – לֹא הִטְרִיחַתּוּ תּוֹרָה לִטְרֹחַ בְּמִּצְווֹת אֲחֵרוֹת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיָּכוֹל,לד כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ל"ח.לה הָיוּ שְׁנַיִם מְשַׁמְּרִים – זֶה מְשַׁמֵּר וְזֶה קוֹרֵא, וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְשַׁמֵּר זֶה וְקוֹרֵא זֶה:לו

5 Similarly, a person digging a grave for a corpse is exempt from all [the mitzvos],27 even while resting, as explained there. If two or more people were digging, all those required for the digging at one time are exempt. If additional [workers] are present, they should slip away and recite the [Shema], then return and take part [in the digging]. Afterwards, others equal to [their] number slip away, recite the Shema, and come back to [the digging]. Others in turn then slip away until they all have recited the Shema, while the digging of the grave has not been neglected in any way (for even a moment).

ה וְכֵן הַחוֹפֵר קֶבֶר לְמֵת פָּטוּר מִכֻּלָּןלז,27 אֲפִלּוּ בִּשְׁעַת נוּחוֹ,לח כְּמוֹ ש(יִ)[נִ]תְבָּאֵר שָׁם. הָיוּ חוֹפְרִים שְׁנַיִם אוֹ יוֹתֵר כָּל הַצְּרִיכִים לְצָרְכֵי הַחֲפִירָה בְּבַת אַחַת – פְּטוּרִין.לט וְאִם יֵשׁ נוֹסָפִין – נִשְׁמָטִין וְקוֹרִין וְחוֹזְרִין אֵלּוּ הַנּוֹסָפִים וּמִתְעַסְּקִים, וְהָאֲחֵרִים נִשְׁמָטִין כְּמִסְפַּר הַנּוֹסָפִין וְקוֹרִין וְחוֹזְרִין לְהִתְעַסֵּק, וְנִשְׁמָטִים אֲחֵרִים עַד שֶׁנִּמְצָא שֶׁקָּרְאוּ כֻּלָּם, וְלֹא נִתְבַּטֵּל שׁוּם דָּבָר מֵעֵסֶק הַקֶּבֶר כְּלָל (אֲפִלּוּ רֶגַע):מ

6 It is forbidden to recite the Shema within four cubits of a corpse or within four cubits of a grave,28 as [implied by the verse],29 “One who mocks the poor blasphemes his Maker.”30 If one recited the Shema [in such a situation], he has not fulfilled his obligation and must recite it again [elsewhere]. Our Sages penalized him for transgressing their ordinances, even if he did so unwittingly.

If a cemetery is surrounded by a fence, it is permitted to recite [the Shema] outside the fence, even very close to it, and even within four cubits of graves.31 Within the fence, by contrast, one should refrain from [reciting the Shema] even at a distance of more than four cubits [from all visible graves], lest unwittingly one come within four cubits of a grave. If one recited the Shema [in such a place] he has fulfilled his obligation, because the prohibition is not absolute, but was enacted only out of apprehensiveness.

ו אָסוּר לִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַעמא תּוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁל מֵת אוֹ תּוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁל קֶבֶר,מב,28 מִשּׁוּם29 "לֹעֵג לָרָשׁ חֵרֵף עֹשֵׂהוּ".מג,30 וְאִם קָרָא – לֹא יָצָא,מד וְצָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וְלִקְרוֹת,מה שֶׁקְּנָסוּהוּ חֲכָמִים עַל שֶׁעָבַר עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶם, וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה שׁוֹגֵג.מו

וּבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת הַמֻּקָּף מְחִצָּה – מֻתָּר לִקְרוֹת חוּץ לַמְּחִצָּה, אֲפִלּוּ סָמוּךְ לָהּ וּבְתוֹךְ ד' אַמּוֹת לַקְּבָרוֹת.מז,31 אֲבָל בְּתוֹךְ הַמְּחִצָּה – יֵשׁ לִמְנֹעַ אֲפִלּוּ חוּץ לְד' אַמּוֹת, שֶׁמָּא יִתְקָרֵב לְד' אַמּוֹת שֶׁל אֵיזֶה קֶבֶר בְּלִי דַּעַת. וְאִם קָרָא – יָצָא, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ אִסּוּר בָּרוּר אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם חֲשָׁשׁ לְבַד:מח