MOED KATAN 22 (7 Elul) - Dedicated in memory of Esther Miryam bas Harav Chaim Zev and her husband Harav Refael Yisrael ben Harav Moshe (Snow), whose Yahrzeits are 7 Elul and 8 Elul respectively. Sponsored by their son and daughter in law, Moshe and Rivka Snow.
1) JOINING THE SHIV'AH-COUNT OF THE REST OF THE FAMILY
QUESTION: The Gemara (end of 21b) teaches that if a number of family members became Aveilim and started to observe the seven days of Shiv'ah, and another family member -- who was not with them when they started sitting Shiv'ah -- finds out about the death only later, when he comes to join them he may start counting the days of his Shiv'ah from the day on which the others started (and he does not have to sit a full seven days). However, this allowance applies only if three conditions are met:
1. The "Gadol ha'Bayis" (the senior member of the household) is one of those who started sitting Shiv'ah in the home earlier.
2. The Avel who comes later was in a place near the location of the other Aveilim when they started sitting Shiv'ah. (TOSFOS (DH Makom) explains that this means within a distance of ten Parsa'os, or one day's journey.)
3. Rebbi Shimon, whom the Halachah follows, says that the one who comes later may arrive as late as the seventh day of the Aveilus and still count his Aveilus according to the count of the members of the household, but only if he arrives at the house of the Aveilim while visitors are present and comforting the mourners. If he arrives after the visitors have left and the other mourners have arisen from the Shiv'ah, he must begin his seven days of Aveilus at that point and he may not follow the count of the other Aveilim.
The Gemara here (22a) discusses a situation in which the Gadol ha'Bayis goes to bury the deceased relative while the other mourners return home before the burial. Those who return home early begin sitting Shiv'ah as soon as they part with the funeral procession, and the one who remains to bury the deceased begins his Shiv'ah only at the time of the actual burial ("Setimas ha'Golel"). The Gemara asks: when the Gadol ha'Bayis returns home and joins the other Aveilim, does he follow the count of those at home or does he count his own days of Aveilus from when the burial was completed?
The Gemara concludes that the count of Shiv'ah of the Gadol ha'Bayis depends on when he joins the others. If he joins them during the first three days, he finishes with them, but if he joins them after the first three days, he counts seven days of his own.
What is the Gemara's question? The Gemara earlier says that everyone follows the Gadol ha'Bayis. Why should the Gemara now consider that the Gadol ha'Bayis follows the count of everyone else? Moreover, if the Gadol ha'Bayis does follow everyone else, why should his count depend on whether he returns during the first three days? The Halachah is in accordance with the view of Rebbi Shimon who maintains that even a brother who joins the other Aveilim on the seventh day joins their count of Shiv'ah.
(a) The Rishonim offer different explanations for the Gemara (see Tosfos DH d'Asa). The BA'AL HA'ME'OR, RA'AVAD, and others explain that although the Gadol ha'Bayis normally does not join the count of the younger family members, in this case the Gadol ha'Bayis follows their count because he was together with them when they were first informed of the death. He was delayed from starting the count with them only because he was busy with the burial. Therefore, if he returns home within three days, he may count the seven days of Shiv'ah together with those who started the Shiv'ah earlier. (Whether the cemetery was nearby or far away makes no difference.) Any other Avel who arrives also joins their count, since the Gadol ha'Bayis has the same count. If, however, three days or more pass before the Gadol ha'Bayis returns home, that amount of time is considered a significant interruption and the Gadol ha'Bayis who was delayed at the burial must count his Shiv'ah separately from those at home who started earlier.
In contrast, in the previous case of the Gemara the Gadol ha'Bayis is unable to join the count of the other Aveilim because he did not even know about the Aveilus when they started to sit Shiv'ah.
This is also the view of the RAMBAN (in TORAS HA'ADAM and MILCHAMOS), who adds two important points. He adds that this Halachah applies not only to the Gadol ha'Bayis who stays at the burial longer than the others, but even to a younger member of the household who stays longer and returns after three days -- that mourner does not count with the others. Since he knew about the death and the burial but was unable to start the Shiv'ah with the other mourners because he was involved with the burial, he may not join the count of the Gadol ha'Bayis if he returns home after three days.
The Ramban also adds that the opinion of the RIF is that even if the person who remained at the burial returns home after three days, he may join his brothers' count as long as he returns before the end of seven days, before the visitors leave. The reason why the Gemara mentions "three days" here is because it follows the opinion of the Tana Kama (21b) who says that one may join the count of the Gadol ha'Bayis only if he returns home within three days. According to this understanding, it emerges that one's involvement with the burial allows him to join his relatives' count even if the Gadol ha'Bayis is not at home; his involvement with the burial removes that requirement.
(b) Other Rishonim, including the RIVA cited by the RITVA, maintain that a person may join the count of the other Aveilim only if he did not know about the Aveilus until he joined them. If he already started the count of Shiv'ah from a separate day (when he found out about the death) before he joined them, then he may not assume their count when he joins them. Since he started his own count, he must continue it. Similarly, when the Gadol ha'Bayis stays until the end of the burial he must start his count immediately from that point. Consequently, when he returns to his family he may not join their count and ignore the count he already started. Since he started his count on a different day, he may not join the count of his relatives.
According to this understanding, the Gemara does not refer to the Gadol ha'Bayis who returns home, but to another relative who comes to join the family during the Aveilus. Normally, another relative who did not know about the death until he joined the others does not join their count unless the Gadol ha'Bayis is there. However, if the Gadol ha'Bayis was present at the time the family found out about the death, and now he is not at home because he is busy with the burial, if the newcomer arrives at the home within three days of the start of the Aveilus (when the Gadol ha'Bayis is not there) he may join the count of the other mourners, since the Gadol ha'Bayis was with them when they found out about the death. If more than three days have passed, the newcomer may not join their count, since the Gadol ha'Bayis is not there. The Gadol ha'Bayis himself, however, certainly counts from a different day (from when the burial was completed).
(According to the Riva, the newcomer does not join the count of the Gadol ha'Bayis but rather the count of the house of the Gadol ha'Bayis, which might differ from the count of the Gadol ha'Bayis.)
(c) The TOSFOS HA'ROSH in the name of "others" offers a third explanation. He bases his explanation on the assumption of the Riva that if the Gadol ha'Bayis begins his count from a separate day, he may no longer join the other Aveilim under any circumstances. However, the Tosfos ha'Rosh does not accept the proposal of the Riva that a newcomer may join the count of the other Aveilim as long as he arrives within three days of the Gadol ha'Bayis' departure, if the Gadol ha'Bayis himself counts a different count. The Tosfos ha'Rosh explains instead that the Gadol ha'Bayis who went to the cemetery did not go to bury the deceased (in which case he would start his count from the end of the burial and not from the time the other brothers started their count). Rather, he went later in the day after the burial was finished in order to build a gravestone for the deceased or to be involved in other needs of the deceased.
In such a case, the Gadol ha'Bayis certainly counts like the other Aveilim, since he began with them. The newcomer who arrives after the Gadol ha'Bayis has left the house is considered as though he joins the Gadol ha'Bayis (and joins the count of the other relatives) only when he arrives within three days of the Gadol ha'Bayis' departure. However, if three days have passed from the time the Gadol ha'Bayis left the house, the newcomer joins a house of Aveilim which does not include the Gadol ha'Bayis, and thus he follows his own count.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (375:8) makes no mention of the Halachah in the case of the Gadol ha'Bayis who went to the cemetery, since the RIF and RAMBAM omit it. The REMA, however, cites the opinion of the BA'AL HA'ME'OR (in (a) above) who rules that when the Gadol ha'Bayis goes to the cemetery to bury the deceased and returns within three days, both he and any other newcomers who arrive (from a nearby place) join the count of the other Aveilim.
The SHACH (12 and 13) rules in accordance with the addition of the RAMBAN (mentioned in the end of (a) above) that if the Gadol ha'Bayis returns home even within seven days, he and any newcomers (from a nearby place) who arrive join the count of the other Aveilim. He also rules in accordance with the "others" cited by the Rosh (in (c) above), that if the Gadol ha'Bayis started to count with the others and then went to the cemetery to take care of the needs of the deceased, any relative who joins the Aveilim during the first three days after the Gadol ha'Bayis' departure joins the count of the Aveilim, as though the Gadol ha'Bayis was still there.
2) HALACHAH: TEARING KERI'AH AT THE EDGE OF THE GARMENT
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that for relatives other than one's parents, an Avel may choose to tear before the edge of the garment ("Kamei Safah") or not to tear there. When he tears Keri'ah for the death of a parent, however, he must tear before the edge of the garment.
What does the expression "before the edge of the garment" mean?
(a) RASHI explains that "before the edge of the garment" refers to the stitching around the collar. By tearing "before the edge," the Avel starts the tear before the edge of the stitching and continues the tear downward, so that he does not tear the stitching itself. Rashi explains that the reason one must tear in this manner when he is an Avel for a parent is because the tear is more noticeable when the stitching is not ripped. If the stitching is ripped, it simply looks like a wider collar and not like a tear.
(b) RASHI on the RIF and others give the opposite explanation. Tearing "before the edge of the garment" does not mean that one tears below the stitching. Rather, it means that for a parent, one begins the tear from outside of the stitching and continues to tear through the stitching. They explain that the tear is more noticeable when it goes through the stitching, because then the garment comes apart. When one tears the garment only below the stitching, the tear is not as noticeable because the garment itself remains fully intact (and merely has a tear).
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 340:12) cites the explanation of Rashi on the Rif and rules that for the death of a parent one must tear through the stitching so that the tear will be more noticeable. The REMA rules in accordance with the stringent view of Rebbi Yehudah who argues with this Tana and says that even for relatives other than one's parents one must tear through the stitching (this ruling is based on the MORDECHAI).
In practice, the members of the Chevra Kadisha usually cut with a knife through the stitching and then let the Avel tear the rest of the Keri'ah. Although the Gemara says that one must tear Keri'ah with one's hand and not with a utensil, the practice is to be lenient for the beginning of the tear, presumably because the tear made in the stitching is not part of the Keri'ah but is done merely in order that the Keri'ah of the rest of the garment be more noticeable.
(The BACH cites the explanation of Rashi in the Gemara, that one should tear Keri'ah without the stitching when he tears for the death of a parent. The Bach concludes that one should be stringent l'Chatchilah. He apparently means that one should tear twice, once in the manner described by Rashi on the Gemara and once in the manner described by Rashi on the Rif.)
3) ON WHICH SIDES ARE THE ACTS OF "CHOLETZ" AND "KERI'AH" PERFORMED?
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that for the death of a Chacham, one is Choletz with his right arm (that is, he bares his right shoulder by placing his right arm through the top of his shirt). For the death of an Av Beis Din (who is considered more prominent than a Chacham), one is Choletz with the left arm.
Why is the act of Choletz with the left arm considered a greater sign of respect than with the right arm?
(a) The RITVA and TALMID RABEINU YECHIEL write that the reason the act of Choletz with the left arm is considered a greater sign of respect is because, in the times of the Gemara, the people wore their robes draped mostly over the left shoulder. By removing one's left shoulder, one would expose more of his upper body than by removing his right shoulder.
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avel 9:2-3) rules that for the death of an Av Beis Din or a Nasi one must rend his garment until he reveals his heart. The MISHNEH L'MELECH and others are perplexed as to the Rambam's source for such a ruling. The Gemara here cannot be the source because the Gemara implies that the laws of Aveilus for a Nasi are not the same as the laws of Aveilus for a parent, with the exception of the Halachah that one may not mend the tear by sewing it. What is the Rambam's source for ruling that one must rend his garment for the death of an Av Beis Din or a Nasi until he reveals his heart?
Perhaps the Rambam understands that the reason for tearing Keri'ah on the left side is in order to reveal one's heart. The Poskim (BACH YD 340, MAGEN AVRAHAM OC 561:4) rule that one should tear his garment on the left side for the death of a parent. The tear should be on the left side in order to reveal one's heart, which is on the left.
Accordingly, the Rambam understands that when the Gemara says that one is Choletz for an Av Beis Din on the left side, it means that he must he rend his garment on the left side. "Choletz" means, as the RIF explains, that one then puts his shoulder and arm through the tear that he made in the garment. Thus, when the Gemara says that one is Choletz on the left side for an Av Beis Din and a Nasi, it means that one also tears on the left side. This is the source for the Rambam's ruling. (M. KORNFELD)
HALACHAH: The Poskim rule that nowadays there is no requirement for an Avel to be Choletz (RITVA) because such an act would provoke the Nochrim to mock the Jews. This is the ruling of the REMA (YD 340:17).
The ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN gives another reason for why one is not Choletz today. Today's clothing differs from that worn in the times of the Gemara. Since jackets and shirts (button-down) today are open in the front, those garments would fall off if the Avel would be Choletz, and the Avel would be disgraced. In such a situation it is assumed that the deceased certainly forgoes the honor of having the Avel be Choletz for him.
With regard to Keri'ah, the practice is to perform Keri'ah on the left side, over the heart, for a parent, and for other relatives on the right side (MAHARSHAL, cited by the BACH). The Poskim (in YD 340:9) write that if a person tore on the wrong side, he does not have to tear again.