Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Mishpatim
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS MISHPATIM
WHICH OCCASIONS MAY A MOURNER ATTEND
DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE IF IT IS SHABBOS or YOM TOV?
Some poskim(1) maintain that the Rama's custom of not eating meals outside
of the mourner's home applies only to weekday meals; on Shabbos it is
permitted to attend certain meals(2), e.g., a bris, a Seudas Shabbos or a
group Seudah Shlishis.(3) Other poskim do not agree with this leniency and
do not differentiate between Shabbos and weekdays.(4)
But most poskim are in agreement that a relative(5) - whose absence from a
simchah will surely be felt or noted by the participants - may attend any
meal on Shabbos, even a sheva berachos. This is because it is prohibited to
make a public display of mourning on Shabbos.(6) If people will notice that
a relative who should be there is not present, it is as if the "mourning" is
taking place publicly.(7)
WHERE NO MEAL IS SERVED
The Shulchan Aruch quoted above discusses only attending a meal outside of
the mourner's home. There is no mention, however, about partaking in a
simchah where refreshments or snacks are served.
Harav S.Z. Auerbach was asked whether the Rama's custom refers only to
meals eaten out of the home or also to attending a kiddush or a simchah
where refreshments are served. He answered that a mourner is permitted to
attend such a kiddush or a simchah, congratulate the celebrants, partake
minimally of the food and then leave.(8) He noted that even such limited
participation should be avoided if there is dancing or music being played.
Harav Auerbach added that it is permitted to attend in this limited fashion
only in order to celebrate a simchah or a mitzvah observance. It is
prohibited, however, for a mourner to attend any function whose purpose is
purely social. Thus it is prohibited for a mourner to invite people to his
house, or to be invited to other people's homes, for a social gathering even
if no meal is served.(9)
ATTENDING A WEDDING - SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
As previously stated, a mourner may not attend a wedding celebration. Nor
may he enter a wedding hall while a wedding is taking place, even if he will
not be eating there or actively participating in the wedding.
There are three views quoted in Shulchan Aruch(10) about attending the
chupah only(11): Some allow it; others allow it only if the chupah takes
place outside of the wedding hall, e.g., in a shul [or outdoors]; others
prohibit even that(12) and require the mourner to stand outside the shul [or
hall] while the chupah is taking place.(13)
Upon consultation with a rabbi, there could be room for leniency to allow
the following mourners to attend a wedding:
- Parents and grandparents of the groom and bride.(14)
- Siblings [who have been living together in one home].(15)
- A shoshvin (one who escorts the bride or groom to the chupah).(16)
- For the sake of family harmony (sholom bayis).(17)
- If otherwise there will be no minyan at the wedding.(18)
- A rabbi, whose job is the be the mesader kiddushin.(19)
- A cantor, sexton, musician, photographer or anyone whose livelihood
depends upon being present.(20)
- In certain, unique situations, when the absence of a relative will
seriously interfere with the happiness of the groom or bride, some poskim
permit their attendance.(21)
- Rama quotes a view that any mourner may attend a wedding if he serves as a
waiter(22) and does not partake of the food while in attendance at the
wedding dinner. It has become customary that only relatives rely on this
1 She'alas Ya'avetz 2:180; R' Efrayim Z. Margalyios, 26; Kol Bo, pg. 361; Ge
sher ha-Hachayim, pg. 233.
2 But a Sheva Berachos, etc., is prohibited even according to this view.
3 Eating these meals with the company of friends enhances the special
Shabbos atmosphere. If the purpose of the meal is purely social, however, it
may be prohibited according to all views.
4 Pischei Teshuvah 391:2 and 4; Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:161. Seemingly, this is
also the view of all the major poskim who do not differentiate between
Shabbos and Yom Tov.
5 Or a close friend; Tzitz Eliezer (Even Ya'akov 56).
6 Even during the shivah or shloshim.
7 She'alas Ya'avetz 2:180; R' Efraim Zalman Margalyios, 26; Pischei Teshuvah
391:4; Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:161. There is an opinion (Shach Y.D. 393:7) that
holds that a public show of aveilus is only prohibited during the Shabbos of
the shivah. If so, this leniency does not apply; Shemiras Shabbos
8 Minchas Shelomo 2:96-12. According to Harav Auerbach's opinion,
apparently, it is permitted to attend any simchah where no actual meal is
served. While there certainly are sources upon which this decision may be
based (see Teshuvah me-Ahavah 3:77-1), it is not clear if all poskim are in
agreement; see Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:161 who allows attending a sholom zachar
only if the mourner's absence will be noticed.
9 This ruling is based on the words of the Shulchan Aruch and Taz Y.D.
385:1, Teshuvos Binyan Olam 62 and Gesher ha-Chayim 21:7-9.
10 Y.D. 391:3. See Aruch ha-Shulchan 12.
11 Chupah means the actual ceremony [even though music is being played;
Shevet ha-Levi 1:213]. It does not include the reception after the chupah.
12 Unless the mourner is honored with reciting a berachah under the chupah.
13 While there is no clear decision or binding custom, the Rama seems to
rule like the second view and Gesher ha-Chayim 21:8-4 writes that this has
become the custom.
14 Aruch ha-Shulchan Y.D. 391:10; Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:171 and O.C. 4: 40-16
[who permits parents to attend a child's wedding even during shivah.]; Harav
S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 65:66 and Tikunim u'Miluim)
concerning Sheva Berachos.
15 Gilyon Maharshah Y.D. 391:1.
16 Some poskim permit a shoshvin to attend the wedding but not to partake of
the food, while others allow him to eat if he also "serves a little bit".
17 Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:255; Tzitz Eliezer (Even Yaakov 56-9).
18 Rabbi Akiva Eiger; Y.D. 391:3.
19 He should not, however, partake of the meal - Kol Bo, pg. 360.
20 See Kol Bo, pg. 360; Gesher ha-Chayim 21:8-3; Pnei Boruch, pg. 227, note
21 Tzitz Eliezer (Even Ya'akov, 56). Not all poskim agree with this
22 A "waiter" means serving the entire meal, just like any other waiter who
is employed by the caterer - Harav S.Z. Auerbach and Harav Y.S. Elyashiv
quoted in Pnei Boruch, pg. 216, note 35.
23 Gesher ha-Chayim 21:8-11.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
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Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
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