Hesped

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It is a great mitzvah to deliver a eulogy for the deceased man or woman.[1] The primary obligation to arrange to have eulogies falls upon the inheritors of the deceased and for a married woman the obligation falls upon her husband. They are obligated to spend to make a eulogy according to the common custom of what is respectful. [2]

What a Eulogy should Include?

  1. The mitzvah of eulogizing the deceased is supposed to inspire people to cry over the deceased by way of humbling and sad words which recount the praises of the deceased.[3]
  2. It is forbidden to exaggerate the virtues of the deceased and if one does he and the deceased are punished. Rather a person should extol his virtues and add a little.[4]
  3. If a person didn't have any good qualities one shouldn't say that he had good qualities.[5] However, we do speak about the virtues of his parents or relatives.[6]
  4. In a eulogy for a talmid chacham or a chasid one should praise his wisdom or piety.[7]

Someone who Requests No Eulogy

  1. Someone who requested not to have a eulogy we don't give him a eulogy.[8]
  2. However, if he is Torah giant then we don't listen to him[9] and instead give him a eulogy which minimizes his praises and focuses on inspirational words.[10]

Speaking Torah in a Eulogy

  1. It is forbidden to speak Torah before a deceased person except for the need of the burial or in the hesped.[11]
  2. It is permitted for an onen to learn Torah to prepare for the hesped since that is considered an honor for the deceased but otherwise it would be forbidden for him to learn Torah.[12]

When to Do the Eulogy

  1. It is forbidden to deliver a eulogy on Chol Hamoed except for a talmid chacham.[13] Ashkenazim hold that nowadays we don't have a talmid chacham for this purpose.[14]
  2. It is forbidden to deliver a eulogy on Chanuka, Purim, or Rosh Chodesh except for a talmid chacham.[15] Many poskim hold that we do have a talmid chacham for this purpose nowadays.[16]
  3. Some Ashkenazim don't do a eulogy on any day when there's no tachanun since the eulogy is connected with tziduk hadin.[17]
  4. Whenever it is forbidden to do a eulogy it is permitted to speak about good virtues of the deceased in order to learn from them.[18]
  5. Generally the eulogy is always before the burial. However, for a talmid chacham the eulogies can continue throughout shiva, for a gadol it could continue to shloshim and for a gadol hador it could continue for twelve months.[19]
  6. If someone died before 30 days before Pesach, Shavuot, or Sukkot[20] the eulogy can only be done before 30 days before the holiday and not within those 30 days. However, if someone died within 30 days of the holiday the eulogy can be done then even if it is the eve of the holiday.[21]

Where to do the Eulogy

  1. It is forbidden to do the eulogy in the shul unless the person is a talmid chacham, someone of pure reputation, or someone of good deeds.[22]
  2. It is forbidden to bring the coffin of a person in a shul for the eulogy unless he is a great Torah giant, one of the gedolim of the generation.[23] Poskim also allow bringing in the coffin of a great sage who taught Torah or the rabbi of a town.[24]

Tziduk Hadin

  1. The Sephardic custom is to do tziduk hadin even on Yom Tov sheni. However, the Ashkenazic custom is that it isn't said on any day on which there is no tachanun.[25]
  2. Ashkenazim don't say tziduk hadin after chatzot on Friday.[26]
  3. Ashkenazim don't say tziduk hadin at night.[27]
  4. Tziduk hadin is said for a child who passed away as long as he was at least thirty days old.[28]

Sources

  1. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:2
  2. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:9, Shulchan Aruch EH 89:1
  3. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:1
  4. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:1
  5. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:1
  6. Tur 344, Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 271)
  7. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:1
  8. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:10
  9. Bet Yakov 83 writes that for a torah giant it is permitted to give them a hesped even though they requested not to have one since following their request would be a disgrace to them. The Teshuva M'ahava 1:174 recounts that the Nodeh Beyehuda ruled that they should say a hesped for the Peni Yehoshua even though he requested not to have one. He concludes that he isn't sure that there is a clear reason for this ruling. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 273) agrees with the Bet Yakov. He cites that in practice the Chatom Sofer gave a hesped for Rabbi Akiva Eiger even though he requested not to. He cites six reasons for this ruling: (1) Perhaps there is no obligation to listen to his commands after his death except on monetary matters (Shevut Yakov 1:168). (2) It would be a disgrace to the deceased not to eulogize him (Bet Yakov 83). (3) The deceased can forgo his honor but not the honor of his relatives (Yad Shaul 344). (4) If the deceased only knew of the value of the eulogy for him in heaven he would have allowed it (Chaim Shaal 1:71:6). (5) The eulogy is a way of inspiring the masses (Shevet Shimon 344) (6) It would be a disgrace to the relatives of the deceased if there are no eulogies (HaIkarim by Rav Shlomo Eiger).
  10. Gesher Hachaim 1:13:3
  11. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:16
  12. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 270), Tzitz Eliezer (Ramat Rachel 5:46:3)
  13. Shulchan Aruch YD 401:1
  14. Magen Avraham 547:8, Mishna Brurah 547:26, Gesher Hachaim 1:13:10. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 288) writes that Sephardim hold that we have the halacha of talmid chacham for this purpose nowadays.
  15. Rambam Aveilut 11:3 writes that it is forbidden to deliver a eulogy on Chanuka, Purim, and Rosh Chodesh. Mordechai Moed Katan no. 909 writes that it is forbidden to have a eulogy on Chanuka, Purim, and Rosh Chodesh. Tur OC 420:1 agrees that it is forbidden to have a eulogy on Rosh Chodesh. The Bet Yosef YD 401:7 cites the Rambam and Mordechai. Shulchan Aruch OC 420:1 only records the Mishna Moed Katan 28b that it is forbidden to have wailing of one woman calling one and others answering and not the Rambam. Chaye Adam 118:7, Kaf Hachaim 420:1, and Chazon Ovadia Aveilut v. 1 p. 282 write that eulogies are forbidden on Rosh Chodesh.
  16. Even though the Magen Avraham 547:8 and Mishna Brurah 547:26 write that we don't have a talmid chacham today for the purposes of performing a eulogy on chol hamoed, the Eliya Rabba 420:2 points out that the Levush holds that even today we have a talmid chacham. Also, it is possible that the Magen Avraham was only strict about chol hamoed. Aruch Hashulchan 420:1, Gesher Hachaim 1:13:10, and Chazon Ovadia (v. 1 p. 388) agree with the Levush.
  17. Gesher Hachaim 1:13 fnt. 5
  18. Mishneh Halachot 6:209, Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 291)
  19. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:18, Gesher Hachaim 1:13:5
  20. Gesher Hachaim 1:13:7 writes that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur aren't considered a holiday for this purpose.
  21. Moed Katan 8a, Shulchan Aruch YD 347:1
  22. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:19 permits giving a eulogy in a shul for a talmid chacham or his wife. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 283) permits giving a eulogy in a shul for a person of pure reputation based on the Rambam (responsa pear hadur 77).
  23. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:20
  24. Chazon Ovadia (v. 1 p. 275) based on Chaim Byad 105 of Rav Chaim Palagi and Meiri in Chibur Hateshuva
  25. Shulchan Aruch and Rama YD 401:6
  26. Rama YD 401:6
  27. Rama YD 401:6, Rama OC 420:2
  28. Shulchan Aruch YD 344:4. Even though the Rama 344:4 writes that the minhag is not to do tziduk hadin unless the child lived a year, the Shach 344:3 writes that the minhag is like the Shulchan Aruch.