Onen

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An "onen"[1] is a person whose immediate relative has died and is yet to be buried.[2] The state of being an onen is called "aninus".

Upon Whom and When Does Aninus Apply

  1. A person is an "onen" from the time that he hears of the death of any one of his seven relatives, until the time of burial. Generally, anyone obligated in mourning after the burial is obligated to observe aninus before the burial.[3]
  2. The common practice is that even someone whose relative that has passed away is in a different city, or another relative is taking care of the burial needs, is still considered an "onen".[4] However, not all agree with this view.[5]
  3. Nowadays most communities have specific people who deal with the meis and the burial, such as a "Chevra Kadisha," and so the immediate relatives of the deceased do not take care of the burial directly.[6] Although some have stated that this custom frees the relatives from their status as onenim,[7] others believe that a relative is only free from being an onen if he does not accompany the meis to the burial.[8] While some communities follow the first view, most believe that a person is still an onen nowadays when a Chevra Kadisha takes care of the meis.[9]
  4. One who only accompanies the meis only until a certain point, but not all the way to the burial, is no longer an onen once they leave the meis.[10]
  5. The relatives of someone who died in captivity do not practice aninus at all, and not aveilus until the burial (or until the relatives give up hope of having a burial).[11] However, many believe that this was only the case if the captors wouldn't release the body until ransom negotiations were made, but today, if the meis is being held for medical or legal reasons, aninus does apply right away, because one can be sure that the meis will be returned to the family eventually.[12]
  6. Aninus applies equally to men and women.[13] However, a child who is an onen can still recite keriat shema or tefilla, and he can eat meat or drink wine.[14]
  7. If a person is in the middle of saying Shema, Shemona Esrei or Birkat Hamazon when he finds out that a relative for whom he would be in aveilut it is permissible to complete the mitzvah and only afterwards does the Aninut begin.[15]

Practices of the Onen

  1. There is a dispute regarding whether or not the onen also has the restrictions of an Avel, namely, if the onen may sit on a chair, wash, greet people, etc. Many poskim are strict.[16]
  2. An onen is prohibited from eating meat or drinking wine.[17]
  3. Most say that tashimish hamitah is prohibited for an onen, and that is the custom.[18]

Practices while Watching the Corpse

  1. The onen is not permitted to eat in the same room as the meis, but if it is impossible to move to another room, he should at least put up a partition, or at the very least turn away, so as not to eat in front of the meis.[19]
  2. While a person is guarding the corpse he is exempt from other mitzvot that he can't fulfill because Oseh Bmitzvah.[20] If there are two guards they should switch off saying Shema and the like.[21]

Exemption from Mitzvot

  1. An onen is exempt from doing any mitzvah,[22] either because he is considered preoccupied with the mitzvah of burying his relative[23] or out of respect for the deceased.[24]
  2. Most poskim believe that an onen would not count towards a Minyan.[25] An onen can say kaddish for his parent if there are others taking care of the burial and certainly on Shabbat or Yom Tov.[26]
  3. An onen may not decide on his own to perform mitvzos even if (s)he wants to do so[27]
  4. An onen is exempt from all brachot, and can therefore eat without making any Birchot HaNehenin. [28]
  5. An onen is permitted to wear his tallit kattan as usual, but should not make a bracha on it.[29]
  6. If a person became an onen for the entire duration of a certain tefillah is he exempt from that tefillah altogether and isn't obligated to say any tashlumin. It isn't like someone who forgot to daven and can say tashlumin since the onen was totally exempt.[30]
  7. Some say that a person who became an onen after the time for Shacharit or Mincha began and didn’t yet pray is obligated to pray a Tashlumin[31] although some argue.[32]

Making Up Mitzvot After Aninut

  1. If a person's relative died on Shabbat he shouldn't recite Havdalah on Motzei Shabbat as long as he's an Onen and after he is no longer an Onen when he finishes the burial he should say Havdalah as long as it is before Tuesday night.[33] Even though he didn't recite Havdalah he can still eat[34] and do work. Some say that he should say Baruch Hamavdil Ben Kodesh Lchol before doing work.[35]
  2. If a person's relative died on Shabbat he shouldn't recite Arvit on Motzei Shabbat as long as he's an Onen and if he completes the burial Sunday morning he doesn't recite Tashlumin for Arvit since at the time he was totally exempt from Arvit.[36]
  3. If a person's relative died at night and he didn't yet daven Arvit then in the morning if after the burial there's still time for Shacharit the person should say Tashlumin for Arvit since he was originally obligated in that Tefillah even though later he wasn't capable of fulfilling that mitzvah.[37]
  4. If a person was an onen until after the first four hours of the day, according to Ashkenazim, he may not recite birchot hashachar besides birchot hatorah, shelo asani goy, shelo asani eved, and shelo asani isha.[38] According to Sephardim he can still recite birchot hashachar.[39]

Particular Mitzvot

  1. An onen is exempt from positive mitzvot but can't violate any negative mitzvot. There is a discussion about the fact that an onen can not violate prohibitions, whether that applies to all prohibitions stated as negative commandments or only ones which are avoided passively.[40] Examples that would spawn from this question include: eating outside the sukkah, eating without netilat yadayim, eating before havdalah, eating without a bracha, and not getting rid of one's chametz.
    1. An opposite discussion about the onen's exemption from positive mitzvot would ponder whether an onen is exempt from all positive commandments or only the ones which involve an activity. For example, according to some poskim, an onen doesn't need to remove his tzitzit since he is merely fulfilling the mitzvah passively and mentally.[41]
  2. A onen who wants to eat bread shouldn't recite hamotzei but should wash netilat yadayim without a bracha and it is proper to also wash mayim achronim.[42]
  3. An onen on Motzei Shabbat doesn't recite havdalah, and even though usually you can't eat before havdalah an onen can even without havdalah.[43]
  4. Some poskim hold that an onen on Chol Hamoed can't eat outside a sukkah, while others hold that he can. According to Sephardim, an onen doesn’t need to eat in the sukkah.[44]
  5. It is permitted for an onen to say tehillim for elevating the neshama of the deceased.[45]

Aninus on Shabbos or Yom Tov

  1. The generally accepted pesak is that there is no aninus on Shabbos or Yom Tov,[46] and so an onen still performs all the usual mitzvos and brachos, including going to shul, on Shabbos or Yom Tov.[47]
  2. On Shabbos, therefore, the onen is permitted (but not necessarily obligated)[48] to eat meat and drink wine. On Yom Tov, however, according to many poskim an onen is obligated eat meat and drink wine.[49]
  3. However, tashmish hamittah is prohibited for the onen even on Shabbos or Yom Tov.[50]
  4. Poskim dispute whether an onen is permitted to study Torah on Shabbos[51] can be called to the Torah[52] or, if he is a kohen, perform Birkat Cohanim.[53]
  5. On Motzei Shabbat, the onen does not make Havdalah.[54] However, he should make havdalah once the aninus period is over (until Tuesday),[55] (unless someone else made havdalah for him/her already).[56]

Sources

  1. This term is used several times in Chazal, and is derived from the pasuk in Devarim 26:14. Brachos 18b refers to a person "dead is lying before him," and this appears to be the same category as one who would be described as an "onen," although the equivalence of these two phrases is not necessarily absolute. M'Deoraisa, an onen is prohibited from eating kodshim or maaser sheni, as evident from Vayikra 10:19 and Devarim 26:14 respectively.
  2. Yerushalmi Pesachim 8:8 records a dispute as to whether or not aninus Deoraisa, the day of death, continues until nightfall even if the burial already took place. Ramban (Toras HaAdam "Aninus") believes that it does, but Rashi to Zevachim 15b and 90b writes that it does not. In practice, one does not observe aninus after the burial at all even if it is still the day of death (Bach and Shach Y.D. 341:2).
  3. Shulchan Aruch 341:1. The Badei Hashulchan (341:4, Biurim page 75-76) writes, against Sh"t Bnyan Tziyon 113, that it is best to be stringent regarding meat, wine, and tashmish even for a child who has died before living out thirty days, despite the fact that there is no aveilus for such a child, but such a person is still obligated in mitzvos.
  4. Rabbeinu Tam, as quoted in Tosfos Brachos 18b and Rosh Brachos 3:3, did not consider himself to be an onen when his married sister died, either because his sister's husband would take care of the burial, or, as explained by the Bach Yoreh Deah 341:4 (and Shach Y.D. 341:5) explains, because he was in a different city. Either way, the Rosh there and Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 341:1) writes that this opinion was not accepted.
  5. See Shach Y.D. 341:4
  6. This is the generally understood meaning of 'כתפים' in Yerushalmi Brachos 3:1, cf. Moed Katan 22a
  7. Shulchan Aruch 341:3 based on Tosfos Brachos 18b, Tur Y.D. 375 quoting Behag, Toras HaAdam (Chavel ed.) p. 70, Chochmas Adam Klal 153:3
  8. Noda Biyhudah Tinyana Y.D 211 cited in Pischei Teshuvah 341:1, cf. Hagahos Maimoni Hil. Eivel 3:6.
  9. Aruch Hashulchan 341:20-23 writes that this must be the case, considering that the Shulchan Aruch paskens (341:1) that even a relative who is in a faraway city and will not be involved in the burial is still an onen. Rather, the Gemara is referring to those who have followed the meis until a certain point, and then return home while the meis is sent to be buried.
  10. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 375:2, Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 341:21-22. Although the Aruch Hashulchan in 324:23 indicates that this is only true if the meis will be traveling for at least a two-day's journey, see Minchas Shelomo 91:25. See there also regarding a relative who will not be with the meis at all the entire time.
  11. Tosfos Brachos 18a, Rambam Hilchos Avel 1:3, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 341:4, Shach 341:15
  12. Noda BiYhudah Tinyanana Y.D. 211, Aruch Hashulchan 341:18
  13. Yalkut Yosef Kitzur S"A OC 71:1
  14. Yalkut Yosef Kitzur S"A OC 71:13
  15. The Shvut Yakov 1:7 writes that if a person becomes an avel while doing a mitzvah it is permissible to continue and finish the mitzvah since doing mitzvah when one is an onen is only a rabbinic prohibition. Since it is only a rabbinic prohibition it is permissible to continue since the Tosfot Yoma 13a (s.v. heneh) understands the gemara as saying that it is permissible to complete a mitzvah that one started when it was permitted even though in the middle he became a mourner. The Pitchei Teshuva 341:6 quotes this. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 130) supports this opinion because of the concept of osek bmitzvah patur min hamitzvah, besides the opinions of Rashi and Rambam that it is permissible to optionally fulfill mitzvot when one is an onen. Whether osek bmitzvah applies even to a rabbinic mitzvah such as tefillah is a long discussion in Kovetz Haarot 69. Rav Ovadia cites rishonim hold that there is osek bmitzvah even on derabbanan's including Rav Avraham Min Hahar regarding going to be mekabel peni rabo to exempt from sukkah. However, Pri Megadim E"A 72:4 and Biur Halacha 72:4 seem to hold that osek bmitzvah for a mitzvah derabbanan of Nichum Aveilim doesn't exempt from a Biblical mitzvah of Kriyat Shema.
  16. The Tosfot Moed Katan 23b s.v. v'eino is in doubt whether the practices of aveilut apply to an onen. Rambam (Avel 1:2) writes that none of the practices of aveilut begin until after the burial. The Rambam proves this from the fact that Dovid Hamelech bathed immediately after his son died. The Ramban (Torat Haadam Inyan Haaveilut 59 s.v. btashmish) argues that the practices of aveilut begin when he is an onen and Dovid was difficult since he was a king or because he was doing so just so that he wouldn't be very dirty. The Ramban learns that the prohibitions of aveilut for an onen. He proves it from the fact that the onen is forbidden to eat meat and wine so too he must be forbidden to bathe, anoint, cut his hair, and be involved in a joyous occasion. He is only exempt from not wearing leather shoes so that he's involved in the burial and this would slow him down. Tur 341:5 quotes this as a dispute between the Ramban, Ritz Geyitz, and Tosfot against the Ramban and Rabbenu Peretz. Rama Y.D. 341:5 quotes that some hold that bathing, anointing, joyous activities, greeting, cutting hair, and work are forbidden.
    • Sh"t Chasam Sofer Y.D. 2:324 explains that Shulchan Aruch and Rama never quote the lenient opinion of the Rambam and are therefore strict. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 pp. 153-6) agrees except in cases of great need. Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 341:23-28 insists that the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch is actually to permit these behaviors.
  17. ibid. Aruch Hashulchan 341:9 writes that other drinks, and a food cooked with meat, are both permitted to the onen- however, the onen should not eat unnecessary snacks and the like.
  18. Although Tur Y.D. 341 quotes the Ritz Gayes as permitting, the Gemara indicates that it is prohibited, and that is how Ramban and the Baalei HaTosafos quote, and is implied to be the psak of the Rama in Y.D. 341:5
  19. Brachos 18a, Rashi there explains that doing so would be לועג לרש. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 341:1, Aruch Hashulchan 341:7 notes that this is the halacha even on Shabbos. The Gemara there also writes that the onen should not recline while eating.
  20. Shach 341:18
  21. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 341:6
  22. Gemara Brachos 17b and Moed Katan 23b, Rambam (Hilchot Avel 4:6), Mishna Brurah 71:4. Rabbeinu Yonah to Rif Brachos 10b mentions the possibility that an onen is only exempt from mitzvos requiring special intent, such as Shema and Tefillah, but this opinion has not been accepted. The Shvut Yakov 7 and Chazon Ish OC 15:3 explain that the exemption from mitzvot when one isn't actively involved in the burial is only rabbinic and the rabbis are able to exempt a person from passively fulfilling mitzvot (Yevamot 90a).
  23. Cf. Rashi to Brachos 17b s.v. "mi shemeiso" and Toras HaOlah "Inyan Aninus." Levush Y.D. 341 writes that even a relative who is not actively involved in taking care of the burial is still mentally preoccupied enough to apply the principle of עוסק במצוה פטור מן המצוה.
  24. Yerushalmi Brachos 3:1, Tosfos Brachos 17b. This is the explanation preferred by Chachmas Adam 157:5. Shevet Yehuda 341:1 proves from the rishonim that we hold like this approach. See, however, the Chazon Ish OC 15:3's questions on Shulchan Aruch based on his understanding that we hold the approach of the preoccupation with the burial. Am Mordechai (Brachot p. 53) addresses these questions.
  25. Gilyon Maharsha to Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 341, Pitchei Teshuva 341:14, Beer Heitev Shulchan Aruch O.C. 55, Shevus Yaakov 25. The Peri Chadash to O.C. 55 indicates that an onen who is not actively involved in the burial would count towards the minyan based on Shulchan Aruch 71:1.
  26. Mishna Brurah 71:7
  27. This is the opinion of the Yerushalmi, as quoted by Tosfos Brachos 18a, against the implication of Rashi there, both of which are quoted in Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 341:1. However, Mishnah Berurah O.C. 78:7 understands the Shulchan Aruch's actual opinion to be like the Yerushalmi. If aninus is derabanan (which is almost certainly the case after nightfall of the day of death), then perhaps one would still be obligated in mitzvos that would be actively violated, see Kovetz HeAros Yevamos #69 and Pri Megadim's Pesicha Koleles 2:28. The Noda BiYhudah believes that the onen is allowed to count Sefirat HaOmer in order so as not to lose out on counting the whole sefirah, and R. Shlomo Kluger (Sefer HaChayim no. 71) uses similar reasoning to say that an onen is permitted to recite Kiddush Levanah if others are taking care of the burial.
  28. The Rash MeShantz (Mishna Damai 1:4 s.v. UMazminin Alav) implies that an onen is obligated to say brachot for himself but may not exempt others, although his position is against that of Rashi and Tosfos to Brachos 18a. The Mishna Brurah 71:4 paskens that an onen is exempt from all brachot.
  29. Minchas Shelomo 1:91:25
  30. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 341:2
  31. Mishna Brurah 71, Magen Giborim and Derech HaChaim
  32. Yad Efrayim (Aninut 29), Birkei Yosef 341:17, Chachmat Shlomo 71, and Sh”t Shevet HaLevi 6:11 hold that one is exempt from Tashlumin.
  33. The Rosh Brachot 3:2 quotes the Rabbenu Yehuda who held that if a relative died on Shabbat then he's exempt from Havdalah on Motzei Shabbat and even after he's no longer an Onen he doesn't recite Havdalah since he missed the primary time which is Motzei Shabbat night. However, the Maharam argues that since Havdalah can be said all Sunday and even until Tuesday then as long as he's not an Onen before Tuesday he can recite Havdalah afterwards. Shulchan Aruch 341 adopts the opinion of the Maharam. Mishna Brurah 71:10 agrees.
  34. Maharam in Rosh Brachot 3:2, Shulchan Aruch YD 341:2, Mishna Brurah 71:10
  35. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 64:26 cited by Dirshu 71:25
  36. Based on Rosh Brachot 3:2 both Rabbenu Yehuda and Maharam hold that if you miss the primary time for the mitzvah there's no tashlumin since an Onen is completely not obligated in the mitzvah at all. Shulchan Aruch YD 341:2 writes that someone who was an Onen on Shabbat and missed Arvit doesn't have Tashlumin on Sunday morning.
  37. Pitchei Teshuva 341:18 agrees. Dagul Mirvavah YD 341:2 who hold that once a person was obligated in Arvit even if he becomes an Onen for the end of that time period he can recite Tashlumin on that Tefillah since he was obligated at one point. He just quotes the Eshel Avraham OC 71:1 who quotes the Bet Dovid OC 42 regarding someone who became an onen in the middle of the afternoon perhaps the obligation of mincha only applies at the last moment of the day and as such there's no tashlumin for such a person.
  38. Mishna Brurah 71:1
  39. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 138)
  40. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 148) quotes the following discussion. The Hagahot Ittim Lbinah (p. 197) posits that the onen is can not violate prohibitions which are avoided passively but not prohibitions which would require activity. The basic reason for this position is because chazal wanted to exempt an onen from mitzvot in order to free him up in order to respectfully bury the relative. Therefore, they exempted him from any mitzvah-related activity but still required him to passively fulfill mitzvot. Aruch Hashulchan 341 agrees. However, the Peni Mabin YD 2:253 argues that certainly an onen is obligated in all negative commandments even if that would require an activity. For example, he concludes that an onen must get rid of his chametz before pesach since owning chametz is a negative commandment. See the talk page for a longer discussion of this topic.
  41. Yalkut Yosef (Aveilut ch. 7 fnt. 44) quotes Minchat Shlomo 1:91:25:3 as saying that since continuing to wear tzitzit doesn't involve any activity it is just a frame of mind, that wouldn't constitute a deficiency in the respect to the relative who passed away and if so there is no prohibition to fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzit passively as an onen by leaving tzitzit on.
  42. The Gemara Brachot 17b establishes that an onen doesn't recite any bracha. Rashi explains that it includes hamotzei. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 143) quotes many achronim who follow the opinion of rashi.
    • Birkei Yosef 341:5 writes that the onen must wash netilat yadayim since it isn't just a mitzvah, it is an establishment of the rabbis that it is forbidden to eat bread without washing. Just like an onen may not violate any Biblical prohibition he can't violate any rabbinic prohibition either. The Shevet Yehuda 341:6 disagrees. Firstly, he argues, netilat yadayim is fundamentally a mitzvah and secondly, chazal exempted an onen from actively doing mitzvot, even though there's a prohibition to eat without netilat yadayim since it is considered passive not to wash before eating bread he is exempt. Shulchan Gavoha 341:11 agrees. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 143) agrees with the Birkei Yosef.
    • Pitchei Teshuva 341:4 quotes the Chamudei Doniel that an onen should wash netilat yadayim and mayim achronim. Chazon Ovadia (v.
    1 p. 149) cites a dispute about this and concludes that it is proper to wash mayim achronim.
  43. Mordechai (Moed Katan no. 930) and Hagahot Maimoniyot (Avel 4:5) quoting the Maharam, Shulchan Aruch 341:2. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 1 p. 146) cites the Maharshag 2:57 who explains that since the prohibition to eat before havdalah stems from the mitzvah to perform havdalah, an onen who is exempt from havdalah has no prohibition to eat before havdalah.
    • (a) Since an onen is exempt from all mitzvot it follows that he doesn’t have to eat in the sukkah. However, the Pri Megadim E"A 640:10 isn’t sure about this since the onen can’t violate prohibitions and it would be a prohibition to eat outside the sukkah. The Bikkurei Yakov 640:19 argues that eating outside of a Sukkah is considered passively not fulfilling the mitzvah of sukkah. Mishna Brurah 640:31 quotes this dispute and doesn't resolve it. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Chazon Ovadia Aveilut v. 1 p. 145) quotes Rav Avraham Min Hahar as a proof for the Bikkurei Yakov.
    • (b) As related argument, Rav Ovadia mentions that sometimes the prohibition is only to strengthen the mitzvah. Ramban kiddushin 34a writes that maakeh and hashavat aveidah have lavin but those are only to strengthen the aseh. If so, the same can be said about not eating outside of the sukkah.
  44. Tzitz Eliezer (Ramat Rachel 5:46)
  45. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 341:1 based upon the Rosh
  46. Against what is written in the Yerushalmi Brachos 3:1. The Shulchan Aruch paskens that this is true if the onen is not doing anything at all to get ready for the burial on Shabbos or Yom Tov. If the onen is preparing for the burial on Shabbos or Yom Tov in a manner that is permitted, then the Shulchan Aruch writes that such a person would be a full onen even on Shabbos. Regarding Yom Tov Sheni of the diaspora, see Igros Moshe O.C. 3:76 who insists that today burials should not be performed on Yom Tov Sheni even by non-Jews.
  47. Rama Y.D. 341:1 and Shach 341:7 indicate that there is no obligation to eat meat or drink wine on Shabbos for anyone. However, based upon the Shulchan Aruch O.C. 242:1 and 250:2, the Badei Hashulchan 341:41 believes that someone who can afford to eat meat on Shabbos must do so, and this includes an onen. [Perhaps, because an onen is in a state of mental distress and might be uncomfortable eating meat, he can be described as השעה דחוקה לו as discussed in Shulchan Aruch O.C. 242:2, which would permit him to forgo eating meat on Shabbos]
  48. Pitchei Teshuva Y.D. 341:13 citing the [Shav Hakohen 95 http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=746&st=&pgnum=394]. cf. Shaarei Teshuvah 241:13. See Orach Chaim 696:7 regarding one whose relative died on Purim.
  49. Moed Kattan 18a. Rabbeinu Yonah (on Rif Brachos 10b) writes that this is because it shows an excessive sense of frivolity, and Ramban (Torah HaAdam pg. 73 in Chavel edition) writes that the reason is because of כבוד המת, one must still show deference to the deceased.
  50. Dagul Mervavah to Magen Avraham O.C. 548:8 believes that it is permitted, but Rebbi Akiva Eiger to Y.D. 341:1 writes that it is prohibited. Badei Hashulchan 399:15 writes that it is permitted for an onen to study Torah on Yom Tov but not on Shabbos, like an avel.
  51. Rebbi Akiva Eiger to Y.D. 241:1 writes that because the Shulchan Aruch paskens in Y.D. 400:1 that an avel is prohibited from learning Torah on Shabbos, an avel and onen should therefore not be given an aliyah.
  52. Mishnah Berurah O.C. 128:148 writes that ideally he should not perform birkat Kohanim, but if he was called up to do so, there is a dispute whether or not he should.
  53. Rosh Brachos 3:1, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 341:2
  54. ibid. This is not true regarding havdalah after yom tov, see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 196.
  55. Yabia Omer vol. 5 O.C. 10, Yalkut Yosef Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah Aninus 7:22, Shevet Halevi 3:167