THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Moed Katan, 22
MOED KATAN 22 & 23 (19-20 Cheshvan) - dedicated in memory of Chaim Mordechai
ben Harav Yisrael Azriel (Feldman) of Milwaukee by his family.
1) JOINING THE SHIV'AH-COUNT OF THE REST OF THE FAMILY
QUESTION: The Gemara (end of 21b) says that if a number of family members
became Aveilim and started sitting Shiv'ah, and another family member -- who
was not with them when they started sitting Shiv'ah -- only finds out about
the death later, then when he comes to join them, he may start counting the
days of his Shiv'ah from the day that the others started (and he does not
have to sit a full seven days). However, this applies only if three
conditions are met:
1. The Gadol ha'Bayis (the oldest Avel in the family) is one of those who
started sitting Shiv'ah earlier in the home.
The Gemara here (22a) discusses a situation wherein the Gadol ha'Bayis went
to bury the deceased relative, while the others left to return home before
the burial. Those who returned home early begin sitting Shiv'ah as soon as
they part with the funeral procession, while the one who remains only begins
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?
2. The Avel who comes later was in a place *near* to the house 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 count of the members of the household, but only if
he arrives at the house of the Aveilim while visitors are still present,
comforting the mourners. If he arrives after they have already arisen, then
he must start his Aveilus from day one and may not go according to the count
of the other Aveilim.
What is the Gemara's question? We said before that everyone follows the
Gadol ha'Bayis. Why should the Gemara here consider that the Gadol ha'Bayis
follows the count of everyone else? In addition, if he does follow everyone
else, why should it depend upon whether or not he returns during the first
three days. The Halachah is in accordance with Rebbi Shimon, who holds that
even a brother who joins the other Aveilim on the seventh day may join their
(a) The Rishonim argue how to explain this Gemara (see Tosfos DH d'Asa). The
BA'AL HA'ME'OR, RA'AVAD and others explain that even though, normally, a
Gadol ha'Bayis does not join the count of the younger family members, in
this case the Gadol ha'Bayis follows the count of the younger Aveilim,
because he was together with them when they first found out about the death
and was delayed from joining their count only because he was busy with the
burial until he rejoined them. Therefore, if less than three days have
passed until he returns home, he may count like those who started the
Shiv'ah earlier. (Whether the cemetery was nearby or far away makes no
difference.) Any other Aveilim who join the Aveilus also join their count,
since the Gadol ha'Bayis has the same count. If three days or more have
passed, then that is considered a significant amount of time and the Gadol
ha'Bayis who was at the burial must count his Shiv'ah separately from those
at home who started earlier.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (375:8) does not record the Halachah of the
Gadol ha'Bayis who went to the cemetery at all, since the RIF and RAMBAM
omit it. The REMA, however, brings the opinion of the Me'or (a), who rules
that when the Gadol ha'Bayis goes to the cemetery to bury the deceased and
he returns within three days, both he and any others newcomers who join the
Aveilim (from a nearby place) count with the other Aveilim.
In contrast, in the previous case of the Gemara, the Gadol ha'Bayis was
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 in Milchamos),
except that the Ramban adds two points. He adds that this Halachah applies
not only if the Gadol ha'Bayis stays at the burial longer than the others,
but even if a younger member of the household stays longer and then returns
after three days, he does not count with the others. Since he knew about the
death and the burial, and yet he was not able to start with them for another
reason (since he was involved with the burial), he cannot join the count of
the Gadol ha'Bayis if he returns home after three days. Second, the Ramban
maintains that the opinion of the Rif is that even if the person that
remained at the burial comes back after three days, he may also join his
brothers' count, as long as he comes before the end of *seven* days before
the visitors leave. The reason that the Gemara mentions three days is
because it is following the opinion of the Tana Kama (21b) who says that one
may join the count of the Gadol ha'Bayis only if one returns home within
three days. In other words, one's involvement with the burial removes the
requirement that one may only join his relatives' count if the Gadol
ha'Bayis is also there.
(b) However, other Rishonim (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 counting Shiv'ah
from a separate day (when he found out about the death) before joining them,
then he cannot adopt 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 immediately start his count from that
point. If so, when he returns to his family he cannot possibly join their
count and ignore the count he already started. Since he started counting on
a different day, he cannot join the count of his relatives.
It must be that our Gemara is not referring to the Gadol ha'Bayis returning
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, then 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 Aveilim, since the Gadol ha'Bayis was with them originally,
when they found out about the death. If more than three days have passed,
then the newcomer may not join their count, since the Gadol ha'Bayis is not
there. The Gadol ha'Bayis himself, though, certainly counts from a different
day (from when the burial was completed).
(According to Riva, the newcomer does not join the count of the Gadol
ha'Bayis, but rather he joins 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, citing "others," offers a third explanation. He
seems to be working with the assumption of the Riva, that if the Gadol
ha'Bayis begins counting from a separate day, he can no longer join the
other Aveilim under any circumstances. On the other hand, he does not accept
the proposal of Riva that a newcomer can join count of the other Aveilim by
arriving within three days of the Gadol ha'Bayis' departure if the Gadol
ha'Bayis himself counts a different count. Therefore, he explains that the
Gadol ha'Bayis who went to the cemetery did *not* go to bury the deceased
(in which case he would start counting from the burial and not from time the
other brothers counted). Rather, he went later in the day, *after* the
burial was finished, in order to build a gravestone for the deceased, or
otherwise to be involved in the needs of the deceased relative.
In such a case, the Gadol ha'Bayis certainly counts like the other Aveilim,
since he began with them. The newcomer, who comes after the Gadol ha'Bayis
left the house, is considered to be joining the Gadol ha'Bayis if he arrives
within three days of the departure of the Gadol ha'Bayis, and therefore he
joins the count of the other relatives. However, if three days have passed
since the Gadol ha'Bayis has left, the newcomer is considered to be joining
a house of Aveilim that does *not* include the Gadol ha'Bayis, and he counts
his own count.
The SHACH (12, 13) cites as Halachah the addition of the Ramban (at the end
of (a), above) that if the Gadol ha'Bayis returns even within *7* days, he
and any newcomers (from a nearby place) who join the Aveilim join the count
of the other Aveilim. He also cites as Halachah the "other opinion"
mentioned by the Rosh (c), that if the Gadol started to count with the
others and then went to the cemetery to take care of the needs of the
deceased relative, any relative that joins the Aveilim during the first
three days from his departure joins the count of the Aveilim, as if the
Gadol ha'Bayis was still there.
2) 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 if he wants. When tearing Keri'ah for the death of a
parent, though, he *must* tear before the edge of the garment. What does the
expression "before the edge of the garment" mean?
3) ON WHICH SIDE DOES ONE DO THE ACT OF "CHOLETZ" AND "KERI'AH"
(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 the 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, for if
the stitching is ripped it just looks like a wider collar and not like a
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 340:12) cites the explanation of Rashi on
the Rif (b), that for 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).
(b) RASHI ON THE RIF and others explain exactly the opposite. Tearing
"before the stitching" does not mean that one tears below the stitching.
Rather, it means the opposite. For a parent, one begins the tear from
*outside* of the stitching and continues to tear through the stitching. They
explain that it is more noticeable when the tear goes through the stitching,
because then the garment comes apart. When one tears the garment only below
the stitching, it is not as noticeable, because the garment itself remains
fully intact, and it just has a tear in it.
In practice, the Chevra Kadisha usually cuts with a knife through the
stitching and lets the Avel tear the rest of the Keri'ah. Even though 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,
seemingly because the stitching is not part of the Keri'ah, but is just in
order that the Keri'ah of the rest of the garment be more noticeable.
(The BACH also cites the explanation of Rashi in the Gemara (a), that one
should tear Keri'ah without the stitching when tearing for a parent. The
Bach concludes that one should be Machmir l'Chatchilah. Apparently, he means
that one should tear twice, once like Rashi on the Gemara and once like
Rashi on the Rif.)
QUESTION: The Gemara says that for a Chacham, one is Choletz with the right
arm (that is, he bares his right shoulder by placing his right arm through
the top of his shirt). For an Av Beis Din, who is considered more prominent
than a Chacham, one is Choletz with the left arm.
Why is the act of being 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 being Choletz
with the left arm is considered a greater sign of respect is because they
used to wear their robes draped mostly over the left shoulder. By removing
the left shoulder, they would expose more of their upper bodies than by
removing the right shoulder.
(b) With regard to which side one should perform Keri'ah on, the Poskim
(BACH YD 340, MAGEN AVRAHAM OC 561:4) say that one should tear one's garment
on the left side when tearing for a parent. The point of tearing on the left
side is to reveal one's heart which is on the left.
The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avel 9:2-3) rules that for an Av Beis Din and for a Nasi
one must also tear until he reveals his heart. The MISHNAH L'MELECH and
others are perplexed as to the Rambam's source for such a ruling. Our Gemara
cannot be the source, because our Gemara implies that the laws of Aveilus
for a Nasi are not the same as the laws of Aveilus for a parent, except for
the Halachah that one may not mend the tear by sewing it. Where did the
Rambam see that one must tear for an Av Beis Din and a Nasi until he reveals
Perhaps the Rambam learned like the Magen Avraham, that the point of tearing
on the left side is in order to reveal one's heart. Accordingly, the Rambam
understood that when our Gemara says that one is Choletz for an Av Beis Din
on the left side, it means that one must reveal one's heart when ripping.
The RIF explains that "Choletz" means that one puts his shoulder and arm
through the tear that one made in the garment. Thus, when the Gemara says
that one is Choletz on the left side for an Av Beis Din and Nasi, it means
that one also tears on the left side! (M. Kornfeld)
HALACHAH: The Poskim rule that an Avel is not Choletz today (RITVA), because
the Nochrim would mock us. This is the ruling of the REMA (YD 340:17). The
ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN gives another reason why one is not Choletz today. Our
clothing is different than that worn in the times of the Gemara. Since our
jackets and shirts (button-down) are open in the front, if one is Choletz,
his jacket and shirt will fall off, disgracing the Avel. Certainly in such a
situation the Mes would forego the Kavod of having the Avel be Choletz for
Regarding Keri'ah, the practice is to do 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.