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QUESTION

Chicago, IL

A member of our shul died today. He is being flown to New York tomorrow (Friday) morning and will be flown to Israel after Shabbat and buried there next week.

His widow and two of his children are remaining in America. Does shivah begin for them tomorrow when the body leaves Chicago?

One son lives in Israel. He will attend the burial there and then join his family in America. Does he count shivah from burial in Israel or does he adopt his mother’s count once he joins her in Chicago?

ANSWER

My pesak here would be a little unconventional. I believe that if those who remain in the States will be participating in the burial via Zoom, then there is no ייאוש or סילוק דעת, and they would begin their shivah when the met is buried. So everyone will observe it the following week on the day of burial. Support for this position, in addition to the compelling sevara, is that the halakha of beginning shivah from the time of החזרת פנים is described as a circumstance of when they don’t know when the met will be buried, in the words of the Shulchan Arukh YD 375:2, מי שדרכם לשלוח המת למדינה אחרת לקוברו, ואינם יודעים מתי יקבר. The אינם יודעים is what creates סילוק הדעת. You can also see this from the fact that it applies only in a case of עיר אחרת, because – as Shakh YD 375:1 writes, quoting Beit Yosef,

משמע דוקא כששולחים אותו לעיר אחרת אבל הקוברים בבית הקברות סמוך לעיר החוזרים משערי העיר אינן מתאבלין עד שאמרו להם שנקבר

This is also presumably because in the case of a nearby city, since they will find out soon, there is no סילוק הדעת (and see Pri Chadash there who says that near/far city is defined by same day or not. Also, apparently, because if it is the same day, there is no סילוק הדעת and it’s like יודעים מתיח יקבר).

I wouldn’t go so far to extend this to a case where they will be phoned after the burial (although logically, I could) – but being present via Zoom is not only יודעים but actually still actively connected to the burial.

That would be my pesak. Conventional pesak would say that those remaining begin aveilut once the body leaves Chicago. The son in Israel starts after the burial. He does not follow his mother, even though he will be joining her, because: (1) it is unlikely that we are talking about a case where she handles all aspects of the household, and everyone follows her lead and (2) we rule that gadol HaBayit can make the aveilut start later (for those who are not at the burial) but not earlier (for those who are). See Shakh YD 375:2. (The case of coming later to the house and following gadol HaBayit (375:8) is only when the aveil was unaware that there had been a death).