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Laws of Mourning When a Family Member Passes Away On Yom Tob or Hol Ha’mo’ed

If somebody passes away, Heaven forbid, on Yom Tob or Hol Ha’moed, then the formal Shiba period begins only after the conclusion of the holiday. And thus the immediate family members do not sit on the floor and begin mourning until after the final days of Yom Tob.

Nevertheless, private mourning practices must be observed even in the interim, after the burial, just as mourners observe private mourning practices on Shabbat during the Shiba period. These include:

1) Bathing or showering in hot water. The mourners are permitted to wash their hands and face with cold or lukewarm water, but they may not wash with hot water.

2) Torah study. The mourners are permitted to learn only material which may be studied during mourning generally, such as the laws of mourning found in Masechet Mo’ed Katan. However, if a mourner is unable to study this material, and would thus not learn Torah at all, then he is permitted to learn what he wishes.

Reading Tehillim is forbidden, just as in the case of mourners in a regular case.

3) Marital relations. In principle, marital relations are forbidden during the holiday in such a case, and a female mourner does not immerse in the Mikveh if the time for her immersion arrives. However, since there are circumstances when exceptions are allowed, one should consult with his or her Rabbi for personal guidance in this regard.

If a burial takes place on Hol Ha’mo’ed, the customary "Se’udat Habra’a" meal should be provided for the mourners. Under normal circumstances, it is customary to bring the mourners bread and either an egg or lentils, which are signs of mourning. However, on Pesah, of course, bread cannot be eaten, and serving eggs or lentils would be an inappropriate public expression of mourning. It would therefore be proper to bring the mourners egg matza (if the burial takes place on Hol Ha’mo’ed Pesah) and some cake, together with tea or coffee.

When a funeral is held on Hol Ha’mo’ed, the mourners recite the Beracha of "Dayan Ha’emet," and rip their garments. They then change into a different shirt until after the holiday, when the Shiba period commences.

The mourners recite the normal holiday prayers, including Hallel.

Although men normally do not wear Tefillin on the first day of the Shiba period, nevertheless, in such a case, when the loved one passed away during a holiday and Shiba commences after the holiday, the male mourner wear Tefillin already on the first day of Shiba.

It is permissible, and appropriate, to make condolence calls to mourners during the holiday, even though the formal mourning period does not begin until after the holiday ends.

The days of the holiday count towards the thirty-day Sheloshim period. Although the mourners do not fully begin mourning until after the holiday, nevertheless, the interim days of the holiday count toward Sheloshim.

Summary: When somebody passes away, Heaven forbid, on Yom Tob or Hol Ha’mo’ed, the formal Shiba period begins only after the conclusion of the holiday. However, even in the interim, the mourner is forbidden from bathing with hot water, and from studying Torah (except the portions relevant to mourning, which may be studied). One should consult with his or her Rabbi regarding the permissibility of marital relations in such a case. When a funeral is held during Hol Ha’mo’ed, the mourners recite the Beracha of "Dayan Ha’emet," and rip their garments. They then change into a different shirt until after the holiday. The egg or lentils customarily brought to mourners after the funeral should be replaced in this case with cake, and tea or coffee. The mourners recite the usual holiday prayers, including Hallel. It is permissible, and appropriate, to make condolence calls to mourners during the holiday, even though the formal mourning period does not begin until after the holiday ends.

 


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