Answer: When a person dies (r”l = ‘rachmana litz’lan’ – “May the Merciful One spare us”), the immediate relatives (i.e. father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter and spouse) are in the status of ‘onein’ (grieving relative) until after the burial. Immediately thereafter, the period of ‘aveilus’ (mourning) begins, with the commencement of ‘shiva’. While an ‘onein’ does not perform any of the positive mitzvos (e.g. davening, brachos, tefillin, etc.), an ‘aveil’ resumes all but the mitzvah of tefillin, until the second day of ‘shiva’! In other words, an ‘aveil’ does not wear tefillin during the first day of ‘shiva’. (Note: If the burial takes place in the afternoon, the remainder of that day is all that is left of the first day of ‘shiva’. Come morning, that is already day two, and the ‘aveil’ puts on tefillin.)
Here are a few additional details about this halacha:
- The exemption is on the first day of ‘shiva’, regardless of whether or not it is the day of death.
- If the burial occurs at night, the entire next day is still part of the first day of ‘shiva’, and tefillin are not worn.
- If a relative hears of the passing of his loved one within 30 days of his passing, the relative also becomes an ’aveil’, and does not wear tefillin for the first day after hearing the news.
- If an ‘aveil’s’ practice generally is to wear tefillin on ‘chol hamoed’, some authorities rule that if the first day after burial occurs on ‘chol hamoed’, he should wear tefillin, because formal ‘aveilus’ is not held at that time. Others authorities do not differentiate.
- On the morning of the second day, when the ‘aveil’ resumes wearing tefillin, it is preferable that he not put them on until the sun has clearly risen.
Question: The Talmud has a lengthy discourse regarding the possible exemption from the mitzvos of Krias Shema, Tefilah and Tefillin granted a ‘chassan’ (bridegroom, during the seven days of feasting after the wedding) and his entourage. Are these halachos still relevant today?
Answer: No exemptions are granted the ‘chassan’ anymore – sorry!