About Me

Rabbi Chaim Coffman
Rabbi Coffman has helped people from all across the spectrum to prepare themselves properly for Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. His students admire his vast knowledge and appreciate his warm, personal attention and endearing sense of humor.
View my complete profile


Welcome to Rabbi Chaim Coffman's Blog!

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism.

The conversion process can be a lengthy and daunting one to say the least and I want you to know that I am here to help you through it.

I have been teaching newcomers to Judaism for over a decade and over the last few years I have seen that conversion candidates really lack the support and knowledge they need to navigate the conversion process and successfully integrate into the Orthodox Jewish community.

I created my mentorship program in order to help make this whole experience as smooth and as painless as possible! (Can't do much about the growing pains, though ;)

Feel free to get to know me a little through the posts on my blog and visit the mentorship and syllabus page if you are interested in possible joining us.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for truth and spiritual growth.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Chaim Coffman

My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch

In case you were wondering why I have all of these articles written by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, he is my Rebbe, and one of the gedolei hador (greatest Rabbis of our generation).

Rav Sternbuch fully endorses me and supports my mentorship program.

He is the address for all of my halachic or hashkafic (practical and philosophical) questions that I or my students may have.

The articles are based on his weekly talks on the Torah portion that the Rav gives in Jerusalem in his kollel. As a member of the kollel I get first dibbs on the photocopies and I type them up for my blog so you can all benefit from the Rav's erudition and insight.
Friday, December 23, 2011

Ask the Raavad

Question: My wife’s cousin (her father’s sister’s daughter) passed away on Tuesday.What is the halacha in regards to attending a bar mitzvah gathering of a close friend on the upcoming Motzoei Shabbos and the wedding of her niece’s daughter on Sunday night?
Thank you.
Leib S.

Answer: According to the Rama, the halachos of aveilus that apply for thirty days (shloshim) are also practiced for cousins and uncles, as well as any other relative who one is forbidden to testify with (pesulei eidus). However, this type of semi-aveilus only applies until Motzoei Shabbos, and since your wife’s simchos are after Shabbos, she is permitted to attend both of them.


The Gemara says that anyone who a person mourns for - i.e., you will be in
mourning when that person passes away - one should join them in their mourning (Moed Kotton 20b). According to these words of Chazal, if a person’s grandfather passes away, the grandson should sit shivah together with his father or mother. Although the Shulchan Aruch cites this Gemara as the halacha, the Rama writes that the reason for this halacha is to honor those who are mourning, and the mourners are mochel this today and only the actual mourners sit shivah.

In fact, Rishonim note that if a person would keep this aveilus today, he would be considered to be making fun of the other mourners (Shach citing Hagahos Mordechai,
Moed Katan 20a). For this reason, the Rama writes that anyone who is stringent in regards to this halacha is considered to be from the matmihim (absurd) (Rama 374:6).
Thus, it is forbidden for the other relatives to sit shivah with these mourners. However, the Rama mentions that there are some halachos of aveilus relevant for
any relative who is a pasul le’eidus, i.e., one whom it is forbidden to give testimony with. This includes sheini besheini, second generation relatives, such as cousins and uncles. According to some opinions, it applies to shlishi berishon, i.e., third-generation relatives, such as great-uncles.

Why should one become a mourner if he is not obligated? Some explain that this is in deference to the honor of the deceased (Terumas Hadeshen 291 as cited by Darchei Moshe), while others explain that this is to pay honor to the other mourners (Ponim Meiros as cited in Pischei Teshuvah 374:4). Let us look at this type of mourning and try to understand what it entails.


The guidelines of this aveilusz (mourning) are different than other types of mourning, and one unusual aspect of this mourning is its time span. No matter when the mourning starts, it always ends on the same day. One starts from time of burial, and once Shabbos arrives, this mourning ends.

We have already established that some say that the reason for this aveilus is to honor the mourners. Based on this, some opinions say that if the mourners are sitting shivah in a different city, one is not obligated to keep these halachos. However, lemaaseh we view this as honor for the deceased, and these halachos are followed even in another city (Pischei Teshuvah 374:4).

Another important aspect of this mourning is that one only needs to keep the halachos
that are applicable on all thirty days of aveilus, such as washing, haircuts, and
going to weddings. Halachos that are only applicable during the first seven days -
e.g., not wearing shoes, wearing clothes of mourning, and not leaving the house - are
not applicable (Terumas Hadeshen 291, Rama ibid.).


The bottom line regarding the question posed is that a cousin passing away is sufficient reason to rule that one should not go to a bar mitzvah, wedding or any other joyous gathering. However, in your case, since your wife’s cousin passed away before Shabbos, she may attend the bar mitzvah and the wedding, which are after Shabbos. Some readers may think to themselves, “I never heard that this mourning existed before.” In fact, the Aruch Hashulchan writes that in some places, the custom is not to keep this. However, once the Rama has ruled that one should keep these halachos