Appropriate discussion at a cemetery

Regrettably, I’ve attended a number of funerals of late. It would seem to be common place for one person to wish the other person

“אויף שמחות’’ “oif simches”

This is a Yiddish phrase designed to express a wish that people next meet at Simches (or שמחות in Hebrew).  It is also customary for a male whose ציצית are worn outside his pants to conceal these when visiting the בית החיים because it is considered somewhat mocking of the dead when one shows that they are able to openly keep מצוות as in וראיתם אותם.

I’ve wondered whether it’s perhaps inappropriate to be saying אויף שמחות at the בית החיים for a similar reason. In the midst of performing the sombre מצווה of לויית המת about which we say אין לה שיעור isn’t it inappropriate to be wishing each other opportunities to see each other at שמחות?

Indeed, is this said in other countries? What is the source for this practice? I haven’t looked it up, as I avoid such topics. I think it’s fine to say it at one of the מניינים to one another, although I think it’s perhaps not right to say that in earshot of the אבלים

Another מנהג which is common is the one to learn some משניות for the deceased after which a קדיש דרבנן is recited. It is known that an אבל (may none of us experience this, and בלע המוות לנצח) is not permitted to learn Torah since Torah makes one potentially happy. I’ve not understood why we publicly learn משניות given that in doing so, we force the אבל to hear Torah. I do know that the Rav was against this practice, and he also felt that it is a דין for the actual house of the אבל and not just the אבל. Not withstanding that, what is the common reason for this ruling? I am pretty sure this one is discussed by Poskim, but again, I have no wish to learn those הלכות, so if anyone can enlighten me, I’d be obliged.

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

2 thoughts on “Appropriate discussion at a cemetery”

  1. The דינים of how we are supposed to act in a בית החיים are in שו”ע יו”ד סי’ שס”ז-ח. The reason for not wearing tzitzis, or tfillin or davening is לועג לרש. It seems that we are only worried about performing Mitzvos, especially ones that need not be performed in a בית החיים. Tfillin and Tzitzis need not be worn in a cemetery, therefore at times when people are not wearing tzitsis for the mitzvah (rather because of their four cornered garment) they were permitted to wear tzitzis as long as they were not dragging on the קברים. However now, when our tzitsis is just for the mitzvah even if they are not dragging along the קברים you must conceal them. In the following siman the shulchan aruch says thing that is considered קלות ראש. From both simanim it would seem that not everything that a מת would find insulting do we prohibit, rather things that are, mitzvos and unnecessary mitzvos.
    However even though I haven’t seen clearly, things that are of ניחום it would seem most appropriate to be said.


    1. Thanks mendy. I am not going to those סעיפים as I mentioned (there are some who don’t learn אלו מגלחים for that reason, or נידה until they are married)

      The Tzitzis are only a חיוב because we choose to wear a four cornered garment. If they are visible, we are, כביכול possibly guilty of mocking by advertising our ability to choose to take on a מצווה.

      I’m not sure if there are explicit mentions of examples of inappropriate things. I feel that mentioning seeing each other at שמחות is perhaps not the right thing at the בית החיים itself? Then again, we have a מנהג to invited the deceased to שמחות anyway, so perhaps it’s not a bad thing. I don’t know. It’s a הרגש thing for me.

      You didn’t comment on the source for a היתר to learn Torah in front of an אבל?


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