Ethics

For the week ending 3 March 2007 / 13 Adar I 5767

Belated Condolences

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Question: A friend of mine recently lost his mother and I was out of town during the week of his shivah mourning period. I will almost certainly run into him in the near future and am confused as to how I should relate to him. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Although you were unaware of the passing of your friend's mother and probably did not even have the opportunity to relay your condolences by phone, you still have a chance to somewhat fulfill the mitzvah of nichum aveilim.

In Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim (285:2) we find that if one meets a mourner for any relative during the first thirty days after death he should express his condolences. When the mourning is for a parent, as in the case you mentioned, such condolencescan be offered up until 12 months following death.

Even if the above-mentioned time periods have passed one may still make an indirect expression of sympathy without directly mentioning the deceased relative.

May we all be spared from having to apply these rules.

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