Comforting the Mourners

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Over the phone

  1. There's two purposes of comforting the mourner. One is to comfort and speak to the living relatives who are very distressed. The other purpose is to show respect to the deceased. Comforting a mourner over the phone only fulfills the first purpose and even in that respect it's much better to go to the mourners house. Therefore, if a person can go to the house of the mourner he should not exempt himself by calling on the phone. However, if a person can't make it to the mourner's house because of an illness or involvement in a mitzvah there is an obligation to fulfill what he can by calling on the telephone. [1]

On Shabbat

  1. It is permitted to visit a mourner on Shabbat. However, one should not plan to visit a mourner specifically on Shabbat. [2]
  2. If one comforts a mourner on Shabbat one should say "Shabbat Hiy MeLeNachem VeNechama Krova Lavo" and some are lenient to say HaMakom Yinachamecha. [3]

References

  1. Sh"T Igrot Moshe 4:40(11)
  2. S"A 287:1 writes that it's permitted to comfort a mourner on Shabbat. However, Mishna Brurah 287:1 points out that the Rabbis only permitted this with difficulty. Thus, says the Mishna Brurah, those who only comfort mourners on Shabbat are not acting correctly. Rabbi Mansour on Dailyhalacha.com says therefore one shouldn't specifically plan to visit on Shabbat.
  3. Mishna Brurah 287:3