Comforting the Mourners
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Revision as of 20:15, 2 January 2012 by YitzchakSultan
Over the phone
- Many authorities hold 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. 
- It is permitted to visit a mourner on Shabbat. However, one should not plan to visit a mourner specifically on Shabbat. 
- If one comforts a mourner on Shabbat one should say "Shabbat Hiy MeLeNachem VeNechama Krova Lavo" and some are lenient to say HaMakom Yinachamecha. 
- Sh"t Igrot Moshe 4:40(11) writes 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. Rav Moshe also has a similar idea regarding visiting the sick (Bikur Cholim) in Sh"t Igrot Moshe 1:223. Minchat Yitzchak 2:84 agrees with Rav Moshe regarding Bikur Cholim. Bear Moshe 2:104, 106 agrees with Rav Moshe both regarding comforting mourners and visiting the sick.
- However, Rav Yitzchak Hutner (Pachad Yitzchak Igrot #33) writes that calling a sick person on the phone basically accomplishes the purpose of Bikur Cholim to investigate in a fellow Jew's situation and see how one can help, however, calling a mourner one doesn't fulfill the mitzvah properly because Nichum Aveilim is supposed to create a gathering of comforters to surround the mourner (see Ketubot 69b) and a phone doesn't accomplish that. See Peni Baruch 11:12 who quotes Sh"t Minchat David 72-3 who says that one shouldn't comfort mourners over the phone.
- 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.
- Mishna Brurah 287:3