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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Berachos 18



(a) Someone whose dead is lying before him - who wants to eat, is obligated 1. to go into another room; 2. to go to a friend's house; 3. to make a partition between himself and the Meis; 4. to turn round and eat.

(b) An Onen is forbidden to eat meat or to drink wine (though these are permitted to an Aveil).

(c) He is not allowed to recline (in the manner that was customary in former times) whilst eating. And he is Patur from Zimun - in fact, he cannot even combine to make up a Mezuman.

(d) He is not obligated to recite the Berachos before and after eating. (According to most Meforshim, he is not even permitted to do so.)

(a) He is Patur from the Mitzvos during the week, but Chayav on Shabbos.

(b) According to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, since, on Shabbos, an Onen is obligated to fulfill the Mitzvos which are done in public (in spite of his Aninus), he is also obligated to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tashmish (Onah), although this is performed discreetly.
The Chachamim hold that he is only exempted from Aninus with regard to those things which are performed publicly, but not regarding things which are done discreetly.

(c) The Beraisa exempts an Onen from the Mitzvos, even though it includes a case of an Onen who went to another house to eat, and whose deceased relative is therefore not lying in front of him; whereas our Mishnah exempts him only if his dead is actually lying before him.

(d) Rav Papa explains that the Petur from Mitzvos of which the Beraisa speaks, refers exclusively to the *last* case, namely, that of when he turns his face - and there of course, his dead *is* lying before him; in all of the other cases, he is Chayav to fulfill the Mitzvos.
According to Rav Ashi however, 'lying before him' is nothing more than figurative speech, and refers to every Onen, who is obligated to bury his dead - which is what 'lying before him' means. And he proves this from the Pasuk, which writes that Avraham arose from in front of his dead (Sarah), even though she was not actually lying in front of him.

(a)&(b) Someone who is guarding a dead body is Patur from all the Mitzvos, and our Mishnah is speaking when the corpse is being guarded by somebody else other than the One.

(c) Someone who enters a graveyard is Patur from Mitzvos, only when he is within four Amos of a grave, whereas an Onen and someone who is guarding a corpse, is Patur at any distance.

(d) Someone in a graveyard is Patur from the Mitzvos because of 'Loge la'Rosh' (it is like mocking the poor fellows, who are unable to perform the Mitzvah that *he* is performing).

(a) If two people are guarding the corpse, and the time of Keri'as Shema arrives, they take it in turns to recite it - one guards whilst the other recites.

(b) According to Ben Azai, two people on a boat may both recite the Shema, and need not worry about the corpse.

(c) According to the Tana Kama, they must take it in turns, just as they do on dry land.

(d) Ben Azai holds that one need not worry about mice (which is the reason that the Meis needs to be guarded in the first place) at Sea, whereas the Tana Kama holds that one does.

(a) One may not sit on a sack containing bones of a corpse, whilst transporting it for re-burial - unless that is, one needs to run away from non-Jews or from robbers.

(b) The same applies to someone who is transporting a Seifer-Torah from one place to another.

(c) The Pesukim "Malveh Hashem, Chonein Dal" and "u'Mechabdo Chonen Evyon", refer to someone who accompanies a corpse.

(d) Someone who fails to do so, has transgressed "Lo'eg la'Rosh, Cheref Oseihu".

(a) Rebbi Chiya told Rebbi Yonasan (whose Tzitzis were showing when he was in a graveyard) - that the dead will say about us 'tomorrow they are coming to join us, and now they are mocking us'.

(b) "ve'ha'Meisim Einam Yod'im Me'umah" refers to the Resha'im, who make out as if they do not know that they are going to die, and continue in their sinful ways.

(c) Conversely, "Ki ha'Chayim Yod'im she'Yamusu" refers to the Tzadikim, who, even after they have died, are still called 'alive'. They know that they are destined to die, and they therefore refrain from sinning.




1. We learn from "Ben Ish Chai" that Tzadikim are called 'alive', even after their death (presumably because their Neshamos are predominant during their lifetimes, and Neshamos do not die).
2. And from "Yumas ha'Mes" we learn that Resha'im are called dead, even when they are still alive (because their bodies are predominant in their lifetimes, and bodies are no more than corpses).

(b) During the entire eight hundred and thirty year periods that the two Batei Mikdash stood, there was nobody like Benayahu ben Yehoyada (about whom it is written "Hu Hikah es Shenei Ariel" - a reference to the two Batei Mikdash).

(c) Some explain that 'he smote a lion on a snowy day to mean that he broke the ice in order to Tovel; others, that he taught Medrash Toras Kohanim on a winter's day.

(a) "Ach Besaro Alav Yich'av" etc., refers to the worms that feel like needles to the dead body. So we see that the dead are aware of what is going on in this world. The Gemara rejects this proof however, on the grounds that we only have a proof from here, that they know what is happening to themselves, but not what concerns others.

(b) The first year, that Chasid (Rebbi Yehudah b'Rebbi Ilai or Rebbi Yehudah ben Bava) learnt from the spirits of those two girls, that whoever sows in the early season will lose all his crops to the hail; and in the second year, he learnt that whoever sows in the late season will lose it all to draught.

(c) The third year, the spirits declined to divulge the secret because their words had been leaked out to humans.

(d) There is no proof from here that the dead have an instinctive knowledge of what happens in this world, because it is possible that someone who dies informed them (And that applies only to public information, but not to whether the dead feel hurt when people at their graveside are wearing Tzitzis or performing Mitzvos - like our original Sha'aleh).

(a) Zeiri's inn-keeper asked him to ask her mother to send her various items of make-up with a girl who destined to die the following day.

(b) There is no proof from here either that the dead are instinctively aware of what happens in this world, because it is possible that Duma (the Angel in charge of the dead - who knows within a very short space of time who will be arriving in the land of the souls) told her that her friend was about to arrive.

(c) Shmuel's father had already gone up to the Yeshivah shel Ma'alah, which explains why Shmuel had difficulty in locating him.

(a) Shmuel's father was crying because Shmuel was due to die shortly, and he was laughing because he was held in such high esteem in Heaven.

(b) Rebbi Yonasan must have retracted, the Gemara at first contends, because how can he argue with the Pasuk, which tells us that Moshe was instructed to inform the Avos that Hashem was about to keep His promise to Yisrael, which means that they must understand what is happening in this world - otherwise such information would be meaningless to them.

(c) It could be, concludes the Gemara, that the Avos really *were*(and are) aware of happens in this world. Nevertheless, Moshe was instructed to go and inform them, in order that they should feel indebted to him for bringing them the good news.

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