Order Of Mourning 

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By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld 

The posuk in Bereishis 23:2 says that Avraham came to be maspid Sarah and cry over her death. Reb Reuven Feinstein, at the hesped of his brother Reb Dovid Feinstein, asked the following question. Based on the Gemara in Moed Koton 27b we see that the derech of the world is first to cry and then to make a hesped. Why did Avraham reverse the order? Reb Reuven said that sometimes we don’t know the niftar well enough until you first hear a hesped about him and thereby learn what to be cry about. That was his hesped on his brother; we don’t know enough of Reb Dovid’s gadlus and what to cry for. We would like to offer some more answers.

The first tirutz is from the Sefer Tal Oros based on a talmid of the Arizal that says that sometimes a person is so heavily in shock and pain that a his heart turns to stone, as the posuk in Yirmiyah 8:23 says, “Who can make my head into water and my eyes a source of tears so I can cry both day and night.” Avraham had just come from burying Terach and then his wife died. He needed a hesped to defrost his heart! A second Tirutz is based on Reb Yonasan Eibshitz that says since Avraham was coming from burying Terach, people would have mistaken the crying for Terach and not Sarah, so he needed to be maspid Sarah first. A third tirutz is that Avraham was returning from the akeida. He did not want people to think that he was crying about the akeida. People would have said that since he lost Sarah as a result of the akeida he regretted it; hence, he did not cry until after he was maspid her. A fourth tirutz is based on Reb Yehuda Asad that the minhag of the world is that we don’t cry when someone really old dies. Avraham had to make a hesped so that the people in his generation could see what they lost.

A fifth tirutz is based on Gemara Moed Koton 22a that says that one who hurries to bury the dead is meshubach, besides for one’s parents who need to be given the proper kavod. The sefer Shevet Yehuda 390:3 says that as long as the niftar is not buried, the niftar experiences pain. Rabbeinu Yeruchem says that by hurrying to bury the niftar, one is being mekabel the gezeira be’ahava. That is the reason Avraham did not cry, so as to hurry her kevura. The sixth tirutz is that since Avraham came from Har Hamoriah, which we know was three days’ distance away, the three days of crying already passed when Avraham was in transit.

May we be zocheh to hear only good news and no more deaths! May the the Geulah come speedily and we will be zocheh to techiyas hameisim!

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