Sunday, March 25, 2007

Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 15 - A Mourner's Void

The Gemora states: A mourner is not permitted to send his sacrifices to the Beis Hamikdosh through an agent. The Gemora cites a braisa: Rabbi Shimon said: It is written [Vayikra 3:1]: And if a sacrifice of a shelamim is his offering; the word shelamim meaning whole indicates that a person can only offer a korban if he is whole and not when he is an onein (one whose close relative passed away and has not been buried yet – the halacha of bringing a korban applies to a regular mourner as well).

The Sheim Mishmuel comments: It is evident from this Gemora that a mourner is considered “incomplete” in his ability to serve Hashem properly; he lacks perfection of the soul.

The Torah did not command a mourner to conduct the halachos of mourning as a punishment, but rather as a remedy; not only for the deceased but also for himself. When a person is incomplete, he is in grave danger of becoming complete through the powers of the Evil Inclination. When sanctity departs from a person, the Evil Inclination (Sitra Acher) desperately strives to replenish that void and reside in that area. The Torah decrees that a mourner will remain in a state of incompleteness in order to ensure that the Evil Inclination does not take up residence in the location of the mourner’s incompleteness.

With this understanding, he explains why it is found that Shulchan Aruch is lenient in many areas of the halachos of a mourner. The Poskim from the later generations have even been more lenient than their predecessors. Why is this? It is because the reason that the mourner should conduct himself with all the halachos of mourning is to ensure that he remains incomplete in a manner that the Evil Inclination will not replace that emptiness. The Chachamim of every generation have weakened the strength of the Evil Inclination and therefore they felt that they can be more lenient regarding the halachos of a mourner.

An important lesson can be learned from here: A person should be extremely careful not to become depressed or sad because that creates a vacuum in which the Evil Inclination can enter, and he can become entrapped in a way that it will be extremely difficult to escape from. This is why the Torah commands that one should attempt to always serve Hashem through happiness and content.