Question: May an aveil attend his regular Daf Yomi shiur on Shabbos during shiv’ah?
Short Answer: While the Aruch HaShulchan appears to allow an aveil to attend his regular shiurim on Shabbos, the minhag, as cited by many contemporary poskim, is that an aveil does not attend any shiurim on Shabbos during shiv’ah.
I. Torah Makes You Happy
The Gemara (Moed Katan 15a) states that an aveil is forbidden to learn Torah based on the pasuk in Yechezkel (24:17) of “hei’aneik dom” – demanding silence by the aveil. The Gemara (Moed Katan 21a) further elaborates and lists all the types of learning (e.g., Mishnah, Gemara, etc.) that the aveil is forbidden to learn. But, the Gemara adds a caveat, that such learning is permitted if “rabim tz’richim lo” – the public needs him to teach them. Rashi explains that the aveil is forbidden to learn Torah because learning Torah makes a person happy.
The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 384:1) codifies this ruling that an aveil is forbidden to learn Torah, unless the public needs him.
II. Shabbos Learning
The Beis Yosef (Yoreh Dei’ah 400:1) cites the Mordechai (Moed Katan 506) who notes a machlokes whether an aveil is permitted to learn Torah on Shabbos. Some rule that it is forbidden because it is similar to “d’varim she’b’tzin’ah” – private activities – which an aveil is forbidden to perform on Shabbos. But the Ri holds that it is permitted, because the aveil is required to make himself happy on Shabbos (presumably to fulfill mitzvas oneg Shabbos).
The Tur (400:1) rules like his father, the Rosh, who understands that learning Torah is forbidden on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 400:1) rules similarly. Nevertheless, both the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch note an exception: It is permitted for an aveil to review the parshah as part of Shnayim Mikra that is performed weekly and thus is similar to reciting k’rias Sh’ma in davening (which is technically learning Torah but is permitted as part of davening).
Notably, there is a discussion whether this leniency to learn Shnayim Mikra applies in every scenario. Rabbi Akiva Eiger cites the Pri M’gadim who rules that when the aveilus finishes on Shabbos, the aveil should refrain from learning Shnayim Mikra in the morning until after his aveilus ends (i.e., after he leaves shul). Moreover, the Pischei T’shuvah (ibid 3) cites the Beis Hillel who extends this idea and rules that even if the aveilus is to end on Sunday or Monday, the aveil should not learn Shnayim Mikra on Shabbos, as one can make up Shnayim Mikra until Tuesday night. However, the Pischei T’shuvah cites others who disagree and rule that since Shabbos (or before Shabbos) is the ideal time to learn Shnayim Mikra, it is permitted for the aveil to learn it on Shabbos.
III. Regular Learning Seder
There is a comment by the sefer Beis Lechem Yehudah (on Shulchan Aruch ibid), which cites a fascinating ruling by the sefer Lechem HaPanim. The Lechem HaPanim rules that not only can the aveil learn Shnayim Mikra with the Targum on Shabbos, but he may also learn Shnayim Mikra with Rashi commentary if this is the aveil’s normal course of learning. In other words, Rashi’s commentary becomes like k’rias Sh’ma for the aveil – as it is recited in the normal course of his daily activities – and thus it may be continued during Shabbos of shiv’ah.
The Beis Lechem Yehudah himself disagrees. He rhetorically asks whether an aveil who has a set time daily to learn Rashi (not connected with the mitzvah of Shnayim Mikra) may also continue to learn Rashi during shiv’ah. Certainly not! Thus, the Beis Lechem Yehudah rules that an aveil may only learn an explanatory commentary (such as Tzenah U’r’enah), and definitely not Rashi, which is largely d’rash.
IV. Extension To Daf Yomi
Despite the opinion of the Beis Lechem Yehudah, the Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh Dei’ah 400:6-7) extends the ruling of the Lechem HaPanim. The Aruch HaShulchan notes that the Rambam does not mention any prohibition for an aveil to learn Torah on Shabbos. Moreover, the Yerushalmi indicates that an aveil who is terribly pained by the lack of learning (i.e., to the point of sickness) may even learn Torah the entire week of shiv’ah. Also, the Korban Nesanel rules that one who is accustomed to learn 18 p’rakim of mishnayos daily may continue this custom on the Shabbos of shiv’ah. These opinions, together with the Lechem HaPanim, form the basis of the Aruch HaShulchan’s leniency that an aveil during shiv’ah on Shabbos may attend his regular shiur on “Gemara and poskim” (i.e., such as a Daf Yomi shiur, see Divrei Sofrim, Aveilus, p. 686, explaining the Aruch HaShulchan).
V. Is This Aruch
The Chazon Ovadiah (Aveilus, Vol. 2, p. 206) challenges this Aruch HaShulchan and rules that this leniency only applies to learning, such as k’rias Sh’ma or Shnayim Mikra, i.e. texts that there is a “chiyuv gamur” (complete obligation) to learn. It does not extend to subjects that are not a “chiyuv gamur” to learn. This is likewise the opinion of the Sh’miras Shabbos K’Hilchasah (Vol. 2, p. 312).
The Nit’ei Gavriel (Aveilus, 1:115:21) cites both opinions but supports the ruling of the Aruch HaShulchan based upon the Ri’s opinion (cited above) that learning Torah in general is permitted on Shabbos for an aveil, as he also has an obligation of oneg Shabbos. Similarly, the Divrei Sofrim (ibid) suggests that the Aruch HaShulchan possibly understood that there is a special leniency to attend such a set shiur on Shabbos, because otherwise the aveil’s absence is noticeable, and thus impermissible “public aveilus.”
Notably, the P’nei Baruch (p. 250, n. 40) rules that an aveil who is accustomed to learn the sefer Chok L’Yisrael may do so on the Shabbos of shiv’ah. In his footnote, he appears to adopt the Aruch HaShulchan, as he cites the full language of the Aruch HaShulchan allowing the aveil to learn “Gemara and poskim” on the Shabbos of shiv’ah. However, in Mourning in Halachah (ArtScroll, p. 271, n. 39), which loosely translates the P’nei Baruch into English, the footnote simply cites to the Aruch HaShulchan without setting forth the full language, also allowing “Gemara and poskim.”
Indeed, the Nishmas Yisrael (1, p. 301) notes that while there is certainly room to rely upon the Aruch HaShulchan, the clear minhag is that an aveil does not attend a Daf Yomi shiur on Shabbos, nor does he learn the Daf Yomi.
Next Week’s Topic: Must one inform a person that his relative died and he is now an aveil?