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Gifts and new clothes during the year of mourning


Rabbi Moshe Leib Halberstadt

Cheshvan 3, 5771
My mother passed away a few months ago. I am still within the period of the twelve months of mourning for her. I would like to find out whether I am allowed to wear new clothes for the upcoming holidays, and whether I am allowed to give or receive gifts? Thank you
According to the letter of the law it is forbidden for a person in mourning for his father or mother to wear a new white and pressed garment until the festival arrives after thirty days and his friends castigate him, and this is the Sephardic custom. The Ashkenazim however prohibit wearing any new clothes all twelve months. Nevertheless even in a case where it is forbidden to wear new clothes, if he lets someone else wear it for two or three days it is permitted if it is needed. (שו"ע ורמ"א יו"ד סימן שפט סעיפים ג, ה, ושם בבאר הגולה, חכמת אדם כלל קסה סעיף כב, ערוה"ש סימן שפט סעיף יא, ילקוט יוסף הלכות אבלות סי' לח סעיף ג, פני ברוך סימן יח סעיף יא, נטעי גבריאל הל' אבילות ח"ב פרק י סעיפים יא - כב). The custom is that a mourner for his father or mother does not give or receive gifts, especially things of happiness all twelve months, just as Sheilat Shalom (inquiry about welfare) which is prohibited all twelve months. But in cases where the gift is intended to help the recipient because he is poor or for a bride and a groom that the gifts help them establish their new home, one can be lenient. Others are lenient in all this. However it is better to be stringent unless it is necessary. (שו"ע ורמ"א או"ח סימן תרצו סעיף ו ומ"ב ס"ק יז - כב, רמ"א יו"ד סימן שפה סעיף ג, ילקוט יוסף הלכות אבלות סי' כג סעיפים טז – יח, פני ברוך סימן טז סעיף יג, נטעי גבריאל הל' אבילות ח"ב פרק יד סעיפים ט - יד). May the Omnipresent One comfort you amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. (On a father or mother one can console all twelve months, Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 385, 2).
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