Soloveitchik on Aninut

During aninut, the phase between death and burial, the despairing mourner is freed of ritual obligations.

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Man who has faith in himself, who is aware of his charisma, was chosen and burdened with obliga­tions and commandments. Despairing, skeptical man was not elected. How can man pray and address himself to God if he doubts his very humanity, if speech is stripped by his doubts of its human characteristics and turned into mere physical sound? How can the mourner pronounce a benediction or say "amen" if he is "speechless"? He is still capable of producing sounds, but a benediction consists of spiritual words and not just of physi­cal sounds.

In a word, the motto of aninut is to be found in the old pessimistic verse in the book of Ecclesiastes: "So that man has no preeminence over the beast, for all is vanity."

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Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the most important Orthodox thinkers of the 20th century. He delivered an annual lecture on repentance that was a highly anticipated event for Modern Orthodox Jews in America.