Spilling water in home when person passes away

Spilling out all water in the vicinity:[1]

It is customary to spill out all the drawn water in the neighborhood in which the person passed away.[2] [Water of the neighborhood should be spilled even if a child less than thirty days old passes away, and even if a gentile passes away.[3] On Shabbos, one is not to spill the water.[4] However on Yom Tov one is required to do so.[5] One is not required to spill out water that was frozen at the time of death.[6] One is only required to spill out plain water and not other water based liquids.[7] Some Poskim[8] rule one is not required to spill out water that was covered tightly. However, others[9] rule it is required to be spilled even in such a case, and so is implied from Admur.[10]]

Definition of neighborhood: Some Poskim[11] rule a neighborhood is defined as three houses [or apartments]. This refers to the two houses that are closest to the house of the deceased, as well as the actual house of the deceased.[12] This includes the two closest houses on each side of the house of the deceased [i.e. two houses square[13]].[14] Other Poskim[15] however rule that only the [house of the deceased and the] actual [next door] neighbor must spill the water, and so is the custom. [According to all, we follow the area the person was in at the times of death and not his home or place of origin, even if he was later on brought to that location.[16] Thus, if the person passed away in a hospital, his neighbors by his house do not need to spill the water. However the hospital rooms near the room of the deceased are to spill their water. If there is a street that separates between the houses of the deceased and a neighbor’s house, the neighbor is not required to spill the water.[17]]

Water used for a Mitzvah:[18] One is not required to spill water that was drawn for the sake of a Mitzvah, such as to use as Mayim Shelanu for the Matzos on Pesach.[19]

 

Summary:
All the plain water in bottles, cups and buckets that are in a house that a person passed away in, is to be spilled. Likewise, the neighbors of closest proximity are to also spill their water. On Shabbos, no water is to be spilled.

Q&A

May the water be used for non-eating purposes?
Some Poskim[20] rule it is not to be used for any purpose. Other Poskim[21] rule it may be used for non-eating purposes, such as for laundry and bathing.

 

If one used the water for food, may the food be eaten?
Some Poskim[22] the food is forbidden to be consumed even if it contains 60x the water. However, if it was used for the Shabbos food, it may be eaten.[23] Other Poskim[24] however rule the food may always be eaten.

If one said a blessing over the water and then heard that a person passed away in the area, may he drink it?[25]
He is to swallow a sip of water and spill out the remainder.

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[1] Michaber 339/5; Admur O.C. 455/15; Kol Bo; Mordechai Remez 593

[2] The reason: Several reasons are given behind this custom: a) There is danger involved if one does not spill the water. [Admur ibid] as the angel of death places a drop of poisonous blood in the water. [Taz 339/4-only reason; 2nd reason in Shach 339/9; Tashbatz 444] The Tashbatz writes that a person once drank this water and died shortly afterwards. [Shach ibid; See Beir Heiytiv 339/5 for full story] b) This is done to publicize that there is a death and prevent the need of verbally informing people, as one who informs another of a death is considered to be “spreading evil tongue.” [1st reason in Shach ibid; Maharil] See Mavor Yabok Sefas Emes 23; Damesek Eliezer 49

[3] Birkeiy Yosef 339/8, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 339/4, Rav Akiva Eiger 339; Yad Avraham 339; Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/7-8 footnote 11 and 15

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is not necessary to spill the water. [See Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/7-8 footnote 12 and 16]

[4] Shemesh Tzedaka Y.D. 36; Tosefes Shabbos 211/1 in name of, brought in Rav Akiva Eiger 339; Pischeiy Teshuvah 339/4

The reason: As we do not publicize a death on Shabbos, as well as that the angel of death does not enter his sword in the water on Shabbos. [ibid]

[5] P”M 455 M”Z 3; Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/6 footnote 9

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is not necessary to spill the water on Yom Tov. [See Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/6 footnote 9-10]

[6] Chamudei Daniel, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 339/5

[7] Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/3 footnote 4

[8] See M”A 455/9; Darkei Moshe 455/7; Beis David 181; Nitei Gavriel 8/16

[9] See Nachamu Ami p. 17

[10] Admur 455/16 omits ruling of Darkei Moshe and M”A ibid regarding covered, and even in the case of placing metal Admur explicitly writes it regarding the Tekufa; Likewise, see Admur in Shemiras Hanefesh Vehaguf Halacha 7 regaridng food under the bed that it is problematic even if covered.

[11] Taz 339/4 based on Tosafus Kesubos

[12] Chamudei Daniel, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 339/6

[13] In an apartment building, this would include up to two floors above and below the apartment of the deceased. [See Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/12 footnote 24

[14] Gilyon Maharsha 339; Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/11 footnote 23

[15] Nekudos Hakesef 339; Beir Heiytiv 339/5

[16] See Nitei Gavriel 8/2

[17] Nitei Gavriel 8/13 in name of Tuv Tam Vadas 1/102 and other Poskim

[18] Admur 455/15; Rama 455/1; Shach 339/9; Mordechai ibid Rokeiach 275

[19] The reason: As the verse [Koheles 8/5] states “One who guards a Mitzvah will know no evil” [Admur ibid]

[20] Adnei Paz 26, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 339/4; See Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/20

[21] Pischeiy Teshuvah 339/4; See Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/20

[22] Teshuvas Beis Yehuda Y.D. 1/46, brought in Rav Akiva Eiger 339; Birkeiy Yosef 339; Beis David 161; Pischeiy Teshuvah 339/4; Gilyon Maharsha 339; Yad Avraham 339; See Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/19 footnote 33

[23] Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid

[24] Aruch Hashulchan 339/9; Poskim in Nitei Gavriel 8/19 footnote 34

[25] M”A 206/8 in name of Sefer Chassidim; Kneses Hagedola O.C. 204, brought in Rav Akiva Eiger 339; Ely Raba 202/1; M”B 206/26

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