Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik
by R. Aharon Ziegler
Rav Soloveitchik analyzed and compared the emotional and halachic experience of losing a relative and losing a relationship with GD. The laws of aveilut [mourning] are divided into two parts: Aninut and Aveilut. Aninut is the stage of mourning where one has not yet buried his deceased relative. He is in a state of shock, turmoil, and paralysis. His intellectual capacities do not junction, and for this reason, a person in this stage is exempt from performing mitzvot. After the relative is buried, however, the mourner’s mind settles. His reaction to death is no longer marked by confusion. The intellect regains its discipline. He understands that he must conform to laws of Aveilut, which then go into effect and that he must accept consolation.
For the sinner, the Aninut stage takes place when he suddenly realizes that he has not accomplished anything through his evil ways, that he has sunk to depravity. A person eventually realizes that through his pursuit of sin, his life has become worthless. His entire world is then shattered before him, and he is overcome with an overwhelming sense of failure. But after this stage of Aninut, the sated of Aveilut sets in. The sinner now has the clarity of mind to assess his situation and develop an appropriate response, namely, the three steps of Teshuvah: recognition of sin, feeling remorse, and resolve not to repeat the same mistakes again.