Q. My young husband died R’L recently leaving our two children not yet bar mitzva. I was told that they don’t have to sit shiva. Why isn’t there a mitzva of chinuch do educate them as there is on all other mitzvos? What if they want to keep shiva and other avelut traditions, are they allowed?
A. Poskim disagree if a kattan is obligated to keep the Halachos of avelus, Rokeach (314), Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 396: 3), Dagul Merbaba, Nekudos Hakessef (Y.D 340), Shaarei Deah, Beis Hilel (ibid. 381), et al. maintain that they don’t have to. The reason given is that it would prevent them from learning Torah and therefore there is no mitzva of chinuch. Shivas Tzion (quoted by Pischei Teshuva 396: 2) mentions that chinuch applies only when the father is alive. See above in regard to a daughter.
Others maintain that they should be trained to keep them. (Drishah 340 quoted by Taz 340: 15, see Kol Bo on Avelus p. 272, and others.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that there is no obligation for the young to observe any of the customs of avelus. Although, they could do so voluntarily if they wanted, it is not recommended as learning Torah is for them primordial.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a