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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jewish Mourning

In general, nothing is more suited to the human psyche than the Jewish Laws of Mourning.
  • The ripping of the mourners' clothing to remind us that what's important is the human being and not the superficial fashion.
  • The seven day mourning period, shiva, interrupted only by Shabbat.
  • Mourners are supposed to stay in the same clothing the entire week, not dealing with their external look.
  • People are supposed to provide the mourners with food and take care of those who come to comfort.
  • The mourner is removed from mundane worries.
  • Until thirty days after the funeral, the mourner doesn't buy new clothes, listen to music, cut his hair and other restrictions.
  • After the death of a parent, some of these restrictions continue for a year.

Those are the Halachot, Jewish Laws, for most of the time. It's different when the burial is right before a Jewish Holiday. The holiday, unlike Shabbat which provides a break from the mourning, cancels the shiva and shloshim (30 day restrictions.)

This is the day which Hashem has made;

we will rejoice and be glad in it

זה היום עשה ה'; נגילה ונשמחה בו

Many mourners praise the shiva and shloshim, saying that the Halachot and rituals perfectly suit their emotional state. So how can a mourner be deprived of it?

According to Jewish Law, just like the mourner must bathe, change clothes and celebrate Shabbat during the shiva, he must "rejoice" in the Jewish Holidays and allow it to cancel shiva and shloshim.

This takes a very high level of emotional and spiritual "intelligence."

Tomorrow morning my neighbor Yehudit will be buried, and tomorrow night her husband and children will join the rest of Am Yisrael, the Jewish Nation and celebrate Succot. May these words "elevate her soul," l'illui nishmata.

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