הלכות ומנהגי אבלות
Mourning on the Sabbath and Festivals
It is forbidden to rend clothing on the Sabbath and on festival days. Whether rending of clothing is performed on the intermediate days of a festival depends on the custom in the community, but the "True Judge" blessing must be recited.
:Mourning on the Sabbath
A Sabbath during the Shiva
The Sabbath does not halt mourning, but it is counted as one of the seven shiva days, since a few of the laws of mourning apply on this day. Mourning laws applying to behavior in public do not apply on this day, but mourning laws in private are observed even on the Sabbath.
Day before the Sabbath
Starting one and a quarter hours before sunset before the Sabbath, mourners are permitted to sit on regular chairs and benches, and to wear leather shoes, even if they have been shined. It is also permitted to shine shoes.
Mourners should wear Sabbath clothing, and it is permissible to change to clean clothes. It is best to put these clothes on after the Sabbath begins, and putting clean tablecloths on the tables is permitted.
Conduct in Private
Mourning in private is also observed on the Sabbath, and it is therefore forbidden to bathe, study Torah, and engage in intimate relations on the Sabbath.
Those Who Regularly Attend Synagogue
A mourner is allowed to leave his home on the Sabbath in order to attend synagogue. The mourner does not recite the Hodu (Give thanks) prayer before the afternoon prayer. In the prayer for welcoming the Sabbath, he recites only "Mizmor Shir Layom Hashabbat" ("A psalm, a song for the Sabbath day"). He does not recite the verse from the Mishnah "Bamey madlikim" ("With what shall we light?"), although in some communities, everything is recited exactly as on a normal Sabbath. If the Sabbath morning prayer is recited on the mourner's home, "Av Harachamim" ("Merciful father") is recited. The verse "Ve'ani Tefilati" ("May my prayer to you, oh Lord") is not recited in the afternoon prayer. The "Tzidkatcha Tzedek" ("Your justice is eternally just") is recited, and the mourner does not recite "Barchi nafshi" ("My soul, bless the Lord") during the winter months or Ethics of the Father during the summer.
The Torah Reading
The mourner does not read the Torah on the Sabbath on which the laws of mourning apply to him. The mourner is not called up to the Torah reading, even if he is a cohen or a levi. If there is no other cohen or levi, he should step out of the synagogue when the gabbai calls a cohen or levi up to the Torah reading. He is permitted, however, to take the Torah scroll out of the ark and put it back in after the reading, and can also raise the Torah after the reading is finished, and roll up and dress the scroll in the parochet. Following the Torah reading, the deceased's soul is recalled in the Kel Malei Rachamim prayer, even when Rosh Chodesh falls during the week following the Sabbath and blessing for the month is recited, when no other deceased is recalled. It is permitted to study the Torah portion on the Sabbath. If the Sabbath is the seventh day after the funeral, the mourner should wait until after leaving the synagogue, then study the Torah portion before eating. The study of Rashi's exposition of the Torah portion for those accustomed to study it every Sabbath is permitted in some communities.
The mourner does not recite the "Peace unto you" prayer at the Friday night meal. In communities in which it is customary to bless children on Friday night, they should not be blessed on this Sabbath.
After the Sabbath ends, the mourner recites "Blessed be He who distinguishes between the sacred and the profane," but does not recite the rest of the Havdala prayer. He then changes into weekday clothing and takes off his shoes. In some communities, mourners omit the "May the pleasantness of the Lord, our God" prayer. Psalm 16 is recited after the prayers.
If the mourner recites the Havdala prayer after the Sabbath, he omits the "God is my deliverance" verses, and begin with the blessings. The custom is to also recite the blessing over spices.
Mourning on Festivals and other Holidays
Interrupting mourning on a Festival
For someone whose relative died and was buried even some time before a festival, the laws of shiva and mourning do not apply. The term "festival" here refers to Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Hashana, and Yom Kippur.
The Day before a Festival
A mourner is permitted to launder his clothes after midday before a Festival, but he should wear them only in the evening. In some communities, clothing is laundered only shortly before evening. Bathing in warm water is also permitted after the afternoon prayer shortly before evening, and the same is true for other mourning customs. On the day before Passover, everything is permitted after midday, which is already like a festival for all intents and purposes. On the day before Yom Kippur, a mourner is permitted to bathe and immerse in a mikveh shortly before evening, even before the afternoon prayer, and to attend the synagogue for the afternoon prayer. He is also permitted to eat the final meal before the fast sitting on an ordinary chair or bench.
A Funeral on the Intermediate Days of a Festival
Before the funeral procession begins on the intermediate days of a festival, the mourner changes his clothes to weekday clothes and rends them. After the funeral, he passes between the rows of those attending the funeral, but does not take off his shoes. Following the funeral, he changes back to his holiday clothes.
In some communities, all of the relatives rend their clothes on the intermediate days of a festival. In others, only those mourning their parents rend their clothes on the intermediate days; other relatives rend their clothes after the festival ends. All of the relatives recite the "True Judge" blessing on the intermediate days.
Meal of Condolence
A meal of condolence is not eaten on a festival day. On the intermediate days, however, the meal is eaten while sitting on ordinary chairs. Hardboiled eggs are not eaten; food made with the five grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt) are eaten. In some communities, only those mourning their parents eat a meal of condolence on the intermediate days, not other mourners.
No public mourning is practiced on a festival day, but private mourning applies, and it is therefore forbidden to bathe, study Torah, and engage in intimate relations on a festival day. On the day before the last day of a festival, the mourner is permitted to bathe in hot water and wear clean clothes.
The days of a festival are counted as part of the shloshim, so that the shloshim ends 30 days after the burial. The laws of mourning for the shloshim also apply on the intermediate days of a festival.
Lighting a Candle
The candle that is customarily lit during the shiva should also be lit on the intermediate days of a festival and on the festival day itself, even though the mourners do not observe the laws for shiva on a festival day.
The Night following a Festival
On the night following a festival, the mourners observe the laws for shiva for the next seven days.
Purim does not interrupt mourning as a holiday, but no public mourning is practiced on either 14 Adar nor on 15 Adar, whether the mourner is in a city surrounded by a wall or in an unwalled small town. Mourning in private is practiced on Purim, and it is therefore forbidden to bathe, study Torah, and engage in intimate relations. The days of Purim are counted as part of the shiva period. Mourners are permitted to wear holiday clothes, but signs of rejoicing should be kept to a minimum. If the mourner can arrange a minyan in his home for prayers and the reading of the Megillah on the even of Purim, he should pray and read the Megillah at home. If this is impossible, he is allowed to attend the synagogue for this purpose. On the day of Purim, the mourner is allowed to attend the synagogue even if he can arrange a minyan at home. All of the relative rend their clothes on Purim, and change to holiday clothes after the funeral. A meal of condolence is eaten, but only food made with the five grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt) and the like are eaten, not hardboiled eggs. On Purim, the mourner is obligated to eat a Purim meal, send food gifts to friends and acquaintances, and give gifts to poor people. He should not, however, be sent gifts that will make him happy. Food gifts are not sent to mourners for the entire shloshim, and those mourning their parents should not be sent gifts likely to make them happy.
The mourner is permitted to attend synagogue on the eve of Tisha B'Av and during the day until the recital of the kinot prayers is completed. He is permitted to be called to the Torah reading, including during the shiva.
The Mourner during the Shiva
Burial of the deceased ends the aninut period, and the mourning period begins. The seven days of shiva, the 30 days of shloshim, and the 12-month mourning periods are counted from this time. If the deceased was buried immediately after sundown, the day can still be counted as a mourning day, but if the burial is conducted any later, counting of the mourning periods begin only on the next day. If a relative of the deceased is not in the city during the funeral and burial, a rabbi should be consulted about when to begin counting the mourning period.
For Whom Mourning is Observed
- Children mourn for their parents, parents for their children, brothers and sisters for their siblings, a husband for a wife, and a wife for a husband. A baby who lived less than 30 days is not mourned.
- According to Jewish law, it is required to mourn for eight close relatives: father, mother, brother, sister, wife, husband, son, daughter.
- The mourning period is shloshim (30 days), except for a parent, for whom it lasts an entire year.
Actions Forbidden to a Mourner
- The mourning customs consist of actions that the mourner is forbidden to take during the shiva: work, bathing and anointing, wearing shoes, intimate relations, studying Torah, greeting and parting by saying shalom, and laundering clothes, wearing clean clothes, sitting on a regular chair or bench, cutting hair and shaving, leaving the house, and taking part in joyous events.
Work should not be done, nor merchandise attended to, except for housework, such as baking and cooking, washing dishes, and cleaning the home. When the mourner has a store or business, he must close it during the entire shiva. If he has a partner in the business and closing it will cause the partner a loss, a rabbi should be consulted about ways in which the business can be opened.
Bathing and Anointing
No part of the body can be bathed, even in cold water, except for the face and feet, which can be bathed only in cold water. For medical reasons at a doctor's order, bathing is permissible, even if the patient's life is not in danger. A woman's whose time for immersing in a mikveh falls during the shiva must not immerse herself, but she is permitted to bathe parts of the body necessary for wearing clothing for the purpose of counting seven clean days. The body should not be anointed with oil or a lotion for purposes of pleasure, but it is allowed in order to remove perspiration or for a medical need. A woman is forbidden to apply cosmetics during the entire shloshim, except for a married woman after the shiva. During the first month of her marriage, a bride and an unwed woman looking for a husband are allowed to apply cosmetics, even during the shiva.
The mourner must not wear leather shoes; wearing shoes made of rubber (tennis shoes) or cloth is permitted if the shoes are completely free of leather.
The mourner is forbidden to engage in intimate relations during the shiva, including on the Sabbath. This should be extended to avoiding hugs and kisses and sleeping in the same bed.
The Torah, Prophets and Writings, Mishnah, and Gemara should not be read during the entire shiva, including the Sabbath, except for the Book of Job, the Book of Lamentations, and the like. It is of course allowed to study the laws of mourning and books about moral conduct. If the mourner is accustomed to reciting psalms every day, he is permitted to recite them in prayer and as an appeal to God.
Greeting and Parting by Saying Shalom
"Shalom" should not be spoken to any person present at the shiva. If a person is unaware that someone is a mourner and asks him about his welfare, he should not be answered during the first three days of the shiva; the person should be told that the mourner is forbidden to answer. Answering is permitted after three days. The mourner is permitted to bless another person by saying mazal tov and the like, and others are allowed to bless the mourner, and to extend a hand to him while saying the blessing. Gifts should not be sent to a mourner during the shloshim, nor to a person mourning his parents during the entire year of mourning. Food gifts should not be sent to a mourner on Purim, but the mourner must send food gifts on Purim, even during the shiva.
Laundering and Wearing Clothes
A mourner is forbidden to launder or iron clothing, nor may others launder or iron his clothes, even if he does not wear them during the shiva. If the mourner sent clothing to the laundry before he was a mourner, the laundry can wash them. Laundered clothes must not be worn during the shiva, even if they were laundered before the person became a mourner. Members of the mourner's household who are not themselves mourners are allowed to launder their clothes, and are allowed to wear laundered clothes.
Sitting on a Chair
A mourner is forbidden to sit on a regular chair or bench. He is allowed only to sit on a chair lower than 30 centimeters. Sitting on cushions or mattresses is permitted. A mourner is required to sit only when people come to comfort him, not for the entire day. For the rest of the day, he is permitted to stand and move around the house.
Haircutting and Shaving
A mourner is forbidden to have his hair cut and to shave during the entire shloshim. It is forbidden to cut both fingernails and toenails with scissor or a nail clipper, but they may be trimmed using teeth or hands. It is also allowed to begin cutting nails with a tool and finish the cutting with hands or teeth.
Leaving the House
A mourner is forbidden to leave the house even in order to perform a commandment. If assembling a minyan in the mourner's home is impossible, he is permitted to leave the house in order to attend synagogue, pray with a minyan, and recite Kaddish. If it is difficult for the mourner to sleep where the shiva is being held, he is permitted to go to his home at an hour when people no longer walk in the streets.
Participation in Joyous Events
- A mourner is forbidden to participate in a joyous event during the shloshim, and a person mourning for his parents is forbidden to participate in a joyous event for a year, except for a circumcision of his son or the marriage of his children, which he is permitted to attend even during the shiva. There are cases in which it is permitted to participate in joyous events during the mourning period; a rabbi should be consulted about such cases.
- Various blessings: a mourner should not recite the prayer for sanctification of the moon if he has enough time to recite the prayer after the end of the mourning period. If he will not have enough time, he is permitted to go outside to recite the prayer, but should not recite the "Peace unto you" section of the prayer. He is permitted to recite the blessing for deliverance from danger, and is permitted to recite the "Blessed are You, oh Lord our God, who has granted us life" blessing over a first fruit of the season, and the "The King who is good and does good to all" blessing.
Hearing of a Relative's Death more than 30 Days after the Death "Shmuah Rechoka"
Hearing of a Relative's Death within 30 Days of the Death ("Shmuah Kruva")
A case of a relative who was unaware of his relative's death when it took place and learns of it during the shloshim or on the 30th day after the death is called "shmuah kruva." In this case, the mourner is obligated to observe shiva and shloshim from the day on which he hears of the death.
Hearing of a Relative's Death more than 30 Days after the Death ("Shmuah Rechoka")
A case of a relative who was unaware of his relative's death when it took place and learns of it more than 30 days after the death, even on the 31st evening, is called "shmuah rechoka." In this case, the relative observes the laws of mourning for only a short time, and even then does not observe all the laws of mourning; one act of mourning is sufficient, such as taking off shoes or sitting on a low stool. Immediately afterwards, he can put his shoes back on or rise from the stool. If he did not recite the "True Judge" blessing within 24 hours of hearing the news, he does not recite it at all. On hearing of the death of a parent, a son or daughter must rend his or her garments. The mourner is not obligated to eat a condolence meal. If he hears of the death on the Sabbath or a festival, he observes no mourning laws – not even laws observed in private. If he did not practice mourning upon hearing the news, the relative must do so later. People mourning their parents are obligated to observe mourning for 12 months after the death.
The Notification Obligation
There is no obligation to inform relatives that their relative has died. If they are unaware of the death, no mourning obligation applies to them. Even someone who knows about the death is therefore permitted to invite them to a marriage feast and other joyous events. If they ask, they should not be told falsely that their relative is alive. It is customary to notify sons of their parent's death, so that they will recite the Kaddish prayer. On festivals and on Purim, they should not be notified, because it will prevent joy.