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Good Mourning

The do's and don'ts of making a shiva visit

Published: August 10, 2008


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Visitor Comments: 24

(24) Anonymous, January 9, 2012 5:22 PM

Hello Rabbi--I just listened to what you had to say for the third time, and I am so appreciative of your words. I lost my mother this past November, and I was so glad to see my friends and neighbors. Unfortunately my siblings chose not to sit shiva at all, but that was out of my control. For me sitting shiva was a privilege.

(23) Anonymous, September 22, 2011 8:44 PM

Rabbi--Thank you for this most enlightening presentation. Believe it or not, it was only 7 years ago that I learned one does not knock on the door before entering a shiva house. Up until that time I was woefully ignorant regarding this fact. Whenever a Jewish person in my community is sitting shiva, I do my best to pay a call. For me, doing this mitzvah is a must.

(22) YY, May 26, 2009 12:06 PM

Another doozy

Two days into shiva, a very respected ultra-litvish member of the community came in, sat in front, who also lost a child. After a while, said two things, one being the most upsetting thing I ever heard, the other one of the most comforting. Without preamble or correlation, told me the story of a particular litvish gadol, who after three days of mourning his young son, was told by his rebbitzen, that they were not permitted to cry any more tears, as it appears that they are questioning the ways and good intentions of G-d. I just sat there open-mouthed. I know everything he does is for the best, that doesn't mean I am not in tremendous pain from missing my child. To turn off the waterworks for that reason is the coldest human response I can think of. It was certainly inappropriate. He subsequently told me that the only time HASHEM calls us his children in the Torah is when we are grieving the loss of a family member and we are tempted to let out the emotion by tearing out our hair or scratching our skin, and HASHEM says in Devarim (14:1), (don't take it out that way, because I still love you,) my children.

(21) yocheved yaeger, August 17, 2008 4:34 AM

my experience

we just finished sitting shiva for my mother-in law, of blessed memeory. it very often seemed as if it was a party atmosphere here, with my husband (as well as all of us) really enjoying the "company" and all the shmoozing with all the friends and relatives, especially those we have not seen in a long while. i felt this was not the purpose of the shiva experinece. also, it was so greatly difficult for my diabetic husband and elderly father-in-law to eat dinner, as people kept coming all evening, especially around dinner time. i do understand that people want to visit on their way home from work (as i so often have) but how do the mourners eat when people stream in all day and night. i do have to admit that the week was very suportive and nurturing, and healing overall. now we look foward to the shloshim, with the siyum and sueda.the hard part now is living without my mother-in law. thank you for this opportunity to express my feelings.

(20) Anonymous, August 15, 2008 5:27 PM

Please prepare a printed guidebook!

Dear Rabbi Salomon, This is such an important topic - it's time to print a guidebook for the public. (Is there one?) Every time someone in my family or community sits shiva they are appalled at how little people know about proper (as well as halachic) 'shiva etiquette'. It's discussed often but forgotten too quickly. So good that you brought up the topic... why don't you take it a step further? Yasher Koach.

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