Archive for the ‘comforting’ Tag

Starting to sit shiva

Following the burial the mourners that are sitting shiva return to the “shiva house” and commence the seven day period whose name shiva is taken from the hebrew number seven – sheva. This period is normally refered to as sitting shiva. It is a healing time both emotionally and spiritually where the mourners are comforted by their family and friends.

One only sits shiva for the seven close relatives -mother, father, child, brother, sister, husband or wife. No matter how much the loss of another person might be felt one does not sit shiva for others.

If possible, the mourners should sit shiva in the residence of the deceased. This is not always possible or practical for various reasons.
You are allowed to sit shiva in whichever place you like. Normally all the mourners sit for the week together.

The mourners should move into the shiva house for the week. If this cannot be done then they should leave after dark and return early in the morning.

Mourners should ideally not leave the shiva house for the duration of the shiva. With the exception of Shabbat, Festival and according to some Purim, all prayers services should be held there. If by having prayers at the shiva house it means that there will not be a minyan at the local synagogue because the people from there will come to the shiva, then the prayers should take place in the synagogue and not at the shiva house. If errands need to be run others should do them. If there are questions concerning financial or other loses then the local Rabbi should be consulted.
Once shiva starts the focus turns to the mourners and away from the deceased. The mourners are meant to feel a loss and grief. The task of the visitors is to help them start to in overcoming their loss by comforting them and providing for their needs.
People are sometimes confused as to how to pay a shiva call and this will be discussed in a future posting.

Aninut – The start of the process

From the moment that a person dies – one of the seven close family members that one sits shiva for is called an Onen. This applies if one was with the person who died or from the moment that one hears about the death and the burial has not yet taken place. The Onen is free from all mitzvot, as they are assumed to be dealing with the burial details. During this period of time it is not normal to try and comfort the mourner as they are not in a state to receive comfort and consolations.
Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik states that aninut is the spur of the moment human reaction to death. Doubts and questions appear in the persons mind concerning all sorts of things to do with mankind and his convictions. The mourner may well start to question G-d and his ways,
especially when the person that died is a child, for example.
In this state of mind it is not possible for a mourner to be able to concentrate on any kind of mitzva. The rule of law – the Halacha – says “take a time out”. It displays compassion in this case, it gives the mourner time to start the process of grieving. The whole concept of aninut, shiva, shloshim, the year and then yarzheit is to help the mourner to cope in a manageable way with the task of returning back to their everyday existence.
Unfortunately, in most cases it is only after one has gone through the above process that one can see how consoling and comforting it is to have the various time periods for reflection and let it help the mourner work their way back into their daily workload.