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A Practical Guide to Paying a Shiva Visit
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When visiting a shiva house, callers usually just walk in, or enter after a quiet knock on the door to alert the residents to their presence. The callers are not guests; they are not greeted and ushered in, nor are they offered food or drink. The mourners do not rise to greet them. Callers may […]
When Unable to Make a Shiva Visit
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When a person is unable to perform the mitzvah of nichum aveilim in person, he may call and comfort the mourners by phone. This is not the preferred method because doing so only fulfills part of the mitzvah – it serves as a comfort for the mourner but not for the deceased. Nevertheless, if one […]
The Shiva Visit
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We have seen the origins of both the obligation to mourn in general and the practice to do so specifically for seven days. But where does the practice come from to visit the mourners? Once again, this is based on Biblical precedent. In this instance, however, we are emulating God Himself. The Torah tells us […]
Customs Observed in the Shiva House
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Note: This section discusses just a few of the mourning practices observed in a shiva house. It is not a substitute for a thorough study of these laws. Please consult your rabbi with questions of practical application. It is customary to light a candle in deceased’s home, based upon the request of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi […]
Where Does Shiva Come From?
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Where Does Shiva Come From? We only see from this verse that there is an obligation to mourn, not how long one must do so. So where does the practice to “sit shiva” come from? “Sitting shiva” – that is, mourning for seven days – is not a Biblically-mandated practice per se but it does […]
The Obligation to Mourn
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The Obligation to Mourn There is a Biblical obligation for a bereaved person to mourn for his deceased relative. This is easily inferred from Leviticus 21:2-3, which describes the seven relatives for whom a kohein (priest) may render himself ritually impure: “…except for his close relative, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his […]