According to Rabbinic Law, a mourner should observe some of the mourning practices for 30 days. Which source did our Sages use as a support for the concept of 30 days? Deuteronomy 21:13 states: "And she shall cry for her father and mother for a month." Implied is that a mourner will feel discomfort for a month.
These are the practices forbidden to a mourner for the entire 30-day period. He is forbidden to cut his hair, to wear freshly ironed clothing, to marry, to enter a celebration of friends, and to go on a business trip to another city; five matters in all.
What does the prohibition against cutting one's hair involve? Just as it is forbidden to cut any of the hair of one's body, to shave one's mustache, or to cut one's nails with a utensil through the seven days of mourning;66 so, too, he is forbidden throughout these 30 days.
To whom does the above apply? To a man. A woman, by contrast, is permitted to remove hair after seven days although a man must wait 30. For one's father or mother, a man is obligated to let his hair grow until it becomes noticeably long or until his colleagues rebuke him for not attending to his appearance.
Similarly, a mourner is forbidden to wear new white clothes that have been ironed for 30 days. This applies to both a man and a woman. If they are colored and ironed, it is permitted. Similarly, if they are not new although they are white and ironed, it is permitted. There is no prohibition against wearing linen clothes that were ironed.
After 30 days, one may wear ironed clothes, even if one is in mourning for one's father or mother.
What does the prohibition against marriage involve? It is forbidden to marry a woman throughout these 30 days. It is, however, permitted to consecrate her even on the day of the death of one's relative.
When a man's wife dies, if he already fulfilled the mitzvah of procreation, and he has someone to attend to him and he does not have young children, he may not remarry until three festivals pass. If, however, a person has not fulfilled the mitzvah of procreation, or fulfilled the mitzvah and has young children, or does not have someone to attend to him, he is permitted to consecrate and marry immediately. It is, however, forbidden for him to enter into relations with his wife until 30 days have passed. Similarly, a woman who was in mourning should not enter into relations until 30 days have passed.
A friendly get-together which a person is obligated to requite immediately may be held immediately after the seven days of mourning. If, however, he is not obligated to requite such a gathering, he is forbidden to enter one until 30 days pass.
When does the above apply? When one is mourning for other deceased persons. When mourning for one's father or mother, by contrast, under all circumstances, one is forbidden to enter a friendly gathering for twelve months.
When mourning for all other deceased persons, one is permitted to go on a business trip immediately after 30 days pass. When mourning for one's father or mother, by contrast, one should not go until his colleagues rebuke him and tell him: "Come with us."
When mourning for all other deceased persons, if one desires, one may reduce his business activities. If he does not desire, he need not reduce them. When mourning for one's father or mother, by contrast, one should reduce one's business activities.
When a person is journeying from place to place, he should minimize his commercial activity if possible. If not, he should purchase the articles he needs for his journey and articles which are necessary to maintain his existence.
When a person's husband, wife, father, or mother was crucified in a city, it is forbidden for him to dwell in that city until the flesh of the corpse decomposes. If it is a major metropolis like Antioch, one may dwell in the other portion of the city, where one's relatives are not crucified.
Even a portion of the seventh day is considered as the entire day and is counted both as part of the seven days of acute mourning and the 30 days of mourning. Therefore it is permissible to launder, to wash, and to perform other activities on the seventh day. Similarly, even a portion of the thirtieth day is considered as the entire day and it is permitted to cut one's hair and iron one's clothes on that day.
The following laws apply when one suffers several losses for which he is required to mourn one after the other. If his hair grows overly long, he may trim it with a razor, but not with scissors. He may wash his clothes in water, but not with soap or using sand. He may wash his entire body in cold water, but not in hot water.
Similarly, when one suffers repeated losses for which he must mourn after arriving from an overseas journey, being released from captivity or prison, being released from a ban of ostracism under which he had being placed, being absolved from a vow which he had taken, or emerging from a state of ritual impurity to one of purity, he may cut his hair in the midst of the period of mourning. The rationale is that one period of mourning followed the other and the people did not have the opportunity to care for themselves.
Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
Moznaim is the publisher of the Nehardaa Shas, a new, state-of-the-art edition of the Talmud and all major commentaries in 20 volumes. Click here to purchase or email the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org
For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under the heaven: A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break and a time to build. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time of wailing and a time of dancing. A time to cast stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away. A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace...