My neighbor’s father just passed away and Purim will fall within the shiva, the seven day mourning period. They are beginners to Judaism, and while I am sure their rabbi will speak to them, I want to be informed in case they approach me. Is the family allowed to sit shiva during Purim?
I'm very sorry to hear of your neighbor’s loss. May she or he be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Purim is considered a minor holiday, unlike Passover or the High Holidays, and a modified shiva continues throughout.
Shiva observances which would indicate the state of mourning to the public are not observed. Therefore, one would not sit on the low stool, and one would wear regular shoes and Shabbat clothing.
The person sitting shiva should be careful not to join any joyous events.
At the same time, the mourner is responsible for fulfilling the observances of Purim:
- Listening to the reading of the Megillah scroll once at night and once during the day. If the mourner cannot find someone to read for him or her at home, the mourner may attend the synagogue service.
Those who have the custom to lead the prayers when reciting the mourners kaddish would not do so on Purim.
- Giving gifts of two foods to at least one person. But the mourner should make sure not to give joyous items, such as liquor or nosh.
- Giving money to at least two poor people.
- Participating in a Purim meal of wine and meat.
One may visit to comfort the mourner on Purim, but one may not give the mourner mishloach manot, food gifts.
However, one may give food gifts to the mourner’s family.
May we share only joyous occasions.
See Soul Talk: The Shivah and Other Mourning Observances from our Death and Mourning in Judaism minisite.