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Shivah Mourning on the Holiday of Purim

Shivah Mourning on the Holiday of Purim

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Photo: Eran Chesnutt
Photo: Eran Chesnutt

Hi,

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?

Answer,

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.1 Therefore, one would not sit on the low stool, and one would wear regular shoes and Shabbat clothing.2

The person sitting shiva should be careful not to join any joyous events.3

At the same time, the mourner is responsible for fulfilling the observances of Purim:

  1. Listening to the reading of the Megillah scroll once at night and once during the day.4 If the mourner cannot find someone to read for him or her at home, the mourner may attend the synagogue service.5 Those who have the custom to lead the prayers when reciting the mourners kaddish would not do so on Purim.6
  2. 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.7
  3. Giving money to at least two poor people.
  4. Participating in a Purim meal of wine and meat.8

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.9

May we share only joyous occasions.

See Soul Talk: The Shivah and Other Mourning Observances from our Death and Mourning in Judaism minisite.

FOOTNOTES
1.

The Code of Jewish Law, Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chayim, 696:4.

2.

Rabbi Avraham Abele HaLevi, Magen Avraham, in his gloss on the Shulchan Aruch, ibid 696:7.

3.

Magen Avraham ibid.

4.

Shulchan Aruch ibid 696:7.

5.

Magen Avraham 696:8. According to some, the mourner should only go to the synagogue in time for the megillah reading, and not for the morning prayers.

6.

Rabbi Jacob Halevi (1360-1427), the Maharil, Teshuvot HaMaharil 22.

7.

Shulchan Aruch ibid 696:6 and Magen Avraham 696:11. See Rabbi Joseph ben Meir Teomim (1727–1792), Magidot ch. 58.

8.

Shulchan Aruch ibid 696:7.

9.

Shulchan Aruch ibid 696:6.

Chani Benjaminson is co-director of Chabad of the South Coast, coordinator of Chabad’s Ask the Rabbi and Feedback departments, and is a member of the editorial staff of Chabad.org.
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Discussion (2)
February 21, 2013
Mourners and Purim
There is, in reality, nothing odd here. Giving mishloach manot is a mitzvah; it speaks to the achdus, the unity of Klal Yisroel, the Jewish People. It stands for the proposition that, in our darkest hours, our hearts are always with our people. Receiving, on the other hand, provides one with a source of hana'a, joyfulness, which one ought not to experience during shiva. Therefore, one gives because one cares; reaches out to another heart, even when one's own heart is breaking. But one does not receive,
Anonymous
Suffern, New York
March 6, 2012
Sorry, this doesn't seem right.
The mourner is supposed to give mishloach manot but isn't allowed to received any. It should be the other way around. The mourner should be receiving it and excused from giving it. Sometimes the rabbis make very odd rules.
Susan Levitsky
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