The principle of avoiding pleasure during mourning includes the act of sexual union during the observance of shiva. However, unlike the prohibition of cohabitation during the menstrual period and the seven days of purification which follow, when husband and wife must remain entirely separated according to Jewish law, the traditions of mourning prohibit only intercourse, but not other forms of intimacy and affection.

On the Sabbath, even while demonstrative public mourning practices are suspended, the prohibition of marital relations remains in force.

The prohibition holds also for festivals, even in the case of death occurring during the festival, when shiva does not begin until after termination of the holiday. Sexual congress is not permitted in that case from the time of death through the end of shiva, despite the fact that actual shiva begins later.

This law is based on the principle that on the Sabbath or holy days only public mourning practices, such as the wearing of shoes and the rent garment, are not permitted; the prohibition of intimate practices, such as marital relations, is, nevertheless, continued at all times. The joyous nature of the holy days does not alter the terrible shock of death which has struck in the soul of the mourner, although it requires of all Jews the face and the posture of spiritual delight in the eternal partnership with God, which the Sabbath celebrates.