Counting the Twelve Months

The 12-month period concludes the full mourning period for those who are bereaved of their parents just as the thirty days concludes the mourning for other relatives. It should be noted that the counting of the 12 months does not follow the rules used in the counting of Shiva and Sheloshim.

Following are the differences:

  1. When counting the 12 months we do not follow the principle that a portion of the day is equal to a full day and that, therefore, a portion of a month is equal to a full month. We must count 12 full months.

  2. The counting of the 12 months begins from the day of death, not as in counting shiva, from the day of interment. Thus, one who died on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tevet is mourned until the' end of the first day of Tevet of the following year. If death occurred on the second day, he is mourned through the second day of the next year, and so on.

  3. The duration of mourning observances is not one year, but 12 months. Thus, on leap year, when the Hebrew calendar adds one full month, called Adar Sheni, only 12 months are observed, but not the thirteenth that is added to make the leap year. This applies to all mourning observances except Kaddish, which is recited only 11 months, as will be described in the next chapter.

Survey of Observances

Following is a brief survey of the observances of the 12-month period:

  1. Haircutting, technically prohibited for 12 months, is permitted upon the occasion of social reproach after the sheloshim, as indicated above.

  2. Similarly, the wearing of new clothes is permitted upon "social reproach" after the sheloshim, and after being worn for a brief period of time by others, although technically it is a twelve-month observance.

  3. The mourner should change his usual seat in the synagogue at prayer. On the Sabbath he may sit in his usual place.

  4. The mourner should, in general, pay closer attention to educational, charitable and religious matters for these, say the sages, are most eloquent tributes to the teachings of the deceased parent. Thus, it is customary for the mourner to study a portion of the Torah before or after daily services. He should also learn to lead all or part of the congregational services.

  5. Regulations pertaining to the recital of Kaddish, and participation in joyous celebrations, will be treated in the following chapters.