jewish Funeral Guide

Jewish Funeral Services - לוויה

Comforting Mourners after Burial

During the burial, the focus is primarily on the deceased. Immediately after the grave is filled with earth, the focus shifts to comforting the bereaved who enter the next stage of their mourning — Avelut / אבלות. The seven days of mourning (Shivah / שבעה) and the thirty days of mourning (Sheloshim / שלושים) are counted from that moment.

The Jewish custom is not to bring flowers or floral wreaths and put them on the grave. Instead, when taking leave of the deceased it is customary to place a small stone upon the grave and request forgiveness of the deceased for any slight during the funeral, however unintentional it might have been. It is customary also to say, paraphrasing the verse in the Book of Daniel 12:13:

לך/לכי בשלום
ותנוח/ותנוחי על משכבך בשלום
ותעמד/ותעמדי לגורלך
לקץ הימים׃

Go in peace
and rest in peace and
stand up to your destiny
at the end of the days.

The custom among Ashkenazim is that those present move at least Arba Amot / ארבע אמות — four cubits away from the nearest grave and form a Shurah / שורה — two parallel rows of men facing each other with at least five men in each row. The mourners remove their leather shoes as a sign of mourning and walk between these rows. As they pass between the rows, the bystanders say to them the following words of consolation:

הַמָּקוֹם יְנַחֵם אֶתְכֶם בְּתוֹךְ
שְאָר אֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן וְירוּשָלָיִם׃

‏ יש מוסיפים׃
ולא תוסיפו לדאבה עוד׃

May the Omnipresent comfort you among
other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

some add (paraphrasing Jeremiah 31:11):
and you will not have sorrow again.

A very similar custom is mentioned in the Talmud (e.g., in Tractate Moed Katan 24b and Tractate Berachot 16b, 17b, Rashi / רש"י ad loc.). In some communities, men form a Shurah to comfort male mourners, and women — to comfort female mourners. Other communities form parallel rows only for male mourners. In some communities, after the male mourners pass, the men form a single row. The female mourners then pass alongside this row, receiving the same consolation. In a case when no mourners are present, a Shurah is obviously not formed.

The custom among Sephardim is to comfort the mourners without forming a Shurah / שורה. The mourners are addressed with the following words of consolation:

מִן הַשָמַיִּם תְּנוּחָמוּ

‏ נוסח אחר׃
וּבִירוּשָׁלַיִם תְּנֻחָמוּ׃

May you be comforted from the Heaven.

alternatively (paraphrazing Isaiah 66:13):
May you be comforted in Jerusalem.