jewish Funeral Guide

Jewish Mourning - the first Week

Grace after Meals

Some rabbinical authorities forbid the mourners to eat the meal of condolence in groups of three or more people, just as on the eve of Tisha BeAv / תשעה באב. Mourners who follow a more lenient opinion and eat in a group of three or more men are required to recite a Zimmun / זימון — a formal invitation for Birkat HaMazon / ברכת המזון — Grace after Meals. To avoid any festive connotations normally associated with Zimmun / זימון some mourners have a custom to change its wording as follows:

‏ במקום הרגיל
‏ ‏"‏נברך שאכלנו משּלו‏"‏
‏ המזמן אומר׃
נְבָרֵךְ מְנַחֵם אֲבֵלִים
‏[‏יש מוסיפים׃ שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ מִשֶּׁלּוֹ‏]‏׃

‏ הקהל עונים׃
בָּרוּךְ מְנַחֵם אֲבֵלִים
שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ מִשֶּׁלּוֹ
וּבְטוּבוֹ ‏[‏הַגָּדוֹל‏]‏ חָיִינוּ׃

instead of the usual
"Let's bless the One of Whose food we ate"
the leader says:
Let's bless the One Who comforts mourners
[some add: of Whose food we ate].

the others respond:
Blessed is He Who comforts mourners,
of Whose food we ate
and by Whose [great] goodness we live.

Some have a custom to recite after every meal during Shivah / שבעה a special version of Birkat HaMazon / ברכת המזון. They recite it even on the Sabbath, unless non-mourners are present, in which case a regular version of the Grace after Meals is recited. In this version of Birkat HaMazon some change the wording at the end of the third blessing, substituting the request to rebuild Jerusalem with the following:

נַחֵם יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ
‏[‏יש מוסיפים׃ אֶת אֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן וְ‏]‏
אֶת אֲבֵלֵי יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וְאֶת
הָאֲבֵלִים הַמִּתְאַבְּלִים בָּאֵבֶל הַזֶּה׃
נַחֲמֵם מֵאֶבְלָם
וְשַׂמְּחֵם מִיגוֹנָם
כָּאָמוּר
כְּאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אִמּוֹ תְּנַחֲמֶנּוּ
כֵּן אָנוֹכִי אֲנַחֶמְכֶם
וּבִירוּשָׁלַיִם תְּנֻחָמוּ׃
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְנַחֵם
צִיּוֹן בְּבִנְיַן ירוּשָׁלַיִם אָמֵן׃

May the Lord our God comfort
[some add: the mourners of Zion and]
the mourners of Jerusalem and
the mourners who mourn this loss.
Console them from their mourning
and gladden them from their grief,
as it is said (Isaiah 66:13):
"Like a man whose mother comforts him,
so I will comfort you
and in Jerusalem you will be comforted".
Blessed are You, the Lord, Who comforts
Zion by rebuilding of Jerusalem, Amen.

Some also change the wording of the fourth blessing of Birkat HaMazon / ברכת המזון, which is slightly different between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, as explained in the next sections.