jewish Funeral Guide

Jewish Mourning - the first Week

Last day of Shivah

As was already mentioned, there is a principle in Jewish Law: “Miktzat HaYom KeKulo / מקצת היום ככולו — a fraction of a day is considered as a complete day”. Accordingly, Shivah / שבעה usually ends on the seventh day after the Morning Prayer.

Following the Morning Prayer Services, the mourners sit on low stools while those who came to comfort the mourners address them with the usual words of consolation.

Some have a custom to add the following two verses from the Book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 60:20

לא יָבוֹא עוֹד שִׁמְשֵׁךְ
וִירֵחֵךְ לא יֵאָסֵף׃
כִּי יְיָ יִהְיֶה לָּךְ לְאוֹר עוֹלָם
וְשָׁלְמוּ יְמֵי אֶבְלֵךְ׃

Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon be gone;
for the Lord shall be your eternal light,
and the days of your mourning will end.

Isaiah 66:13

כְּאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אִמּוֹ תְּנַחֲמֶנּוּ
כֵּן אָנוֹכִי אֲנַחֶמְכֶם
וּבִירוּשָׁלַיִם תְּנֻחָמוּ׃

Like a man whose mother comforts him,
so I will comfort you
and in Jerusalem you will be comforted.

Some add, instead, the following formula: “May the Almighty heal the breaches of His people Israel”.

After that, those who came to comfort the mourners tell them: “Arise from your mourning” and then bless the mourners with “long and healthy years”.

A widespread custom of formally terminating Shiva is to have the mourners walk outside of the house, accompanied by those who have come to comfort them. For the duration of Shivah, grief confined the mourners to their house. This first walk after Shiva symbolizes the mourners’ return to society from which they have withdrawn during the days of sitting in grief. Depending on local custom, the mourners walk either to the corner or completely around the block.

As soon as the visitors depart, the restrictions of Shivah cease and the mourners are now in the next stage of mourning called Sheloshim / שלושים — the first thirty days of mourning. If nobody came to comfort the mourners or if the seventh day of mourning falls on the Sabbath, the restrictions of Shiva cease after the Morning Prayer in the synagogue.

In many communities it is customary to visit the grave on the seventh day of mourning, unless it is the Sabbath or a Jewish Holiday. Some have a custom to erect the tombstone on the seventh day of Shivah.