Sitting Shiva Essays

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Sitting Shiva When a loved one dies, it is common for the mourners to immerse themselves in their particular religious traditions. From Buddhism to Christianity to Hinduism, dealing with death and the existence or nonexistence of an afterlife is a fundamental issue that ties people to their faiths. Often the rituals and traditions surrounding death offer insight into other parts of the religion. Blu Greenberg writes in How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household, "No matter what, each one of us will die, and just as there is a way to live as a Jew, there is a way to die and be buried as a Jew." (287) The custom of sitting Shiva is one part of dying and being buried as a Jew. Judaism considers two basic principles when the laws…show more content…
After the funeral service, it is customary for friends of the mourners to prepare the seudat havra'ah, the meal that begins the process of healing and repair (Greenberg 293). This meal usually consists of bread, hard-boiled eggs, chickpeas and bagels (Robinson 190). The hard-boiled egg symbolizes fertility and reminds the mourners that death is a continuation of the natural cycle (Robinson 190). The other foods are also circular, showing the cycle of life and death (Robinson 190). The seudat havra'ah begins the formal mourning process, called Shiva, which takes its name from the Hebrew word for the length it lasts, seven days (Robinson 190). As with most Jewish customs, sitting Shiva has its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures. Establishing the first seven days as the most intense stage of mourning is based on an interpretation of a verse in Amos (8:10): And I will turn your feasts [which usually lasted seven days] into mourning, and all your songs into lamentations; and I will bring sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning for an only son; and the end thereof is a bitter day. (Kolatch 63) Since feasts were celebrated for seven days, this scripture passage suggests that Shiva must last seven days as well (Kolatch 63). Jews also sight Genesis 50:10 which tells of Joseph mourning for his father, Jacob, for seven days (Kolatch 63). Jews follow very specific

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