Jewish Mourner

What is Forbidden During Shiva?

Is there anything forbidden during Shiva? If you follow the Jewish faith, Shiva marks a profound period of Jewish mourning and reflection following the loss of your loved one. This week-long observance allows you to grieve in a supportive environment with those you care about. However, Shiva has plenty of activities mourners should refrain from to honor this Jewish tradition correctly. Understanding these will help you treat this time with the respect it deserves.

Activities To Avoid During Shiva

Work and Daily Routine Activities

Shiva is a practice that highlights the Jewish belief in the value of life and the importance of honoring those we’ve lost. For this reason, everything pauses in a mourner’s life, including going to work or daily routines. Remember to dedicate this time to mourning, reflection, and spending time with family members.

Grooming and Beauty Treatments

During Shiva, it’s customary to not focus on beauty. Most Jewish families will cover every mirror in their homes and avoid shaving, wearing makeup, or wearing new clothes. By adhering to this tradition, you are displaying your sorrow and reverence, showing that you are focused on honoring your loved one’s memory instead of worrying about your own appearance.

Social Activities Outside Of The House

Mourners traditionally stay in their homes and avoid social activities during Shiva, as this period is meant for contemplation and remembrance. This practice will help you create a private space where your family can support each other without being disturbed by the outside world.

Wearing Leather Shoes

Many mourners avoid wearing leather shoes during Shiva as a sign of humility and a closer connection to the earth. According to this tradition, leather symbolizes luxury and comfort,  which every mourner should avoid when grieving. If you still wish to wear shoes, opt for canvas, rubber, or any other appropriate material.

Engaging in Entertainment and Leisure Activities

Anything involving entertainment and leisure is avoided during Shiva to maintain its sanctity. This challenging time is for the community and family members to come together in support and remembrance. Focusing on your loved one’s life instead of personal enjoyment will help you cope with your loss.

Additional Activities to Avoid

Reflection and remembrance are the core themes of Shiva, and while it may seem obvious that mourners would refrain from certain activities due to their grief, additional acts should intentionally be avoided. This includes intimate relations and tasks associated with laundry. What may seem astonishing, is that necessities, such as basic food preparation should be abstained from as well. 

Learn More About Shiva

Shiva is a significant part of the Jewish mourning process, offering everyone a period to grieve and remember the deceased. If you’re looking for more information about planning or sitting Shiva, our partner Shiva.com is a great resource.  Our funeral directors at Star of David Memorial Chapels, on Long Island, New York, are also available to provide any assistance that you may need. Please contact us with any questions at 631-454-9600.

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