|My Father, Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, 1920-2016|
Photo I took just a few months ago, during my last visit with him.
During the almost three days I had to sit shiva for him, I tried to describe him as accurately as possible, the father he was to me when he was young, the man many of my neighbors knew when he lived with us, and the person he became afterwards when in Arizona.
Shiva is a wonderful thing and so helpful for the mourner. I'm sorry that my brother and sister didn't have the experience I did. That's for a few reasons.
The first is that my father's death was less than a week before Passover, so I couldn't attend. Because I stayed home in Israel I sat shiva pretty much from when I got notice until just before the holiday started. Actually I had ended the shiva even before he was buried. My brother and sister had no real time for a shiva, not even a short one, like I observed. And another reason is that they aren't involved members of a Jewish community.
"Shiva" the mourning period is a complex time according to Jewish Law. "Shiva" comes from the word sheva, seven and is that because under normal conditions, for seven days after a person is buried, the close family members, children, siblings and spouse, are supposed to take a break from their normal routines and responsibilities. The community and family members not required to "sit shiva" are to take over and take care of the mourner. Food and household chores are to be done by them, so the mourner can concentrate on being together, when applicable, and telling those coming to comfort לנחם linachem about the person who had passed away.
Those coming to comfort are to remember not to bring up other topics unless the mourner specifically asks. Generally, one isn't supposed to speak unless the mourner initiates conversation. But it's acceptable to ask about the dead family member, like:
- How old was he/she?
- What did he/she do?
- Where was he/she born?
- How old?