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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Mourning’

“From Mourning To Morning”: Miami Beach Rabbi’s New Book

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Mourning, grieving, bereavement, and death are issues no one can avoid. But they are subjects rarely addressed in polite company. Men and women, secular and Torah observant, often find themselves navigating this inevitable path with little direction.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber has written a book to guide the process. From Mourning to Morning deals with Jewish laws and customs relating to loss of a loved one in a clear and concise manner. Discussion includes the transition to the moment of death, burial, funeral, shiva, and beyond. The book addresses more than etiquette and convention; it examines emotions and feelings with pathos and compassion.

One would think a volume on death and bereavement would be a somber and difficult to get through. Not so with From Mourning to Morning. To cite just one example, one can’t help but chuckle while reading about the couple referred to as “Peter and Helene” and their well-meaning but bumbling attempts at making a shiva call to a neighbor. Rabbi Schreiber has presented a heavy subject in a palatable manner. His style is both comforting and informative.

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber

Senior staff chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, founder of Visiting Chaplain Services, Inc., and chaplain of the Bal Harbour Police Department, Rabbi Schreiber is highly qualified to publish on the topic. A graduate of Yeshiva College, he received his semicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University.

Schreiber’s first book, A Caring Presence, gives direction to the protocols of bikur cholim (visiting the sick). His collection of prayers and meditations for those undergoing medical treatment has been published as the Mount Sinai Medical Center Prayer Book. He has written and lectured extensively on the deportment of making shiva calls. His insights to handling these daunting tasks are helpful and welcomed.

Rabbi Schreiber and his wife Rose live in Bal Harbour, Florida. They have five children as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

From Mourning to Mourning can be purchased at local bookstores or on Amazon.

Shelley Benveniste

Rabbi Chaim Richman on “The Loss of the Holy Temple and What it Means for Us”

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute gave a Tisha B’Av shiur last year on “The Loss of the Holy Temple and what it means for us” as well as chocolate cake.

Video of the Day

Shiloh Musings: From Mourning to Joy!

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

From Mourning to Joy!

Yes, that’s the Israeli way.

After a very long depressing day of mourning our dead, those murdered by Arab terrorists and killed in the wars we fight to defend ourselves, keep our precious country alive and well, we quickly change modes and celebrate our country’s continued independence.

I know that there are many people who find it totally incomprehensible that we have this custom here in Israel, to burst into joy after so sincerely mourning our dead, but I davka, consider it such an important and sensible way to celebrate our independence.

Growing up in America, I never really understood what “Memorial Day” was all about. Actually, it wouldn’t a “day;” it was a weekend to enjoy. And the story behind Independence Day was more like ancient history, even in my time. And also, the American wars had nothing really to do with the survival of the united States as a country.

In Israel things are very different.

Here in Israel we are all connected somehow. Memorial Day is a school day , and every school has ceremonies to commemorate the dead and to teach the children that our state/country id not come into existence on a silver platter. Nor can it continue to exist unless there are soldiers to defend it, which is why there’s a draft. And our enemies don’t restrict their attacks to soldiers. We suffer from guerrilla warfare attacks on civilians in neighborhoods, buses and even private homes.

To be honest, we don’t exactly go from mourning to joy without a bit of ceremony in between. That is the Eve of Independence Day Prayers, which are very participatory and thrilling.

Chag Atzma’ut Sameach!
Have a Joyful Independence Day!

Batya Medad

Combat Soldiers Forbidden to Fast on Tisha B’Av

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

9:03pm Israel’s two chief Rabbis issued a joint proclamation/halachic ruling that IDF soldiers involved in combat in Gaza may not fast, or observe any of the mourning customs this coming Tisha B’av.

The 9th of Av fast day, which commemorates the destruction of the two Jewish temples in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount.

Because they are in combat and fighting on behalf of the nation of Israel, they are fully exempt so that they can fight properly, with full strength and valor.http://www.jewishpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php

Jewish Press News Briefs

Photos: More than 150,000 Mark End of Shiva for Rav Ovadia

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

More than 150,000 people crowded Jerusalem Sunday to mark the last day of the seven-day shiva mourning period for Rav Ovadia Yosef, who died last week at the age of 93.

The spontaneous outpour of mourners stood in stark contrast to the annual rally on the Saturday night before the anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in Tel Aviv, as reported here. Leftists rounded up 30,000 people to blame Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the failure to make peace not only with the Palestinian Authority but also with Iran.

The scene in Jerusalem was a smaller but just as impressive copy of last week, when 800,000 crammed Jerusalem for the funeral. Police learned their lesson form not being prepared last  week to handle the flood of people, and thousands of police officers patrolling the event and closing main arteries. The cemetery was closed to the public in mid-afternoon.

Medics treated approximately three dozen people.

Rav Ovadia’s greatness as a Torah sage was marked by the words of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, who said that the late rabbi will be “remembered for generations” and “belonged to all of the People of Israel.”

Religious officials and family members barred Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from speaking inside the funeral home because he does not observe the Sabbath, and his had to settle for eulogizing Rav Ovadia the building.

Photos by Flash 90:

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rav ovadia - posters for sale flash 90.jpg

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Rav Ovadia's chair remains empty next to his sons in the mourning tent in Jerusalem.

Rav Ovadia’s chair remains empty next to his sons in the mourning tent in Jerusalem.

rav ovadia stage flash 90.jpg

rav ovadia woman crying flash i90.jpg

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Visiting Hours for Rav Ovadia Family Mourner’s Tent

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

A mourning tent has been set up next to the home of Rav Ovadia Yosef on Kablan street, Har Nof for the duration of the Shiva (week of mourning).

Visiting hours are between 10 AM and 1 PM, and between 4 PM and 7 PM. The family asks that all visitors restrict themselves to those hours.

Kablan street will be closed to all vehicular traffic.

Jewish Press News Briefs

What Mourning Means: Reflections of the Rav on Tisha B’Av

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

The customs we observe on the day of Tisha B’Av are strikingly similar to those of an avel (mourner), one whose close relative has recently passed away. We abstain from washing ourselves and putting on perfume, from wearing leather shoes and talking frivolously. We even refrain from studying parts of the Torah that are unrelated to the events and the mood of the day. Instead we sit on the floor or a low chair and solemnly contemplate the loss of the Beit HaMikdash.

      On Tisha B’Av the sense of mourning and sadness is palpable. But, in truth, the observances of mourning begin long before Tisha B’Av itself. Already from the Seventeenth of Tammuz, at the start of the “Three Weeks” period, Ashkenazic communities minimize involvement in pleasurable activities like getting married, taking haircuts and buying new clothing. From the beginning of the month of Av through Tisha B’Av, a period commonly referred to as the “Nine Days,” we refrain as well from doing laundry, wearing freshly laundered clothing and shaving.

      Tisha B’Av is certainly the most restrictive of the entire period of the “Three Weeks,” but the observances of aveilut (mourning) are not limited to that day alone.

      Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt”l (1903-1993), known to his many talmidim as the Rav, used to say that these three periods of time mirror the three periods of mourning that a child observes after losing a parent. Tisha B’Av is like the seven-day period of shiva when the sense of mourning is most intense. The “Nine Days” beginning with Rosh Chodesh Av is similar to the period of shloshim (30 days of mourning), and from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the month of Av we observe laws of mourning similar to the twelve-month period of aveilut that a child observes after losing a parent.

      What’s interesting is that the order of observances is reversed. The child who loses a parent observes shiva first, then shloshim and then the twelve-month period of aveilut, while during the “Three Weeks” we first observe the aveilut of the twelve-month period, then shloshim, and only on Tisha B’Av do we keep to the restrictions of shiva. Why is the order changed when we mourn the loss of the Beit HaMikdash?

      The Rav explained that there is a fundamental difference between aveilut chadasha (newly occurring, personal mourning), as the rabbis refer to it (Yevamot 43b), and aveilut yeshana (ancient, annual mourning for the Beit HaMikdash).

      When a close relative passes away, the grief, the pain, the sense of loss come naturally and easily. It is therefore most appropriate to begin the observances of aveilut with shiva, the most intense expression of mourning. But after seven days, the avel is ready to take a step back. Although his loss is still very much on his mind, nevertheless his emotions have tempered; his feelings of sorrow have lessened. For him, the observances of shloshim are more fitting.

      By the end of thirty days, the avel has gained perspective on his loss. For most relatives, he is now able to conclude the observances of aveilut. Even for a parent, while he continues to mourn, he still reduces his aveilut once again.

      In the case of aveilut yeshana, on the other hand, this progression is out of place. We have become so used to living in a world without the Beit HaMikdash that it would be unreasonable to expect anyone to be able to begin the “Three Weeks” with the observances of shiva. It simply would be unnatural for a person to suddenly break down and cry over the loss of the Beit HaMikdash; the sense of mourning for its destruction can be internalized only through gradual increments.

      In other words, it is only by slowly increasing our observances of aveilut from the Seventeenth of Tammuz through the “Nine Days,” while at the same time reflecting on the significance of this three-week period, that we can hope to approach Tisha B’Av with the right frame of mind. By engaging in this three-week learning experience, we prepare ourselves mentally so that when the day of Tisha B’Av finally arrives we are ready to grieve appropriately.

Differences in Mourning

      The Rav added that in certain ways aveilut yeshana for the Beit HaMikdash is even more stringent than aveilut chadasha. Although the Talmud (Moed Katan 27b) mentions that the first three days of shiva are days of crying, there is no obligation for an avel to cry. The Talmud simply says that during the first three days of shiva it is natural for an avel to want to cry. But on Tisha B’Av, crying is one of the motifs of the day. As the prophet Jeremiah (9:16-17) says in the Haftarah we read the morning of Tisha B’Av, “Summon the dirge singerslet them hurry and raise up a lament for us; let our eyes run with tears and our eyelids flow with water.”

      Mourning for the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash requires an expression of raw emotion. It obligates us to show how overcome we are with our longing for the Beit HaMikdash. That is why we spend much of the morning of Tisha B’Av reciting kinot (lamentations) which bemoan the loss of the Beit HaMikdash and describe the pain and suffering the Jewish people has endured as a result. The kinot are designed to awaken our emotions until we cry out uncontrollably because only by crying can we properly mourn the loss of the Beit HaMikdash.

      There is another important difference between the observances of aveilut yeshana and those of aveilut chadasha. The rabbis never placed any limitation on how much a person is allowed to mourn for the Beit HaMikdash. To the contrary, one who mourns the loss of the Beit HaMikdash incessantly is praised. In fact, the very last kina we recite on Tisha B’Av is Eli Tzion V’areha, in which we ask Jerusalem and its surrounding cities to continue to cry for the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash.

      The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anit 4:6) records that some amoraim (sages of the Talmud) fasted on both the ninth and the tenth days of Av because the Beit HaMikdash was set on fire on the ninth day of Av but it continued to burn on the tenth. How was it permissible for these rabbis to add an extra fast day? Aren’t we prohibited from adding to any mitzvot? The Ramban (Torat Ha’adam, Chavel ed., p. 242) answers that mourning for the Beit HaMikdash is different. Not only is one allowed to add to the mourning, but such behavior is praiseworthy. An avel who cries or mourns too much for his relative is criticized. As the Talmud says (Moed Katan 27b), “Anyone who grieves excessively over his dead will ultimately weep over another deceased.” But one who weeps bitterly for the Beit HaMikdash is rewarded.

      What is the difference between these two types of aveilut? The Rav explained that an avel is enjoined from crying too much for his relative because, as the Rambam writes (Hilchot Avel 13:11), death is minhago shel olam; it is part of the natural course of events in this world. But the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash was an unnatural event. The Beit HaMikdash was much more than a physical edifice. It symbolized the relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people. It was the focal point of spirituality in the world.

        When we mourn the loss of the Beit HaMikdash, we are not crying for the wood and the stones. We mourn the fact that we no longer see Hashem’s presence as clearly in the world and that our relationship with Him is strained. We long for the day when the Jewish people will reunite with Hashem and feel his closeness once again. In other words, we hope for the day when the world will return to its natural spiritual state. That is why we are obligated to cry on Tisha B’Av and there is no limit to our mourning because the loss of the Beit HaMikdash is a reality we can never come to terms with.

The Tefilla of Tisha B’Av

      There is another remarkable thing about Tisha B’Av that highlights the unique sense of mourning we feel on this day. Aside from being a day of mourning, Tisha B’Av is also a ta’anit tzibbur, a communal fast day. It is similar to the fasts that were decreed in Eretz Yisrael in the event of a prolonged drought (Ta’anit 12a). The fast begins at sunset, as opposed to the more minor fasts, like those of the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Tenth of Tevet, which begin at sunrise. On Tisha B’Av, in addition to the prohibitions of eating and drinking, we refrain as well from washing and anointing ourselves, wearing leather shoes and engaging in marital relations.

      On the surface, the laws of Tisha B’Av seem to follow those of Yom Kippur and other communal fasts. And yet, while Tisha B’Av does share the restrictions of these other fasts, the focus of the day is significantly different. On a typical ta’anit tzibbur, we place much of our attention on tefilla. We beseech the Ribbono Shel Olam to have mercy and compassion on the Jewish community. But on Tisha B’Av, many critical components of the tefilla of a ta’anit tzibbur are missing. We do not recite Selichot or Avinu Malkeinu. There is no tefilla of Neila, like we have at the end of Yom Kippur. We even omit the Tachanun prayer and the section of Titkabeil Tzlot’hon U’vaut’hon (accept our prayers and supplications) during the Kaddish at the end of Ma’ariv and Shacharit.

        If Tisha B’Av is a ta’anit tzibbur, why then do we not engage in prayer the way we do on other fasts? The Rav was fond of quoting the approach of the Mordechai (Ta’anit, sec. 635) that we leave out Selichot, Tachanun and Titkabeil in order to show that with the loss of the Beit HaMikdash, our tefilla is less effective. As the Talmud (Brachot 32b) states, “From the day the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, the gates of prayer have been sealed, like the posuk says (Eicha 3:8) ‘Even as I cry out and plead, He shut out my prayer – satam tefillati.‘ “

      On a regular ta’anit tzibbur we add extra prayers, like Selichot and Neila, to our tefilla. We try to break through the barriers between the Ribbono Shel Olam and ourselves. But on Tisha B’Av, when we commemorate the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash – the event that undermined the power of our tefilla – we leave out any extra supplications we would have liked to add in order to demonstrate that we realize that without the Beit HaMikdash the strength of our prayers has been weakened – satam tefillati. We omit Titkabeil from Kaddish as an expression of sadness, as if to say we understand that since we have become estranged from Hashem, it is more difficult for our prayers to be accepted.

Comfort on a Day of Grief

      After spending the morning of Tisha B’Av reciting kinot, we get up from the floor, put on our tefillin and recite the bracha of Nachem, asking Hashem to console Jerusalem and the Jewish people. Where is there room for consolation on such a dark day?

      The Rav explained with a Midrash (see Tosafot, Kiddushin 31b). The posuk in Tehillim (79:1) says, “A song of Assaf: Hashem! The nations have entered into Your estate; they have defiled the Sanctuary of Your holiness.” The Midrash asks, “A song of Assaf? It should have been titled kina l’Assaf, a dirge of Assaf!” The Midrash answers that Assaf sang with happiness and joy that Hashem vented his anger, so to speak, on the wood and stones of the Beit HaMikdash, and not on the Jewish people.

      This is our source of comfort on the sad day of Tisha B’Av: that while Hashem lashed out in fury against the Beit HaMikdash and Jerusalem, He spared the Jewish people.

Paradoxically, it is precisely at the time of the Mincha prayer, when the Beit HaMikdash started to burn (Ta’anit 29a), that we feel consoled because that act of destruction was really a demonstration of love. It showed that Hashem wants the Jewish people to survive; He wants them to flourish and ultimately to reunite with Him.

      If Hashem punishes us only out of love, like a father disciplines his child, then there is hope for the future. We can look forward to the day of reconciliation when Hashem will return to us and reveal His glory to the entire world.

Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg

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