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The FJMC Sefer Haftarah is at The Layman's Institute Next week it will be at Congregation Mishkan Tefilah, Chestnut Hill, MA

This week's Unraveller is sponsored Karen Blatti, In honor of my Bat Mitzvah on Shavuot


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June 17, 2011 / 15 Sivan, 5771
Introduction to Mishnah of Moed Katan - Chapter 3 - Mishnayot 5, 6 and 7
Selected Commentary
Rabbi Adam Feldman

Introduction to Mishnah of Moed Katan - Chapter 3 - Mishnayot 5, 6 and 7
Moed Katan is a tractate of the Talmud that deals with many Mitzvot related to holiday observance that are observed during the intermediate days of Pesach and Sukkot. These days are known as hol hamoed. Moed Katan (literally the little festival) discusses what things are permitted on these days that are forbidden on the first or last two days of Pesach or Sukkot. Some of these items are the laws and customs related to burial. These texts are found in Chapter 3 Mishnayot 5 - 8.

The laws and custom surrounding death and the comforting of mourners continue to provide comfort and meaning to individuals and families when a loss occurs. The insight and creativity of the Rabbis who created these forms of observance thousands of years ago continue to provide meaning. The themes of chesed shel emet, the care and respect we show to the deceased, and nichum aveilim, the comfort the Jewish community provides to the immediate family members, reflect some of the core values of our people. I sincerely hope that these mishnayot from Moed Katan will assist people to prepare for loss when it occurs.

Key Terms:

Shiva - the seven day mourning period that begins the day of the burial and concludes in the morning of the seventh day. Each Shiva period contains one day of Shabbat and may contain a Festival. The Mishnah will discuss the affect Shabbat and Holidays have on Shiva. This seven day period is an intense emotional time and is based on the verse from the Prophetic Book of Amos (8:10), žI will turn your holidays into time of mourning.Ó Since our holidays of Pesach and Sukkot are seven day holidays according to the Torah, the Rabbis declared the first period of mourning to be seven days.

Customs that are observed during Shiva include:

Staying at home - The custom is to take the week off from work, school or other normal pursuits and to rather remain at home to welcome visitors and comforters. During the visits, people share stories and lessons we have learned from the one who passed away in an attempt to keep their memory alive. The Rabbis say that a person actually dies twice: one when their physical body dies and the other when their memory dies. One of the goals of Shiva is to keep the memory alive so that they never truly die. It is critical to share these stories with the next generation so that they can keep them in their heart for years to come.

Wearing of a torn garment/ribbon - Immediately prior to the funeral service, the immediate mourners tear a shirt, blouse, necktie, scarf or ribbon that should be worn near the heart. The tearing creates a meaningful symbol of a broken heart. For the mourner it is often the first time that the reality of death sinks in. It is customary to wear this torn garment for the entire period of Shiva. If the person tore a garment, they should wear that. If they follow the modern custom of tearing a ribbon, then they should transfer that ribbon to whatever they wear for the entire week. The ribbon and the torn garment should not be worn in the synagogue on Shabbat. After Shiva, many people transfer the torn ribbon or garment to an interior layer of clothing so they know it is there but no one else does.

Sitting on a low stool or chair - Since during the period of Shiva we are feeling emotional low, the custom was created to have the mourning sit in a special chair that is designed to be lower than everyone else. In ancient days, the mourners sat on the floor. Many synagogues have žShiva ChairsÓ that they provide for the Shiva house. Also funeral homes often provide stools that can be used for the same purpose. Only the immediate mourners should sit on Shiva Chairs/Stools. There are only a few times when we Jews are superstitious and having non-mourners sit on one of these Shiva Chairs/Stools can generate these feelings.

Not wearing shoes or garments made from leather.- It is customary for the mourner to not wear shoes or bedroom slippers or a garment made from an animal. Shiva is about simulating death, wearing the garment made from something that was alive was viewed as a deterrant in the past.

Washing - During the period of Shiva, it is customary to refrain from pleasurable baths and to avoid wearing freshly cleaned clothes. In ancient days, these were signs of the upper class and seen as great luxuries, things we try to avoid during Shiva.

Cutting Hair/Shaving - It is customary during the period of mourning to avoid taking a haircut and shaving of one's beard. These are not only seen as signs of luxury but also can be signs of who is in mourning.

Shloshim - the next period of mourning is for 30 days and is based on the period of mourning the Israelites observed in the Torah after the death of Aaron, the First High Priest of Israel. The Mishnah will discuss what happens when a major holiday falls during Shloshim and what impact it has on the mourner. This period of mourning applies to spouses, siblings and parents. The custom is to avoid major celebrations and to recite the Mourner's Kaddish during this 30 day period.

One Year - the final period of mourning is for one year and this applies for children whose parents have died. The tradition is to avoid any major celebrations during this year, especially where live music will be played. It is customary for children to recite the mourner's kaddish during this time period but not for the full 12 months. Most follow the custom of reciting kaddish for eleven months and then again on the first yahrtzeit - the anniversary of the death according to the Hebrew calendar.

This week's Mishnah lesson was written by
Rabbi Adam Feldman

Rabbi Adam Feldman became the spiritual leader of The Jewish Center in Princeton, New Jersey, n the summer of 2005 after serving for six years as Assistant and then Associate Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights, NY. He received his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York in 1999. His formal education included receiving a BA from Rutgers University in Hebraic Studies, participating in the USY NATIV Leadership Program in Israel as well as studying at the Hebrew University and Machon Schechter in Jerusalem. Prior to Rabbinical School, Rabbi Feldman worked for many years in synagogue and Jewish communal work, including working as a Program Director and senior staff member in national youth organizations and other prominent synagogues.

The opinions expressed in this Unraveller are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the FJMC.


FJMC International Convention 2011

mizrahiJoin us as Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi begins his teaching of "an American Nusach" at the FJMC's International Convention in Costa Mesa California. This is a chance to listen, to see and to talk to Hazzanim Alberto Mizrahi, Steve Stoehr, David Propis and Joanna Dulkin in the relaxed setting of the FJMC.
"I have been thinking about what a hazzan/cantor will mean to the Conservative synagogue of the future. It is my opinion we need to create an American Nusach for the American synagogue of the 21st century while at the same time maintaining the traditional žauthenticÓ cantorial sound that we have inherited from our Eastern European Ashkenazic culture. The challenge is to maintain authenticity while introducing an accessible contemporary sound that is led by the hazzan but fully involves the congregation."
See 100 Voices with the stars in the room!
For five exciting days you will learn, meet new friends and greet long-time friends ... and take your learning back home to help your local Men's Club and Region.
Plan to bring your family, and combine the Convention with a vacation in Southern California! Just think about theConvention 2011 fabulous beaches, fun amusement parks, famous tourist spots, and fantastic shopping that Southern California offers!
Register here for the FJMC International Convention 2011

Wednesday, July 13 to Sunday, July 17, 2011 Ô Orange County Hilton, Costa Mesa, California

disneyI'm going to Disneyland∆!
Plan on a post convention visit to Disneyland on Sunday afternoon, July 17. If you're taking a red-eye Sunday night or flying out on Monday, join us Sunday at the original Magic Kingdom. Special park admission available. We'll have some post convention fun, without any rug-rats to worry about. Convention price: 1 day, 1 park is only $68, 1 day park-hopper (Visit Disneyland∆ Park and Disney California AdventureŰ) only $88. Tickets are available only until July 13.


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