|June 24, 2011 / 22 Sivan, 5771
MOED KATAN: CHAPTER 3: MISHNAH 5
Rabbi Adam Feldman
If one buries his dead three days before the Festival, the decree of seven is cancelled for him; eight, the decree of thirty is cancelled for him, because they said, Shabbat is counted and does not interrupt; Festivals interrupt and are not counted.
This Mishnah describes how a mourner should observe both Shiva and Shloshim if a holiday falls during this period. The Mishnah reflects an understanding that the community's obligation to care for mourners can be fulfilled on a holiday. This is one of the reasons that shiva is not observed on Shabbat. This is why the mourner žgets upÓ early from Shiva on a Friday so that both the mourner and the community can prepare for Shabbat. Even though one does not observe the public rites of mourning on Shabbat, it counts as one of the seven days of full mourning. The service does not take place at the Shiva house, the mourner should not wear the torn garment or ribbon (keriah) and visitors do not go to the shiva house to offer comfort on Shabbat. Instead the mourner recites Kaddish on Shabbat in synagogue. In other words, Shiva is not observed publically from early on Friday until after Shabbat on Saturday night. When the discussion of this Mishnah continues into the Gemara, the Rabbis will declare, žpart of a day is like the whole dayÓ meaning that if a mourner observes shiva for part of the day, in the morning (Friday morning, or the morning before a holiday) the few hours of observance count the same as observing an entire day.
The Rabbis created a number of customs to help the mourner and the community through this period. Many times when visiting a shiva house, we may only know one mourner but with a little investigation of who else is observing these customs, we will be able to identify who else in the family is a mourner.
The point of this Mishnah is to help us understand what should be done if the observance of Shiva or Shloshim commences immediate prior to a holiday and which customs should be followed and which have been canceled. If one buries his dead three days before the Festival - i.e., s/he observed three days of mourning before the Festival, the decree of seven is cancelled for him - and s/he does not complete the seven days of mourning after the Festival. The decree of thirty is not cancelled, however, and s/he must complete the thirty days of mourning after the Festival. In modern times, this applies to anyone who begins the period of mourning prior to the holiday. If s/he begins to observe Shiva or Shloshim prior to the beginning of the Festival, the Festival cancels the remainder of the observance because the community is preoccupied observing Pesach, Sukkot or Shavuot and cannot be with the mourner.
If s/he buries his/her dead - eight - days before the Festival, which means that he has already observed one day of the thirty-day period of mourning, because they - the Sages, said, Shabbat is counted - in the count of seven. The Shabbat within the seven-day period is included among the seven days of mourning, since the laws of mourning are observed privately on Shabbat. Similarly, the Shabbat is numbered in the count of thirty days, and does not interrupt - i.e., it does not cancel the mourning period, for the seven-day and thirty-day mourning periods must be continued after Shabbat.
The observance of Festivals is different than the observance of Shabbat because Festivals interrupt Shiva and Shloshim (i.e., they cancel the mourning). If the mourner already began to observe the mourning period before the Festival, they do not complete the seven days or thirty days. In ancient times one who had only completed two days of mourning prior to a Hag had to continue after it was over. However, the minhag today is to cancel either Shiva or Sholoshim or both if any has been observed before the Festival. This can be very difficult for the family but it limits public mourning in Jewish communities at times when the mood is joyous.
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.
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