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Showing posts from July, 2015

What is Shabbos Nachamu?

Today is the Tu B'Av. As it falls out in this year's calendar, it is immediately followed by Shabbos Nachamu. Even those who know it by name don't always understand what it is really about. What is Shabbos Nachamu? A teacher at a post high school Jewish study program for young women related the answer one girl wrote to that question on an entrance exam: "It's the Shabbos when everyone goes to the country." Obviously, this student was a New Yorker. While some New Yorkers seem to consider it a mitzvah to spend the whole summer in the country, there are those who have jobs or other obligations in their hometowns and cannot get away that long, though they do like to go up to the mountains for weekends, particularly this weekend. The reason this student associated this particular weekend so strongly with going away is that it is the first one after the the 9th of Av. Some people curtail their travels during the 3 Week and 9 Days period, so this would be their fir…

This year's thoughts on Tu B'Av

This year's thoughts on Tu B'Av. In the space of a less than a week -- 6 days to be exact _- we go from the day of deepest mourning to one of the most joyous days of the year. It really is a 180 degree shift. What's interesting is also the emotions that underlie the polar opposites of the 9 of Av and the 15th of the same month. 
On the 9th we mourn the continued state of destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, which reflects the state of a loss that we feel in our relationship with G-d. While the first Beis Hamikdash was destroyed for cardinal sins, the second was destroyed and remains so because of sinas chinam, baseless hatred (see http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-blame-kamtza.html).Many suggest that the remedy for that is ahavas chinam, baseless love.The more precise term for love that demands nothing in return was already set by Chazal in Pirkei Avothas ahava she'eyna tluya badavarlove that does not depend on anything.
With that in mind, it's possible to…

Etiquette and nichum aveilim

I just came across this article with tips on shiva visits: http://www.kveller.com/how-to-make-a-tragic-shiva-call/ They are definitely useful, especially remembering that the point is not to fill the air with idle chatter but to be there for the avel.  Earlier this year my husband sat shiva,  and among the visitors was one who spoke about the major faux pas people tend to make even when they mean well. So here are my additional notes.

Things not to do:
Don't try to comfort the person by saying "it was their time to go." Rabbi Yaffe said that some people say that even to parents who have lost children. It's not appropriate to make any such statement, nor to point out to parents that they still have surviving children.

Don't start criticizing the avel in any way, shape, or form. That extends to the situation of the niftar or even the setup for the shiva house. My husband's mother has a dog that she kept upstairs most of the time when people were dropping in. One…