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What is Shivah?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Life Cycle » Death » Mourning | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Shivah, literally translated as "seven", refers to the seven-day mourning period following the death of an immediate family member.

This structured mourning period is guided by various Torah laws which insure an appropriate amount of time as well as a proper setting for adequate mourning and expression thereof. Mourning properly in the proper time is essential for the mental and emotional wellbeing of the mourner in dealing with, and continuing on after, the death of a loved one.1

Shivah is the first, and most intense, stage of mourning. The mourning period continues, to a lesser degree, for the first 30 days known as Shloshim, and when mourning for a parent it continues for twelve months.2


During the time of mourning one is "Sitting Shivah", the house of mourning is known as a "Shivah House", and visiting to offer condolences is referred to as a "Shivah Call".

See also "When does Shivah start and end?", "For whom does one sit Shivah?" and "What are the do's and don'ts for sitting Shivah?"


  • 1. If there is a Biblical Holiday within the seven days of mourning, that ends the mourning period. The joy of the Holiday is equivalent to the comfort offered during regular mourning periods, and has the same rehabilitating effect on the mourner even if there are less than 7 days for intense mourning.
  • 2. For mourning observances of the twelve months see


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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.