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Shiva Customs – Why Jewish Mourners Cover Mirrors And Sit On Low Stools

3 responses to “Shiva Customs – Why Jewish Mourners Cover Mirrors And Sit On Low Stools

  1. Sallyann says:

    When did the custom of covering mirrors begin?

    When did the custom of burial within 24 hours begin?

    • michael says:

      Covering Mirrors has been a practice for quite some time. We do not know exactly when it began.
      Covering mirrors in the house of shiva is a common practice for many people. During shiva, mourners abstain from daily rituals such as shaving or the use of cosmetics which emphasizes the belief that personal appearance is simply not important while grieving.

      Mirrors are also covered as a way to remind us the observation of shiva is not about ourselves but rather a time to concentrate on the deceased. The concept of vanity is shunned as this is considered a time of self-reflection, to concentrate on one’s inner self and not outward appearances.

      Burial within 24 hours is not a requirement. Among the very religious, that is the practice they try to use. The thought of traditional burial is that a burial should not be unduly delayed. There are mitigating circumstances many families face when dealing with the death of a loved one. These may include geographical issues, family being unable to travel immediately etc.

  2. Ayala says:

    Another reason for covering mirrors (which was the main reason before people started using mirrors regularly for vanity purposes) as the belief that the dead wander about for 3 days, if they see their reflection as a dead spirit, they could continue to “haunt” the mirror and there have been several instances where people who resided after the house sold/went to next if kin, etc, saw the reflection of the person who died (even instances where the viewer had no idea what the person even long like, but later described to someone who could confirm) so for the first 3 days of Shiva, covering of mirrors is mandatory, the other 4 days is just out of respect for the dead, so they get all the mourning of Shiva (which is the point)

    We’re a sad bunch, lol. But we value life, respect the dead.
    Mourn the losses, for they are many, but celebrate the victories, for they are few.

    We’re a bloodline that has seen a lot of tragedy, so people/outsiders tend to think we’re all cynics/depressed/”fun-suckers” but if you’ve ever been to a bar mitzvah, Jewish wedding or just danced/watched others dance to Nagilah, you’ll see we know how to party as well!

    Mazel Tov!

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