Origins of Shloshim
When Moses died, the Jews wept for 30 days (Deuteronomy 34:8). The Talmud later recorded a timeline of mourning: 3 days for weeping, 7 days for lamenting, and 30 days for mourning garments and for not cutting the hair. (Moed Katan 27b).
Observing 30 days of mourning set the Jewish People apart from their neighbors’ long term mourning practices.
After the seven Shiva days and until the thirtieth day after the burial, the Shloshim (literally meaning “thirty”) is observed.
Restrictions during the Shloshim period are fewer than those observed during the Shiva, but they permit mourners to acknowledge the cloud of grief still surrounding them.
Who Is Mourned During Shloshim
Close relatives, parents, spouses, siblings, and children, for whom Shiva was observed, continue to be mourned throughout the Shloshim period. The end of Shloshim marks the conclusion of formal mourning observances for all relatives except parents, who are honored with a yearlong mourning period.
How to Count Shloshim
Like Shiva, a fraction of a day is considered a whole day. Shloshim is counted from the time of burial until the close of morning services on the thirtieth day.
How Shloshim Is Observedl
Most Shiva Restrictions Lifted
Most Shiva restrictions are lifted at the onset of Shloshim. The mourner is slid back into life – almost. The mourner works, leaves the home, makes love, and wears makeup and perfume. Mirrors are uncovered. Real chairs are sat upon. Mourners lead synagogue services, say Kaddish, and accept synagogue honors.
Everything goes back to normal with a few exceptions. Haircuts and shaving are put off until the end of Shloshim.
Music and Television
Sources of external joy are kept at a distance. Music and entertainment are curtailed, concerts, sports events, even limiting television to just news programs are some ways to keep this aspect of Shloshim.
The fresh feeling of wearing brand new clothing is put off until later. Mourners change out of their Shiva wear, but freshly laundered clothing should still be worn by someone else, briefly, until after the Shloshim period.
Life Celebrations During Shloshim
A Rationale for the Restrictions
Celebrations are avoided. Summoning a smile while a heart is still breaking is difficult. Joyous occasions unite soulful happiness with physical pleasures of food, friends and music.
A mourner is just beginning to repair the breach of body and soul that death of a close relative has wrenched apart. Forcing the two together by joining in a party is too hard.
True joy is found in the celebration of a mitzvah, a Brit Milah, bar or bat mitzvah party, a wedding celebration.
Live music that accompanies these functions poses a problem for mourners. Halacha instructs mourners to block their ears from rhythm and melody until after Shloshim is over or for a year, if mourning a parent.
Attending a Bar or Bat Mitzvah
According to some opinions, mourners may attend a bar or bat mitzva celebration to socialize but should not eat the meal or listen to the music.
Attending a Wedding
Weddings promise of new life for the Jewish people. If a mourner’s absence at a wedding will cause the ceremony’s postponement, there are some
Halachic authorities that permit a mourner to attend under any circumstances.
To attend a wedding before the Shloshim have passed, mourners who are close relatives, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers of the bride and groom should help out with the ceremony in some way, as an usher or even as a waiter so their presence becomes integral to the occasion’s success.
For other, less immediate relatives, using this technique to attend a wedding depends on whom they are mourning. There are some rabbis who are of the opinion that those who are mourning a parent cannot dispense with their mourning through serving duties. (After Shloshim they may.) Those who are mourning a sibling, spouse or child may act as waiters or ushers in order to attend a relative’s wedding during the Shloshim, according to some Halachic opinions.
Friends of the couple do not have as much license to attend a wedding during the Shloshim period -- unless their absence will cause the newlyweds pain. If so, a friend should help out in the ways mentioned above to license their attendance of the ceremony.
Getting Married During Shloshim
In many cases, mourners will not postpone their wedding date, even if it falls during Shloshim.
The mitzvah associated with getting married outweighs the duty to mourn, not to mention the consideration given to the incredible expense of canceling a wedding, which falls into the Halachic category of hefsed meruba, a great [monetary] loss.
Since the mitzvah of pru ur’vu, “Be fruitful and multiply,” is a man’s responsibility to fulfill, albeit with the vast assistance and consent of a woman, there is more leeway granted to a man who wishes to continue with plans to marry after Shiva but during Shloshim.
A childless groom may marry during Shloshim if the plans were already made and postponing it would be a financial loss and if many guests would be unable to attend.
A mourning bride, who is engaged to a childless man, may go ahead with a wedding after Shiva and during Shloshim if plans have already been made for the ceremony.
Once Shloshim has passed, there are some rabbis who permit all mourners in the immediate wedding party: brides, grooms and parents of the newlyweds may attend the ceremony without restrictions.
Social functions are less profoundly joyful than Jewish lifecycle celebrations, which gives mourners greater leeway should they want to attend an event during Shloshim.
Ask a rabbi what the Halacha is before joining a tribute dinner banquet, pleasure cruise or house party. Intimate gatherings, like small dinner parties, do not pose the same restrictions.
Mourners continue to deny themselves the pleasure of live music and generally do not go to operas or concerts until after Shloshim. Those who are mourning parents do not attend musical events until after the first yahrzeit, anniversary of the death, has passed.
There are some rabbis who instruct mourners to send but not receive mishloach manot, traditional gifts of food sent as part of the holiday’s observance.
Remarriage During Shloshim (After Spouse)
It is not good to be alone. For this reason the first spouse was created, and a variety of circumstances lead to a desire for remarriage soon after a spouse passes on. Different issues set the remarriage calendar for men and women.
For women, establishing paternity of a possibly conceived child is a concern that puts remarriage off for three months after a woman loses her spouse. If there is absolutely no possibility a woman is carrying the child of her deceased spouse, some rabbis will permit an earlier remarriage, even during the Shloshim period, if the groom is childless.
The General Rule - Three festivals: Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot must pass before a man may stand under the chuppah, marriage canopy. (The counting begins with whichever Yom Tov arrives first.) In an urgent situation, the Shmini Atzeret holiday, which comes at the end of Sukkot, may count as one of the three.
Holidays without a loved one are painful. Being at the same place, at the same time of year, calls up whole scenes of memory that make the first year alone difficult.
Remembering a walk taken on a cold Sukkot night. Or the creamy blintzes enjoyed together on Shavuot. Or the debate over which tune for four questions was the best on Passover.
Until the first waves of memory have washed over a mourning husband, he is in no shape to make a fresh commitment. This may be one reason behind the three-festivals rule.
Childless Men - The reason a childless groom is given permission to remarry is overriding concern for his fulfillment of the very first mitzvah given to humankind - pru ur’vu, “Be fruitful and multiply.”
The command is incumbent upon men, who obviously require consenting women to fulfill this mitzvah.
Fathers of Young Children - Another exception is made for a man with small children. Fathers of young children may remarry after Shiva, as well, but consummating the marriage is held off until after the Shloshim.
Cemetery Visitation Within Thirty Days of Burial
In general mourners do not visit the cemetery before the first 30 days of mourning have passed. No Halacha forbids a visit to the cemetery, but this tradition may be in consideration of Prophet Jeremiah’s words about excessive grief: “Weep not for the dead, neither bemoan them” (Jeremiah 22:10).
Kaddish is recited until end of Shloshim for those mourning spouses, siblings and children. After the loss of a parent, the period of mourning and saying Kaddish extends for a year. (See the section on Kaddish for more complete explanation.)
The End of Shloshim
Some Jewish holidays take precedence over the Shloshim period and abrogate its observance. Letting go of personal mourning for the sake of the community’s celebration is part of the Jewish view that life is chosen over death. The actual details of which holidays have this power are many, and a rabbi will be able to explain them.
As Shloshim ends there is a custom to gather friends and relatives together to learn a Jewish text to honor the memory of the deceased.