Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Year of Mourning- Midway into Shloshim - Day 13

Most people know about the recitation of the Mourner's Kaddish by aveilim following the death of a first degree relative (parents, children, siblings, spouse), but lesser known are the restrictions beyond. For thirty days following the burial (the time period is sometimes changed within the Jewish calendar) the restrictions of shiva are eased, but the mourner does not fully enter society. While back at work and interacting with the world, joy is still limited. Any mourner can tell you the feeling linger well beyond shiva (or other religious mourning practices). The mourner refrains from things like buying new things, cutting hair, or attending social events and public entertainment. For a parent, these restrictions are extended for an entire year. This means my family has an extra ticket for Come From Away in May. Though I joked that since I cry from the opening number, it's not really entertainment, I will not be attending. It's okay. I believe the process to make sense, not just halakhically, but emotionally.

But then there are the ridiculous ironies. Let me explain by sharing a silly moment from last night. I am not a morning person, and so I generally decide what to wear the night before when my brain is awake and my eyes open. Women's clothes are not designed for tefillin. (Okay, neither are men's clothes, but they are more adaptable.) I often put on a t-shirt to pray, then change into whatever top I am going to wear to work. Why? Many of my tops either have cuffs that cannot be pushed above my elbow or no sleeves at all. The tefillin shel yad (for more info on what tefillin are, and how they are worn, try Wikipedia) is placed slightly to the inside of your weaker arm on the bicep (my left). Nothing is supposed to come between the tefillin and the skin. If my sleeve won't allow for the proper clearance I have a problem. In synagogue, where I'll be for the next year, it it not appropriate to wear a sleeveless top. I have put tefillin on with a sleeveless top, and a jacket over the tefillin. I generally prefer not to do this, especially in winter. So this is me last night. "Ugh (or some other sound approximating this), I have no tops or dresses that I can wear with tefillin!" Sean replies, "And you can't buy anything new for a year." "Oh! My! God!" This is followed by more frustrated noises; me trying on various tops and trying to roll up the sleeves to no avail; and some light cursing along with a few repeats of "Oh. Come. On!" Sean, while sympathizing, laughed through most of my comments.

Like so many halakhic issues, there are loopholes. Clearly I will need to attain some tops that both look professional and can be worn with tefillin. Keren may need to wear them all first. We'll figure it out. Meanwhile, today I wore an older Jets t-shirt with a nice poncho over it so no one would know what it was. (Speaking of loopholes, the poncho was once a four-cornered garment, which would require tzitzit. I sewed the corners together.)

One more day of laughter and tears. But today no tears at Shacharit. Things improve.

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