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    Making a simchah of sorrow – Emor

    The sidra begins on a sombre note with instructions to the kohanim as to how to act in time of sorrow. Such things were always subjects of great concern to Judaism. Its pattern of mourning procedures is carefully worked out and psychologically wise. What a pity it is that not everybody follows it to the full and allows it to lead us through the intense grief and back into life.

    For example, saying you will not “cut k’riah” denies you an important way of coming out with the grief. Cutting the shivah short and keeping only one day denies you the solace of relatives and friends helping you to get through the first week.

    Getting others to say Kaddish because you cannot pronounce the words denies you the privilege of personally saying what needs to be said. Being too busy to say Kaddish for 11 months denies you the comfort of remembering your loved one in the context of the congregation; the small group of daily stalwarts really gives immense spiritual strength.

    Beside these things there is the tendency to make a funeral or a shivah visit into a social occasion. Of course talking relieves the tension, but it should be restrained and dignified. How can it be appropriate for a visit of condolence to be marked by joking and gossip, together with refreshments that make you think you have come, l’havdil, to a simchah?

    A little common sense and you know you have done the right thing.

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