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    Black for sorrow – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why is black the colour associated with bereavement and mourning?

    A. Despite common belief, the wearing of black does not begin in the Bible even though God says in Isaiah 50:3, “I clothe the heavens with black and I make sackcloth their clothing”, which seems to suggest a parallel between black and the wearing of sackcloth which was customary amongst mourners.

    We aren’t certain that Isaiah was speaking of mourning in this passage; maybe he was describing the skies darkening before and during a storm.

    The Talmud speaks of black footwear in remembrance of the destruction of the Temple. Some people extended this practice to the wearing of black clothes.

    It is the custom in many cultures for mourners to wear black, maybe to symbolise the metaphorical darkness that has come upon a person who has suffered a bereavement.

    Despite this argument, Jews are not generally too pedantic about wearing black, though there is general agreement that bright colours should not be worn at such times.

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