B’KOL RAM – Uplifting Jewish Voices – “Mourning shaving” by Kenneth Firestein

B’kol Ram means “out loud” in Hebrew. I would like to invite other Partners to share their insights and Jewish moments that have touched them. This could help Partners to get to know each other in different ways. Please send me any notes you have about your experiences that might inspire us, move us and cause us to think. – Rabbi Greg Wolfe

Mourning shaving

by Kenneth Firestein

First I want to thank all who supported me when my father died January 1st, 2021. By attending Shiva services, bringing food, and sending notes and other messages I felt warmed and supported.  Communal support at such a time and other times is very important and wonderful and welcomed and is beyond ritual. THANK YOU!On another hand, I want to share something about two Jewish rituals/traditions I was touched by associated with death and mourning. One was covering all mirrors in my house during the first seven days after the funeral (the shiva period) and the second was not shaving or getting a haircut for 30 days after the funeral (the shloshim period). In combination covering the mirrors and not shaving brought me a surprise.

The first surprise was a shock when the mirrors were uncovered and I saw myself with a full, gray beard and my hair was long, too. The look was that of someone old and while I AM “old” I don’t feel or view myself as old but suddenly after not shaving nor seeing myself for a week I saw a very different me. I realized something about myself and about my father, too. He lived to be 97 years old and was truly old and tired and now I looked and seemed old and tired, too.

The second surprise came at the end of the shloshim (30 day) period when I shaved and got a haircut. Suddenly I looked younger again and I felt refreshed with a sense a personal renewal and thoughts of new purposes.

As these stages of mourning (shiva and shloshim) have passed a more healing stage of mourning (the regular recitation of Kaddish) continues. In this stage I affirm life and the Source of Life and continue processing memories and feelings and thoughts.

That is my story, so far. Again thank you all for your support and understanding and even for just listening.