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Minor Tractate Ebel Rabbati: Chapter 7

The thirty days period of mourning

The thirty days period of mourning

A. The period of thirty days must be counted to the following: to mourning, to calender clothes, to cutting of hair, to demand debts, to a woman of handsome form, to betrothal, to marriage, to a virgin, to a widow, to a Yebamah, A1 to one who vowed against his wife, and to an indefinite Nazarite.

B. "To mourning." How so? It is written [Deut. xxxiv. 8]: "And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days."

"Calender clothes" means all garments which come out from under the press. So is the decree of Rabbi. The sages, however, say: Colored but not white. But R. Meir said the reverse: White but not newly colored; old, however, is permitted in any case. Funda, fascia, pileus, B1 and helmets are also permitted. To give garments to be pressed is permitted within the thirty days.

The rabbis taught: "It is not permitted to calender clothes, whether new, or old ones which have just been removed from under the press, during the full period of thirty days." Rabbi, however, said: "It applies only to new ones." R. Elazar bar Simeon said: "They have prohibited new white garments only." Abayi acted in accordance with Rabbi. Rabha, however, acted in accordance with R. Eliezer bar R. Simeon.

"To cutting of hair." He must not cut off the hair of his head, his mustache, his beard, or any hair of his body. A woman, however, is permitted to cut her hair after the seven days.

"To demand debts." If one lends money for an indefinite period, he cannot demand it before thirty days.

C. "To a woman of handsome form." It is written [Deut. xxi. 11]: "And hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldst take her to thee to wife." She must shave off her hair, and pare her nails. So is the decree of R. Meir; but R. Aqiba said: The hair must be shaved, and the nails she must let grow. Said R. Eliezer: As in both the head and nails the Torah prescribed a doing, C1 and as the doing what is said by the head means that the hair shall be cut off, the same is the case with the nails; but R. Aqiba said: As the doing what is said by the head is meant to make her ugly, the same is the case with the nails (and nothing is uglier than long nails). A support to R. Eliezer can be found in II Samuel [xix. 25]: "And Mephibosheth the (grand-) son of Saul came down to meet the king, and he had not dressed his feet, nor trimmed his head." A support to R. Aqiba can be found in Daniel [iv. 30]: "Till his hair was grown like eagles' (feathers), and his nails C2 were like birds' claws."

 C3Pin'has, the brother of Mar Samuel, was in mourning. When Samuel came to condole with him and noticed that. his nails were untrimmed, he said to him: "Why dost thou not trim them?" And he answered him: "If this were the case with thee, wouldst thou disrespect the mourning to such an extent?" And it was [Eccl. x. 6] "like an error which proceedeth from the ruler." And a death occurred in Samuel's family. When R. Pin'has came to condole with him, the former trimmed his nails and threw the parings in his face, saying: "I see that thou dost not pay any attention to the saying: Words are ominous, as said R. Johanan. Whence is it deduced that words are ominous? It is written [Gen. xxii. 5]: "And Abraham said unto his young men," etc., "and we will worship and come again to you"; and it so happened that both of them returned. (Although Isaac was intended to be sacrificed.) It was understood from Samuel's action that, the nails of the hand only may be cut, but not those of the feet. R. Onan bar Ta'hlipha, however, said: "It was explained to me by Samuel himself that there is no distinction made." Said R. Hyya bar Ashi in the name of Rabh: "With a nail file, however, it is not allowed."

 C4Rabh said (and Mar Zutra learned it in a Boraitha): "A couple from Hamthon once came before Rabbi and asked his permission to cut their nails in their mourning, and he permitted them to do so; and if even they would have asked his permission to trim their mustaches, he would also have permitted them." Samuel added: "They actually did ask his permission and he did permit them."

D. It is written [Deut. xxi. 13]: "And she shall put off the raiment of her captivity." If she was dressed in white or black which becomes her, or she had on jewelry, they must be removed from her, for the purpose of making her unhandsome. The case is only if she has declined to embrace the Jewish faith; but if she be inclined, she is dipped, is freed from slavery, and he may marry her. The purpose for which all this was done is to prevent mingling.

E. "To betrothal." How so? It is not allowed to make the feast of betrothal within thirty days of the day of the funeral. "To marriage." The feast of marriage is not allowed to be made within this period; but if everything was prepared before the death occurred of one of his or her parents he may marry, and have the first intercourse with her; but after that they must be separated for seven days. This is only in case one of his parents dies; but if his wife dies, he is not allowed to marry again until three regular festivals have passed. E1 R. Jehudah, however, said: Two, and he may marry at the third. This is the case when he has grown-up children; but if they are yet little ones, or he is childless, he may marry even within the thirty days. It happened that the wife of R. Tarphon died, and R. Tarphon said to her sister within the period of mourning: "Enter this house, and educate thy sister's children." Nevertheless, he had no intercourse with her until the thirty days were over.

The rabbis taught: "One is not permitted to marry during the full period of the thirty days. If he, however, mourns over his wife, he must not remarry again until three festivals shall have passed. R. Jehudah, however, allows after the first and second festival have passed." But if he is childless he may remarry at once, in order not to restrict reproduction; so also is the case if he has minor children, for they have to be brought up. It happened that the wife of Joseph the priest died, and he said to the deceased's sister while still on the burial ground: "Go and rear thy sister's children." But still he did not cohabit with her for a long while. For how long? Said R. Papa: "Until after the thirty days."

"To a virgin." The period in which to complain that one has not found virginity E2 is limited till thirty days after the marriage. E3



A. Yebamah is called a woman whose husband died childless, leaving living brothers [Deut. xxv. 5].

27:B1 B. All these garments have Roman names, and were used those days, and we do not think it necessary to describe how they were made. The reader, however, will find it in "Hamashbir" and similar works.

28:C1 C. In the text it is termed "Maasse," and in Yebamoth (48a) "Assiyah." The meaning of both is doing, and Rashi there explains that, although the two above-mentioned terms are not to be found in reference to the head, R. Aqiba and R. Eliezer maintain that the cutting off of the hair is also called a doing; hence the analogy.

28:C2 The verse begins with, "and from men was he driven away," and concludes that his nails were like birds' claws; hence it is not an ornament.

28:C3 Gemara from Moed Katan.

28:C Gemara from Moed Katan.

29:E1 E. If she dies before Passover, he may marry after Tabernacles; if after Passover, he must wait till the three festivals Pentecost, Tabernacles, and Passover have passed; and so on with the other festivals.

30:E2 Deut. xxii. 14.

30:E3 Concerning a widow and the other subjects mentioned above, they are explained in their respective tracts; therefore we have omitted them here.

Sources: Sacred Texts