About six weeks ago, I had the unfortunate experience of being intimately involved in a unique shiva. A member of our community suddenly lost a 4 month old grandson. The father of the child is a friend and peer of mine. Shiva was observed in our neighborhood as opposed to the home of the parents sitting shiva. All of these factors made the entire ordeal quite difficult and horrific but also provided a learning experience for me and an interesting study of human nature and character.
It was only a few days after the shiva that I received an email from a reader who was disenchanted with the shiva process. He had several complaints that rang true in the immediate wake of the recently completed shiva I had seen first hand.
I believe that people want to do the right thing when they go to shiva. They just don’t really know what they should be doing at shiva. Mourners are going to be sensitive and mistakes are going to hurt them more than typical faux pas. Some of these faux pas were gloriously lampooned in this great video: Shtick Yeshivish People Say At Shivas I had a lot of time to think about shiva and people’s needs during this time. Here are some of the ideas that have been swirling around my head.
One of the more interesting ways to frame the question of Orthodox Jewish women wearing tefillin is in the context of yesterday’s post. (See: Life is in its Struggles: Dealing With the Tough Questions)
Many of the statements made about women in the Talmud that sound offensive to us relate to women studying Torah. The objections to women learning Torah are mostly an issue of cognition or intellectual prowess. Regardless, the accepted unequivocal conclusion of the Talmud is that women should not study Torah.