Customs for the first 30 days of mourning. What should be observed and what are the prohibitions? This guide will give you all the information you need.

Mourning Customs: Shiloshim, The Thirty Days

Ours Sages determined that upon the completion of Shiva, the 7 days of mourning, some customs of mourning would be continued until 30 days are completed. This is called “Shiloshim”, meaning “30”. This allows for a gradual return to normal life following the death of a loved one, rather than an abrupt, sudden end of mourning.

When does the counting of 30 days begin?

The counting begins on the day of internment. Thus, if burial took place on a Tuesday, the 30 days will be up and until Wednesday four weeks and one day later. The day of death is irrelevant for determining the 30 days.

Which Laws of Mourning are observed during the 30 days?

a. Prohibition of Haircuts:

During the Shiloshim, mourners do not have their hair cut.
When mourning for a parent, one does not get a hair cut even after 30 days. Rather, one waits until a friend “rebukes” the mourner about his/her unkempt hair.

If no one “rebukes” the mourner, then a haircut should be put off until 3 months from the time of the previous haircut (assuming that this is after the end of the Shiloshim.)
(note – This is considered the lenient approach. There are stricter halachic approaches on this issue.)

b. Prohibition of Cutting of Nails

During Shiloshim, one does not cut nails – neither of the hands nor of the feet.

c. Greetings

During the Shiloshim, one does not ask the mourner about his/her well being: (“Shalom”, “How are you?”, “How do you feel”, etc.) and one does not give the mourner gifts. However, the mourner is permitted to ask others how they are.

d. Bathing

According to Sephardim, there are no limitations concerning bathing after Shiva.
According to Ashkenazim, one should avoid showering/bathing in warm/hot water during Shloshim. However, on hot days, when people perspire a lot, there are authorities who are lenient and who allow bathing that is for hygiene rather than for pleasure. The precise quote form the Shulchan Aruch is “If a person was soiled from clay or excrement, he/she may wash in his/her usual manner, without any apprehension […that he/she would be transgressing.]

e. Wearing Freshly Laundered Clothing

According to Sephardim, there are no limitations concerning wearing freshly laundered clothing.

Ashkenazim take a stricter approach: clothes laundered with detergent should only be worn after another person wears them first. The mourner can wear freshly laundered clothes if they were laundered with water only – without detergent.

f. Joy

As far as possible, one should avoid anything that brings joy: therefore, the mourner does not listen to music, does not sing or dance, and does not participate in celebrations and parties.
Customs regarding the 30th day:
Click on the link to continue to read about customs concerning the 30th day and the Shloshim Memorial Service. 

Translated to English by Sharon Tzur in loving memory of her parents, Leonard (Asher Dov) ben Avraham (Madres), and Eleanor (Leah) bat Yaakov (Madres).