More Than a Tear:

A Shiva Guide for Mourners and Consolers


Shiva is one of the most recognizable terms in Judaism, and a practice that almost every Jew has experienced in one way or another. Nonetheless, few are prepared for Shiva before they experience it.

This guide is designed to help the mourner navigate this difficult time in life, and to guide the consoler through the Mitzvah of comforting a grieving friend or relative.

By Yigal Segal
Foreword by Dr. Marc Singer



>>Kindle version available by clicking here!<<

>> Nook version available by clicking here! <<

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Listen to Yigal Segal’s interview on JM in the AM!



A Shiva visit is truly one of Judaism’s most difficult-to-master acts of kindness. At first glance you might wonder, “What’s the big deal about paying a Shiva call? All I have to do is walk in, sit down for a few minutes and express my condolences.” It sounds simple, but even with the best of intentions, you might say something improper or ask inappropriate questions. Out of embarrassment, you might opt for condolence cards or in memoriam donations from then on. Ultimately, that might deprive another mourner of your empathic presence.

golden ruler

Flamep.11  Your natural response to grief is the right response for you. It doesn’t matter what you or others expect. It doesn’t matter what conventional wisdom dictates. The way you grieve is the way you need to grieve. This insight is crucial if we are to understand a mourner’s mindset. Everyone grieves differently, no matter what circumstances cause the grief.

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Flamep.40  The key to true comfort: making mourners feel – not hear – that we are with them. We don’t try to understand their grief; we try to help them understand it in their own way. We want to give mourners the help they need, not the help we think they need.





Reviewed by Marc Rosenberg for Bookjed, a project of  The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education, The School of Education, Bar-Ilan University. Ramat Gan, Israel

“Isn’t shiva wonderful,” someone whispered towards me as I sat in a low chair, in my parent’s home just two days after burying my father. This was to be one of the many awkward comments and stories that would be said to me or overheard during my official mourning period. I now recognize with the maturity of time that it is a great skill to find the appropriate words to say in a house of mourning and it is a one that is often not taught or discussed. Yigal Segal’s recently published volume, More than a Tear, A Shiva Guide for Mourners and Consolers, which I think will quietly take a space on the must read list for those seeking to navigate the experience of shiva. However the target audience of this guidebook is twofold – the official mourners touched by the death and those that come to the house to comfort. Writing from personal experience and an intense study of the tradition, Segal deftly explains the process of mourning in practical terms, addressing the “disorientation” so that a mourner has a metaphor to grasp the new process of grief AND a person who approaches the mourner in conversation can better understand their potential frame of mind. For me and for many of mourners that I have met, reading about mourning and loss seems to become a new interest hobby – perhaps in a search for advice to navigate this difficult time. This work introduces a variety of texts and additionally offers perspectives for further exploration, without a coercive edge. In fact I believe that it is Segal’s honest confrontation of the inherent awkwardness of experiencing shiva and conversation attempts to console that drives home the need to teach people how and why to approach this carefully. Segal writes that a “shiva visit is truly one of Judaism’s most difficult-to-master acts of kindness” and it is with this knowledge he shares insight, research and sources that are instructive and empowering. On a pedagogic level it complements the works of Aryeh Kaplan in that it dissects and is instructive on a basic mitzvah and makes it comprehensible for outsiders to perform comfortably a Jewish ritual. I strongly recommend this guidebook as an excellent addition to an educator’s repertoire. It fills a niche between the larger works that cover the general traditions and rules of mourning and brings out a sensitive contemporary angle for what it is like to sit opposite the mourner. With the abundant access today to global news and social networks, harder issues of how to speak about death and consolation are increasingly a skill worth imparting especially with high school age children. Be it the shadow of terrorism in Israel or local natural disasters – this guidebook offers a short but rich way to begin the discussion of the hardest topics of loss, grief, mourning, and death. Students that know how the make a shiva visit, even on a conceptual level, will have the tools in hand to avoid potential awkward situations of not knowing what to say or act.

More than a Tear, A Shiva Guide for Mourners and Consolers is available at guidetoshiva.com