Vayeshev: On the Limits of Grief and Mourning

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We read that upon hearing of his son Joseph’s death, Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and refused to be comforted. He said, “I will go down to the grave mourning for my son.” (Gen. 37: 34-35)

There are laws in Judaism about the limits of grief – aninut, avelut, shiva, sheloshim, shanah, etc. There is no such thing as a bereavement for which grief is endless. And yet, Jacob refuses to be comforted. Can we, in fact, ever mourn too much? Grieve too much?

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