I recently walked into a shiva home for a mother who lost her daughter. For the father, this was his step-daughter. I know that he doesn't sit shiva, but I noticed that he had a torn jacket collar.

Is there any prohibition against someone doing this for his step-daughter? If it helps answer the question, the person is a Satmar Chassid. Maybe this is a Satmar minhag?

  • 2
    It is hard to prove the negative; that something is not prohibited. Why might it be prohibited? Bal tashchit?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 18:53
  • Is the halacha that he doesn't sit shiva or that he is not obligated to sit shiva? The same question could be asked about kri-ah.
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 19:06
  • @mevaqesh For one thing, torn clothing is an outward "known" mark of aveilut. While people can, of course, grieve for non-relatives, there is no obligation for them to do aveilut as relatives do. Thus, when sitting among the others, it may give a false impression that he is an aveil, which he isn't.
    – DanF
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 19:10
  • @DanF Whether or not it's "known" as a mark of Shiva, it is not a mark of Shiva and has basically nothing to do with Shiva. Many more cases have people tear Kriah than sit Shiva (eg. seeing the destroyed Temple).
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 19:13
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    Is someone who visits the Temple mount an Aveil? What about someone who sees a Torah scroll burnt? Someone who hears God's name be "blessed"? Like I said, it's not what you say it's "known" as.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan in his book "Beneath the Sheltering Wings" says that one is not obligated to mourn a stepchild however is permitted to. He says Kriah is performed for a stepchild without the Bracha of Dayan HaEmes. (Most likely the author means that the Bracha would not be said with Hashem's name).

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    Why would one not say Dayan HaEmet on hearing such terrible news? Is the case where the step-parent didn't care much for the step-child (which would be the same, albeit perhaps more common, as a biological parent not caring much for their biological child) so they don't find the news upsetting? That doesn't seem right since then why would the parent tear Kriah if they aren't upset. Hmmm....
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 16:41

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