Bereavement in Judaism is often called "Avelut" or in singular form: "Avel". (Hebrew: אֲבֵלוּת).

What does this word literally mean? WHere does it come from?


Aveilut comes from the singular word of avail (אָבֵל) meaning literally mourner, and consequently mourning.

Famously used in the opening word of Eichah 1:4, דרכי ציון אבילות, Zion’s roads are in mourning.

Based on the open-ended nature of the question, I’ll give a couple examples sourcing the concept.

Ber. 37:34. Jacob mourns his son.

וַיִּקְרַע יַעֲקֹב שִׂמְלֹתָיו וַיָּשֶׂם שַׂק בְּמָתְנָיו וַיִּתְאַבֵּל עַל בְּנוֹ יָמִים רַבִּים

It as well appears in idiom about Haman (Est. 6:12), not that he was a mourner, but that he was in a disheveled state.

וַיָּשָׁב מָרְדְּכַי אֶל-שַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ, וְהָמָן נִדְחַף אֶל-בֵּיתוֹ אָבֵל וַחֲפוּי רֹאשׁ

Or in Mishnah, MK 2:2

וְכֵן מִי שֶׁהָיָה יֵינוֹ בְּתוֹךְ הַבּוֹר וְאֵרְעוֹ אֵבֶל אוֹ אֹנֶס, אוֹ שֶׁהִטְעוּהוּ פוֹעֲלִים, זוֹלֵף וְגוֹמֵר וְגָף כְּדַרְכּוֹ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יוֹסֵי. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, עוֹשֶׂה לוֹ לִמּוּדִים, בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁלֹּא יַחְמִיץ:

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