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a time to tear one’s garment,

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a time to sew the two pieces back together,

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There will inevitably be times of deep grief, and times will follow when we try to put our lives back together, but life is never the same after such a loss.



“Tearing” usually implied either the tearing of a garment or the tearing of flesh; here a garment seems to be in view because it is followed by the word mending or sewing. The only reason someone would purposefully tear their garment was as an expression of grief or distress. Solomon is still talking about the death of someone close to him.


When someone tore a garment in grief, there were rules that developed in Judaism which governed how soon he could mend it, and whether the mend would be obvious or not. Many sources say that a garment that was torn in grief, when mended, must still show that it was mended; it cannot be mended in such a way as to cover up where the tear had been. This served as an indication that one would never be the same after the loss of someone very close.

The Jews of today still practice a variation of this rule. A quick search on the internet will reveal many sites where this rule is expressed in a variety of ways. This comes from the teachings of many rabbis in the Talmud. Despite the differences in the way the rule is expressed, or the list of details in this rule, the emphasis is always the same—that the rest of one’s life has been changed because of this loss.