Jewish Studies

Adi Namia-Cohen

Meals and Mourning: The Seudat Havraʾah and the Seudah Mafseket of Tisha bʾAv in Medieval Ashkenaz

Section: Articles
Jewish Studies Quarterly (JSQ)

Volume 28 () / Issue 3, pp. 297-314 (18)
Published 27.09.2021

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The study of foodways of Jews in medieval Ashkenaz reveals the social, cultural and religious significance of meals as part of the life cycle and the cycle of Jewish calendar events. This article examines two meals connected to mourning rituals: the seudat havraʾah, the first meal eaten by the mourners following the funeral, and the seudah mafseket, the meal eaten before the fast of Tisha bʾAv. The seudat havraʾah signified a ritual »reintegrating« the mourners back into the fabric of life, whereas the seudah mafseket was eaten in an attempt to make the destruction of the temple present. While comparing the meals' design in the domestic space and their components: foods, participants and their roles, and liturgy, the differences between the concepts of private and public mourning will be elucidated. This comparison exemplifies the ritual roles of meals and their contribution to constructing and reinforcing identities and belonging.

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