Ask the director


QUESTION: Why do we cover the mirrors in the house of shivah?

R. A., Providence

Dear R.A.,

There are several different reasons for this custom. Here are three:

First, we have been told not to be concerned with our appearance during the mourning period. By covering the mirrors, we are unable to look in the mirror, see ourselves, and try to look “nicer.” We set aside vanity at this time. This is so we can focus of the mourning process and not be distracted.

Second and third are mystical or superstitious beliefs. One is that the soul of the person in the home might be “caught” in the mirror and snatched away by the ghost of the deceased and the other idea is that the angel of death might see your reflection in the mirror, which could cause your own life to be in jeopardy.

Questions are welcomed and encouraged. Please send questions to: or by mail to Ask the Director, c/o Shalom Memorial Chapel, 1100 New London Ave., Cranston, R.I. 02920.