The First Meal

The first meal eaten by the mourning family on their return from the burial is the seudat havara'ah. The seudat havara’ah is considered a private meal to be shared among immediate family members, not a public event where condolences are offered. 

The seudat havara’ah (or “meal of comfort”) is provided by friends, family and/or members of the community and typically consists of peeled hard-boiled eggs and some variation of the lentil stew that, according to the Talmud, Jacob was preparing for his father, Isaac, who was sitting shiva for his own father, Abraham. These foods – especially the round hard-boiled eggs – symbolize the cycle of life and are traditionally followed by the delivery of condolence baskets and local deli for the duration of the weeklong shiva period.