Handed a Pen during Shiva – anyone know the story?

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    While sitting shiva in Brooklyn for my Mother A”H, a complete stranger came in to make a Shiva Visit. I didn’t recognize him, and simply assumed that he was a friend of my parents or one of my uncles, but he didn’t say a word to me. He simply handed me a pen and walked out. I have heard similar stories from other friends who have sat shiva.

    Does anyone know who this guy is? I am just curious as to the story?


    Their is a halacha for a guest to not start a conversation with the avel and the avel should initiate. The man was giving you a pen so you will start the conversation, “Huh, what is this for???”. At that point he has the right to respond.

    There are no bad motives in this story.


    First, I was under the impression that an Avel is not supposed to greet people, so your halacha seems to be contradictory.

    But for argument’s sake, let’s say I agree with you – in that case, when I started a conversation with him, why did he run away? Also, I want to know the story. I was also mid-conversation when he interrupted – so why do this.

    Clearly, this person has a back story behind it. Are you trying to tell me that he feels to many people are flouting halacha when making a shiva visit?


    I stand corrected, I looked it up – there are no greetings and visitors are to wait for the mourner to initiate. Still. There has got to be a deeper story here.


    RThereJewsThere – While sitting Shiva for my father a”h, about five years ago, this man comes in while we’re engaged in talking to those around us, and hands one of us a pen and walks out. There was no opportunity to dwell on what had just occurred, we just continued in the Shiva banter. Two years later, while sitting for my mother a”h, the exact same thing happens and as yourself, we have no clue.


    shavua tov.is this suppose to be a spooky story or something mystical?


    Amichai – I am sure that there is a back story – maybe something to do with that guys own family history or a particular shiva experience he had. But I am just curious if anyone knows what the back story is.


    An aveil does not GREET people, but may make an innocuous remark like, “nice weather we’re having,” to initiate a conversation with the menacheim aveil. One does not say “Sholom aleichem, ” either mourner to visitor or visitor to mourner, but other openers may be said.

    d a

    In both stories it says, “He simply handed me a pen and walked out”

    This has nothing to do with him greeting them or they greeting him. He simply handed me a pen and WALKED OUT.

    Anyone know anything?


    especially strange because one may not give a gift to an aveil.


    I also r’l had the same experience when my family was sitting shiva last year. A man came in, asked a few questions like was the niftar a rabbi and another question regarding him and threw a brand new mechanical pencil(on it’s cardboard and plastic wrapper) on the table that held the plates for tzedaka and walked out. People from my neighborhood had the same (presumably) individual pay a call on them. Someone told me he actually came back and claimed his ‘gift.’


    forget it. It’s probably a mental patient

    Pashuteh Yid

    Maybe he wants people to write down the memories that the menachamim are telling the aveil.


    He didn’t exactly seem like a mental patient; more like a lost soul and he did not recite the possuk Hamakon yinachem as he left.

    anon for this

    PY, in that case he should have given the pen to one of the aveil’s friends or relatives.


    Is it possible he was returning a pen lent to him by the niftar/nifteres? I once came to pay a shiva call and returned a book lent to me. Although reading the accounts above, they all mentioned pens. Hmmm…must be something to it.


    I don’t think he borrowed that many pens, and why would he borrow a pen in a wrapper and return it that way?

    I am curious… anyone know more?


    There was a story about this in the Ami magazine a few weeks go by Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum. The same thing happened to her. Seems there is someone wandering around Brooklyn (did it happen anywhere else?) giving out pens to aveilim


    Anything written on this pen? Look closely – maybe it says “eit shel Eliyahu HaNavi”.

    I don’t know, but I’d sure like to hear what this is all about.

    Any significance to the letters ayin, tes – or ayin, pay, raish, vov, nun – the letters of pen and pencil in Hebrew?



    Did the pen have the name of a probate attorney on it? If so then that would be a new low – hearse chasers (or Misaskim chasers) instead of ambulance chasers.

    Indeed, though, it probably is an unfortunate neshomo who may think he is Eliyahu ha-Navi or Moshiach.

    If so he needs to speak to me because I am both.

    always here

    thanks for the laffs, 600Kilobear~ I need it after some of the narishkeit I read here!

    oops! haha 😉


    600klb – so you’re the one handing out the pens? 🙂


    During maariv at a shiva home, a guy walks in during the end of Shemona Esrei. He asks someone who finished already if the chazan was the aveil. After getting a ‘yes,’ he put a pen on the table closest to the aveil and left.

    600kb and gefen, there were no markings on the pen.


    It’s probably some guy, who wants every Aveil to write down the stories he/she hears about the deceased. But since he doesn’t know them, he is embarassed to say anything in public, hence the pen. Enough with the conspiracy theories.


    this was a story in Ami i believe…


    Can people describe that person so that we can see if its the same man?



    This thread is older than AMI magazine exists. Perhaps the editors there got the story from the YWN Coffee Room.


    Thay sure were all over the cr whan the first ishue hit the newsstand.



    The way I heard it: The Avel gave the pen back and said “no, I asked for coffee, no sugar”.

    Shticky Guy

    What a strange story. Supposing its true, what message could he be trying to convey? Hishamer lecha pen? Or et la’asos lahashem? He could be just a lonely guy looking for pen friends. We must get to the bottom of this. I can smell a great Pesach Krohn story in the making… The Shiva Pen Chaser.


    what did the ami magazine article on this story conclude?


    February 4, 2013…. It is still happening…

    He came. He sat. He didn’t speak. He tossed a pen. He left.

    The avel looked up and asked everybody if we knew who that was.

    We looked down the street but he was gone.

    Does anybody know anything else about it?


    It is Eliyahu Hanavi.


    People borrow pens and never return them. Perhaps he forgot who he borrowed a certain pen from, and doesn’t want to come back for it, so he gives everyone a pen. Or perhaps, he pays back a pen for the sake of whoever owed it.

    Maybe, when the Niftar signed his name when he was Matzdik, he kept the pen and sent it with this guy.

    Maybe it is meant to be a Nachama that just like when you write with a pen, even when you throw out the pen, the writing remains. So too, even though the person was Niftar, he left a lasting mark. That is actually the Zecher that we talk about when we say Yehi Zichro Baruch. But I can’t let myself get too serious about this, so we’ll stick with the second Mehalach.


    I thought of that. Maybe he does it only to be engaged into the conversation and “greeted”. The question then arises, if he would have been acknowledged and “greeted” would have still thrown the pen?

    If it is Eliyahu HaNavi then the message is what?

    The easy answer is straight out of Pirkei Avos…

    Greet everyone with a smiling face and a warm hello.

    So the question will arise again… What is the significance of the pen (if any)?


    Maybe Im on to something or maybe I just have an overactive imagination Im betting on the later.

    ?????? ??? ?

    ???? ?: ?????????? ?????, ?????? ????????-??????–????? ???????? ??? ???????? ?????????, ????? ???????? ????: “????”-?????????.

    ???? ?”?: ????????? ?????? ????????, ??? ??????? ????? ???????? ?????????, ???????, ???? ?????; ???????? “????”-???????? ?????, ??????? ???? ????? ?????????, ???????, ????? ???????.


    Guess, this person is still at it. A relative of mine was just paying a shiva call, and this man, no one knew, came in a threw a pen. I guess he gets the addresses from Misakim’s list.

    On a side note, I am wary of the list being made public. While it is nice for people to find out information about who was niftar and who is sitting Shiva, there maybe other unwanted solicitations. I remember when I sat shiva, people came to drop off tzedakah pushkahs for their causes, leaving no room on the table for causes that were known to us. I don’t think it is right that some people do that. I had one that said for Yesomim and vistors assumed that it was for the family, but we honestly had no idea who left it. Then there was someone else who left a box, and sent a kid in to pick it up after the shiva was over. Again, no idea who this person/organization is/are.


    Wow its our first purim without 600 kilo bear 🙁


    are these pens at least decent pens? like cross or parker or something?


    When my parents sat shiva, I never let any stranger leave a tzedakah plate.


    When my parents sat shiva, I never let any stranger leave a tzedakah plate.

    Neither did we when sitting shiva for our parents. We had one pushke for the shule and one for a community tzedaka to which my parents had contributed, and that was it.

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