March 2019 Shevat-Adar 1/Adar 2 5779
Dear B’nai Shalom members, friends, and families:
With our having the experience of TWO months of Adar this year — Adar Rishon and Adar Bet (Adar 1 and Adar 2), I received a number of questions from people whose family members’ yahrtzeits are either in one or the other of the two months of Adar this year.
(Because we are in a Hebrew leap year, we have an entire EXTRA month — the aforementioned month of Adar Bet, which occurs seven times in a nineteen year cycle.)
The questions have focused on determining in WHICH month of Adar loved ones observe the yahrtzeit date. The short answer (although there is a more detailed, more complex answer) is: if a loved one died in a Hebrew leap year, during ensuing Hebrew leap years, the yahrtzeit is observed on the exact date in the precise Adar in which the loved one died. In a NON-leap year, the yahrzeit is observed on the correct date in the ONLY Adar of that year.
In a more confusing scenario, for those who died in a non-leap year, when we come to a Hebrew leap year, we follow the majority halachic opinion that we observe the yahrtzeit in BOTH months of Adar. Naturally, in a non-leap year, the yahrtzeit is observed on the date the person died in the non-leap year in which they died.
This conversation has led to the question of “what does one do to properly and fully observe the yahrzeit of a loved one?” There are a number of traditions associated with the honoring of a loved one on his/her yahrtzeit.
The most well known of the traditions is the lighting of the candle. We light a yahrzeit candle at sundown at dusk, at the
beginning of the yahrtzeit date. There is no bracha (blessing) said however a short formula such as: “May his/her soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life”, along with any personal meditations, thoughts, or expressions of love affection, or connection to the departed loved one.
The yahrtzeit candle CAN be moved, if necessary, and if the need arises to extinguish the candle before it goes out on its own, unlike Shabbat or Yom Tov candles, one may do so.
Saying the Mourners Kaddish each time it comes up during the three scheduled prayer services of the day: Maariv (evening), Shacharit (morning) and Mincha (afternoon) times, is considered a major component of devotion and recalling one’s loved one AND an avenue for further advancing the soul of the deceased family member higher into the levels of heaven.
Recitiing the “Kale Male Rachamim” prayer takes place ON the yahrtzeit date if that day happens to be a Torah reading day (Saturday, Monday, and Thursday — since the prayer is only said during the services when the Torah is read), OR on the Torah reading day prior to the yahrzeit date. One CAN say the prayer more than once (on the preceding Shabbat
AND on the day closest to the yahrtzeit) if one is concerned that on the day of the yahrzeit there may be trouble making a minyan.
It is also considered meritorious to give tzedakah (charity) to a worthy, Jewish charity in memory of the loved one AND to learn Mishnah, dedicating the learning time to the memory of the departed loved one.
As an EXTRA vehicle for helping to advance the loved one’s soul higher into the levels of heaven, a common tradition is to dedicate a day of learning at an appropriate place of learning (a shul, yeshiva, kollel, Jewish day school or high school) by which tzedakah (charity) money is donated to that institution and the name of the loved one is memorialized
and publicized that day throughout the Torah institution as the focus of all Torah learning.
AND certainly conducting one’s self in a proper, modest, compassionate, and inspiring manner ALL THE TIME, but especially when commemorating a loved one’s yahrtzeit, brings nachas — joy, pride, and pleasure — to the soul of the loved
one, right there in heaven, allowing the loved one to continue to feel the special feelings of love, connection, and commitment
with and from those of us still here, in the land of the living.
With Torah blessings always,
Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Dvorin