Yahrzeit

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The Yahrzeit is a unique day on the Jewish calender marking the one year anniversary of a loved one's passing.

When to Establish a Yahrzeit

  1. If the person was buried the day he died or the next day then the yehrzeit every year is established as the day of the death.[1] However, if he was buried two days or more after the death then the first yehrzeit is the day of the burial so that it falls out on the day of the completion of the 12 month mourning period and every subsequent yehrzeit is the day of the death.[2] If the burial was delayed two days or more and the first year was a leap year then the yehrzeit is observed on the day of the death since the 12 month mourning period would already have been completed within the first 12 months.[3]
  2. If the Yehrzeit falls out on any day which there is no Tachanun. The fast isn't made up another day.[4] According to Sephardim the fast is made up the next day.[5]
  3. If someone's parent passed away in a leap year in the first Adar then the yehrzeit is established during the first Adar whenever it is a leap year. The same is true of the second Adar.[6]
  4. If someone's parent passed away in a regular year in Adar and then in a leap year according to Ashkenazim the Yehrzeit is observed in the first Adar, while according to Sephardim the Yehrzeit is observed in the second Adar.[7]
  5. If the yehrzeit fell out on Friday according to Ashkenazim one can break the fast after leaving shul even if it isn't tzet hakochavim. If he once fasted on Friday completely then he need to do so every time unless he specified that he was doing so bli neder.[8] Sephardim hold that a yehrzeit fast on Friday needs to be completed until tzet hakochavim.[9]

Kaddish

  1. The custom is to recite kaddish on the yahrtzeit of a parent. [10]
  2. One should start reciting kaddish on the friday night before the yahrtzeit. [11]

Aliya to the Torah

  1. One should try to go up to the torah for maftir on the Shabbat before the yahrtzeit of a parent. [12]

Fasting on the Day of the Yahrzeit

  1. There is a custom to fast on the day of a parent's death (yahrtzeit), every year following the death. [13] This fast should be observed on the date of the death itself, even for the first year. [14] Some poskim are not so strict with this fast because we are too weak to fast, and therefore encourage giving tzedaka and making an extra effort to learn torah [15]
  2. If Erev Yom Kippur is the Yahrzeit (annual remembrance of the day of the death) of one's parents, one should not fast but rely on the fast of Yom Kippur. [16]

Yahrtzeit Candle

  1. The custom is to light a candle on the yahrtzeit of a parent. [17]
  2. Some poskim say that you cannot use an electric light as a yahrtzeit candle. [18] Others permit it to fulfill this minhag.[19]

Wedding Celebrations

  1. One should avoid going to a wedding celebration on the yahrtzeit of a parent. [20]


Links

Sources

  1. The Rama quotes the Trumat Hadeshen as establishing that the yehrzeit is always established as the day of death and not the day of the burial unless he was at the burial and not the death. The Taz 402:9 disagrees and holds that the yehrzeit is always the day of the death.
  2. Shach YD 402:10 argues with the Taz that from the Trumat Hadeshen it is evident that the yehrzeit is supposed to be the day of the completion of the 12 months of mourning. His compromise is that if the person was buried on the day of his death or the next day then the yehrzeit is observed on the day of the death, but if it is delayed two days or more then the first yehrzeit is observed on the day of the burial.
  3. Pitchei Teshuva 402:3
  4. Rama YD 402:12
  5. Bedek Habayit 403:12 quoting the Maharik 31
  6. Rama YD 402:12
  7. Rama YD 402:12 quotes the Trumat Hadeshen as saying that the main adar is the first one and if that year is a leap year the Yehrzeit is in the first Adar. However, the Bet Yosef 402:12 quotes a Tashbetz who argues that the main Adar is the second one.
  8. Rama YD 402:12 writes that a Yehrzeit on Friday doesn't need to be completed but if he did fast completely once he needs to continue that practice. The Maharshal (responsa 9 cited by Taz OC 249:3) explains that if the first year was during the week and he completed the fast then his practice is established as completing the fast even when the yehrzeit will fall out on a Friday. However, the Taz OC 249:3 argues that since one didn't intend to accept upon oneself to complete the fast on Friday just because one fasted during the week it isn't binding as a neder. Also, the Pitchei Teshuva YD 402:8 quotes the Chut Shani 66 and Nachalat Shiva 58 who explains that whatever he practiced the first time the first yehrzeit fell out on a Friday establishes his practice going forward when the yehrzeit will fall out on a Friday. The Gilyon Maharsha 402:12 agrees but is afraid to disagree with the Maharshal.
  9. Shulchan Aruch OC 249:3
  10. Rama YD 376:4
  11. Kaf Hachaim 55:23
  12. Birkei Yosef 284:1
  13. Rama YD 402:12, Pri Megadim MZ OC 568:8
    • Levush YD 402:12 writes that since unfortunate things have happened to the person on that day, it should be a day of teshuva and introspection for him
    • Levush OC 685 writes that the reason to fast is to earn reward for the parent on this day of judgment for them
  14. Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Chaim minutes 4-6
  15. Minchat Yitzchak 6:135
  16. Maamer Mordechai (Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, English version pg 447, #17)
  17. Magen Avraham OC 261:6 quotes the Maharshal 46 that if one forgot to light it earlier, he can ask a non-Jew to light a yahrtzeit candle during bein hashemashot. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v. 3 p. 54) quotes many sources regarding the minhag is to light a candle on the yehrzeit of a parent.
  18. Mishneh Halachot 5:70
  19. Chazon Ovadia (Aveilut v 3. p. 54).
  20. Rama YD 391:3, Yalkut Yosef Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:274 says if possible even sepharadim should be stringent for this even though it is only mentioned by the Rama