A yahrzeit is a special day observed by Jews to commemorate the anniversary of the death of an individual. It can be observed for up to one year after that person has died, but it often falls on the closest date to their death.
The tradition was started because Jewish people believe in honoring those who have passed with remembrance and prayer. The name comes from the Hebrew word "yizkor," which means "remembrance."
This blog post will explore what this observance entails and how you can participate in observing it next month if your loved one has recently passed away.
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What Is a Yahrzeit Candle?
Yahrzeit candles are a Jewish tradition. They represent the soul, lit once a year on the yahrzeit day of your loved one who passed away.
The candles that can be lit to honor their memory should be made from beeswax and have the unusual shape of the letter shin inside a circle. The choice for this specific form derives from their being an acronym for Shomer zachor tehilim hayyetz, which translates to "faithful rememberer of God's Torah is inscribed."
This tradition was established following Talmudic laws regarding mourning customs to honor family members who died less than twelve months ago.
Why Do We Light Yahrzeit Candles?
We light yahrzeit candles to mark the anniversary of a person's death. The origin is in Judaism, where the Yahrzeit candle recreates the ancient tradition of lighting vigil lights. Early Jews believed that their loved one's souls would hover over their tombs every day for one year after they died. They also believed that fires or other light sources would keep at bay terrifying night spirits called "shedim," which might consume both body and soul on this day. So, according to Jewish tradition, all males are required to attend synagogue for *two* hours, whereas females are only required to go for an hour).
Watch this video to learn why we light Yahrzeit candles:
When to Light Yahrzeit Candle?
Lighting the Yahrzeit candle is an act of memory and mourning. The historical origin of this Jewish tradition parallels the origin of the word "Yahrzeit."
According to Rabbi Hillel's explanation, Jewish people light candles on or near the anniversary date of their loved one's death so that they will see at least one kind act every year on behalf of their soul. This is done hoping that our loved ones who may be suffering will never be denied any happiness. When we mourn, we not only try to accept what has happened; we also do whatever good deeds are within our power to offer comfort and solace for those who are grieving."
If you are looking to buy a lighter for the Yahrzeit Candle, browse through our curated collection of the best lighters.
How Should I Use My Yahrzeit Candle?
A Yahrzeit candle is traditionally lit by the living family member of the deceased, meaning that if you are not related to this person, it's recommended that during the period of observance, you light two candles for that individual on their corresponding date.
Lighting one candle does not fulfill this tradition. And while some people do feel free to memorialize lost loved ones at any time, Jewish tradition feels that one would best honor those who have died by faithfully performing acts or prayers on their yahrzeit date.
Do You Light a Yahrzeit Candle on Passover?
Sometimes it is necessary to light a Yahrtzeit candle to remember them. This does not happen very often, but sometimes the needs outweigh the religious rules." (http://www.jewfaq.org/Kaddish.htm)
This is a good question, and there are many points of view on this topic because individuals have different opinions of how close a person should be to their family member whose Yahrtzeit is observed today to light a Yahrtzeit candle in their memory. Injuring yourself because you disagree is silly, though - I'm sure they'd want that one particular part of your life to go just right, so if you're going to light the candle - just do it!
Do You Light a Yahrzeit Candle on Rosh Hashanah?
Do you light a yahrzeit candle on rosh hashanah? Nobody knows for sure, because nobody will ask the dead person! Moreover, the largest concentration of Jews is in Israel, so they have no daytime or nighttime to celebrate. And most Jews are not observant anymore. But if the question is, are the souls of loved ones in heaven rejoicing at their being remembered on this holiday by lighting candles? Yes! I am certain that is true (and it's more than just commemoration).
Do You Light a Yahrzeit Candle on Yom Kippur?
It depends on whether the individual's family follows a tradition of lighting a yahrzeit candle on Yom Kippur or if their set includes such an option.
Some families may light a Yahrzeit candle as part of the Yom Kippur observance, while for others, it will depend upon if there is space within their communal space to do so. Generally speaking, many Jews observe shloshim following burying someone, which occurs between thirty and seventy days after death (or sooner following times when burial was delayed).
The period during which we mourn lasts thirteen months and ten days from the time of burial – one day shorter than there are in the calendar year – henceforth known as Aseres Yimei Teshuva and considered a time of semi-mourning. Accordingly, Shloshim ends ten days after burial or 80 days after death (for those not buried within that period).
How Long Does a Yahrzeit Candle Burn?
A yahrzeit candle ranges in time depending on the size of the candle. A typical 3-inch diameter yahrzeit candle will burn for approximately one hour.
It can sometimes be difficult to know how long a Yahrtzeehts Candle should burn at there is no set time. This depends on many factors, including what kind of Jewish faith you are, what type of material your Yahrtzeehts Candle is made out of, and how small it is. On average, candles for Judaism range anywhere from an hour to an entire day.
Can You Relight a Yahrzeit Candle?
Absolutely! Each year, we light a candle in commemoration of our beloveds and to honor their memoriaes. But what should we do if the candle goes out halfway through?
If you lit your candle and it went out soon after, know that this doesn't mean the same thing as not lighting the whole yahrzeit for that person. Instead, it means that you can relight it right away because there's no problem with trying again to illuminate their memory every year.
Yahrzeit Candle Where to Buy?
If you're looking for a Yahrzeit candle, I would recommend checking out Amazon. They carry an excellent selection of candles that are sure to meet your needs.
It's also worth visiting local Jewish shops or synagogues, as they typically have a small selection of yahrzeit candles.
It is important not to ignore the Jewish tradition of lighting a yahrzeit candle. It honors those who have passed on and reminds us never to forget them. Additionally, it may provide comfort for family members or friends grieving their loss. So light your next Yahrzeit Candle!
I hope this post has helped you find the answer to your question. If not, please leave a comment below, and we will do our best to help out!
Dan Storm says
Yahrzeit comes from the Yiddish (by way of German “jahr zeit”) and literally means “year time”, or time of year, and is the Yiddish word for anniversary.
Jacob Glick says
THank You for answering my question