YAHRZEIT


YAHRZEIT
YAHRZEIT (Yid.; Ger. Jahrzeit; lit. "year time," i.e., anniversary), the anniversary of a death. For the determining of the yahrzeit, see mourning . The commemoration of the yahrzeit (on the Hebrew date of the anniversary) is observed both for outstanding individuals and for parents; though some extend it to the other five close relatives for whom mourning is enjoined, brother and sister, son and daughter, and spouse. With regard to the former, rashi finds authority for it as early as the amoraic period. He quotes from a geonic responsum on the riglei ("festivals"), there mentioned as an amoraic institution: "the anniversary of the death of a great man was established in his honor, and when that day arrives, all the scholars in the region assemble and visit his grave with the ordinary people, and hold a ceremony there" (to Yev. 122a). The only yahrzeits which occur in the calendar in one way or another are the 7th of adar , the traditional date of the death of Moses (though observed only by minor liturgical changes and as the most common date for the annual banquet of the ḥevra kaddisha ), lag ba-omer , the traditional date of death of Simeon b. Yoḥai (observed by popular pilgrimages to his grave at Meron); and the 3rd of Tishri, the Fast of Gedaliah (see fasts and fasting ), which is stated to be the day "on which Gedaliah b. Ahikam was murdered" (RH 18b; this was not observed as a yahrzeit but for its historical implications). The only biblical worthy whose day of death is recorded is Aaron (Num. 33:38), but the day is not commemorated. The Ḥasidim commemorate the yahrzeit of their respective dynastic leaders, but the commemoration takes a joyous form as the day on which he was translated on high. In recent times annual commemorations of such national figures as Herzl, Bialik, Rabbi A.I. Kook , Z. Jabotinsky , and past presidents of the State of Israel have been instituted. Detailed regulations have been laid down for the observance of family yahrzeits. Where he is able to do so, the yahrzeit, as the person observing it is also called, conducts the weekday service, and even if not, recites kaddish . If the Torah is read on that day, he is called to the reading of the Torah; otherwise, he is called on the preceding Sabbath. A 24-hour memorial candle is lit for that day, as a symbol of the verse "the soul of man is the lamp of God" (Prov. 20:27). Fasting is recommended as an act of piety (Isserles, YD 402:12), but is not commonly observed. The first known authority to employ the word yahrzeit was isaac of tyrnau in his Minhagim book, and he is followed by Mordecai Jaffe (Levush Tekhelet, no. 133). Among the Sephardim the observance is called naḥalah, but so widespread is the use of the word yahrzeit that despite the fact that it is Yiddish, it is often found in Sephardi religious works. Filial piety has made the yahrzeit one of the most widely held observances in Judaism. Even in small communities where there is difficulty in assembling the necessary minyan for the congregational service, special arrangements are made for such worship when there is a yahrzeit. Its observance is an act of pious commemoration and emphasizes faith in the immortality of the soul. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Eisenstein, Dinim, 154f.; H. Rabinowicz, A Guide to Life (1964), 103–13. (Louis Isaac Rabinowitz)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • yahrzeit — [yär′tsīt, yôr′tsīt] n. [Yiddish yortsayt < MHG jārzīt, anniversary < jār (Ger jahr), YEAR + zīt (Ger zeit), time: see TIDE1] Judaism the anniversary of the death of a parent or other member of the immediate family, commemorated by the… …   English World dictionary

  • Yahrzeit — /yahr tsuyt, yawr /, n. Judaism. the anniversary of the death of a parent, sibling, child, or spouse, observed by lighting a memorial lamp or candle the night before and reciting the Kaddish at the evening service of the day before and at the… …   Universalium

  • yahrzeit — o jahrzeit En el judaísmo, el aniversario de la muerte de un progenitor o pariente cercano, que se conmemora generalmente encendiendo una vela durante toda la jornada. Ese día se recita el kaddish en la sinagoga y se lee la Torá. Para celebrar el …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • yahrzeit — noun The anniversary of a persons death, often of a parents …   Wiktionary

  • yahrzeit — n. (Yiddish) anniversary of the death of a relative, jahrzeit (in Judaism) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • yahrzeit —    (YAHR zite) [Yiddish, from German Jahrzeit: a year’s time] In Judaism, the anniversary of the death of a family member …   Dictionary of foreign words and phrases

  • yahrzeit — [ jα:tsʌɪt] noun (among Jews) the anniversary of the death of a close relative, at which special candles are lit. Origin C19: Yiddish, lit. anniversary time …   English new terms dictionary

  • yahrzeit — yahr·zeit …   English syllables

  • Yahrzeit — Yahr•zeit [[t]ˈyɑr tsaɪt, ˈyɔr [/t]] n. jud Judaism. the anniversary of the death of a parent or other close relative, observed by lighting a candle and reciting the Kaddish[/ex] • Etymology: 1850–55; < Yiddish yortsayt …   From formal English to slang

  • Yahrzeit — /ˈjatsaɪt/ (say yahtsuyt) noun Judaism the anniversary of the death of a close relative, especially a parent. {Yiddish, from Middle High German jārzīt anniversary} …   Australian English dictionary


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