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On the Observance of Customs

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Sefer HaMinhagim
The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs


Translated by Uri Kaploun

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  Mourning: SemachosMiscellaneous Topics  


"Every day[723] [during the eleven months of mourning that the Rebbe Rashab observed], except for Shabbos and Yom-Tov, I made a point of reciting sixteen Kaddeishim.[724]

"The Kaddish preceding Barchu after Shemoneh Esreh on Shabbos[725] should not be recited [by a mourner].

"The recitation of Kaddish should be terminated a month and a day before the [first] yahrzeit. For example, if the yahrzeit is on the tenth of Shvat,[726] Kaddish is recited for the last time [at Minchah] on the ninth day of Teves.

"I request that throughout the first year my wife make a contribution to charity, for [the elevation of] my soul, every Monday and Thursday, as well as every erev Shabbos [i.e., Friday] and erev Rosh Chodesh. If it is possible that it should be given to the poor on the same day, so much the better, and I ask that every endeavor be made in this direction."

The completion of the eleven months (including the time at which the recitation of Kaddish ends) is also reckoned from the day of the decease, and not from the time that Kaddish began, even if this was delayed some days.[727]

The yahrzeit is to be observed on the date of the decease even on the first anniversary, and even if there was an interval till the time of burial.[728]

On the Shabbos preceding the yahrzeit, or on the yahrzeit itself if it falls on Shabbos, one should endeavor to be called to the reading of Maftir.[729]

If the yahrzeit falls on a day when the Torah is read, it is customary that one be called for an aliyah on that day.[730]

If the yahrzeit falls on a day when the Torah is read, one should endeavor to recite the half-Kaddish that follows the Reading of the Torah.

The following practices, which in some circles people make a point of observing, are not observed by us: reciting the Kaddish that follows Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos on the Friday evening preceding the yahrzeit; leading the services as sheliach tzibbur (even at Mussaf) on the Shabbos preceding the yahrzeit; leading the Grace After Meals at Seudah Shelishis on this Shabbos; and serving as sheliach tzibbur for Maariv at the close of this Shabbos (unless of course, the yahrzeit falls on Sunday).[731]

Immediately after sunset one lights a yahrzeit candle, which should burn until nightfall of the following day.[732]

At [each of the three daily] prayer services, five candles are lit [in front of the person observing yahrzeit who is leading the congregation].[733]

[Regarding the daily study of Mishnayos, see the above section on Semachos (p. 177) and the footnotes there.]

A person observing a yahrzeit that falls on Friday should recite the Kaddish that follows Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos [in the evening prayers; Siddur, p. 133].[734]



  1. (Back to text) [Yiddish: "the anniversary of a person's decease," referring in this context to the passing of a near relative.]

  2. (Back to text) The first four paragraphs of this section are extracts from the will of the Rebbe Rashab, though not verbatim. (Like all the footnotes to these four paragraphs, this footnote is taken from the Notes of the Rebbe Shlita, published in the second edition of Chanoch LaNaar.)

  3. (Back to text) Cf. Zohar I, 62b: "When Jews loudly respond Amen: Yehei shmei rabbah mevorach... [to the recital of Kaddish], a respite of an hour and a half is granted."

  4. (Back to text) The reference is to Maariv on the eve of Shabbos (Siddur, p. 143).

  5. (Back to text) The yahrzeit of the Rebbitzin [Rivkah], mother of the author of this will, the Rebbe Rashab.

  6. (Back to text) Directive of the Rebbe Shlita, [following the custom of the Rebbe Rashab].

  7. (Back to text) HaYom Yom, p. 19; the collection of Minhagim published in Kuntreis 55 (reprinted in Sefer HaMaamarim 5708). See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 568:8; Yoreh Deah, end of sec. 402 and its commentaries; Sdei Chemed, Aseifas Dinim: Aveilus, sec. 94.

  8. (Back to text) The above-mentioned collection of Minhagim in Kuntreis 55; Shaar Ephraim, Shaar 9, sec. 42; Birkei Yosef on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 284. The above custom differs from the practice cited in Maaseh Avraham, whereby even if the yahrzeit falls on Shabbos, the person observing it is called to the Torah for Maftir on the preceding Shabbos.

  9. (Back to text) The above-mentioned collection of Minhagim. See also Magen Avraham, end of sec. 282, according to which a person observing a yahrzeit that falls on Shabbos is obliged to be called to the Reading of the Torah. The same view is implied in Shaarei Ephraim, Shaar 2, sec. 7.

  10. (Back to text) The above-mentioned collection of Minhagim; the Introduction of the Rebbe Shlita to Kuntreis 62. "As to the statement in Moed Kol Chai that the AriZal is the source for this custom (whereby a congregant observing a yahrzeit leads the services on the preceding Shabbos), various scholars have already pointed out that this practice is not even mentioned in the writings of the AriZal, nor in the writings of any of the halachic authorities" (Shaarei Chayim on Shaarei Ephraim, Shaar 9, sec. 42).

  11. (Back to text) The earliest mention I have found of lighting a yahrzeit candle is in the Responsa of the Rashal, sec. 46 (which is quoted in Magen Avraham, sec. 261:6, and in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch 261:2). The Rashal records that "people are very particular about this and regard it as being most essential."

  12. (Back to text) The five candles represent [the five levels of the soul, known as] nefesh, ruach, neshamah, chayah and yechidah. (From a talk of the Previous Rebbe.)

  13. (Back to text) Cf. Magen Avraham and the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, end of sec. 261, to the effect that work is permitted [before sunset] even after the recitation of Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos.

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