About the Yahrzeit Candle - Memorial Candle
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 10:48:32 AM Asia/Jerusalem
A yahrzeit candle also spelled yahrtzeit candle or called a memorial candle (Hebrew: ner neshama, meaning "soul candle"; Yiddish: yortsayt likht, meaning "anniversary candle") is a type of candle that is lit in memory of the dead in Judaism.
This kind of candle, that burns up to 26 hours, is also lit during the day of Yom Kippur or during Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony (Yom HaShoah).
The use of a yahrzeit candle is a widely practiced custom, where mourners light a yahrzeit candle that burns for 24 hours, on the anniversary of the death on the Hebrew calendar. The word "yahrzeit" (Yiddish: yortsayt ) itself means "anniversary" (or more specifically "anniversary [of a person's death]") in Yiddish, originating from German Jahr, year, and Zeit, time. It is customary to light the candle inside one's home, or near the grave of the deceased. The candle is also lit on Yom Kippur and there are also customs to light a yahrzeit candle on the dates when yizkor is said (Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, final day of Pesach, and [the second day of] Shavuot). It is also customary to light the candle during the shiva (week of mourning). The custom of lighting a yahrzeit candle comes from the Book of Proverbs 20:27 "The soul of man is a candle of the Lord."
The custom of lighting a yahrzeit candle for the deceased is very widespread and deeply ingrained in Jewish life. Many Jews who are otherwise unobservant follow this custom. Today, some people use an electric yahrheit candle that plugs into the wall instead of an actual candle for safety reasons.
The yahrzeit candle is lit during the week of Shiva (mourning). It is also lit at sundown on the eve of the yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) and at sundown preceding the start of Yom Kippur and at sundown preceding the last day of Succot, Passover and Shavuot. These holidays all have yizkor (memorial) in synagogue as well.