The Emotion of Yizkor by Rabbi Yosef Adler


The Emotion of Yizkorby Rabbi Yosef Adler

There is a widely accepted practice that we refrain from reciting קל מלא רחמים during the month of Nissan.  In many Shuls, the Shabbat preceding Rosh Chodesh Nissan includes a long line of those asking to make a קל מלא as they may be observing a Yahrtzeit sometime during the month.  When faced with a קבורה on Chol Hamoed we refrain from eulogizing.  Yom Tov is מבטל אבילות and the prohibition to eulogize even spills over to the rest of the month of Nissan.  And yet, we recite Yizkor on the last day of Pesach.  Doesn’t its recitation seem somewhat incongruous with the spirit of the day?

The Rav, zt”l, often highlighted two different types of Mitzvot.  There are some Mitzvot in which the קיום המצוה and the מעשה המצוה are identical.  Both the מעשה המצוה and קיום המצוה of Matza is to eat a כזית of Matza.  The same is true of Tefillin and Lulav.  However, there are some Mitzvot in which the מעשה המצוה is not equated with the קיום המצוה.  Regarding Shofar the מעשה המצוה is the תקיעה but its קיום is one of Tefillah.  Fasting on a תענית ציבור is a קיום of the Mitzva of Teshuva.  When one observes Purim or Pesach, the קיום is the Mitzva of ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל.  So too vis-à-vis the Mitzva of שמחת יום טוב.  The מעשה המצוה is manifested by consuming meat and wine but the קיום is an internal one: להיות שמח וטוב לב.

It is difficult for me to say this because I, ב"ה, have not found it necessary to recite Yizkor as yet.  But I would humbly suggest that the inner feelings associated with Yizkor should be one of Simcha.  There are those who define the Mitzva of פרו ורבו as not only having children but grandchildren.  After the grandchild is born the grandparent fulfills his Mitzva of פרו ורבו.  In relationship to תלמוד תורה, our obligation is והודעתם לבניך ולבני בניך יום אשר עמדת בחורב.  Similarly, in the context of סיפור יציאת מצרים, the Torah states ולמען תספר באזני בנך ובן בנך את אשר התעללתי במצרים.  When parents and grandparents see their children and grandchildren participate at a Seder and fulfill the Mitzva of שלש רגלים תחוג לי בשנה, they can rest secure in the knowledge that they have succeeded in their mission of והודעתם and ולמען תספרו.  This knowledge will assure the fact that בגן עדן תהא מנוחתם.  Although the Minhag to recite Yizkor is one of sorrow, the קיום of the Mitzva is one of inner Simcha and joy, and hence is appropriately recited on Pesach.

Additionally, our collective קל מלא on behalf of the קדושים who perished during the Holocaust or the קל מלא recited on behalf of members of חיילי צה"ל who passed away על קידוש ה' could be viewed in this light.  As they dwell in the ישיבה של מעלה and see that not only has Judaism survived the attempts of Hitler, ימ"ש, but has flourished and prospered and seen a revitalization of Torah study, this brings a sense of inner joy to their נשמות and should bring שמחה and נחמה to those reciting יזכור.

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