Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hanukkah or Yahrzeit?


My mother's yahrzeit is next Friday, the fifth day of Hanukkah. At minha I
seem to have two choices:

To pray before the amud at a minyan that will take place after we have lit the
candles at home, OR

To pray earlier in a minyan, but not to be the shliah tzibbur.

Which alternative is preferable?


If I understand correctly, your conflict is as follows:
On one hand, the recommended procedure
throughout Hanukkah, and particularly on
Friday afternoon, is to pray the Minha Service
prior to lighting Hanukkah candles.

However, this would require you to forgo the
custom of serving as prayer leader on the
anniversary of a parent's death (Yahrzeit).
You are wondering which priority should take
precedence here.

This is somewhat of a judgment call,
since neither of these considerations is
strictly halakhic. You are weighing the
relative importance of two recommended

Thus, whatever choice you make, you are
still within the parameters of legitimate
halakhic observance.

I believe that praying minha earlier and
thus lighting Hanukkah candles at the ideal
time would be the preferred practice in
this case. Leading the prayers on a
yahrzheit is a custom that was introduced
into Judaism much later (the original
version was simply reciting kaddish, and
before that, simply fasting - though not on
Hanukkah, of course) that should not
trump the more established and intuitive
principle of lighting Hanukkah candles after minha.

Best Regards,

Rabbi Maroof

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