web analytics
August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Making My Peace With Yizkor


Shmini Atzeres will be the fourth time I stay in shul for Yizkor. My father, Hy (Chaim Shlomo) Baras, died in Adar a year and a half ago. For the first year, my brothers and I did not say Yizkor. We began on Pesach and then again on Shavuos and Yom Kippur. I dreaded that first time. I’m a private mourner and I didn’t want to share or publicize my grief.

As I murmured the Yizkor prayer on the last day of Pesach, I had a strong sense of my father’s presence. I very much subscribe to the tradition which holds that the souls of departed family members attend family celebrations. I felt my father’s neshama at the bris of my grandson (Chaim Shlomo), and I had a similar feeling at Yizkor – that my father’s spirit was invoked by my thinking of him. Two weeks later, I dreamt about him. I rarely remember my dreams but I had a vision of my father lying in a hospital bed asleep. I was sitting in a chair next to him, stroking his hair and talking to him, and he gave a little smile even though his eyes were closed and he was unable to move. That’s it; that’s the whole dream, but it was so vivid and, by its very appearance, comforting, as if he had visited me.

One reason we recite Yizkor is to prod ourselves to repentance, which is particularly meaningful on Shmini Atzeres, when the Heavenly Appeals Court goes on hiatus. Did reciting Yizkor inspire me to repentance? I didn’t feel particularly changed but I was awed by what I consider to be an encounter with the metaphysical. Birth and death are transitional passages between life as we know it and The Beyond. As I davened for my father’s ever higher place in Gan Eden, Yizkor gave me a script, an ability to concretize my thoughts about his neshama’s journey in a dimension unknown to me.

Was it moving? How can you not be moved by an absolutely silent congregation of orphans listening intently to the chazan chanting, “May Hashem remember the soul of my father, my teacher. May his soul be bound in the bond of life together with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah; and with the other righteous men and women in the Garden of Eden.” You’d have to be dead yourself not to be touched by that sentiment.

I don’t dread saying Yizkor anymore, but I can’t say I look forward to it, though I’ve already taken and survived my maiden voyage. I would prefer pondering my father’s life as well as his absence more spontaneously. But I know now what I’m in for. I know that the words are powerful, and that I am in the company of other mortals who are conjuring up their own memories and their own intimations of mortality. Both the words and the surrounding company give me strength. May they all, including the memories, be for a bracha.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Making My Peace With Yizkor”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
The Quran
Dawa* at Chautauqua
Latest Indepth Stories
The Quran

Islamists spoke of “Love and Justice in a World of Suffering,” skipping the horrors caused by Islam

President  Barack Obama.

How and when is it appropriate for pulpit rabbis to comment publicly on the Iran issue?

David Menachem Gordon

David was many things: Brother, son, grandson, nephew, uncle, cousin, talmid, comrade, AND a WARRIOR

Graffiti at Duma home that was torched in Samara.

Some Israelis seem to have forgotten no one has yet tracked down the murderers of Ali Bawabsheh.

Aside from my own 485-page tome on the subject, Red Army, I think Jamie Glazov did an excellent job at framing things in United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

“Isn’t it enough that the whole world hates us? WHy do we have to hate each other?”

Who said Kerry won no concessions from Iran? He secured pistachios and Beluga caviar for America!

In 2015, Israel’s fertility rate (3+ births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries except 3

The New Israel Fund, as usual, condemns the State of Israel rather than condemning a horrible act.

I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya

While Orthodox men are encouraged to achieve and celebrated for it, Orthodox women too often are not

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

“The fear of being exposed publicly is the only thing that will stop people,” observed Seewald.

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

More Articles from Barbara Kessel

How can you not be moved by an absolutely silent congregation of orphans listening intently to the chazan chanting,

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/making-my-peace-with-yizkor/2004/11/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: