and Passover

April 2 & Passover 2021
The Yizkor Candle

During Passover time, I receive many questions about kashrut, as Pesach is a complicated time, but I also receive many questions about lighting yizkor candles, so I felt I would explain the practice, how to perform it this year, and how it can be meaningful. 

The 7th and 8th days of Passover are Yom Tov days. This year, the 7th day of Passover coincides with Shabbat, and the 8th day Passover falls on Sunday, April 4. I am often asked when one should light a yahrzeit candle. On Friday, before Shabbat begins, you should light a 48-hour candle, and then, light your Shabbat candles. The 48-hour candle can serve as both your yahrzeit candle and the candle that you will use to light your Yom Tov candles on Saturday evening (Shabbat ends at 8:14 pm). On Saturday evening, even though Shabbat ends, we are still in Yom Tov/holiday, so you cannot light the Yom Tov candles by striking a match (which is forbidden), which is why we transfer the flame.

In the event you only have 24-hour candles, you can use the flame you lit before Shabbat to light another 24 candle which will serve as your yahrzeit candle (this should be done after 8:14 pm on Saturday evening).

Now that we have gotten the mechanics out of the way, the how, we can transition to the why. Why do we light a candle to remember our loved ones? 

The origins of the practice of lighting a candle for Yizkor or the Yahrzeit (anniversary of a loved one’s death according to Hebrew calendar) is unclear, but the significance and meaning of the practice is connected to a line from the book of Provers 20:27: 

נֵר יְי נִשְׁמַת אָדָם חֹפֵשׂ כָּל־חַדְרֵי־בָטֶן׃ 
The lifebreath of man is the lamp of the LORD revealing all his inmost parts.

Our lives are compared to a flickering flame in the eternal life of God. As is said in many Psalms, our lives are like the blink of an eye to God, and yet, our lives matter to God, and to the world. Rashi, the medieval commentator par excellence, famously taught that God implanted within us a hidden light (Or HaGanuz). It is this eternal light that we are reminded of when we light our Yahrzeit and Yizkor candles for our loved ones. The Sefat Emet, a noted Hassidic master, taught that the word Ner Dolek (burning candle) adds up to the number 390, which is the same number as Shekinah, God’s physical presence on Earth. I like to think that when we light this candle, God brings a part of our loved ones back to us for their yahrzeits, the anniversary of the days of their deaths, and the four occasions when we say Yizkor. When we light the candle, we remember the warm times we shared together. We remember the light that our loved ones gave to us, but we also remember the times when we lived in their shadow. 

Judaism does not believe in duality; we believe in the whole. Near the beginning of the Passover Seder, we break the Matzah in half for Yahatz. Yahatz symbolizes the brokenness we feel, the brokenness of the world. At the end of Pesach, we put the pieces back together. The idea of Shlemut, being whole, teaches us that memory is a mixture of the good and the regrettable. Hopefully, as time passes, the light outweighs the darkness. For these brief moments during the year, the presence of our loved ones are with us during our times of joy, the holidays we observe, and also the days when they left us. During Yizkor, we pledge to give tzedakah in their name, to use their light to kindle more lights of justice in the world. It offers us a time, not only to remember the times we had with them but also, to remember what they stood for in this world. These times compel us to think back to the causes that they cared deeply for, the causes and organizations where they contributed, and to continue to transfer the light of their candle to a cause here on earth where they can still make a difference. 

There is no blessing recited when you light the memorial candle, although it is certainly appropriate to reflect upon the memory of loved ones. But here is a kavanah you can say before you light the candle:

“A light from God is a human soul” (Proverbs 20:27). At this moment of solemn reflection, I call to mind memories of _____________________. May _____________________’s soul enjoy eternal life, together with the souls of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and all righteous women and men. May I be inspired to acts of justice and kindness in _____________________’s memory. 
I look forward to seeing you on Zoom on the 7th and 8th days of Passover. On the 7th Day, we will chant the Song at the Sea, when our people took their first steps to freedom. On the 8th day, we will gather for the last day of Yom Tov, and we will recite Yizkor. 

I will be mentioning the names of relatives and friends who lost their lives to Covid. Please send me the names of any loved ones or friends, Jewish or not, who passed from Covid, so we can honor their memories (email to

I wish you all a meaningful end of Passover, and look forward to seeing you on Zoom at our services,

Rabbi David Baum
Friday Morning Minyan
There will be no Pirke Avot Class this week.
Friday, April 2, 2021
8:30 AM ET
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)
Friday, April 2, 2021
6:15 PM ET
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)
7th Day of Passover Services
Saturday, April 3, 9:30-11:45 AM ET

Geil Bilu - Exodus 13:17-19
Geil Bilu - Exodus 13:20-22
Bernie Grossman - Exodus 14:1-3
Bernie Grossman - Exodus 14:4-8
Nachshon Carmi - Exodus 14:9-14
Matt Weiss - Exodus 14:15-25
Robert Murstein -Exodus 14:26-15:26 Shirat Hayam
Jackie Klein - Numbers 28:19-25
Howard Lewin – Haftarah l Samuel II 22:1-19
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)
***Note the new time
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)
8th Day of Passover Services
Sunday, April 4, 9:30-11:45 AM ET

Ron Murstein - Deut 15:19-23
Jon Murstein - Deut 16:1-3
Jon Murstein - Deut 16:4-8
Rabbi Elaine Schnee - Deut 16:9-12
Geil Bilu - Deut 16:13-17
Harvey Fine - Numbers 28:19-25
Harvey Fine - Haftarah | Isaiah 11:1-12 & 16
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)
with Cantor HADASH

Mark Your Calendars for April 10 • May 15

• Open to all children, ages 5-13
• 10:30-11:15 am
(log on to the main 9:30 am Shabbat service through Zoom
with Cantor HADASH

Next Class - April 24

For all upcoming B’nai Mitzvah students
(April 2021-September 2022)
10:30-11:15 am
(log on to the main 9:30 am Shabbat service through Zoom)
Participants will be directed to a break-out room at 10:30 am
Congregation Shaarei Kodesh and
B'nai Torah Congregation

Combined Weekly Morning Minyan
Rabbi Baum will lead weekday Shacharit for our combined congregations
Every Wednesday morning at 8:00 AM
Meeting ID: 570 477 057 Password: 8nkS8u
By phone: (929) 205-6099 | Meeting ID: 570 477 057 | Password: 601971

Virtual L’ Chaim Sponsors
Patty & Matt Weiss in honor of all the Torah & Haftarah Readers
Kemach Torah Nadiv Sponsors 5781
Rachel & Alexander Baum
Nan Berkowitz
Sue & Ben Eisenberg
Judi & Lewis Fogel
Diane & Robert Salamon
Susan & Lewis Witonsky