Yizkor in corona times

We remember those who are not with us in the yizkor prayer, this year it was said alone on Pesach and will be said alone on IDF Remembrance Day.

Tags: Yizkor
Rabbi Eli Hecht

Judaism The Koren Yizkor
The Koren Yizkor

On the last day of Pesach, too, we said a special prayer called Yizkor. We say a similar prayer on Remembrance Day for fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terror.The prayer is for the benefit of the souls of our loved ones. We are told that when we recite the Yizkor prayer, the souls are given a reward in the holy world of souls called Gan Eden.

Torah teaches us that when a person dies the soul lives on and is rewarded in the world to come. True, as long as one lives we need a body to perform the commandments given by the Almighty. As the saying goes, honor your body as it is the temple for the soul. After we carry out our personal work, the soul leaves the body and travels on. The soul departs the body just as a spaceship leaves the rocket that boost the pay-load. At the time of death, the soul enters  into a very spiritual world of holy essence.

This is the purpose for the soul's descent to our world of choices.

On the last day of Pesach morning I was joined with my dear wife and no one else, Dalia and went to our Chabad Shul to recite the Yizkor prayers. It was a very sad time. The playground and the Shul were empty.  Not a living soul in sight!

This year, on Israel's Remembrance Day for soldiers and terror victims, bereaved parents will be at home, unable to garner comfort from visiting and praying at the graves of their loved ones, from the respect shown by the throngs who gather at the military cemeteries to remember our heroes with them.

That day, the last day of Pesach, there was an eerie sound in our beautiful Shul. How strange I felt...were is everybody? I opened the Holy Ark and shuddered, seeing three beautiful Torah scrolls, lonely, all by themselves. They had the look of of suffering orphans. The holy Torah seemed to be conveying a message to me - hold me -hug me. It’s hard for me to explain my feelings at that time.

Rabbi Pinson had all the memorial plaques lit up. They looked forlorn, but not forgotten!

I took a deep breath and Called out the pages of the Yizkor book, recited the “El Molle Rachamim” - G-d full of compassion. I said the prayes for the martyrs, for those who perished in the Holocaust, for the soldiers of the Israeli defense forces who were killed in protecting our Holy Land and for all the victims of brutal Antisemitism.

I said the prayers for all 461 names on our Shul plaques and pledged and gave Tzdakah for the memories of all of them. I did my crying and left with a hopeful prayer asking that this be the last Yizkor in Our Lomita Shtetl, and that we all meet in the Holy Land with the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) and Mashiach.

I think I heard a strong Amen coming from the ark...

I end with the following request.

Have a positive attitude as the rebbes of Lubavitch would say “Tract Gut Vet Zion Gut” think good and all will be well. Mashiach is on his way any moment now. Perhaps, it will make sense of the worldly chaos.

And may Hashem wipe the tears from every face.