June 1, 2016 – 24 Iyar 5776

Tuesday night I returned to saying Kaddish for twenty four hours on the occasion of my mother’s a”h second yahrzeit. My observance of her yahrzeit actually began on Shabbos when I served as chazzan for Shachris, received an aliya and on Saturday night davened Maariv at the amud (led the service). The custom of serving as the chazzan for Maariv on Saturday night was very important to my father z”l and he was very careful to daven by the amud on the Saturday night before the yahrzeit of his parents. So faithful to this custom was he that he would arrange a separate private minyan on those occasions when he was prevented from serving as the chazzan due to a mourner with halachic priority.

Various explanations are offered for the custom of leading the Saturday night Maariv services; one of which I find to be particularly relevant to my mother a”h.

The Pnei Baruch, a compilation of the laws of mourning, explains the custom as follows. On the Sabbath a person is united with his neshomo yeseira (literally his “additional soul”) which spends Shabbos with the person and leaves at the conclusion of the Sabbath on condition that it will return for the following Sabbath. On the last Saturday night of a person’s life the neshomo yeseira leaves but never comes back. It is as if it too has “died” on that last Saturday night of the person’s life. Therefore, explains the Pnei Baruch, we observe it’s “yahrzeit” by leading the Maariv service on the Saturday night before the anniversary of the departed’s death to commemorate the “death” of the departed’s neshomo yeseira.

As I pondered this explanation an obvious question arose in my mind. Clearly, when a person passes away mid-week his neshomo yeseira does not have the opportunity to return and the deceased leaves this world separated eternally from his neshomo yeseira. But what happens when a person, like my mother, merits to be taken from this world on the Sabbath itself? What happens to such a departed’s neshomo yeseira?

I concluded that a person who passes away on Shabbos not only merits leaving this world on Shabbos but also is blessed by the Almighty to leave this world eternally joined with his or her neshomo yeseira.

My mother was taken from this world two years ago on Friday night with her final Shabbos candles flickering before her. She merited leaving this world bound together with her neshomo yeseira and she is surely resident in Gan Eden eternally joined with her neshomo yeseira.

May her memory be for a blessing for all who knew her.

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