The day of the passing of the Niftar is customarily commemorated annually by the relatives, family and friends of the deceased. It is called a Yartzite in Yiddish, which literally means “the set time of the year.” In Halachic tradition, we find various customs that are followed by the children of the deceased. The purpose of these customs is to alleviate the judgment of the soul of the deceased on this day, as the soul receives an annual judgment on the day of its passing. These customs are kept even if the deceased was a Tzadik, as it gives benefit also to the living.
- It is customary and proper to study a Tractate of Talmud which is completed on the day of the Yartzite.
- One should determine the proper date of the Yartzite through consultation with a Rav in case there are any Halachic questions relevant to its date.
- Shabbos before the Yartzite: One is to endeavor to receive an Aliyah to the Torah, specifically the Aliyah of Maftir. It is customary to hold a Kiddush after Davening.
The day of the Yartzite
- Mourning on the day of the Yartzite: Children of the deceased are to practice certain laws of mourning, including 1) To abstain from participating in a wedding or Sheva Brachos. 2) To abstain from listening to music.
- Candle: One is to light a 24-hour Yartzite candle immediately after sunset on the eve of the Yartzite.
- Fast: It is no longer customary to fast on the day of the Yartzite.
- Going to Mikveh: It is proper for a son to immerse in a Mikveh before prayer on his fathers or mothers Yartzite.
- Kaddish and leading the prayers: The sons of the deceased say Kaddish, and lead the prayers, starting from Maariv of the eve of the Yartzite and for Shacharis and Mincha on the Yartzite. Those leading the prayers light five candles at the time of the prayer. Mishnayos and Kaddish Derabanon is recited after Davening of each prayer [Maariv, Shacharis, and Mincha]
- Aliyah: On the day of a Yartzite one is to be given an Aliyah if it takes place on a day of Kerias Hatorah.
- Lechaim: It is customary to serve refreshments, and say Lechaim, after Davening.
- Visiting the grave of the deceased: Those in the vicinity visit the grave of the deceased. It is customary not to eat but to drink beforehand. It is customary to light a candle by Kever.
- Siyum: It is proper to make a Siyum Misechta on the day of the Yartzite and hold a celebratory meal afterwards.
- Tehillim 119: Some are accustomed to read chapter 119 in Tehillim in accordance to the first name of the deceased.
- Torah learning: One is to learn extra Torah in memory of the Niftar.
- Mishnayos: One learns Mishnayos in memory of the deceased in correspondence to his name.
- Charity: One is to give Tzedaka in memory of the Niftar.
Minhagei Yartzite for Tzadikim Applicable for Yud Shvat and Gimmel Tammuz
From a letter of the Rebbe printed in Igros Kodesh 4:143
On the Shabbos prior to the Yarzeit, each Chassid should attempt to receive an Aliyah to the Torah.
Not enough Aliyos: If there are not enough Aliyos available, the Torah should be read [a number of times] in different rooms. No additions are to be made to the number of Aliyos at each reading.
Maftir: Maftir should be given to the most respected congregant.
- Leading the prayers:
A Chazan is to be chosen to lead the Davening on the day of the Yartzite. It is proper to choose one Chazan for Maariv, a second for Shacharis, and a third for Mincha. In this way, a greater number of Anash will have the privilege.
- Yartzite candle:
A Yartzite candle should be lit that will burn throughout the twenty-four hours. If possible, the candle should be of beeswax. [The candle should be lit immediately after sunset. Upon lighting the candle many are accustomed to say that it is being lit “Leiluiy Nishmas Peloni [i.e. name of deceased] Ben Peloni [i.e. name of father of deceased].” After the Yartzite concludes, many are accustomed not to extinguish the candle, but rather let it go out on its own.]
- Mishnayis and Kaddish after davening:
After each Davening of Maariv, Shacharis [after Tehillim] and Mincha, the Chazan should study (or at least conclude) ch. 24 of Mishnayos Keilim and ch. 7 of Mishnayos Mikvaos. He should then recite the Mishnah beginning “Rabbi Chananyah ben Akashya…,” followed silently by a few lines of Tanya and Kaddish deRabbanan.
- Mamar of Basi Legani on Yud Shevat [or Ata Titzaveh on Gimel Tamuz]:
After Maariv, part of the Mamar of Basi LeGani 5710 should be recited from memory. If there is no one to do this from memory, it should be studied from the text. This should also be done after Shacharis, and the Mamar should be concluded after Mincha.
- Chapter of Tanya before Shachris and after Mincha:
Before Shacharis, a chapter of Tanya should be studied. This should also be done after Minchah.
In the morning, before Shacharis, charity should be given to those institutions that are related to the Rebbe. Donations should be made on behalf of oneself and on behalf of each member of one’s family. The same should be done before Minchah.
After Shacharis and the recitation of the Mamar, each individual should read a Pidyon Nefesh. A Gartel is worn during the reading. Those who had the privilege of entering for Yechidus, or of seeing the Rebbe’s face, should picture themselves as standing before him while reading the Pidyon Nefesh. The Pidyon Nefesh should then be placed between the pages of a Maamar of his teachings, and sent, if possible, on the same day, to be read at his graveside.
Visiting the Tziyon of the Tzadik:
It is customary to visit the resting place of the Tzadik on the day of the Yartizte. Thus, those in the area are to visit the resting place of the Rebbe Rayatz on the 10th of Shevat and that of the Rebbe’s on the 3rd of Tamuz.
Checklist upon visiting a gravesite:
- Mishnayos in Rebbes name:
In the course of the day one should study chapters of Mishnayos that begin with the letters of his name.
One studies one chapter of Mishnayos per letter, choosing those chapters that begin with the letters of the name. For example, if the name if אברהם then one begins with a chapter that begins with an א and then continues with a chapter that begins with a ב and so on and so forth. In the event that there are two of the same letters in the name one is nevertheless to study a full chapter for each letter. However, it is not necessary to study different chapters for each repeated letter, and one may repeat the study of the same chapter. The main focus of the learning of Mishnayos should be in understanding their content and not to achieve a certain quantity of learning. This applies even if one will not be able to complete the chapters which correspond to the letters of the Niftar on the day of the Yartzite.]
When: The chapters of Mishnayos that corresponds to the name of the Niftar can be studied throughout the 24 hours of the Yartzite.
The name of the parent: When learning Mishnayos in accordance to the letters of the name of the deceased, one studies only in correspondence the name of the deceased and not the name of his parent.
Prayer after Mishnayos: It is not the custom amongst Chabad Chassidim to recite the accustomed prayer printed in Siddurim after the recital of Mishnayos.
In the course of the day one should participate in a Chassidic gathering.
- Relate to friends and family:
In the course of the day, one should set aside a time during which to tell one’s family about the saintly Rebbe, and about the spiritual tasks at which he toiled throughout all the days of his life.
- Teach others about the day:
In the course of the day, people (to whom this task is appropriate) should visit Shul’s and Batei Midrash in their cities and cite a statement from the teachings of the saintly Rebbe. They should explain how he loved every Jew. [Furthermore,] they should make known and explain the practice that he instituted of reciting Tehillim every day, studying the daily portion of Chumash with the commentary of Rashi, and, where appropriate, studying the Tanya as he divided it into daily readings throughout the year. If possible, this should all be done in the course of a farbrengen. In the course of the day, people (who are fit for the task) should visit centers of observant youth, and, those who are not yet observant, in order to explain to them the warm love that the saintly Rebbe constantly had for them. It should be explained to these people what he expected of them; they should be told of the hope and the trust that he placed in them, that they would ultimately fulfill their task of strengthening the observance of Judaism and disseminating the study of Torah with all the energy, warmth and vitality that characterize youth.
 The commemoration of the day of a Yartzite is recorded in various sources, including the Zohar, Rishonim, and the Shulchan Aruch, who discuss various accustoms associated with it, as will be explained in this chapter.
 See Admur 429:9
 See Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos; Lechem Hapanim 376; Maharam Mintz 69 ; Leket Yoser p. 98; Mishmeres Shalom Yud 15 in name of Besht; Torah Lishmah 493; Nitei Gavriel 70:1; 72 footnote 1
 Sdei Chemed 25; Nitei Gavriel 70:2
 See Chapter 28 for the full details of this subject!
 See regarding Yartzite of a parent: Birkeiy Yosef 284:1; Shaareiy Efraim 9:42; Kitzur SHU”A 78:11; Kaf Hachaim 284:6; Ketzos Hashulchan 88:1; Sefer Haminhagim p. 181 [English]; Halacha 3C!
 See Admur 282:1-3; Tzemach Tzedek 35; Ketzos Hashulchan 84:1; Sefer Haminhagim p. 61 [English]
 See Rama 376:4 regarding Yartzite of a parent; Halacha 7B!
 See Sefer Haminhagim p. 181 [English]; Sefer Hamamarim 5708 p. 146; Igros Kodesh 16:12; Toras Menachem 2 p. 125; Sefer Haminhagim p. 19 [English]; Shulchan Menachem 5:163; Halacha 7C!
 Custom of Rabbeim and some Chassidim, as explained below; See Shaareiy Teshuvah 154:20 and M”B 154:56 that it was accustomed to light a 24 hour candle in Shul on the day of the Yartzite
Custom of Rabbeim to light five 24 hour candles: The custom of the Rebbeim was to light five 24 hour candles in Shul by the Amud for the day of the Yartzite. [So was custom of Rebbe Rayatz and Rebbe Rashab, as brought in Reshimos 183:11 and so was the custom of the Rebbe, as related to me by Rabbi Leibal Groner;] This is despite the fact that Sefer Haminhagim ibid clearly writes to have it lit at the time of Davening. Rabbi Groner concluded to me that “There are many chassidim that do the same thing. Each one should do according to their feeling.”
 See regarding Yartzite of a parent: Admur 261:2; M”A 261:6; Shut Rashal 46; Nachalas Shiva 38; Kesav Sofer 75; Kitzur SHU”A 221:1; Biur Halacha 514:5 “Neir”; Mishmeres Shalom Yud 16; Kaf Hachaim 514:79; Gesher Hachaim 32:4; Nitei Gavriel 71:6; chapter 75; Sefer Haminhagim p. 180; Halacha 5!
 See Sefer Haminahgim p. 166; Nitei Gavriel 75:8
 Sefer Haminhgaim p. 180 [English]
 Torah Leshma 520
 Moed Lekol Chaiy 3; Nitei Gavriel 75:1; See Admur 610:8; Rama 610:4 regarding Yom Kippur candle
 See Sefer Haminhagim p. 36; Glosses of Rebbe to Sefer Hamamarim 1949 p. 74 and 1950 p. 6; Igros Kodesh 11:33 [published in Shulchan Menachem 5:301]
 See Minchas Yitzchak 8:53; Nitei Gavrile 90:7
 Interestingly, this custom was not directly recorded in the above-mentioned letter of the Rebbe
 The following additional Nussach is added in Maaneh Lashon:
אתה גיבור לעולם אדני, מחיה מתים אתה, רב להושיע מכלכל חיים בחסד מחיה מתים ברחמים רבים, סומך נופלים, ורופא חולים, ומתיר אסורים, ומקים אמונתו לישני עפר. מי כמוך בעל גבורות ומי דומה לך, מלך ממית ומחייה ומצמיח ישועה: ונאמן אתה להחיות מתים.
 Betzel Hachochmah 4:29; Nitei Gavriel 76:6
 See Yaavetz in Siddur Beis Yaakov Emek Habacha page 402; See Igros Kodesh Igros Kodesh 17:271 that the effects of learning Mishnayos according to the name is very different than the learning of Mishnayos in accordance to the Seder; See Halacha 10!
 Igros Kodesh 17:271, printed in Shulchan Menachem 5:313
 Nitei Gavriel 71:14
 Sefer Haminhagim p. 77; Igros Kodesh 3:128 [brought in Shulchan Menachem 5:322]
 Mishmeres Shalom Lamed 24; Igros Kodesh 17:271, printed in Shulchan Menachem 5:313; Nitei Gavriel 64:4
Other customs: Some are accustomed to also recite the chapters that correspond to the parents name. [Nitei Gavriel ibid]
 Igros Kodesh 19:214, printed in Shulchan Menachem 5:314