ARR 395-396


American Reform Responsa

128. Observance of Yahrzeit by a Widow Who Has Remarried

(Vol. LXV, 1955, p. 90)QUESTION: As a consequence of the Korean War, one of our young women was left a widow. She has remarried since, and together with her husband attends services regularly. She desires to know whether she ought to observe the Yahrzeit of her first husband. It is the custom in our congregation to honor the memory of a loved one by rising for the kaddish, no matter what one’s relationship to the deceased deceased may have been -sister, cousin, or wife. ANSWER: The Rabbis regarded it as improper to offer condolences to a widower in his home when–because of certain exigencies–he had to remarry before the period of mourning was over; although one may properly whisper words of comfort to him on a chance encounter in the street (Yoreh De-a 385). This provision seems intended to legitimatize the natural desire to keep out of the new home life the unhappy memories of a previous union. Since the observance of the Yahrzeit–dictated in this instance by custom–is calculated to revive just such memories, we may conclude that its omission under the stated circumstances would be in full conformity with the intent of the Rabbinic regulation.Israel Bettan

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