Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Preparing for the Yahrtzeit

All this week I've been thinking about Friday, the anniversary (on the Hebrew calendar) of my mother's death. I can't believe it's been a year. I've been through so much in my life since that time. I can't say it seems like just yesterday nor I can say it seems so long ago. But it doesn't feel like regular time either.

I've thought a lot about how to commemorate the date. The date is important. It's a way of marking time, like a birthday. Perhaps on that day I will feel closer than usual to my mother's soul. I really can't say how I'll feel. I know only that the day will be significant and that I need to commemorate it in a meaningful way.

I began thinking about the Yahrtzeit months ago, and them more intensely after the last kaddish. The commemoration began last Shabbat when I had the Gabbai recite an "El Maleh Rachamim" (God who is Full of Mercy) which is a memorial prayer for the dead. It is traditional to recite this prayer on the Sabbath afternoon after the Torah reading for all those observing a Yahrtzeit during the coming week. This is one of those moments that is very meaningful for the person on whose behalf the prayer is recited and not too meaningful to everyone else. A lot of congregants don't even know what is going on during this prayer and often people talk or are inattentive.

Following Mincha, I gave a talk at the synagogue in which I shared some of the ideas I've developed while writing this blog. The talk was entitled: "Kaddish and its many functions". I dedicated the talk to my mother and her memory.

This week I am trying to get to shul on a regular basis. I've told the Gabbai at the morning minyan about the Yahrtzeit, since I will be leading the prayers that day. I will be davening the evening prayer on Thursday, the morning and afternoon prayers on Friday. I need to take off work early on Friday to allow myself to get to shul in time to daven Mincha now that the clocks have changed.

On Shabbat, I will be sponsoring the kiddush in memory of my mother at the early morning minyan  where I've mostly davened this year. I plan to say a few words about my mother before kiddush. I haven't figured out exactly what I want to say, but it will be something about her life and the lessons I learned from her. Later that morning, I will be having friends over at my home for a kiddush where I will plan to give a d'var torah in her memory.

My subconscious must also be preparing for the Yahrtzeit because of a dream I had a few nights ago. I kept hearing my mother's voice. (My mother's voice was very distinctive; when I think about her, I often hear her words. She also talked a lot.) I couldn't see her, I just heard her. Then I was in a room like a basement. It was dark. The ceiling was low. My mother was in a more recessed area. She was dead. There were two men who'd come to take her body out. I was crying. When I awoke, I thought about those dream tears. They were tears I haven't yet shed. Perhaps I'm still not ready to shed them in real life. I still need to do my crying in dreams.

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