Rav Avigdor Miller on Yahrtzeit Candles

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Q:
What’s the benefit of lighting a candle for a person’s yartzeit?

A:
When someone is nifter and candles are lit for that person, it is a kavod for the meis. And that’s because a candle is a beautiful symbol. A flame is a beautiful thing, and even today it’s hard to explain exactly how it works. The physical materials – the wick, the wax, the oil – turn into light. That symbolizes the neshama that was enclosed in a guf and is now only neshama. It’s now ohr. Like the ohr of the candle, the guf has been transformed. And the neshama is now ohr, shining in Olam Habah. And when we light the candle and show that we recognize this truth, it gives nachas to the neshama.

When someone passes away, that person doesn’t stop existing. The neshama is real and it is existing in Olam Habah. And the neshama can still feel and recognize these things. So when the nifter is honored by the family when they light a yartzeit candle, it is a nachas ru’ach for the neshama. The symbol of the light that comes from the wax and the wick is an important thing. And ohr is a tremendous thing. Not only the sunlight. But even artificial ohr is such a gift! Every moitzei Shabbos we make a special bracha on artificial ohr. Borei me’orei ha’aish. A bracha on fire, on electric light, on other lights. It’s a great blessing to have artificial light. And therefore, the light of the candle is a beautiful symbol. It’s a symbol for the neshama that has turned from gashmi’is into ruchni’is. And the neshama in the next world is happy that people are lighting the candle and recognizing the truth of the next world. It’s a nachas ru’ach for the neshama.

TAPE #E-253