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"Av harachamim" is a prayer asking God to recall those who died al kidush hashem. It was written in response to the First Crusade (and is thus said only in the Ashk'nazi rite). Because of its somber topic (or origin), it is omitted on various joyous occasions, though which occasions qualify varies widely. It is also, according to some views (cited in Mishna B'rura 685) and in many synagogues, omitted when the "four parashiyos" are read. Why omit it when the "four parashiyos" are read? That's not a particularly joyous occasion.

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This is a fantastically explicated question! –  Charles Koppelman Mar 4 '13 at 18:59
    
The differences in minhogim as to when to say and when not to say "Av harachamim" are enough to require rachamim gedolim as the congregants discuss whether or not to say it!! –  Avrohom Yitzchok Mar 4 '13 at 22:03
    
kind of related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/29300/… –  Menachem Jul 5 '13 at 2:42

2 Answers 2

Mishna Berura 685:18 actually brings a dispute as to whether we say Av HaRachamim during the weeks of the 4 Parshios. Minhag Chabad is to say on Parshas Zachor and on Parshas Para מפורש בלוח 'היום-יום' לש"פ זכור ופרה שאומרים 'אב הרחמים', however do not say it on Parshas Shekalim or HaChodesh since we are either Bentching Rosh Chodesh or it is Rosh Chodesh.

I have yet to see a reason mentioned anywhere for those that do not say it - other than "we do not say it". My own thought is perhaps there is increased Simcha in taking out a second Sefer Torah.

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I wonder what the -1 was for -- seems reasonable answer to me. In general it is a strange practice to downvote without explanation... –  gt6989b Mar 6 '13 at 22:37
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@gt6989b Well, the answer spends half the time discussing opinions the OP deliberately excluded, and the other half speculating. –  Double AA Mar 6 '13 at 22:59
    
@gt6989b meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/146 –  msh210 Mar 7 '13 at 6:46

Those that omit Av Harachamim do so because the Four Parshios are to some extent celebratory, in that they usher in and remind us about the oncoming festival of Pesach. The poskim failed to make this explicit because they mistakenly presume that the reader would realize this on his or her own. Of course, my assertion is, by its very nature, difficult to prove.

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