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When is a Yartzeit observed, the day of death or the day of burial? I ask this question in response to the news of the terrible death of the three boys in Eretz Yisrael who died weeks before their burial.

As always, please provide a source

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In general there are different customs regarding the first Yartzeit only. However, this case is more complicated because the date of the death is not certain. הי"ד. –  Yishai Jul 3 at 16:42
    
Suppose, like certain reports are suggesting, the date is known to be the day of the kidnapping, when would it be observed? –  Bochur613 Jul 3 at 16:45
    
AFAIK, the first Yartzeit different communities follow one of those two choices. Subsequent Yartzeits are on the day of death. However, when the day of death is uncertain, perhaps it is different (e.g. you might say the Chazaka of them being alive holds until they were found, or you might go with a best estimate - I don't know). –  Yishai Jul 3 at 16:49
    
Actually, it seems they were murdered the very night of the abduction. Listen to the phone call -you can hear gunshots. Hy"d –  Scimonster Jul 3 at 18:25

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Nitei Gavriel Aveilus2 77:4 in the name of Orach Chaim 568:7 and Rama Yoreh Deah 402:12 and Maharash 457 that the day of the Yarzheit is always the day of death. However Shaalos U'Tshuvos Massas Binyamin 84 says that this is only after the first year, since if it is celebrated on the day of death on the first year, at times they will not have completed the Aveilus of 12 months. Turei Zahav 402:9 says that it is always done on the date of death.

However the Shach mentions the Massas Binyamin 84 and says the proper day is the date of death however if the interment was a few days later then the first year one should fast on the date of interment.

The Nitei Gavriel in the notes indicates that most people observe the date of interment for the first year and the date of the Yarzheit in subsequent years.

Nitei Gavriel Aveilus2 77:17 in the name of Chasam Sofer 162:4 says that if one is uncertain as to the date, they should observe the earlier possibility.

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Excellent! Could you explain the last statement? –  Bochur613 Jul 3 at 17:33
    
I am not sure what is unclear with my last statement that requires explanation. –  Gershon Gold Jul 3 at 17:35
    
Suppose it is never exactly deduced when the boys were killed. What would be the "earlier possibility"? –  Bochur613 Jul 3 at 17:36
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@Bochur613 Probably in this case the first day. Isn't that the earliest of the days? –  Double AA Jul 3 at 18:14

From a responsum of Rabbi Dickstein approved by the Rabbinical Assembly:

When the exact date of death is unknown, one custom is to observe the date of the funeral as the yahrzeit. Another option, when it is impossible to determine the date of death, is for the relative to choose a day on which to observe the yahrzeit. This seems to be be most reasonable solution.

The article is geared to stillborn deaths, but I assume that this rule applies to all types of deaths.

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To the best of my knowledge, Orthodox Jews do not observe any Yarzheit for a stillborn death. –  Gershon Gold Jul 3 at 17:39
    
@GershonGold The article was not stating it was an obligation. It was just discussing how interested parties would deal with the situation by using sources associated with regular Yarzheit timing. –  Double AA Jul 3 at 18:13
    
@DoubleAA: I agree the article did not state it is an obligation, however one could infer from the way the answer is presented here that it is something that is done, to which I commented. –  Gershon Gold Jul 3 at 18:15

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