Yizkor is recited four times a year; Pesach, Shavuot, Yom Kippur, and Shemini Atzeret. It is not unusual for one to shed a tear or be overcome with emotion when this prayer is recited. The memory of the beloved one who is no longer physically in our midst justifiably evokes in one a feeling of sorrow and sadness.

In the Amidah (Shemoneh Esreih) and in the Kiddush, whenever we mention the Yom Tov of Shemini Atzeret, we describe it as “zeman simchateinu” — “our season of rejoicing.” If so, the compatibility of Yizkor prayer with Shemini Atzeret is puzzling?

According to sociologists and psychologists, in contemporary times we are suffering from what is termed a “generation gap.” The children do not respect the views of the parents and write them off as antiquated in their thinking and unable to understand and comprehend modern society. Often, parents come to Rabbis or professionals seeking their assistance to bridge the gap and help create a mutual language between them and their children. One of the saddest circumstances of society is that regardless how much a parent does for his child, the child still does not demonstrate the proper respect, appreciation, and gratitude to the parent.

The prayer of Yizkor has been termed by many as a moment of communication. In absolute solitude, the child reminds himself of his beloved parent, recalling how he misses him or her and contemplating the vacuum created with his or her departure. The greatest simchah and joy to a parent is when his child thinks of him and wants to be spiritually reunited. Consequently the highlight of simchah — happiness and joy — is expressed in the moment of Yizkor, when child and parent communicate open heartedly with each other. Thus, it is a most appropriate prayer for Shemini Atzeret — the season of rejoicing.

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In the Yizkor prayer we mention the fact that we will be making a pledge to charity. There is a story told (Yalkut Shim’oni, Ruth 607) regarding a chassid who lost his fortune and was compelled to labor as a hired hand. One day Eliyahu came to him in the guise of an Arab and told him he would be blessed with six prosperous years. He also had the option to enjoy them at once or at the end of his days. The chassid consulted with his wife, who was a wise and pious woman, and she chose to accept this heavenly gift at once. Eliyahu’s kept his promise and they found a treasure which enriched them. The woman decided to share her wealth by giving money to tzedakah each day, and asked her son to keep a record.

After six years Eliyahu returned and told the chassid that the riches must be returned as agreed. The chassid told him, “I originally took it only with my wife’s consent, and I will give it up only with her consent.” When he approached his wife and told her that the old man came to take back his treasure, she took out the record of their tzedakot and told her husband to tell him, “If you can find someone more trustworthy than us, then by all means give them this wealth for safekeeping.” Hashem agreed that they had been faithful stewards, and He allowed them to keep their wealth.

Fortunately, many of American Jewry have been blessed with G‑d’s bounty. Let us demonstrate that we are worthy of keeping it by giving generously to tzedakah.