Question

I own furniture stores, and every year my business partners and I travel to Italy to partake in a trade show. To my dismay, this year the show falls out on the day of my father’s yahrzeit. This show is very important for the success of our business, and my partners are pressuring me to attend despite the fact that I have yahrzeit.

Am I allowed to travel to the show if I know that I possibly won’t find a minyan there? And if I go, but do not find a minyan, is there a way to make up for the obligations that I missed?

I love my dad very much and I want to pay him the proper respect.

Answer

You are absolutely right. The observance of a parent’s yahrzeit is very significant. Reciting Kaddish and commemorating the day will greatly assist your father's soul in it’s journey through the spiritual realms.1

Precisely because the observance of a parent’s yahrzeit is so significant, Jewish law urges the children of the deceased to ensure that they will be available to observe all the customs, including leading the prayers with a minyan and reciting Kaddish.2

Traveling on the Day of the Yahrzeit

One should not schedule a trip on the day of or the day before the yahrzeit unless it is urgently needed for financial reasons. Since missing the show will potentially cause you a financial loss, this exception applies and you may, therefore, travel to the show. However, you should make every effort to locate a minyan there to lead the prayers and recite Kaddish.3 If you only manage to locate a minyan for the evening prayers following the yahrzeit, you should lead the prayers and recite Kaddish then.4 If, however, there are other members of the congregation who are leading the prayers and reciting Kaddish for a yahrzeit or during the first eleven months of mourning, they take precedence because they are fulfilling their obligations in the proper time, whereas you are making up for obligations which you have missed.5

What to Do if You Missed the Yahrzeit?

Although the ideal time to observe the yahrzeit is on the actual date of your father's passing, you should not feel that you have missed the opportunity to honor his memory because of your business trip. You can make up for it by commemorating the yahrzeit on any other day of the year. Any mitzvah, study of Torah, or recital of Kaddish that is done in the memory of a parent at any time of the year brings their soul immeasurable comfort and pleasure.6

It is customary that those who forget (or are unable) to commemorate a parent's yahrzeit on the correct day, should, from that year onward, commemorate the yahrzeit on both the day of the parent’s passing as well as the day preceding it, to ensure that they will be extra careful to observe the yahrzeit in its proper time.7

Wishing you a long life.