The Yizkor Prayer for One’s Mother

The translation and transliteration below are adapted, with permission, from the Seif Edition of the Transliterated Siddur, for Shabbat and Festivals, a Mesorah Publication for the OU Centennial, with Introductory Essays and Comments by Rabbi Benjamin Yudin.

Introduction

In the Yizkor Prayer below, whenever the name of the deceased is mentioned, it is given in the following form: The deceased’s Hebrew name followed by “ben”, “son of”, or “bat”, “daughter of;” then, in the Ashkenazic Tradition, the deceased’s father’s Hebrew name; in the Sefardic Tradition, the deceased’s mother’s Hebrew name. If any of the Hebrew names are not known, consult your local Orthodox Rabbi as to how to proceed.

Example: (slightly complicated; if it helps, draw a diagram)

Moshe and Rivkah were the parents of Sarah (the wife of Yehoshua, from the previous example) who was the mother of Levy and Dinah. Sarah, unfortunately, passes away.

Whether Moshe and Rivkah are still alive is, for the purpose of this example, irrelevant.

Now Dinah, as well as her brother, Levy, are saying “Yizkor” for their mother, Sarah.

In the Ashkenazic Tradition, they would refer to her as “Sarah bat Moshe;” in the Sefardic Tradition, they would refer to her as “Sarah bat Rivkah.”

Meaning of “Bond of Life”

The term “bond of life” which appears below in the request that the deceased’s soul be “bound in the bond of life,” most probably refers to the attainment of greater and greater closeness to Hashem. Hashem is called, “Chai HaOlamim,” the “Life of the Worlds,” meaning the source of life in “Olam HaZeh,” “this world,” the world of the here-and-now, and in “Olam HaBa,” the “world to come,” the indescribable spiritual “world” which we confidently expect to experience, as a cardinal principle of the Jewish faith, after death.

“Without Taking a Vow”

You will note that in the text below, in connection with the pledge to charity made by the individual reciting Yizkor, the phrase “without taking a vow,” appears. The reason for this is the great hesitancy in the Jewish Religion about making vows, which require a person to follow through, or be in big trouble. One source for this is in Megillat Kohelet, “When you make a vow to G-d, do not delay paying it, for He has no liking for fools; what you vow, pay. It is better not to vow at all, than to vow, and not pay.” (Kohelet 5:3-4)

For One’s Mother: Hebrew Text

Hebrew Text for Yizkor Service in Memory of One’s Mother

For One’s Mother: Transliteration

Yizkor E-lohim
Nishmat imi morati (Name of the Deceased)
Shehol’chah l’olamah,
Ba-avur sheb’li neder
Etayn tz’dakah ba-adah.

Bis-char ze
T’hay nafshah tz’rurah
Bitz-ror hacha-yim
Im nish-mot
Avraham, Yitzchak v’Yaakov,
Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel v’Lay-ah,
V’im sh’ar tzadikim v’tzidkaniyot
Sheb’Gan Eden.

V’nomar: Amayn.

For One’s Mother: Translation

May the L-rd remember
the soul of my mother, my teacher, (reference to deceased mother)
who has gone on to her world,
because, without making a vow, I shall give to charity on her behalf.

As reward for this,
may her soul be bound in the Bond of Life,
together with the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah;
and together with the other righteous men and women in the Garden of Eden.

Now let us respond: Amen.