Dear Rabbi Simon
Would you please be able to answer this question? I lit a memorial candle for late mother but it did not burn for 24 hours. The light was out in the morning. Do I need to light another one? Also I remember my late aunt telling me many years ago that her Rabbi announced that if a yahrzeit candle went out before 24 hours you would hear of a death.
TY for your poignant question. Lighting a yahrzeit candle is a time-honoured tradition deeply embedded in Jewish practice and consciousness. The flame is a symbol of the soul, which lives on in the Next World.
Nevertheless, this practice does not reach the level of a mitzvah or religious obligation. Even if it did, by analogy to Chanukah lights, I would say that if the candle had enough fuel (wax) to burn for 24 hours, but unexpectedly went out earlier, you have still fulfilled your “obligation”. Even if you now realise that the candle was insufficient to burn for 24 hours, I would not say that there is a requirement to light another candle. Nonetheless I would suggest that you do so, as candles are not expensive, nor is lighting one onerous or time-consuming. Therefore, to honour your mother’s memory, I suggest that you light another memorial candle at an early opportunity.
Extinguished candle as harbinger of death: I would not attach too much significance to this. See Sh”A OH 610:4 and Mishna Berura #14.
I wish you good health and “long life”
Rabbi Rashi Simon