The Kaddish is a prayer whose utterance reflects the saga of the Jewish nation as a whole as well as the depths of emotion of the lonely Jew of faith. How powerful is the image of the Jews of the Kovno Ghetto reciting in one voice the Kaddish for their beloved, the 10,000 innocent martyrs killed by the Nazis only days before.[1] No less moving is the image of the young orphan arising in the midst of a crowded synagogue, striving to maintain a link with his parents and the past through the Kaddish. Yet the utterance of this prayer also forces the orphan to repeatedly confront the stark reality of his loss. Prayer is a central component of the Jewish religious experience, conveying through its words and symbolism a unique relationship between man and God in general and Jew and God in particular. In the cauldron of Jewish history, certain prayers have taken on an overpowering significance that transcends their individual words. The Shema’s strength lies in the simplicity of its acceptance of One God. In contrast, the power of the Kaddish lies in its complex message that may conflict with the emotions of the day. It is a message of acceptance of God’s will when life’s vagaries seem difficult to accept. It is a statement of the unity of God’s universe when to the mourner the world is a chaotic black hole. It is a prayer of hope focused on the future for a mourner having difficulty coming to grips with the present and immediate past. It is a prayer for the lonely mourner and also a prayer for the Jewish nation as we oscillate between the peaks and valleys of our historical experiences. It is a prayer whose recital fulfills the commandment of “I shall be sanctified amongst the children of Israel”[2] and simultaneously reminds us that others have fulfilled this commandment by giving their lives. And it is also a prayer to console God over the loss of the irreplaceable Jew who is an entire legion in God’s small army.[3] The Kaddish is believed to have been instituted in response to the destruction of the First Temple.[4] As we explore its words and phrases, it will be obvious how the Kaddish assumed its role as a prayer of national tragedy and destiny. Only later was a second dimension added, that of a mourner’s prayer of personal anguish. Unfortunately, as in the Kovno Ghetto, the personal and national tragedies have often been intertwined. STRUCTURE AND PHRASEOLOGY The structure of the Kaddish is that of an archetypal prayer of special holiness. Like Borechu and Kedusha, it begins with an individual’s request for a glorification of the name of God.[5] The congregation then responds by praising God. The individual continues by adding his own words of praise. The introductory words of Kaddish, Yisgadal v’yiskadash shmai rabah,[6] [Let His great name be magnified and sanctified], are simply a hope and request to glorify God’s great name. The first two words were drawn from the Messianic vision of Ezekiel[7] referring to a time when God’s glory will be apparent to all. Implicit in the request is recognition that God’s glory is diminished because of the evil actions of each individual and that positive actions can restore God’s glory. In short, the Kaddish begins as both a prayer of hope for the future and a statement of responsibility to change the present. Faced with God’s hiding His face as the Temple burned to the ground, the Jew assumed a responsibility to bring God back to earth and to sustain a hopeful vision of this return even when blinded by Temple ruins and human ashes. Face to face with evil, the Jew responded by reaffirming his faith in a just God.[8] The next phrase, b’olmo dee’vro chirusai v’yamlich malchusai [in the world created according to His will], contains an implicit acceptance of the will of God by referring to a world created by God’s will and that God continues to rule. How difficult it must have been at the time of the Temple’s destruction to accept that the powers that be were One power; that an all-powerful God had decreed the destruction of God’s own Temple as a moral lesson to us. And yet, it was the acceptance of this fact that allowed the Jewish nation to survive this catastrophe and prevented our national identity from dissolving in a philosophical quagmire of doubt. The concluding section of this opening request contains the phrase b’chaiyechon u’vyomechon, u’vchaiyai d’chol bais yisroel ba’agolah u’vizman koriv [in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of all of the House oflsrael, quickly and in the near future]. In contrast to the opening words of the Kaddish, in the impersonal third person, the focus here shifts to the very personal second person- “in your lifetime.”[9] This phrase affirms both the life of an individual as well as the life of the Jewish nation. It is an implicit prayer for long life:[10] the sanctification of God’s name does not demand death but should be accomplished by living a sanctified existence. Confronted with mass destruction and loss of life after the destruction of the Temple, we were expected to reaffirm the value of life. The final three words of this request, “quickly and in the near future,” state the urgency of our vision of God’s glorification. Implicitly, these words demand that the listeners respond immediately in order to speed this vision into reality. The congregation is then expected to respond with the phrase Amen, y’ hai shmai rabah m’vorach, l’olam u’ lolmai of maya [Amen, Let God’s great name[11] be blessed forever and ever]. An “Amen” equates the respondent with the individual making the blessing and consequently should not be said in a voice louder than the original blessing.[12] In contrast, y’ hai shmai rabah stands on its own foundation and should always be said in a loud voice,[13] no matter how softly the initiator said the preceding words. It is this congregational response to the request that is crucial; without it, all the other words and symbolism lose their force. Y’ hai shmai rabah is not just a reactive affirmation of the initiator’s words; it is an active attempt to bring God into every dimension of this world. According to the Talmud, it is a phrase that “when said with complete feeling, negative heavenly decrees are torn to shreds.”[14] In short, this phrase is the essence of the Kaddish and is often used in the Talmud to refer to the entire Kaddish. This phrase has a Hebrew equivalent which is the second verse of the Shema Yisroel. Tradition records that this verse, Boruch shem kevod malchuso l’olam va’ed, was Jacob’s immediate response when his sons declared the first Shema Yisroel as he lay on his deathbed . Interestingly, this verse is always read silently except on Yom Kippur.[15] After the congregation completes its response, the initiator continues with a series of words in praise of God and then concludes with the statement that God is beyond man’s ability to praise and console Him, !’aila min kol birchasa v’shirasa, tushbechasa, v’nechamasa, da’amiron b’olmo [(He is] above all blessings, hymns, praises, and consolation that we can say in this world]. Thus the Kaddish reflects the enigma of Jewish existence. It begins with a prayer to bring God’s glory down to earth and concludes with the recognition that the complete glory of God can never be captured in this world. DIFFERENT FORMS When the congregation responds with the second “Amen,” the basic Kaddish has been completed. If the Kaddish ends at this point, it has been labeled the Half-Kaddish, although, in fact, it is the completed form of the original Kaddish. This form is recited by the cantor at transition points in the prayers. In the morning prayer this Half-Kaddish appears before Borechu and after Tachanun. In the afternoon and evening prayers, it is recited immediately before the Shemoneh Esray, the silent prayer that is the heart of each service. The Kaddish fulfills this important transitional role by reminding us of the importance of glorifying and exalting God. It is appropriate that as we switch from one phase of a prayer service to another, we are reminded of why we are praying in the first place. This transitional Kaddish suggests that we contemplate what we have just said and prepare for what we are about to say.[16] There are four major additions to the basic Kaddish and are recited on different occasions or at different points in the daily prayers.

  1. Mourner’s (or Orphan’s Kaddish) concludes with two sentences, one in Aramaic, the other in Hebrew, both of which are a prayer that God, the source of all peace, grant us and all of Israel peace. These two sentences appear at the end of every form of Kaddish except the Half-Kaddish. The concluding Hebrew sentence is also recited at the end of Shemoneh Esray. In these days of intermittent war and death, this has become an oft-repeated prayer of hope.
  2. Rabbis’ Kaddish contains the added paragraph that begins with al yisroel v ‘al rabonon [for Israel and for its rabbis]. It is recited after learning part of the Oral Law to honor of our teachers of]ewish law and their families. Interestingly, the prayer begins with a praise of Jews in general because they support the Torah.[17] This form of Kaddish appears in the morning prayer service after the recital of a section of the Oral Law that deals with the order of service in the Temple.
  3. Complete Kaddish contains the added phrase that begins tiskabel tzelosehone [accept their prayers], which is a request that the congregation’s previous prayers be accepted by God. It generally appears at the conclusion of services, just before Aleinu in the morning, afternoon, and evening prayers.
  4. The Burial Kaddish and the Kaddish recited after completion of a Tractate of the Talmud is essentially identical to the Rabbis’ Kaddish from y’ hai shmai rabah onward. However, the introductory paragraph of this Kaddish is unique. It explicitly refers to the future resurrection of the dead and the rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem.[18]

THE ORPHAN’S KADDISH The origin of the custom that an orphan recites Kaddish for a departed parent is not totally clear. The earliest reference to the impact of Kaddish recital on a departed soul appears in a Midrash about Rabbi Akiva.[19] In the story, Rabbi Akiva confronts the terribly suffering soul of a dishonest tax collector. He informs Rabbi Akiva that his suffering would cease if a son of his would recite Borechu or Kaddish and the congregation would respond by sanctifying God’s name. In response Rabbi Akiva seeks out this man’s son and educates him until the boy is ready to stand before the congregation and lead the prayers from Yishtabach onward. The son’s actions relieve the father’s suffering and enable his soul to rest in peace. The Kaddish referred to in this Midrash is that recited by the cantor as part of the regular services and not what we have come to label as the Orphan’s Kaddish.[20] Recitation of the Orphan’s Kaddish at the end of the daily prayers is a custom that was known to the early Rishonim and is cited by Rabbi Moses Isserles in his comments on the Shulchan Aruch.[21] This custom was probably begun in order to facilitate the recital of Kaddish for a deceased parent by a child who was either not of age or sufficiently educated to lead the congregation in prayer and could therefore not lead the recital of the many instances of Kaddish said by the cantors.[22] The relationship between the recital of Kaddish and the departed soul has been the subject of much homiletical discourse. The common message is that a person’s primary responsibility is to live a life that sanctifies God’s name and that each person during the course of his life has committed acts that have detracted from the glory of God. By having his son[23] lead others to glorify God’s name in public, the negative effects are compensated for and erased and the soul of the deceased is elevated to a higher plane in the World To Come. For the child who died too young to have impinged on God’s glory, there is little need for the Kaddish to right his wrongs. For the Jewish martyr, whose death sanctified God’s name, earlier wrongs have been atoned for. The Kaddish recited in their memory by mourners is a statement of the deceased’s lost opportunities to further glorify God’s name; it enables their souls to rise to an even higher sphere in the World To Come.[24] In any case it is important to understand that the Kaddish is not a direct prayer for the dead in the traditional sense. No mention of death or the deceased is made in the standard Kaddish. Instead, the mourner affects the soul of the deceased by causing others to sanctify God. Just as for Israel in general, the Kaddish conveys a number of messages to the mourner:

  1. It forces the mourner to publicly confront the death of a relative.
  2. The mourner is asked to accept the fact that the death of a relative was God’s will and was not an accident of life.
  3. By affirming the relationship between the Kaddish and the deceased, the mourner reaffirms that there is reward and punishment in the World To Come.
  4. The Kaddish reminds the orphan that the commandment “Honor Thy Father and Mother”[25] extends beyond life itself. More important, the Kaddish provides an opportunity to continue to fulfill this commandment.
  5. Implicit in the recital of the Kaddish is a statement of a belief in the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead.[26]
  6. The concluding prayer for peace reminds the orphan that by the end of the year, when the deceased will have certainly found peace with God, the mourner’s personal anguish will also have been healed by God.

These are intellectual concepts that over time impinge on the emotions of the orphan. As the orphan stands by the graveside and the loved one is lowered into the ground to the final resting place, with the coffin then completely covered with the dust of the earth, the enormity of the orphan’s anguish reaches new depths with the cry of his first Kaddish.[27] This Kaddish is a primordial cry of pain. The orphan cannot hear the Kaddish’s complex message as he tries to recall hearing his parent’s words. Nor can he envision God’s glory filling this earth, as he stares through his tears at the small mound of earth in front of him. The first Kaddish recited is unlikely to convey an intellectual message to the mourner. Instead, it forces and allows the mourner to express his overwhelming grief. This Kaddish only makes the loss and grief more concrete and therefore more painful, but ultimately this verbalization is a prerequisite for coming to grips with the loss. During the seven-day mourning period, as the mourner recites the Kaddish and articulates indirectly his loss, the other messages contained in the Kaddish begin to pierce through the cloud of tears. The mourner begins to see the message of acceptance and hope. Later, during the eleven-month period[28] of Kaddish recital, the Kaddish tells the mourner that it is too soon to forget the loss. LONELINESS AND GUILT After the loss of a close relative, the mourner experiences a loss of companionship. In many ways the laws of Jewish mourning address this loss and thus enable the mourner to face and ultimately accept it. Jewish customs of mourning provide extended opportunities for relatives, friends, and acquaintances to help fill the void with expressions of concern and sympathy. In addition, these laws reaffirm the importance of friendship in other ways. The mourner is obligated by Jewish Law to pay less attention to personal appearance and to refrain from certain social activities. However, some of these obligations cease when friends begin to become upset with the mourner’s appearance and lack of social involvement.[29] Besides the loss of companionship, the mourner experiences a spiritual loss: two souls whose destinies were interwoven have suddenly been separated. This cannot be assuaged merely by expressions of sympathy. Nor can friendship rebind the two souls. Rather, the institution of Kaddish, by placing the mourner in the position of publicly proclaiming God’s greatness and holiness for the benefit of the departed loved one’s soul, reaffirms daily that these bonds still exist. The bonds may have been weakened, but Kaddish, along with acts of charity, prayer, religious study, and other dedicated actions, can still bind together the souls of the mourner and the deceased. In rebinding the two souls, the Kaddish enables the mourner to deal with a sense of guilt that often accompanies the loss of a relative, especially a parent. During the introspective seven-day mourning period known as shiva, the orphan mourns not having done more for the parent, measuring his own performance against some unachieved ideal, and yearning for a little more time to express love and respect for the parent. He cries over lost opportunities for visiting a distant parent, of trips never made that perhaps should have been. The Kaddish is instructive in this regard: it tells the mourner that love and honor do have meaning after life ceases to exist. Kaddish, when said with heart and soul, is the highest expression of love and honor, since the orphan cannot even expect a simple parental smile or hug in return. And the twice or thrice daily[30] trip to the synagogue is a continuing expression of the orphan’s willingness to give of himself for the parent. To a world that views death with finality and accompanies the body to its grave with thoughts of “it is too late,” the Kaddish is one way of reminding us that for the deceased’s soul it is not too late as long as children and friends act to glorify God in his or her honor. THE SYNAGOGUE EXPERIENCE To strengthen the souls’ bonds through the recital of Kaddish, the mourner will need help: the involvement of the nation of Israel as represented by the minyan around him. The orphan cries out Yis’gadal v’yis’kadash, asking that God be publicly sanctified and that his words link him with the departed. But without the minyan’s response, the Kaddish cannot sanctify, cannot link. To the mourner the minyan is a physical reminder of the eternal nature of the soul. Just as the nation of Jews can never be totally physically destroyed, so too, no individual soul can ever totally vanish. How sad it is that in so many of our synagogues this cry of Kaddish, which demands and pleads for a response, often remains unanswered. The Kedusha in the cantor’s repetition of the Shemoneh Esray is accorded universal respect. Yet the Kaddish, which the Talmud places on an equal or higher plane,[31] is all too often ignored, drowned out by a chorus of talkers. The holiness intrinsic in the Kedusha derives from man’s attempt to uplift himself by praising God in the language of angels. (It opens with the words “Let us sanctify Your name just as is done in the heavens above.”) In contrast, the Kaddish is an attempt to bring God’s glory down to earth by praising God in words of our own choosing[32] and in what was at the time the vernacular, Aramaic.[33] How little is demanded of us to respond with but seven words[34] and an occasional Amen or Brich Hu; yet how difficult it seems to be to interrupt our worldly conversations to bring God into our world. And the unanswered Kaddish remains an impassioned plea in a vacuum, making no sound, a Jewish body of words without its soul. Picture the Kovno ghetto survivor arising to recite the Kaddish on the yahrzeit of not just one relative but of an entire community. He asks us to sanctify God in the memory of those who died because they were Jews. Their deaths were the ultimate sanctification of God, and the Kaddish is the torch passed on to us to continue the task of sanctifying God’s name. The survivor’s Kaddish of acceptance, hope, and rebinding of souls is also living testimony that our faith cannot be consumed in ovens. How tragic that too often “the Jews of noisy, spiritual silence” near and around him in the synagogue are too busy to hear his testimony and reaffirm its truth. Think of the mourner who has not set foot in a synagogue for years except perhaps on the High Holy Days. Now, because of a beloved parent, he attends services on a daily basis. His first recitals of Kaddish result in a tongue-twisting distortion of unfamiliar Aramaic and Hebrew words; only later will the Kaddish flow naturally. For him, the Kaddish is not only an attempt to link his soul with the deceased’s; the Kaddish also represents the last strand that ties his soul to traditional Judaism. The recital of Kaddish and the warmth and unity of the congregational response provide an opportunity to reinforce this weak link. Tragically, the unheard and unanswered Kaddish, instead of hallowing this synagogue experience, leaves behind a hollow-sounding Kaddish. For this Kaddish Jew, the living, binding strand shrivels up and dies at the end of the Kaddish year. Experience the emptiness of the mourner in a large synagogue in which decorum is the norm but in which few of the congregants appreciate the message of the Kaddish cry. The Kaddish cry draws little response because it is viewed as the mourner’s personal prayer and not a plea for action. Those who respond do so out of habit or courtesy in an empty, perfunctory fashion that takes the life out of the emotion-filled words of the mourner’s Kaddish. Observe the private, self-conscious mourner who is accustomed to keeping his feelings to himself. For him, the public recital of Kaddish can be disconcerting. Wherever he travels and in whatever synagogue he finds himself, when the time for Kaddish recital occurs, he must rise and bare his soul to all those present, letting strangers know that in the recent past he has lost a close relative. As a result, instead of saying the Kaddish with the slow stately dignity it deserves, he rapidly mumbles his way through the Kaddish in the hope that no one will really notice him. This mumbling becomes a mumble jumble when each mourner scattered throughout the synagogue races through the Kaddish to the arrhythmic beat of a different heart. No wonder that the confused listener finds that to answer the Kaddish, he must become a world-class juggler, juggling simultaneously in his mouth three or more phrases, an Amen for the mourner nearby, a Y’hai shmai rabah for the mourner in the back, and a Erich Hu for the one standing off to the right. How sad, too, that in the process of making the Kaddish unheard, the private mourner has himself made the Kaddish undone. Some synagogues have a custom that all mourners stand in one place when reciting the Kaddish. This custom significantly alleviates the problems noted above by enabling the mourners to recite the Kaddish in unison. In addition, the group provides a critical mass useful in attracting the attention of the remaining congregants. This custom is a classic illustration of the principle cited in Proverbs, “In a multitude of people is found the glory of the King” – B’rov am hadras melech.[35] Finally, picture a Sabbath morning after two or more hours of religious services. The Jewish mourner rises again to recite the Kaddish. It is a lonely experience for him.

To be surrounded by

friends, neighbors, and acquaintances

in a crowded synagogue.

To shout, no, to cry

for the sanctification of God’s name.

To strive, to strain,

to uplift ties with a parent’s soul.

Instead of a chorus of voices engulfing the orphan saying,

“Let God’s Great Name Be Blessed,”

there is a spiritual silence that is deafening.

The Kaddish has now become a true Orphan Kaddish .

The Kaddish is the Orphan

with no one to hear and respond to its cry.

And in this seeming spiritual vacuum,

the orphan hears all too clearly

the echo of his own lonely, muffled voice

reflecting off the walls of the synagogue:

Let God’s great name be blessed forever and ever.

Y’hai shmai rabah m’vorach l’olam u’lolmai olmaya.

MOURNER’S KADDISH Let His great name be magnified and sanctified (Amen)   In the world created according to His will, and may He establish His Kingdom in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of all of the House of Israel, quickly and in the near future, and say Amen.   May His great name be blessed forever and for all eternity.   Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, uplifted, honored, elevated and extolled, be His Holy Name, Blessed is He   (He is) above* all blessings, hymns, praise and consolation, that we can say in this world, and say Amen.   May heaven be the source of abundant peace and life for us and all oflsrael, and say Amen.   May He who makes peace in the heavens above, grant peace to us and all oflsrael, and say Amen.   GRAVESIDE KADDISH Let His great name be magnified and sanctified, in the world that He will renew in the future,   and where He will bring the dead to life and raise them up to an everlasting life,   and rebuild the city of]erusalem and erect His Temple in it,   and uproot foreign worship from the Land, and return the worship of heaven to its Land,   and establish the kingship of the Holy One, Blessed is He,   with sovereignty and glory, in your lifetime and in your days.   and in the lifetime of all of the House oflsrael, quickly and in the near future, and say Amen.   May His great name be blessed forever and for all eternity.   Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, uplifted, honored, elevated and extolled, Be His Holy Name, Blessed is He   (He is) above all blessings, hymns, praise and consolation, that we can say in this world, and say Amen.   May Heaven be the source of abundant peace and good life for us and all of Israel, and say Amen.   May He who creates peace in the heavens above, mercifully grant peace to us and all of Israel, and say Amen.    

  Kaddish: The Unanswered Cry [Kenneth Chelst: Michigan, 2015], pp. 7 – 27 Reprinted with permission of the author

  * During the ten days from the New Year until the Day of Atonement, a word is added that changes the meaning to “far beyond.” [1] The scene in the Kovno Ghetto was replayed all over Eastern Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. l mention this ghetto because of a responsum by Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, who lived in Kovno. He held that Kaddish had to be recited even for individuals whose souls had been purified in the crucible of Nazi atrocities. In his book of responsa, he describes the scene when the entire community began to say Kaddish. Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, Responsa MiMa’amakim (Out of the Depths), 2:6. [2] Leviticus 22:32. See Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, Kedusha VeKaddish, which appears in the proceedings of the Fifth Congress on Oral Law (New York, 1984). [3] S. Y. Agnon “Petichah LeKaddish,” in SamuciJ VeNireh; T. B. Berachot 3a; and Rabbi M. Luban, “The Kaddish: Man’s Reply to Evil,” in Studies in Torah Judaism, edited by L. Stitskin. (New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1969). [4] Rabbi Yechiel Epstein, Aruch HaShulchan, Orach Chaim 55:1. This opinion is supported in part by the aggadah at the beginning of T.B. Berachot 3a which describes Cod’s mourning the Temple’s destruction and His being consoled by the recital of the Kaddish. See also David De Sola Pool, 7he Kaddish, for a linguistic assessment of the age of the Kaddish. [5] Rabbi Dr. N. Lamm, Kedusha VeKaddish, finds the basis for this ‘ initiation and response’ in the verse “For I will proclaim the name of the Lord, ascribe greatness unto our Cod.” (Deuteronomy 32:3). [6] There is a halachic debate as to the proper pronunciation of the first two words of the Kaddish. In addition, there are a number of other words and phrases in the Kaddish that are the subject of conflicting opinions and different customs. For a discussion of these issues, see Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaCohen (Chofetz Chaim) Mishneh Berurah 56:1-4. The most complete discussion of Kaddish is found in Rabbi David Assaf, The Kaddish, Its Basis, Meaning and Laws (Israel, 1966). The pronunciation reflected here is that found in the Philip Birnbaum, HaSiddur HaShalem (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company). Similarly, I do not explore here the different customs with regard to frequency of Kaddish recital. The message I wish to convey is independent of the specific variances in custom and pronunciation. The transliteration used in the text comes from Rabbi Maurice Lamm, The jewish Way in Death and Mourning (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 1969). This book also contains a beautiful discussion of the meaning of Kaddish. [7] Ezekiel 38:23. [8] Rabbi M. Luban, The Kaddish. [9] Rabbi Yechiel M. Tuckachinsky, Gesher HaChaim, 1:321. See also footnote 8 on the same page. [10] Rabbi Oshry, Responsa MiMa’amakim, 3:8. Rabbi Oshry cites sources that describe a custom of adding references to specific individuals in this phrase. During the Babylonian Exile, “in the lives of the heads of Exile” was added and during the time of Maimonides, “in the lifetime of Maimonides” was added. [11] T.B. Berachot 3a; see Tosefot there. Rashi in the Machzor Vitry interprets the word “rabah” as a verb meaning “to complete.” In Rashi’s opinion the congregational response has two components: a prayer that God’s name be completed (through the destruction of Amalek) and that His name be blessed in the World to Come. [12] T.B. Berachot 45a. [13] T.B. Shabbat 119b, Tosefot ad loc., and Rabbi Joseph Caro Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 56:1. However, Kaddish should not be said in so loud a voice as to sound ridiculous. [14] T.B. Shabbat 119b. [15] T.B. Pesachim 56a. See also Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, The Shema: Spirituality and Law in judaism (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2000), Chapters 3 and 9. [16] Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka, private communication. [17] Rabbi Assaf, The Kaddish, 132. Also see De Sola Pool, The Kaddish, for a discussion of the intimate link between Kaddish and the study of the Oral Law. [18] See Rabbi Nosson Scherman, Kaddish (New York: Mesorah Publications Ltd., 1980) 56-60 for a discussion of different opinions with regard to the recital of this Kaddish. [19] Sec ibid., xxi-xxii, for the complete story in English. Rabbi Isaac of Vienna in his book Or Zarua provides one of the earliest known references that links the recital of Kaddish to the Midrash about Rabbi Akiva. [20] Rabbi Tuckachinsky, Gesher HaChaim, 316. [21] Rabbi Moshe Isserles, comments on Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 376:4 . [22] Ibid. The preferred way to sanctify God’s name is to do so by leading the congregation in prayer. [23] With regard to a daughter reciting Kaddish, see Assaf, The Kaddish, 171-173 and the associated footnotes for a discussion of earlier sources on this issue. My father-in-law, Rabbi Isaac Simon, was the highest Judaic studies teacher in Maimonides School in Brookline, MA for almost thirty years. When he died in 1984 leaving only daughters, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik discussed the issue in the Maimonides synagogue and with my wife, Tamy, during shiva. Later that summer, I visited the Rav and presented a written summary of his recent remarks on the subject of women reciting Kaddish. The Rav edited and authorized the following for inclusion in this work. “Although the Jewish woman’s role is not in the synagogue, a daughter could recite Kaddish in honor of a deceased parent if there were no sons to recite Kaddish. She could recite Kaddish even if she were the only one saying Kaddish in the synagogue and the congregation could answer her Kaddish but was not required to do so. The Rav reminisced about a visit decades earlier to Vilna in which he saw a young woman recite Kaddish after the evening services. His curiosity piqued, he checked around and discovered that this woman’s actions were consistent with the prevailing custom in Vilna.” Joyce Steg Kosowsky, who said Kaddish for her mother in 2000, attributed that decision to her recollection of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s discussion with Tamy Simon Chelst, during the June 1984 shiva week for Rabbi Simon. [24] Rabbi Oshry, Responsa MiMa’amakim, 1:16. This responsum was written after a mass slaughter of children. Rabbi Oshry authorized the recital of Kaddish for any child who was at least thirty days old at the time of death. [25] Rabbi Caro, Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 240:9. [26] Rabbi Tuckachinsky, Gesher HaChaim, 321. Rabbi Tuckachinsky relates the word b’chayechon to the future resurrection of the dead. The Sefardic liturgy, which is also used in Hasidic congregations, includes four additional words, “v’yatzmach purkonai vi’koraiv m’shichai”, an explicit prayer for the early coming of the Messiah. [27] Ibid ., 327. 1hc first Kaddish, according to some opinions, may even be said prior to the burial, especially if the burial is delayed several days from the time of death. [28] Ibid., 376 and Rabbi Isserles, Yoreh Deah 376:4. The Kaddish should be recited for a twelve-month period, but the custom is for only eleven months. Death begins a process of atonement for past sins which is completed as the flesh decays and returns to dust (T.B. Sanhedrin 46a). Our sages have established that for twelve months the body survives to serve as an intermittent resting place for the soul that is wandering between heaven and earth (T.B. Shabbat 152b). However, there is another Mid rash that states that a wicked person, after dying, spends a full twelve months in Gehennom atoning for his sins. (Mishnah, Eduyot 2:10). Therefore, the sages limited the recital of Kaddish to eleven months so as not to imply that a parent was a wicked individual. [29] Rabbi Caro, Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 390:4. A mourner for a parent is not allowed to cut his or her hair even after the first thirty-day mourning period. The mourner must wait until the hair is so long that friends would be angry with him over his appearance (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 380:25). Similarly, this mourner was prohibited from joining a business caravan until enough time had elapsed so that his friends would be upset over his lack of involvement and ask him to come along. (In the time of the Talmud, a caravan often involved celebrations along the route, much the same way a modern business convention mixes business with pleasure.) This unique time standard for limiting mourning observances conveys a message about the importance of friendships and warns the mourner against allowing friendships to deteriorate because of a too-long and intense period of personal grief. [30] The custom concerning the number of times an orphan recites Kaddish during the three daily prayers varies from community to community. When the custom of an orphan’s Kaddish began, only one individual would recite the Kaddish at any one time and there were detailed rules as to who had priority. As a result, an orphan might have recited the Kaddish infrequently. In many German congregations, the custom is still to have only one individual recite the Kaddish at any one time. Sometimes an effort is made to add to the number of times the Kaddish is recited during services in order to provide each mourner with his own opportunity to recite at least one Kaddish. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in Iggerot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 1:254 reviews the custom and states that the present basic minimum requirement is to recite one Kaddish each day in honor of the departed soul. [31] T.B. Berachot 21b and Mishneh Berurah 56:6. [32] Rabbi Tuckachinsky, Gesher HaChaim, 314-316. [33] T.B . Berachot 3a. Tosefot ad loc. discuss two reasons for the use of Aramaic: so that the angels will not understand and therefore not be jealous, and so that the masses will understand. The comments above attempt to integrate these two reasons. For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see Tefillat HaKaddish by Rabbi Binyamin S. Jacobson (Israel, 1964), 13. Also see Rabbi M. Luban’s The Kaddish, which states that Aramaic is a symbol of exile and Jewish confrontation with a hostile environment, and De Sola Pool, The Kaddish. [34] There is a fundamental debate among the early post-Talmudic sages as to whether the congregation must also say the first word yisborach from the series of praises that follow. Sec Rabbi Caro, Orach Chaim 56:3, and the  Mishneh Berurah ad loc. for a discussion of the various opinions. [35] Proverbs 14:28.

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