More About Kaddish

PhotographWhat is Kaddish?

Kaddish is a traditional prayer that is said daily with a quorum of at least 10 Jewish men who are over the age of thirteen.  The mourner (or agent) stands and says the Kaddish while the quorum responds in unison.  The Kaddish is said from the day of burial, daily for the first eleven months, and on the anniversary of the death (yahrzeit).  It is considered a merit for the deceased to have others praise G-d publicly by saying Kaddish.

Who should say Kaddish and when?

If the deceased is a parent, the son should say Kaddish.  A person says Kaddish for a parent for 11 months a minimum of once, and ideally 3 times a day, during daily services where there is a minyan present .

If the deceased is not a parent, Kaddish is said for only 30 days.

If the deceased had more than 1 son, all should say Kaddish.  If the deceased had no sons, (or the sons are unable to say Kaddish) the accepted practice is for the family members to arrange for a close relative or professional service to say Kaddish.  Even if a child is able to say Kaddish, it is acceptable to also arrange a service to say Kaddish as well.

Translation of Kaddish

May the great Name of God be exalted and sanctified, throughout the world, which he has created according to his will. May his Kingship be established in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the entire household of Israel, swiftly and in the near future; and say, Amen.

May his great name be blessed, forever and ever.
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, honored elevated and lauded be the Name of the holy one, Blessed is he- above and beyond any blessings and hymns, Praises and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say Amen. May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life, upon us and upon all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who makes peace in his high holy places, may he bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel; and say Amen.

Story about Kaddish

by Chaim Lazer

To many, Kaddish is the prayer for the dead. When a close relative departs this world, the remaining relative recites this prayer in a minyan of ten men.

Where do we learn that our prayers can help some one who is no longer in this world? Do we have such power that through the mere recital of some words, we can help some one in another world? What can be the relationship between our recital of this prayer and the spiritual well being of another soul in a distant world?

The source of Kaddish is found in a story.

PhotographRabbi Akiva was walking through a forest. He saw a man, darkened with coal dust, carrying a heavy load of fire wood on his shoulders and running at a very rapid pace. Rabbi Akiva commanded the man to stop and the man stood for Rabbi Akiva.

"Why are you running with such a heavy load? If you are a slave, I shall free you! If you are poor and must exert yourself to such an inhuman extent, let me give you money and make you wealthy!"

"Please," the man entreated Rabbi Akiva, "Let me continue my work!"

"Are you human or are you from the demons?"

"I am neither a poor man nor a slave. I am a soul that is being punished by collecting huge amounts of fire wood for a giant fire into which I am to be cast."

"Tell me, what was your occupation when you lived in this world?"

The man answered, "I was a tax collector. I took bribes from the rich, and I had the poor executed. Not only that, I had illicit relations with a engaged girl on the holiest day of the year, on Yom Kippur."

Rabbi Akiva inquired, "My son, have you not heard that something from the other worlds that could be done to help you and alleviate your suffering?"

"Please," he cried, "Allow me to resume my work. My task masters will be angry with me and punish me further. They say that I have no way of being redeemed. Had I had a son who would stand up in public and cause others to praise G-d, then they could release me from this punishment. But I left a wife who was pregnant, who knows if she had a son or daughter? And if he were a boy, who would teach him Torah?"

"What is your name?"

"My name is Akiva, my wife's name is Shosmira, and I was from the town of Elduka."
Rabbi Akiva felt extremely bad because of this soul and he searched from town to town until him came to that very town. He asked in the town, "Where is this man's house?"

The villagers answered in hatred, "May his bones be ground to dust in Hell!"

"Where is this man's wife?"

The villagers answered with bitterness, "May her name and memory be blotted out from this world!"

"Where is this man's child?"

"He is uncircumcised, and no one will circumcise him!"

Rabbi Akiva grabbed the man's son and began to teach him Torah. Rabbi Akiva fasted for forty days and then heard a voice from heaven. "Rabbi Akiva, do you fast for this boy?"

Answered Rabbi Akiva, "Yes!"

Teach him to read and write. Teach him to recite grace after meals, teach him to say 'Shema' and to pray." When the boy shall pray in public, causing the people to praise G-d's name, then the punishment shall be lifted from this man."

When this happened, the soul of the man came to Rabbi Akiva in a dream.. "You have spared my soul from the punishments of Hell."

(This story is from one of the many legends found in the Talmud. In the Zohar Chadash, it is mentioned that the prayer is the Kaddish.)

What is the power that is demonstrated here? What can cause a evil man to be redeemed from a fitting punishment?
The answer is simple. The redemption is not in the mere recital of Kaddish, but in causing others to praise G-d. Children who live lives of doing good, bring credit their parents.

Judgment is not only on the deeds that are done, judgment is also on the actions that are caused. If a man leaves a son who increases the respect that mankind have for G-d, then it is a credit for the father, even if the father is evil. This is the secret of the Kaddish, that the causing of others to acknowledge the greatness of G-d in public can serve to counter balance the evil that was perpetrated by the father.

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