Monday, February 7, 2011

KADDISH: The basics

Today is the 3rd day of Adar I, 5771

Although the Kaddish is recited during the first eleven months following the death of one's parent or after the decease of other relatives, there is no reference, no one word even, about death in this prayer (with the exception of the Burial Kaddish, -a.k.a. dehu atid- which is said only at the time of burial and on Tisha beAv.).

The theme of Kaddish is, rather, the Greatness of God, Who conducts the entire universe, and especially each individual human being, with careful supervision.

In this prayer, we also pray for peace - from the only One Who can guarantee it - peace between nations, peace between individuals, and peace of mind.

Praising God, having Him in mind is paradoxically the only true comfort in the case of the loss of a loved one. That is, to be able to view the passing of the beloved individual from the perspective that that person's soul was gathered in, so to speak, by the One Who had provided it in the first place.

As Beruriah, the wise wife of Rabbi Meir, consoled her husband, upon the death of their two sons, with words to this effect, "A soul is comparable to an object which was given to us - to each individual, to his or her parents and loved ones, to guard and watch over for a limited time. When the time comes for the object to be returned to its rightful owner, should we not be willing to return it? With regard to our sons, let us therefore consider the matter as 'The Lord gave it, and the Lord took it back, may the Name of the Lord be Blessed for ever and ever!'


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(Thanks to Michael Gindi)

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024