From the Desk - Mourner's Kaddish
Shalom Friends! I hope this finds you well and that, wherever you are, you’re enjoying the weather! Whilst we’re missing the snowbirds here at Beth Ora, we still have plenty to do as we plan lots of activities for the community. On Tuesday night, we started a new program for young men and their Dads. The question we tacked was: Is Gambling Kosher? In particular, we explored the question: An Occasional Gambler: A Jew in Good Standing or Persona Non Grata? We are also very excited for our Kehillah Shabbat next Shabbat, Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song (January 26-27). Please join us on Friday afternoon for our special service full of joy, song and dance, followed by a delicious egg roll Kiddush. And for those who think it’s a bit cold at this time of the year, we will treat you to a warm bowl of soup! The next day, we will be treated to special performances from both the kids choir and the adults choir, the Torah reading of the crossing of the Sea that gave Shabbat Shira its name! We can’t wait to spend another special Shabbat together with you! In the meantime, we wish you a wonderful warm Shabbat, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What’s the Deal with….Mourner’s Kaddish? President Yancovitch asked me to write a little about the importance and significance of the Mourner’s Kaddish. In writing this response, I benefited greatly from Rabbi Maurice Lamm’s book, The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning. Judaism sees Kaddish as the son’s obligation toward a deceased parent (daughters are not obligated to say Kaddish but some choose to do so). The first thing to note about the mourner’s Kaddish is that it actually doesn’t say anything at all about the dead! So, what’s the deal?
Kaddish is actually an affirmation of our faith in G-d. The mourner affirms that, despite his loss and sadness, his faith remains intact.
The Talmud recognizes that a son or daughter can bring merit to a parent through his or her behaviour. When the children behave well, added meaning and value is given to the parent’s life, even after the parent has passed on.
A person is affected by the death of a loved one. In this context, Kaddish is very therapeutic. The word life (chayim), days (yamim) and world (olam) are repeated a number of times to fortify the mourner’s appreciation for life despite his loss. In the same vein, Kaddish ends with a prayer for peace on earth.
Equally therapeutic is the fellowship that a mourner experiences in the community at this time. Many mourners find it comforting to regularly pray in the midst of the community and, in particular, experience a fellowship with other mourners.
The poet S.Y. Agnon wrote a beautiful piece on Kaddish. He explained that G-d cares about each human being. As such, when a person dies, G-d’s name is diminished. G-d suffers just as the human mourner suffers. Therefore, when people say Kaddish, they offer G-d consolation for His loss.