Perhaps one of the best known Jewish prayers is Kaddish. It is recited at specific times during community prayer. The Holy City Prayer Society offers its members a special service: the recitation of the traditional Kaddish at least three times daily for your dearly departed loved one during the week of mourning immediately following death, during the entire first year of mourning, or on the annual anniversary of passing.
What is Kaddish?
Kaddish, literally Sanctification, is an ancient prayer recited at various points during the daily communal prayer. Kaddish has an enormous cosmic effect. It is said in a responsive fashion, with the prayer leader reciting the prayer, and the congregation responding with Amen, Blessed be He, and May his great name be blessed for ever and ever. Kaddish was composed and is recited in Aramaic, in which many prayers, the book of Daniel, the Zohar, and the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds are written.
Who can Kaddish be said for and who can say Kaddish?
Traditionally, the Mourner’s Kaddish is said for a deceased relative or closest kin (parent, sibling, spouse, or child) by all who are touched by their loss. Since it must be said daily, at least three times a day, it is (accepted according to Jewish law) that those who are unable to say the Kaddish regularly can appoint a paid agent to say Kaddish on their behalf, with the specific loved one in mind.
What do the words of Kaddish mean?
May God’s name be made great and sanctified. Amen.
In the world that He created according to His will, in His kingdom in which He reigns supreme, may His salvation sprout forth and may His Messiah be close, in your lifetime, and in the lives of all Israel, speedily in our days. Say Amen.
Amen. May his great name be blessed for ever and ever.
May the name of the Holy One, Blessed be he, be blessed, praised, extolled, raised high, and made great-Blessed be He!-higher than all blessing or song, praise or consolation. Say Amen.
May great peace from heaven and good life be ours and upon all of Israel. Say Amen.
May He who makes peace in His heights make peace upon us and upon all Israel, and say Amen.
What is the connection between Kaddish and the deceased?
Kaddish is a short prayer, and in fact, has no mention of death at all. Why, then, is it associated with death and loved ones who have passed away? The answer is clear: If a person who has experienced a tremendous loss is able to express his trust and faith in God, that a great cosmic plan exists and all tragedies are a part of His great plan, then there is no greater sanctification of His great name than this. Since the Kaddish is said publicly, this strengthens faith in God on both a personal and community level.
From the perspective of the deceased, any merit on their behalf raises their soul in Heaven. By causing the congregation to respond May his great name be blessed for ever and ever, the deceased’s soul achieves a further promotion.
What are the different versions of the Kaddish?
A short version of the Kaddish is said before the call to prayer and after the main part of the prayer. The whole prayer leader’s Kaddish is recited following the end of each of the daily prayers. The Mourner’s Kaddish is recited by mourners after specific communally recited psalms and prayers, and the Teacher’s Kaddish is recited by mourners following study. A special Kaddish is recited at the burial ceremony and at the completion ceremony of the study of a tractate of the Talmud or other significant text.
For an interesting article about Kaddish and other aspects of mourning, click here.