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The Mourner’s Kaddish

What Is The Kaddish?

The Kaddish is a prayer that is said to honor the memory of a person after their passing.  It can be recited during funerals and on the anniversary of the deceased’s passing.  There are several versions of Kaddish.

The Kaddish is attributed to the High Priest – Joshua.  It is said during every traditional prayer service, such as during Shabbat, morning and evening prayer, and holidays.  

Surprisingly, the Kaddish is not a Hebrew prayer.  Instead, the language of the Kaddish is Aramaic, which is a different language from Hebrew.  In Aramaic, the word Kaddish means “sanctification.”  The word Kaddish is also closely related to the Hebrew word “Kadosh,” which means “holy.”

The Mourner’s Kaddish is an affirmation of faith in God at a time when faith is tested by grief.  

Is There More Than One Version Of The Kaddish?

Yes.  There are five forms of Kaddish.

Four of them are regularly recited in the synagogue and the fifth is reserved for special occasions. The regularly recited versions of the Kaddish are commonly referred to as “Half Kaddish,” “Whole Kaddish,” “Mourner’s Kaddish” and “Rabbis’ Kaddish.”

The Half Kaddish

(or “Chatzi Kaddish” in Hebrew) is the simplest form of prayer.  This version is recited as a separation between sections of a prayer unit.

The Whole Kaddish

(or “Kaddish Shalem”) is said upon the conclusion of the main section a prayer unit.  

The Mourner’s Kaddish

(“Kaddish Yasom”) is very similar to the Whole Kaddish except that it is not recited at the conclusion of the main section of a prayer unit.  The Mourner’s Kaddish is recited in the eleven months following the passing of a parent or other relative, as well as on the anniversary of their passing.

The Rabbis’ Kaddish

(“Kaddish D’Rabbanan”) is recited after the communal study of the Talmud. 

The final type of Kaddish

is recited on two special occasions: after completion of an established unit of Torah study (also known as a “siyum”) and at a funeral. These two occasions are radically different, but there is something in common.  The theme of this Kaddish is that, in the merit of Torah study, the world will be renewed, including the eventual revival of the dead.  Therefore, it is appropriate for both a siyum (recognizing as it does the rewards of Torah study) and a funeral (as it contains within it the consolation that those who have passed on will someday return to us).

When do we say the Mourner’s Kaddish?

The Mourner’s Kaddish is said as part of the prayer service for a person who has died.  You might have thought that this special prayer is said only when the person who passed away was old and respected, but you’d be wrong.  Any Jew—old or respected or young or not-so-popular—is the subject of a kaddish.

The Mourner’s Kaddish is a prayer of Jewish mourning which is said more often during shiva, the traditional mourning period observed following the burial of a family member.

The Mourner’s Kaddish is said by mourners on the third, seventh, and thirtieth day of a loved one’s passing. The Mourner’s Kaddish is also said on Hol Ha-Mo’ed (appointments between holidays), on Yom Ha-Zikaron (Memorial Day), and on Yom Ha-Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day).

The Mourner’s Kaddish English Translation and Transliteration

 

Yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba (Cong: Amein).
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (Cong: Amen.)

 

b’al’ma di v’ra khir’utei
in the world that He created as He willed.

 

v’yam’likh mal’khutei b’chayeikhon uv’yomeikhon
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,

 

uv’chayei d’khol beit yis’ra’eil
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,

 

ba’agala uviz’man kariv v’im’ru:
swiftly and soon. Now say:

(Mourners and Congregation:)

 

Amein. Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam ul’al’mei al’maya
(Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)

 

Yit’barakh v’yish’tabach v’yit’pa’ar v’yit’romam v’yit’nasei
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,

 

v’yit’hadar v’yit’aleh v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kud’sha
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One

(Mourners and Congregation:)

 

 B’rikh hu.
Blessed is He.

 

l’eila min kol bir’khata v’shirata
beyond any blessing and song,

 

toosh’b’chatah v’nechematah, da’ameeran b’al’mah, v’eemru:
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say:

(Mourners and Congregation:)

 


Amein
Amen

 

Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya
May there be abundant peace from Heaven

 

v’chayim aleinu v’al kol yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:

(Mourners and Congregation:)

 

Amein
Amen

 

Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,

 

aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:

(Mourners and Congregation:)

 

Amein
Amen

 

Mark Sunshine

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