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Why Kaddish

Written by Anonymous

No one likes a change, except for a baby. Even when its results promise to be worthwhile and enduring, change can be difficult. Unpleasant. Scary. Painful. It’s no wonder we resist it. Rebbe Nachman (Breslover Rebbe) teaches that we must be willing to change because change is often thrust upon us. The only constant in life is change. As delicious as a food may be, even the most slowly chewed piece must be consumed over time. Every Bach concerto comes to an end. New cars end up scratched, dented, rusted and junked. Flowers bud, blossom, wither and die. Animals are born, grow, get weaker and die. Human beings change too. Infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, elderhood and death. Within each of these periods there are numerous, if not countless, changes, some of which are dropped upon us and some which we are called upon to accept. How do we adjust to each new reality? What is the bridge that brings us over the chasm of change? Kaddish. The Arizal teaches that each of the four parts of Shacharis– korbanos, pesukei d’zimra, krias Shema and its blessings, Shemonah Esrei–is a different world, each more spiritual than the one preceding it. The light of one is the darkness of the next. The rules and players have changed. To get from one to the other we say Kaddish. We live in our world with its players; father, mother, spouse, children and siblings – and its rules, familial norms and procedures. The Angel of Death arrives, performs his job and suddenly we find ourselves in a new world. The players and rules have changed. Instead of lovely light we have distressing darkness. This isn’t a world we wanted to enter. Nonetheless we have been assigned to it. To function here, we say Kaddish. What is Kaddish that it can help us adjust to a new world? Kaddish is, in its straightforward, most simple meaning and in any number of allusions it contains, the ultimate praise we offer God. Kaddish is an affirmation of underlying principles about God and our relationship to Him that NEVER change. (Only parts of Kaddish are cited here. Please see the whole text of Kaddish in order to better understand comments referring to Kaddish in general.) ‘Yitgadal v’yitkadash shmei raba’ (May His great name be exalted and sanctified) ‘YiTGaDaL’ is a composite of two words, TaGY (crown) and DaL (poor). Our third patriarch had two names, Yaakov and Yisrael. The former name is used to refer to him at times he was in a lower, ‘poorer’ (for him), state of God-consciousness, daat. Yisrael, the name he received after defeating the angel (Bereshis 32:25-30), indicates a higher state of daat, a ‘crown’ We have it within us to struggle, and struggle successfully, against our angels/demons and we will do so. ‘v’yitkadash’ tells us we must maintain our kedushah in our new situation. (One’s kedushah can and will be tested, whether his entrance to a “new” world is a result of success or failure. ‘b’alma divra khirutei’ (in the world which He created in accordance with His will) This is our declaration that: [1] God is the Creator; [2] Everything–this world, this new set of circumstances, as well as the old, familiar one–is an expression of His will. [3] ‘A person’s will is his glory’ (Yerushalmi, Peah 1:1). Therefore, saying Kaddish, declaring and accepting God’s will, glorifies God. ‘v’yamlikh malkhutei’ (and may reign be given to His kingship) Whatever the world we have entered, whatever its conditions, modes and values, God alone is its king and He rules there. Our praising God strengthens our daas, the knowledge and experiential closeness we have to Him. This is the bridge that allows us to meet new challenges. Based on the above we can answer the following question: When we comfort a mourner, why do we refer to God specifically as HaMakom (The Ubiquitous [Omnipresent] One), instead of The Compassionate One, or the Holy One or any of His other appellations? The mourner is distressed by his relative’s absence. We attempt to console by gently reminding him of God’s presence: Your beloved is in a new place with God; you, too, are in a new place, with God. I would like to dedicate this to anyone who has lost relatives recently especially to my family who have lost three relatives in the last two weeks. HaMakom yinachem etchem bitoch shaarei aveilei Tzion v’Yerushalayim. May the Omnipresent comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem In memory of Sorah Bas Binyomin Beinish

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