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Kaddish (קדיש Aramaic: "holy") is a prayer found in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name. In the liturgy different versions of the Kaddish are used functionally as separators between sections of the service. The term "Kaddish" is often used to refer specifically to "The Mourners' Kaddish", said as part of the mourning rituals in Judaism in all prayer services as well as at funerals and memorials. When mention is made of "saying Kaddish", this unambiguously denotes the rituals of mourning.

The opening words of this prayer are inspired by Ezekiel 38:23, a vision of God becoming great in the eyes of all the nations. The central line of the Kaddish in Jewish tradition is the congregation's response: יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא (Yehei shmëh rabba mevarakh lealam ulalmey almaya, "May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity"), a public declaration of God's greatness and eternality.[1] This response is an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew "ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד" (Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever), which is to be found in the Jerusalem Targum (יְהֵא שְׁמֵיהּ רַבָּא מְבָרֵךְ לְעָלְמֵי עַלְמִין) (Genesis 49:2 and Deuteronomy 6:4, and is similar to the wording of Daniel 2:20.

The Mourner's, Rabbis' and Complete Kaddish end with a supplication for peace ("Oseh Shalom..."), which is in Hebrew, and comes from the Bible Job 25:1.

Along with the Shema and Amidah, the Kaddish is one of the most important and central prayers in the Jewish liturgy.

Contents

History and background

"The Kaddish is in origin a closing doxology to an Aggadic discourse".[2] Most of it is written in Aramaic, which, at the time of its original composition, was the lingua franca of the Jewish people. It is not composed in the vernacular Aramaic, however, but rather in a "literary, jargon Aramaic" that was used in the academies, and is identical to the dialect of the Targum.[2]

Kaddish was not originally said by mourners, but rather by the rabbis when they finished giving sermons on Sabbath afternoons and later, when they finished studying a section of midrash or aggadah. This practice developed in Babylonia where most people understood only Aramaic and sermons were given in Aramaic so Kaddish was said in the vernacular. This is why it is currently said in Aramaic. This "Rabbinical Kaddish" (Kaddish d'Rabbanan) is still said after studying midrash or aggadah or after reading them as part of the service. It differs from the regular Kaddish because of its inclusion of a prayer for rabbis, scholars and their disciples. While anyone may say this Kaddish, it has become the custom for mourners to say the Rabbinical Kaddish in addition to the Mourner's Kaddish.[1]

The oldest version of the Kaddish is found in the Siddur of Rab Amram Gaon, c. 900. The Jewish Virtual Library observes that "The first mention of mourners saying Kaddish at the end of the service is in a thirteenth century halakhic writing called the Or Zarua. The Kaddish at the end of the service became designated as Kaddish Yatom or Mourners' Kaddish (literally, "Orphan's Kaddish")".[1]

The Lord's Prayer in Christianity has its roots in the Jewish liturgy and it shares themes with Kaddish ("Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name").

Variations

The various versions of the Kaddish are:

  • Hatzi Kaddish (חצי קדיש) or Kaddish Le'ela (קדיש לעלא) – Literally "Half Kaddish", sometimes called the "Readers Kaddish"
  • Kaddish Yatom (קדיש יתום) or Kaddish Yehe Shelama Rabba (קדיש יהא שלמא רבא) – Literally "Orphan's Kaddish", although commonly referred to as Kaddish Avelim (קדיש אבלים), the "Mourners' Kaddish"
  • Kaddish Shalem (קדיש שלם) or Kaddish Titkabbal (קדיש תתקבל) – Literally "Complete Kaddish" or "Whole Kaddish"
  • Kaddish d'Rabbanan (קדיש דרבנן) or Kaddish al Yisrael (קדיש על ישראל) – Literally "Kaddish of the Rabbis"
  • Kaddish ahar Hakk'vura (קדיש אחר הקבורה) – Literally "Kaddish after a Burial", also called Kaddish d'Ithadata (קדיש דאתחדתא) named after one of the first distinguishing words in this variant. In the presence of a minyan, this version is also said at the siyum upon completion of the comprehensive study of any one of the Talmud's tractates ("volumes") and is printed at the end of most tractates.

All versions of the Kaddish begin with the Hatzi Kaddish (there are some extra passages in the Kaddish after a burial). The longer versions contain additional paragraphs, and are often named after distinctive words in those paragraphs.

The Half Kaddish is used to punctuate divisions within the service: for example, before Barekhu, between the Shema and the Amidah and following readings from the Torah. The Kaddish d'Rabbanan is used after any part of the service that includes extracts from the Mishnah or the Talmud, as its original purpose was to close a study session. Kaddish Titkabbal originally marked the end of the service, though at later times extra passages and hymns were added to after it.

The Jewish Encyclopedia's article on Kaddish mentions an additional type of Kaddish, called "Kaddish Yahid", or "Individual's Kaddish".[1] This is included in the Siddur of Amram Gaon, but is a meditation taking the place of Kaddish rather than a Kaddish in the normal sense.

Text of the Kaddish

The following includes the half, complete, mourners' and rabbis' kaddish. The variant lines of the burial kaddish are given below.

# English translation Transliteration Aramaic / Hebrew
1 May His great name be exalted and sanctifiedb is God's great name.a Yitgaddal veyitqaddash shmeh rabba יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא.
2 in the world which He created according to His will! Beʻalma di vra khir'uteh בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ
3 May He establish His kingdom veyamlikh malkhuteh וְיַמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתֵהּ
4 and may His salvation blossom and His anointed be near.ad [veyatzmakh purqaneh viqarev (ketz) meshiheh] וְיַצְמַח פֻּרְקָנֵהּ וִיקָרֵב(קיץ) מְשִׁיחֵהּ
5 during your lifetime and during your days behayekhon uvyomekhon בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן
6 and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, uvkhaye dekhol bet yisrael וּבְחַיֵּי דְכָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל
7 speedily and very soon! And say, Amen.a beʻagala uvizman qariv veʼimru amen בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב. וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן
The next two lines are recited by the congregation and then the leader:
8 May His great name be blessed yehe shmeh rabba mevarakh יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ
9 for ever, and to all eternity! leʻalam ulʻalme ʻalmaya לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא
10 Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, Yitbarakh veyishtabbakh veyitpaar veyitromam יִתְבָּרַךְ וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח וְיִתְפָּאַר וְיִתְרוֹמַם
11 extolled and honoured, adored and lauded veyitnasse veyithaddar veyitʻalle veyithallal וְיִתְנַשֵּׂא וְיִתְהַדָּר וְיִתְעַלֶּה וְיִתְהַלָּל
12 be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He,a shmeh dequdsha, brikh hu. שְׁמֵהּ דְקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא.
13 above and beyond all the blessings, leʻella (lʻella mikkol) min kol birkhata לְעֵלָּא (לְעֵלָּא מִכָּל) מִן כָּל בִּרְכָתָא
14 hymns, praises and consolations veshirata tushbehata venehemata וְשִׁירָתָא תֻּשְׁבְּחָתָא וְנֶחֱמָתָא
15 that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.a daamiran bealma veʼimru amen דַּאֲמִירָן בְּעָלְמָא. וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן
The half kaddish ends here.
Here the "complete kaddish" includes:
16 eMay the prayers and supplications Titqabbal tzlothon uvaʻuthon תִּתְקַבל צְלוֹתְהוֹן וּבָעוּתְהוֹן
17 of all Israel dekhol bet yisrael דְכָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל
18 be accepted by their Father who is in Heaven; And say, Amen.a qodam avuhon di bishmayya, veʼimru amen קֳדָם אֲבוּהוֹן דִּי בִשְׁמַיָּא וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן
Here the "kaddish of the rabbis" includes:
19 To Israel, to the Rabbis and their disciples ʻal yisrael veʻal rabbanan veʻal talmidehon עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל רַבָּנָן וְעַל תַּלְמִידֵיהוֹן
20 to the disciples of their disciples, veʻal kol talmidey talmidehon וְעַל כָּל תַּלְמִידֵי תַלְמִידֵיהוֹן.
21 and to all those who engage in the study of the Torah veʻal kol man deʻos'kin beorayta וְעַל כָּל מָאן דְּעָסְקִין בְּאוֹרַיְתָא.
22 in this [holy]z place or in any other place, di beatra [qadisha] haden vedi bekhol atar veatar דִּי בְאַתְרָא [קַדִישָא] הָדֵין וְדִי בְּכָל אֲתַר וַאֲתַר.
23 may there come abundant peace, yehe lehon ulekhon shlama rabba יְהֵא לְהוֹן וּלְכוֹן שְׁלָמָא רַבָּא
24 grace, lovingkindness and compassion, long life hinna vehisda verahamey vehayye arikhe חִנָּא וְחִסְדָּא וְרַחֲמֵי וְחַיֵּי אֲרִיכֵי
25 ample sustenance and salvation umzone reviche ufurqana וּמְזוֹנֵי רְוִיחֵי וּפוְּרְקָנָא
26 from the Father who is in heaven (and earth); min qodam avuhon di vishmayya [veʼarʻa]e מִן קֳדָם אֲבוּהוּן דְבִשְׁמַיָּא [וְאַרְעָא]
27 and say, Amen.a veʼimru amen וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן
All variants but the half kaddish conclude:
28 fMay there be abundant peace from heaven, Yehe shlama rabba min shmayya יְהֵא שְׁלָמָה רבָּא מִן שְׁמַיָּא,
29 [and] [good] life [ve]hayyim [tovim] [וְ]חַיִּים [טוֹבִים]
30 satisfaction, help, comfort, refuge, vesava vishuʻa venekhama veshezava וְשָֹבָע וִישׁוּעָה וְנֶחָמָה וְשֵׁיזָבָה
31 healing, redemption, forgiveness, atonement, urfuʼa ugʼulla usliha v'khappara וּרְפוּאָה וּגְאֻלָּה וּסְלִיחָה וְכַפָּרָה,
32 relief and salvationd verevah vehatzala וְרֵוַח וְהַצָּלָה
33 for us and for all His people Israel; and say, Amen.a lanu ulkhol ʻammo yisrael veʼimru amen לָנוּ וּלְכָל עַמּוֹ יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.
34 fMay He who makes peace in His high places ʻose shalom bimromav עוֹשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו,
35 grant [in his mercy]g peace for us hu [berakhamav] yaʻase shalom ʻalenu הוּא [בְּרַחֲמָיו] יַעֲשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ,
36 and for all [his nation]h Israel; and say, Amen.a veʻal kol [ammo] yisrael, veʼimru amen וְעַל כָּל [עַמּוֹ] יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.

Text of the Burial Kaddish

In the burial kaddishi, lines 2-3 are replaced by:

# English translation Transcription Aramaic / Hebrew
37 In the world which will be renewed B'ʻal'ma d'hu ʻatid l'ithaddata בְּעָלְמָא דְהוּא עָתִיד לְאִתְחַדָּתָא
38 and where He will give life to the dead ulʼahaya metaya וּלְאַחֲיָאָה מֵתַיָא
39 and raise them to eternal life ulʼassaqa yathon l'chayyey ʻal'ma וּלְאַסָּקָא יָתְהוֹן לְחַיֵּי עָלְמָא
40 and rebuild the city of Jerusalem ulmivne qarta dirushlem וּלְמִבְנֵא קַרְתָּא דִירוּשְׁלֵם
41 and complete His temple there uleshakhlala hekhleh b'gavvah וּלְשַׁכְלָלָא הֵיכְלֵהּ בְּגַוַּהּ
42 and uproot foreign worship from the earth ulmeʻqar pulhana nukhraʼa m'arʻa וּלְמֶעְקַר פֻּלְחָנָא נֻכְרָאָה מְאַרְעָא
43 and restore Heavenly worship to it position v'laʼatava pulhana dishmayya l'ʼatreh וּלַאֲתָבָא פֻּלְחָנָא דִשְׁמַיָּא לְאַתְרֵהּ
44 and the Holy One, blessed is He, v'yamlikh qudsha b'rikh hu וְיַמְלִיךְ קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא
45 reign in His sovereignty splendour ... b'malkhuteh viqareh בְּמַלְכוּתֵהּ וִיקָרֵהּ

Notes

  • Bracketed text varies according to personal or communal traditions.
  • (a) The congregation responds with "amen" (אָמֵן) after lines 1, 4, 12, 15, 18, 27, 33, 36. In the Ashkenazi tradition, the response to line 12 is "Blessed be he" (בְּרִיךְ הוּא b'rikh hu).
  • (b) On line 1, some say Yitgaddel veyitqaddesh rather than Yitgaddal veyitqaddash, putting these words into a Hebrew rather than an Aramaic form.
  • (c) Line 13: in the Ashkenazi tradition the repeated "le'ela" is used only during the Ten Days of Repentance. In the Sephardi tradition it is never used. In the Yemenite tradition it is the invariable wording. The phrase "le'ela le'ela" is the Targum's translation of the Hebrew "ma'la ma'la" (Deuteronomy 28:43).
  • (d) Lines 4 and 30-32 are not present in the Ashkenazi tradition.
  • (e) Line 26: Sephardi Jews say malka di-shmaya ve-ar'a (the King of Heaven and Earth) instead of avuhon de-vi-shmaya (their Father in Heaven).
  • (f) During the "complete kaddish" some include:
    • Before line 16, "accept our prayer with mercy and favour"
    • Before line 28, "May the name of God be blessed, from now and forever" (Psalms 113:2)
    • Before line 34, "My help is from God, creator of heaven and earth" (Psalms 121:2)
  • (g) Line 35: "b'rahamav" is used by Sephardim in all versions of kaddish; by Ashkenazim only in "Kaddish deRabbanan".
  • (h) Line 36: "ammo" is used by most Sephardim, but not by some of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews or Ashkenazim.
  • (i) Lines 37 to 45: these lines are used (i) in the Burial Kaddish; (ii) in the version of the Kaddish DeRabbanan used in a siyum on the completion of a Talmudic tractate; (iii) by Yemenite Jews, in Kaddish DeRabbanan generally.
  • (z) In line 22, the bracketed word is added in the Land of Israel.

Full Hebrew, translation and transliteration can also be found at the Orthodox Unions.[3]

Customs

The Kaddish, as used in the services on special days is chanted. There are different melodies in different Jewish traditions and within each tradition the melody can change according to the version, the day it is said and even the position in the service. The Mourners' Kaddish is never sung and many mourners recite it slowly and contemplatively.

In Sephardi synagogues the whole congregation sits for Kaddish, except:

  • during the Kaddish immediately before the Amidah, where everyone stands;
  • during the Mourners' Kaddish, where those reciting it stand and everyone else sits. In Ashkenazi synagogues, the custom varies. Very commonly, in both Orthodox and Reform congregations, everyone stands; but in some (especially many Conservative) synagogues, most of the congregants sit. Sometimes, a distinction is made between the different forms of Kaddish, or each congregant stands or sits according to his or her own custom. The Mourners' Kaddish is often treated differently from the other variations of Kaddish in the service, as is the Half Kaddish before the maftir.

Some Reform synagogues have dropped all use of Kaddish except the Mourners' Kaddish, though in many there is now a move to reinstate it before Barechu and/or the Amidah.

Mourners' Kaddish

"Mourners' Kaddish" is said at all prayer services and certain other occasions. It takes the form of Kaddish Yehe Shelama Rabba, and is traditionally recited several times, most prominently at or towards the end of the service, after the Aleinu and/or closing Psalms and/or (on the Sabbath) Ani'im Zemirot. Following the death of a parent, child, spouse, or sibling it is customary to recite the Mourners' Kaddish in the presence of a congregation daily for thirty days or eleven months in the case of a parent, and then at every anniversary of the death. The "mourner" who says the Kaddish will be any person present at a service who has the obligation to recite Kaddish in accordance with these rules.

Customs for reciting the Mourners' Kaddish vary markedly among various communities. In Sephardi synagogues, the custom is that all the mourners stand and chant the Kaddish together. In Ashkenazi synagogues, the earlier custom was that one mourner be chosen to lead the prayer on behalf of the rest, though most congregations have now adopted the Sephardi custom. In many Reform synagogues, the entire congregation recites the Mourners' Kaddish together. This is sometimes said to be for those victims of the Holocaust who have no one left to recite the Mourner's Kaddish on their behalf. In some congregations (especially Reform and Conservative ones), the Rabbi will read a list of those who have a Yahrzeit on that day (or who have died within the past month), and then ask the congregants to name any people they are mourning for. Some synagogues try to multiply the number of times that the Mourners' Kaddish is recited, for example, reciting a separate Mourners' Kaddish after both Aleinu and then each closing Psalm. Other synagogues limit themselves to one Mourners' Kaddish at the end of the service.

It is important to note that the Mourners' Kaddish does not mention death at all, but instead praises God. Though the Kaddish is often popularly referred to as the "Jewish Prayer for the Dead," that designation more accurately belongs to the prayer called "El Maleh Rahamim," which specifically prays for the soul of the deceased.

Creative works

Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3, Kaddish, for Orchestra, Mixed Chorus, Boys' Choir, Speaker and Soprano Solo, 1963 (revised in 1977), is a dramatic work dedicated to the memory of John F. Kennedy. Some interpret it as reaction to the Holocaust, but there is no documentary evidence for this view.

Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg (1894-1956) is one of the most famous and celebrated poems of beat poet Allen Ginsberg

"Kaddish" is the title for a work by W. Francis McBeth for a concert band, based on the chant of the prayer. McBeth composed this work as a memorial for his teacher J. Clifton Williams.[4]

"Inspired by Kaddish" is a fifteen movement musical composition by Lawrence Siegel. One of the movements is the prayer itself; the remaining fourteen movements are stories of the experiences of a number of Holocaust survivors Lawrence interviewed during his research for the piece. It was debuted by the Keene State College Chamber Singers in May, 2008 in Keene, New Hampshire.[5]

French composer Maurice Ravel also composed a song using text from of part of the Kaddish. It was commissioned in 1914 by Alvina Alvi as part of a set of two songs: "Deux mélodies hébraïques". It was composed in Saint-Jean-de-Luz and first performed in June 1914 by Alvi with Ravel at the piano.

Uses in the arts

The Kaddish has been a particularly common theme and reference point for Jewish writers, especially since the Haskalah.

  • Kaddish and Other Poems is the title of a collection of poetry published by Allen Ginsberg in 1961. The first poem in the collection is entitled "Kaddish" and was dedicated to the author's mother, Naomi Ginsberg (1894-1956).
  • "Kaddish" is the title of an episode of the television show The X-Files (season 4, episode 15), in which a Golem is avenging a murder.
  • "Kaddish" is the title of an episode of the television show Homicide: Life on the Street (season 5, episode 17), in which detective John Munch (Richard Belzer), who is Jewish, investigates the rape and murder of his childhood sweetheart.
  • The Mourner's Kaddish can be heard being recited by Collins and Roger during the song "La Vie Boheme" in the musical Rent.
  • In the television series Drawn Together, Toot recites the Mourner's Kaddish in the episode "A Very Special Drawn Together Afterschool Special," after saying that her son was (metaphorically) dead.
  • In Rocky III, Rocky Balboa recites the Mourners' Kaddish for Mickey.
  • In Philip Roth's novel The Human Stain, the narrator states that the Mourners' Kaddish signifies that "a Jew is dead. Another Jew is dead. As though death were not a consequence of life but a consequence of having been a Jew."
  • In Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, one of the antagonists goes by the name of Kadaj, possibly a take on Kaddish, which keeps in line with the common use of religious symbolism throughout Final Fantasy VII (Jenova is another example of this.)
  • In Tony Kushner's play Angels in America (and the subsequent TV miniseries), the characters of Louis Ironson and Ethel Rosenberg say the Kaddish over Roy Cohn's dead body.
  • In the television show Everwood, Ephram Brown recites the Mourner's Kaddish at his mother's unveiling.
  • The Kaddish can be heard in the opening credits of Schindler's List.
  • In Yentl, at her father's burial, the rabbi asks who will say Kaddish (Kaddish is traditionally said by a son). Yentl replies that she will and, to the horror of those assembled, grabs the siddur and starts saying Kaddish.
  • Kaddisch is the first of Ravel's two songs Deux mélodies hébraïques.
  • The fictional character Dan Turpin was killed by Darkseid in Superman: The Animated Series, and at his funeral, there was a Rabbi saying Kaddish. After the episode, there was a message that the episode was dedicated to Jack Kirby, a Jewish comic book artist, who influenced the entire comic book community.
  • In Torch Song Trilogy, the main character Arnold Beckoff says the Mourner's Kaddish for his murdered lover, Alan, much to the horror of his mother.
  • Kaddish For Uncle Manny"[6] from the 4th season of Northern Exposure (first aired 5-3-93) relates to Joel's (Rob Morrow) seeking out of ten Jews in remote Alaska to join him for Kaddish in memory of his recently departed Uncle Manny in New York City. Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin) takes to Alaska's airwaves and offers a cash stipend for Jews in KBHR's listening area to trek to Cicely in order to form a minyan, or the prerequisite ten adult males, to accompany his recital of the prayer. As strangers appear from nowhere, Joel realizes that his mitzvah to say Kaddish for his uncle is best accomplished through the presence of his new Cicely family, who although Gentile, are most near and dear to him as compared with ten 'mercenary' Jews who are unknown to him. The episode ends with Joel leading the townspeople through the service.
  • Nobel Laureate Imre Kertesz's "Kaddish for an Unborn Child"
  • Zadie Smith's novel "The Autograph Man" revolves around Alex-Li Tandem, a dealer in autograph memorabilia whose father's Yahrzeit is approaching. The epilogue of the novel features a scene in which Alex-Li recites Kaddish with a minyan.
  • In Frederick Forsyth's novel The Odessa File, a Jew who commits suicide in 1960s Germany requests in his diary/suicide note that someone say Kaddish for him in Israel. At the end of the Novel, a Mossad agent involved in the plot, who comes into possession of the diary, fulfils the dead man's wish.
  • Concept album Kaddish (1993) created by Richard Wolfson (musician) with Andy Saunders using the band name Towering Inferno.
  • The "Kaddish" can be heard in the 1980 movie "Jazz Singer" staring Neil diamond. Character "Cantor Rabinovitch" played by Sir Laurence Olivier says the Kaddish while disowning his son.The Kaddish helps bring forth the power needed to evoke the emotion of loss.

References

  • Cyrus Adler, et al. "Kaddish". Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. pp. 401-403.
  • Yesodot Teffilah, Rabbi Eliezer Levi, published by Abraham Zioni Publishing House,Israel 1977. P173

External links








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