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gailcalled's avatar

Do you have info about the Kaddish; the Jewish mourner's prayer.

Asked by gailcalled (54570points) January 13th, 2007
The Kaddish refers to man's sanctification of and relationship to G*d, and mentions nothing about death nor the one being mourned. Does anyone know the reasons? The rhythm of saying it in Hebrew (or Aramaic, I guess) is very comforting, but the English translation is a revelation.
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7 Answers

sarahsugs's avatar
The text of the mourner's Kaddish is is the same as the text of the regular Kaddish used throughout the service. It's normally a transition into and out of the major prayers, and usually it is sung/chanted. The only difference when it is the mourner's Kaddish is that it is said instead of sung. The explanation I've heard for this is that even/especially when confronting death it is important to remind oneself of the holiness of God. Also, that death isn't something separate or different, but part of God's holiness like everything else. I have no idea if that is an "official" explanation, but that's what I was taught.
gailcalled's avatar
Thank you, Sarah. There are a lot of rabbinical explanations online. Yours does just as well, but you know the old joke..two Jews, three opinion.
Margie's avatar
Good question, Gail. To add to Sarah's great explanation, Kaddish is from the Hebrew root,, which means holiness. It's the same word as "kadosh" - holiness, and "kiddush" - the prayer to sanctify wine. The prayer comes from the merkavah literature, which are texts related to Ezekial and Isaiah's mystical visions of God in a charriot. Unlike other words for holiness, the root connotes God's otherwordliness, that which we cannot fully understand. So, by saying kaddish, we affirm the holiness of God, and that we know we can't fully understand God's actions. When reeling from the death of a loved one, it important to reaffirm our connection with God and the world. But also, by recognizing that we don't understand why everything happens, we save ourselves from the pain of trying to rationalize tragedy, place blame, or assume that the death was God's retribution for some wrong act.
gailcalled's avatar
Thank you both. The rhythm of the familiar words have soothed me for years and connected me to my roots, but I never really understood what I was saying or why.
Falimar's avatar
Judaism never focuses on death. It focuses on life to strengthen the lives of the living. Did you know Jews believe in reincarnation?
gailcalled's avatar
Is that true in the general sense or for specific Jewish sects or movements. There are the historical belief systems and the more contemporary ones. For example, I belonged to a Reconstructioniast Synagogue as an adult; very different from the Reform Temple of my youth. Where in the texts are the writings about reincarnation? Corporeal, spiritual? I'd like to know more about this, Falimar.
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