Monday, January 23, 2012

The Power of Kaddish

Today in shul two brothers came to say Kaddish.  It was the Yahrzeit of one of their parents.  I could tell they were not too familiar with the routines of shul, but I could surmise that they undertook to come to shul every year on this day to say Kaddish.  And I've seen this before: Jews who are not regular shul-goers feel compelled to come on the anniversary of their loved one's passing.  The same holds true for the Yizkor service recited on the festivals of Passover, Shavuot Shmini Atzeret as well as on Yom Kippur. 

What is it about these rituals that Jews find so powerful?  I supposes it connects with one of the essentials of Jewishness: the sense of peoplehood and generational bonds.  It is quite possible that Kaddish represents the most powerful tool the Rabbis ever devised for keeping us connected to our traditions and to each other.

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