Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Hush up, please"! Mourners saying kaddish

In a certain way, people can be divided into three categories: those whose parents are alive, those who have lost one or both parents in the more distant past, and those who have lost a parent recently.  The later two categories can be subdivided into adults who have lost parents and children who have lost parents.  I, thank God, am not in the latter group.  I have friends and relatives who are, and the idea of growing up without both of one's parents is hard to fathom.

In either case, there is a chasm between people whose parents still live and those who have lost a parent.  The death of a parent is a defining event in one's life, and, in a way, the process of mourning is the gradual acceptance, or at least dealing with, the shift from one group to the other. 

This gap was quite evident in shul last Saturday evening.  As the evening Ma'ariv prayer was moving toward its conclusion, ushering in the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the new week, the Rabbi said Sefirat Ha'omer (the counting each evening of the 49 days from Passover to Shavuot).  The congregation then broke into a commotion as people began talking and getting the urge to get home and begin the week.  But there was still the Mourners Kaddish to recite.   I suspect that most, or at least many, of the congregants were younger people whose parents are alive and thus have never said kaddish.  So they weren't attuned to the upcoming kaddish or the need of mourners for quiet and decorum.  So I did something I seldom do; I "hushed" real loud.  That worked.  The place settled down.  I and the other mourners said kaddish.  Afterwards, another mourner and myself acknowledged our mutual displeasure with the scene.

Mourners seem to inhabit a different universe than people who have never been mourners. It's a world we don't enter voluntarily.  We are thrust into it, against our will.  We try to accommodate ourselves to it.  It helps to have the cooperation of others.

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