Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kaddish: shul delivery device

Kaddish is the Rabbi's greatest invention to compel shul attendance.  Since kaddish can only be recited in a minyan of at least 10, the obligation to say kaddish necessitates going to synagogue on a daily basis.  If you are committed to reciting kaddish at every prayer service, then you have to go to shul at least twice a day, once for the morning service and once for the combined afternoon and evening services.  And not only must you go to shul, you have to get there, for the morning service at least, on time, since the Rabbis in their brilliance/perversity placed kaddishes at either end of the service, just before P'sukei D'zimra (the introductory psalms), and then after the Aleynu prayer.  And just in case you might want to cut out after Aleynu, the synagogue rabbi invariably offers a short word of Torah, after which the mourner recites yet another kaddish, the Kaddish D'rabanan (Rabbi's Kaddish). 

As if attending shul every day for every minute of every service during weekdays were not enough, services on the Sabbath and Yom Tov (holidays) require an even greater level of time commitment.  The Sabbath service at most shuls lasts about 2 1/2 hours, depending on the length of the Torah reading and how long the Rabbi speaks.  On the last day of Passover, with Hallel, readings from two torahs, the Rabbi's speech, Yizkor and Musaf, the services I attended lasted almost 3 1/2 hours.

That's why on most Sabbaths, I daven at an early minyan that takes about an hour and 3/4 to two hours.  I simply don't have the energy to last from beginning to end of a 2 1/2 to 3 hour service.  At the regular service, most people come late so they are not sitting through the entire service.  They don't have to come on time because they are not saying kaddish.  That's what I did before my mother died.  And they can leave early if they get tired or bored.  I did that too before I had to say kaddish.

One Sunday a few weeks into my kaddish saying, I went to shul on a Rosh Chodesh (new month).  It turned out that a boy was having his bar mitzvah that day.  With all the speeches and celebrations, services lasted two hours.  I sat there, feeling stuck.  I played with my new iphone to pass the time.  I stayed to the end, squirming in my seat, then said kaddish. 

I don't mean to complain.  Or maybe I do.

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