Sunday, July 22, 2012

Acceptable conduct during kaddish

I mentioned a while ago a friend's comment about his strong feelings that nonmourners should not be engaging in any activity that shows lack of respect toward those saying kaddish.  (see This includes putting away one's tallis (prayer shawl), tephilin, and, certainly, talking.

I haven't had the kind of strong reaction my friend had, but lately the thing that really annoys is the talking during kaddish.  (see my post  In my previous post I mentioned that, at the conclusion of prayers, the rabbi spoke at length about the laws of the upcoming holiday of Tisha B'av.  Wouldn't you know it, a number of people had questions about what he said and began discussing them with the rabbi right next to where I was standing and saying the Rabbi's Kaddish.  While the Rabbi's Kaddish is not the Mourner's Kaddish, and, thus perhaps does not have the same level of sanctity as the latter, the only reason I am saying that kaddish is that I am a mourner.  It seems to me any kaddish demands a level of seriousness and attentiveness from the kahal (community).  I was getting pretty annoyed and, as I recited the words, inside I was screaming, "shut the f*** up!"

I don't demand complete silence in shul. I admit to talking during the prayer service.  I'm not proud of it, but I'm it's not easy being silent among a group of people (especially Jews) and sometimes something strikes me that I want to share with someone sitting near me.

As for kaddish, nonmourners should ideally wait until mourners have finished saying kaddish before preparing to leave.  Does it really make a difference if you wait one minute to fold your tallis or put away your tephilin until the mourners have recited the final Mourner's Kaddish?  This is the ideal. However, I can live with the following: 1) others can put away their tallis as long as it doesn't fly in my face when they fold it; 2) others can put away their tephilin if it is done as quietly as possible, without loud clicking of the tephilin boxes; and 3) others should not talk while mourners are reciting kaddish, the Mourner's Kaddish or the Rabbi's Kaddish.

Kaddish is supposed to have a metaphysical effect on the soul of the deceased.  (see I don't know if it does or doesn't, but I do know that my intention during kaddish is to try to create a pathway between my soul and my mother's soul.  Failing that, I attempt at least to get in touch with my own feelings.  Failing that, I am at least saying words that speak to the human attempt to raise God's profile in the world as well as the hope of a "great peace" that will descend from heaven upon us.  Any one of these is reason enough for people to pay attention and respond appropriately to my words.  May it be so.

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