Sunday, October 7, 2012

Silencing the talkers

I've written before about trying to say kaddish when other people are talking or walking around getting ready to leave shul or, during Sukkot time, putting away their Lulov (palm branch) and Etrog (citron). It's just annoying and disrespectful and rude.

Still, I understand it. To most people, kaddish doesn't mean that much. It didn't mean much to me before I began saying it. I'd like to quote Leon Wieseltier again from his book Kaddish: "Until now, the mourner's kaddish used to be the least important part of the prayer service. I mean, for me. It was the small print in the liturgy, a morbid recitation in the interstices of worship. But no more. Now I inhabit the interstices" (Kaddish, at p. 28).

Today being Hoshana Rabba, there was a lot of activity in shul, so I was already expecting noise during kaddish. Last week someone was putting away their Aravot (willow branches) in aluminum foil during kaddish and it drove me crazy. I didn't say anything to him because I didn't want to embarrass anyone in particular.

On numerous occasions during this kaddish year, I've said in my mind to others as I was saying kaddish: "shut the fuck up!" Today, I didn't use these words, but, before beginning the Mourner's Kaddish after the Hoshanas, I said to the congregation, "please be quiet for the kaddish." That worked.

As my mother often told me as well as her clients, people often don't know what they are supposed to do. They need to be told, nicely, politely and clearly. Today I finally heeded her advice. I wish I would have done so earlier.

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