Thursday, 11 April 2019
Today I want to write something about the Kaddish prayer. The name Kaddish comes from the Hebrew word Kadosh. Kaddish means sanctification or holiness, but that word never appears in the prayer. However; a form of it does appear twice.
Kaddish is one of the most central liturgical prayers. Every service is made up of parts and each part ends with a form of the Kaddish (sometimes more than one). All rabbinical scholars don't agree on which types of Kaddish are valid and for which purposes; so some of this depends on which rabbinical tradition you follow.
The Forms of the Kaddish I want to share with you today are the Reader's Kaddish (also called the Chatzi Kaddish - meaning Half Kaddish), the Whole Kaddish (it stands to reason if you have a Half Kaddish that you would have a Whole Kaddish), the Student's Kaddish, the Rabbis Kaddish, and the very well known Mourners Kaddish.
There is one more type of Kaddish of which I am aware, Kaddish d'Itchadata. It is used only at funerals (not the same as the Mourners Kaddish) and when completing the study of a tractate of Talmud. You might ask, "What do these two events have in common?" This special Kaddish is a prayer for revival. At a funeral we pray for life from the dead. Also, when we finish a section of the Talmud we pray for revival.
The last thing I want to say today about the Kaddish is that it is prayed in Aramaic. Again, you are tempted to ask, "Why?" I'll tell you, "Because it's our tradition." Seriously, the rabbis have many possible explanations for this tradition. Like, "This prayer is such high praise we don't use the holy language of Hebrew to pray it because we don't want to make the angels (who speak only Hebrew - according to our tradition) jealous over the fact that we can pray this and they can't."
It is also believed that the tradition to pray Kaddish in Aramaic is because the rabbis wanted the people (who spoke Aramaic but did not understand the holy language of Hebrew) to understand this prayer of high praise to God.
The Half Kaddish - Translated
Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will.
May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.
May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.
Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.
Rabbi Michael Weiner,