Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Significance of 7th of Marcheshvan

Because Mom's yahrtzeit is the 7th of Kislev, I will stop saying kaddish on the 6th of Marcheshvan (the night of Wednesday, October 13, 2010).   Rabbi Shneur Silberberg has advised that the timing of this is especially significant because on the 7th of Marcheshvan, which is 15 days after Sukkot, in Israel, Jews add the words What "V’ten Tal Umatar Livracha" ("and bestow dew and rain for blessing") to their prayers.

According to Ask Moses,2089737/What-is-V-ten-Tal-Umatar-Livracha.html
This formal request for rain is inserted in the 9th blessing of the daily Amidah during the months that Israel is most in need of rain. In Israel this request is inserted commencing Cheshvan 7, following the opinion of Rabban Gamliel in the Mishnah, "fifteen days after the festival [of Sukkot] so that the last Jew [returning home from the festival] could reach the River Euphrates". In the Diaspora, this request is not added until December 4th, following the opinion of Chananiah in the Talmud "In the Diaspora [we do not begin to pray] until the sixtieth day after the [Tishrei] cycle". We do not insert this request at the beginning of the rain season (Shmini Atzeret), because the need for rain is not yet urgent enough to officially request it.
I am in Israel at this time, and will be here until the beginning of Kislev. So the way I look at it, I will be "home free" from saying kaddish on the 7th of Marcheshvan and Mom's neshama will be "home," as she merited Gan Eden after 11 months less one day of kaddish.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

A prayer by the Chazon Ish

May it be Your Will Hashem, our G-d and G-d of our forefathers, that You have mercy on my son [name of son] son of [mother's name], and direct his heart to love and fear Your Name, and to be diligent in the study of Your holy Torah. May You remove from before him all circumstances that may deter him from diligent study of Your holy Torah and may you make ready all the conditions that will bring him/her closer to Your holy Torah.

Friday, January 1, 2010

More about Kaddish

Among the 613 mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah is the Biblical commandment (Leviticus 22:32) to publicly sanctify God's Name and not desecrate God's Name. The words of the kaddish are one way to sanctify God's Name.

Kaddish is a public praise of God's name. What makes it public? Saying kaddish among a minyan (a quorum of 10 Jewish men) makes it public.

The translated kaddish prayer begins "Exalted and hallowed be His great Name," to which the others present say, "amen." Thus, others respond by also praising God's Name.

Later in the kaddish, both mourner and public say, "yehesh mei rabba . . . ," meaning, "May His great Name be blessed in this world and in all worlds." Again, both mourner and public praise God's Name.

Nothing about death or mourning appears in the words of the kaddish. Rather, the mourner, many times each day, publicly re-affirms his/her devotion to the Almighty, notwithstanding a terrible loss. That is how I see it, anyway.

I was taught that saying kaddish is one way to cancel out the al lack of praise for God's name, or, noo matter how accidental or unintentional, the opposite of praise. And that no matter how saintly a person was in life, such unintentional acts or omissions are bound to have happened many times. Perhaps a person did or said something that caused a non-Jew to curse the Jews or God. Did a Jew act arrogantly toward non-Jews? It does not take a Berinie Madoff to give people an excuse to curse Jews and, thereby, curse God. Perhaps someone publicly violated essential Jewish laws, which is a public statement as well.

And to do the opposite - to sanctify God's name? Well, certainly there have been acts of Jews that caused non-Jews to praise God or praise the Jews.

And how about, as mentioned above, saying kaddish publicly. And to be there for others when they need a minyan so that others can say the kaddish. And then there is the act of giving one's life for the sake of  God's name.

After one dies, is there a tally of the number of times one sanctified or desecrated God's name? I don't know. But we are also taught, through a story about Rabbi Akiva, that publicly saying kaddish in memory of a person does mitigate the harm to one's soul by causing desecration of God's name during life or failing to praise God's name.

In the story, severely shortened here (you can google it and read about it elsewhere in various forms and details), Rabbi Akiva, while walking in the woods, comes upon a suffering soul on this earth, and learns that the man had not led an exemplary life. Rabbi Akiva takes it upon himself to teach the man's son Torah, to read and write, to recite grace after meals, to say "Shema" and to pray. Later, after the boy prayed in public, saying the kaddish and causing the people to praise G-d's name in response, the man returned to Rabbi Akiva to thank him for helping ease his suffering..

This story teaches us the something about the power of kaddish in memory of a parent. Saying it praises God's name and causes everyone present to praise God's name in response. That's a powerful incentive to get as many people as possible to praise God's name.

So when I say kaddish, I and others are praising God's name in memory of Chaya bat Yisrael, Zichrona Livracha, may her memory be for a blessing. And though mom would never have intentionally hurt a fly, and did may kind things for many people, I do this for her to be sure that the tally heavily is in her favor.