Thursday, April 12, 2007

The key

One fine day, some months ago, I was reciting the response to Kaddish, on auto-pilot, as always, when it suddenly dawned on me that I actually understood the words.

"Y'hei sh'mei rabba m'varach . . . .

May Your great name be blessed . . .

l'alam u-l'olmei olmaya . . .

. . . (roughly) forever and forever"

So I started trying to listen to the rest of it. That's virtually impossible during Kaddish Shalem (Full Kaddish), because (at least in the Ashkenazi nusach) it's sung at top speed. But during Chatzi Kaddish (Half Kaddish) or, sometimes, when they say Kaddish Yatom (Mourner's Kaddish) slowly, the slower speed enables me to translate from Aramaic into English without looking at the translation.

"Blessed and praised and glorified and exalted (extolled?) and er, 'yitnasei'?, beautified (?), um, elevated?, and lauded be Your holy name, blessed is It (the Name), above all blessings and songs/poems, er, praises (?), and consolations that are said (?) in the world (?), and let us say Amen.

So that's what it means!

I was unable to continue with my Ulpan Hebrew class (long story), but those few recent semesters of Hebrew have made a world of difference.


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