Monday, April 30, 2012

11 months for kaddish, then a funeral :(

The call came Saturday night after Shabbat/Sabbath--an old friend had lost her mother.

It was an odd sensation, to find myself teary-eyed at the graveside of a woman whom I'd barely known and hadn't seen in years.  I suppose that happened because I didn't have an opportunity to shovel earth onto my own mother's coffin.

The eleven months of saying kaddish for my father are now ended.  But I don't feel the same sense of having fulfilled my obligation that I felt after saying kaddish for my mother for eleven months.  Unfortunately, due to my somewhat-worse health since my father's death, I probably missed as many minyanim as I made, and didn't say kaddish nearly as often as I would have liked.  Following Larry's advice to study in lieu of reciting kaddish when I couldn't get to minyan certainly helped.   In a rare moment of intelligence, I even actually later thought to check the copy of Rabbi Maurice Lamm's The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning that Rabbi Gil Student had been kind enough to send me, and got rabbinical confirmation that study is an acceptable substitute for saying kaddish when one is unable to get to a minyan.  So I made it a point to do a bit of studying at between assignments at the office.  When major projects began to interfere, I switched to good old Mechon Mamre, and made sure to recite under my breath, at the beginning of each workday, at least one random psalm not among those found in any morning or evening services.  After some clicking around, I found Psalm 54, which became my favorite--it's short, the Hebrew is not too difficult, and it contains my father's Hebrew name, Ozer.

But my parents had no tradition of praying outside of synagogue, other than faithfully reciting those blessings said around the Erev Shabbat/Sabbath Eve or Erev Yom Tov/Holiday Eve dinner table, and as for studying, I honestly don't remember whether my parents even owned a chumash. So memorializing my father in a place other than synagogue and through studying as a substitute for kaddish didn't feel quite the same as saying kaddish.

Sorry, Dad.  I tried.


Anonymous Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

> But I don't feel the same sense of having fulfilled my obligation

Probably because you're not done. As long as you're alive you're not done. A child has an obligation to be the kind of person the parent would have been proud of, to live the positive values the parent believed in and to transmit them to his/her children in turn. That kind of obligation doesn't end when kaddish does. See the chapter on kaddish in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch where the author ends off by pointing out that kaddish is really secondary and if that's one's entire observance of the passing of one's loved one then one has missed the point.

Fri May 04, 11:19:00 AM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks for the reminder, Garnel.

Fri May 04, 02:14:00 PM 2012  

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