The Kaddish Prayer
"holy") is a prayer found in the Jewish prayer service. The
central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of
God's name. In the liturgy, different versions of the Kaddish are used
functionally as separators between sections of the service. The term "Kaddish"
is often used to refer specifically to "The Mourners' Kaddish",
said as part of the mourning rituals in Judaism in all prayer services
as well as at funerals and memorials. When mention is made of "saying
Kaddish", this unambiguously denotes the rituals of mourning.
The opening words of this prayer are inspired by Ezekiel 38:23
A vision of God becoming great in the eyes of all the nations. The central
line of the Kaddish in Jewish tradition is the congregation's response:
Yehai shmeh rabba mevarakh lealam ulalmay almaya, "May His great
name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity", a public declaration
of God's greatness and eternality. This response is an Aramaic translation
of the Hebrew "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever
and ever," which is to be found in the Jerusalem Targum Genesis 49:2
and Deuteronomy 6:4, and is similar to the wording of Daniel 2:20
The Mourner's, Rabbis' and Complete Kaddish end with a supplication for
peace, which is in Hebrew, and comes from the Bible Job 25:1
"Mourners' Kaddish" is said at all prayer services and certain
other occasions. It takes the form of Kaddish Yehe Shelama Rabba, and
is traditionally recited several times, most prominently at or towards
the end of the service, after the Aleinu and/or closing Psalms and/or
(on the Sabbath) Ani'im Zemirot. Following the death of a parent, child,
spouse, or sibling it is customary to recite the Mourners' Kaddish in
the presence of a congregation daily for thirty days or eleven months
in the case of a parent, and then at every anniversary of the death. The
"mourner" who says the Kaddish will be any person present at
a service who has the obligation to recite Kaddish in accordance with
Customs for reciting the Mourners' Kaddish vary markedly among various
communities. In Sephardi synagogues, the custom is that all the mourners
stand and chant the Kaddish together. In Ashkenazi synagogues, the earlier
custom was that one mourner be chosen to lead the prayer on behalf of
the rest, though most congregations have now adopted the Sephardi custom
of every one saying it individually.
The various versions of the Kaddish are:
· Hatzi Kaddish or Kaddish Le'ela – Literally "Half
Kaddish", sometimes called the "Readers Kaddish"
· Kaddish Yatom or Kaddish Yehe Shelama Rabba – Literally
"Orphan's Kaddish", although commonly referred to as kaddish
Avelim, the "Mourners' Kaddish"
· Kaddish Shalem or Kaddish Titkabbal – Literally "Complete
Kaddish" or "Whole Kaddish"
· Kaddish d'Rabbanan or Kaddish al Yisrael – Literally "Kaddish
of the Rabbis"
· Kaddish ahar Hakk'vura – Literally "Kaddish after
a Burial", also called Kaddish d'Ithadata named after one of the
first distinguishing words in this variant. In the presence of a minyan,
this version is also said at the siyum upon completion of the comprehensive
study of any one of the Talmud's tractates ("volumes") and is
printed at the end of most tractates.
All versions of the Kaddish begin with the Hatzi Kaddish (there are some
extra passages in the Kaddish after a burial). The longer versions contain
additional paragraphs, and are often named after distinctive words in
Along with the Shema and Amidah, the Kaddish is one of the most important
and central prayers in the Jewish liturgy.
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