What are the different types of Kaddish?

There are four basic Kadeshimthat are recited each day:  A) The half-Kaddishis recited before the Amidahprayer at Minhahand Arvit, and in Shaharitbetween Yishtabahand Barechu. B) Kaddish Titkabalis recited after the Amidahand Selihotas a plea that the congregation’s prayers which have just been recited should be accepted. During Shaharit, this Kaddish is delayed until after Uva Letzion Goel, when the essential section of the morning prayers is concluded.  C) KaddishYehe Shelama Rabah(to which Ashkenazimrefer as the “mourner’s Kaddish”) is recited after the Shir Shel Yomat the end of Shaharitand after learning Torah (specifically, the “written Torah,” as opposed to Talmud andhalachah) and reading Tehilim. D) Kaddish Al Yisrael(to which the Arizal, as cited by the Ben Ish Hai, refers as the “mourner’s Kaddish”) is recited before Hodu, or, according to the Syrian custom, before Baruch She’amar,and before Alenu. It is also recited after studying Mishnah, Gemara or Midrash, preceded by the recitation of “Rabbi Hananayah Ben Akashia Omer…”


                      Why do mourners recite Kaddish?

Contrary to popular belief, the mourner’s Kaddishis not a special prayer for the deceased. Rather, Kaddishproclaims the sanctity and greatness of Hashem, and the merit of this proclamation helps to elevate the soul of the deceased (Rav Chaim Vital, Shaar Hakavanot Derush Hakadishim15b). During the 11 months following the passing of a parent, a son is obligated to recite Kaddishas a source of merit for the deceased parent’s soul. A child’s Kaddishrecitation is more beneficial than its recitation by another person, because, as the Gemara comments, “bera kar’a de’avuha– a son is his father’s leg.” Thismeans that a son is able to perpetuate his parent’s memory and elevate his soul to greater heights in the heavens, through the recitation of Kaddish. Indeed, the Midrash relates that Rabbi Akiva taught the son of a wicked person to recite Kaddishin orderto alleviate his father’s suffering in the afterlife.


               What is the significance of the response of
Amen Yeheh Shemeh Rabbah”?

The phrase “Yeheh Shemeh Rabbah” contains seven words and 28 letters. The Bet Yosef(by Maran, Rabbi Yosef Karo, authorof the Shulhan Aruch) cites Mahari Abuhav’s observation that the first verse of the Torah, which speaks of the creation of physical existence, as well as the verse introducing the Ten Commandments (Shemot 20:1), the expression of Hashem’s will which is the purpose of creation, each contain seven words and 28 letters. When we recite “Yeheh Shemeh Rabbah,” we pray for the time when Hashem’s Name will be universally exalted, and we therefore allude to the time when creation and its purpose become united. The seven words allude to the seven heavens, which signify the seven levels of holiness that separate Man from Gd (Vilna Gaon), and the 28 letters allude to the requirement (mentioned in the Talmud) that we recite this phrase with all our strength, as the Hebrew word “koah” (“strength”) has the numerical value of 28 (Bet Yosef).


               Which words are included in the  congregation’s
Yeheh Shemeh Rabbah” response?

Some halachic authorities maintain that one should respond by reciting, “Yeheh Shemeh Rabbah”through the words “da’amiran be’alma,” and this is the prevalent custom among Syrian Jews. Those who follow this custom must ensure not to answer “Amen” before completing the entire response. Others, however, maintain that one recites only until “ule’olmeh olmaya,” and this is the common practice among Ashkenazim.


               At which points during Kaddishis it  appropriate for one to bow?

The Shulhan Aruch(Orah Haim56:4) writes that the hazzan should bow at the following points during the Kaddishrecitation: 1. “Yitgadal”; 2. “Yeheh Shemeh Rabbah”; 3. “Yitbarach”; 4. “Berich hu”; 5. “Ve’imru Amen” (at the end of Kaddish). Additionally, some have the custom to bow before each time the congregation responds “Amen.” This comes out to two extra bows by bothphrases of “ve’imru amen.” One being before “veyekarev mishecheh,” and the second is before “yehe shemeh rabah.” A head nod is not sufficient, and a full bow should be practiced (Rabbi David Yosef, Halacha Berurah).

Before reciting the final verse of Kaddish– “Oseh shalom” – one bows while taking three steps back (beginning with the right foot), bows to the right, recites the words, “Oseh shalom bimromav,” bows to the left, recites, “hu berahamav yaaseh shalom alenu,” bows forward, recites, “ve’al kolamo Yisrael,” and then stands straight and concludes, ”ve’imru amen.”


               Must one stand when listening to Kaddish?

The Rambam writes that one should stand when reciting Kaddishor any other davar shebikedushah(text that relates to the theme of Gd’s sanctity). Some halachic authorities maintain that only one who entered the room in the middle of Kaddish, or who was standing when Kaddishbegan, must stand for the remainder of Kaddish, until the words, “Amen Yeheh Shemeh Rabbah.” Other authorities require standing until the word “yitbarach,” and others maintain that one must stand throughout the entire recitation of Kaddish.

There is also a debate as to which Kaddishrecitations require standing. The Mishnah Berurahwrites that one should stand for all recitations of Kaddish, whereas the practice of the Arizal was to remain standing specifically for the Kaddishfollowing the Amidah of Shaharit, MinhahandArvit.

The prevalent practice among Sepharadimis to sit during Kaddishunless one had been standing when Kaddishbegan. Many have the custom to stand during the half-kaddishrecited during the Friday night prayer service, given the significant spiritual benefits that one can receive at that time. It is proper for a Sephardic Jew praying in an Ashkenazic minyan to stand for Kaddishand Barechu(Rav David Yosef, Halachah Berurah56:17).


               Should one whose parents are still alive  recite Kaddishfor a deceased son?

The Tzitz Eliezer(Rav Eliezer Waldenberg) writes that although Kaddishwas instituted primarily for a child to recite for a deceased parent, nevertheless, a parent’s recitation of Kaddishfor a child is also beneficial. However, if a person who lost his son wishes to recite Kaddishbut his father objects, he should not recite Kaddish. Instead, he should serve as hazzanand have in mind that his recitation of Barechuand Kaddish Titkabalshould be a source of merit for his son. Additionally, the grandfather should either recite Kaddishfor his grandson, or pay someone to recite Kaddishon the grandson’s behalf.


               If two people are reciting Kaddishat different
paces, does one answer “Amen”after both?

If they recite the words within several seconds of one another, then one should answer “Amen’’ to only the first recitation he hears. He may then recite, “Baruch Hashem le’olam, amen ve’amen” after hearing the second recitation. However, if there is a more significant gap between their recitations, then one answers “Amen” after each.

It should be noted that if the first individual is reciting the Kaddishvery rapidly and mumbling the words, one should not answer “Amen” after his recitation; one should answer “Amen” to Kaddishonly if the words are pronounced correctly.


               May a minor recite Kaddishfor
a deceased relative?

The Rambam (Hilchot Yesodeh HaTorah5:1) writes, “The entire family of Israel is commanded concerning the sanctification of His great Name…” The phrase “the entire family of Israel” seems to include both adults and children, and thus even a minor, who has not yet reached the age of mitzvahobligation, may recite Kaddishand proclaim the sanctity of Gd’s Name. However, it is not customary for a minor to recite Kaddishalone, rather he should recite it with an adult (Kaf Hachayim).


               Why is the text of Kaddishwritten
primarily in Aramaic, instead of
Lashon Hakodesh(ancient Hebrew)?

Tosafot(Berachot) explains that the merit of reciting the Kaddishis so great that our recitation of Kaddishcould arouse the jealousy of the heavenly angels, who are not privileged to recite this text. We therefore recite the Kaddishin Aramaic, as the angels understand only Lashon Hakodesh. Additionally, the text was composed at a time when the primary language spoken by Jews was Aramaic, and the rabbis therefore chose this language for the Kaddishtext, in order to ensure that it would be understood by all. The text has since remained in its original form, even long after Aramaic ceased to be the spoken language of the Jews.