views updated May 08 2018


KADDISH (Aram. קַדִּישׁ; "holy"), a doxology, most of it in Aramaic, recited with congregational responses at the close of individual sections of the public service and at the conclusion of the service itself. There are four main types of Kaddish:

(a) the whole (or complete) kaddish, the text of which is as follows:

Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire house of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

The congregational response, which is repeated by the *sheli'aḥ ẓibbur is

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say Amen.

May the prayers and supplications of the whole house of Israel be accepted by their Father in heaven; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His high places, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say Amen.

It is recited by the sheli'aḥ ẓibbur after each *Amidah (virtually concluding the whole service), except in the morning service when it comes after the prayer U-Va le-Ẓiyyon.

(b) the "half" kaddish consists of the above text with the exception of the concluding passage, from "May the prayers and supplications …" until the end of the prayer. It is also recited by the sheli'aḥ ẓibbur and functions as a link between the sections of each service. In the morning service, the "Half " Kaddish is recited after the psalms (*Pesukei de-Zimra), the Amidah (or the *Taḥanun, when that is said), and the Reading of the Law. In the afternoon service, it is recited before the Amidah; in the evening service before Ve-Hu Raḥum (when the special psalms before it are recited) and before the Amidah. It is also recited before the *Musaf service.

(c) the kaddish de-rabbanan ("the scholars' Kaddish") consists of the whole Kaddish with "May the prayers and supplications …," however, replaced by, "[We pray] for Israel, for our teachers and their disciples and the disciples of their disciples, and for all who study the Torah, here and everywhere. May they have abundant peace, loving-kindness, ample sustenance and salvation from their Father Who is in heaven; and say, Amen." The prayer then continues with the passage "May there be abundant peace from Heaven …" It is recited by mourners after communal study and in the synagogue, particularly after the reading of *Ba-Meh Madlikin (Shab. 2) on Friday nights, after the early morning service, and after *Ein Ke-Elohenu.

(d) the mourners' kaddish contains the full text of the whole Kaddish with the exception of the line "May the prayers and supplications …" It is recited by the close relatives of the deceased (see: *Mourning) after the *Aleinu, at the end of each service, and may be repeated after the reading of additional psalms.

All four forms of the Kaddish are recited standing, facing Jerusalem. In some communities, the whole congregation stands, in others only the mourners. If one stands at the beginning of the Kaddish, however, one should not sit down before the response "May His great name be blessed …" When the Kaddish is recited at the burial service, an addition, stressing the eschatological aspect of the Kaddish, is made to the opening paragraph. It is also added to the Kaddish recited at the celebration marking the conclusion of the study of a Talmud tractate (Siyyum).

The Kaddish is characterized by an abundance of praise and glorification of God and an expression of hope for the speedy establishment of His kingdom on earth. The brief reference to the latter ("May He establish His kingdom") in the usual Ashkenazi version is expanded by the Sephardim with ve-Yaẓmaḥ purkaneih ve-karev meshiḥeih ("May He make His salvation closer and bring His Messiah near"). The congregational response "May His great name be blessed for ever and to all eternity" is the kernel of the prayer (Sifre to Deut. 32:3). The verse is akin to Daniel 2:20 (in Aramaic), to Job 1:21, and to Psalm 113:2 (in Hebrew), and to the eulogy "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever," which was recited in the Temple (Yoma 3:8). According to R. Joshua b. Levi, "joining loudly and in unison in [this] congregational response …" has the power of influencing the heavenly decree in one's favor (Shab. 119b; cf. Mid. Prov. 10).

The simple form in which the eschatological pleas are phrased and the lack of allusion to the destruction of the Temple indicate the antiquity of the Kaddish prayer. The opening phrase, "Magnified and sanctified be His great name in the world …" (whose origin is Ezek. 38:23), shows affinities to the "Lord's Prayer" (Matt. 6:9–13); similar phrases were apparently used in a variety of public and private prayers (e.g., that of thanksgiving for rain, cited in TJ, Ta'an. 1:3, 64b). The Kaddish prayer was not originally part of the synagogue service. The Talmud (Sot. 49a, and Rashi ad loc.) specifically records that it first served as a concluding prayer to the public aggadic discourse which was also conducted in Aramaic. The Kaddishde-Rabbanan testifies to this connection. Special verses were even inserted into the Kaddish de-Rabbanan, for the nasi, resh galuta, and the heads of the academies (cf. Schechter in Gedenkbuch D. Kaufmann (1900), Hebr. part 52–4), or, as in Yemen, for such distinguished scholars as Maimonides (Letter of Naḥmanides to the French Rabbis, in Koveẓ Teshuvotha-Rambam, Leipzig edition (1859), 9a).

The Kaddish is mentioned as part of the prescribed synagogue daily prayers for the first time in tractate Soferim (c. sixth century c.e.). By geonic times, it had become a statutory synagogue prayer requiring the presence of ten adult males. The name Kaddish is first mentioned in Soferim 10:7, and the explanatory passage beginning "Blessed and praised … etc." (which is recited in Hebrew) was added for non-Aramaic speakers. The plea for the acceptance of the prayer ("May the prayers and supplications … etc."), the prayer for the welfare of the supplicants ("May there be abundant peace from heaven …"), and the concluding passage ("He who creates peace … etc.," cf. Job 25:2), were all later additions.

The German and Italian text, quoted above, is derived from Seder Rav*Amram (ed. by D. Hedegard, 1951) but exhibits local variations. In the Yemenite rite, the phrase le-ella u-le-ella ("much beyond all praises") is repeated all the year round, and not only during the *ten days of penitence. In Jerusalem and Safed the word kaddisha is added in the Kaddishde-Rabbanan ending "in this holy place and everywhere," and according to the Maḥzor Romanyah, several additions were made to the passage "May the prayers and supplication …" On the other hand, the final invitation to the congregation to respond "amen" (i.e., ve-imru, "and say") is neither in the Seder Rav Amram nor in other old manuscripts.

The practice of mourners reciting the Kaddish seems to have originated during the 13th century, at the time of severe persecutions in Germany by the Crusaders. No reference is made to it in the Maḥzor Vitry (the comment on page 74 is a later interpolation). According to a late aggadah (originating in Seder Eliyahu Zuta), R. *Akiva rescued a soul from punishment in hell by urging the latter's sons to recite the verse "May His great name be blessed …" The idea was already earlier expressed in Sanhedrin 104a. The mourner's Kaddish, now recited for 11 and not the full 12 months of the mourning period (according to the Sh. Ar., yd 376:4, the longer period implies a disrespectful view of the parents' piety), is also recited on the *yahrzeit. It has been suggested that the Kaddish became the mourner's prayer because of the mention of the resurrection of the dead in the messianic passage at the beginning. (The phrase, however, no longer occurs in most versions today.) The Kaddish is not properly "a prayer for the soul of the departed," but an expression of the ẓidduk ha-din ("justification of judgment") by the bereaved, conforming to the spirit of the maxim: "Man is obliged to give praise for the evil [that befalls him] even as he gives praise for the good" (Ber. 9:5). However, the prayer is popularly thought to be a "prayer for. the dead" to the extent that a son, in Yiddish, is often called "a Kaddish," and a man is said to have died "without leaving a Kaddish."

Musical Rendition

The various forms and functions of the Kaddish in the service are matched by a variety of musical configurations. Melodies range from simple parlando recitatives to elaborate solo productions, from light tunes in the popular taste to most solemn and impressive compositions. Salamone de *Rossi even set the entire text for three- and five-part chorus (Ha-Shirim asher li-Shelomo, Venice, 1623, nos. 1 and 16). Nevertheless, some guiding principles may be ascertained from the multiplicity of Kaddish tunes. In the Ashkenazi rite, the Kaddish before the Amidah (especially in the Musaf prayer) is distinguished by a striving for sublime melodic expression (see *Music, Jewish, Ex. 30; and *Mi-Sinai Niggunim, Ex. 1, nos. 3, 7, 9); its music is sometimes identical with that of the following Avot benediction. The Sephardim emphasize rather the Kaddish preceding Barekhu, by means of elaborate coloraturas (Idelsohn, Melodien, 2 (1922), 97, no. 50; 4 (1930), 137, no. 32; 195, no. 220), or by melodic identity with the said benediction. In the Ashkenazi synagogues, certain liturgical situations evoke Kaddish melodies of a definite character or form. The Kaddish which closes the Musaf prayer is preferably sung to a lively and gay tune, sometimes in a dancelike manner (earliest example notated by Benedetto Marcello in his Estro Poetico-Armonico, Venice, 1724–27). During festivals

the Kaddish over the Torah scroll and that before the evening Amidah are "labeled" with musical motives characteristic of the feast in question. On Simḥat Torah, which closes the cycle of holidays, the characteristic motives of all the festivals are assembled in the "Year-Kaddish."

The particular tunes anchored in local traditions are also worth mentioning, such as the so-called Trommel ("drumming") Kaddish which used to be sung in Frankfurt on the Main on "Purim Vinz" – the 20th of Adar, commemorating that day in 1616 when, after the *Fettmilch persecution, the Jews were brought back into the town "with trumpets and drums" as described in Elhanan Helen's Megillat Vinz (see F. Ogutsch, Der Frankfurter Kantor, 1930, 103, no. 319). The famous "Kaddish" of R. *Levi Isaac of Berdichev, A Din-Toyre mit Got, is a kind of introduction to the liturgical Kaddish, in which Levi Isaac addresses and rebukes God in an extended "prose poem" whose melody comprises elements of the High Holiday liturgy (see Idelsohn, Melodien, 10 (1932), xii, 29, no. 104). Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish (his Symphony no. 3, 1963) for narrator, choir, and orchestra is also a kind of "lawsuit with God" centering on the Kaddish and is thus a descendant of Levi Isaac's song.

[Hanoch Avenary]

Women and Kaddish

Responsa literature, historical sources, and contemporary testimony indicate that at least since the 17th century some women have recited the mourner's Kaddish, both at home during shiva and at daily services in the synagogue. Saying Kaddish at the grave during the funeral was also a customary practice among devout women in certain communities. The earliest known responsum in which the issue of women and Kaddish is discussed appears in the late 17th-century work of R. Jair Hayyim Ben Moses Samson *Bacharach, known as the Ḥavvat Yair. Based on a particular set of circumstances in Amsterdam, R. Bacharach's responsum, which became known as "the Amsterdam case," concludes that women may recite Kaddish, but the nuances of the responsum are used by various rabbis in different ways. Among those who restrict the Amsterdam case, arguing variously for limitations on women's expression of grief through public recitation of Kaddish, are the Be'er Heitev, Gesher ha-Ḥayyim, Mishpetei Uziel, Matteh Ephraim, and Aseh Lekha Rav. R. Israel Meir *Lau, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi in Israel, and Reuven Fink in the U.S. are adamant in their opposition to women's saying Kaddish.

While R. Bacharach, who realized that he was transforming social practice, also articulated caution, those who restrict his opinion project a general fear of women's entering the public religious sphere. This apprehension is absent in the vocal minority of decisors who offer lenient interpretations of the Amsterdam case, often adding specific details relevant to changed social circumstances. Examples are found in the writings of R. Joseph B. *Soloveitchik, R. Aaron *Soloveitchik, R. Moshe Leib Blair, and R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin.

In 1916, Henrietta *Szold expressed her conviction that it was never intended by Jewish law and custom that women should be exempt from positive commandments if they were able to perform them, writing, "And of the Kaddish I feel sure this is particularly true" (letter to Haym Peretz, in Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality, ed. E. Umansky and D. Ashton (1992), 164–65).

Among Modern Orthodox women at the beginning of the 21st century, the recitation of Kaddish is widespread. In Reform, Reconstructionist, and most Conservative practice, women recite the mourner's Kaddish as a matter of course and are also counted among the ten persons required to constitute the minyan required for communal worship. In recent years, several women have written personal testimonies about reciting Kaddish in Orthodox settings. These include E.M. Broner (Mornings and Mourning: A Kaddish Journal (1994)) and Sara Reguer and Deborah E. Lipstadt (in essays anthologized in On Being a Jewish Feminist, ed. S. Heschel (1983; rep. 1995), 177–81, 207–9).

[Rochelle L. Millen (2nd ed.)]


D. de Sola Pool, The Old Jewish-Aramaic Prayer, the Kaddish (1909); Karel, in: Ha-Shilo'aḥ, 35 (1918), 36–49, 426–30, 521–7; Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 92–98; Abrahams, Companion, xxxixf., lxxxviiif.; Idelsohn, Liturgy, 84–88; J. Heinemann, Ha-Tefillot bi-Tekufat ha-Tanna'im ve-ha-Amora'im (19662), index, 189, s.v.; Heinemann, in: jss, 5 (1960), 264–80. add. bibliography: R.L. Millen, Women, Birth, and Death in Jewish Law and Practice (2004); D. Golinkin, Halakhah for Our Time: A Conservative Approach to Jewish Law (1991); idem (ed.), Responsa of the Va'ad Halakhah of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel, vol. 3 (1997); W. Jacob (ed.), American Reform Responsa: Collected Responsa of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1889–1983 (1983).


views updated May 23 2018


A Jewish prayer that is often referred to as the prayer for the dead since it is customary for the Jewish mourner to recite it in the synagogue thrice daily for 11 months after the death of a parent or close relative. Its text, however, does not contain words of supplication for the dead but only exaltation and glorification of the Holy Name, in line with the teachings of the sages that one should praise God equally for the good and for the evil that befall him, even in the time of deepest mourning.

The Kaddish (Aramaic qaddîš, "holy," i.e., hallowed be the great name of the Lord), first mentioned in the tractate Soferim, originated as a closing doxology to a haggadic discourse in study houses of the Jewish community in Babylonia, and was composed in Aramaic, the vernacular of that time, except for one section in Hebrew. The first part of the text was taken from Ez 38.23, and other sections were added in later eras. The second part is from the 1st century. The last paragraph, beginning with the Oseh Shalom (He who makes peace), is taken from the Shemoneh Esreh [18 (blessings)], and the Al Yisrael ve Rabbanan (Unto Israel and the rabbis) was added in medieval times. Today it is recited also after the study of the oral law and as a doxology with congregational response at the end of prayers in the synagogue. Of even greater importance than the body of the text is the congregational response: "May His Great Name be praised for all Eternity." The Talmud (Sotah 49a) states: "Since the destruction of the Temple the world has been sustained by the Kedushah [proclamation of God's holiness] of the liturgy and the Yehe Shemeh Rabba [May His Great Name ] of the haggadic discourse. Happy the King who is thus lauded in His house!" (Berakhot 3a). The repetition of the amen (verily, truly) represents affirmation, acceptance, and faith. Ten men are needed to recite the Kaddish.

The Kaddish has several different forms, each used for a different purpose: (1) Kaddish ha-Gadol (the great Kaddish), known also as the Burial Kaddish, is the mourner's first recitation of the Kaddish. It is a prayer of faith in resurrection of the dead, and so it is called also Kaddish of Resurrection (Tehiyat ha-Meytim ). (2) Kaddish de Rabbanan (rabbis' Kaddish) is a tribute of praise, arranged to be recited after learning the oral Law, especially haggadic material; it is also a prayer for the rabbis.(3) Kaddish de Sheliah Tzibbur (Kaddish of the deputy of the community) is the congregational Kaddish recited by the cantor at public prayer (see cantor in jewish liturgy). This form has two divisions, the Half Kaddish (Hatzi-Kaddish) and the Full Kaddish [Kaddish Shalem including Tithkabbel (May it be acceptable)], each of which is inserted in specific places in the regular congregational prayers. (4) Kaddish Yatom (Orphan's Kaddish), called also the Mourner's Kaddish (Kaddish Abelim), is recited by the orphan for an 11-month period. The 10 forms of praise are parallel to the Ten Commandments.

The regular recitation of the Orphan's Kaddish produces a special kind of mystic benefit. The earliest reference to this was in a legend wherein Rabbi akiba ben joseph met a spirit in the guise of a man carrying wood; the spirit told Akiba that the wood was for the fire in gehenna, in which he was burned daily in punishment for having maltreated the poor while he was a tax-collector, and that he would be released from his awful torture if he had a son to recite the Bareku (bless ye) and the Kaddish before a worshiping assembly that would respond with the praise of God's name. On learning that the man had utterly neglected his son, Akiba cared for and educated the youth, so that one day he stood in the assembly and recited the Bareku and the Kaddish and released his father from Gehenna (Maseket Kallah 11.11). At first, the Kaddish for deceased parents was recited a full year; later the time was reduced to 11 months, since it was considered unworthy to have such an opinion of the demerit of one's father. The custom of reciting this Kaddish was extended to include the Yahrzeit (anniversary of death) as well.

Bibliography: j. schick, The Kaddish (New York 1928). d. de sola pool, The Kaddish (New York 1909; repr. 1929); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia 6:273275. p. birnbaum, A Book of Jewish Concepts (New York 1964) 537539. j. h. hertz, ed. and tr., The Authorized Daily Prayer Book (rev. ed. New York 1948). j. d. eisenstein, Jewish Encyclopedia 7:401405. m. e. jernensky and a. nadel, Encyclopedia Judaica 9:734742. r. r. geis, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 195765) 5:1238. e. levi, Yesodot Ha-Tefilah (Tel Aviv 1963), in Hebrew. i. jacobson, Netiv Binah (Tel Aviv 1964) 1:365373, in Hebrew.

[e. subar]


views updated May 17 2018


Kaddish ("holiness") is an ancient Jewish prayer praising and glorifying God, recited at fixed points of the public prayer of the synagogue, at funeral services, and by mourners of a deceased parent or close relatives.

Kaddish was not composed at one specific time and in its formative stage did not have a fixed text. The earliest form of Kaddish may be traced to the period of the Tanaim, after the destruction of the second temple (70 C.E.), when the initial section, yehe shemeh rabbah mevarakh le'olam ule-almei almaya ("may His great name be blessed forever and for all eternity"), was recited after public discourses on Sabbaths and Festivals. This refrain is a paraphrase of the Temple formula barukh shem kevod malkhuto leolam va'ed ("Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever"), which was recited by the congregation upon hearing the High Priest utter God's name (Mishnah Yoma 3:8). The prayer during that time did not assume the name "kaddish" but was known by its opening words, Yehe shemeh rabbah ("may His great name").

The Kaddish text, Yitgadal Ve-yitkadash, ("Glorified and hallowed") was formulated and assumed the name "Kaddish" during the period of the post-Talmudic Rabbisthe Saboraim (c. 700 C.E.). The earliest literary reference connecting Kaddish with mourners is in the post-Talmudic tractate Sofrim (eighth century). This treatise includes a description of how on the Sabbath the cantor (a synagogue official) bestowed special honor and mercy to the mourners by approaching them outside the synagogue and reciting in their presence the final Kaddish of the Musaf ("additional") service (Sofrim 19:9).

During the First Crusade (especially in the aftermath of the Franco-German expulsions of the 1090s), Kaddish became a liturgical obligation to be recited by mourners and appended to the conclusion of daily prayer. At first it was recited only by minors (and was called Kaddish Yatom, ("the orphans' Kaddish") who, according to Jewish law, are not permitted to lead congregational prayers. Gradually Jewish communities adopted Kaddish as a prayer for all adult mourners during the first year of mourning. At a later stage, Kaddish was instituted as a mourner's prayer for the Yahrzeit the anniversary of a parent's death (attributed to Rabbi Jacob Molin (13601427)).

The significance of Kaddish is honoring the soul of the deceased by the mourner, who sanctifies God's name in public through the opening lines, Yitgadal Ve-Yitkadash Shemeh Rabbah, Be'almah dievrah chire'usei ("Hallowed be the name of God in the world that he has created according to his will"). By reciting Kaddish, one justifies divine judgment following the Rabbinic maxim, "Bless God for the harsh as well as for the merciful" (Berakhot 9:5).

Late Midrashic legends emphasize the redeeming powers associated with Kaddish. A recurring motif in these tales refers to an orphan having saved a deceased parent from the torments of Hell by reciting Kaddish in his memory; this happens even though no word in Kaddish refers to the dead. As a mourner's prayer, Kaddish's praise of God in the hour of bereavment and mourning is a sublime expression of faith. Its prayer for the revelation of God's kingdom diverts the individual from personal grief to the hope of all humanity.

With the exception of the final Hebrew clause, oseh shalom bimromav ("He who makes peace in the heavens"), Kaddish is in Aramaic, the vernacular spoken particularly by the common people at the time of its crystallization into a formal prayer.

See also: Afterlife in Cross-Cultural Perspective; Judaism


Elbogen, Ismar. Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1993.

Higger, Michael. Masechet Sofrim. New York, 1937.

Pool, David de Sola. The Old Jewish Aramaic Prayer, the Kaddish. Leipzig, Germany: Druglin, 1909.

Telsner, David. The Kaddish, Its History, and Significance. Jerusalem: Tal Orot Institute, 1995.



views updated Jun 08 2018

Kaddish (Aram., ‘holy’). Aramaic doxology recited at the end of the individual sections of Jewish services. There are four different types of kaddish (or five, if an expanded form recited by some after a burial, is included).

The prayer is said standing, facing Jerusalem. It is of ancient origin, being mentioned in the Talmud as the concluding prayer at public aggadic discourse. According to Orthodox, kaddish can only be recited by men, but Conservative and Reform allow women also. The point can be critical, since it is necessary (Soferim 10. 7) for ten to be present if kaddish is to be recited.


views updated May 14 2018

Kaddish. Doxology, one version of which became Jewish mourners' prayer. Set by Josephs in his Requiem and by Bernstein as 3rd Sym. Ravel borrowed one of the liturgical versions (chanted as the prayer for dew on Passover) for the second of his Deux mélodies Hébraïques (1914).


views updated May 11 2018

Kad·dish / ˈkädish/ • n. an ancient Jewish prayer sequence regularly recited in the synagogue service, including thanksgiving and praise and concluding with a prayer for universal peace. ∎  a form of this prayer sequence recited for the dead.


views updated Jun 11 2018

Kaddish an ancient Jewish prayer sequence regularly recited in the synagogue service, including thanksgiving and praise and concluding with a prayer for universal peace; a form of this prayer sequence recited for the dead. The word comes from Aramaic qaddīš ‘holy’.


views updated May 17 2018

Kaddish Ancient Jewish prayer used particularly at services of mourning for the dead. It is a formal statement of praise and faith in the coming of God's Kingdom.


views updated May 14 2018

kaddish portion of the daily ritual of the synagogue. XVII. — Aram. Kaddīš holy.