Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Wandering Soul

There is a story told that happened not that long ago.A respected woman in a Hungarian city adopted the custom of giving a donation every so often to the local yeshiva so that someone would recite Kaddish for those that have noone to say Kaddish for them. After a while the woman’s husband passed away and her finacial situation became difficult, however she always managed to find the money for the donation for the yeshiva trusting in Hashem that he would help her find the money for her two daughters wedding expenses.

At one stage when she had no money to cover the donation for the Kaddish the Rosh Yeshiva accepted her pleas and they carried on saying Kaddish in her honour.

One day as the woman was out in the street an elderly Jew approached her. With a full white beard his face was radiant like the sun. He started talking to her with warmth and sincerity, asking her questions about her situation. The woman opened her heart and poured out her anguish and hardships to the old man. How much do you need for your daughter wedding expenses he asked. Taken aback with the question she enquired why was he asking. The man pressed her for an answer until she gave in and gave him a sum.

Immediatly the man took out a piece of paper and drew up instructions to the bank to give this woman the monies stated. As he had written a large amount he requested that she bring two witnesses to sign on the document. The widow went to the Yeshiva and brought two talmidim with her as witnesses. They signed on the document and the old man gave it to the widow instructing her to go to the bank the next morning.
The next morning the woman was at the bank as soon as it opened its doors. She gave the document to the clerk. He stared in amazement and asked the woman to wait. With the document in hand he went to the managers office. The manager took one look at the paper and fainted.

Everyone panicked. After a while the manager was recovering he asked that they bring the woman to him. As she stood before him trembling he asked that she recount everything that had happened. She told him closing with the fact of the two witnesses.

Would you be able to identify the old man if you saw him again the manager asked. Of course and so would the two witnesses the woman replied. The manager reached into a draw at his desk and pulled out a picture. Is this the man he asked. Yes she replied.

Give this woman her money and let her go he instructed the clerk. After the woman had departed he informed his curious staff of what had happened to him the previous night. The man who appeared to that woman was my father – who passed away ten years ago. He appeared to me in a dream and said that being I had strayed from the Jewish path and had married a gentile and therefore had not said Kaddish for him his soul had found no respite. That is until this woman had arranged for someone to say Kaddish for souls that have not got anyone to say Kaddish for them. Tomorrow morning this woman will appear before you in your bank with a cheque from me. When I woke up this morning I told the dream to my wife who just laughed. However as we have just seen it has come true.
Rabbi Chaim Sonnenfeld – who later would become Chief Rabbi in Jerusalem – would tell this story ending with “And who were the two yehiva boys who witnessed the signature. I was one and the other was Reb Yehudah Greenwald.”
After that the bank managers life changed. He repented and found his way back in to Judaism and his wife became a sincere convert and together they built a proper Jewish home.

Different versions of Kaddish

There are 5 different versions of Kaddish that we say today.

The first is Kaddish D’Rabanan – The Rabbi’s Kaddish. This Kaddish is probably the most original of the different versions predating the destruction of the Second Temple. It used to be said by the Rabbi’s and scholars at the conclusion of their studies. Its setup is very similar to the Kaddish Shalem (see below).

The second Kaddish is the Chatzi Kaddish – the Half Kaddish. This Kaddish is said at the end of a section of prayers and is built up from 2 main paragraphs.

The third Kaddish is the Kaddish Shalem – the Full Kaddish. This is made up of the Chatzi Kaddish and another three lines added on at the end. The first of the additional lines asks for our prayers to be received and accepted and the last two ask for peace. The Kaddish Shalem is said at the closing of the service.

The forth Kaddish is called Kaddish Yatom – The Mourner’s Kaddish. The build of this Kaddish is exactly the same as the Kaddish Shalem with the exception of the first of the extra three lines mentioned in the previous paragraph being removed.
This Kaddish is said for the duration of the first eleven months after death and on the yahrzeit in each year.

The fifth Kaddish is Kaddish L’chad’ta. This is said by a person or persons upon completion of a tractate of Mishna or Talmud. The main difference with this Kaddish is that the first paragraph is changed to include a long statement with a request for the resurrection of the dead and the rebuilding of Zion.

Each of the different types of Kaddish have to be said with a quorum of ten men over the age of Barmitzvah (thirteen years old).

Bridge of Life

Too most of us at many stages in our lives I’m sure that we have wondered why did G-d let this happen. Why did such a young person suffer & die, why do wicked people benefit etc.
In his book Gesher HaChaim – The Bridge of Life – Rabbi Yechiel Tucazinsky says just this, that the world plan looks totally upside down
to us, with what we think is bad maybe being for the good and vice versa. Man with his capacity for going both ways – good and evil – would seem to be a perfect case study.
Many people/s past and present think that they could have done a better job – some have tried but all have failed.
Despite our limited human takings on things, we have to understand that G_d made the universe EXACTLY as He wanted it in accordance with His wisdom. This understanding means that from the smallest microbe at the bottom of the ocean up to the furthest star in space was made with purpose in the master plan that is called creation.
Rabbi Yechiel Tucazinsky therefore notes in The Bridge of Life that the above has even more significance in the role that the Kaddish plays as the mourner’s prayer. Even though the deep personal loss that is felt at the time of tragedy the mourner along with others recognises G-ds Hand in the world and that we accept his decisions and that we try to see the good that might be hidden away.
As we say in the last verse of the Kaddish – He who makes the peace in His heights will bless all of us with the insight to accept His decrees with our own peace of mind.