Magnified and Sanctified

In the comments to “Not Enough,” Kel asked why does the mourner’s prayer praise and extol the name of G-d? I actually just read about this in Anita Diamant’s book, Saying Kaddish: How to Comfort the Dying, Bury the Dead, and Mourn as a Jew (Schocken Books, New York 1998).

… Kaddish addresses the meaning of life and death, immortality and redemption, the purpose and efficacy of prayer, community, and the ultimate goal of peace. … In words and through practice, Kaddish insists that the mourner turn away from death and choose life. In this way, Kaddish expresses the essence of Judaism [choosing life].

… In addition to being a profession of faith and a doxology, it is also a mantra and meditation. In rhythmic repetition of syllables and sounds, the list of praises (glorified, celebrated, lauded) builds into a kind of incantation. … Kaddish is an essentially aural experience. {Chapter 1}

To better illustrate this last point, take a look at the transliteration of the ancient Aramaic:

Yitgaddal v’yitkaddash sh’meh rabbah. Amen.
B’almah dee-v’ra khiru-teh
V’yamlikh malkhuteh
B’khay-yekhon uv’yo-meykhon
Uv’khay-yey de-khol beit yisra-el
Ba-agalah uvizman kareev;
V’imru Amen. [congregation]
Y’hey sh’mey rabbah m’varakh
L’olam ul’olmey almah-yah.
Yitbarakh, v’yishtabakh,
V’yitpa-ar v’yitromam
V’yisnasseh v’yit-haddar
V’yit-alleh v’yit-hallal
Sh’mey de kud’shah
b’reekh hu [congregation]
L’eylah min kol birkhatah v’shiratah
Tush-b’khatah v’nekhematah
Daa-amiran b’almah
V’imru Amen. [congregation]
Y’heh sh’lamah rabbah min sh’mayah
V’khay-yim aleinu v’al kol yisra-el
V’imru amen. [congregation]
O-seh shalom bimromav
Hu ya-aseh shalom
Aleinu v’al kol yisra-el
V’imru Amen. [congregation]

In the end, even death is part of G-d’s creation. Kaddish is acceptance of G-d’s judgment. It is the ultimate statement of acceptance. Kaddish is not submission but a petition to G-d for the redemption of the whole world “in the days of our lifetime”. At the end of the prayer, there are not one but two pleas for peace (in both Aramaic and Hebrew): peace for us, peace for the mourners, peace among the mourners, and peace for all Israel, i.e. the children of Jacob.


2 thoughts on “Magnified and Sanctified

  1. saying mourners kaddish is one of the most comforting things i do for my grandparents, my husband’s grandparents (even though they weren’t jewish), and in general. it is a meditation of sorts.

    good share 🙂

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