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  • Halacha
  • Kaddish and Keddusha

Saying Kaddish


Rabbi David Sperling

Av 24, 5778
Dear Rabbi, In a minyan where there is no one saying kaddish, is it a custom for someone who has lost both parents to say kaddish or does it not matter if kaddish is not said?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. There are different customs about saying kaddish, and obviously each congregation should follow there own practices – and this is an example where having a Rabbi to lead the congregation is of great importance. So, bottom line, you should approach the Rabbi of the minyan with your question, and anything he says will certainly override whatever we will write in this response. The Rema writes (in the Shulchan Aruch, Orech Haim, 132,2) that after saying Alainu at the end of the service, mourner's kaddish is said, “even if there are no mourners in the synagogue, someone else whose parents have passed away should say it. And even someone whose parents are alive may recite the kaddish if his parents are not particular about it”. The Mishna Brurah explains that someone whose parents are alive may recite the mourner's kaddish only if they can assume that their parents would not mind. That is, even though they don't know about his saying the kaddish, it would be forbidden if they were to mind if they found out. If though one knows for certain that they would not mind, then even someone whose parents are alive may say the mourner's kaddish (for example they have mentioned that they don't care, or they are non-religous and have no feelings about kaddish at all). Based on this it would seem that it is important that kaddish be said by someone. In fact the Mishna Brurah (ibid 10) writes “that after reciting verses from the Torah one always needs to recite kaddish, and Alainu includes verses from the Torah and kaddish must be recited after it. However the custom is to leave this kaddish for the orphans ….”. This being so the order of preference would be to have a mourner say kaddish, if there is no mourner then someone whose parents are departed, and if there is no one else, then someone whose parents are alive but do not mind that their son says a kaddish. If there is no one at all (as often happens in youth minyans), because all have living parents who might object to their children saying kaddish while they are alive, then the kaddish should not be recited. All this refers to the kaddish after Alainu, which is said in nusach Ashkanaz. The Sefardim, and many of those praying nusach Sefard, do not say that kaddish at all – and then what we wrote applies to the last mourners kaddish. The kaddish d'rabanan which many congregations say after Pitom HaKetoret, should also be recited. This can certainly be said by anybody, even if their parents are alive, and is not connected at all to mourning or mourners (so one does not need to access whether the parents would object or not). However, despite all that we have written, which is standard halacha, in many places this law is not followed, and when there is no mourner, or someone who has lost their parents, the mourners kaddish is not said. Rav Shlomo Zalman Orhbach zt”l ruled as such (see Hilchot Shlomo, Tefillah 11,15). He felt that when someone's parents are alive the sons should not say the mourners kaddish, even with parental approval. If this is the practice in your minyan, it should certainly be followed. Blessings.
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