I am finding once again that saying kaddish is much more than just “saying kaddish”. What do I mean? Consider the following.
A central focus of every day of the year of aveilus is minyan. Every day’s schedule is built around minyan. Everything else in life – all those things that used to “control” my schedule – are now secondary; the primary “appointments” are Shachris, Mincha and Maariv. I guess that davening with a minyan is supposed to be the central activities of every Jew’s day – aveil or not – but at least in my case while minyan has always been of great importance it often has taken a second chair to trials, court hearings, business appointments, travel etc. My personal challenge will be keeping the primacy of always davening with a minyan three times a day when my aveilus is over.
- When you are an aveil you not only say kaddish but during the week (excluding Shabbos and Yom Tov) you also almost always serve as the chazzan. In fact, it is more important for the neshama of the departed that the aveil serve as the chazzan than that he say kaddish. I recall when I was last an aveil, twenty nine years ago, the constant requirement of being the chazen was a bit of a burden. There were just some days that I wanted to be a mere congregant. This time around, however, my experience and reaction to having to lead the davening three times a day every day has so far been quite different. I now look forward to the task because it enhances my own personal davening. I focus and concentrate more on what I am saying and what it means than when I am sitting comfortably in my seat while someone else “does the work”. Enhanced kavanah another “benefit” of having to say kaddish.
And then there is what seems to be the never ending kindness of others. Take today for example. We are traveling to St Louis for Shabbos to be with our kids. I absolutely needed a mid day Mincha minyan at the Agudah office in order to make a flight that would get me to STL in time for a Maariv minyan. Word went out to the participants in the DC Agudah minyan that I really needed the afternoon minyan and notwithstanding the July Fourth holiday weekend and the shortened work day in many offices today we had a more than a minyan. Why? Because people wanted to make sure that I was covered. Me keamcha yisrael!
As I write this blog entry my wife and I are sitting in Reagan airport waiting for our flight – which is now delayed two hours due to thunderstorms. So much for making the 930pm minyan at the STL Agudah. I am hopeful, however, that my arrival will not be too late and that my son-in-law Jose’s (yes! Jose – Mexican born and frum!) efforts to gather a minyan for me will be successful. I know that it is inevitable that there will be circumstances that will cause me to miss a kaddish and learn a mishna instead. I’m just not ready for that to happen so soon into my aveilus. At the end of the day, however, I recognize that every kaddish is in His hands, just like everything else in my life. All I can do is my hishtadlus – try my absolute hardest never to miss.