November 28, 2014 – 6 Kislev 5775

Saying kaddish and serving as the chazzan during weekday services is all about glorifying the Almighty and thereby providing comfort and solace to the departed’s soul. However, as one codifier of the halachos (laws) of aveiuls has commented, even though the saying of kaddish and leading the service as the chazzen is very important for the soul of the departed, these practices in and of themselves are not the essence. Rather, what is most important is that the children of the deceased lead lives that bring honor to their deceased parent.

In this regard, much has been written on the importance of avoiding disputes regarding who has the right to be the chazzan on any given day. Ever ince I began my aveilus at the end of May, I have encountered many a time when someone who halachically is subsidiary to me in priority among mourners has insisted on serving as the chazzan. In these instances I have uniformly deferred rather than assert that my superior halachic status as a mourner for a parent.

Yesterday I learned before coming to shul that an older gentleman had yartzieght for his wife. Halachically, such a status did not grant this gentleman priority over me. When the gabbai approached me and indicated that I was to be the chazzan I asked him about this gentlemen. He responded that a yartzieght for a wife was subsidiary to me. I then told the gabbai that I would be willing to defer and he should ask this gentleman if he would like to daven by the amud. The man walked over to me on his way up to the amud to thank me for stepping aside. I responded of course I was stepping aside – my mother would be very disappointed if I did not allow a surviving husband to memorialize his deceased wife on her yartzieght. To my great surprise he confided in me that over the many years since his wife had passed away that he has often not been able to serve as the chazzan because an aveil with priority asserted his halachic status to deny him the amud. He proceeded to lead the service until yishtabach and then turned the amud over to me.

And we wonder why Moishiach does not come.

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