This past weekend I visited two shiva homes. At one shortly after I arrived the family conducted a reform maariv service which ended in the saying of kaddish. I watched as tears streamed down the faces of the surviving spouse and the adult children as they recited “Ysigadal veyiskadash …” The loss was fresh and the pain raw as they emotionally recited each syllable of the words of kaddish. They will likely recite kaddish only during their three day observance of “shiva”. Then they will struggle to resume their “normal lives”.
For me and others like me the observance of a year of mourning softened the shock of an immediate return to the pre-death daily regimen. Nonetheless, without question, for those who do recite kaddish during the entire period of mourning it is a challenge to say kaddish day in day out, multiple times each day for eleven months with the requisite level of thought, intent and emotion. It is only natural for the recitation of kaddish to become a mere habit performed by rote. To combat that natural tendency I intentionally say kaddish slowly, with my eyes closed and my mind focused on my mother and the other holy Jews who have given their lives this year in defense of the Jewish People. As a result, I am always the last of the mourners to finish saying each kaddish. While the time difference between me and my fellow mourners is measured in parts of a minute, those seconds make all the difference in the world to me …and I pray for my mother’s neshoma (soul), as well.