February 16, 2015 – 27 Shevat 5775

The weather in the Washington DC area has been brutal over the last two days; single digit temperatures, below zero wind chills, snow, and icy roads. While the number of attendees at minyan has been less than usual, the mourners saying kaddish have been at minyan; adverse weather and road conditions notwithstanding.

Why?

Because that is what we do.

Because saying kaddish is a special responsibility with which we are charged for the year of mourning.

During the many months I have been saying kaddish, I have been frequently asked by non-Jewish friends and colleagues and by non-observant Jews how it is that I attend services three times daily, day in day out, for an eleven month period in order to say kaddish. I respond that I am not at all unusual; that there are many others who do as I do. Saying kaddish for a departed parent, I explain, is not to be viewed as on “obligation” but, rather, as a sacred opportunity afforded a surviving child to honor his departed parent and pay respect to one’s parent’s life and soul. When viewed through this prism, the challenges (and stress) that are a part of saying kaddish are mere annoyances – and not obstacles – in fulfilling a sacred personal mission.

Judging by the attendance of my fellow mourners over the last two days I am clearly not the only one who views the challenges – this week frigid temperatures, snow, and ice – as annoyances but never as obstructions that stop each of us from fulfilling our sacred mission.


 

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