Volume 64 Number 26 
      Produced: Tue, 21 May 19 08:08:43 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish? (5)
    [Martin Stern  Carl A. Singer  Elazar Teitz  Perry Zamek  Michael Poppers]
Passing a cemetery (2)
    [Yisrael Medad   Carl A. Singer]
Visiting a Church or a Mosque 
    [Martin Stern]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, May 19,2019 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish?

Orrin Tilevitz wrote (MJ 64#25):

> The practice set down in the Shulchan Arukh is for a single person to say the
> mourner's kaddish, and a hierarchy (with rotation) among those obligated to
> say it if there is more than one.

This hierarchy is not in the Shulchan Arukh itself since Rav Yosef Karo was a
Sefardi whose practice had always been for all mourners to say kaddish together
while only among Ashkenazim was the practice as Orrin describes. A full
listingof the hierarchy in allocating kaddeishim is to be found in the Kitzur
Shulchan Arukh (26) - I presume that Orrin is referring to that.

> Nowadays, everyone saying the kaddish says it, preferably together, and the
> hierarchy is applied instead to those seeking to be the baal tefilah.

Not 'everyone' but I would concede that that is now the majority practice among
Ashkenazim. Actually the primary duty of a mourner is to be ba'al tefilah (Ishei
Yisrael 36:31 footnote 91) and kaddish was only introduced for those children
who were still below bar mitzvah and were not halachically eligible. Later this
was extended to those who were so unlearned that they would not be able to lead
public davenning.

> Has anyone encountered a shul that follows the original practice?

This was the standard practice in Germany and is maintained in those shuls
founded by those coming from there who maintain their ancestral customs - I have
seen it on a regular basis in such shuls in the London and Manchester. I would
imagine that Orrin could see it in practice in the Adass Yeshurun (Breuers) of
Washington Height NY, the Adass Yeshurun in Ramot or the shul attached to the
Ma'ayanei Yeshua hospital in Benei Berak.

I wrote an article on this subject "The Orphan's Kaddish" many years ago,
reprinted in my book "A Time to Speak" (Devora Publishing, '10 pp. 135-138),
where I traced this unfortunate development which has led to the kaddish being
gabbled by multiple mourners at different speeds making it virtually impossible
hear and, far more importantly, to respond "Amein, yehei shemeih rabba ...", its
primary purpose, leaving it, so to speak, "an orphan whose call nobody can answer"!

> How is a person who is not technically obligated in kaddish handled? The most
> common example is someone saying kaddish for a close relative other than a
> parent who had left no children whose aveilut terminated after sheloshim [30
> days of mourning].  Is he (we won't even address women saying kaddish) out of
> luck?

There is a lot of superstition surrounding kaddish which even led to people
coming to blows over who had the right to say it - this was one of the reasons
why the current (originally Sefardi) practice of everyone saying it together was

One kaddish per day fulfils a person's minimum duty, especially as regards
someone who has 'taken on' to do so for someone who had no sons to say it. For
the latter, it is not necessary to say every possible kaddish (and some
'invented' ones as well) and doing so might well constitute a 'tirkha
detzibbura' by unnecessarily preventing others from leaving shul.

In reality, if one cannot say a kaddish because there are others higher in the
hierarchy, and insufficient kaddeishim to go round, one has fulfilled one's duty
by not saying it! The Chasam Sofer even remarks that where someone 'muscles in'
and 'seizes' the kaddish, its metaphysical effect goes on the soul of the person
entitled to it and not on the one the 'robber' intended to honour. Certainly,
one cannot 'insist' on being allowed more than one kaddish per tefillah in
places that maintain the original Ashkenaz minhag if one thereby deprives
someone else of the opportunity.

In Minhag Ashkenaz, there are at least 6 kaddeishim on an ordinary weekday, 4 at
shacharit and 1 each at minchah and ma'ariv. This, combined with functioning as
sheliach tzibbur which is halachically preferable, can easily accommodate 9
aveilim which would have been sufficient on most occasions in all but the
largest congregations.

Where there were, nonetheless, still more aveilim then the custom was to recite
an extra chapter of tehillim or learn a mishnah after the end of davenning to
give each an opportunity to say kaddish.

I do concede that the overemphasis on saying kaddish has provided a last tenuous
link with Judaism for many who are otherwise totally non-observant and would
become completely cut of from any connection with the Jewish people - so it may
have some positive value.

However, as the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh points out (ibid.), it is a greater merit
for the departed that their children lead upright and G-d fearing lives,
inspiring others to praise them for having instilled this in their offspring -
rather than saying innumerable kaddeishim - and this is something open to
daughters as well as sons.

Martin Stern

From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, May 19,2019 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish?

In response to Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 64#25):

1. I have encountered "yekkie" shuls that follow the original practice but I'll
let balabatim who daven in them regularly verify.

2. I'm currently saying kaddish for a cousin and after appropriate discussions,
I say only the kaddish after Aleinu - but it seems other people have different
approaches (I won't use the term "minhag"). 

3. Another related question is where no cheyuv [person halachically obliged to
say kaddish] is present in shul, should someone who is not a cheyuv say kaddish
and, if so, which ones (all, some, etc.)

4. As regards speed and coordination, I was at a large synagogue in suburban
Toronto and there the Gabbai gathered all those saying kaddish together and they
said it in unison. 

If I'm the only person at the minyan saying kaddish I tend to say it a bit
quicker than if others are also saying it -- sometimes staying in unison is
difficult. A few weeks ago - a worst case scenario - a visitor who was near me
was also saying kaddish, so I adapted to his (slower) pace but there was another
gentlemen in another corner of the shul going at an extremely rapid pace --
worse yet there was someone answering him (amen, etc.) VERY loudly (shouting?).
As a result when he finished someone got up on the bema and began reading
announcements before the two of us (visitor and me) had finished saying kaddish
- leading to an embarrassing moment when he realized that we hadn't yet finished.

5. As regards responding to kaddish, especially "y'hay sh'may rabba ...", some
folks say this quickly, some say it slowly, leading to confusion as to when the
individual(s) saying kaddish should continue. Does anyone have a "cure" for this?

6. I recall some 50+ years ago at the Young Israel of Cleveland (then on Taylor
Road, sharing premises with with the Hebrew Academy), there was a fine gentleman
who nebech didn't know the date when his wife had been killed in the Shoah so he
recited kaddish every day.  Also, since he was usually our only Cohain, he'd
frequently step outside the room on Mondays & Thursdays so there could be three
"generic" aliyahs -- thus making it possible for other balabatim who had come to
shul for a yarhzeit to get one.

Carl A. Singer

From: Elazar Teitz <emteitz@...>
Date: Sun, May 19,2019 at 11:01 AM
Subject: Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish?

In response to Orren Tilevitz (MJ 64#25):

Telshe Yeshiva, in Cleveland, follows the original Ashkenazi practice as set
down in the Shulchan Arukh for a single person to say the mourner's kaddish.  So
does the GR"A shul in Bayit Vagan.

He asked further about how a person who is not technically obligated in kaddish
is handled. Since he has no obligation to say kaddish, he only gets the
opportunity if no one who has an obligation is present. Such an individual would
not only have no opportunity after shloshim, but even during shloshim.  

It is a common misconception that mourners other than for a parent are obligated
to recite kaddish until the end of shloshim.  There is no such obligation, and
even as a custom it is, to the best of my knowledge and experience, of very
recent origin and far from universal.


From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Sun, May 19,2019 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish?

In response to Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 64#25):

I have seen this in the "Yekke" shuls - Munk's (Golders Green Beth Hamidrash),
Breuer's in Washington Heights, and I think also the Mekor Chaim synagogue in
Petach Tikva.

Where there is more than one person with a claim on saying kaddish, the various
kaddeishim are distributed among them, more or less in line with the priorities
listed in Shulchan Arukh. 

I think members may take priority over non-members/visitors at some level. 

It's not only someone who has no formal obligation who misses out. There may be
instances where a number of aveilim are present, say at Mincha or Arvit, and there
are not enough kaddeishim to go around. 

Perry Zamek

From: Michael Poppers <the65pops@...>
Date: Sun, May 19,2019 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Only One Person Says Mourner's Kaddish?

In response to Orrin Tilevitz (MJ 64#25):

I grew up in KAJ (a/k/a/ "Breuer's"), where only one person says each Qaddish. 
As I was not a member of the Synagogue Committee, I can't speak with certainty
to how the gabbo'im handled any hierarchy, but it did seem to me that

(a) for a given t'fila, all Qaddish "Yasom" sayings would go to the one or more
people at the highest level of the hierarchy; and

(b) at the end of weekday Ma'ariv, there could be up to three extra
opportunities to say Qaddish "Yasom": the original Minhag Ashk'naz was to recite
three chapters of T'hilim (24, 8, and 29) at the end of each weekday Ma'ariv
(see the "S'fas Emes", URL http://hebrewbooks.org/43492, PDF pp.171-173), so a
Qaddish could, if so arranged by the gabbo'im, be said after each chapter.

All the best from

Michael Poppers
Elizabeth, NJ, USA


From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sun, May 19,2019 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Passing a cemetery

Joel Rich asks (MJ 64#25) whether the blessing upon seeing Jewish graves is said
in a particular instance when, as he claims, "their brain doesn't process it".

As the Mishneh Brura (OH 224:12 note 16) states, "if there is only one grave [in
the cemetery] there are those who say not to recite it as the blessing is in the

In other words, one must see more than one grave - not simply that there is more
than one in that cemetery but that one must actually see them there. Given that,
perhaps a case could then be made that, if one's brain processing does not see
the cemetery and one is not seeing graves, one is not obliged to recite the

Yisrael Medad

From: Carl A. Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Sun, May 19,2019 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Passing a cemetery

Joel Rich wrote (MJ 64#25):

> If one passes a cemetery every day on their commute to work but their brain
> doesn't process it (that's how our vision actually works), do they then make a
> bracha when going to a cemetery for a funeral?

I do not have an answer -- but there is a related issue in our community where a
Jewish Cemetery is on a main street through it. Even though the trees are
trimmed so that they do not extend over the street, I know a Cohain who makes a
detour to avoid it.

Carl Singer


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 21,2019 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Visiting a Church or a Mosque

In his Weekly Halacha Discussion for Bechukotai, Rabbi Doniel Neustadt writes:

> Question: Is it permitted to visit or tour a church or a mosque?

> Discussion: It is clearly prohibited to enter a house of avodah zarah. The
> Mishnah prohibits one from even entering a city in which avodah zarah is
> present. Since it is impossible for us, who live in exile, to adhere to this
> prohibition, we are considered anusim [under duress] in this regard.
> Entering an actual house of avodah zarah, however, is clearly prohibited.
> What remains to be clarified, however, is whether or not a church or a mosque
> is a house of avodah zarah. The poskim are not uniform in their classification
> of Christians as idol-worshipers.
> ...
> Moreover, there is a view that gentiles nowadays cannot be considered
> idol-worshipers since they are merely following in the tradition of their
> parents (without actually worshipping idols).
> Practically speaking, however, the vast majority of the poskim agree that
> Christianity is considered avodah zarah and a Jew is forbidden to enter a
> church.
> ...
> Even if present-day gentiles do not worship idols, nevertheless their churches
> are considered houses of idol worship, since all the services conducted
> therein are performed in the name of avodah zarah.
> Regarding Islam, however, most poskim follow the opinion of the Rambam that it
> is not considered avodah zarah. Hence they do not expressly forbid entering a
> mosque. Other poskim forbid entering a mosque as well. All agree that unless
> there is a compelling reason to do so, mosques are off limits for any
> G-d-fearing Jew.
> It goes without saying that the houses of worship of all other heathen
> religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., are considered avodah zarah and
> are off-limits at all times.

I wonder whether one might make a distinction between churches that display
statues or crucifixes and those that have no such symbols, with the latter being
treated as being more akin to mosques.

Furthermore, Rabbi Neustadt does not discuss former churches or mosques that are
no longer used for worship or, for that matter, ancient temples, which were
certainly used for avodah zarah but have long been abandoned and are now only
tourist attractions or archaeological sites.

Any comments on these points or other ramifications of his position?

Martin Stern


End of Volume 64 Issue 26