Shabbat notes, 7/16/11: Saying Kaddish in a weird place; A correction; A joke at ArtScroll’s expense

In this post: an piece of liturgical minutiae, a correction and ArtScroll’s instructions for chickens who are crossing the road.

A piece of liturgical minutiae:

Every week at Beth El, we finish the Amidah, say Kaddish Shalem and then something weird happens–we flip back to the psalm for Shabbat and say the Mourner’s Kaddish. I finally asked Rabbi Roston about it this morning.

Here’s what I learned: Kaddish Yatom’s standard location is at the end of the service, after Aleinu. Nothing special needs to happen to make it appear there–it’s just there. This I already knew. But, I learned, you can also say Kaddish Yatom at any time in the service, but only if you say a psalm immediately before.

As I already knew, each day has its own psalm. Shabbat’s psalm is Ps. 92: “Mizmor shir leyom haShabbat. Tov lehodot la’Adonai etc….” This psalm usually makes its appearance early in the service, somewhere in Birchot Hashachar or Pesukei Dezimrah. For example, in Siddur Sim Shalom, which is the siddur in regular use on Shabbat mornings at Beth El, it appears at the end of Birchot Hashachar, where it follows Kaddish Derabbanan (the one for the thing in SSS that replaces Korbanot) and precedes the first Kaddish Yatom in the service.

What I did not know is that the psalm of the day can appear anywhere in the service. What is important is that it is said, not when in the service it is said. So in SSS–and others–it is placed at the end of Birchot Hashachar to facilitate the first of the two Mourners’ Kaddishes.

At Beth El, despite Ps. 92 and Kaddish Yatom appearing where they do in SSS, we don’t get around to doing them until the end of the Amidah, when we are all invited to turn back to page 72 of SSS for Ps. 92. Then we flip past the rest of the psalms of the day for Kaddish Yatom. The reason is that there is frequently not a minyan yet at the end of Birchot Hashachar at Beth El. To enable people to say Kaddish, we simply relocate the whole shebang to a place later in the service when there is sure to be a minyan.

Which, if the location of the first Kaddish Yatom in the service and the psalm of the day that enables us to say it–though it seems that any old psalm would technically do–is irrelevant, makes fine sense. To a point.

It stops making sense when you realize that there’s no need for two iterations of Kaddish Yatom in the service. So I asked why it’s important to, as Rabbi Roston put it, have a Mourner’s Kaddish “before the Torah service.” She did not know why it’s important to have to version of Mourner’s Kaddish. Though she did state as precedent that this is a standard thing that they teach at JTS and that people frequently tack a second Kaddish Yatom onto the service at the end of a shiva minyan in a similar fashion.

If anyone knows anything about this, I’m eager to hear about it.

A correction:

The interest of Beth El’s congregants in the blog continues to astound me. One pointed out something in need of correction this morning. Well, kind of.

In this post, I quoted a JTA article that said that Beth El had 575 families in 2005 when Rabbi Roston was hired. The point of the article was that this was a glass ceiling-breaking event for female rabbis in the Conservative movement.

The correction (kind of) is that the glass ceiling in this case was the 500 member families mark and that Beth El did not have 575 families in 2005. This guy, a member of the membership committee in those days, said that they never had more than 510 families.

So it’s really more of a correction to JTA.

ArtScroll’s instructions for chickens who are crossing the road:

This joke appears in a book that I’m reading right now called “Orthodox by Design: Judaism, Print Politics, and the ArtScroll Revolution” by Jeremy Stolow.

Stolow begins:

For some, ArtScroll’s voice is anodyne, a helpful and unwavering guide to the perplexed. For others, it is the shrill voice of demagoguery and intolerance to difference. And for others still, Art Scroll’s characteristic tone is an object of humor.

Indeed. He further prefaces the joke by describing it as “a rich parody of the punctilious style of religious instruction associated with ArtScroll books.” Here’s the joke:

Bend once when the chicken goes into the road (bending first at the knees, bending fully as it takes its second step); bend again as it reached the middle of the road (only a half bow0; bend a third time as it nears the other side. If it gets across without being run over, say also a shehecheyanu [a blessing for new and unusual experiences] (p. 358); unless the congregation is also saying brochos [blessings] before and after the shema [the basic prayer in affirmation of the one God], in which case no interruption, even for a brocha, is permitted. No brocha is said in yontef [holy day], rosh chodesh [first day of the month] or during the entire month of nissan [March-April].

Shabbat Shalom.

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26 Responses to Shabbat notes, 7/16/11: Saying Kaddish in a weird place; A correction; A joke at ArtScroll’s expense

  1. Jesse July 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    Hilarious.

    Re: kaddish… I was davening daily during shloshim at a conservative shul in NYC that uses SSS, and they do three Kaddish Yatoms during shacharit – one during birchot hashachar, one after aleinu (the usual), then they flip back and do the shir shel yom, followed by a third kaddish yatom. This was new to me, too.

    • David A.M. Wilensky July 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      That’s even more bizarre!

    • bib July 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

      How so bizarre? This is standard ashkenazi nusach and is extremely common. In most places davening a traditional ashkenazi nusach on an ordinary weekday morning, there is kaddish derabbanan after korbanot and a kaddish yatom after mizmor shir hanukat habayit – then two kaddish yatoms at the end as Jesse notes.

      Why is having >1 kaddish yatom any weirder than saying ashrei twice in a service, or on shabbat saying mizmor shir leyom hashabat twice (once for the day and once because it is pd”z for shabat and festivals)?

      When it comes to nusach, “weird” is anything you are not used to, I guess.

      • David A.M. Wilensky July 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

        When it comes to nusach, “weird” is anything you are not used to, I guess.

        Well said!

        Why is having >1 kaddish yatom any weirder than saying ashrei twice in a service, or on shabbat saying mizmor shir leyom hashabat twice (once for the day and once because it is pd”z for shabat and festivals)?

        Because on Shabbat, we seek to increase our joy, not to diminish it.

        • bib July 22, 2011 at 11:12 am #

          Do you mean that saying mourner’s kaddish decreases the joy of the mourner? If so, why say kaddish at all on shabat? Or do you mean that it decreases the joy of the congregation to lengthen the service? The latter is a theory I could get behind.

          • David A.M. Wilensky July 22, 2011 at 11:18 am #

            Well, I hadn’t thought about the latter, but I suppose it’s worth considering, he typed with a smirk.

            What I mean is that we strike a balance between the duty of mourning and the joy of Shabbat. Mourners leave the shiva house on Shabbat, for example. On the other hand, we still say kaddish because it’s still important. I would just err on the side of less mourning on Shabbat, pruning it all the way back to only the one Kaddish Yatom.

            On a similar note, one rationale for breaking a glass at weddings is that we want to remember that some things in the world are broken, even on our day of extreme joy.

  2. Chajm July 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    The order song of the daykaddish yatom is borrowed from nussach sfard (I checked it in Rinat Israel and a nussach sfard version of the Artscroll siddur, even nussach ari has it), It is noteworthy that a rather new german siddur (Schma Kolenu) adapted this into the nussach ashkenaz to reduce the number of kaddishs in the end of the service.

  3. Larry K July 16, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Now let me see if I have this straight. You’re definitely going to say Kaddish Yatom after Aleinu, so if you’re going to say it twice, the first time is essentially the second time, and that can be any time as long as there’s a minyan, and you have to precede it with a psalm (not clear whether any old psalm will do or only the psalm of the day). And there is no reason for it; as the old saying goes, it’s just company policy. And your headline refers to saying Kaddish in a weird place — would that weird place be Beth El?

    Query: I grew up with the Silverman siddur, but the only Kaddish Yatom I remember is the one after Aleinu. This may mean that my memory is faulty; and it may mean that the minhag of the congregation was to have it recited only once; or it may be that the movement had gone frummier between SS and SSS. (In the town where I grew up, back in the forties, there were two Conservative synagogues, one of which allowed women in the choir but did not use an organ; the other did not allow women in the choir but did have an organ.)

    • David A.M. Wilensky July 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      Now let me see if I have this straight.

      Yep, that all sounds about right.

      And your headline refers to saying Kaddish in a weird place — would that weird place be Beth El?

      Now, now, Larry. Don’t get in more trouble with these people.

      I have checked in Silverman. There is a Kaddish Yatom that precedes Baruch She’amar and follows a psalm. However, the psalm it follows is not the psalm of the day, but psalm 30.

      one of which allowed women in the choir but did not use an organ; the other did not allow women in the choir but did have an organ.

      I don’t know why, but that totally cracked me up.

      • Larry K July 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

        “I don’t know why, but that totally cracked me up.”

        How about because there is no rule for every shul, even inside a movement? But if anyone wants to parse the particular situation, the shul with women in the choir was essentially Russian and Kaplanian. The shul with the organ was Hungarian, and the rabbi was not out of JTS but out of JIR.

        Davar acher, since Psalm 30 talks about death, I suppose it’s a sensible prelude to KY, if we want to ask for something to make sense in a context that doesn’t necessarily make sense.

        And of course, Conservative synagogues are not alone in doing things as they do because they always have. Here’s something to ponder — in a brand new indie minyan, how long does it take for a hiddush to become mi sinai?

        • David A.M. Wilensky July 19, 2011 at 7:49 am #

          I firmly believe it only take three times to make something traditional.

  4. Rich July 20, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    Dow we say Baruch Dayan Emet if the chicken DOES get hit by a car?

  5. Uri Allen July 21, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    I believe that Kaddish Yatom can be said after any series of 3 or more Biblical verses, which is why there is noe after Aleinu. However, since the verses in Aleinu are not consecutive in the prayer and not from the same place the psalm of the day is often said afterwards to accommodate another kaddish. In some minyanim, especially in Israel, the psalm for the day is said between shacharit and the start of the Torah service. I can’t recall if there is a kaddish yatom recited there also.
    As far as the kadidish yatom at the before baruch sheamar, that is standard and happens on weekdays as well.
    The idea that all mourners in the congregation should say kaddish is fairly new. The shulchan aruch and other late halachic codes indicate that there was a hierarchy, so to speak, of mourners in the congregation (yartzheit, shloshim, shiva etc). Each kaddish, regardless of whether it was hatzi kaddish, kaddish shalem, kaddish derabbanan, or kaddish yatom, was said by one and only one mourner. I don’t remember when this practice was changed but perhaps one remnant of it is multiple mourners kaddishes in our service. It was a way to ensure that all, or more, mourners got to say kaddish when they needed to.

    • Larry K July 21, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      One mourner at a time makes sense as a reason for multiple recitations of kaddish yatom. (Whether one mourner at a time makes sense is an altogether different matter.)

      To the best of my knowledge, everybody saying kaddish is restricted to Reform. Usually justified by the 6 million, who have no one to say kaddish for them — every day being somebody’s yahrtzeit. There’s a saying that for every action, there’s a good reason and a real reason. The Shoah here is the good reason; my theory on the real reason is that Reform didn’t want anybody “embarrassed” by calling attention to themselves (halacha as codified by Emily Post). Today, in an era of self-indulgence and notice-me, notice-me, the Everybody rise and recite is being transmuted in some places to having mourners rise first, then be joined by those so inclined. Given the minhag in my own congregation, I stand but join only in the responses.

      Also my theory: Reform eroded the power of the yahrtzeit institution by having everybody recite. It’s no longer “my yahrtzeit” if everybody is in on the action.

      • David A.M. Wilensky July 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

        Reform eroded the power of the yahrtzeit institution by having everybody recite. It’s no longer “my yahrtzeit” if everybody is in on the action.

        I agree, Larry. I sympathize with the notion of saying Kaddish Yatom for those who have no one to say it for them. However, given that Kaddish does not achieve anything on behalf of the deceased, but is really for the benefit of the survivors, I question the notion that anyone needs Kaddish said forthem.

        I recently encountered a college-aged Jew, raised in the Conservative movement who regularly attends a Conservative shul with family members who rises for Kaddish Yatom every time, but only says the responses. I have to wonder if this is something that is gaining traction in USY or the Ramahs or something like that.

    • David A.M. Wilensky July 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      Fascinating additions, Uri. Thank you.

  6. Uri Allen July 22, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    “I recently encountered a college-aged Jew, raised in the Conservative movement who regularly attends a Conservative shul with family members who rises for Kaddish Yatom every time, but only says the responses.”

    One is supposed to (whatever that means) stand for all kaddishes. That’s how it is in Ortho shuls and and pretty much every place I have ever davened in Israel.

    • David A.M. Wilensky July 22, 2011 at 11:00 am #

      One is supposed to (whatever that means) stand for all kaddishes.
      Let’s address that for a moment. What does that mean? Like, where is it written? Who decided that? Or is it simply a tradition in the places you’re familiar with?

      In any case, it’s definitely not the norm in C-shuls.

  7. Uri Allen July 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    I understand that it is not the norm in most C shuls. However, the Rabbis in my life that are the most serious about halacha all stand for all kaddishes. I’ll try to find a source for the practice. I suspect since it is a davar shebikdusha, like the amidah and barchu – which are also said standing – then the practice is to stand for it.
    On a very practical note it seems convenient to stand for kaddishes since a great many kaddishes are said immediately before a standing prayer (barchu, aleinu, amidah at maariv and mincha etc…) or immediately after one (aleinu, every amidah). Maybe its just a time saver?

    • David A.M. Wilensky July 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

      Since Kaddish (Shalem, Chatzi and Derabbanan, but not Yatom) is essentially a signpost, a structural element primarily used to mark transitions in the service, I’d rather sit. Their purpose is not in their words, but their location, so I’d rather not act like they’re a huge deal on par with the Barechu.

      • Uri Allen July 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

        They are all sign posts. If you think that kaddish yatom is more than that because it is said by the mourners, why does the content of kaddish yatom not reflect it’s different purpose. What I’m really driving at is that we have given kaddish yatom an elevated space in our tfilot when it may not have been that way originally. Just for consistency David I don’t think you can claim ‘original’ functionality for the some kaddishes and not others.

        • David A.M. Wilensky July 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

          I’m not pretending to know anything about original functionality. I’m talking about what we use them for now. We use Chatzi, Shalem and Derabbanan to end certain sections and we use Yatom when we’re in mourning. So what I’m saying is that we should stand and sit appropriately, given what we use them for.

          • Uri Allen July 23, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

            “So what I’m saying is that we should stand and sit appropriately, given what we use them for.”

            Unless it is appropriate to stand in order to demarcate those transitions and to respect the dead of course.

  8. Uri Allen July 22, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Here is R. Golinkin on the issue
    http://www.schechter.edu/responsa.aspx?ID=33

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