Sunday, January 13, 2008

End of Kaddish

Why do some people think it's appropriate to say "mazal tov" when you finish saying kaddish? This isn't some kind of happy occasion or proud achievement. This is one step further away from my father.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Steg,

Finally a post I not only understand (:)) but that I can comment on.

I find saying mazel tov odd too. As you know, I lost my mom in October of 2006 (wow, I can't believe it's been over a year) and if someone had said that to me I might have been quite perplexed and it would have shown on my face no doubt.

I's not a congratulatory moment. It's somber. It's sad. It's not celebratory.

1/13/2008 12:34 PM  
Blogger Drew Kaplan said...

Sorry about that, Steg. The הוה אמינא is that you are now out of your אבילות and further away from that more somber time and hopefully more able to move on with your life. For those of us who haven't gone through this painful experience, it's easy for us to make this mistake (such as yours truly).
Again, I'm sorry.

1/13/2008 6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got "May this new transition in your life bring you blessing". That was nice.

1/13/2008 10:03 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

What Drew said... particularly as for many this is in fact the way they approach it. But it's a very good point.

May your sadness wane, but your memories not.

1/14/2008 1:56 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Takeh, not as irritating as adding "IY'H by you to every other phrase, mamesh, kneyne horeh...... b'ezros haKem by you.

1/14/2008 6:11 PM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

I never heard this, sounds really weird... I'd never say such a thing.

On a different note, though, I enjoy morbid jokes. Here's one - a guy meets his friend after a very long time, and sees he's really down, asks what's the matter? The friend answers, "my wife was deceased" - "oh mazel tov, I never heard you were married!"

1/14/2008 8:41 PM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...


Now I'm really angry at you!!!!

1st Steg's not your real name! You've been fooling me for so long!

2nd you were here for Shabbos, and didn't even come to visit!!! I'm just around the corner from there! And the even bigger shame is that you didn't come to daven in our shul, which happens to be where Avi Weiss held his first job. Mamesh mamesh shame on you!

There is a shul in ol' Monsey
They call Bnai Yeshurun
And it's been around for a long time
But the Aron faces the setting sun
Mama tell you children
Not to forsake thier shul
We barely have a minyan now
Could you get Avi to help us, oh

(to "house of the rising sun" - The Animal's version)

1/14/2008 8:51 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

thanks for the comments.

and don't worry about it, Drew, you weren't the only person after all. and there is some kind of logic to that side of it.


sorry about that, when i was there i completely forgot that you're in the area

1/14/2008 10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't heard of this custom - it is strange. The way that I see it is that at the time of bereavement there is a total isolation from G-d - no mitzvot - nothing. Then after the burial and during the mourning period there is a step by step return to Hashem and to society. During this time, Hashem takes the mourner and "fills the gap" by giving him the privilege to say Kaddish, so raising his spritual level. After the mourning period is over - back to normal. Definitely not a time for congratulations.

1/15/2008 1:35 AM  
Blogger Drew Kaplan said...

According to your perception, wouldn't this be specifically the best time to offer the person no longer in mourning a congratulation as they are now fully returning to Hashem, society, and back to normal?

1/15/2008 7:50 AM  
Blogger said...

I have never heard of such a thing and share your dismay. I think it stems from the fact that nobody really knows how to deal with the realities of obligation. It is essentially barch sh'patrani. "Aren't you glad?! You are off the hook." So I don't think it is appropriate.

The best think to say, in my humble opinion, is 'Now what are you going to do?" Of course you remember your father every day, but how does it convert to a real word expression?

That may be an unfair challenge and I am putting it to you only because you posed the question - it i something that I think can be asked after shiva, sheloshim, 11 months, 12 months. I do ask my congregants and I try and help them form a response.

Mourning is a system that reduces creative thinking. It tells us what to do when we would be parallelized. The rest of our lives must be dedicated to creative mourning and commemoration.


1/16/2008 1:26 PM  
Blogger Phillip Minden said...

Ad bies haggouel would be more appropriate.

It's very strange indeed - you can say mazzeltov to me that nobody confused me when the "12 months" for my father had finished. It really sounds like saying kaddish is serving time or doing community service after a serious traffic offence.

1/17/2008 9:46 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Dave and Drew:

i can sort of see Drew's perspective, but it's not something that i would have thought of on my own. so i guess it could make sense if that's how the individual was processing the transitions. of course, this isn't the end of aveilut, it's just the end of kaddish... we'll see how i feel in a few weeks, but i'm hoping to enjoy a non-aveilut activity with friends on the motzaey then.


thanks for the challenge... how do you help your congregants come up with proper responses?


although do people say 'mazal tov' on the occasion of getting out of jail?

1/17/2008 7:49 PM  
Blogger Gabriel Wasserman said...

Isn't Ad bies haggôel for the Yohrtzaat?

1/17/2008 8:23 PM  
Blogger Phillip Minden said...


b"h I really couldn't say.


yes, I just meant that hypothetically in comparison, not as a recommendation, let alone the report of a minneg.

1/18/2008 4:50 AM  
Blogger said...

Steg asked me to explain how I work with a congregant to create memory. This is an active process, and if you remember from some studies at Hebrew University this is really at the core of our people.

I think that there is great value in this Mishna/Nishama thing. (I know the phonetics are wrong.) But it is only valuable if it transcends the supernatural. That is crazy talk. It has to be that it is not segulah but actually mamash poel in this world.

So the year ends and you are stuck because there are no more mishnayot, there is not more kaddish. So what I talk to someone about is a relationship between respecting their departed and channeling that into something that is feasible and sensible to you.

We lost a young woman here to anorexia - so they were able to donate her organs. So in that case the parents are now working to bring this message to the world.

If it is diabetes maybe I am going to be exceptionally proactive in avoiding the pitfalls that could bring it to me, my family and friends. You will be Quixote but you will say "Friend I love you so much, maybe you should skip the triple shot of sugar juice in that latte."

There is a custom of saying "L'illui nishmat.' So that is about raising sparks. Forget sparks. Sparks are for real kabbalists and fools who think they are real kabbalists. L'zecher nishmat, avi mori. Is a real world consciousness builder.

So to summarize my rambling response: social action in an exceptional way. Educating others. Creating realtime memory.

Finally. Write yourself emails. Write yourself email after email about your father. Make a gmail account: rememberingabba and send yourself stuff. Or start an online document that your whole family can edit. GoogleDocs is fine. Write the story of his life.

I write enough in a week to compose 2 - 3 significant books a year but it is all absorbed in the trivialities of email and facebook. Here is your chance to make a real memory.

The 'Other Side' is about forgetting. Forgetting your tzelem and forgetting that your father was a person.


1/18/2008 11:36 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Well put. Each step away will always hurt. Soorry about that and about people saying the wrong thing at the wrong time because they don't know or don't think...

1/28/2008 12:28 AM  

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