FAQ Page – Ask the Rabbi
(If you have a question or series of questions on a particular topic, let me know)
Perhaps the most common topic of questions that I receive are about the Halakhot (laws) dealing with end-of-life and mourning practices:
•For whom is the Mourner’s Kaddish (MK) recited for and for how long?
We are direct mourners as based on the Torah for a parent, spouse, sibling and child. For a parent, one is a mourner for a period of 12 months from the date of death, however, our sages, for certain reasons, have reduced that time to 11 months minus 1 day. For all other relatives the tradition is to recite the MK for 30 days, although one may extend the obligation.
•After a death, when is the MK first recited?
MK is recited for the first time at the graveside, after the filling of the grave (at least a layer of earth covering the coffin or placement in a burial enclosure)
•How often is the MK recited?
The MK should be recited at least 3 times/day at the morning, afternoon and evening worship services (Shaharit, Minha & Maariv) for which there is a minyan, a quorum of 10 Jews above the age of responsibility (Bar/t Mitzvah). However, our rabbis have long understood the constraints of life’s schedule and although the ideal is still to attend and recite the MK at the 3 stated daily services, built into the Shaharit service are at least 3 recitations of the MK, 1 at Minha and in the Maariv there are 2.
•Can I just recite the MK at home, by myself?
Our tradition teaches that one may offer prayers to God at anytime or virtually in any place (with the exception of a bathroom) alone or in a group. However, our tradition also stresses the value of being a part of a sacred community and there are certain prayers that require a public response and are only to be recited in the presence of a minyan. The MK requires a public response of an AMEN to the words spoken by the mourner. I believe that our rabbis were psychological masters whom understand that there is a sense of comfort and solace being amongst others during one’s time of need, and hearing a congregation respond to your recitation of the MK is intended to provide such comfort.