Monday, May 12, 2014

Looking at Kaddish

היום שבעה ועשרים יום שהם שלשה שבועות וששה ימים בעמר
Today is twenty-seven days, which is three weeks and six days of the omer
יסוד שבנצח
A day of foundation in a week of perseverance

On this day of foundation I take a liturgy class--one of many that I have taken with Rabbi Stuart Kelman. This one was on the various Kaddishes that are said in our prayer services, with much time spent on the Mourners' Kaddish, the prayer said on behalf of a loved one who has died. As often is the case with prayers, the customs go back so far that often their origins are obscured, But because they have been in existence for so many centuries, they are looked at as "law."

The codification of our observances is what unites us as Jews, gives us a tribal connection in this global society. But we need to remember that they are not set in stone. We need to learn what part they play in our lives, how they work, and even look at why they work...or don't. While the connection of tradition is important, keeps us in that stream that has run through the ages, we also need to revisit the customs, and renew their meanings so they can continue to to speak to us today.

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