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Kaddish Without A Minyan

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Topic: Kaddish

Gary from NYC wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

My mother died three months ago. I am not affiliated with a synagogue. I go to synagogue on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. My children were bar-mitzvahed and I have a deep feeling of Jewish identity. I have been saying kaddish for my mother in the morning and evening alone in my house. Recently, some Torah-observant colleagues have attempted to explain to me that kaddish should be said in the presence of a minyan (ten Jewish men) and I understand the reason for that. However, I am not able to make the commitment to go to synagogue every day for a year, and generally feel awkward and uncomfortable walking into a synagogue as a stranger. Therefore I intend to continue to say kaddish for my mother in my house. My question is this: Is saying kaddish in the house, not in the presence of a minyan, meaningless? Thank you.

Dear Gary,

Kaddish is the public sanctification of G-d's Name. If kaddish is said in private, then by definition it is not kaddish.

You say you are unable to attend synagogue every day for a year. Can you go every other day? There is tremendous value to kaddish even if it is not said every day. You also mentioned that you have Torah-observant colleagues. Can you gather ten such people at your home or work-place? If so, then you can say kaddish for your mother without going to synagogue.

On the days that you can't say kaddish with a minyan, you should ask someone who attends a minyan to say it instead of you. You should tell him your mother's Hebrew name. If you can't find someone locally, Ohr Somayach offers such a service. Write to [email protected] for more information.

Saying kaddish for a parent is a fulfillment of the commandment "Honor your father and your mother." The soul of the parent is rewarded for having reared a son or daughter who continues in the proper path. Other commandments, too, are a merit for the departed parent. So rather than recite kaddish in private, do a mitzvah; for example, say the daily Shema, give charity or do acts of kindness in her name. These will serve as a merit for your departed mother's soul. May the Almighty One comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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