For the week ending 1 February 2003 / 29 Shevat 5763


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From: Mark in Michigan

Dear Rabbi,

I am saying Kaddish for my mother and yesterday I had the following question. Why do we say in the Kaddish regarding G-d should be recognized as King both bechayaychon in your lives, and also uveyomechon in your days? Aren't these words synonymous?

Also, is there a difference in meaning between baagalah and uvzman kariv?

Thank you very much.

Dear Mark,

Firstly, please accept my condolences on the passing of your mother. May G-d console you and your entire family among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

There is a difference in meaning between the words "chaim" and "yamim". Chaim is a reference to the entire life of someone, whereas yamim are the individual days of that life. We are acknowledging that not only are we responsible for making good use of our lives, but we are also supposed to use all the precious moments that each life is made up of.

Baagalah is a prayer that the redemption occur swiftly and not drawn-out, whereas uvzman kariv is a plea that it be very soon.

It is fascinating to note that death is not mentioned in Kaddish at all. It is a prayer that centers around the Omnipotence of G-d, and reiterates G-d's complete mastery over the universe. It is designed to help the mourner put the terrible loss in perspective: if one can accept the fact that G-d "Was, Is, and will Always Be", it is then possible to accept the fact that there is a Greater Reason for what has happened, even if it is beyond our immediate understanding.

Kaddish is not mentioned in the Torah, rather it was first composed and introduced into the liturgy by the Men of the Great Assembly around two thousand years ago in Aramaic.

Kaddish is written with ten expressions of praise. Some of the early Gaonic commentaries (circa 1000 CE) correlate these ten expressions with the Ten Pronouncements with which G-d created the world. Accordingly, since Kaddish parallels the Ten Pronouncements of Creation, it also parallels the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, since these two momentous occurrences are, spiritually, one and the same.

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