When Abraham’s servant was dispatched to find a bride for Isaac, he offered a prayer for the success of his mission. “Before he could even finish speaking,” Rebecca (the future Matriarch of Israel) appeared: the servant’s prayers were answered (Genesis 24:15).

Our prayers are not always answered so quickly, nor always as we wish. An exception to this principle is Mourner’s Kaddish (as, too, any of the various forms of Kaddish). As soon as one says “Yitgadal v’yitkadash – May God’s Name be magnified and sanctified,” that goal is achieved. God is sanctified, and the Divine Name magnified, by the very fact of the mourner’s public recitation of these words and through the congregational response: “May God’s great Name be blessed….” How sensitive of our tradition to assign the mourner (whose bereavement demonstrates that, alas, not all prayerful aspirations are granted) a role in which her or his prayers are, indeed, immediately fulfilled.

The prayerful efforts of effective visitors to a house of mourning also enjoy a measure of immediate success. Our presence and gestures of support are concrete steps toward the healing and consolation which we seek in prayer: “Ha-Makom Yinachem Etchem – May God comfort you….”

For the bereaved, healing can be a long process. The benefits of Kaddish are immediate.


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