Shabbat Parashat Beshalah | 5765
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Question: We had a minyan for Mincha without a mourner, and so we did not say Kaddish after Aleinu. We subsequently did some learning, after which I recited Kaddish D’rabbanan. Some people questioned whether this is the right thing since, Baruch Hashem, both of my parents are alive. Can/should one with live parents say Kaddish D’rabbanan (=KD)?
Answer: There is nothing per se about Kaddish that makes it appropriate only for mourners. Chazanim regularly say the Kaddeishim during the tefilla. The main issue has to do with the Kaddish following Aleinu at the end of the tefilla (in a few places, during Shacharit). That was instituted to give mourners who are not able to be the chazan the opportunity to recite at least that Kaddish and thereby elevate the souls of their departed parents. Thus, poskim write that when one whose parents are alive says Kaddish, it may look as if a parent has died, and we refrain from this in order to “not open our mouth to the Satan.”
In contrast, KD was instituted based on the special impact that it has for the world, in general. The gemara (Sota 49a) mentions the saying of “Y’hei Shmei Rabba”afterlearning aggada (homiletic portions of the Torah) as one of two things that keep the world in existence. In theory and according to the great majority of classical sources (see Shut Chatam Sofer, IV 132; Pitchei Teshuva, YD 376:4) it need not be limited to mourners or those whose parents have died in the past. On the other hand, there is an opinion that only one who does not have parents says KD (Matei Ephrayim, cited in Tzitz Eliezer VII, 49). Even though this opinion is rejected, it is hard to deny that the perception of most people is that it is said by mourners or those without parents.
This perception of people causes a situation where it is understandable for a parent to be disturbed that their child is reciting KD. Some authorities (see Yabia Omer III, YD 26) say that under those circumstances, there is an element of “opening the mouth to the Satan.” What happens if a parent objects to the saying of Kaddish when he need not do so? There is a major machloket among Rishonim in a case that a father tells his son not to recite Mourner’s Kaddish for his mother (the father’s wife, not divorcee). The Maharam (cited in Tashbetz 425) says that the father’s objection, which has a logical basis, should be heeded, even though it is unfortunate, as it is important to say Kaddish for the mother. But the Rama (Yoreh Deah 376:4) says that we reject the father’s objection and instruct the son to say Kaddish for his mother.
Our case is different from the Rama’s in both directions. On one hand, if the parents and others would be more knowledgeable as to the background of KD, there would be no reason to object. On the other hand, there is less of a requirement to say KD, certainly if we are speaking about after a learning session that is not part of davening. It is very common for group learning to end without KD (for better or for worse, and that is not our topic now) even if mourners are present. So why create a questionable situation when one can finish the learning without a Kaddish?
We suggest the following approach, which is in line with that of Rav O. Yosef shlita (Yabia Omer, ibid.). The parent(s) have the prerogative to object to their son saying KD, but one need not ask their permission in advance. If one wants to ask his parents, he can say that it is permitted for a son with live parents to say Kaddish and hope they do not object. If someone without live parents is present, he should ideally be the one to say KD, but if no one is saying the KD at the beginning or end of davening, then it is fine for anyone to recite it(Rav Sh. Z. Orbach z.t.l. instructed a colleague of ours with parents to act this way.) In any case, your friends at the minyan have no reason to object.
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