jewish Funeral Guide

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Kaddish / קדיש

Mourner's Kaddish Duration

For how long Kaddish is recited. As was mentioned earlier, the soul of the deceased might be sentenced to receive punishment in Gehinnom / גיהנום — the inferno of Hell, for up to 12 months after death. The essence of this punishment is the terrible shame and humiliation of recalling every single sin. The soul of the deceased is also tortured by the realization that being in the World of Reward it can no longer rectify these sins. The children and other closest relatives, however, who still remain in the World of Effort and whose souls are connected to the soul of the deceased can help tremendously. By reciting the Mourner's Kaddish / קדיש יתום the children bring merit to their parents and ease their judgment.

Since Kadish helps to ease the punishment, it makes sense to recite it throughout the entire 12 months after the death and this is indeed the custom in some communities. The prevailing custom, however, is to recite Kaddish for only 11 months, since only the wicked are judged for the entire 12 months and it is not respectful for a son to assume that his deceased parent was wicked. The reason for stopping at the end of eleventh month is that in Jewish Law one day of the month is sometimes counted as a whole month, which may imply that Kaddish was recited for the entire 12 months.

For example, if a person passed away on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrei / תשרי, the last day of the twelve-month period is the ninth of Tishrei. Consequently, the last day of the eleven months long Kaddish recitation is the ninth of Elul / אלול. Kaddish is not recited on the tenth of Elul, since it is already the first day of the twelfth month. However, there are only 29 days between the ninth of Elul and the ninth of Tishrei, while some of the Jewish months are 30 days long. Accordingly, the ninth of Elul may also belong to the twelfth month. To eliminate any doubts, some stop saying Kaddish 30 days before the end of the 12 months to allow for the longest possible month in the Jewish calendar. In our example this would make the eighth of Elul the last day of saying Kaddish.

The custom is to recite the Mourner's Kaddish for 11 months, but according to some rabbinical authorities Kaddish DeRabbanan / קדיש דרבנן — the Rabbis' Kaddish, may be recited without interruption even during the twelfth month.

The 11 months may be counted from the time of death or from the time of burial, depending on the mourner’s custom. If one was notified about the death of his parent long after the burial, even on the last day of eleventh month, and his custom is to recite Kaddish for only 11 months, he should recite it only until the end of eleventh month, counting from the day of burial. One who received delayed news of death after 11 months or is not sure how much time elapsed from the burial, should ask a competent rabbi for guidance.

There are, of course, many other customs as well. Some rabbinical authorities rule that Kaddish should be recited until one week before the end of the 12 months. Some have a custom to recite Mourner's Kaddish / קדיש יתום for 11 months, then skip 1 week and resume reciting Kaddish until the end of the twelfth month. Some skip the entire twelfth month, but make it up during the thirteenth month when Kadish is again recited to compensate for the missed time.