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Kaddish / קדיש

Leading Prayer Services

How many Kaddishim?Kaddish / קדיש is recited at least seven times a day during public prayers in the synagogue, as alluded in the verse “Seven times a day I have praised You / שבע ביום הללתיך” (Psalms 119:164). — During each prayer service a cantor recites Kaddish Shalem / קדיש שלם — Complete Kaddish and at least one Chatzi Kaddish / חצי קדיש — Half Kaddish. (We use the word “cantor” to refer to anybody who leads the prayer services, but does not necessarily sing.) If there are mourners in the synagogue, they complement the cantor with additional recitations of the Kaddish.

It is written in the kabalistic literature that Kaddish is effective for “Shaata UFalga / שעתא ופלגא” — literally for an hour and a half. There are various interpretations of that statement, but the plain meaning is that Kaddish cools the fire of Gehinnom / גיהנום — the inferno of Hell, for an hour and a half. Hence, some have a custom to recite Kadish at least eight times a day to save the deceased from 12 hours of punishment at night, when it is more severe, while some recite it at least 16 times to cover all 24 hours.

Leading prayer services. It is customary that the mourner leads the prayer services if he is capable of serving as a cantor and is acceptable to the congregation in this role. However, certain fluency in reciting the prayers and understanding of what he says is required. The cantor summons the congregation to prayer with the words “Bless the Lord, the blessed One / ברכו את ה' המבורך”, which is very important, as we have already seen. Leading the prayer services also gives the mourners an additional opportunity to recite Kaddish, since a cantor recites Kaddish at least seven times a day, as was just mentioned.

The custom is that a mourner does not lead prayer services on the Sabbath and major Jewish Holidays: Rosh HaShanah / ראש השנה, Yom Kippur / יום כפור, Succoth / סוכות, Passover / פסח and Shavuot / שבועות. As for other Jewish Holidays such as Chanukah / חנוכה, Purim / פורים and Rosh Chodesh / ראש חודש the customs vary and one should follow the custom of the synagogue he attends.