Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Complete Sanctification

Ten months ago, when I was nearing the end of Aaron's shloshim, the 30-day period of mourning observed for close relatives other than parents, I spoke to my Rabbi about continuing kaddish once shloshim was complete. Other bereaved fathers have told me they were advised not to undertake this burden personally, but rather to find a yeshiva student or other paid kaddish-sayer to assume this daily responsibility. But I felt with every bit of my broken heart, with every facet of my shattered soul, that I wanted to be the one to say kaddish for Aaron. It just couldn't be right for this thrice-daily prayer in his merit to be said by someone who didn't love him as I had, who didn't feel his loss as keenly as I did. And the Rabbi blessed my decision.

There are different views about the correct end date for kaddish when one is saying it for relative other than a parent. Initially, the Rabbi had told me that I could say it for the entire twelve months, through Aaron's first yahrzeit, and it had been my intention to do just that. But a few days ago, I revisited the subject with the Rabbi, and this time, he advised that the usual and preferred custom is to end after eleven months for all relatives.

My first reaction to this sudden change of direction was shock and upset. I didn't feel emotionally prepared yet to stop saying kaddish, to terminate my daily connection with Aaron's memory. But after a day or so of soul-searching and consultation with my family, I decided to follow the recommended path. Therefore, my last kaddish for Aaron - until the yahrzeit one month from today - was yesterday afternoon, the 7th of Nissan.

Refraining from kaddish during the couple of prayer services since then felt very strange and empty, just as I had been dreading. Yet unexpectedly, I also feel a genuine sense of relief. Of closure. I have completed the proper interval of sanctification for my child's memory, that solemn and awesome duty between father and son that was, in our case, horribly reversed. I have done for Aaron what, under normal circumstances, he would have one day been bound to do for me.

And as the Rabbi told me, while eleven months of kaddish is a fitting and proper practice on behalf of any Jewish soul, Aaron's neshama was surely never in need of this merit. Besides all his obvious good qualities and mitzvos, he left this world prior to becoming a bar onshin - one fully responsible for his deeds - according to Jewish tradition. Without a doubt, the Rabbi reassured me, Aaron now sits in a lichtigeh gan eden [luminous paradise].

V'imru, Amen.


At 4/6/06, 10:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I'm reading and this brought tears to my eyes.

At 4/6/06, 11:45 PM, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Reb Elie,

Really quite lovely! May Aaron's neshuma have an aliyah! I remain ...

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

At 4/7/06, 5:04 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Amen. (Teary eyes as well.)

At 4/7/06, 6:57 AM, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

May Aaron's neshoma have an aliya and be a meylitz yosher for us all!

At 4/7/06, 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a wonderful rabbi you have. Reading his words brought me comfort as well, after shedding tears reading your post.

At 4/7/06, 12:53 PM, Blogger Elie said...

A sincere thank you and good Shabbos wish to all.

At 4/9/06, 8:44 PM, Blogger callieischatty said...

Your post was very heartbreaking to read but at the same time very full of wisdom.

I suppose it means we are not to grieve forever. Of course as a father you do but in this way you get some form of closure.

Thank you for sharing your insights with us.

My thoughts are with you and your family.


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