What are the Different Types of Kaddish?

February 28, 2022

The Kaddish prayer is very important in Judaism. It is a hymn that praises God and is recited as a divider between different parts of prayer services or for particular liturgical purposes. Its significance can only be rivaled by the Amidah and Shema prayers; you can order kaddish services here. There are five forms of the Kaddish, which are primarily written in Aramaic. The term Kaddish means holy in Aramaic. The prayer is focused on the sanctification and glorification of God’s name. 

 The term kaddish is Aramaic (a Hebrew word Kadosh— “holy”). Its text is called doxology —texts that offer praises to God. Kaddish was initially used in Midrashic sermons to conclude the sermon with consolation. The truncate of the Talmud leveraged one version of kaddish in its celebratory completion (siyyum). Over time, more versions of the kaddish have emerged as finales or overtures to different services. Nevertheless, a prominent version of kaddish was recited during the death of a parent for the first eleven months of mourning. In various kaddish versions, the mourners’ kaddish is the latest.

The primary purpose of kaddish is to sanctify God’s name. It also adverts to the redemption of the Jewish. This is better expressed by the central line of the kaddish prayer (the nucleus): “May his great name be blessed forever and ever.” Here are the different  types of Kaddish:

Chadzi Kaddish 

Also called “half kaddish,” chadzi kaddish is among the oldest version of prayers recited by the Jewish. It occurs in the traditional liturgy, hinting at a separation between service sections.

The prayer leader (rabbi or cantor) leads the recitation of chadzi kaddish in the morning service (shacharit). This follows the P’Sukei D’Zimra session after the Amidah and Torah services. 

For example, a congregation will recite chadzi kaddish at the end of the introductory sections of the Shabbat morning service. They can also do so before the “call to prayer.” It’s also recited during the afternoon before the Amidah. 

The Chadzi kaddish prayer often marks a transition in the services. When recited before “call to prayer,” it signals worshipers the end of “spiritual warmup” service and the beginning of “the Shema and its blessings”—the central segment of the service. The congregation then stand to this call, offering their attention and building an intention within their hearts for prayers.

Kaddish Shalem (Full Kaddish)

Kaddish Salem is recited after the Amidah (a silent, ‘standing prayer’ session involving asking God for our needs). This segment is recited by the prayer leader or rabbi alone, without interference by the congregation.

Among its verses, the Kaddish Shalem appeals to God to accept prayers offered by his people, the Israelites, “May the prayers and petitions of all the House of Israel be accepted before their Father in heaven, and they should say Amen”….and calls upon peace for the entire land. It asks the one who makes peace (In his dwellings) to have mercy and make peace in his chosen nation—Israel.

Kaddish Yasom (Mourners Kaddish)

The mourners’ kaddish resembles full kaddish but skips the verse asking for acceptance of prayer. Kaddish Yasom is customarily recited in the Jewish world, especially during the morning years. It also marks the dead’s anniversary—the Yahrzeit. The mourner is one who has lost their parent. In this case, the prayer session covers eleven months of the entire mourning year. One mourner will recite a segment as the rest of the mourners answer at intervals. 

Traditionally, mourners kaddish is recited with at least ten Jews in the service in Yahrzeit —morning, evening, and afternoon sessions. The cantor or rabbi takes out the Torah and says the el Malei Rachamim prayer in the mornings. The evening sessions don’t include this prayer and Torah as well.

When the deceased’s child sanctifies God’s name by reciting the mourners’ kaddish, their soul gets great elevation and satisfaction in heaven. And if the deceased had records of wrongdoings, the prayer helps through cleansing, securing the soul a good place in the Gardens of Eden or’ paradise.’

Rabbis Kaddish 

Rabbis kaddish prayer (also kaddish De-Rabbanan) is offered after learning the

rabbinic teachings—more so the one explaining biblical verses. To whatever is

already included in half kaddish, it adds a prayer for abundance, peace, compassion,

grace, kindness, relief, ample livelihood, and long life for those dedicated to

Torah, including the rabbis and their students. The congregation leader (or

any mourner in the audience) can recite the rabbis kaddish prayer.  

The kaddish prayer has many versions, including Chadzi kaddish, Kaddish Shalem, kaddish Yasom, and Rabbis kaddish. Each of these kaddish is mainly grouped in its appropriate liturgy. They address various needs at different points of the service and can fall into sessions like celebrations, public discourse, and mourning.

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