Mourning as Stepping Up: Weekly SparkOct 12th, 2012 | By Henry
The main job of a child mourning a parent is to be moved to good actions by the memory of the parent. In this way, the parent is a catalyst for good through the choices of the child and the parent’s soul is elevated even though he no longer possesses the gift of free choice.
This is why a child says kaddish, a prayer that publicly affirms our belief in G-d and our commitment to living with G-d awareness.
Another job of a mourner is to be the chazzan for the daily services at shul. As I’ve shouldered this thrice daily task, I wondered why?
In traditional Judaism, a mourner (or anyone else) prays the entire service, whether he leads or not. A mourner says most of the kaddish prayers, whether he leads or not. What additional merit does the mourner accomplish by being the one in front?
These thoughts came to me in the sometimes uncomfortable moments of stepping up to the chazzan’s table.
Though everyone around me knows how to pray, I am forced into a role of leading.
I make sure we start at the time the community agreed on. I initiate the words that jumpstart the service. I keep the pace. My voice is the one that is audible at the moments that the community experiences itself as one voice united in prayer.
Frankly, standing as I often am in huge shuls with several hundred congregants many of whom know to pray more fluidly than I do, I find it uncomfortable.
But the soul of the deceased was remarkable for its ability to lead in some way. So the child steps up.
Join me for an evening of learning/inspiration in memory of my father, Wed. Oct. 24: http://www.aishcenter.com/honoring-parents