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Right Time, Right Place

Jeff Borell has become more observant of Jewish tradition since his father passed away. Although traditionally a son of the deceased says Kaddish daily for the entire first year, as well as on every subsequent yahrtzeit, Jeff didn't realize how important it was and only did so occasionally. Eventually, he stopped saying it Kaddish altogether.

Due to the circumstances of his profession, Jeff is not always able to make it to a daily minyan (prayer quorum) at synagogue.

One winter morning, Jeff inexplicably woke up at 4:30 AM. Though he twisted and turned, he was unable to fall back asleep. Exhaustion notwithstanding, Jeff told himself, “This morning, I have no excuse to miss praying with a minyan. I can’t sleep anyway.”

Jeff arrived at the synagogue. He noted with curiosity that some of the men were busy setting out food and some fruit for after the services. In reply to his query, the men told him that the fruit was in honor of the fifteenth day of Shevat, the New Year for the trees.

The fifteenth of Shevat?! Jeff was stunned—the fifteenth of Shevat was the exact day of his father’s yahrtzeit.

Some messages can’t be ignored. Following an emotional Kaddish, Jeff took upon himself a renewed commitment to recite Kaddish for his father on the fifteenth day of Shevat, every year thereafter. 

(As heard from Jeff Borell, NJ)

Kaddish Recital Comforts the Soul »

Long-Distance Kaddish

The late Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, accompanied by eight of his students, was on his way to the wedding of a student at his yeshiva.  The groom arranged a flight for the group scheduled to arrive with plenty of time before the wedding.

Despite their planning, fierce storms at the airport of their destination made it impossible for the plane to land.  The plane was forced to detour to a distant airport in a different location. Dismayed at the turn of events, Rabbi Gifter and his students realized they would miss the wedding completely.  They would not even be able to recite the afternoon prayers with the required ten men since their party was nine - just one man short.

The group asked a supervisor at the airport where they could find a quiet place to pray.  The supervisor directed them to a side room, and quietly watched from the doorway as the group began to pray. 

When the group completed their prayers, the airport supervisor asked them, “Why didn’t you say Kaddish?”

Surprised at the question, the group explained that they were missing a tenth man.

The supervisor retorted in Yiddish, “And am I not a Jew, too?"

The clearly overwhelmed man explained that he was by no means religious; he never prayed at all.  But this day was a day like no other.

“Today is the day of my father’s yahrtzeit,” the supervisor said.

“Last night, my father appeared to me in a dream.  He told me that today is his yahrtzeit, and he demanded that I say Kaddish in his merit.  I told my father that I never pray; and even if I would want to say Kaddish, from where would I find a minyan (quorum of ten men)?

“My father replied in the dream, ‘I will make sure that there is a minyan for you.  You just be sure to recite Kaddish.’

“When I woke up this morning, I thought to myself, ‘There is no way that I will say Kaddish!’  But now, when I see how my father’s words came true, and nine Jews from far away came straight to me, I can’t ignore my father’s words.”

With that, the airport supervisor emotionally recited the Kaddish prayer.

(Otzros Acharis HaYamim, Vol. IV, p. 130)

Kaddish Recital Comforts the Soul »

A Soldier’s Grave

It was a scorching June day when two sisters walked slowly up the steep hill as they solemnly made their way to their brother’s grave. Their brother, Daniel, a soldier in the Israeli army, was killed in an ambush in Lebanon. A memorial was being held to honor the memories of the soldiers killed in the ambush.
There were two other days when Daniel’s memory was commemorated – the day on which he was killed, Rosh Chodesh Av, and Yom Hazikaron, the day all fallen soldiers are memorialized in a very large ceremony atop this very same mountain. Thousands of broken family members come together to cry for their loved ones – children, husbands, brothers, fathers – men who have given their lives for their people.
As the two sisters trudged uphill they noticed an elderly Sephardic Jew breathing heavily and sweating as he struggled in the blistering heat. Suddenly, he stumbled and fell. Quickly, the two women ran over to help and called to a nearby soldier to tend to the elderly man. As the soldier helped the elderly man, the two sisters continued on their way to their brother’s grave.
Once they reached Daniel’s grave, they began to recite Psalms. They soon noticed that the elderly man they had just helped was now standing at a nearby gravesite, staring at them. At first they assumed that he was appreciative that they had helped him. However, immediately following the services, he approached them and asked who they were and why they were standing at this particular soldier’s grave. They told the gentleman that they were the soldier’s sisters.
The old man looked bewildered, “But that’s impossible. I know that he was a lone soldier, who had no family members in Israel when he was killed.”
The two sisters responded that when Daniel had been killed there was no family in the country, but soon afterward they moved to Israel. As the conversation continued, the sisters asked the elderly gentleman how he knew Daniel. He explained that his son was Daniel’s commanding officer in Lebanon. He then pointed to the grave at which he was standing. It was his son’s.
“When Daniel was killed, my son told me that Daniel did not have relatives in Israel, and every year my son used to arrange for a group of ten men to come and say Kaddish for him.” By now the man was crying. In a tear-chocked voice he asked, “What do you do on your brother’s yahrtzeit?”
The sisters described the Torah class that was given in their brother’s honor and the meal they served and of course the Kaddish that was recited. When he asked why he had never seen them before at the yearly memorial ceremony, she explained that they would hold a larger memorial on Daniel’s yahrtzeit.
The elderly compassionate man could not stop crying, “But I never knew - “
By now the sisters were overcome with emotion as they listened to this complete stranger describe his yearly ritual. “Ever since my son was killed in battle I have continued the tradition of saying Kaddish on this day for your brother. I never knew you were here – I never knew –“
Emotionally drained, he now looked at the two sisters and pleaded with them, “Do you promise me that you will continue to make sure that Kaddish is said for him? Promise me – Promise me you will continue –“
When the two sisters promised, the simple, elderly Sephardic Jew walked over to the grave, looked up to Heaven and with his arms raised upwards he cried out, “Master of the World, You know how faithful I was to the departed. Only You know how I arranged for Kaddish to be recited by his grave. Today I am giving this responsibility over to these two sisters. They promised to make sure that Kaddish is said.” And then he looked at them once more and made his way down the hill.
A few months later the elderly man passed away.
The sisters will never forget the kindness of a simple elderly Jew who cared for a lone soldier as if he were his own son.
And – neither will Daniel.

(Reproduced from Touched By A Story 3, pp. 180-182, with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, Ltd.)

Kaddish Recital Comforts the Soul »

Unfathomable Comfort

Anna Preisand was a single woman from Georgia. For many years, Anna devotedly cared for her ill sister. After her sister passed away, Anna approached Rabbi C., the principal of her local day school, requesting that he arrange Mishnah study in her sister’s merit.

Rabbi C. asked a teacher in the school, who agreed to do the Mishnah study in the deceased woman’s merit.

Sometime later, Anna Preisand disappointedly asked the principal why the Mishnah study was not being completed. Nonplussed, the principal spoke to the teacher.

“How did you know?” the teacher asked in astonishment. “The truth is, lately I’ve been lax in studying Mishnah for Ms. Preisand’s sister.”

The principal then asked a different Rabbi to stand in for the teacher. Rabbi Y. agreed gladly, and once again the Mishnah was studied in the merit of Ms. Preisand’s sister. Each time Rabbi Y. met Anna Preisand, she thanked him from the bottom of her heart, saying, “You don’t know how much I owe you for studying the Mishnah for the sake of my sister.”

One day, Rabbi Y. curiously asked Anna, “How did you know that the teacher had stopped studying the Mishnah for your sister? And how are you so sure that it is being completed now?”

Anna replied, “At the time that the Mishnah study was discontinued, my sister appeared to me in a dream. She was dressed in grotesque clothing, and her expression was grim. In the dream she said, “I depended on you for the Mishnah, and it’s not being done.”

“After Rabbi C. arranged that you would resume the Mishnah study where the teacher left off, my sister once again appeared to me in a dream. This time her face was radiant.

“‘You have no idea what a comfort this is for me,’ my sister said.

“And that is how I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Mishnah is being studied properly in my sister’s merit,” Anna concluded.
 (As heard from Rabbi Y., Georgia.)

Kabbalistic Power of Mishnah Study »

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