Latest update: January 15th, 2015
A mourner during shivah takes precedence over all other mourners; a mourner during sheloshim takes precedence over one observing the 12 months; someone with yahrzeit takes precedence over a mourner observing the 12 months and a mourner who is concluding reciting kaddish at the end of 11 months; and, finally, a mourner concluding his recitation of kaddish after 11 months takes precedence over a mourner observing the 12 months.
The Gesher HaChayyim continues: “These levels are commensurate with middat hadin – the severity of justice [regarding the deceased] – in the various stages of the 12 months [each succeeding period being less severe]. The [significance of the] day on which one concludes reciting kaddish is not that it represents any specific period or change [in one’s level], but rather we give the mourner special rights on that day because he will now miss an entire month [of saying kaddish].
“Since his special rights only affect those mourners within the 12-month period [but beyond sheloshim], those mourners give him preference for kaddish recitals on that day. However, one who is observing shivah or sheloshim does not give up his right to the kaddish recitals.
“Thus, if someone is in the midst of shivah or sheloshim, the person who observes a yahrzeit only recites the ‘extras’ [i.e., the kaddish after Shir Shel Yom, or Borechi Nafshi on Rosh Chodesh, LeDavid Hashem Ori during Elul until after Shemini Atzeret, or Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit during Chanukah] for which the mourner has no exclusive rights.”
The Gesher HaChayyim lists those kaddish recitals specific to the mourner within shivah, who takes precedence over one observing sheloshim or a yahrzeit. Thus, for Shacharit these would be the half kaddish before Barechu, the half kaddish following Tachanun and the Amida, the Kaddish Titkabbel following Ashrei and U’va LeTziyyon, the Mourner’s Kaddish following Aleinu, and Kaddish DeRabbanan following Ein K’Elokeinu (in congregations where this prayer is said).
However, Kaddish DeRabbanan after Korbanot, the kaddish before Baruch She’amar and the kaddish following Shir Shel Yom (and following the recital of Psalms, where such is the practice) are designated for other mourners.
One difference between a mourner during shivah and a mourner during sheloshim is that in the event that there are no “extra” kaddish recitals for that prayer service, the yahrzeit commemorator takes precedence over the one observing sheloshim because in this case the sanctity of the day itself, and not the individual, causes the precedence.
As regards to who leads the services, a mourner during sheloshim should lead until (and including) the kaddish after chazarat hashatz. The yahrzeit commemorator then should lead for Ashrei and U’va LeTziyyon. The two should then split the kaddish recitals following Aleinu and Ein K’Elokeinu.
The Gesher HaChayyim also makes reference to a Barechu Batra – the Barechu that some congregations say after Aleinu – noting that this as well goes to the yahrzeit commemorator since the Barechu of Birkat Keriat Shema was already given to the mourner within sheloshim.
All of the above applies to those congregations that maintain rules for which mourner recites which kaddish. However, as mentioned earlier, many congregations allow all mourners to recite kaddish together. The only kaddeishim not said collectively are the kaddish before Barechu, the kaddish following the Amida and Tachanun (when Tachanun is said), and the kaddish following Ashrei and U’va LeTziyyon.
Thus, for most congregations, the question of precedence is only relevant to the question of who should lead the services.
(To be continued)
About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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