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Question: When a son says Kaddish for his parents, can they hear it? Also, are their souls elevated to a higher place as a result?

Ben Glassman

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Answer: Until now we have discussed matters that relate to one’s frame of mind while saying and responding to Kaddish. Now we address one’s posture during this time.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Orach Chayim 56:5) – citing the Maharil (Hilchot Tefillah 3) and Arizal (Sha’ar Ha’kavana, end of his exposition on Kaddish) – states that one need not stand while responding to Kaddish or Barchu. But if one is already standing (e.g., at the conclusion of Hallel), one should continue standing until “Amen, y’hei shmei rabbah.”

Shulchan Aruch HaRav cites another view, that of the Shiltei Giborim (to Mordechai, Berachot, Perek Tefillat Hashachar, ot 5), who maintains that we should stand for Kaddish and every other matter of sanctity, too. If Eglon, king of Moab, who had no obligation to stand for a message from G-d, nonetheless did so, then surely we, who are obligated to sanctify Hashem, should surely stand for the entirety of Kaddish.

Rabbi Tukaccinsky (Gesher Chayim 30:10) notes that most authorities (see Aruch Hashulchan, Orach Chayim 51:7) maintain that during Kaddish one should:

1) bow at the opening words, “Yitgadeil v’yitkadeish

2) bow at “ba’agala u’vizman kariv

3) bow at “Yitbarach v’yishtabach

4) bow at “shmei d’kudsha brich Hu.”

5) bow at “(da’amiran b’alma v’imru) amen.”

According to Rav Nachshon Gaon, four bows are obligatory, and one is optional. The first four are obligatory and bowing at the conclusion of Kaddish – “shalom aleinu v’al kol Yisrael, v’imru amen” – is optional, according to him.

The Kol Bo and Avudraham (both cited by the Beit Yosef to Tur, Orach Chayim 51 sv “minyan ha’chriyot”) give the same list for when one should bow during Kaddish with one exception. Instead of bowing at “ba’agala u’vizman kariv,” they maintain that one should bow when saying “Y’hei shmei rabba.”

Sefer Hapardes (also cited by Beit Yosef ad. loc.) states that one should:

1) bow (and remain bowed) while reciting “Yitgadeil v’yitkadeish shmei rabba, b’alma di vrah

2) bow at “ba’agala u’vizman kariv

3) bow when beginning to recite the seven praises starting with “Yitbarach v’yishtabach” and remain bowed until “shmei d’kud’sha brich Hu

4) bow at “tushbchata v’nechemata

5) bow (this bow is optional) at “Oseh shalom bi’meromav…”

Very few people seem to follow the practice of “most” authorities. Indeed, many do not bow at all during Kaddish! They are actually following the view of the Vilna Gaon wjho maintains that we should not add to the bows the Sages required during Shemoneh Esreh.

(To be continued)

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