ITS origin is mysterious; angels are said to have brought it down from heaven and taught it to men. About this prayer the tenderest threads of filial feeling and human recollection are entwined; for it is the prayer of the orphans!
When the father or the mother dies, the surviving sons are to recite it twice daily, morning and evening, throughout the year of mourning, and then also on each recurring anniversary of the death—on the Yahrzeit.
It possesses wonderful power. Truly, if there is any bond strong and indissoluble enough to chain heaven to earth, it is this prayer. It keeps the living together, and forms the bridge to the mysterious realm of the dead. One might almost say that this prayer is the watchman and the guardian of the people by whom alone it is uttered; therein lies the warrant of its continuance.
Can a people disappear and be annihilated so long as a child remembers its parents? It may sound strange: in the midst of the wildest dissipation has this prayer recalled to his better self many a dissolute character, so that he has bethought himself and for a time at least purified himself by honouring the memory of his parents.
Because this prayer is a resurrection in the spirit of the perishable in man, because it does not acknowledge death, because it permits the blossom which, withered, has fallen from the tree of mankind to flower and develop again in the human heart, therefore it possesses sanctifying power.
To know that when thou diest, the earth falling on thy head will not cover thee entirely; to know that there remain behind, those who, wherever they may be on this wide earth, whether they may be poor or rich, will send this prayer after thee; to know that thou leavest them no house, no estate, no field by which they must remember thee, and that yet they will cherish thy memory as their dearest inheritance—what more satisfying knowledge canst thou ever hope for? And such is the knowledge bequeathed to us all by the Kaddish.
THE souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They are in peace. Their hope is full of immortality.
WISDOM OF SOLOMON 3. 1, 3, 4.
AND they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
DANIEL 12. 3.
Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Dr. J H. Hertz