The Kaddish

So, it was about 3 weeks ago that Mike’s dear friend, Warren, was released from his struggles and passed through that mysterious door we call death. He and Mike had become very close. Some people can talk to each other for hours, and never run out of things to say to each other. Mike and Warren were like that. Warren was ill the past few years, so Mike always went to see him. Warren never came here.They had a common interest in spirituality and religion. Warren was a licensed minister with the Disciples of Christ, also known, if I understand it correctly, as the Christian Church. He and Mike agreed on most things spiritual. I suppose that the biggest difference is that Warren was a Christian, and Mike is Jewish. Mike has a liberal theology in which he takes most of the stories in the Bible as allegorical rather than factual. He thinks what is important is the message behind the story. He and Warren were in agreement about this. The message is all about love. We are directed to love each other, love God, and love ourselves. It turns out to be a lot harder to do than it looks like it should. It is not so hard for a cat, but people don’t see things nearly so clearly as we do, and their lives are more complicated. Mike and Warren were also in recovery, so they had that in common as well.  Another element of their lives held in common was, as Warren put it, they had both “married up.” They agreed that they both had better wives than they were entitled to. Brenda fully devoted herself to caring for Warren, and exhausted herself in the process. I guess you never know what you are capable of doing until you have to do it.

So, Warren passed on, and the memorial service was held last Saturday at Warren’s church. Mike, Judy, and Michelle all went. Warren’s good friend, Rev. Jerry, presided and delivered the eulogy. Many of Warren’s friends spoke up and talked about how much Warren had meant to them in their own journey. A couple of them said he had saved their lives, being there for them and knowing what to say when they were in great need. It was a celebration of Warren’s life. It underscored the important fact that we all are here to play a part in God’s great plan to love each other and make the world a better place. Brenda had called Mike just after Warren died and asked if he would say a Hebrew prayer at Warren’s funeral. Mike was honored, and said he would say Kaddish for Warren.

The Kaddish is a prayer that was very likely a part of the Jewish liturgy going back to the time of Jesus, shortly before the destruction of the second temple. Its language is Aramaic, the daily spoken language of the Jewish people during that period. It is a prayer of sanctification of the name of God.Over the centuries it has been modified somewhat, and now contains  Hebrew sentences in addition to the Aramaic text. The entire prayer is not long. It can easily be recited in less than two minutes. The word “Kaddish” means sanctification. It is found in the great vision of the prophet Isaiah where the angels all said “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” Or in the Hebrew of the Bible, “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh.” In time, a version of the Kaddish began to be recited at funerals, and for a length of time after the death of a parent or of a loved one. This form is referred to as the Mourner’s Kaddish. It has existed in this form and practice for several hundred years. It is also a traditional practice for a Jew to say Kaddish for a deceased loved one on the anniversary of their death. This is done at the synagogue, where the community can be aware and supportive of the loss. It is of some interest that there is no reference in the Kaddish to death. Scripture says “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Kaddish is the “blessed be the name” part of that sentiment. The anniversary of the death is referred to as the Yortzeit. Mike late wife’s Yortzeit is tomorrow. It will mark 26 years since she has passed on. Mike isn’t so sure that she ever left Michelle though. I think he is right.

So Mike said Kaddish for Warren at his going home celebration, and also read the translation in English. Brenda sent him a beautiful note thanking him. She said that Warren was/would have been very pleased . I’m sure this is so. Mike could not have been more grateful for the opportunity to honor his friend in this way.

I had mentioned in my last post that Mike had given a talk at Rev. Larry’s church about the relationship between Passover and Easter, and that I was going to try to get Mike to put it up on my blog. Mike said that it is too long and boring, and that he is not going to do it. However, he will email it to anyone who wants to read it. You can email him at mcgordon4@comcast.net if you want to. He doesn’t check his email every day so be patient, please.

It is a beautiful day today in Happy Meadows. All the trees are blooming, and the azaleas have opened up. I went by to see Mrs. Greenblatt this morning. She and her husband were just getting home from church. Mr. Greenblatt is Jewish, but she is Roman Catholic. Today is Easter Sunday. I could feel that despite the very recent death of Snowball, who as you may remember was run over by a car on Meadows Trace a few days ago, she is comforted by her relationship with her Lord. Life is so hard that it would be intolerable, it seems to me, if you don’t believe in something. I think Mrs. Greenblatt appreciated my visit. She spoke sweetly to me and offered me one of Snowball’s yummy little treats. I think I’ll drop in on her from time to time, just to see how she is doing. Let’s all pray for Mrs. Greenblatt, and for Brenda, and for Mike and Michelle, and for everyone who is sad for whatever reason, that they may find peace and consolation in their lives.

Author: Black Magic

Black Magic is a handsome, charming, and self-absorbed cat who lives with Mike and Judy Gordon in Marietta, Georgia. He is about 7 years old, and he will remind you at every opportunity that his grandfather was Black Jack, that famous cat who wrote his own autobiography. Black Magic has a great many opinions, and despite his natural feline arrogance, he seems to be genuinely spiritual. But the reader can decide for him/herself.

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