Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple
Rabbi Dr. Raymond AppleCourtesy

Ask the Rabbi

KADDISH BY WOMEN

Q. Can women say Kaddish?

A. There are voices on both sides of the debate.

The "pro" case says that there is no direct prohibition of Mourners’ Kaddish being said by women in the presence of a minyan.

It is pointed out that in some communities it was once the practice for Kaddish to be said publicly by one person on behalf of all the mourners, but now that it is more usual for every mourner to say their own Kaddish from their place in the synagogue there cannot be any objection to a woman mourner saying an individual Kaddish.

Kaddish is an elevation of the departed soul. It brings comfort to whoever says it, male or female, and its spiritual and psychological value should not be minimised.

When there has been a bereavement, the saying of Kaddish should be encouraged - amongst women as well as men.

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PROUD OF MY HUMILITY

Q. Is there anything wrong with being proud of one’s humility?

A. The Torah says that Moses was the humblest of men (Num. 12:3).

According to the Sifrei, he didn’t even notice when anyone said anything critical about him. He certainly didn’t boast about his humility. He was unlike Dickens’ Uriah Heep, who was immensely proud of how humble he was.

The Jewish idea of false humility comes in a story based on the rabbinic saying, "He who flees from honour, honour runs after him; he who runs after honour, honour flees from him".

Someone complained to his rabbi, "I always run away from honour, so why doesn’t it pursue me?"

The rabbi replied, "Honour only runs after a person who doesn’t constantly look behind him to check whether honour is catching up".

Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple was for many years Australia’s highest profile rabbi and the leading spokesman on Judaism. After serving congregations in London, Rabbi Apple was chief minister of the Great Synagogue, Sydney, for 32 years. He also held many public roles, particularly in the fields of chaplaincy, interfaith dialogue and Freemasonry, and is the recipient of several national and civic honours. Now retired, he lives in Jerusalem and blogs at http://www.oztorah.com