Is it a Mitzvah vs a meritorious act to say Kaddish?

Most kids are only too quick to grab the Yerusha (inheritance) from their parent(s). It’s not a Mtizvah to do so, but if you do, then you must give Tzedaka from it (that’s a Mitzvah).

They take Shiva (SEVEN days) and convert it to one minyan or two. That’s not seven days mourning. Don’t worry, they will take seven or six or five figure inheritance without asking the Rabbi much quicker. It’s just “too much” to sit for seven days and mourn the loss of a parent etc

With this in mind, I noticed the Jewish News had an advertisement stating it was a MITZVAH to say Kaddish. I’m not learned, but I don’t know of any Mitzvah to say Kaddish. It’s a well known Minhag to say it at least once a day. I don’t like the idea of taking money for Kaddish when that doesn’t also include trying to educate and carry out the idea that Shiva and Shloshim are Halochos Beruros (clear Mitzvah) and teach these. Earn your money.

Perhaps this is an old-fashioned approach, it needs to be a less opportunistic “chasing coffin” exercise and actually involve doing something about teaching people the Jewish way in Death and Mourning. It’s a Dying Minhag, unfortunately. “Give a few dollars to someone to say Kaddish” and all is good.

Oh yeah, Minhag Yisroel, Din. You can do better than that.

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

2 thoughts on “Is it a Mitzvah vs a meritorious act to say Kaddish?”

  1. As you well know, the recitation of kaddish by mourners was probably instituted as a means of obtaining merit for a deceased parent by those who do not have the skills to learn Torah in their merit. For those who are able to learn, it may be better that they concentrate on their learning (as you say, kaddish once a day is probably sufficient). The same would possibly apply to davening at the amud – leave it for those who cannot provide merit for their parents in another way.


    1. Yes indeed, but I’ve not heard it called a mitzva as described. There is a well established Minhag but in older communities one person said Kaddish on a day and on you would miss out till it was your turn. We’ve turned Kaddish into something bigger than shiva or sloshim. Once upon a time when there was shiva Rabbis pocketed gratuities for leading the service. Now they have to use Kadish and plaques. Maybe I’m too cynical


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