Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Teves 5763 - December 25, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
Bero Mezakeh Abba

by Martin D. Stern

Dear Chaim,

I was very sorry to hear of the petiroh of your father o.h. As I also went through the same experience just over a year ago, I know exactly how you must feel. That his last few weeks were spent in hospital must have been particularly distressing for you as the geriatric wards are, at the best of times, depressing places. I am sure that he really appreciated your being with him every day and your kibbud av was an example to us all.

Now that you have got up from shiva you will be davening before the omud and I thought I might pass on to you some of the thoughts I have had from my own experience last year. Perhaps you have wondered why an ovel is considered to have this particular chiyuv. Perhaps the clue lies in one of the qualifications required of a shliach tzibbur, that he be acceptable to the whole tzibbur. When one thinks how easy it is for people to become irritated with one another, can there be any greater zechus for the niftar than for his son to be so popular that no one has any ta'anos on him?

Of course this puts a great responsibility on one to live up to such a high standard but, as the Kitzur writes, this is what is most important, rather than having the omud or saying many Kaddeishim. He also writes that one should rather give up one's "rights" to these than come to machlokes over them, or chas vesholom hurt someone else's feelings.

Unfortunately there are too many people who consider that their right to the omud is absolutely sacred and are not willing to give way to others even if they have a higher priority al pi halochoh.

If someone like that should come to your minyan, let him have his way and do not worry that you may have missed an opportunity for kibbud av. Even if as a result you lose the chance to say a Kaddish do not be upset. The Chasam Sofer writes that when someone takes a Kaddish away from someone else, it goes to the merit of the one for whom it should have been said, so you will not have lost anything. In reality he has acted as your shaliach in saying it.

Another situation that sometimes arises is where the other person does not exactly drive you away from the omud but suggests, rather, that one of you take part of the minyan out into the corridor so that you can both act as shliach tzibbur. This is also not a good solution since often the place where the outside minyan goes may not be a suitable place to daven. It also goes against the principle of berov am hadras Melech. By letting the other person have the omud, and not insisting on your rights, I believe you bring more zechus to your late father than a hundred Kaddeishim.

While on this subject might I suggest that saying extra Kaddeishim ostensibly in his honor might, in reality, be the exact opposite. In seforim it says that each Kaddish raises the niftar a bit further out of Gehennom. Only the completely wicked stay the full twelve months there and that is why a son only says Kaddish for eleven, so as not to imply that his parent comes into that category R"l. By trying to say more Kaddeishim than absolutely necessary you might be thought to be making that same implication R"l. This is quite apart from any tircha detzibura involved, especially on weekday mornings when most people have to hurry to work after davening.

Another aspect of tircha detzibura that you may find difficult to avoid is getting to shul in good time in the mornings. I know your wife has not been very well recently and that you cannot leave the toddlers crying in their cots, which inevitably makes you late at least occasionally. Perhaps it would be better for you to tell the gabbai about your problem and ask him to find someone else to say Brochos if you are not in shul five minutes before the official start of davening. After all, the main chiyuv is to daven from Borechu and it is a genai for your late father that people should mistakenly think that his son can't get out of bed in time in the morning, even if you have another very good reason for your lateness.

When `Shmuli Levy' was an ovel a couple of years ago, people were forever complaining that he always rushed in at the last minute, or even a few minutes late; nobody knew whether he would turn up or not until he appeared. When the gabbai suggested that someone else should say Brochos, he was indignant and said that the tzibbur should not be so bothered since he had the right to the omud. As someone pointed out, he would not have turned up late to catch a train, but some people just do not realize the problems their attitude can cause others.

To add injury to insult, `Shmuli' would then rush the davening to try to finish on time; at least we can rely on you not to do that. I remember when we were in yeshiva how careful you always were to daven with proper kavonoh and, since you started working, you have always tried to keep up this hanhogoh. Unfortunately, you will find it difficult to continue to do so when acting as shliach tzibbur.

Old `Mr. Cohen' had yahrtzeit a few months ago and finished a quarter of an hour late. Of course he has been retired for many years and has no need to hurry, but the result was that he hardly had a minyan left by the time he got to Oleinu.

A question that you might wish to consider is whether davening before the omud will interfere with your own avodas Hashem and, therefore, be counterproductive. It would be a much greater zechus for your late father for people to be impressed by your private davening than to have them complain about having to rush out of shul before the end of Shacharis. In the circumstances, you might feel happier only taking the omud from Ashrei.

Shlomo Hamelech says: "Tovah tokhachas megulah mei'ahavoh mesuteres," Better open rebuke than hidden love (Mishlei 27:5) so I hope that you will understand my remarks in that spirit and not take them as a personal criticism. They are only meant to help you through what will certainly be a very difficult year. Before making any decisions, you should discuss them with the rov.

Your Torah learning and tefillos will certainly be a great zechus for your father and I hope that you will see only simchas in the future together with your family until the time when "bila hamoves lonetsach umochoh HaShem Elokim dim'oh mei'al kol ponim."

Your friend


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