23 – The Conclusion of Shacharit and the Laws of Kaddish

01 – Ashrei and Lamenatze’ach

After Tachanun, (on Mondays and Thursdays following the Torah reading), three passages of prayer are recited.

The first is Ashrei (Tehillah L’David). Although this prayer has already been recited in Pesukei d’Zimrah, the Psalm is repeated, for the Chachamim say (Berachot 4b), “Whoever recites Tehillah L’David three times daily is promised life in the World to Come.” First it is recited in Pesukei d’Zimrah; a second time after Tachanun, and a third time before Minchah (see the laws of Pesukei d’Zimrah earlier in this book 14:3 and note 5).

Afterwards, we recite the Psalm “Lamenatze’ach mizmor l’David, ya’ancha Hashem b’yom tzarah” (“For the One Who grants victory, a Psalm of David. May Hashem answer you on the day of distress”), which serves as a continuation of the prayers of supplication (Tachanunim) recited after the Amidah.[1]

Since Lamenatze’ach is a prayer about a day of distress, it is not recited on days of joy. There are various customs surrounding this Psalm. According to the minhag of the Sephardim, the law concerning it is like that of Tachanun, and every day on which Tachanun is not recited due to the joy of that day, Lamenatze’ach is not recited either. According to the Ashkenazic minhag, in order for Tachanun to be omitted, a minor joyous occasion is sufficient; however, for Lamenatze’ach to be omitted, the joyous occasion must be great. Therefore, when a chatan or a ba’al brit (the father, the mohel, or the sandak) is praying with the congregation, Tachanun is not recited, yet Lamenatze’ach is. Likewise, regarding the month of Nisan, and the days from Yom Kippur until the end of Tishrei, although Tachanun is not recited, Lamenatze’ach is. The only times it is not recited are on holidays, the eve of holidays (erev chag), and the day following a holiday (isru chag) (Rama 131:1; Mishnah Berurah 35; Kaf HaChaim 37). These customs are printed in the siddurim before the Lamenazte’ach paragraph, and each ethnic group follows its individual custom.


[1]. This is Psalm 20. It is appropriate to recite Psalm 20 after the Shemoneh Esrei which contains nineteen berachot, since it follows a sequence – nineteen and then twenty. However, before the nineteeanth berachah was instituted, when the Shemoneh Esrei had only eighteen berachot, the reason this Psalm was still recited after it was because at that time Psalms 1 and 2 were considered to be one unit. Psalm 20 was therefore considered to be Psalm 19 and hence served as a continuation of the Amidah.

02 – Kedushah D’Sidra – U’va L’Tzion

After that, U’va L’Tzion, also named “Kedushah d’Sidra,” is recited. It contains the verses “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh,” “Baruch kevod Hashem mimkomo,” and “Hashem yimloch l’olam va’ed,” with their translation into Aramaic. Chazal instituted its recital so that every person praying would merit learning some verses of the Prophets (Nevi’im) every day. That is why the verses are translated into Aramaic, so that the whole nation, which was fluent in Aramaic at that time, would understand their meaning. The Chachamim highly praise the recital of Kedushah d’Sidra, for after the destruction of the Temple, it became one of the remaining practices in whose merit the world stands (Sotah 49a). Rashi explains that its recital possesses two virtues: the virtue of Torah learning, and that the verses discuss Hashem’s holiness. In Shacharit of Shabbat, there is no need to say Kedushah d’Sidra, for one’s obligation to learn the Prophets is already fulfilled by reading the Haftarah. Nevertheless, to avoid cancelling its recital altogether, it became customary to recite it before Minchah, thereby adding some extra learning on Shabbat, particularly learning that pertaining to the sanctity of Hashem.

Some say that the Chachamim established the recital of Kedushah d’Sidra when hostile rulers decreed upon Israel not to recite Kedushah, and persecutors would stand guard at the prayer services until after the Amidah repetition. After the guards left, the minyan would recite Kedushah d’Sidra. Even after the decree was abolished, the custom to recite Kedushah d’Sidra endured (Shibolei Haleket 44; Beit Yosef 132:2).

Hence, Kedushah is recited three times in Shacharit: first in Birkat Yotzer HaMeorot, again in the Amidah repetition, and a third time in Kedushah d’Sidra. Similarly, we find that many important prayers were established to be recited three times, such as Tehillah L’David (Ashrei) every day, and Vayechulu on Erev Shabbat.

In Kedushah, the congregation recites the verses “Kadosh” and “Baruch” in unison. This is true in Kedushah d’Sidra as well, and for that reason, the chazan must recite the introductory verse preceding Kedushah out loud. It is best that a person praying individually recites these verses in the tune of Torah reading with cantillation signs. This is in keeping with the opinion that, because it is a matter of sanctity, it necessitates a minyan, but when it is recited in cantillation, it resembles reading from the Torah and thus there is no need for a minyan. Someone who does not know how to recite the verses with the cantillation signs may recite Kedushah d’Sidra without them, for according to the halachah, an individual praying may also recite Kedushah d’Sidra since the verses only relay how the angels sanctify the Blessed One’s Name.[2]

As a continuation of Kedushah d’Sidra, the Geonim were accustomed to reciting additional verses and requests concerning atonement, faith, and Torah. Some recited the entire wording that is before us today (the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon), and others recited a slightly shorter wording (the Siddur of the Rasag). During the time of the Rishonim, everyone became accustomed to reciting the full wording that we have today, with slight differences between the ethnic groups.

After Kedushah d’Sidra, the chazan recites Kaddish-Titkabal in which, in addition from the main part of the Kaddish, we request that our prayers be accepted. Therefore, the chazan must be careful not to talk from the Amidah repetition until after this Kaddish.[3]


[2]. The Rishonim are also divided concerning Kedushah in Birkat Yotzer HaMeorot, and even in that case the majority of poskim maintain that an individual is permitted to recite it. Yet, in order to fulfill one’s obligation according to all opinions, it is best to recite it with cantillation signs, as implied from the Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chaim 59:3. Regarding Kedushah d’Sidra, according to more poskim, an individual may recite it. See Yabia Omer, part 5, 7:2.

There are those who prefer to recite Kedushah d’Sidra while standing, as one does for the Kedushah of the Amidah repetition. However, the minhag is to recite it while sitting, which is the minhag of the kabbalists, and hence, it can be understood that this Kedushah does not require a minyan.

The Mishnah Berurah 132:3 writes that an individual who did not yet finish Lamenatze’ach or Ashrei when the congregation already arrived at the verses of Kedushah should skip ahead in order to say those verses with the minyan. Kaf HaChaim writes that he should not skip, for it is more important to recite the prayers in their correct order. The Mishnah Berurah 132:4 writes that the translation of the verses into Aramaic must be recited quietly. Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that the Ari was not strict concerning this.

[3]. One who mistakenly recited Kaddish-Titkabal after Tachanun says Kaddish Shalem without Titkabal after U’va L’Tzion (Ishei Yisrael 26:5). If one forgot to recite Titkabal in the Kaddish after U’va LTzion, he says Titkabal in the next Kaddish (Ishei Yisrael 26:11).

03 – A Person Who Is in a Hurry – When to Exit and What to Skip

The recital of Tehillah L’David (Ashrei) and Kedushah d’Sidra is more important than saying Tachanun, for the Chachamim laud the person who recites Tehillah L’David three times daily, declaring that he has a place in the World to Come (Berachot 4b). About Kedushah d’Sidra, Chazal say that it is one of the things in whose merit the world exists after the destruction of the Temple (Sotah 49a), whereas the recital of Tachanun is voluntary (Tur 131, in the name of Rav Natrunai Gaon). Therefore it is better that an individual praying on his own, who does not have time to complete everything, recites Tehillah L’David and Kedushah d’Sidra (Yechaveh Da’at 2:8).

Additionally, the virtue in reciting Tehillah L’David and Kedushah d’Sidra, whose basis is derived from the Talmud, is preferable to the recital of Shir Shel Yom (the Psalm of the Day), Pitum HaKetoret (the passage of the incense), and Aleinu L’Shabe’ach, which were customarily recited during the time of the Geonim and Rishonim (Avnei Yashfeh 9:58-60).

One who is praying in a minyan, and must leave before the end of the prayer service, should try to stay at least until after Kedushah d’Sidra, and even refrain from beginning to remove his tefillin before the conclusion of its recital (Shulchan Aruch 25:13). When possible, he should leave his tefillin on until after Kaddish-Titkabal (Mishnah Berurah 25:56). All this is only in extenuating circumstances; however, l’chatchilah, one must hear another two KaddishimKaddish Yehei Shelama after Shir Shel Yom and Kaddish d’Rabbanan after Pitum HaKetoret.

04 – Shir Shel Yom – Psalm of the Day

The Shacharit prayer was instituted to correspond to the morning Tamid offering, and after the sacrifice of the Tamid, the Levi’im would recite Shir Shel Yom (Psalm of the Day). Therefore, it became customary to say Shir Shel Yom after the Shacharit prayer service (Masechet Sofrim 18:1). Although it was not instituted originally as an obligation, and some did not regularly recite it, by the end of the period of the Rishonim, everyone had already become accustomed to doing so.[4]

Before the Psalm, there is reference to the day: “Today is the first day of the week in relation to Shabbat,” in order to fulfill the mitzvah of remembering the Shabbat on every day of the week (based on Ramban Exodus 20:8; the Ari as brought in Kaf HaChaim 132:26).

In Nusach Sephard, the Psalm “Tefillah LDavid” (Psalm 86) is added before Shir Shel Yom, as well as a collection of verses which start with “Beit Yaakov” and “Shir HaMa’alot L’David” (Psalm 124). On days of joyous occasions, when we do not recite Lamenatze’ach mizmor l’David, ya’ancha Hashem b’yom tzarah (after Ashrei), Tefillah LDavid is not said either, since the words “b’yom tzarati ekra’eka” (“on the day of my trouble I call You”) are mentioned in it (Piskei Teshuvot 132:11). These passages are also printed in the siddurim of Nusach Sephard-Chassidi, although many omit them, only reciting Shir Shel Yom, like Minhag Ashkenaz.

Another difference between the nusachim is that in Nusach Ashkenaz, Aleinu L’Shabe’ach is recited first, then Shir Shel Yom, and finally Pitum HaKetoret; whereas in Nusach Sephard, Shir Shel Yom is recited first, then Pitum HaKetoret, and at the end, Aleinu L’Shabe’ach (the order of discussion in this book is arranged according to the order of prayers in Nusach Sephard).

Concerning someone who practices according to one nusach and is praying with a chazan following a different nusach, there is disagreement. Some say it is best that he prays in the nusach of the chazan, and others say it is best that he prays quietly in his own family’s nusach, but that he may not sit when the whole congregation stands for Aleinu L’Shabe’ach, so as not to emphasize the differences (see also earlier in this book, 6:5).


[4]. Siddur Rav Amram Gaon mentions that Shir Shel Yom is recited. The Rambam, at the end of Sefer Ahavah in his wording of prayer, writes, “Some Jews were accustomed to reciting it…” In the Temple, Shir Shel Yom was also recited after the afternoon Tamid, nevertheless, our custom is not to recite it at Minchah. The reason for this, explains the Mishnah Berurah 132:16, that at times, in the Temple as well, if they were late in bringing the libation, Shir Shel Yom was not recited, because songs of praise are not recited at night.

05 – Pitum HaKetoret and Aleinu L’Shabe’ach

After Shir Shel Yom, it is customary to recite Pitum HaKetoret, preceded by Ein K’elokeinu. There are two reasons for its recital. The first is that Pitum HaKetoret corresponds to the incense which was offered every morning and evening in the Temple. The second is so that every Jew may merit learning rabbinic teachings daily.[5]

In the Zohar (part 2, 212:2), Chazal greatly praise the recital of Pitum HaKetoret, asserting that we are saved, through its virtue, from many calamities. There are those who say that one must be very careful not to omit mentioning even one spice from the incense, therefore, it was not recited on weekdays, in fear that a person rushing to get to work would skip over one of the spices (Rama 132:2). In practice, it is the opinion of the majority of poskim that there is no need to be very meticulous regarding this. However, l’chatchilah it is proper to recite the passage from the siddur so not to skip a word (Beit Yosef; Mishnah Berurah 132:17).

It is customary to recite Aleinu L’Shabe’ach at the conclusion of the prayer service in order to instill in our hearts faith in Hashem and in our promised redemption before we leave off from prayer. Thus strengthened, when we afterwards encounter gentiles at work, or in the course of the day, we won’t be enticed by their gods and beliefs (Bach 133).[6]

Due to the significance of this prayer, it is customarily recited while standing, and one bows slightly when saying the words “Va’anachnu kor’im” (Mishnah Berurah 132:9).


[5]. In Siddur Rav Amram Gaon there is no mention that we recite the passage of the Tamid and Pitum HaKetoret before the prayer service because the Shacharit prayer itself is considered to be in place of the Tamid offering. Rav Amram writes that the Pitum HaKetoret is recited after the prayer service. In the time of the Rishonim, many became accustomed to reciting Korbanot and Pitum HaKetoret before prayer, based on the Gemara in Ta’anit 27b, which states that its recital is considered to be a substitute for its offering.

Further, the initial minhag was to recite Pitum HaKetoret before Shir Shel Yom, as written in the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon. So writes the Tur, Orach Chaim 133, and Rama 132:2. This minhag was changed based on the Ari, who switched the order based on the progressive sequence of the worlds (see earlier in this book, 13:2); therefore, Shir Shel Yom now precedes Pitum HaKetoret. However, the question arises, since the order in the Temple was the offering of the incense before the song of the Levi’im, how can it be changed? The Eshel Avraham 132 explains that because the incense is already recited after the Tamid in the passages of the Korbanot, there is no need to recite the incense before Shir Shel Yom again. Still, there is reason to recite Pitum HaKetoret even after the prayer service, corresponding to its smoke, which would continue to rise for a very long time. The explanation based on the Ari, is that the recital of Pitum HaKetoret after the prayer service saves the prayer from the external forces (Mishnah Berurah 132:14). The Shlah writes, based on Kabbalah, that it is customary to recite the full Pitum HaKetoret service three times daily, twice in Shacharit and another time at Minchah. This is cited by the Mishnah Berurah 132:14 and Kaf HaChaim 133:19. In any case, as I have already written (chapter 13:1, note 2), those in a hurry are permitted to recite only the Torah verses dealing with the incense in the beginning of the prayer service, on the assumption that at the end of the service they will recite the full baraita concerning the incense.

[6]. The primary place of Aleinu L’Shabe’ach is in Musaf of Rosh HaShanah, in the beginning of Seder Malchuyot. However, during the time of the Rishonim, it had became the custom to conclude the Shacharit prayer with Aleinu L’Shabe’ach. Based on the Ari, it became customary to say Aleinu after each of the three daily prayers (Mishnah Berurah 132:7; Kaf HaChaim 11-12).

The Kolbo writes that Yehoshua composed the wording of the Aleinu prayer. Some say that Achan said “Al Ken Nekaveh” when admitting his sin. However, Netiv Binah, part 1, pp. 373-374 writes that it is Rav who composed the prayer.

06 – The Kaddish and Its Virtue

Kaddish is special in that its content deals mainly with the respect and glory of Heaven (kevod Shamayim). Therefore, one must have great kavanah in his response, be careful not to let his mind wander, and  not  chatter while it is being recited (Shulchan Aruch 56:1; Mishnah Berurah 1). The Chachamim say about anyone who answers “Amen, Yehei Shemei rabba…” with complete concentration, that a harsh decree of seventy years of judgment against him is torn up (Shabbat 119b; Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah). Further, they say that when Jews enter the synagogues and recite “Yehei Shemei rabba mevorach” out loud, their harsh decrees are nullified (Pesikta, as cited there by the Tosafot). Additionally, they state that the response to Kaddish arouses Hashem to grant mercy to Israel in exile. When Jews enter synagogues and study halls (batei midrashot) and respond, “Yehei Shemei HaGadol mevorach,” the memory of the exiled Jews ascends before HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Who shakes His head in pain, so to speak, and says, “Fortunate is the king who is glorified this way in his house,” awakening the desire to redeem Israel  before Him (see Berachot 3a).

By reciting Kaddish, Hashem is sanctified. Therefore, it must be recited in a minyan, for Hashem is only sanctified by an “eidah” (a group) of Jewish people. Kaddish was composed in Aramaic, the language in which all Jews were fluent during the Second Temple period. The following is a translation of the prayer: “Exalted and sanctified be His great Name in the world which He created according to His will. And may He rule His Kingdom, and produce His salvation and draw His messiah near, in your lifetime and in your days (those of the congregation praying), and in the lifetime of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon, and say, Amen.” The congregation responds, “Yehei Shemei rabba mevorach l’Alam ul’almei almaya,” which is translated as, “May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.” The chazan continues, “Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, uplifted, honored, elevated, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He, beyond all blessings, songs, praise, consolations uttered in the world, and say, Amen.”

That main part of the Kaddish is also called “Half-Kaddish.” Responding to it is of utmost importance, beyond compare. Even a person who is in the middle of Birkot Keriat Shema is permitted to stop to answer Amen.[7] It is a mitzvah to run to hear Kaddish. One who already finished praying and has before him two minyanim, one reciting Kaddish and the other Kedushah, it is preferable that he join the minyan reciting Kaddish, for the virtue of Kaddish is greater than that of Kedushah (Mishnah Berurah 56:6).[8]


[7]. According to the opinion of the Mishnah Berurah 66:17, one who is in the middle of Birkot Keriat Shema or Pesukei d’Zimrah responds to the Kaddish in two places: “Amen, yehei Shemei rabba mevorach l’alam ul’almei almaya,” and also “Amen” at the end. According to the Kaf HaChaim 66:23, he responds with all five Amens in the main part of the Kaddish. See the laws of Birkot Keriat Shema in this book, 16:5.

It is important to state that according to Minhag Sephard, the chazan says “v’yitzmach purkanei vikarev meshichei” in the wording of the Kaddish and the congregation responds Amen, whereas in Minhag Ashkenaz, those four words are not recited. The root of this difference lies in the teachings of the Geonim. In Siddur Rav Amram Gaon and Machzor Vitri, the Kaddish is written like Minhag Ashkenaz, and in Siddur Rav Sa’adyah Gaon and in the Rambam it is like Minhag Sephard, although only “v’yitzmach purkanei” is mentioned (see Netiv Binah, part 1, p. 366). Further, it should be noted that in the main part of the Kaddish this is the only distinction; however, at the end of the Kaddish, there are many differences, for in the main part of the prayer the original nusach that Chazal instituted was better preserved. But, in the additions made by the sages of the generations after the scattering of the exiles, the discrepancies between the wordings are more pronounced.

[8]. It is written in the Zohar, part 2, 129:2, that the virtue of the Kaddish is greater than the other Kedushot for it has in it the power to break all the barriers of evil and sanctify Hashem in all the worlds. Therefore, it is recited in Aramaic, in order to strike the external forces in their own external tongue.

07 – The Various Kinds of Kaddish

The Chachamim established the recital of Kaddish at the conclusion of each stage of the prayer service. After the recital of the Korbanot, Kaddish d’Rabbanan is recited; after the conclusion of Pesukei d’Zimrah, Half-Kaddish; after Nefillat Apayim and Tachanunim, Half-Kaddish; following Kedushah d’Sidra, Kaddish-Titkabal is recited; after Shir Shel Yom, Mourner’s Kaddish (Kaddish Yatom); and after Pitum HaKetoret, Kaddish d’Rabbanan (Shibolei HaLeket 8). With the Kaddish, we close each stage of the prayer service and elevate it towards the most supreme objective, the respect of Heaven, and from there we continue on to the next stage.

There are four versions of Kaddish: 1) Half-Kaddish. This is the essence of the Kaddish. It is called Half-Kaddish so as to distinguish it from other Kaddishim which contain further additions. In any section of prayer where a prolonged interruption is undesirable, Half-Kaddish is recited. 2) Kaddish Yehei Shelama, also called Kaddish Shalem (Full-Kaddish). This is recited after saying verses of Scripture, and contains an added request for peace and good life for us and for all Israel. We conclude, “Oseh shalom bimromavv’imru Amen”. Since this Kaddish is usually recited by people who have lost a parent, it is also called Kaddish Yatom (Mourner’s Kaddish). 3) Kaddish-Titkabal. The chazan recites this Kaddish after the conclusion of the Amidah. In it, before the addition of Kaddish Shalem, a request is added that our prayers be accepted. 4) Kaddish d’Rabbanan. This Kaddish is recited after learning rabbinic teachings. Before the addition of Kaddish Shalem, we add a prayer in this Kaddish for those who learn Torah, that they should merit long and prosperous lives.

Responding Amen to these additions is not as important as responding to the main part of the Kaddish. Therefore, one may not interrupt the recital of Birkot Keriat Shema and Pesukei d’Zimrah in order to respond to them.[7]


[7]. According to the opinion of the Mishnah Berurah 66:17, one who is in the middle of Birkot Keriat Shema or Pesukei d’Zimrah responds to the Kaddish in two places: “Amen, yehei Shemei rabba mevorach l’alam ul’almei almaya,” and also “Amen” at the end. According to the Kaf HaChaim 66:23, he responds with all five Amens in the main part of the Kaddish. See the laws of Birkot Keriat Shema in this book, 16:5.

It is important to state that according to Minhag Sephard, the chazan says “v’yitzmach purkanei vikarev meshichei” in the wording of the Kaddish and the congregation responds Amen, whereas in Minhag Ashkenaz, those four words are not recited. The root of this difference lies in the teachings of the Geonim. In Siddur Rav Amram Gaon and Machzor Vitri, the Kaddish is written like Minhag Ashkenaz, and in Siddur Rav Sa’adyah Gaon and in the Rambam it is like Minhag Sephard, although only “v’yitzmach purkanei” is mentioned (see Netiv Binah, part 1, p. 366). Further, it should be noted that in the main part of the Kaddish this is the only distinction; however, at the end of the Kaddish, there are many differences, for in the main part of the prayer the original nusach that Chazal instituted was better preserved. But, in the additions made by the sages of the generations after the scattering of the exiles, the discrepancies between the wordings are more pronounced.

08 – The Order of the Kaddishim Recited at the End of the Prayer Service

Following the prayers of supplication after the Amidah, Half-Kaddish is recited. On days on which Tachanun is not said, the Half-Kaddish is recited immediately after the Amidah. The reason that only Half-Kaddish is recited is to prevent interruption between the Amidah and Kaddish-Titkabal, which is recited after Kedushah d’Sidra. As long as the chazan has not recited Kaddish-Titkabal, he has not yet completely finished the Amidah repetition. Therefore, the chazan need not take three steps back upon the conclusion of the Amidah repetition, for he separates from prayer by taking three steps back at the end of Kaddish-Titkabal. On Mondays and Thursdays, when the Torah is read, Half-Kaddish is also recited after the Torah reading. We already learned that after Kedushah d’Sidra, the chazan recites Kaddish-Titkabal.

After Shir Shel Yom, Full-Kaddish is recited, the Kaddish said after the recital of Scriptural verses. Customarily, mourners are the ones to recite this Kaddish, for its recital possesses benefit for the elevation of the deceased person’s soul (see earlier in this book 4:5-6). If no mourner is present, one who does not have a parent recites it. However, if there is no one there who has lost a parent, it is customary not to recite this Kaddish, for, since it is normally recited by mourners, it is unbecoming for one whose parents are both alive to recite it.[9]

After Pitum HaKetoret, Kaddish d’Rabbanan is recited, for it was instituted to be recited after rabbinic study. This type of Kaddish is also usually recited by mourners. When there is no one present who has lost a parent, it is customary not to recite it. In principle, the correct practice is that the chazan recites it, because it is not called Mourner’s Kaddish. However, since orphans have become accustomed to reciting it, many treat it like Mourner’s Kaddish.

The Chachamim greatly praise the virtue of this Kaddish, and teach that after the destruction of the Temple, it is one of the things in whose merit the world stands (Sotah 49a). The reason for this is because it is recited after a group of people (at least ten) learn Torah, and hence, its recital combines the mitzvah of Torah study, equivalent to all the mitzvot, and the sanctification of Hashem’s Name (Rashi).


[9]. Even though the Rama 132:2 writes that someone whose parents do not object may indeed recite this Kaddish, in actuality, this was not the custom, for fear of a bad omen (see Piskei Teshuvot 132:17; Az Nidberu 13:33). Nonetheless, when there is a great need, such as when the father is unable to recite Kaddish and it is necessary for a different family member to say Kaddish for the grandfather, and both parents agree, then the grandson would be permitted to recite Kaddish for his grandfather.

09 – Barchu

For those who arrive at the synagogue late, after the beginning of Birkot Keriat Shema, and miss the response to Barchu by the congregation, the Chachamim established that after the prayer service, the chazan repeats Barchu. The latecomers, along with the entire congregation, answer, “Baruch Hashem HaMevorach l’olam va’ed” (“Blessed is Hashem, the Blessed One, for all eternity”). That is also how we practice at the conclusion of the Ma’ariv service. According to this, on Shabbat and holidays, there is no need for the chazan to say Barchu at the end of the prayer service, because it is reasonable to assume that even those who came late succeeded in hearing the recital of Barchu by the people called up to the Torah (Shulchan Aruch 133:1; Maharitz; Mishnah Berurah, the introduction to section 69). For this reason, those who pray in Nusach Ashkenaz do not recite Barchu after the prayer service on those weekdays on which the Torah is read. However, on days when the Torah is not read, it is always customary to recite Barchu without verifying whether there is someone who needs to make it up, so as not to trouble the congregation to determine if there is a latecomer present.

According to the Ari, Barchu is always recited after the prayer service, because according to his Kavanot, it is necessary to say Barchu twice in every prayer service, once before Birkot Keriat Shema and a second time at the end of the service. The same is true for Ma’ariv. That is the custom of those who pray in Nusach Sephard, and the minhag of the Chassidim as well (Kaf HaChaim 133:1).

In every nusach of prayer, Barchu is recited after Kaddish d’Rabbanan, which is the last Kaddish, so that even the last of the latecomers will succeed in hearing it. It is customary that the one who recites Kaddish says the Barchu as well. However, sometimes the one reciting the last Kaddish is a child who lost a parent and has not yet reached the age of mitzvot. In such a case, the chazan, who is obligated to perform the mitzvot, must be the one to recite Barchu (Mishnah Berurah 55:4).

10 – Is Another Kaddish Recited After Aleinu L’Shabe’ach?

After Aleinu L’Shabe’ach there is no need to recite another Kaddish Yehei Shelama because it was already said after Shir Shel Yom. Likewise, there is no reason to recite Kaddish on verses of Scripture twice within such a short amount of time. Even according to the Kavanot HaAri, there is no room for another Kaddish, and that is the custom of the Sephardim.

Nevertheless, in Ashkenazic minyanim, mourners are accustomed to reciting Kaddish Yehei Shelama on verses of Scripture twice. In other words, Kaddish Yehei Shelama is recited after Aleinu L’Shabe’ach and again after Shir Shel Yom. This law depends upon whether or not it is permissible to recite additional Kaddishim.[10]

The poskim write that every person must hear seven Kaddishim every day, corresponding to what is written (Psalms 119:164), “Sheva bayom hillalticha” (“I praise You seven times daily”) (Beit Yosef 55:1; Mishnah Berurah 55:5). According to the Ari, one must hear twelve Kaddishim daily.[11]


[10]. Many Acharonim (among them, Knesset HaGedolah, Chayei Adam, Shetilei Zeitim 55:9) write that just like it is best to minimize the number of berachot that one recites, so it is best to say as few Kaddishim as possible. The Mishnah Berurah 55:1 adds that some Acharonim forcefully challenge the practice of those who assembled to recite verses or rabbinic teachings and say Kaddish a few times. Instead, one Kaddish is recited on the verses and one on rabbinic study, and no more. That is what is written in Az Nidberu 13:33, and hence Kaddish Yehei Shelama may not be recited twice at the end of the prayer service. By contrast, Eshel Avraham Butshatsh 132:2 writes that many Kaddishim may be added, and that the law concerning them resembles the law of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy which are recited many times in Selichot. Since Hashem’s Name is not mentioned in the Kaddish, the Kaddish is not considered to be recited in vain. He continues that this is how he practiced when he was a chazan and there was no mourner present – he himself recited Kaddish Yehei Shelama twice at the end of the prayer service. The Ari’s opinion, that there is no place for a Kaddish after Aleinu, is brought in Kaf HaChaim 55:1; 48:1, at the end of s.v. “V’Da Hakdamah.”

Further, the Eshel Avraham 132:2 writes that it is proper to adjoin Barchu to Kaddish just as it is customary to do regarding the Barchu before Birkot Keriat Shema in Shacharit. Therefore, the minhag (in Nusach Sephard) to say a few verses before Ma’ariv and Kaddish after them became widespread. Similarly, at the end of the prayer service, it is proper to recite Kaddish before Barchu.

Moreover, formerly, the custom in Ashkenaz was that only one person would recite Kaddish, and when there were a few mourners they would take turns. There were times that every mourner merited reciting one Kaddish per week. Perhaps that is the reason that it was customary to say Mourner’s Kaddish twice, so that more mourners could recite it. When the number of mourners increased as a result of the pogroms, a new custom was introduced – that all the mourners would recite Kaddish together. By contrast, the Sephardic custom has always been that all the mourners recite Mourner’s Kaddish together.

[11]. The following are the seven Kaddishim (as written in Mishnah Berurah 55:5): 1) Half-Kaddish after Pesukei d’Zimrah, 2) Half-Kaddish after Shemoneh Esrei, 3) Kaddish-Titkabal after Kedushah d’Sidra, 4) Yehei Shelama after Aleinu L’Shabe’ach (according to Nusach Ashkenaz), 5) Half-Kaddish after Ashrei in Minchah, 6) Kaddish-Titkabal after Minchah, and 7) Half-Kaddish in Ma’ariv between Birkot Keriat Shema and Shemoneh Esrei. The Kaddish after Ma’ariv, even though it is a mitzvah, is not included in the seven.

The Kaf HaChaim 55:1, based on the Ari, adds another five, as follows: 1) Kaddish d’Rabbanan before Hodu, 2) Kaddish d’Rabbanan after Pitum HaKetoret in Shacharit, 3) Half-Kaddish before Barchu of Ma’ariv, 4) Kaddish-Titkabal after Ma’ariv, and 5) Kaddish Yehei Shelama after the verses following Ma’ariv. Some are accustomed to adding another Kaddish on the verses recited after Minchah, which makes a total of thirteen Kaddishim. The Kaf HaChaim 55:21 writes further that if the mourners are minors, or the mourner stutters and cannot pronounce the words properly, it is necessary for another person to say Kaddish with him, so as to complete the required number of daily Kaddishim. However, regarding an optional Kaddish, not included in the twelve mentioned above, a minor may recite it himself (ibid., 19).

11 – The Laws of Kaddish

Due to the importance of the Kaddish, the laws pertaining to it resemble the laws of the Amidah prayer. Therefore, the person reciting the Kaddish must stand, customarily with his legs together. Also, just as it is forbidden to pass within the four amot of a person praying the Amidah (see earlier in this book, 18:18), so too, it is forbidden to pass within four amot of a person reciting Kaddish. This prohibition applies until the end of the Half-Kaddish (Birkei Yosef; Kaf HaChaim 55:9).

Some say that since the Kaddish is considered to be a matter of sanctity, the congregation must stand when the main section of Kaddish is recited, or at least until they answer “Yehei Shemei rabba…” (Rama; Mishnah Berurah 56:7-8). Similarly, it is necessary to stand when responding to Barchu (Mishnah Berurah 146:18). Some say that it is not obligatory to stand for matters of sanctity, yet those who were standing at the beginning of Kaddish must remain standing, and those who were sitting before it began may continue to sit, which is also how the Ari practiced (Maharil; Kaf HaChaim 56:20; 146:20-21).

Before the chazan reaches the last portion of the Kaddish, he performs the actions done at the end of the Shemoneh Esrei. He bows and takes three steps back. He then bows to the left and says, “Oseh shalom bimromav”, bows to his right and says, “Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu”, and then bows in front of him and says, “V’al kol Yisrael v’imru Amen” (Shulchan Aruch 56:5; 123:1).[12]

Some follow the custom that the chazan bows slightly at every place in which the congregation answers Amen. Others bow at different places, and there are those who do not bow at all.[13]

There are differing customs regarding the response of “Yehei Shemei rabba….” According to the Ashkenazic and Yemenite (Baladi) minhagim, we conclude, “L’alam ul’almei almaya.” According to the Chassidic and Yemenite (Shami) custom, we add “Yitbarach” as well. According to the Sephardic minhag, we recite until “d’amiran b’alma.” Another difference is that after “Berich Hu,” the Ashkenazim answer “Berich Hu” and according to the Sephardic minhag, whoever succeeds in finishing until “d’amiran b’alma” responds Amen, and whoever does not, refrains from responding to “Berich Hu.”[14]

When a person answers “Amen Yehei Shemei rabba…” he should pause between “Amen” and “Yehei Shemei rabba,” for Amen is a response to what the chazan said previously, and “Yehei Shemei rabba” is a praise in itself (Mishnah Berurah 56:2).


[12]. However, Kaf HaChaim 56:36 writes that the chazan takes three steps back only in Kaddish-Titkabal, since it is connected to the Amidah prayer, but concerning the remaining Kaddishim that are not linked to the Amidah, there is no reason to step backwards. Still, Yabia Omer 5:9 supports the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch, that in all Kaddishim he takes three steps back. A possible explanation is that the essence of the Kaddish is considered similar to the Amidah, and that alone necessitates taking three steps back. This is the minhag of all Ashkenazim.

[13]. The Shulchan Aruch 56:4 writes that the chazan bows at five places during the Kaddish, when saying: 1) “Yitgadal,” 2) “Yehei Shemei Rabba,” 3) “Yitbarach,” 4) “Berich Hu,” and 5) “Amen” (at the end of the Half-Kaddish). The Kaf HaChaim 56:35 writes in the name of a number of Acharonim that he bows every time the congregation responds Amen. It seems that even according to his minhag, the chazan bows at only five places; however, he bows at the five places in which the congregation responds Amen in the Half-Kaddish. The Gra questions these bows, for he maintains that it is wrong to add more bows than the ones the Chachamim instituted for the Shemoneh Esrei. The Aruch HaShulchan 56:7 answers that the bows performed in the Kaddish are minor, unlike those in Shemoneh Esrei, and therefore they are not considered additions to what the Chachamim established.

[14]. The Beit Yosef summarizes the opinions and writes in the name of the Rambam, Rashi, Kolbo, and Rabbi David Abudraham that one only says until “almaya,” which adds up to a total of 28 letters, and that is Minhag Ashkenaz. However, the Midrash writes that one must be very careful not to separate the words “almaya” and “Yitbarach,” and that someone who does is punished. Therefore, many became accustomed to saying until “d’amiran b’alma,” a total of 28 words. So, it seems, is the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch 56:3. This is also written in Kaf HaChaim 33. Minhag Chassidim, based on Rabbi Yosef Gik’atlya, is to say until “Yitbarach,” thereby attaching “almaya” to “Yitbarach.” The Magen Avraham writes that this is an ancient custom. However, the opinion of the Gra, based on the Rishonim, is not to recite “Yitbarach” because this word begins a different praise. The Mishnah Berurah 15 provides a possible solution – if one says “Yitbarach” after an interruption of a breath, perhaps even according to the Gra, the recital of “Yitbarach” would be permissible.

According to the Mishnah Berurah 56:15, if he reaches a point in prayer in which it is forbidden to interrupt, he may answer only until “almaya.” Kaf HaChaim 33 writes that he says everything until “d’amiran b’alma.Yalkut Yosef 66:1 maintains that between paragraphs or berachot he responds to everything, and in the middle of paragraphs or berachot he answers until “Yitbarach.

The Shulchan Aruch 55:2 writes that after the conclusion of “Yehei Shemei rabba…,” when the chazan says “Yitbarach,” the congregation responds Amen. Today, only the Yemenites practice this way. According to the Sephardic minhag, in which they continue to say until “d’amiran b’alma,” it is impossible to succeed in responding Amen after “Yitbarach,” and even to “Berich Hu” they do not always succeed in answering. That is also what is written in Kaf HaChaim 56:29, that according to the Kavanot, one does not respond Amen after “Yitbarach.”

It is better to respond to the Kaddish in accordance with the custom of the one reciting it (“Berich Hu,” “Amen,” etc.), as explained earlier in this book 6:5. However, this is usually not the practice, and therefore many are accustomed to answering according to their own minhag, despite the fact that it appears slightly like “Lo Titgodedu” (fragmenting the nation into divergent groups with different practices).

12 – Kaddish After Learning

It is a mitzvah to recite Kaddish after every learning session. If verses of Scripture are learned, Kaddish Yehei Shelama is recited. Following rabbinic study, Kaddish d’Rabbanan is recited. It is customary that after rabbinic study, words of aggadah are added, for they please the heart, and consequently, the Kaddish recited afterwards is said out of happiness (Birkei Yosef 55:1; and see Mishnah Berurah 55:9). Therefore, after Pitum HaKetoret, further words of aggadah are added about one who learns halachot every day and about talmidei chachamim who increase peace in the world.

Some maintain that Kaddish is not to be recited unless ten people learn together, be it verses of Scripture or Chazal’s teachings (Aruch HaShulchan 55:5). Others say that even when two people learn together, and immediately upon their conclusion ten men assemble there, they may recite Kaddish on their learning (Magen Avraham; Mishnah Berurah 54:9 and 55:2). The custom is that one who wishes to recite Kaddish after his learning says aloud, “Rabbi Chananya son of Akashya says, HaKadosh Baruch Hu wanted to grant Israel merit, therefore He gave them the Torah and mitzvot in abundance,” etc. Since ten people hear these rabbinic words, they are considered to have learned, and then all opinions agree that Kaddish may be recited. Similarly, when saying Kaddish upon the recital of verses of Scripture, the person saying it should first say three verses aloud, and afterwards he may recite Kaddish according to all opinions.