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October 16, 2006

Kaddish by the numbers

You say kaddish for a parent for 11 (lunar) months, and I got to wondering just how many times you say it during that period.

This won't be interesting to more than one or two readers, at most, so I'm putting the rest of the post in an extended entry.

Eleven lunar months convert to 46 weeks and a couple of days. I suspect the number of extra days might vary depending on how many 30-day months are included. In my case, my father died on a Wednesday; the burial took place on Thursday; and we began kaddish at mincha on Thursday. My 11 months will end at mincha on a Friday. That means 46 weeks plus mincha, maariv, shacharit, and mincha. The number of services is 46 times 21, plus 4, or 970. What of the number of kaddishes?

The number of kaddishes might vary on certain fast days or on a particular yom tov or on some other occasion, though I think that there's almost never a variation. I just haven't gone into that detail. What I've done is to figure out how many we say in a typical week. We daven nusach sefard at my shul, and on a normal weekday, there is one at maariv, there are four at shacharit, plus a kaddish d'rabbanan after the rabbi gives a short halachic talk while we're putting our tefillin away, and there's one at mincha, plus another kaddish d'rabbanan after the halachic discussion after mincha (on all days except Friday, before kabbalat shabbat). On shabbat, one at kabbalat shabbat and one at maariv, five at shacharit or musaf, and one at mincha. (You can have a bonus kaddish d'rabbanan if you attend the shiur before mincha, but I'm going to leave that out.)

For the week: eight each day, but seven on Friday (meaning sundown to sundown). Total of 55 a week.

Multiple 55 by 46, and you get 2,530. For me, add one for the final Thursday mincha, and seven for the final Friday.

Grand total is 2,538.

Now, as I mentioned, there may be extras on some days I haven't dealt with, or possibly fewer on some days. (I think there were actually fewer on Yom Kippur for some reason.) But we're definitely dealing with at least 2,500.

I've missed a fairly small number, often for weather-related reasons, another small number during travel, and a few at the start of shacharit when we didn't yet have a minyan or I just got there a few minutes late. But I expect to be fairly close to 2,500 at the end.

It sounds like an awful lot, but let me just say, based on my first experience with yizkor this year, that, emotionally, one yizkor equals about 100 kaddishes.

UPDATE (10/26): After Soccer Dad posted this at Haveil Havalim, it appeared on the message boards. In the thread, some twit keeps knocking my post as uninteresting, obviously never having read my second sentence: "This won't be interesting to more than one or two readers, at most, so I'm putting the rest of the post in an extended entry." I know it's not interesting to most people.