Friday, February 19, 2010

Yisborach in Kaddish

by Cantor Sherwood Goffin

When the Chazzan recites the Kaddish, the primary goal of saying Kaddish is to "Sanctify the Name of G-d." This is accomplished by the congregation responding "Y'hei Shmei Rabbo M'vorach L'olam Ul'olmei Olmayo - May His Great Name be blessed forever and ever." This is called "Kiddush Hashem", "Sanctification of G-d's Name", and is the very reason why Kaddish is said in public by the Chazzan. The question often asked is: We know that there are some individuals who add "...Yisborach" in their response. Is this proper?

The Shulchan Aruch does suggest that "Yisborach" be added (O.C. 56:3). However, keeping in mind that the author of the Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Yosef Caro (1488-1575 CE), was a Sfardi, it is understood that many of his customs quoted are those of Spain and the North African Jewish communities. Our communal Halachic guidelines stem from the Rama (Rabbi Moshe Isserles - 1520-1572 CE) who posits the customs of European Jewry in his glosses on the Shulchan Aruch. In this case, the East European community (of which we are the descendents) follows the later opinion of the Vilna Gaon (Gr"a) NOT to add the word "Yisborach." However, for those Ashkenazim that do say it, they do have a source on which they can rely - that of Rabbi Yosef Caro.

Whatever custom you follow, be aware that your recitation of "Y"hei shmei Rabbo...", in response to the Chazzan, is one of the most important obligations of every Jew - that of sanctifying G-d's name in every aspect and in every action of our lives as a Jew.


[From ThanBook: I've been to the Karlin-Stoliner shul in Boro Park, where they actually say from "Amen yehei shmeih..." all the way to "d'amiran b'alma", leaving the chazan to repeat everything and say "v'imru amein". To which they respond "Amein." Which to my ears sounds a bit odd, in that they just said it themselves, so what's the benefit in agreeing with themselves?]

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