The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 51

Eleven months of kaddish recitations ended (blog #45); then twelve months of being considered a mourner according to Jewish tradition (#48); and then came the Hebrew anniversary of Papa's death, after thirteen months (#50). Now: the end of 'The skeptic's kaddish for the atheist' (#51). 51 is a pentagonal number. I inherited an affinity for… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 51

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 39

My reading of Jewish texts on Jewish eschatology and death rituals has been fairly wide-ranging, and it continues to expand. (My copy of the just-published Kaddish.com will be in my hands this week!) Since my father's death last summer, I've filled my bookshelf with more books than I have had the time to finish, but I… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 39

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 27

I am better rested. In my wife's and daughter's absence this week, I've permitted myself to sleep in. Instead of my regular 6:30 shacharit minyan, I've taken to attending the 8:30 minyan at a different shul. Two additional hours of daily sleep have been delicious. I've also had more time to simply sit, think, and… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 27

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 20

I heard something beautiful this week. Two of the regulars at my morning minyan completed their eleven months of kaddish, just days apart, each reciting a prayer written by Jerusalem's esteemed Rabbi Benny Lau (b. 1961) in memory of his own father. The first petitioner read softly through barely stifled sobs, but I managed to catch… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 20

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 18

I know the premises of my father's manifesto on mathematics well because his educational philosophy and related reflections were common subjects of conversation between us. I was yet in high school when the Internet came into existence and my father launched cut-the-knot.org. Much of his thinking in those early days spilled over from his online lessons… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 18

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 16

The kaddish d'rabbanan (the rabbis' kaddish) is recited by mourners during prayer services after sections of liturgy that take the form of Rabbinic discourse. As such, it contains a prayer for the well-being of Torah students: עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל רַבָּנָן, To Israel, to the teachers, וְעַל תַּלְמִידֵיהוֹן their disciples וְעַל כָּל תַּלְמִידֵי תַלְמִידֵיהוֹן, and their… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 16

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 15

I arrived at my parents' home very early in the morning on the day of the funeral, hours before my mother and my brother awoke. The house was arranged for shiva, unreal, quiet. Chairs that weren't ours were arranged throughout the first floor; and disposable cups, plates, and utensils were lying near a hot water… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 15