The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 30

Last week, I laminated a copy of my parents' wedding invitation, which I found in my Babushka's apartment (my mother's mother) after she passed away in late September. She was gathered unto her ancestors less than three months after my Papa (Blog #8). A day or so later, it happened that my aunt gave me my Dedushka's (my mother's father)… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 30

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 29

No small number of the memories evoked for me by my father's death are those of his most oft used expressions, but his voice is fading from my recollections. I am struggling to hear the sound of him; but his turns of phrase, textured with his rhythm and inflections, are looped and shuffled. Nearly all of… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 29

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, 26

Children begin by loving their parents; after a time, they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them. ~ Oscar Wilde I am mourning the father I had, and I am mourning the father I didn't have. He had limitations, and I judged him for it. Certainly, my expectations were unrealistic. I saw him as… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 26

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 25

Beyond purportedly elevating the soul of one's departed parent to higher metaphysical planes or possibly demonstrating why one's parent deserves to be granted a good fate (blog #11), the kaddish, according to the Talmud, also affects God Himself. In Tractate Brachot 3a, we read the following: בשעה שישראל נכנסין לבתי כנסיות ולבתי מדרשות ועונין יהא שמיה… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 25

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 19

Tired. There comes a point at which the furnace begins to sputter. One seeks fuel, whereas once it was piled up everywhere. Just yesterday, it would seem, everything was aflame or imminently flammable. Would I have committed myself to this writing project if my father's death hadn't been so unexpected and sudden? If I'd been… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 19

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 11

We must discuss the purpose of kaddish. What is it, exactly, that I'm doing this year? (Depends on whom you ask.) This is a major, running theme of Leon Wieseltier's book Kaddish. He writes (pp. 40-41): A story about Rabbi Akiva introduces the mourner's kaddish and announces that its function is the redemption of the dead. The… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 11

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 9

The traditional kaddish journey is deliberately connectional. It pulls mourners into their communities, for they cannot recite kaddish without a minyan. Having surrendered myself to this tradition, I've come to draw upon the wisdom of people that I've reconnected with (those I prayed with before giving up on shul some 3 years ago), as well as others… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 9