middot decisiveness mesorah positive interruptions

positive interruptions

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld


Our patience is tested the most when we encounter life circumstances that alter our vision of how the world around us should look. These circumstances most often come in the form of interruption.

Some interruptions are minor and irritating (traffic jam, long line at the market, etc.). Some interruptions feel devastating (death of a loved one, serious illness, etc.). Patience does not let us off the hook. We still have to do our part to initiate change, but patience is crucial in those circumstances in which we have to deal with the hand we've been given. A key prayer in the Siddur utilizes moments of interruption as opportunities to connect with God and one another: kaddish.

There are various kaddishim, and they each find their home in points of transition in davening. On the one hand, kaddishim appear to be transition markers. On the other hand, they have the feeling of interrupting the flow of a given service (particularly Shacharit). This is why kaddishim are often done quite quickly and, unfortunately, even begrudgingly. Kaddishim are deliberate interruptions in the flow of davening to bring everyone  together in unified praise of God. Kaddish, in all its forms requires a minyan. Its role is as a quintessential reminder of unified praise. Even when we are on a roll in the motions of prayer, we are required to stop and praise God, extending our avodah (devotional service) by interrupting the flow of the service.

The best known kaddish is kaddish yatom (the mourner’s kaddish). This kaddish demands the bereaved to confront God in praise even in the midst of grief and pain. As am Yisrael, even in the greatest interruptions we experience in our lives, we are commanded to use these moments to praise God. This does not mean we do not wrestle with God or experience the pain deeply. It does mean that we take a moment to acknowledge that God’s love and goodness transcend and ultimately overcome pain and suffering.

The next time we gather in our minyanim, may we take hold of the opportunity to praise God in the midst of interruptions. Let us truly recite and respond to the kaddish with the awareness that the moment in which we are all sharing can teach us to use interruptions constructively. This practice can help us to build our patience and even see the unexpected difficulties in our lives as opportunities to praise God.

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