“A parent brings a child into this world; a child can bring a parent into the world to come.”
As a soul leaves this world and begins its journey upward, its children can help it along its way. When a child brings more light and holiness into this world, the parent’s soul climbs higher. Reciting kaddish is one such powerful tool of light, bequeathed to the sons of the deceased.
The kaddish is really just a frame around the central words, recited by the entire congregation, “May His great name be blessed forever and ever.” When the mourner recites the kaddish and the congregation responds, bursting out in those words in unison, a flash of light breaks into all the worlds, and the soul of the deceased soars upward.
Even if there is no son, another Jew is still able to help the soul by saying kaddish. We are all connected.
A flash of light breaks into all the worlds, and the soul of the deceased soars upward
Sons say kaddish for their fathers and mothers daily for eleven months after their passing, and annually on the anniversary of their passing (according to the Jewish calendar).
If there is no son—or if there is, but he can’t make it to prayer services—ideally another male relative (who himself has a deceased parent) should say kaddish. Or, someone else should be asked to do it in their stead. Many yeshivahs provide this service in return for a donation.
We pray three times a day: morning, afternoon and night. The mourner’s kaddish is said at least once during the course of each of these prayers.