Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

2
The Kaddish

TOLD BY HINDA SHEINFERBER TO HADAVAH SELA

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a certain man who prayed in the synagogue every day and recited the Kaddish.* "Why do you say Kaddish every day?" people asked him. "You're only supposed to say it on the anniversary of your parents' deaths—when you have yahrzeit** for your mother or father."

"But there are souls haunting the synagogue," he replied, "waiting for someone to say Kaddish—not for his mother or father, but just to say it. I say Kaddish so that these souls will find a place in paradise."

Once when he left the synagogue, he saw a respectable-looking, welldressed man standing there. He looked rich. "Perhaps," the man said, "you know someone who can say Kaddish, because I have yahrzeit."

"I say Kaddish every day anyway, so I'll say it. But tell me your father's name or your mother's name."

So the stranger said a name—his name was such and such—and said that he should say Kaddish at the evening service that day and at the afternoon service the next day. He hoped the man would come and say Kaddish every year. And he added, "But not for free. I'll pay you."

Now the man really needed money. He had a daughter to marry off. Whatever sum the well-dressed man gave him would be fine. The man took out a checkbook, wrote him a check, and told him to go to such and such a bank where he would get the money in cash.

The next day, the man went to the bank. He went to the teller, but the teller said, "For such a large amount, you need the manager's approval. The manager works upstairs. Go upstairs, and he'll countersign it for you."

So the man went upstairs and showed the check to the manager for his approval. The manager looked stunned. He turned white and started trembling. "Who gave you this check?" he asked with agitation.

*The mourner's prayer.

**The anniversary of one's death.

-12-

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