Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

Question: Should the person reciting Kaddish recite the words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba out loud together with the congregation?

Short Answer: Although the Mishnah B’rurah rules that the person reciting Kaddish should recite the words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba quietly, many Acharonim are puzzled by the Mishnah B’rurah and instead rule that the words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba should be recited out loud, although maybe a bit quieter than the rest of Kaddish.

Explanation:I. The Repeat

The Tur (Orach Chayim 56) cites the Gemara in Maseches Shabbos that Hashem will tear up a bad decree of a person who recites with all his might the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba in response to someone reciting Kaddish. The Tur then adds that the reciter of Kaddish should then repeat the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba before he continues on with the Kaddish. Likewise, the Rama (56:1) rules that the reciter of Kaddish should also say the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba before he continues on with the Kaddish.

Presumably, the opinion of both the Tur and the Rama is that the reciter of the Kaddish also recites these words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba out loud and with all his might. See HaMesivta Journal (1994, Rav Samet).

II. Shh...Be Quiet

The Levush (56), however, adds on one extra word to the ruling of the Tur and the Rama: “quietly.” In other words, the reciter of Kaddish should not recite the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba with all his might, but rather should quietly repeat the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba before he continues on with the Kaddish. The Mishnah B’rurah (56:2) cites and appears to rule like the Levush.

III. The Problem

The problem with the Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah is found in another halachah in the Shulchan Aruch. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 104:7) rules that someone who is in the middle of his own private Sh’moneh Esrei should stop, listen, and have in mind to be included when the mourner/chazan reaches the words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba. This implies that the mourner/chazan is reciting the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba out loud, because otherwise how else could the person reciting Sh’moneh Esrei hear those words. This is contrary to the opinion of the Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah who held that the mourner/chazan should recite the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba quietly.

IV. One Answer: Not Too Loud

The sefer Shiras Miriam (p. 498) suggests that the Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah did not mean that the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba should be recited quietly, but simply that they do not need to be recited out loud like the rest of Kaddish. In other words, since the congregation themselves are reciting these words, there is no need for the mourner/chazan to be motzi them in these words, so they can be recited quietly.

Indeed, Rav Zundel Kroizer zt”l (Or Chamah 56) adds another layer of interpretation. The Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah simply mean that the mourner/chazan can recite the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba together with the congregation – thereby “quietly,” because his voice is drowned out by the congregation. This is in contrast to the Tur and Rama who would require the mourner/chazan to delay reciting these words until the congregation has finished reciting them and has quieted down.

Similarly, the sefer Pi Kohen (on Maseches B’rachos, Chapter 6) suggests that the “quietly” of the Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah is not a whisper, but merely quieter than the rest of Kaddish, to highlight that the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba are not the same as the rest of Kaddish since they are recited by the entire congregation as well. This is the same reason why the kohanim recite the beginning words of the brachah by duchening silently – so as to highlight the difference to the word “kohanim” which is said in a very loud voice.

The sefer Birkas Reuven Shlomo (9:11) adds an explanation why there is no need to recite the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba out loud like the rest of Kaddish. The whole point of reciting Kaddish out loud is to be m’orer kavanas ha’tzibur – to get the congregation to pay attention. But since the congregation has already recited the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba by the time the mourner/chazan repeats these words, there is no longer any need to get the congregation to focus on them. The mourner/chazan can then just pick up with the word Yisbarach out loud. See also Az Nidb’ru (9:41), Riv’vos Ephraim (7:352)

V. Which Kaddish?

There is, however, another way to explain how the Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah can suggest that the words Y’hei sh’mei rabba be recited quietly when the Shulchan Aruch explicitly ruled that someone who is in the middle of his own private Sh’moneh Esrei should stop, listen, and have in mind to be included when the mourner/chazan reaches the words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba. Rav Samet, in the HaMesivta Journal (1994), suggests that perhaps the Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah were only talking about the Kaddishim that are recited before Sh’moneh Esrei. However, he admits that this is not the simple interpretation of the Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah.

VI. Once, Not Twice

The Halichos Shlomo (cited in Piskei T’shuvos 56) suggests that perhaps the Levush and the Mishnah B’rurah simply meant that the minhag was for the mourner/chazan to recite the words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba quietly, first with the congregation and then out loud a second time.

VII. The Final Word

Despite the explicit ruling of the Mishnah B’rurah, many Acharonim rule against him, as they are perplexed at his ruling and the source/reasoning of the Levush. Specifically, the Sheivet HaLevi (9:276) writes that the words of the Mishnah B’rurah are not the final word on this issue, and therefore the Sheivet HaLevi himself recited the words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba out loud when he was the chazan. Similarly, the Nit’ei Gavriel (Aveilus 42:13) is confused as to the basis and source of this Mishnah B’rurah and thus rules that the words of Y’hei sh’mei rabba should be recited out loud.

Next Week’s Topic: Two mourners are reciting Kaddish at different speeds. How should you answer Amen to their Kaddish?


Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.