One brisk winter day, for the first (and only) time, there was no minyan at CHAT. We got as far as 7 assembled, then the bell rang and three boys rather apologetically headed off to class. I waited with four teachers, and it soon became clear that services would not take place today. What to do? Davka there had been an issue at my workplace the day before, so approaching my boss to ask for 15 minutes to run across the street for minyan would not only be unlikely to yield a positive response, but foolhardy as well.
Two teachers, rabbis both, had a look online to see where I might find a minyan. Two possibilities emerged, both involving phone calls to see if there would indeed be services, and if so, would I be welcome. Meanwhile, the bell rang and the classroom filled. Coat on, I counted 5 boys and the two teachers. Finding that brazen ‘kaddish voice’, I asked, “Any possibility of grabbing 3 more so I could just say kaddish?” The teacher glanced at the clock with trepidation, but said nothing. One student jumped at the chance to recruit, then another. I thanked them, and apologized for disrupting their Talmud class. “Oh no, don’t apologize. Thank you for affording me the mitzvah!” said one. The other quietly went to round up some students. She returned triumphant, with three boys in tow.
The teacher, not missing a beat, detoured his class, teaching them a quick extra-curricular gemara tidbit, in order to trigger a ‘siyum’ – complete a lesson, and thereby necessitate Kaddish d’Rabbanan. With a suddenly tightening throat, I stood and recited the ‘long’ Kaddish. The one that not only honours departed souls, but celebrates those that teach, those that learn, and an enduring tradition that holds us all.
I later emailed the teacher a heartfelt thank you:
I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to hijack your class this afternoon. I was so touched, and was so aware of the role I play in the greater picture of Klal Yisrael. Saying kaddish for my beloved Dad is not only about him, and I have come to see, not only about me, either. …….. My Dad was an educator, of sorts; he spoke of his Auschwitz experiences to Canada’s young people, and was able to quote Torah and Talmud some 80 years after learning in his shtetl cheder. Kaddish d’rabbanan brings that home, every time.
His gracious reply:
Of course, it was my pleasure. — not an inconvenience at all. In fact, it was an important teachable moment, all in the z’chut of your father. Yehi Zichro Baruch.