Sunday, December 17, 2006

Notes 6 months after Kaddish ended

Rough note cobbled together from email, but spontaneously generated at the 6 month post-kaddish point:

Part of the wisdom of being there to answer others' kaddish is to continue feeling, even when the feeling in question is painful. I have skipped out on services more and more, but when I think of what the mourner's kaddish means, included in services 3x a day, I feel a bit shamed at my truancy. Without ritual, it is too easy to indulge in going numb.

(I have my studio thankfully.)

I am thinking of the numbness of having lost someone and how saying "amen" to the kaddish means something different once one has gone thru the experience of mourning. It may be a gesture of communal solidarity (again, I feel the guilt pangs of the truant), but it also is a stab in the heart.

And so the ritual gives you an experience 3x daily but that is preferable to numbing out. Maybe. I don't know.

Or maybe, like Jules Feiffer said of the word "Shazam", it just failed to mean anything. (He wrote a memoir of his 1940's comic book reading which was the first and maybe best until Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude.)