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Thought for the Day: Aveilus and Kaddish

I tend to link aveilus and the of saying kaddish together.  That is, kaddish is being said either by someone who is in aveilus or on behalf of someone in aveilus.  The truth is, though, they are two different activities and serve different functions.  Aveilus provides a n'chama to the nifter and to the avel.  Kaddish provides merits to the nifter and an elevation of the soul in the olam shel emes.  It is possible to have cases where one is applicable and the other not.  For example, I am saying kaddish now for my wife's brother, who had no children of his own.  Halichos Shlomo discusses a few other special cases and how to handle them.

First, I was interested to see a halachic reference to adoption.  Halichos Shlomo says it is appropriate for an adoptee to sit shiva and accept n'chama for a the adopter out of hakaras hatov.  Of course, this is only l'chumra; the "avel" would still need to put on t'fillin on the first day, not be patur from talmud torah, etc.  This has two implications that are very personally interesting to me.  Imagine a ger whose father was Jewish and who also has children from a Jewish wife from before he converted.  That ger has no halachik relationship with either generation.  From this Halichos Shlomo, it would be appropriate for said ger to sit shiva for his father and for his children to sit for him.  (When the time comes; let's not rush things.)

Another case: a person has only daughters, so there are aveilos, but no one to say kaddish.  The daughters' sons, he says, are the most appropriate to take that role, and even to daven from the amud.  In fact, if there other aveilim, the Halichos Shlomo says it they should take turns at the amud.  Moreover, it is appropriate for them to daven from the amud on chol ha'moed and rosh chodesh; and that is true even if there are sons.  Since the reason a son does not daven on those occasions is out of kavod ha'tzibur, and that reason does not apply to the grandsons.

One more case.... if a person, rachmana latzlan, chooses cremation or donation to science (essentially just as bad halachically), then the there is no aveilus, though the sons should say kaddish for the entire 12 months after the p'tira (not jsut 11).  On a positive note, when one family heard that p'sak, they were able to convince the person to retract his distressing decision and opt instead for a proper k'vurah.

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