Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jewish Knowledge A-Z #2

Topic: Letter K


"Holy," a prayer in Aramaic, originally used for closing a sermon, then taken over into the synagogue and used for closing a portion of a synagogue service, and in recent cent. used also as a mourner's prayer. It is basically a prayer for the speedy coming of the Messianic era and the recognition of God's supremacy throughout the world.

The opening phrases of what is known as "the Lord's prayer" (Matthew vi., ix., and x) are quoted from it, transferred from indirect to direct address. A number of paragraphs, some in Hebrew, some in Aramaic, have been added to it during the early cent. of the common era to adapt it for use on different occasions in the synagogue service, in the cemetery or in the Beth Hamidrash. As a mourner's prayer, the Kaddish is among the best known of all Jewish prayers. Though in its traditional form it contains no reference to the dead or to mourning, the mourner recites it daily at public morning, afternoon and evening services during the first 11 months of bereavement for a parent (or other close relative) and also on every subsequent jahrzeit. In this usage it is a sublime expression of faith in the ultimate Messianic comfort and healing of all suffering mankind.


The prayer beginning "Holly, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts," recited aloud in the repetition of the Amidah. This responsive reading was probably in vogue at least a cent. before the destruction of the Temple.


"Rending of garment." An ancient symbol of grief or mourning still in vogue. The left coat lapel is cut on the death of a near relative.


"Sanctification." The ushering in of the Sabbath and Festivals, proclaiming its holiness through reciting a blessing over wine, is very ancient. The head of the household lifts up a cup of wine at the meal table or else stands before two loaves of white wheat bread (Challos) and pronounces two benedictions (a) over the wine or bread: (b) expression of thanks to God for the Sabbath, a day of rest and joy. In many homes the "Kiddush" is also repeated before the Sabbath noon meal, and in orthodox synagogues it is chanted Friday night during the service.

Kiddush Ha-Shem

"Sanctification of the Name." The highest ethical standard of Judaism. The glorifying of God by martyrdom, sacrifice for Jewish honor; nobility of conduct, dictated by the highest religious impulse. Its antonym is Hillul ha-Shem: Any act which slurs the name of the Jews as a group, disloyalty, or conduct which traduces the race or the faith is condemned as Hillul ha-Shem. i.e., desecration of the Name.


"Betrothal." The word is currently applied to marriage, not engagement, though the treatise in the Mishnah so titled is devoted to the whole procedure of sanctifying the bride to her husband.


A white robe worn by the pious at New Year, Day of Atonement and Seder services, and used as a burial shroud.


Fifth order or section of the Mishnah, and probably one of its oldest treatises of regulations, as it relates to the details of the sacrifices, the privileges and duties of the priests, and all other matters connected with the temple service. (22)

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