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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Three men in a car wearing tallis and tephilin

Last week I prayed every morning at a friend's home. His mother had had just passed away and he was sitting shiva. It was the last week in August, a time when many New Yorkers are out of town. The minyan was scheduled for 6:45. Each morning we waited until the required number of men, 9 plus my friend, had arrived. Each morning we had to wait a few minutes after the scheduled time for enough men to arrive. But they did.

Except for one day. We had only 8. The rabbi sent texts, made calls. I made calls. No one from shul was available to walk over. There was another shiva minyan meeting. It was a few days before Labor Day. A perfect storm complicating the making of a minyan. At about 7:00, it became clear that no one else was going to show up. The community was stretched beyond its limits. And so the rabbi proposed the only available solution: drive to synagogue to join its minyan so that my friend could say kaddish. I was so intent on making sure that my friend would be able to say kaddish that, for a moment, I forgot that I myself also obligation to say kaddish.

There was no time to take off our tephilin and tallises. And so we three, myself, my friend and the rabbi, still wearing our tallises and tephilin, took the elevator downstairs, got into the rabbi's car and made our way to the shul. Ordinarily, the person sitting shiva does not leave his or her home, except on Shabbat. But this was no ordinary occurrence. The obligation to say kaddish overrode all other considerations. There we joined the service, already in progress, prayed our communal prayer and recited our kaddishes.

Just another adventure in this year of saying kaddish.