Jerusalem – Rav Ovadya Yosef: A Woman Can Recite Kaddish for Parents in a Minyan at Home

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    File photo by Abir Sultan / Flash 90 Jerusalem – Rav Ovadya Yosef has issued a trail-blazing if not original psak permitting a woman to recite Kaddish over her parents in a minyan at home. The psak is likely to arouse the chareidi rabbinical establishment against him.

    The psak was revealed today by Maariv reporter for chareidi affairs Avishai Ben Chaim. Rav Yosef’s psak was publicized on the Halacha Yomit web site run by Rav Ovadya’s grandson which cites a daily halacha from Rav Ovadya’s psakim.

    The question which Rav Ovadya was asked to answer involved a woman who had no brothers to recite Kaddish for her parents. After bringing relevant halacha authorities, R av Ovadya stated that the woman could not recite Kaddish in front of ten women – since Kaddish may not be recited without a minyan — but could recite it in front of ten men after prayers or Divrei Torah were said.

    Despite Rav Ovadya’s reservations not permitting a woman status in a minyan or in shul, the psak din is nevertheless likely to be heralded by women’s groups like Women of the Wall who have set as their goal breaching timeworn halachic limitations on women’s participation in public prayer and achieving recognition for their innovations.

    Rav Ovadya referred to such women’s groups recently as “wicked women and reformers who are doing what they can to tear down Judaism… as if they fulfill all the mitzvos and the only thing they are missing is a tallis.”

    Similar psakim that weakened the barriers against reformist innovations were responded to with scathing attacks in the Hebrew-language Yated Neeman. Until now, the Yated Neeman has refrained from openly attacking Rav Ovadya on other psakim that raised the ire of its leaders. Will this change now in the wake of this far-reaching liberal psak?

    An excerpt of the psak printed on the Halacha Yomit web site:

    “One of the great Achronim, the Shvus Yaakov, spoke about this matter in his sefer. He writes that reciting Kaddish is relevant to women, especially since saying Kaddish brings a great benefit to the souls of the parents. However, he writes that girls should not be allowed to say Kaddish in shul, but only in a gathering of a minyan of men in their homes, when Divrei Torah is recited or prayers are held, after which one may recite Kaddish l’ilui nishmas their father.

    “The gaon and author of the Sefer Tshuva M’Ahava, writes that in Amsterdam a case occurred in which a man died without sons, and the daughters recited Kaddish (the implication is that they recited Kaddish in shul). The sages in town did not prevent it and the Chavas Yair (the gaon Rav Yair Bachrach) wrote in his tshuvos that indeed Kaddish is relevant to women too, and it seems that her saying Kaddish brings benefit and nachas ruach to her father’s soul, because she is his progeny. Nevertheless he writes that this minhag of letting a girl say Kaddish should not be permitted since it is an innovation which will introduce further breaches, as we see happened with the early reformers. They began with changes that opposed the principles of Judaism, and in the end, they totally uprooted major laws of Judaism… He nevertheless ends his words saying that he saw a nice custom in the holy community of Prague in which elderly men and women gather in the Ezras Noshim to say Tehilim after shacharis, and after finishing the entire Tehilim, orphan girls would say Kaddish. But such a thing should not be carried out in a shul designated for prayer.

    “In conclusion, the Tshuva M’Ahava says that while reciting Kaddish should not be allowed in shul, in another place like a home, or in the Ezras Noshim, etc. girls whose parents did not leave behind sons may be allowed to recite Kaddish”


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