Women Saying Kaddish
Lately I have been attending a new synagogue and I’ve noticed that the women do not say Kaddish. My father’s yahrtzeit is coming up and this has me wondering about the reason for this.
The Aish Rabbi Replies
In discussing the issue of women and Kaddish, we first need to understand that women are entrusted with the most important part of Jewish life – the home. That is where we celebrate Shabbat, light Chanukah candles, place our Mezuzah. The warmth and good feeling of being Jewish comes from the home. In this realm, the mother's influence reigns supreme.
Judaism believes that men and women should have equal rights to influence others, but that positions of external power are generally more appropriate for men, whereas power in the personal domain is primarily wielded by women.
In Western society today, the lines between men and women have become nearly erased. In one respect this has resulted in a certain empowering of women. But Judaism would argue that the overall effect has been to strip women of their true internal power. That is why, while a Jewishly-observant woman can be an accomplished doctor, businessperson, etc., it is important that her primary focus be on the home, leaving the domain of the synagogue to the man.
A woman should not recite the Kaddish as part of the services, but she should delegate it to another relative or hire someone for reciting the Kaddish. If necessary, a woman could recite Kaddish in front of a Minyan, privately. (source: Rabbi E. Waldenberg, Tzitz Eliezer 14:7)
There are many important way to commemorate a yahrtzeit. One can give tzedakah, money to charity, in the merit of the deceased. Also it is customary to learn Mishnah (part of the Talmud) on the day of the yahrtzeit. The word MiSHNah shares the same letters as NeSHaMa, which means soul. Studying Mishnah helps perfect the soul.
Perhaps the most important part of the raising the spiritual level of the deceased's soul, iluy neshama, is that the children proceed in the path of righteousness. In this manner they bring merit to their parents (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 26:22).