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Kaddish

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  124 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Leon Wieseltier's Kaddish is a completely new kind of book. It is not quite philosophy, autobiography, history, or Midrash, but it blends all of these genres into a narrative of Wieseltier's grief during the year following his father's death. Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, is a mostly unobservant Jew whose grief compelled him to observe his religion's ...more
Paperback, 499 pages
Published September 13th 2000 by Calmann-Lévy (first published September 14th 1998)
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Daniel
Apr 19, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite what I was expecting. It's a personal as well a halachic (related to Jewish law) diary of the author's year of mourning for his father. (Actually thirteen months because it was a leap year.) He explores the origins and meaning of the "Mourner's Kaddish," providing a glimpse into several centuries of Jewish thought and debate.
Michael Lewyn
Jul 12, 2015 Michael Lewyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a (seemingly not heavily edited) journal of the author's thoughts over the year he said Kaddish for his father, following the widespread custom of saying this prayer for nearly a year after a parent's death. He discusses lots of rabbinic literature about various issues related to the kaddish prayer, as well as bits of autobiography and epigrams between the more serious discussions. Undoubtedly, this book is a bit longer than it should be, but I liked it more by the end than I did fo ...more
Ron
Jan 07, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leon Wieseltier is the Literary Editor of The New Republic, a magazine I have subscribed to for the past 4 years. His all-too-rare columns are marvelously written and give a profound mixture of love of Judaism and humanity. His story is one of a smart yound, orthodox philosophy student who strayed away from his severe religiosity to become one of our formost cutural critics.

You can take the boy out of Yeshiva, but you can't take the Yeshiva out of the boy. When Wieseltier's father died in 1996,
...more
Daniel Sevitt
Jan 24, 2015 Daniel Sevitt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember seeing this on my dad's bedside table a few years back. At the end of the shiva I looked for it to bring back home with me.

I was expecting more memoir and less esoteric review of the history of and responsa surrounding the mourners' kaddish, but it didn't matter.

Moving and learned, Wieseltier is terrific on the distinction between grief and mourning and the obligations a son has to his father. I was advised during the shiva to wait a few months before reading this to get the best out
...more
Angela
Sep 05, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, religion, nonfiction
This was a wonderful book that goes in depth on the rabbinic commentary and exegesis of the mourner's prayer, the Kaddish. Much Talmudic speculation. At times the obsessive nit-picking of seemingly irrelevant and unimportant points of the law got a little tedious, but overall, this was a strong introduction to Talmudic midrash wrapped up in a secular Jew's ponderously intellectual year of mourning.
Shirley
Nov 11, 2010 Shirley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. It's a dense and incredibly powerful story of one man's struggle to deal with his father's death and to honor his father by following a ritual that is powerful in it's practice. His exploration of the kaddish ritual provides him a venue to understand the power of the ritual throughout Jewish history and in his own life.
Ryan
Aug 08, 2008 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book more. And it's not for the author's integrity, but it was truly complicated and extremely dense. I picked it up shortly after my own dad died, seeing it at Ollson's just as it came out. Perhaps another try is warranted and perhaps, too, I am in a different state of mind now for appreciating it theme.
Samantha
Oct 06, 2011 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic, nourishing scholarship. Moments of humor. A study of mourning in practice, also a study of living, carrying on. Study as a method of living. Wish I had read this book years ago.
Bev
Oct 17, 2008 Bev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: agnostics
This is a good, honest book about faith. I haven't read many things I could describe that way. Don't read it if you are in mourning but do read it if you have god on your mind.
Rebecca
Jul 10, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Leon Wieseltier is a American writer, critic, and magazine editor. Since 1983 he has been the literary editor of The New Republic.

Wieseltier was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended the Yeshivah of Flatbush, Columbia University, Oxford University, and Harvard University, and was a member of Harvard's Society of Fellows from 1979-1982.

Wieseltier has published several fictional and non-fictional
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“Surely it is foolish to hate facts. The struggle against the past is a futile struggle. Acceptance seems so much more like wisdom. I know all this. And yet there are some facts that one must never, never accept. This is not merely an emotional matter. The reason that one must hate certain facts is that one must prepare for the possibility of their return. If the past were really past, then one might permit oneself an attitude of acceptance, and come away from the study of history with a feeling of serenity. But the past is often only an earlier instantiation of the evil in our hearts. It is not precisely the case that history repeats itself. We repeat history—or we do not repeat it, if we choose to stand in the way of its repetition. For this reason, it is one of the purposes of the study of history that we learn to oppose it.” 0 likes
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