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POOL'S "KADDISH" 

The Old Jewish- Aramaic Prayer. The Kaddish. By Dr. David 
De Sola Pool* Leipzig: RyDOtF Haupt, 1909. pp. xviii + 
121. 

As a specimen eruditionis Dr. Pool's dissertation deserves un- 
stinted praise. The author shows himself a thorough master of 
his subject; he is at home in the widely ramified literature bearing 
on his theme (witness the Bibliography on pp. viii-x) ; he consults 
the sources at first hand; his notes are replete with references 
as they should be in a first scholarly attempt in which nothing 
ought to be taken for granted, testifying to the young scholar's 
familiarity with the contiguous problems and evidencing the entire 
range of his studies of which the present effort is naturally but a 
part. One must not look in a dissertation for startlingly novel 
results; had the author chosen a slightly different arrangement 
so as to place at the head of his work a resume of previous 
attempts at solving the problem of the origin of the Kaddish, 
the identity of his conclusions with those of Zunz for instance 
would have stood out more prominently. The author preferred 
the deductive method once he had reached his conclusions; thus 
of necessity the process, naturally inductive, by which he made 
his way from the fixed stage to its fluid beginnings remains some- 
what obscured. We should, however, readily acknowledge our 
indebtedness to the author for the painstaking industry with 
which all the facts, the greatest and the smallest, are gathered 
together; as a store-house of material Dr. Pool's work will have 
to be consulted by any future student dealing with the beginnings 
and history of the Kaddish. 

For the Kaddish had a history. It was not at first what it 
came to be in aftertimes. To the modern Jew it is nothing but 



281 



282 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

a mourners' prayer. In the rituals of the nineteenth century- 
elements borrowed from the old Hashkabah, or prayer for the 
dead, were dovetailed into it (p. 108, n. 9, with reference to p. 16). 
In the traditional service, however, the mourners' Kaddish, 
D1JV E"Tp, is but one species of a prayer used in the liturgy as an 
integral part thereof : there is the half-Kaddish ( E^Tp 'Vn ) or 
lesser Kaddish (ND1T tFHp) which is sung to a variety af tunes 
in conformity to the occasion, the full Kaddish (D^ K"*Ip) at the 
conclusion of certain prayers (its excess over the mourners' Kad- 
dish consists in the paragraph invoking the Divine acceptance 
of Israel's prayers), the "rabbinical Kaddish" ( [331*1 E>Hp) which 
is recited by mourners after a portion of Mishnah or haggadic 
Midrash and which in its tenor and phraseology is in the least 
reminiscent of the use to which it has been put. In an expanded 
form, the "mourners' Kaddish becomes the burial Kaddish. 

Of these various functions of the Kaddish the author treats 
in Appendixes B, C, and F. How the Kaddish came to be a 
mourners' prayer the writer concedes to be by no means clear. 
Prayers for the dead, to effect forgiveness of their sins, are 
alluded to II Maccab. 12, 44. As fixed prayers they are, however, 
met with first in Gaonic times, not without protest on the part 
of some authorities (Hai Gaon and others). Even as late as the 
sixteenth century a voice rises in protest against the importance 
attached to the Kaddish as a form of intercession for the dead. 
"Let the son keep a particular precept given him by his father, 
and it shall be of greater worth than the recital of the Kaddish" 
(Abraham Hurwitz, quoted p. 104 f.). Nevertheless, in popular 
conception the intercessional function of the Kaddish remained in 
force; a statement in the Mishnah fixing the longest period of 
suffering in Gehinnom at twelve months, the Kaddish was recited 
during the first year of mourning (in accordance with later cus- 
tom, less a month; as Pool rightly adds, "so as not to cast an un- 
worthy reflection on the parent"), evidently for the purpose of 
mitigating through intercession the deceased's purgatorial suffering. 

The bulk of the treatise is devoted to the thesis propounded 
by Zunz and others which is here elaborated at great length, to 
the effect that originally the Kaddish, far from being a prayer 



pool's "kaddish"— margous 283 

for the dead in any of its forms, was rather a prayer which followed 
the discourse in the synagogue; the latter, attaching itself to the 
Scriptural lesson, would be largely haggadic, in the nature of an 
edifying homily, concluding in a peroration which dealt with the 
glorious future in store for the harassed nation. This consolatory 
and eschatological peroration was summed up in a prayer having 
for its central thought the realization of God's sovereignty upon 
earth, the quintessence of Jewish eschatology. The argument for 
this thesis is presented with a fullness which leaves nothing to be 
desired. Though the rabbinic (talmudic) allusions to the responss 
"Blessed be His great name, etc." are post-Christian in date, Dr. 
Pool takes up the question of the parallels between the Kaddish 
and the Paternoster to which others have applied themselves, 
enters into a discussion of the authenticity of the prayer which 
Jesus is said to have taught his disciples, and arrives at the con- 
clusion that the origins of the Kaddish must be placed in pre- 
Christian times. All of which is eminently plausible. But we 
cannot follow the author when he vindicates for both the Jewish 
and the Christian prayer Essene antecedents. It is true, Dr. Pool 
is in good companny with his theory of the Essenic authorship 
of the beginnings of the Jewish liturgy; I for one choose not to 
be enrolled therein. We know precious little about the Essenes; 
and why we should be compelled to go outside the main body 
of Judaism for all that is high and lofty and spiritual in the de- 
velopment of Jewish worship I fail to understand. 

There are two further propositions which will challenge 
opposition. The one is the theory concerning the language of 
the Kaddish. Dr. Pool would make us believe that from the start 
it was written in the scholastic language which was a jargon, a 
mixture of Aramaic and Hebrew. He also solves ambulando the 
problem of the bilingual character of Daniel. To my sense of 
language, there is nothing of Hebrew in the first (oldest) para- 
graph of the Kaddish except {DX n»N1 ; but [DN has become nat- 
uralized in Aramaic as in Greek, and 11DK1 hardly constituted 
an original element. The congregation responds without invitation 
from the reader. The other theory born of a straining of the par- 
allelism between the Kaddish and the Paternoster touches the 
exegesis of the opening words of the Jewish prayer. I cannot 



284 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

say that Dr. Pool has convinced me; Baer's pointing seems to me 
to be right, and we ought to render: "Magnified and hallowed be 
His great name in the world which He created according to His 
will." The emphasis on the certainty that the will of God placed 
into the world when it was created shall in the end be realized 
is a sufficient parallelism to the prayer : "Thy will be done." 

What the author has to say upon the schematic construction 
of post-exilic prayers in Scripture appears to me also to be a bit 
strained. 

Dr. Pool seeks to establish in detail the correct orthography 
and pronunciation of the wording of the Kaddish in all its forms. 
A laudable undertaking. Sometimes he appears to go too far 
afield in trying to ascertain the proper vocalization of a word. An 
editor of a Greek liturgical text, e. g., will hardly have occasion 
to bolster up his readings with references to Brugmann's Compara- 
tive Grammar of the Indo-European Languages; an ordinary 
text-book of Greek grammar will suffice. What he has to say 
on the merits of the superlinear pointing is correct enough. As 
a matter of fact it may be readily proved that just as the super- 
linear system is adequate for Hebrew, the Tiberian is ill-suited to 
Aramaic. But this matter cannot be entered into here. Dr. Pool, 
however, employs Tiberian pointing. Now the translation from 
the one system to the other has its pitfalls which the author has 
not always successfully avoided. Thus &OJ5J3 is impossible; point 
t*?3V3 . The doubling is inorganic. While exceedingly cautious 

t— :j- 

in the pointing of his own texts, when outside his immediate range 
he often accepts the current pointing which is wrong. E. g., tESm 
should be vocalized j^Tt ; it is Khl plus the pleonastic suffix -an. 
(print* j by the way, is $t6d, Dr. Pool notwithstanding). 

In conclusion it may be permitted to throw out a hint that, 
just as KflDro applies to the prophetical lessons, NnTC and 
NnriDBTl refer to lessons from the Psalms; comp. at the end of 

n^npeai: in ninae>m niw nn bo by, and at the end of naw: 

m»T n'BO "irTOn ... mna^na ivTU. On lessons from the Hagio- 
grapha see Zunz, GDV., 2d ed., 7. 

Dropsie College Max I,. Maegous