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    God in Kaddish – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why does Kaddish praise the name of God, and not praise God Himself?

    A. This is one of the leading features of Jewish prayer. God is too great for us to adequately praise Him, so we praise His name.

    Kaddish begins Yitgaddal veyitkaddash sh’mei rabba, “His great name be magnified and praised”; He is so infinitely great that we cannot magnify Him any further, and we pray that the world will magnify its belief in Him.

    The first paragraph leads to the response, Yehei sh’mei rabba mevarach, “May His great name be blessed”. This is the oldest sentence in Kaddish and is based on a prayer of David (Psalm 113:2) and Daniel (Dan. 2:20).

    The Talmud says (Shab. 119b) that if one utters this response with all his might, any adverse decree about him is torn up. Here too the emphasis is on God’s name.

    Our task is to spread His name and power everywhere in the world.

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