Dear Rabbi,

There seem to be several different kaddish prayers that are recited daily. Could you explain their differences?


The kaddish prayer, which literally translates as a prayer to sanctifies G‑d's name, is probably one of the best known Jewish prayers. The basic kaddish includes praise of G‑d and His loftiness, and an expression of our yearning for the ultimate redemption of humankind, when G‑d’s sovereignty will be apparent in our everyday lives.

The kaddish prayer is added to the regular prayer service only when there is a minyan, a quorum of ten men, praying together.

As a part of our daily prayers, there are four different kinds1 of kaddish prayers:

  1. The “Half Kaddish,”or chatzi kaddish (Heb. חצי קדיש).

    This is composed of several lines beginning with, “May [G‑d’s] great name be exalted and holy…” The half kaddish is recited by the one leading the prayer, and after each stanza the congregation says, “Amen,” which means “correct,” or “it should be that way.” In the middle of the prayer, the entire congregation says in unison, “G‑d’s great name should be blessed forever and for all eternity.”

    The half kaddish is said when the community completes certain sections of the prayer service, yet they have not completed the prayer service. For example, we say it between the “Verses of Praise” and the blessings before the Shema prayer, as well as after reading from the Torah Scroll, and so forth.2

  2. The “Complete Kaddish,” kaddish shalem (Heb. קדיש שלם), or kaddish titkabel (Heb. קדיש תתקבל).

    This is said by the one leading the prayers after completing the Amidah, the “standing prayer,”3 and the prayers and supplications immediately after it.

    There are two additional verses asking G‑d to accept our prayers: “May our and the entire community’s prayers and supplications be accepted before our Father in heaven…”4 and a request for peace in the world.
  3. The “Mourner’s Kaddish,” or kaddish yatom (Heb. קדיש יתום).

    This includes everything from the “Complete Kaddish” besides the verse on the acceptance of the prayer and is said after independent portions of the prayers, such as the Song of the Day. This was traditionally assigned to be recited by one who is mourning.

    A “mourner” is one who is mourning after the passing of a parent, for eleven months,5 or someone commemorating the Jewish anniversary of a relative’s passing, the yahrtzeit. See, Who Says the Kaddish For Whom?

    The sanctification of G‑d’s name that takes place through the child of the deceased reciting the kaddish, brings great satisfaction and elevation to the soul, the neshamah, in heaven. It assists the soul through the cleansing of wrongdoings it may have done while in the physical world, and it raises it to higher levels in the Garden of Eden, what we would refer to as “paradise.”6

    When there are no mourners in the synagogue, one whose parents are no longer living should recite this kaddish.7
  4. The “Learner’s Kaddish,” or kaddish derabanan (Heb. קדיש דרבנן).

    This is recited after a section of the prayer service that include an excerpt from Rabbinic teachings, especially one that explains Biblical verses.8

    This kaddish prayer adds the following to the “Half Kaddish,”: “May there be abundant peace from Heaven, grace, kindness, compassion, long life, ample livelihood and relief for all those who occupy themselves in Torah study…”

    When there is a mourner in the synagogue, he would say this kaddish too. When there is not, the leader of the prayers should say it.9

For more on how to say the kaddish, what it is all about and more study on the topic, see the Kaddish Guide: Learn It. Say It. Understand It.