In and Out of Sync

When you’re saying Kaddish, you develop a camaraderieship with the other people in your regular minyanim who are also saying Kaddish. Part of this fellowship revolves around the fact that you will be saying Kaddish together on a regular basis for the next few months. The ideal is for the group saying Kaddish to synchronize, primarily so that people don’t have a question of when to answer Amen. But also because it sounds much better when the Kaddish is synchronized.

The person leading the davening has the right to set the pace, but in the two main places that I daven, we have established a set cadence and speed at which we usually say Kaddish. It works pretty well, except when it doesn’t. Problems arise when a regular Kaddish sayer doesn’t stay in sync, or when a non-regular doesn’t keep in sync.

There are a few reasons people don’t keep in sync:
1) They don’t realize that it is preferable to keep in sync
2) They don’t realize that the minyan has an established speed and cadence
3) They would prefer that people sync with them, instead of them trying to sync with the others
4) They’re not able to keep in sync

Some Shuls have the custom that everybody gathers in the center of the Shul when the group Kaddishes are said. This increases the awareness that synchronization is important and it also increases the probability that decent synchronization will be achieved. Other Shuls don’t have this custom and they’re hoping synchronization can be achieved without it.

The question is what to do when people are out of sync. If they will be saying Kaddish regularly with the group, then it probably makes sense to give it a few more times to see if they start to synchronize. If they don’t, then a decision has to made whether anybody should approach them to try to rectify the situation. If it’s thought that the person is capable and would be willing to keep in sync, then either the Gabbai or one of the Kaddish sayers should probably approach them with the proper correction sensitivities.

If a person is not a regular then it’s a little more difficult to correct it on the spot. I had that situation the other day when I was leading the davening and saying Kaddish at the established speed and a newcomer was saying it much faster then the rest of us. In this situation I increased my volume and was able to clue him in to the fact that we had set slower pace and he did get in sync. On another recent occasion the out-of-sync’er just did his own thing through out the Kaddish. My Rav said that the leader of the minyan has the right to try to assert control and set the pace, but if he isn’t able to do so, there’s not much that can be done.

In the total scheme of Shul issues, an out of sync Kaddish is not such a big deal. However, it’s good when it’s in sync, and in many situations that can be achieved with a little sensitivity and effort.