- Question: [Tuesday, 5th Adar 2, 5782]
One of our older children unfortunately passed away r”l? Should/May I be saying Kaddish for him, for my child?
If the child did not leave any male offspring, then this matter depends on the status of your parents [i.e. if alive, or Mochel], and even then is under debate amongst the Poskim and Rabbanim, and contains a possible contradiction in the Rebbe’s directives on the subject. Practically, following the tradition of Hora’ah amongst Ziknei Rabbanei Anash, you [i.e. the father] should not say the Kaddish. Rather, another one of your relatives who does not have parents is to recite the Kaddish, and if not available, then you should hire someone to say Kaddish on behalf of your son. This applies even if your parents do not mind you saying Kaddish or your parents are no longer alive. If your child has left male offspring who can say Kaddish [i.e. a son or grandson] then they are the one’s who should say it. In the event that you feel that the saying of Kaddish on behalf of your son will be therapeutic for you to deal with the loss, then you may choose to do so [despite the above traditional ruling, hence relying on other Poskim and sources who even encourage the father to do so] if your parents are no longer alive.
Explanation: From the letter of the law, if the deceased did not leave a son or grandson to say Kaddish for him, then the father may say Kaddish on his behalf if he does not have any parents, or his parents are Mochel and allow him to say Kaddish for their grandchild. Furthermore, some Poskim rule that it is even best for the father to say Kaddish on his behalf [in the above case], more than other relatives. So is likewise the advice of the Rebbe in one of his letters, to defend the practice of a father saying Kaddish for his son r”l if the parents are Mochel [or no longer alive]. Nevertheless, the traditional ruling of the venerate Chabad Rabbanim of the previous generation is for a father to never says Kaddish on behalf of his child even if his parents are no longer alive. This follows the seeming ruling of the Rebbe in a different letter in which he directs the father to have someone else say Kaddish on behalf of his son. Practically, in my opinion, the son is not to say Kaddish as is the traditional ruling of the Chabad Rabbanim. However, if he desires to do so anyways, such as if doing so will be therapeutic for him, then he may do so if his parents are no longer alive. However, if both of his parents are alive, even if they are Mochel, it is best not to do so even in such a case and rather he is to hire someone else.
Sources: See Nitei Gavriel 40:6; 49:2; Hiskashrus 644:16 and 649 and 682; See regarding the letter of the law that a father may and even should say Kaddish for son if he does not have parents or they are Mochel: Rav Poalim 4:7; Chelek Halevi 133; Igros Kodesh 19:44 [published in Shulchan Menachem 5:306. Unlike Igros Kodesh 15:330]; See Shvus Yaakov 2:93; Elya Zuta, brought in Beis Lechem Yehuda 376; Mateh Ephraim 4:7; Pnei Baruch 34 footnote 47; See Hiskashrus 644:16 and 649; See Nitei Gavriel 49:1 Opinions who rule a father never says Kaddish for son: See Igros Kodesh 15:330 [unlike Igros Kodesh 19:44] that it is best to hire another person to say it rather than the father, [although it is unclear from the letter if the person had parents and if the parents were Makpid]; Ruling of Rav Yaakov Landa heard from his son, Rav Eli Landa; Ruling of Rav Zalman Shimon Dworkin, as related by Rav Groner; Maaseh of Rav Avraham Tzvi Hakohen, who did not say Kaddish for his 18 month old son who passed away; See Noda Beyehuda Tinyana O.C. 8 based on Sotah 10b who implies there is no advantage over having a father say it; See regarding not saying Kaddish if parents are alive even if Mochel: See Toras Menachem Tziyon 2:381, printed in Shulchan Menachem 5:296; Nitei Gavriel 2:43 footnote 6 in name of Rebbe; See Hiskashrus 644;