On the Doorposts of My House

On the Doorposts of My House


Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba.

Exalted and hallowed be God’s great name.


This is the beginning of the Mourner’s Kaddish, one of the most beautiful and moving prayers I have ever found.

It is a prayer said in memory of those we have lost. It is a prayer more of of America should be paying attention to.

In the midst of death and sorrow, Judaism turns to a prayer that never mentions death. It never mentions anger or rage or revenge. It never mentions judgment. It mentions peace. It mentions life. It mentions the praising of God for what has been given to the children of Israel and to all the world.

I’ve been thinking of the Kaddish often as 9-11 approaches. I wonder who, if anyone, is saying the Kaddish for the Iraqi soldiers or the al-Qaeda. I wonder who is saying the Kaddish for Osama bin Laden. I wonder if anyone remembers a story about him where he gave a child a toy, where he was kind to a woman on the street, where he drew a beautiful picture that brought joy into the world.


We, as a collective people, have vilified Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to the point where we can forget that they are people. They have, for many, become faces so evil that there is no humanity left. We forget that they too worshiped and prayed. We forget that they strove towards God in the best ways they knew how.

I am ashamed.

Our national grief has made us monsters incapable of forgiveness. It has turned us away from the glory and joy of acknowledging God that is found in the Kaddish and towards hate and vengeance. We are festering, rotting – being eaten alive by fear, distust, and anger that lives in the collective American heart.

What happened to forgiveness? What happened to turning the other cheek? Our sins do not go with us unto death. God is better than that. We have defended. We have attacked. Now, it is time to find God within ourselves and heal. We must forgive. We must be willing to love enough to pray for forgiveness for our enemies.


We have an opportunity to show the world that we are better than they think we are. We have a chance, this 9-11, to talk of peace and forgiveness, instead of celebrating the ‘victory’ of Osama’s death.

I will wake up that morning and say morning prayers. I will finish the traditional ones with the Mourner’s Kaddish, as I always do. But I will not end there. I will pray for the soul of Osama, for the souls of every al-Qaeda member, for every innocent victim of every attack. And I will pray for the souls of all Americans, that we might find healing and forgiveness in our hearts, that we may heal from the rot that has taken over our souls. And I will pray with the words of one of the great prophets, as Muhammad taught us to pray:


“O God, forgive our living and our dead, those who are present among us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our males and our females. O God, whoever You keep alive, keep him alive in Islam, and whoever You cause to die, cause him to die with faith.O God, do not deprive us of the reward and do not cause us to go astray after this. O God, forgive him and have mercy on him, keep him safe and sound and forgive him, honour his rest and ease his entrance; wash him with water and snow and hail, and cleanse him of sin as a white garment is cleansed of dirt. O God, give him a home better than his home and a family better than his family. O God, admit him to Paradise and protect him from the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell-fire; make his grave spacious and fill it with light.”



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Malachi Kosanovich

posted October 5, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Larry, you are right. There is no requirement to forgive those who do not ask for it. That said, I still believe we should do it. Holding on to anger and pain is bad for the soul. I”m not sure that forgiveness is about the person who hurt us at all. I believe its about us, our souls, our need to let go and move past the pain. So yes, I struggle to forgive Pol Pot, Hitler, and Stalin — not because I believe they would care at all, but because I believe my soul needs to forgive.

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posted September 20, 2011 at 1:16 pm

OBL, never asked for forgiveness and never apologized for his crime.

To my knowledge, in Judaism, there is not requirement to forgive those who do not ask for it.

BTW, would you forgive Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot as well. The list of evil doers is long and those evil doers rarely see themselves as such nor do they ask forgiveness.

So please elaborate.

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Your Name

posted September 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm

No I can not forgive a person who is responsible for 3000 deaths in our country I will not say a prayer for him He still have some followers they can pray for him. We have gotten revenge although that revenge will not bring the people back. He was evil. Let the devil say a prayer for him. America is too forgiving let them suffer the punishment God has sent on them. Sure he worships in his own way but he worshipped the wrong God. And yes I think we should celebrate his death. This man needed to be stopped.

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Jesse Fox

posted September 15, 2011 at 2:15 am

Thank you. This has been needed.

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Joan McClendon

posted September 14, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I cannot pray for the souls of Al-Queda, I do not hate, nor do I seek venegance. However these people [al-queda] are out to kill and maime us, [americans] and they do not make any distinction between military and women and children. Perhaps we should pray that our military and our intelligence catch them all before they do any further harm. Bring them to justice is what it is all abut.

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posted September 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Guess it is easy to ‘forgive’ someone after you’ve shot them in the head and killed them”.

So, I am not sure what this ‘gesture’ of forgiveness means. Revenge was how does that make ‘forgiveness’ not seem like a ludicrous self-serving empty gesture??

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Bert Cundle

posted September 13, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Prayer is useless!( If God knows our Hart & Mind.) God obeying People… That is Funny!
Forgiveness, is after Restitution!
The real blame for 9/11 is on Political Bush Sr. & Poltical Bush Family! & the Radical Christians to concur the world!( THAT IS: TRUTH!)

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posted September 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Absolutely. It is the fundamental law of Christianity along with Faith, Hope and Love.
Something else, as horrifying as some of these acts seem, Islam is deeply seeped in the Holy Land and according to their holy book, Moses is considered to be one of the greatest teacher’s and profit’s along with Mohammad. We need to be careful whom we blindly kill over there. Christ reins supreme and He will decide between the living and the dead.
Read your Old Testament too.


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posted September 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm

This is an absolutely beautiful and moving statement that unites people of all religions who value love and forgiveness above revenge and justification.

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