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Hilchos Berachos 56 (page 178)
מאמצע סעיף א ולא יפסיק עד סעיף ב

Responding to Kaddish and Kedusha
Standing for Kaddish
Responding to Kaddish in a Voice Louder Than the One Reciting It

Responding to kaddish and kedusha 
Responding with Amen yehei shmei rabbah is a great mitzvah and it supersedes responding to kedusha. Someone who hears kaddish from one minyan at the same time as he hears kedusha from another should respond yehei shmei rabbah rather than respond to kedusha. However, if a person is davening with a minyan that reaches kedusha at the same time that a nearby minyan is responding to kaddish, he should respond to kedusha because that is where he is up to. Someone who is presented with the option of joining a minyan that is reciting the kaddish after S hemoneh Esrei or one that is reciting kedusha should join the minyan saying kedusha because he will be able to hear kaddish with this minyan later. There is an opinion which holds that if he will hear kedusha later (e.g. with another minyan), it is preferable to answer kaddish first and respond to kedusha later.
( ס"ק ו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 13)
Standing for kaddish
According to the Rama, it is proper to stand when responding to kaddish, kedusha, barechu or any other davar shebekedusha. If one was sitting before kaddish was started, he should rise when responding. Some poskim hold that it is not necessary to rise; if the kaddish comes at a time when people are standing they should remain standing (e.g. kaddish after Shemoneh Esrei), but if a kaddish comes when people are seated, they can remain seated. According to the Mishna Berura, it is proper to stand for all kaddeishim and that is the Ashekenazi custom. According to some poskim one should remain standing until the recitation of u'lolmei olmaya, while others hold that one should stand until da'miran b'olma, v'imru Amen. It is not necessary to stand for the end of kaddish (i.e. tiskabeil, al Yisrael, yehei shelama and oseh shalom).
( סעיף א וס"ק ז-ח; וראה המקורות שבשעה"צ ס"ק כ-כא)
Responding to kaddish in a voice louder than the one reciting it
It is proper to respond yehei shemei rabbah out loud in order to help one focus on the meaning of the words and to annul any pending severe decrees. One should not raise his voice in a way that it will attract ridicule. Likewise, according to many poskim, one should not respond in a louder voice than the person reciting kaddish. (This is based on the general rule that one should not respond Amen to a beracha in a louder voice than the one who recited it, which Chazal derived from the pasuk "praise Hashem with me"-i.e. in a voice similar to mine.) According to other poskim, it is permissible to respond yehei shemei rabbah louder than the one reciting kaddish.
( סעיף א וס"ק ה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 12)

  • Every individual must listen to the recitation of kaddish even if there are ten without him listening. It is also necessary to be fully focused when responding to kaddish.
  • The words of kaddish must be recited loud enough for the congregation to hear them. Someone who whispers kaddish gives the impression that he doesn't really want people to answer his call to praise Hashem.
  • When there is a difference between the nusach one is accustomed to and the nusach of the shul, the mourner should recite the shul's version. Some poskim, however, permit the mourner to recite it according to his customary nusach. Some Sefardic poskim hold that the mourner should always recite the main body of kaddish (the first half) according to the Sefardic version, which is preferred according to kabbalah, and the latter part of kaddish according to the shul's version.

  • Responding Amen to barechu

  • Standing and bowing for barechu

  • The response of Amen yehei sheme rabbah


PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.