QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Eliyahu ha'Navi told Rebbi Yosi that
whenever Jews enter the synagogues and study halls and respond, Yehei
Sh'mei ha'Gadol Mevorach..." -- "May His great Name be blessed..." the Holy
One, blessed is He, says, "Happy is the king whose people praise him in his
house like this, and woe to the sons that were exiled from the table of
RASHI (DH Ashrei ha'Melech) says that G-d was declaring how happy He had
been when His people praised Him "with *this praise* inside the Beis
ha'Mikdash." When was the praise of "Yehei Sh'mei" ever recited in the Beis
ANSWER: The Gemara in Pesachim (56a) says that when Yakov Avinu blessed his
sons before he died, he said, "Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuso l'Olam Va'ed"
("Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity!"). The
Targum Yerushalmi to Bereishis 49:2, however, says that Yakov declared,
"Yehei Shemei Raba...."
This discrepancy can be explained as follows. The Gemara in Pesachim (which
tells the story in Hebrew) quotes the Hebrew version of Yakov's reply. This
is "Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuso le'Olam Va'ed." The Targum, though, relates
the story in Aramaic. Perhaps "Yehei Shemei Rabbah..." ("May His great Name
be blessed now and for all eternity!") is simply an Aramaic rendering of
the Hebrew "Baruch Shem..." (Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom
for all eternity!). (The slight difference between the two is acceptable.
Targum, an Aramaic rendering, is not meant to be a *literal* translation,
but rather it is meant to convey the idea contained in the Hebrew phrase.
See Kidushin 49a, and Tosfos.)
Since the Jews used to declare "Baruch Shem..." in the Beis ha'Mikdash
every day (it was said in place of "Amen"; Ta'anis 16b, cited by Rashi,
Berachos 54a, DH Kol Chosmei Berachos), they were indeed saying "Yehei
Shemei Raba..." in its Hebrew form! That is what Rashi means when he says
that they used to praise Hashem "with *this praise* inside the Beis
This idea also answers a question that Tosfos asks. Tosfos gives two
explanations for why "Yehei Shemei Raba" is recited in Aramaic. The first
explanation that Tosfos cites is what he refers to as the "common
explanation." It is claimed, says Tosfos, that the Kaddish prayer was
written in Aramaic due to its unusual holiness. Were we to recite it in
Hebrew, it might arouse the jealousy of the angels in heaven! We therefore
say this praise in Aramaic, which the angels do not recognize (Shabbos
Tosfos does not accept this explanation. He argues that we have plenty of
beautiful prayers and they all are in Hebrew, and we are not concerned with
arousing the jealousy of the angels. Why should this prayer arouse the
angels' jealousy more than any other?
ANSWER: The Midrash (Devarim Raba 2:25) relates that we do not say the
praise "Baruch Shem..." out loud because Moshe Rabbeinu "stole" it from the
angels whom he heard saying it when he went to heaven to receive the Torah.
We "hide" it from the angels by saying it in a whisper.
Perhaps this is why we want to "hide" the Kaddish prayer from the angels'
ears. As we noted, "Yehei Shemei Raba" is an Aramaic rendering of "Baruch
Shem" -- the praise that Moshe "stole" from the angels. Perhaps it is for
this reason that "Yehei Shemei Raba" must be recited in Aramaic, the
language that the angels do not recognize. (This answer to Tosfos' question
is suggested in SEFER VE'IMRU AMEN by Rav Yehoshua Alter Wildman, Jerusalem
1929, vol. II #59, pp. 90-91, in the name of Rav Menachem Mordechai Frenkel