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I have read that Jews recited kaddish on behalf of Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated. What is the halachic basis for this and has kaddish ever been said en-masse on behalf of other non-Jews?

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Kaddish for a Gentile * Sefer Chasidim, no. 790 * Responsa Maharik, no. 44 * Yechaveh Da'as 6:60 * Be-Ohalah Shel Torah 1:60 – not-allowed to change my name Apr 29 '13 at 1:00

2 Answers 2

Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef rules that it is permissible and proper to recite Kaddish (Shut Yechaveh Da’at 6:60).

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regarding the mishna isn't it the case that his slave was freed (and thus Jewish) before he passed away? – user2110 Apr 18 '13 at 19:20
No, I do not think that he was ever freed. I might be mistaken, though. I think the story goes something like Rabban Gamliel accidentally knocked out the slave's tooth and rejoiced at finally being able to free him, but Tabi elected to remain a slave as he has the right to do. – Daniel Apr 18 '13 at 19:49
That's very unlikely. The practice of saying kaddish for the deceased well post-dates the Gemara. – Double AA Apr 18 '13 at 21:29
@DoubleAA, You're right. I must have misremembered the Mishna. Mishna Berachot 2:7 says that Rabban Gamliel accepted condolences for his slave as if he were Jewish. I'd say that's a similar situation that might argue for saying kaddish for a non-Jew, but that's not up to me to decide. I have removed that part of my answer. – Daniel Apr 18 '13 at 21:37
@DoubleAA, I was under the impression that the gemara makes reference to saying "Yehei shmeih" to ease the neshama's transit to 'Olam Habah. I do not know the daf or masechet though. – Noach mi Frankfurt Jan 3 '14 at 16:29

Rabbi Ephraim Oshry in Responsa from the Holocaust #85 allowed survivors to say Kaddish for the gentile woman who had hid them in her house. With justification, it seems allowed.

See there for more sources.

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Are you referring to Shut Mimaamakim? There are 5 volumes of it. Which volume is this in? – Double AA Feb 26 '14 at 4:52

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