Is it preferable to hire someone to say Kaddish for your loved ones, or to find someone to do it for free?
This is an old issue. Understandably, people prefer freebies, and they can save money by getting it done free. Moreover, someone saying Kaddish for free is someone saying it sincerely, saying it without thought of reward. He is doing it only to do the right thing. It would seem that this would be preferable to someone saying it for reward and payment, who is reciting the Kaddish as a job. However, as with many areas in life, free is often the most expensive and complicated way to go.
Let us take a look at some biblical precedents to this. We know there is a designated group of individuals who work in the Holy Temple, serving up the sacrifices and doing all the ritual done there. These are the priests, the Kohanim. They worked with extreme pride and dedication, serving at the cost of their lives when the need arose. So these were highly motivated individuals, who did all in their power to perform well. And yet, surprisingly, the Torah, the Old Testament, prescribes a series of payments for the priestly tribe, not as a stipend or gift, but as payment for their services in the running of the Temple. This indicates, it would seem, that indeed it is preferable to hire someone – even for the direct service of G-d – than have volunteers do the work.
Why is this? One reason is that we want the job done consistently, and we want it done well. Wages will make it happen. Relying on the goodwill of volunteers is a recipe for disappointment, because there is no backing to their commitment. Goodwill dissipates surprisingly fast.
Accordingly, some authorities see here an indication that if possible, one not rely on a volunteer, but rather to insist on paying for someone to say the Kaddish, in the event that one cannot recite it himself.