Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 25 November 2017 / 7 Kislev 5778

Laws of Kedusha

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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One of the reasons we pray together as a congregation is in order to sanctify G-d’s name publicly by saying Kedusha. One of the most exalted prayers we recite, according to the Zohar (Emor 93), it is considered a positive Biblical command, derived from the verse, “I (G-d) shall be sanctified amidst the People of Israel.” (Vayikra 23:32) This idea is mentioned in the writings of the Kabbalists (such as the Arizal), as well as in the works of the halachic authorities (Be’er Heitev 125:3; Aruch HaShulchan 125:4; and the Chafetz Chaim in Ahavat Chessed). Here are the words of the Be’er Heitev (also quoted in Mishnah Berurah 4): “One must have great kavanah (concentration) to sanctifying Gd’s Name in order to cause a spirit of holiness to descend upon him from Above.” (Piskei Teshuvot)

There exist several different formulas (nuschaot) for the Kedusha prayer. Sefardim and Chassidim, praying a similar nusach that follows in general the instructions of the Arizal, begin with “Nakdishach vena’aritzach”. Nusach Ashkenaz begins with “Nekadesh es shimcha”. Though there are differences in the opening and closing of the Kedusha prayer, its essential part is the same for everyone. All answer in unison to the congregation leader with the following three verses: 1)Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh, A-do-noi Tze-va-ot, melo kol ha’aretz kevodo” ― Holy, holy, holy is G-d, Master of Legions, the whole world is filled with His glory (Isaiah 6:3). 2)Baruch kevod A-do-noi mimkomo” ― Blessed is the glory of G-d from His place (Ezekiel 3:12). 3)Yimloch A-do-noi le’olam, Elo-hai-yich Tzion, ledor vador halelu-yah” ― G-d shall reign forever ― your G-d, O Zion ― from generation to generation, Hallelu-yah (Tehillim 146:10).

The Kedusha prayer is of utmost importance. As such, the Rabbis permit interrupting one’s own prayers in order to join together with the congregation for its recital. Before Baruch She’amar one can say the entire Kedusha, even the parts that the congregation leader says. If one is in the middle of Pesukei DeZimra one may interrupt only to say the three verses of Kedusha. He can also say the verse Yimloch, since many authorities consider it part of the essential Kedusha prayer. If, however, one is in the middle of the Shema or its blessings, he interrupts only for the first two verses, since there are poskim that do not consider the third verse Yimloch as part of the essential Kedusha prayer. Even during the Shemoneh Esrei, when one cannot interrupt at all, one should pause and listen to the Kedusha, and afterwards resume the Shemonah Esrei (Piskei Teshuvot).

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