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Kedusha (Part I)

  • Rav David Brofsky



     The past few weeks, we have discussed different aspects of the repetition of Shemoneh Esreh by the cantor (variously referred to as shaliach tzibbur, shatz, or chazzan).  We explored the function and nature of Chazarat Ha-shatz, as well as the role and participation of the congregation in it.


     This week, we will begin our study of Kedusha, the centerpiece of Chazarat Ha-shatz.  We will attempt to understand its meaning and role in Shemoneh Esreh, and we will discuss some practical dilemmas relating to Kedusha


Source and Structure of Kedusha:


     The Mishna (Megilla 4:3) teaches: "One does not do the communal reading of (poresin al) Shema, nor does one do communal prayer… with less than ten."


     Furthermore, the Gemara (Berakhot 21b) teaches:


So said Rav Ada bar Ahava: "From where do we know that one praying by oneself does not say Kedusha?  Because it says: 'I will be sanctified among the children of Yisrael' (Vayikra 22:32), every davar she-bikdusha (matter of holiness) requires ten." 


     Another gemara (Megilla 23b) explains the chain of derivation:


How is this derived?  Rabbi Chiyya taught: "We draw an analogy between two occurrences of the word 'among:' it is written here, 'I will be sanctified among the children of Yisrael,' and it is written elsewhere (Bamidbar 16:21), "Separate yourselves from among this congregation.'  Then we draw an analogy between two occurrences of the word 'congregation:' it is written elsewhere (ibid. 14:27), 'How long must this congregation abide?' — just as in that case there were ten [scouts who slandered the land], so too here [we require] ten."


     The Gemara clearly views Kedusha as a fulfillment of "I will be sanctified amongst the children of Yisrael." 


     The Rishonim (Ran Megilla 23b; Tosafot Berakhot 47b; Rosh Berakhot 7:20) write that Kedusha is only of rabbinic (mi-derabbanan) origin, and the above-cited gemara merely employs an asmakhta (a biblical "support" to a rabbinic institution).  Interestingly, the Mishna Berura (125:4) and the Ben Ish Chai (Teruma 3) write that one should have in mind to fulfill the biblical commandment of "I will be sanctified" before reciting Kedusha!  Though we generally assume Kedusha is of rabbinic origin, we see elsewhere that while the ma'aseh (form) of a mitzva or prohibition may be mi-derabbanan, its kiyyum (fulfillment) may be mi-de'oraita (from the Torah), such as the prohibition to work on the intermediate days of Pesach and Sukkot(Chagiga 18a, Tosafot ad loc.), the afflictions of Yom Kippur (see the Ran, Yoma 1a), and possibly even muktzeh (see Arukh Ha-shulchan, OC 108), the prohibition to move items inappropriate for Shabbat.  With this is mind, one may suggest that the form of Kaddish, Kedusha and other devarim she-bikdusha are indeed of rabbinic origin, but their kiyyum is mi-de'oraita.


     In any case, it is worth noting that Kedusha functions both independently and within the context of Chazarat Ha-shatz.  As we have seen in previous shiurim, "poresin al Shema" may include reciting Kedusha, even without the full repetition of Shemoneh Esreh.  However, the very placement of Kedusha within the repetition, the function of which seems to be merely to fulfill the obligation of tefilla for those unable to pray on their own, may highlight the approach which views Chazarat Ha-shatz as tefillat ha-tzibbur, communal prayer, as we have previously discussed.


     The basic obligation of Kedusha entails declaring with the congregation the prophetic verses of the angels' praises: "Kadosh, Kadosh" ("Holy, holy," Yeshayahu 6:3) and "Barukh kevod" ("Blessed is the glory," Yechezkel 3:12).  The Acharonim debate whether to view the third response, "Yimlokh Hashem" ("God will rule," Tehillim 146:10) as an integral part of Kedusha.  While this debate may seem somewhat trivial, the Mishna Berura (66:17) cites a somewhat significant ramification.  The Shulchan Arukh (ibid. 3) rules that one may interrupt the recitation of the Shema and its berakhot, even in the middle of a line, in order to respond to Kaddish ("Amen yeheh shemeih," "May His Name"), Barekhu, Modim (only the first word) and Kedusha.  May one also interrupt for "Yimlokh Hashem?"  The Mishna Berura rules that one should only say "Kadosh, Kadosh" and "Barukh kevod," but NOT "Yimlokh Hashem."  The Arukh Ha-shulchan (66:6), however, writes that since there is no clear answer to this question, one may follow either practice.


The Proper Way for the Shatz and Tzibbur to Recite Kedusha:


     Originally, as appears in the Tosefta (Berakhot 1:11), as well as in Rav Sa'adya Gaon's Siddur and the Rambam's Seder Tefillot Kol Ha-shana, the shatz would invite the tzibbur to participate in Kiddush Hashem, sanctification of God's name (the first word being, depending upon the rite, "Nekaddesh" or "Nakdishakh"), to which they respond "Kadosh, Kadosh."  The shaliach tzibbur continues "Le-ummatam," to which they respond "Barukh kevod."  Aside from the rare case in which an individual arrives late and then recites his Shemoneh Esreh WITH the shatz, including the entire Kedusha, as we have discussed, the tzibbur, apparently, should not read "Nekaddesh" along with the shatz


     Apparently, however, by the 13th century, some communities became accustomed to join in with the shatz.  The Rosh (1259-1328), in a responsum (4:19), strongly criticizes this practice:


One should censure those who raise their voices in Shemoneh Esreh and say, with the chazzan, Shemoneh Esreh and Kedusha…  Those who sing along with the chazzan appear as if they are engaged in frivolous behavior…  It is obvious that one should not say Kaddish with the chazzan, as one may only say Kaddish with ten; one should understand the chazzan and respond "Amen Yeheh shemeih."


     The Rosh's son, the Tur (125), cites his father's responsum.  The Beit Yosef questions whether the Rosh objects merely to saying "Nakdishakh' with the chazzan or also to saying "Le-ummatam" with him.  He sides with the latter.  Similarly, he rules in Orach Chayyim (125:1) in accordance with the Rosh.  Furthermore, the Rema, in his commentary to the Tur, known as the Darkhei Moshe, describes the contemporary custom as conforming to the original practice, i.e., the tzibbur silently listens until the chazzan reaches "Kadosh."


     Rabbi Binyamin Shlomo Hamburger, founder of the Makhon Moreshet Ashkenaz (Center for the Study of AshkenazicCustoms) and author of the numerous volumes of Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz, traces the development of the modern custom to recite the entire Kedusha.  In his first volume of Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz he claims that this custom spread, apparently, during the generation after the Rema, as is evident from the contemporary attempts to repress this custom.


     He notes that the first to defend the practice of reciting the entire Kedusha WITH the chazzan is Rav David ben Shmuel Ha-levi Segal (1586-1667), a prominent Polish authority, in his commentary to the Shulchan Arukh, Turei Zahav; he is known by its acronym as the Taz.  The Taz notes that even the Shulchan Arukh agrees, as we learned last week, that one who says Shemoneh Esreh WITH the shaliach tzibbur should recite the ENTIRE Kedusha with the chazzan.  He writes:


It seems to me that there is no difference between one who has prayed already [and one who prays along with the chazzan]… and I do not understand what damage there could be.


     In addition to the Taz, who is a significant halakhic authority, Rav Yitzchak Luria, the great mystical authority known as the Arizal (1534-1572), supports and encourages this practice.  In his Sha'ar Ha-kavvanot, he explains:


One should say, with the shaliach tzibbur, every word of Kedusha, from "Nakdishakh" until the end of Kedusha.  However, while the first two words should be said out loud, the rest of the words, until "Kadosh" should be said quietly.


     In other words, the Arizal insists that Kedusha be recited WITH the shaliach tzibbur, albeit quietly, except for the first two words. 


     Apparently, the Arizal (and possibly the Taz) had a remarkable impact upon the practice of Eastern European Jewry.  The Mishna Berura (125:2; Bei'ur Halakha, s.v. Ein) and the Arukh Ha-shulchan (125:1-2) testify that it was customary in Lithuania for the congregation to recite "Nakdishakh."  This is also the custom in most communities today.


     The Chayyei Adam (30:9) records that despite the common custom to recite the entire Kedusha, the Gra would recite Kedusha as described by the Rishonim.  Similarly, German congregations and those who retain the original Ashkenazic practice, as Rabbi Hamburger notes, also recite Kedusha as described by the Rishonim.   


How Should the Chazzan and Congregation Recite Kedusha?


     We have already determined that communities differ as to how to recite Kedusha.  However, there are a number of principles which are worth explicating.  Often people perceive Kedusha as a responsive exercise, in which the shaliach tzibbur invites the tzibbur to respond, and after they do so, the shaliach tzibbur repeats their response and elicits another.  In truth, the shaliach tzibbur does not repeat the community's response, but rather is meant to join along with them in sanctifying God's name ("Kadosh, Kadosh").  Therefore, he should recite "Kadosh, Kadosh," "Barukh kevod" and "Yimlokh Hashem" WITH the tzibbur.


     However, as we shall see next week, the shaliach tzibbur must also say these passages loud enough so that one who is still praying silently may listen and fulfill his obligation (Orach Chayyim 104:7).  Often, due to the size of the tzibbur and the voice of the chazzan, the shaliach tzibbur waits until most of the tzibbur has completed responding, in order to be heard by those still praying. 


     The Bei'ur Halakha (125) questions whether a shaliach tzibbur may wait until the ENTIRE tzibbur has finished to respond "Kadosh, Kadosh."  On the one hand, the whole point of Kedusha is to sanctify God's name in UNISON.  On the other hand, as the shaliach tzibbur is responsible for all those who are praying with him, perhaps he may respond "Kadosh, Kadosh" even after the tzibbur has finished, in order to fulfill the obligation of those still praying silently.  He does not arrive at a conclusion.  This question may be even more pertinent on Shabbat, when additions passages are added after "Kadosh, Kadosh," lengthening the time between the tzibbur's completion and the chazzan's recitation.  Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, OC 3:4) implies that the shaliach tzibbur may (or should) recite those parts of Kedusha AFTER the tzibbur, in order to read for those who are still praying silently.


     Regarding one's physical position during Kedusha, the Terumat Ha-deshen (28) and, subsequently, the Shulchan Arukh (125:2) teach that one should stand with one's feet together during Kedusha, as the angels in heaven praise God with "one straight leg" (Yechezkel 1:7).  Furthermore, the Tur (125) records two differing customs regarding which direction to face during Kedusha.  He writes:


Sephardic Jews look downwards while saying "Kadosh, Kadosh," while Ashkenazic Jews look upwards and lift their body upwards; a support for their practice can be found in the Sefer Heikhalot…  "You should tell My children what I do while they are sanctifying and saying 'Kadosh, Kadosh,' and teach them that their eyes should be looking upwards to the heavens to the house of prayer and they should lift themselves upwards, as My greatest pleasure in this world is when they look up towards My eyes, and My eyes look towards theirs."


     The Beit Yosef (125) cites sources for the practice of lifting one's self up during Kedusha, as well as additional sources for looking towards the heavens.


     In any case, the Shulchan Arukh (125:2) records that one should look upwards, and lift one's feet during "Kadosh, Kadosh."  The Mishna Berura (125:8) cites Acharonim who criticize, as well as some who support, those who literally jump during these passages.  Furthermore, the Arizal, as cited by the Acharonim, recommends closing one's eyes while recited the passages of Kedusha


     While some keep their legs together until after the berakha of "Ha-Kel Ha-kadosh" (Eliyya Rabba 125:6), many disagree, and the custom seems to be lenient.


     Next week we will discuss those instances in which answering Kedusha may conflict with other prayers, such as Shemoneh Esreh.  We will expand our discussion to include the principle of "Shomea ke-oneh" and its relevant ramifications.