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Kedushah (Hebrew: קְדֻשָּׁה‎) is a Hebrew word meaning "holiness". The term is frequently used in Judaism to describe God, and worldly items can also have holy status.

"Kedushah" is also the name of a prayer in Judaism which describes God's holiness.

Holiness in Judaism[edit]

The Hebrew word קֹדֶשׁ, transliterated as qodesh, is used in the Torah to mean set-apartness and separateness, as well as holiness and sacredness.[1] The Torah describes the Aaronite priests and the Levites as being selected by God to perform the Temple services; they, as well, are called "holy."

Holiness is not a single state, but contains a broad spectrum. The Mishnah lists concentric circles of holiness surrounding the Temple in Jerusalem: Holy of Holies, Temple Sanctuary, Temple Vestibule, Court of Priests, Court of Israelites, Court of Women, Temple Mount, the walled city of Jerusalem, all the walled cities of Israel, and the borders of the Land of Israel.[2] Distinctions are made as to who and what are permitted in each area.

Likewise, the Jewish holidays and the Shabbat are considered to be holy in time; the Torah calls them "holy [days of] gathering". Work is not allowed on those days, and rabbinic tradition lists 39 categories of activity that are specifically prohibited.[3]

Beyond the intrinsically holy, objects can become sacred through consecration. Any personal possession may be dedicated to the Temple of God, after which its misappropriation is considered among the gravest of sins. The various sacrifices are holy. Those that may be eaten have very specific rules concerning who may eat which of their parts, and time limits on when the consumption must be completed. Most sacrifices contain a part to be consumed by the priests – a portion of the holy to be consumed by God's holy devotees.

The encounter with the holy is seen as eminently desirable, and at the same time fearful and awesome. For the strongest penalties are applied to one who transgresses in this area – one could in theory receive either the death penalty or the heavenly punishment of kareth, spiritual excision, for mis-stepping in his close approach to God's domain.

The Kedushah prayer[edit]

The Kedushah is traditionally the third section of all Amidah recitations. In the silent Amidah it is a short prayer, but in the repetition, which requires a minyan, it is considerably lengthier. The liturgy varies among different communities and during different services, but they all hold in common three lines from the Bible (though translations vary):

קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ ה' צְבָאוֹת מְלֹא כָל הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ
Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Adonai Tz'vaot M'lo Khol Ha'aretz K'vodo
"Holy, Holy, Holy, The Lord of Hosts, The entire world is filled with His Glory." Isaiah 6:3
בָּרוּךְ כְּבוֹד ה' מִמְּקוֹמוֹ
Baruch K'vod Adonai Mim'komo
"Blessed is the Glory of the Lord in Its Place" Ezekiel 3:12
יִמְלֹךְ ה' לְעוֹלָם. אֱלֹהַיִךְ צִיּוֹן לְדֹר וָדֹר. הַלְלוּיָהּ
Yimloch Adonai L'Olam, Elohayich Tziyon L'dor Vador Hall'luyah
"The Lord shall reign forever, Your God, O Zion, from generation to generation, Hallelujah" Psalms 146:10

All three of the verses cited above are recited as part of the congregational response to the cantor. For the first verse, Isaiah 6:3, it is traditional for everyone to rise to their toes with each recitation of the word קָדוֹשׁ Kadosh (Holy).[4]

In the morning and Musaf services of Shabbat and Festivals, an enhanced version of the Kedushah is recited, with additional praises in between the biblical verses. In the Musaf service of Shabbat and Festivals, as well as all of the Kedushahs of Yom Kippur, a fourth verse is recited responsively: the opening line of the Shema.

Kedushah d'sidra[edit]

There is also a text called the Kedushah D'Sidra (Hebrew: קְדֻשָּׁה דְּסִידְרָא‎) which is recited at the conclusion of weekday morning services, at the beginning of the afternoon services of Shabbat and Festivals, the conclusion of the evening service of Saturday night, and the beginning of the Neilah service at the end of Yom Kippur. This is different from the Kedushah of the Amidah as it does not require a minyan and it includes an Aramaic recapitulation (Targum) of the three aforementioned biblical verses of the Kedushah.[5]

The first Biblical verse in the Kedushah, Isaiah 6:3, is also found in the Sanctus of some Christian liturgical ordinaries.


  1. ^ Blue Letter Bible. ""H6944 - qodesh - Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (HNV)."". Retrieved 28 Jun 2016.
  2. ^ Mishnah Kelim, chapter 1
  3. ^ Mishna, Shabbat 7:2
  4. ^ Scott-Martin Kosofsky, The Book of Customs, Harper San Francisco, 2004; page 33.
  5. ^ Hammer, Rabbi Reuven (2003). Or Chadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals. New York City: Rabbinical Assembly/United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. p. 227. ISBN 0-916219-20-8.