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The Angels and Us

Some religions believe that holiness cannot be found in this world, which is mired in physicality, and as such cannot be a source of spiritual enlightenment. They believe in secluding themselves from the mundane distractions of this world, such as family relationships, work and business, and communal affairs. They idealize silent solitude and meditation as the only way one can come close to the Divine.

Judaism takes a radically different approach. We believe that the highest levels of spirituality can be achieved only by engaging in worldly matters. To affirm this tenet of our faith, a number of times during the prayers we repeat the verse, “Holy, Holy, Holy is Hashem, the whole world is filled with His glory.”

According to the vision of the Prophet Yeshaya, this statement is proclaimed by the Heavenly Host in praise of Hashem. By calling out this verse in unison, the congregation declares that although G-d’s holiness is way beyond anything we can comprehend, nonetheless it surrounds us even in this lowly world, and we can access it here through worldly matters. Like the angels and other celestial beings that Hashem Himself created, we recognize His complete authority over the universe (Abudaraham).

Our Sages tell us that the celestial servants of Hashem do not praise Him until we have done so in our prayers. For this reason, some halachic authorities rule that we should not say Kedusha ahead of the rest of the congregation (Makor Chaim 59,4). However, if one knows that the congregation will rush through that section of the prayers, one may say it slowly beforehand by himself (Rav Chaim Kanievsky as cited in Ishei Yisrael 17,27).


Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

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