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The articles in this column are transcriptions and adaptations of shiurim by Rav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, zt”l. The Rav’s unique perspective on Chumash permeated many of the shiurim and lectures he presented at various venues over a 40-plus-year period. His words add an important perspective that makes the Chumash in particular, and our tradition in general, vibrant and relevant to our generation.

In memory of Harav Aryeh Leibish Efrayim Zvi HaLevi (Dr. Leon) Fink, z”l.


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The Sifri (See also Yalkut Shimoni) quotes that when Rabbi Chananya Ben Tradyon, one of the Assarah Harugay Malchut (10 martyrs) was taken to be martyred, burned alive while wrapped in a Sefer Torah, he recited the verse HaTzur Tamim Paalo Ki Chal Drachav Mishpat, Tzidduk HaDin, acceptance of the heavenly judgement and decree. When his wife was informed that her husband was being marched out to his martyrdom, she replied Kayl Emunah V’Ayn Avel, the God of faith without fallacy. The Midrash continues and uses the same section of Ha’azinu, starting with the verse Ki Shem Hashem Ekra Havu Godel L’Elokaynu to derive responsive recitation for certain prayers such as Kdusha in Chazarat HaShatz, Barchu Et Hashem HaMvorach. Y’Hay Shmay Rabba in Kaddish. What is the connection between these prayers and the Tzidduk HaDin associated with Rabbi Chananya Ben Tradyon?

The fundamental idea behind Kiddush Hashem, making the ultimate sacrifice to glorify Hashem’s name and honor, is that the name of Hashem should be publicly honored. The act of defiance and willingness to lay down one’s life is the ultimate expression of acceptance of the yoke of Heaven, Ol Malchut Shamayim. The obligation to sanctify Hashem’s name requires that it be performed in public, where public is defined as being in the presence of 10 Jews as noted in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 74b) that derives the obligation to sanctify Hashem’s name from the verse V’Nikdashti B’Toch Bnay Yisrael, and I shall be sanctified in the midst of Israel.

Interestingly, the same verse of V’Nikdashti is used elsewhere (Brachot 21b) to derive the requirement for 10 Jews (a minyan) to recite a Davar SheB’Kdusha, which includes Kdusha, Barchu and Kaddish. What is the connection between Kiddush Hashem and reciting a Davar SheB’Kdusha? Why is the same verse common to both?

The common theme between these two situations is that they are defined as acts of Kabbalat Ol Malchut Shamayim, accepting the yoke of Heaven. When Rabbi Chananya Ben Tradyon was marched to his death, he declared his acceptance of the heavenly decree and sanctified the name of Hashem to the point that his martyrdom, as well as that of the other great Ta’naim who were brutally murdered Al Kiddush Hashem, is recorded in Piyutim recited on both Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av.

How is Kdusha recited in alternating statements between Chazan and congregation during Chazarat HaShatz equated with acceptance of the yoke of Heaven? The Kdusha praise offered by the angels to Hashem in the first of the Birchot Kriat Shma, Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Hashem Tzvakot, is preceded by explaining how the angels in heaven turn and grant permission to each other, V’Kulam Mkablim Alyahem Ol Malchut Shamayim Zeh M’Zeh, V’Notnim Reshut Zeh LaZeh. The pattern we use for accepting the yoke of Heaven is patterned on the process used by the angels, by alternating verses of praise between each other, requesting permission from each other in volunteering their praise to Hashem. When we recite Kdusha in Chazarat HaShatz, we start with N’Kadesh Et Shimcha Ba’Olam K’shaym Shemakdishim Oto B’Shmay Marom, we explicitly pattern our recitation of Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh in Chazarat HaShatz after the angels, The Chazan and congregation simulate the back and forth exchange of the angels and grant each other permission to praise Hashem and express Kadosh. The recitation of Kdusha by Chazan and congregation expresses the acceptance of the yoke of Heaven, hence it is referred to as Davar SheB’Kdusha and requires 10 men.

There is a third recitation of Kdusha in U’Va L’Tziyon, where the Chazan and the congregation again have a back and forth exchange granting each other permission to say Kadosh. Like the previous two recitations of Kdusha, the third one focuses on the acceptance of the yoke of Heaven. In all three cases, the format used begins with V’Kara Zeh El Zeh V’Amar. There is a pause and then we recite Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh. However if we examine the verse as written, we find that that those two segments are part of the same verse. Why don’t we apply the principle that we don’t break or separate any verse that Moshe did not separate, i.e. we do not split up verses from the Canon? Why do we separate both halves of the verse when we recite Kdusha? While we are enjoined from reciting partial verses, that restriction does not apply to Davar SheB’Kdusha because that constitutes a different type of recitation where the restriction against splitting the verse does not apply.

How do we identify a Davar SheB’Kdusha in prayer? Until the time of Shimon HaTzaddik, the ineffable name of Hashem, the Tetragrammaton, was pronounced as it was written. After the passing of Shimon HaTzaddik, the written format remained but the pronunciation was changed to AD-NY (Yoma 39b). The Tetragrammaton represents the ineffable name of Hashem that represents Haya Hove V’Yihye, past, present and future. But it also represents a different dimension; that of the name AD-NY, the name of Hashem that represents ownership and mastery of the universe. How do we distinguish between these variants? We indicate that even though we don’t change the pronunciation, the name of Hashem is being raised to the higher, ineffable level, by responding with the equivalent of Baruch Shaym Kvod Malchuto L’Olam Vaed, the ineffable name of Hashem should be praised forever (See Taanit 16b where Amen was not said in the Temple when the ineffable name of Hashem was uttered, instead they used the formula of Baruch Hashem Min HaOlam etc.). In other words, a Davar SheB’Kdusha is defined as when the name of Hashem is raised to the higher ineffable level even though it is still pronounced AD-NY. In addition to Kdusha and Kaddish, Shma Yisrael, the ultimate expression of accepting the yoke of Heaven, is also considered a Davar SheB’Kdusha, because the name of Hashem it contains is raised to the ineffable level as indicated by the juxtaposition of Baruch Shaym to the verse of Shma Yisrael. Interestingly, the same applies to Barchu Et Hashem HaMvorach, praise the name of Hashem, the Blessed One. The congregation replies Baruch HaShem HaMvorach L’Olam Vaed, essentially the same formula we use to elevate the name of Hashem in Shma Yisrael to a Davar SheB’Kdusha by combining it with Baruch Shaym Kvod. If one examines the text of Kaddish, we find the same formula. The Kaddish formula expresses that the name of Hashem should be raised to the ineffable level and glorified in the universe He created. We immediately exclaim Yehay Shmay Rabba, the Aramaic equivalent of Baruch Shaym Kvod Malchuto which indicates that Kaddish, like Barchu, Shma Yisrael, and Kdusha, is a Davar SheB’Kdusha.

How often do we overlook opportunities to sanctify the name Hashem by answering Yehay Shmay Rabba, Barchu or Kdusha. In the year 5776 let us resolve to take advantage of each opportunity to achieve a Davar SheB’Kdusha through careful attention to our Tefila B’Tzibbur. My brother-in-law, Dr. Leon Fink, z”l, never missed an opportunity for Tfila B’Tzibbur, Chesed or Talmud Torah. He was Mkadesh Shem Shamayim wherever he went and whatever he did. Yehi Zichro Baruch.


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Rabbi Joshua Rapps attended the Rav's shiur at RIETS from 1977 through 1981 and is a musmach of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan. He and his wife Tzipporah live in Edison, N.J. Rabbi Rapps can be contacted at