• Rabbi Anthony Knopf

From the Desk - Bowing During the Kedusha


Shalom Friends! Activity at Beth Ora Things have been non-stop here at Congregation Beth Ora. Over Shabbat, we were delighted to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of Elior Mael and the Aufruf of David Starr who got married to Hannah at a beautiful Beth Ora wedding on Sunday. As the wedding and Bar Mitzvah families danced around the bima together on Shabbat morning, I felt the inspiring energy of community at its best - a place where we come together to share our joy with each other. Last Shabbat, we started our monthly Shabbat on the Lawn series. We had a lovely turnout and great discussion on how to make our prayers personal and meaningful. If you have any topic you'd like to be discussed at the next Shabbat on the Lawn, please let me know. Last night, we enjoyed the second in our summer BBQ series. It was another fantastic turnout and a wonderful event. Well done to Howie Brown and his team of volunteers who helped to make the BBQ a great success. On Friday, we are teaming up with PJ Library to present an exciting event for young families - Shabbat in the Park. We'll be singing the songs of Shabbat, lighting candles, making Kiddush and much more. If you know a young Jewish family who would enjoy this event, be sure to invite them to come along! And finally.... we are so excited to be welcoming guest speaker Yossi Goodman who is the star of this week's Shabbaton. Yossi has an incredible story to tell and will be speaking in the synagogue at 10:45 AM on Shabbat morning and then again after Kiddush, in the Sanctuary. We hope you will take advantage of these wonderful events which will energize and inspire us and bring our community from strength to strength. Last Week in Synagogue Last Shabbat, I spoke about controlling anger and being forgiving. To revisit these ideas and read a wonderful article on forgiveness, click here. We wish condolences to Seena Urovitch on the loss of her sister, Hennie. May Seena and her family be comforted at this time. Wishing the entire community Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami

What's the Deal With.... Bowing During the Kedusha Prayer? At Shabbat on the Lawn last week, we talked about the deeper meaning of some of the things we do during the prayer service. Carole Rubin asked why we bow to the left, right and center at the beginning of the Kedusha prayer. In preparing this answer, I benefited greatly from articles by Rabbi Ari Enkin. Interestingly, there is actually no classic rabbinic source for this practice and the leading rabbis of previous generations didn't practice it! Moreover, some recent authorities write that there is actually no preference whether to first turn to the right or the left. That said, over the years, a number of explanations have been offered to give meaning to the practice that has developed:

  • The siddur of the Lelover Chassidim says that, by bowing, we are soliciting authorization to praise G-d.

  • Another suggestion is that the bowing represents the members of the congregation turning to one another in order to praise G-d, just like the angels do. This emphasizes the vital aspect of unity during prayer. Indeed, there was once a custom to wave one's hands toward others in one's proximity to symbolize that everyone was ready to join as one for the recitation of Kedusha.

  • There is a prayer we say on Yom Kippur which describes the angels turning to 'every side' when reciting the Kedusha praises. Our bowing may be modeled on the angelic behavior.

  • Interestingly, there was once a custom based on the Kaballistic teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (16th Century) to bow each time one says the word 'kadosh' in Kedusha. We say 'kadosh' three times and Rabbi Luria taught that each time corresponds to a different intellectual attribute. The first signifies kindness elevated by wisdom, which is represented by the right side. The second expresses strength elevated by understanding, which emanates from the left side. The third represents beauty elevated by knowledge, which emanates from the center.

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