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The Bracha of Atta Kadosh teaches us that not only is Hashem Himself inherently holy, separate and distinct from all other holiness we can fathom, but also that ‘Shimcha Kadosh’-- in the way Hashem conducts the affairs of the world we can discern His Holiness as well. It is for this reason that ‘U’Kedoshim Bechol Yom Yehalilucha Selah--the Malochim and the Bnei Yisroel--both of whom are Kadosh--will forever praise Him.’ It is with these awesome thoughts that we conclude the Third Bracha of Shemone Esrei, now mentally aware and prepared to make our requests of Hashem!


The following dynamic message is excerpted from the monumental Sefer Rav Schwab on Prayer: "Just as HaKadosh Baruch Hu is Kadosh above and not bound by His nature, He has imbued the human being with a similar power of Kedushah, that of being able to transcend his own urges and inclinations, and separate himself from them. And we thank HaKadosh Baruch Hu for giving us this ability of transcending our animal urges, and thereby assuming an aspect of Kedushah, by saying, ‘Baruch Atta Hashem HaKel Hakadosh.’ The name ‘Kel’, Almighty, denotes the Middas Harachamim of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. The greatest Rachamim that HaKadosh Baruch Hu has shown us is that He gave us the ability to become Kedoshim. And this is true even if someone has already succumbed to his desires and tasted the aveiros, and has developed a desire to do more aveiros; he still has within him the capacity for Kedushah that HaKadosh Baruch Hu granted to him, to overcome his nature, and to become a person whom the Torah can call Kadosh."


Having just left Shavuos through which we became a Goy Kadosh, we realize that our relationship with Hashem is based solidly in and on Kedusha--and that even the seemingly physical and personal requests that we are about to begin with Atta Chonen are truly supernal and sublime.


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HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim cogently explains the term Atta Kadosh as follows:  The height of human capability in Ruchniyus does not attain the level of any Malach in the upper worlds, and the Ruchniyus of the highest Malach in the upper worlds has no connection to the Ruchniyus of HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself.  Thus, if we cannot perceive of the Ruchniyus of a Malach, then we most certainly have no perception of the Ruchniyus of Hashem--which is beyond the Malochim.  So, the phrase Atta Kadosh brings home the notion that we have no Hasaga, no understanding at all of the Essence of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.  Our recognition of Hashem’s Greatness and separateness leads us to hisbatlus, our recognition of our position in this world in relation to Hashem’s Greatness.  As we recite the words Atta Kadosh, we should be inspired with awe--from the depth, meaning, and lesson of this two-word phrase!




The Tur (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 114) writes that there are 14 words in the bracha of Atta Kadosh (Nusach Ashkenaz), which correspond to the 14 words of the Pasuk in Yeshaya (6:3) “VeKara Zeh El Zeh V’Amar Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh Hashem Tzevakos Meloh Kol Ha’aretz Kevodo--and they called out one to the other and said Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh…”  Thus, in our personal recitation of the bracha we are emulating the Kedusha that is said B’Tzibbur.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 125 seif katan 4) reminds us that when actually reciting the Kedusha we should have in mind that we want to be Mekadesh Shem Shomayim and fulfill the Pasuk of V’Nikdashti Besoch Bnei Yisroel.  He then especially brings the Sefer Heichalos, which teaches that when we recite the words Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh [and Baruch Hashem Bimikomo] our eyes should be raised towards Shomayim, and then it is an outstanding moment of connection between us and Hashem as we do so.  In fact, the Sefer Heichalos brings that when we lift up our eyes towards the Heavens, Hashem kevayachol ‘looks towards us as well’, and remembers our merits and hastens the Geulah.  We may suggest that the 14 words of Atta Kadosh in our private Shemone Esrei are a great remembrance of (and, for men davening with a Minyan, preparation for) this enormous event and opportunity!




The next phrase in the bracha is ‘VeShimcha Kadosh--and Your Name is Holy’.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that with this phrase we express that not only is Hashem’s Existence and Power elevated beyond our comprehension, but even in the ways in which we do know of Him (Shimcha--His Name), we cannot and do not know Him completely--but only to the extent of limited human understanding.  We recognize, for instance, Hashem’s Rachmanus, Koach, Mishpat, Memshalah--but only in a manner in which our finite minds can comprehend it.  Even in the future, when we will look back and understand the events of our lives and of history--the Ramchal (in the Sefer Da’as Tevunos) writes that this understanding will nevertheless be:  Ketipah Min HaYam HaGadol--like a drop from a large sea.”  Thus, the bracha inspires within us an elevated level of awe--as we declare our inability to fathom Hashem’s greatness not only in realms that we do not understand (Atta Kadosh)--but even in the realm of VeShimcha Kadosh--the ways in which Hashem reveals Himself within the very world all around us!




The next phrase in the bracha is:  U’Kedoshim Bechol Yom Yehalelucha Selah--and holy ones praise You every day forever.”  There is a difference of opinion among the commentaries as to whom the Kedoshim are--as some say we are refering to the Malochim, and some say that we are referring to K’lal Yisroel as a people [perhaps one can keep both explanations in mind!].  Whether it is, in fact, the Malochim and/or K’lal Yisroel--the next words, which describe what the Kedoshim do, is extremely telling.  They:


Bechol Yom--every day--without fail!


Yehalelucha--will praise you [Note especially the rare use of the term ‘Hallel’ in the daily davening and certainly in the Shemone Esrei itself.  Where else do you find it in Shemone Esrei?] We suggest that the term of Hallel is used, because it is apparently the most appropriate term for how Kedoshim are to express themselves to Hashem!


Selah--forever [Note once again the rare use of the term ‘Selah’ both in the daily davening and in Shemone Esrei itself.  Where else do you find it in Shemone Esrei?]  We suggest that the term Selah is meant to teach us that our recognition of Hashem’s loftiness over us will continue even in the time of greatly elevated spirit.  Certainly now, then, must we recognize His Mastery over the universe, over the world--and over us!




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