Question: When the congregation recites Kedusha (Nakdishach Ve’Na’aritzach) with the Chazzan during the Chazzan’s repetition of the Amida, should one raise one’s heels while saying “Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh”? If so, how high should one raise them? Also, should one raise one’s heels while reciting the verses of “Baruch Kevod Hashem” and “Yimloch”?
Raising One’s Heels While Reciting “Kadosh”
Answer: Regarding raising one’s heels while reciting “Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh”, it is customary to raise one’s heels slightly while saying “Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh” and every time one recites the word “Kadosh”, one should raise one’s heels three times such that at the end of the verse, one will have raised his heels nine times. The reason for this raising of one’s heels is for one to show as though one is lifting one’s self toward Heaven, similar to one who raises his eyes heavenward. This is why it is customary to do so during the recitation of the Kedusha. This custom has holy roots and the entire Jewish nation observes this custom. The source for this custom can be found in the Midrash quoted by the Bet Yosef that “the Jewish nation should raise their heels when they sanctify Me [Hashem]”. This custom is also mentioned by the Sefer Heichalot whose words are quoted by the Shiboleh Ha’Leket and the Tur. The Meiri writes that the reason for this custom is in order to be similar to the angels, as the verse states, “The angels of legions will surely stir.”
How High Must One Raise One’s Heels?
Regarding how high one should raise one’s heels, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yosef Haim writes in his Sefer Ben Ish Hai that every one of the three springings that one performs while saying the word “Kadosh” should be a drop higher than the previous one, for we always ascend in holiness. Other Mekubalim and Poskim, such as Hagaon Harav David Arama in the name of Rabbeinu Menachem Reikanati zt”l, rule likewise. However, the Kaf Ha’Chaim writes that even according to the Mekubalim one should not do so, especially since according to the Ari z”l, the first “Kadosh” is loftier than the rest, it is surely incorrect to raise one’s self higher during the recitation of the second and third “Kadosh”. Such is the custom among most communities that one does not ascend in the height of the springings; rather, the heels are raised equally all three times during every recitation of the word “Kadosh”.
Those Who Spring Excessively
The Maharshal, Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria, in his Sefer Yam Shel Shlomo writes: “I wonder where those who dance and jump during the Kedusha get this custom from. In my opinion, this is a foolish custom, for we do not find any mention of dancing during Kedusha in the Sefer Heichalot (the source for the custom of raising one’s heels); rather, we only find mention of lifting one’s body upwards similar to one raising one’s eyes upwards. He (the author of the Sefer Heichalot) has not written to dance or lift one’s feet upward, rather, to lift one’s heels, meaning one should raise his heels slightly while lifting his body, and no more than this.” We can see clearly that one should not overly raise himself as some customarily do.
Raising Oneself While Reciting “Baruch Kevod Hashem Mi’Mekomo”
It is customary to raise one’s heels while reciting the verses of “Baruch Kevod Hashem Mi’Mekomo” and “Yimloch Hashem Le’Olam” as well. The great Acharonim quote this opinion in the name of the saintly Shela (Rabbeinu Yeshaya Horowitz zt”l, author of the Shenei Luchot HaBerit). Even though some Mekubalim have said not to do so, nevertheless, our custom is for one to raise one’s heels while reciting these verses as well and one should not deviate from this custom. This was also the custom of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l. In his Sefer Halichot Olam (Parashat Terumah), Maran zt”l adds that it is possible that according to the Mekubalim there is nothing wrong with this custom; rather, they maintain that it is just unnecessary.
Summary: One should raise one’s heels three times every time one recites the word “Kadosh” during the Kedusha. One should raise one’s heels only slightly and not spring too high. Also, one should raise one’s heels equally every time. It is customary to raise one’s heels while reciting the verses of “Baruch Kevod Hashem Mi’Mekomo” and “Yimloch Hashem Le’Olam” as well.