Halacha for Sunday 12 Tevet 5781 December 27 2020

The Kedusha of “Yotzer Ohr”

Question: When reciting “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh” within the “Yotzer Ohr” blessing in the Shacharit prayer, must one wait for the Chazzan to reach the words “Kedusha Kulam Ke’Echad Onim Be’Emah Ve’Omerim Be’Yirah” and the answer “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh” along with the congregation or may one recite the entire blessing alone?

Answer: In the Shacharit prayer, two blessings are recited before Keri’at Shema, the blessing of “Yotzer Ohr” followed by the blessing of “Ahavat Olam” (some say “Ahava Rabba”).

Within the first blessing, there is a text of Kedusha, which is the words the angels use to praise Hashem, and we say “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh” and then “Baruch Kevod Hashem Mi’Mekomo”.

Women Who Recite the Blessings of Keri’at Shema
Even women, who do not recite the blessings of Keri’at Shema with Hashem’s name, recite the entire text of the blessing besides for mentioning Hashem’s name in the beginning and end of the blessing (i.e. “Baruch Yotzer Ohr U’Voreh Choshech” and conclude “Baruch Yotzer Ha’Me’orot”).

Is This Text Considered a Kedusha
Our Sages disagree whether the text that we recite within the “Yotzer Ohr” blessing is considered a Kedusha similar to what we recite along with the Chazzan during the repetition of the Amida prayer (“Nakdishach Ve’Na’aritzach”) or if this is not an actual Kedusha and we are merely recounting how the angels praise Hashem.

According to our Sages in Masechet Sofrim (Chapter 16), this text is not considered an actual Kedusha. It is therefore permissible to recite this text alone and a Minyan of ten men is not required in order to recite it. Only in the Chazzan’s repetition of the Amida when we ourselves state “Nakdishach Ve’Na’aritzach” (“We shall sanctify you and we shall revere you”) is this an actual Kedusha when we proceed to sanctify Hashem and this can only be recited in the presence of a Minyan ten men. However, within the “Yotzer Ohr” blessing, we are merely recounting how the angels and Heavenly hosts praise Hashem by reciting Kedusha and even an individual praying alone may recite this. Many great Rishonim, including the Rambam in one of his responses (Blau edition, Chapter 313), rule likewise.

Nevertheless, according to the holy Zohar (Parashat Terumah), the text recited within the “Yotzer Ohr” is likewise considered a Kedusha and if one is praying alone, one must either omit the Kedusha text from this blessing or recite it with its cantillation notes so that it is clear that one does not intend to recite a Kedusha and is merely reciting verses, for the Kedusha text is composed of verses from the prophets Yashaya and Yechezkel. Thus, if one recites these verses with their cantillation notes, this text is certainly not considered words of holiness which require a Minyan to recite them and one may recite them alone as well.

Reciting this Kedusha Along With the Congregation
Based on the above disagreement, we can infer regarding our question that if the “Kadosh, Kadosh” text in the “Yotzer Ohr” blessing is considered an actual Kedusha, one should certainly recite it along with the Chazzan. However, if it is not considered a Kedusha, one may recite it by himself as well.

Halachically speaking, Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 59) writes that since there is a disagreement between the holy Zohar and Masechet Sofrim in addition to the fact that the Rishonim disagree about this issue and that it is not explicitly addressed in the Babylonian Talmud, the Halacha follows the opinion of the holy Zohar that this text within the “Yotzer Ohr” blessing is considered an actual Kedusha and one praying alone must recite the verses of “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, Hashem Tzeva’ot Melo Chol Ha’aretz Kevodo” and “Baruch Kevod Hashem Mi’Mekomo” with their cantillation notes.

Nevertheless, the prevalent custom regarding this matter does not follow the ruling of Maran Ha’Bet Yosef. Indeed, Maran Ha’Bet Yosef himself writes that the custom is to recite the Kedusha in “Yotzer Ohr” as usual even when praying alone. Several other Acharonim rule likewise. (See Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 5, Chapter 7)

Thus, one should preferably try and be concerned with the opinion of the holy Zohar, Maran Ha’Bet Yosef, and the Poskim that this text does retain the law of an actual Kedusha and one should try to recite it with the Chazzan. However, if one has missed the opportunity to recite this blessing along with the congregation, one may recite this Kedusha alone as well but it is nevertheless preferable to recite it with its cantillation notes in such a situation.

Summary: Our Sages disagree whether or not reciting the verses of “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh” and “Baruch Kevod Hashem Mi’Mekomo” retain the law of a Kedusha which must be recited along with the congregation. Halachically speaking, one should recite this text along with the congregation, however, if one cannot do so, such as because one is praying alone, one may recite it alone as well. It is nevertheless preferable to recite it with its cantillation notes in such a situation.

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