Holiness and Kingship

  • Harav Baruch Gigi

Translated by Ora Ziring

 

  1. Where does one recite Malkhuyot?

         In two of the blessings in the Amida on Rosh Ha-shana, we mention God’s kingship.  The third blessing, “Ata kadosh” (You are holy), is expanded greatly on Rosh Ha-shana and includes a plea that all nations will recognize God's sovereignty, as they look forward to the revelation of His reign on earth.  Additionally, the fourth blessing, “Mekadesh Yisrael Ve-yom Ha-zikaron” (Who makes Israel holy and the Day of Remembrance), is integrated in the musaf prayer into the blessing of Malkhuyot (Kings). 

         The Mishna in Rosh Ha-shana (32b) records a dispute concerning the placement of the blessing of Malkhuyot in the Amida.   Rabbi Akiva argues that we should do what we do today and integrate the blessing of Malkhuyot into the fourth blessing (regarding the sanctity of the day)Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri disagrees with this approach and argues that the blessing of Malkhuyot needs to be integrated into the third blessing (regarding the sanctity of God).

         Although we rule in accordance with Rabbi Akiva and include Malkhuyot in the fourth blessing, it is possible that the expanded version of the third blessing that we say during the Rosh Ha-shana and Yom Kippur prayers is a remnant of Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri’s position. Although most of Malkhuyot is included in the fourth blessing, we also include extensive Malkhuyot material in the third blessing.

  1. Ha-Melekh ha-kadosh

         As mentioned above, on Rosh Ha-shana and Yom Kippur, in all Jewish communities, it is the custom to expand the text of the third blessing of the Amida to include prayers for the revelation of the kingdom of God in the world.  The conclusion of the blessing is also modified so as to match its expanded content: “Ha-Melekh ha-kadosh,” the holy King.

         In fact, during all Ten Days of Repentance the custom is to include expressions of kingship in the third blessing of the Amida. During these days, many congregations have the custom to conclude the third blessing with the phrase “ha-Melekh ha-kadosh.”  Yemenite communities are even accustomed to use the extended version of the blessing that we are familiar with from Rosh Ha-shana and Yom Kippur throughout the Ten Days of Repentance.

          The source of the custom to change the conclusion of the third blessing during the Ten Days of Repentance is found in the Gemara:

Rabba bar Chinena the Elder also said in the name of Rav: “In the Amida, throughout the year one says Ha-Kel ha-kadosh (the holy God) and ha-Melekh ohev tzedaka u-mishpat (the King who loves righteousness and judgment), except during the ten days between Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur, when one says, ha-Melekh ha-kadosh and ha-Melekh ha-mishpat (the King of judgment).”

Rabbi Elazar said: “Even if he said Ha-Kel ha-kadosh [during the Ten Days of Repentance] he has fulfilled his obligation, since it says, ‘But the Lord of Hosts is exalted through justice, and the holy God is sanctified through righteousness’ (Yeshayahu 5:16). When is the Lord of Hosts exalted through justice? In these ten days from Rosh Ha-Shana through Yom Kippur; and nonetheless it says Ha-Kel ha-kadosh.”

How do we rule?  Rav Yosef said: “Ha-Kel ha-kadosh and ha-Melekh ohev tzedaka u-mishpat.” Rabba said: “Ha-Melekh ha-kadosh and ha-Melekh ha-mishpat.” The law is in accordance with Rabba.  (Berakhot 12b)

From Rabbi Elazar’s words – “Even if he said Ha-Kel ha-kadosh he has fulfilled his obligation” – it seems that this person’s obligation is fulfilled only post facto.  Ideally, one should still conclude the third blessing with ha-Melekh ha-kadosh during the Ten Days of RepentanceHowever, since Rabbi Elazar cites a biblical source for his opinion, it may be argued that his position actually reflects an ideal, and that one may intentionally conclude the blessing with the phrase Ha-Kel ha-kadosh.  In fact, this is the position of the students of Rabbeinu Yonah:

         And Rabbi Elazar said that even ideally, if one desires he may say Ha-Kel ha-kadosh and ha-Melekh ha-mishpat.  The statement “if one said Ha-Kel ha-kadosh and ha-Melekh ha-mishpat he has fulfilled his obligation” [which implies that he has only fulfilled his obligation post facto] merely means that if he desires, he may say either ha-Melekh ha-kadosh or Ha-Kel ha-kadosh.  Even on an ideal level, it depends on the person’s desire.  (Berakhot, pages of Rif 7a)

         The words of Rabbi Elazar, who was an amora in Eretz Yisrael, are also cited in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Rosh Ha-shana 6:6), with two differences.  The first difference is found in the language at the conclusion of the blessing.  Instead of ha-Melekh ha-kadosh, as in the Talmud Bavli, the blessing in the Yerushalmi concludes with the words adir ha-melukha (exalted in kingship).  The second change relates to the essence of Rabbi Elazar’s opinion:

Rabbi Abahu said in the name of Rabbi Elazar: “In any place, if one incorrectly says adir ha-melukha, he does not fulfill his obligation, except in the case of Ha-Kel ha-kadosh of Rosh Ha-shana, and even then, only in musaf.”  This follows the position of Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri. (Yerushalmi Rosh Ha-shana 4:6)

         According to Rabbi Elazar, as recorded in the Yerushalmi, one should conclude the third blessing with Ha-Kel ha-kadosh even during the Ten Days of RepentanceAccording to his opinion, one who concluded with adir ha-melukha during these days did not fulfill his obligation, except during musaf of Rosh Ha-shana.  Ideally, however, one should conclude the third blessing with Ha-Kel ha-kadosh throughout the year, including Rosh Ha-shana and Yom Kippur.

         The Yerushalmi explicitly notes that the opinion of Rabbi Elazar is consistent with the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri, who says that the blessing of Malkhuyot should be integrated into the third blessingTherefore, it seems that according to Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri, the conclusion should also change to mention the kingship of God.  Thus, according to Rabbi Elazar (as recorded in the Yerushalmi), if one concludes this blessing with a phrase that mentions kingship (i.e. adir be-melukha), he has fulfilled his obligation. Ideally, he should still conclude the third blessing with Ha-Kel ha-kadosh, following the opinion of Rabbi Akiva that there is no place for malkhuyot in the third blessing. However, if he closed the blessing with adir ha-melukha, he has fulfilled his obligation post facto, in accordance with the position of Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri, as long as he mentions malkhuyot in the blessing. 

  1. The uniqueness of the first three blessings

Why doesn’t the Yerushalmi explicitly require the mention of God’s kingship in the third blessing?  It could be that the answer lies in the difference between the different blessings in the Amida.  The Gemara states:

Rav Yehuda said: “One should never petition for his needs either in the first three blessings or in the last three, but rather in the middle ones. For Rabbi Chanina said: ‘In the first ones he resembles a servant who praises his master; in the middle ones he resembles a servant who requests a gift from his master; in the last ones he resembles a servant who has received a gift from his master and takes his leave.’”  (Berakhot 34a)

However, in the Yerushalmi, that same unit appears as follows:

Rabbi Acha said in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi:  “Even the one who established this prayer did so in an order.  The first three and last three are praise, and the middle [are requests] for the needs of living creatures.”  (Yerushalmi Berakhot 3:4)

At first glance, it seems like the passages are similar. Each one makes a similar distinction between the first three blessings, the middle blessings and the three last blessings.  However, after further study, one can distinguish between the two versions. According to the Yerushalmi, the purpose of the first three blessings is to praise God, and therefore one may not add any requests to them at all.  The Bavli, on the other hand, only says that one may not ask for his own needs in the first three blessings.  However, it may be that one may still ask for the needs of the community.

         Indeed, this distinction is discussed explicitly in the responsa of the Geonim, who question why we are permitted to add requests to the first and last blessings during the Ten Days of Repentance such as “zokhreinu le-chayyim” (remember us for life), “u-khtov le-chayyim tovim kol benei beritekha” (inscribe all the members of Your covenant for a good life) and “be-sefer chayyim berakha ve-shalom… nizzakher ve-nikatev lefanekha” (in a book of life, blessing and peace… we should be remembered and inscribed before You):

And as to what you asked regarding the statement of Rav Yehuda that “one should not petition for his needs, either in the [first] three, etc.,” and it troubled you that we say zokhreinu le-chayyim in the first three and be-sefer chayyim in the last three (which is indeed the custom of the two academies [in Bavel])…

When Rav Yehuda said this, he was referring to the needs of individuals, such as when an individual asks for something he requires personally…  As proof, note that it does not say “we do not ask,” but rather “one should not ask,” referring to a personal request.  However, a communal request such as zokhreinu le-chayyim, where all of Israel needs it, we ask – and this does not contradict the statement of Rav Yehuda.

[This distinction] is certainly true between Rosh Ha-shana and Yom Kippur, when the entire world is judged, and everyone needs to petition for all of one’s needs, and at this moment [these prayers] are particularly appropriate, as these are communal needs.  There is no contradiction.   (Sha’arei Teshuva 151) 

         According to the Geonim, who follow the understanding of the Bavli, the Men of the Great Assembly established the first three blessings as blessings of praise because it is not proper to focus on one’s personal needs before praising God.  On the other hand, requests on behalf of the Jewish people – and perhaps even for the whole world, as the entire world is judged during these days – would not be considered inappropriate.  Therefore, there is reason to integrate these requests into the first three blessings. 

Thus, the additions that we are accustomed to add to the first three blessings have a universal focus.  We make requests on behalf of the entire world, without mentioning the Jewish people, and we certainly do not make any personal requests.  Even the additions that we add to the last three blessings are not personal requests, but rather deal with the Jewish people as a whole. 

We request that God should “inscribe all the members of Your covenant for a good life” and pray that “we and Your entire nation, the House of Israel” should be remembered and inscribed in a book of life, blessing and peace.  These requests are not personal, and there is therefore no reason, according to the Geonim, to refrain from adding them at the beginning and end of the Amida. However, even in the time of the Geonim, there were those who challenged this custom.  For example, the following is cited in the name of Rav Hai Gaon:

Rav Hai Gaon wrote:  “We found no mention in the Mishna or in the Talmud of ‘zokhreinu le-chayyim,’ ‘mi khamokha’ or ‘u-khtov le-chayyim’ – it is a custom.  Yet, there are those who refrain from saying these additions because these blessings are not appropriate places to petition for one’s needs.”  (Shibbolei Ha-leket, Seder Rosh Ha-shana 286) [1]

The Ramban asked the same question in his sermon for Rosh Ha-shana (Derasha Le-Rosh Ha-shana 247).  He cites a beraita in Masekhet Soferim (19:6) that seems to frown on the custom of adding zokhreinu le-chayyim in the first three blessings.  How can the Geonim dispute an explicit beraita?  To answer this question, the Ramban propounds that the dispute between the Geonim is rooted in the dispute between those who lived in Eretz Yisrael and those who lived in Babylonia, as the latter did not accept the beraita's objection to this custom. Upon examination of early manuscripts, the Ramban’s claim seems to be accurate.  In these manuscripts, which reflect the early prayer customs of Eretz Yisrael, these additions of the Ten Days of Repentance do not appear, nor is there any change in the closing of the third blessing.  It is clear that in Eretz Yisrael there were no additions to the first three blessings of the Amida on the Ten Days of Repentance, and that they closed the third blessing with the normal phrase “Ha-Kel ha-kadosh.” 

  1. Between kingship and holiness

         It seems that the dispute between the Bavli and the Yerushalmi about adding personal requests to the first three blessings of the Amida is related to their dispute regarding the conclusion of the third blessing on Rosh Ha-shana and Yom Kippur.

         According to the Bavli, the first three blessing were designed so that one might ask permission from God before asking for his own needs.  Therefore, it is not proper to make personal requests during these blessings.  However, there is no fundamental distinction between the first and middle blessings.  Therefore, one may make requests that pertain to the needs of the community in the first blessings and still remain within the bounds of propriety.  One may certainly mention the sovereignty of God in these blessings without any concern.

         According to the Yerushalmi, the purpose of the first blessings is to praise God, whereas the middle blessings are requests for the needs of living creatures.  It follows, therefore, that it is not appropriate to add requests to the first three blessings, whether they are personal requests or requests for the whole community.  It is as if the first three blessings belong to God, and thus it would be inappropriate to discuss the needs of living creatures in this context.  Even though the first two blessings mention God’s creations, the purpose of these blessings is to praise God for protecting and taking care of His creations, not to make requests on their behalf.  In the third blessing there is no mention of God’s creations at all.  The purpose of this blessing is to emphasize that the sanctity of God is not dependent on His creations.  He stands above all.  Therefore, it emphasizes the sanctity of God, the supremacy that He has over His world and the fundamental metaphysical reality of God.  Therefore, God, and not mankind and its needs, is the center of the first three blessings of the Amida

         For the same reason, the position of the Yerushalmi is that the third blessing is not an appropriate place to mention the kingship of God.  The focus of the third blessing is the holiness of God’s name as it relates to His essence.  God is holy on His own, distinct from the world, outside it and above it.  It is not important how this sublime holiness manifests itself in physical reality. This blessing is not the place to mention God’s kingship over the world, which is merely one of the earthly manifestations of His holiness and one of the ways in which God's presence is revealed on earth. Accordingly, the Yerushalmi states that one should not conclude the third blessing with a phrase that mentions the kingdom of God, as that blurs the line between God’s intrinsic sanctity and how His presence is revealed in the world.

         As we explained earlier, the Bavli does not make a dramatic distinction between the first blessings and the middle blessings.  According to the Bavli, one is permitted to mention God’s kingship in the third blessing.  This is because the revelation of God’s kingship in the world is ultimately an expression of God’s holiness.  During the Ten Days of Repentance, when God’s kingship is expressed very intensely, there is an obligation to include the notion of kingship in the third blessing and to conclude with the special text of “ha-Melekh ha-kadosh.”

         Another expression of this distinction between the Yerushalmi and the Bavli is found in the different versions of the third blessing that is recited daily throughout the year.  The version found in the Bavli, which we are accustomed to use, is as follows:

You are holy and Your Name is holy, and holy ones praise You every day, Sela. Blessed are you, Lord, the holy God.

On the other hand, the version in Eretz Yisrael (as it appears in the early manuscripts) was as follows:

You are holy and Your Name is awesome, and there is no God aside from You.  Blessed are you, Lord, the holy God.[2]

At any rate, the Babylonian version mentions not only the holiness of God, but also the fact that His creations praise Him (whether this refers to human beings or angels).  In the Eretz Yisrael version, on the other hand, the blessing stresses the intrinsic holiness of God, and limits itself to describing the power of His holiness and establishing the fact that there is no God aside from Him.[3] 

 

  1. Malkhuyot in the third blessing?

         As we saw above, there is one time of year when even the Yerushalmi concedes that we include the contents of Malkhuyot in the third blessing.  During musaf on Rosh Ha-shana, according to Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri, who rules that we include the blessing of Malkhuyot in the third blessing, one who concludes the blessing with a version that mentions kingship has fulfilled his obligation.

         It is clear that according to this understanding, the nature of the third blessing in the musaf prayer of Rosh Ha-shana is different from the nature of that blessing throughout the year.  The essence of the musaf prayer is the addition of Malkhuyot, Zikhronot and Shofarot.  The blessing of Malkhuyot is the infrastructure and foundation of the blessings of Zikhronot and Shofarot, because only someone who is King of the world can remember its inhabitants, judge them, reveal Himself to them and redeem them.[4]  Therefore, Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri maintains that during the musaf prayer of Rosh Ha-shana there is room to add an additional focus to the third blessing – one that deals not with the transcendent holiness of God, but with His kingship as it is revealed on earth.[5]

         According to Rabbi Akiva, even in musaf of Rosh Ha-shana we must maintain the distinction between the sanctity of God and His kingship, between His inherent sanctity and the way in which He rules the world.   According to his opinion, there is no room to include in the first three blessings praises that deal with the earthly manifestation of God’s kingship.  Only in the fourth blessing (kedushat ha-yom), which already discusses the relationship between God and the Jewish people and how God reveals Himself to His creations, may we add the verses of malkhuyot.  This is because these verses as well discuss God’s relationship with His world, since there cannot be a king without a nation.[6]

         As mentioned, we rule in accordance with Rabbi Akiva’s position, but at the same time we follow the fundamental understanding of the Bavli that we are permitted the mention of God's kingship in the third blessingBy the same token, we reject the understanding of the Yerushalmi that the sanctity of God, according to Rabbi Akiva, will always remain a distinct type of holiness and that all expressions of God’s revelation and His holiness must appear in the fourth blessing, next to the blessing of Malkhuyot.  Because we follow the Bavli in this regard, we include elements of kingship in the third blessing as wellHowever, we still incorporate the main blessing of Malkhuyot into the fourth blessing, which deals with the sanctity of the day.

 

 


[1] However, the Shibbolei Ha-leket also cites the position of Rabbeinu Tam and many of the Geonim that one should say these additions, as it is permitted to make communal requests in the first three blessings.  He concludes: “The common custom from our fathers is to say them, and we should not change this.”  The Avudraham (Seder Tefillat Rosh Ha-shana) cites Rav Hai Gaon as saying that we specifically should say these additions, and he supports this position from the other additions that we say in the last blessings – Ya’aleh Ve-yavo and Al Ha-nissim.  However, in truth it seems that we can reject these proofs. First, Ya’aleh Ve-yavo is part of the blessing “Who returns His presence to Zion,” which deals with the restoration of the traditional Temple service. In this context, the requests found in Ya’aleh Ve-yavo are appropriately situated, as the essential holiness of the holidays is connected to the musaf offerings.  Regarding Al Ha-nissim, there are no requests of needs at all.  Another proof that the Avudraham brings relates to the text of the last three blessings themselves, which includes requests to restore the Temple service and to bring peace and blessing to the Jewish people.  Thus, it is not clear how to justify the position of the Geonim who believe that we may not ask for anything in the last three blessings, even if they are communal requests. 

[2] See Professor Ezra Fleisher, Tefillah U-minhagei Tefillah Eretz Yisraeliim Bi-tkufat Ha-geniza (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1988), pp. 120-121. 

[3] The text of kedusha that we say before the third blessing in the repetition of the Amida originally included only two verses as well: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is filled with His glory” and “Blessed is the glory of God from His place.” The third verse, which deals with kingship – “God will rule forever” – is not mentioned.  This third verse was added to kedusha only after the position of the Bavli was accepted, according to which we add expressions of God’s kingship on earth to expressions of God’s intrinsic holiness.  The original text appears in Tosefta Berakhot 1:9.  See also Chullin 91b-92a.  Another expression of this original version of kedusha is found in the blessing of yotzer ha-meorot (the creator of the luminaries), where only the first two verses appear in its version of kedusha.  The same phenomenon reappears in the piyyutim (hymns) of the Days of Awe that contain allusions to kedusha; the third verse is not mentioned (e.g. “for the one Who sits in praise, rides the clouds, holy and blessed”).  There is a halakhic expression of the difference between the first two verses and the third as well:  One who has reached the words “my God, guard my tongue from evil” in his recitation of the silent Amida, and at that moment hears the congregation begin to recite kedusha, recites the first two verses along with the congregation, but not the third.  It should be noted that the phrase said in some congregations before the closing of the third blessing, “ki Kel melekh gadol ve-kadosh ata” (for You are a great and holy God and king), mentions both intrinsic holiness and kingship right near the end of the blessing, and in my opinion was placed there so as to allow the respective endings of the blessing throughout the year and during the Ten Days of Repentance.   

[4] A halakhic expression of this idea is found in Rosh Ha-shana 32a: “Wherever zikhronot are said, there should be malkhuyot with them.”

[5] The custom we follow in practice, to include in the third blessing of every Amida on Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur an expanded mention of God’s kingship in the world, stems from the position of the Bavli.  The Yerushalmi adopts this position only for musaf, which is based on malkhuyot, zikhronot and shofarot. 

[6] A similar idea is expressed in Adon Olam: “When all [of creation] was made by His will, then He was called King.”