Angels Among Us

There’s a section in the Amidah called the Kedushah, which means “holiness”. We bow to our left, we bow to our right, and then we respond “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh,…” while raising our heels on each of these words.

It’s a special moment during which we aren’t permitted to speak or to move and it is one that we cannot utter alone; we must have a minyan, a quorum.

It begins by evoking Isaiah’s vision of seraphim who, in the presence of God’s throne, pronounce: “Holy, holy, holy, Adonai Tz’va’ot, the grandeur of the world is God’s glory.” So when we turn to the left and to the right, we are re-enacting the movements of these angels. We imagine that we are looking at these angels and that they are standing at either side of us. Beyond that, we symbolically turn ourselves into angels for that moment. We elevate ourselves.

We don’t do it throughout the prayer. We do it sparingly and only for a brief moment. By doing so, we are reminded that holiness, that being the ultimate good and moral being that we can be, is attainable. But we can’t expect to attain that level every second of the day. It is something to strive for. The reality is that we are human. We can strive for greater character, and we can reach it, but it is unfair to ourselves to think that we can be that all the time.

The fact that each of us can be an angel is empowering. It also tells us that no other individual is inherently holier than us. It’s spiritual. It’s empowering. It’s democratizing.

The fact that we can only recite this section in the company of others, when there is a minyan, is also deeply meaningful. We are not expected to reach this level of holiness alone. We can only be truly Godly in the presence of our peers.

May our congregation continue to bring about the best in us. May we be inspired by the bonds of our community and by the words of the Torah and of our prayers to act in a Godly way, one that helps foster a true kahal kadosh. May we recognize that there are angels in our midst; just look in the mirror.