Three Sanctified Entities

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Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik

by R. Aharon Ziegler

Although the HaGadah from which we read at the Seder of Pesach asks, “Who knows three?” and he answers that the three refers to the Avot-Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov, the fact is that there are many more aspects of Judaism that come with the number three.

Similarly, the Midrash Yalkut Shimoni [830] states that there are three sanctified entities in this world that have Kedusha-the name of GD, the Shabbat, and the people of Israel. Yet, here too, the question begs, we know of many other entities of Kedusha, for example, the Land of Israel, the Bet Hamikdash and the Chagim, to name a few, which the Midrash seems to ignore. To this, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, addressed his remarks and declared that the midrash only lists those Kedushot that were created by GD Himself, for all other manifestations of Kedusha in this world are, in fact, secondary, derived from the sanctity of Israel.

For example, it was the Jewish people who sanctified the Land of Israel, and the Bet HaMikdash. Likewise, it was the Jewish people, through their Bet Din HaGadol{High Court] who endowed every Yom Tov with its Kedusha through its jurisdiction over the calendar. And even the holiest object in our religion which is the Sefer Torah has its Kedusha endowed through the Sofer, who writes it and sanctifies it.

Only the Kedusha of Shabbat preceded the election of the nation of Israel, as the Ribbono Shel Olam Himself sanctified that day at the time of creation: “And GD blessed the seventh day and He hallowed it” (Bereshit 2;3). For this reason, the Shabbat Kiddush concludes with the Bracha, “Blessed are You, HaShem, who sanctifies the Shabbat”, as opposed to the Yom Tov Kiddush which closes with the phrase, “Blessed are You, HaShem, who sanctifies Israel and the Festivals.” The gemara Pesachim [117b] explains that since the people of Israel create the Kedusha of Yom Tov, we refer to them in the Kiddush blessing, but we do not mention the people of Israel in the Shabbat Kiddush because the sanctity of Shabbat flows directly from the Creator Himself.

About Aharon Ziegler

Rabbi Aharon Ziegler is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Agudath Achim of Boro Park and the Dean and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Agudath Achim. He is the author of six volumes of Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

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