Tazria/Metzora Bulletin in PDF format

There is a minhag to raise one’s heels during kedusha, while saying kadosh..kadosh..kadosh..(3 times); once while saying baruch kevod;and once while saying yimloch…

There is NO known source for turning to the right and left while saying vekara zeh el zeh ve’amar.

The negative power of speech is brought out so clearly by the punishment of tza’ra’as.Talking is arguably the most prevalent act we consciously do —we must gain control over what we say–and, as the Halacha dictates, where we say it (e.g, in Shul).

(after the above was distributed, the Rav received an email from Rabbi Ari Enkin on this topic. The Rav wrote “Everyone should buy ALL of Rabbi Enkin’s sefarim, and gain from his knowledge in all areas of Halacha and minhag!!”)

From: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Dear Rav Malinowitz

The BTYA email states that there is no source for turning to the right and left in Keduash (vkara zeh el zeh). I wrote a chapter on this which I thought I would share with you. Please see below.

Warmest regards,

Ari Enkin

Kedusha: V’kara Zeh El Zeh V’amar

There is a widespread practice to bow to the right, to the left, and then towards the center, at the words “V’kara Zeh El Zeh V’amar” when reciting Kedusha. This mysterious and ambiguous practice is actually without any authentic source at all. It is noted that there are no records of any great Ravs in earlier generations ever doing so.[1] Nevertheless, the practice has become somewhat mainstream and over the years a number of interpretations have been offered to rationalize it.

The siddur “Tefila L’David” of the Lelover Chassidim says that when one recites the “V’kara Zeh El Zeh V’amar” one should bow to the right and then to the left as if one is soliciting authorization to praise God. [2] One will note that the opening line of the Kedusha is a declaration of our desire to praise God just like the angels do so in Heaven. We are told that when the angels praise God with the threefold declaration of “Kadosh”, they first call out to each other in order to praise Him in unison. Since the angels stand on either side of God, bowing to the right and left is intended to request permission from them to praise Him as they do.[3]

Similarly, it is also suggested that bowing to the right and left represents the members of the congregation turning to one another in order to praise God as one, just like the angels do. This emphasizes the vital aspect of achdut, unity, during prayer – a unity characteristic of the angels. Indeed, there was once a custom, now extinct, not to bow right and left at “V’kara Zeh El Zeh V’amar,” but rather to wave one’s hands towards others in one’s proximity. This too, symbolized the efforts of unity, ensuring that everyone was united and ready to join as one for the recitation of Kedusha.[4]

Some commentators explain that bowing to the right and left is intended to recall that God is praised from all sides by the Heavenly hosts. It may also have been a custom created to display humility before reciting the praises of the angels, and in fact, a form of requesting permission from Him to do so. It is worth noting that bowing from side to side is also practiced elsewhere, such as in Birkat Kohanim, Oseh Shalom in Kaddish and the end of Shemoneh Esrei, and at Bo’i Kallah in Lecha Dodi.

Other sources seem to point to the liturgical song of “Amitzei Shechakim”, which is recited on Yom Kippur, as the source for the custom to bow at Kedusha. The “Amitzei Shechakim” prayer mentions the angels turning to “every side” when reciting the Kedusha praises. It appears from all sources that bowing at “V’kara Zeh El Zeh V’amar” is related to the angels in one way or another. There is also a theory based on the Zohar[5] that bowing to the right and left is intended to recall the rainbow and the story of Noach.[6]

It is interesting to note that in addition to the custom of turning to the right, left, and center at the words “V’kara Zeh El Zeh V’amar”, there was once a custom, based on the teachings of the Arizal, to do so each time one said the words “Kadosh” in Kedusha. The Arizal taught that each of the three words “Kadosh” in “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh” represents a different intellectual attribute. The first one represents kindness elevated by wisdom, which emanates from the right side.[7] The second represents strength elevated by understanding, which emanates from the left side. The third represents beauty elevated by knowledge, which emanates from the center.[8] Our desire to achieve these mystical manifestations is one of the explanations for the custom to rise on one’s toes while saying “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh.”[9] Some people have the custom to rise on their toes a little higher each time “Kadosh” is recited[10] while other sources indicate that there is no need for this custom.

Although most individuals begin “V’kara Zeh El Zeh V’amar” movements with the right side, some authorities say that there is no reason to prefer one side over the other,[11] even though there is a general rule that the right side is to be given preference, whenever possible. [12] It should be noted that there is a custom for only the chazzan, not the congregation, to recite the opening line of Kedusha. According to this view, the opening line of Kedusha is for the one leading the prayer, in which he seeks permission on behalf of the congregation to praise God with the Kedusha prayer.[13]


[1] Az Nidberu 13:32:3.

[2] Cited in Minhag Yisrael Torah, OC 125:2.

[3] Yeshayahu 6:3; Shivat Tzion Vol. 2 p.117.

[4] Kaf Hachaim (Rav Palagi) 15:1; Ben Ish Chai, Beshalach.

[5] Parshat Noach, cited in MinhagYisrael Torah O.C. 125:2

[6] Cited in Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 125:2

[7] For more on these attributes and their mystical manifestations, see: http://www.aish.com/sp/k/48956916.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sephirot.

[8] Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 125:2.

[9] Rivevot V’yovlot 3:66. See also Sefer Kushiot 173 and 163.

[10] Kaf Hachaim (Palagi) 15:60.

[11] Az Nidberu 13:32.

[12] Sota 15b, Zevachim 62b, Minhag Yisrael Torah 134:1.

[13] Az Nidberu 13:32.