Welcome to “Share a Prayer” a quick look at a prayer that is found in our daily, Shabbat or Holy Day Prayer Service. Often during the course of the service we encounter some real gems that we don’t have time to reflect upon; this will give us an opportunity to select one prayer and take a closer look at it.
Our sages who framed the prayer book felt that it would be wise to conclude our weekday morning prayers with a measure of holiness. Thus they included in the Siddur the prayer, Uva L’Tzion (“God has assured redeemer for Zion”.) Technically, this prayer is referred to as the Kedusha D’Sedra or the Kedusha of the Torah Portion.Kedusha, or “Holiness Prayer” is the name given to the Prayer of Sanctification of God – we are most familiar with the Kedusha in the context of that portion of the Amidah recited responsively with the Prayer Leader. A similar formulation can be found in theKedusha D’Yotzer, part of the Blessings which surround the recitation of the Shema.
The core of any Kedusha is the verse, “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh… Holy, Holy, Holy is The Lord of Hosts; the whole world is filled with His Glory” (Isaiah 6:3.) In this passage, the prophet describes his vision of a chorus line of celestial beings bouncing up and down while uttering these significant words of sanctification. In Uva L’Tzion, biblical selections which comprise the Kedusha are rendered together with Aramaictranslations, a combination designed to make the text more accessible; they are also embellished with other content resulting in a prayer rich in concepts and meaning.
Although the origin of this powerful prayer is not precisely known, it is clear because of its name, that Uva L’Tzion is associated with the study of Torah. We also know that Uva L’Tzion was given great significance by our Talmudic sages such as Rashi, the most famous biblical commentator. Ismar Elbogen, the renowned liturgical scholar cites a resposum by the 9th Century Rabbi Natronai Gaon who traces the origin of theKedusha D’ Sedra to the practice of holding a Torah study at the end of morning services. At the conclusion of the lesson, according to this source, several prophetic verses were recited together with the verses of the Kedusha which were then translated in Aramaic. Gradually, Elbogen explains, conditions were no longer conducive to following the service with Torah study and the inclusion in the service of the U’va L’tzion prayer evolved as a substitution for a formal lesson.
God’s righteousness and faithfulness to the covenant with our ancestors is one of the salient notions expressed in this text. We also find words which we often associate withHavdala, the prayer of separation between Shabbat and weekday; Adonia Tz’vaot Emau… “The Lord of Hosts is with us and protects us …The Lord will answer when we call to Him.” In a different section of this prayer in a form reminiscent of the Aliya or Torah Blessings, God, is praised for creating us in His glory and implanting within us the possibility of eternal life through perpetuation of the lessons of the Torah.
For me it is the bottom line of the prayer that truly resonates and underlines the significance that the sages gave to Uva L’Tzion; ”Baruch Ha Gever Asher Yivtach Ba’Adoniai … Happy is the person who can trust in God and Have God as a source of security.” Uva L’Tzion reminds us that God will always be there for those of us who “know God’s name (Yodeia shemech)” that is to say; we who have a personal relationship with God will always be able to count on God as source of strength, support and comfort.