The third blessing of ‘the ‘Amida is also the shortest blessing of this Tefila. In this berakha we declare that HaShem is “qadosh”, that His name is “qadosh” and that those who praise Him every day, the people of Israel, are “qedoshim” (plural of qadosh).
HaShem, His Name and His people are: “qadosh”. What does this refer to? Understanding the word “qadosh” would help us solve this puzzle.
It is impossible to translate this Hebrew term with a single word in English. “Qadosh” has a very broad semantic field, that is, it has several meanings that somehow relate to each other. Depending on the context, “qadosh” might mean “special”, “unique”, “different”, “consecrated for a mission”, “exclusive” and sometimes means “inaccessible” or “out of reach”.
An example containing almost all the meanings of “qadosh”: in Hebrew קידושין “quiddushin” (of the same root as “qadosh” קדש) means “marriage”. When a man marries, he “consecrates” a woman as his wife. For him she is now מקודשת “unique”, “special” and “different” from the rest of the women. At the same time, being consecrated to her husband, this woman is now in terms of marriage, “inaccessible” and “out of reach” for any other man.
Let’s go back to our Berakha. When we say “qadosh” in reference to HaShem, we refer to this latter meaning of “qadosh”. We are recognizing our limitations to perceive “the reality of God” (so to speak).
אתה קדוש. By saying “[HaShem] You are Qadosh” we affirm that God is beyond our intellectual reach. “God ad intra remains hidden to us. Why do we emphasize this message here, at the end of these blessings of” praise “? During the two previous berakhot of praise, we have naturally referred to the intervention of HaShem in history to protect Israel, we have affirmed that He is Great, Mighty and Revered, etc. In the second Berakha we described how HaShem directs His Planet, humanity and His People. We have praised His power, His actions, His blessings and His miracles. Now, by saying ATA QADOSH, we are transmitting a very important message: a (epistemological) disclaimer, recognizing that no matter how much we have spoken of His actions, we can not presume that we really “know” HaShem. ATA QADOSH is a declaration of humbleness. Our admission of smallness and limitations before the Creator of the universe
ושמך קדוש And “Your Name is qadosh”. We also recognize that although we have articulated and pronounced His name several times during the ‘Amida, we are unable to grasp the nature of His Name. HaShem’s name of four letters conveys the idea of infinity and eternity, concepts that are definitelybeyond our intellectual capacities. And something else: we recognize that despite praising Him and His name, we have not done it “exhaustively” (= leaving nothing out). What we have just said about HaShem refers only to the little we understand about Him, from our very narrow human perspective. An almost identical message constitutes the core of the “qaddish” (also of the same root קדש). In the Qaddish, after praising HaShem with no less than eight different adjectives, we say לעלא מן כל ברכתא “Your praise is still beyond any praise that can be said of You.”
וקדושים בכל יום יהללוך סלה. The people of Israel are called “qedoshim”. In this context “qadosh” or “qedoshim” is not referring to as our inaccessibility to the knowledge of HaShem or to our limitations. Here “qedoshim” means: “consecrated”, “different from the rest, as to one’s mission”. Qedoshim refers to “us”, the individuals of the Jewish people, who consecrate ourselves to HaShem, and praise Him every day, as much as we are able to do so.