Uva L’tzion: The Aramaic Verses

The uva l’tzion prayer is recited at the end of the weekday Shacharit, at mincha on Shabbat and holidays, and at ne’ilah on Yom Kippur. It consists of a series of scriptural verses which include the familiar Kedusha along with its Aramaic translation, referred to in this context as the “kedusha d’sidra.” It then continues with prayers for success in Torah study and that we merit to see the Messianic era. Some say that the reason kedusha d’sidra is recited as part of uva l’tzion is because of an ancient governmental decree that forbade reciting kedusha as part of the chazarat hashatz. The guards sent to ensure that the decree was being observed would leave the synagogue after the chazarat hashatz thereby allowing it to be secretly recited at the end of the service.[1]

Uva l’tzion is considered to be among the most important prayers we have. As the Talmud says, “Now that the Beit Hamikdash is destroyed with, what merit does the world exist? It is in the merit of the kedusha d’sidra and the yehei shmei rabba [recited after Torah study] …”[2] It is explained that these two prayers are special because they both involve Torah study and praising God - two very important activities. Indeed, one who is unable to properly study Torah each day ultimately fulfills his obligation to do so with the recitation of uva l’tzion.[3]

One should be sure to recite uva l’tzion together with the congregation.[4] Reciting it together with the congregation is so important that some authorities rule that one who is lagging behind in the prayers or one who comes late to the synagogue should recite uva l’tzion together with the congregation and then resume the regular order of prayers.[5] Nevertheless, common custom is to recite the prayers in their proper order even if it means having to recite uva l’tzion alone.[6] One should not remove one’s tefillin[7] or leave the synagogue[8] before uva l’tzion is recited.

Although the kedusha is recited at two other times during Shacharit, as part of the birchos kriat shema and as part of the chazarat hashatz, only in uva l’tzion is it recited along with its Aramaic translation. This is because, in ancient times, Aramaic was the spoken language and not everyone understood Hebrew. As such, some of the prayers were recited in Aramaic in order to ensure that everyone would understand them. Examples of such prayers include kaddish and the opening passage of the Haggada “ha lachma anya.” Indeed, in ancient times every Torah reading was accompanied with a near simultaneous Aramaic translation to ensure that everyone in the synagogue understood what was being read. Here too, the kedusha in uva l’tzion is recited along with its Aramaic translation to ensure that everyone fully understood at least one kedusha each day.

It is worth noting that the third verse of the kedusha d’sidra is “Hashem Yimloch L’eolam Va’ed” and not the more familiar concluding Kedusha verse of “yimloch Hashem l’olam…”. This is because “yimloch” does not have an Aramaic translation and, therefore, a similar verse with an Aramaic translation was chosen to fill its place.

Widespread custom is to recite the kedusha d’sidra quietly.[9] One who is praying alone, however, is permitted to recite it out loud. According to most authorities, the Hebrew verses should always be recited out loud while the Aramaic verses should always be recited silently.[10]  One of the reasons for this is to ensure that the Aramaic verses are not recited in unison as is done for the Hebrew verses.[11] Many authorities, however, are not particular on how the Aramaic verses are recited and permit reciting them out loud in all circumstances.[12] There are those who are particular to stand when reciting the kedusha d’sidra,[13] though most others recite it while seated, as is the ruling of the Zohar and other kabbalists.[14]

Some say that the kedusha d’sidra was only intended to be recited with a minyan. According to this approach, one who is praying alone should recite it with the tune of the Torah. Common custom, however, is to allow even one praying alone to recite it normally.[15]

[1] Sefer Hapardes p. 305; Shibolei Haleket 44; Tzlota D’avraham 1:380.

[2] Sota 49a.

[3] Rashi, Sota 49a.

[4] Mishna Berura 125:3.

[5] Magen Avraham 132; Ishei Yisrael 26:7.

[6] Aruch Hashulchan, OC 132:3; Shaar Hatziun 132:3; Kaf Hachaim, OC 132:8.

[7] OC 25:13.

[8] OC 132:2; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 25:4.

[9] Taz, OC 132:1.

[10] Rema, OC 132:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 25:3; Mishna Berura 132:4; Shaarei Teshuva, OC 132:2; Kaf Hachaim, OC 132:10.

[11] Shaarei Teshuva, OC 132:2; Mishna Berua 132:4.

[12] Shaarei Teshuva, OC 132:2; Kaf Hachaim, OC 132:10.

[13] Shevet Halevi 6:13.

[14] Kaf Hachaim, OC 59:20,

[15] Yabia Omer 5:7:2.