The cantor sings, “Yisgadal Veyiskadash Shemay Rabbah – May His (God’s) Name be made great and sanctified.” The congregation responds with a thunderous chant, “Yehey Shmey Rabbah Mevorach Leolam Ulalmey Almayah – May God’s great name be blessed forever and ever in this world and beyond.” What does it mean that God’s name should be sanctified and made great? Isn’t it already sanctified and made great? The commentators explain that this phrase is based on the prophecy of Zechariah 14:9, which depicts the final pre-messianic war of Gog and Magog whereby the greatness of God will be noticed and felt by all.
In the world that we live in, God and Godliness is a challenge to experience. In fact the Hebrew word for world is Olam, which is directly related to the word Ne’elam, which means hidden. This implies that God and Godliness are hidden from the naked eye in our world. It is our challenge to discover and experience Godliness in our world. This is achieved through prayer, study of Torah, as well as the performance of Mitzvot.
In Parshat Beshalach we read of the war of the Israelites and Amalek. In Exodus 17:16 it states, “Vayomer Ki Yad Al Kays Kah Milchamah LaHashem BaAmalek Midor Dor –The hand of Amalek remains on the throne of God for generations.” The deeper meaning of this verse is that while we are in the era of exile, God’s presence and holiness is partially hidden from us. Therefore, we pray every day, “Yisgadal Veyiskadash Shemay Rabbah – May His (God’s) Name be made great and sanctified and Yehey Shmey Rabbah Mevorach Leolam Ulalmey Almayah – May G-d’s great name be blessed forever and ever in this world and beyond,” expressing our longing for the time when God’s presence and holiness will be felt and recognized by all.
Take Home Tip: When reciting and answering the Kaddish, we should include in our thoughts our fervent hope that Hashem should reveal His grace, sanctity and presence to the world in all of its glory.