The longest and most intense of the Yom Kippur services is called Mussaf. It corresponds to the additional sacrificial offerings that were brought in the days of the Temple (see Numbers 29:7-11).
The intensity of Mussaf reaches its most climactic moment at the prayer called the Kedushah, in which we raise our voices in concert with the angelic multitudes who constantly surround God throne, crying, “Holy, holy, holy!” Thus we sanctify God’s name on earth just as it is sanctified by the angels in heaven.
Here, at the Kedushah, is the moment that catches you by surprise. The prayer leader (called the chazzan) suddenly begins to describe how the Messiah, through his intense suffering, piercing, and wounds, procures forgiveness for our sins.
The rabbi does not stir or act alarmed. The congregation continues in fervent prayer as if nothing unusual has happened. That is because this is a portion of a common Yom Kippur prayer called Az Milifnei Vereshit that has been used in synagogues for centuries.
This prayer elaborates on a concept found in the Gemara, in b.Pesachim 54a and b.Nedarim 39b: “Seven things were created before the world was created: the Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the throne of glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah.” This prayer also alludes to the assertion of the Sages (b.Sanhedrin 98b) that Yinnon is one of the Messiah’s names (based on a creative interpretation of Psalm 72:17)
The passage can be found in volume 2 of the famous Machzor Kol Bo:
Then, prior to creation,
he established the Temple and Yinnon.
The Talpiot above from the beginning,
he prepared before any people or language.
He decided to let his presence reside there,
to guide the mistaken in straight paths.
If the wicked are reddened (by sin),
let them wash and be cleansed beforehand.
If (God’s) fierce wrath is incited,
the Holy One will not awaken his full rage.
So far, our wealth has depleted,
but our Rock has not touched us.
Our righteous Messiah has turned away from us;
we have acted foolishly; there is no one to justify us.
Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions
he bears, and he is pierced for our transgressions.
He carries our sins on his shoulder,
to find forgiveness for our iniquities.
By his wounds we are healed,
forever a new creation; the time of his creation.
Bring him up from the circle;
lift him out of Seir.
To summon us to the mount of Lebanon
a second time through Yinnon. (translated by Aaron Eby)
Kedushah, which means holiness, is the sanctification of God’s name during the Amidah prayer. Below is the text for when it is said during weekday morning services.
נַקְדִּישָׁךְ וְנַעֲרִיצָךְ כְּנֹעַם שִׂיחַ סוֹד שַׂרְפֵי קֹדֶשׁ, הַמְשַׁלְּשִׁים לְךָ קְדֻשָּׁה. כַּכָּתוּב עַל יַד נְבִיאֶךָ: וְקָרָא זֶה אֶל זָה וְאָמַר: קָדוֹש, קָדוֹש, קָדוֹש, יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת. מְלֹא כָל הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ. לְעֻמָּתָם מְשַׁבְּחִים וְאוֹמְרִים: בָּרוּךְ כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה מִמְּקוֹמוֹ. וּבְדִבְרֵי קָדְשְׁךָ כָּתוּב לֵאמֹר: יִמְלֹךְ יְהֹוָה לְעוֹלָם אֱלֹהַיִךְ צִיּוֹן לְדֹר וָדֹר, הַלְלוּיָהּ.
We will sanctify You and revere You, like the pleasant conversation, of the assembly of the holy Serafim (angels) that recite holiness thrice before You. And as it is written by Your prophet: And one calls to the other & says: Holy, Holy, Holy is the L·rd of hosts. the entire world is filled with His glory. Those facing them, give praise & say: Blessed is the honor of the L·rd from His place. And in Your holy words it is written, stating: The L·rd will reign forever, your G·d, oh zion, for every generation, Halleluy·ah. (Praise G·d!)
אַתָּה קָדוֹשׁ, וְשִׁמְךָ קָדוֹשׁ, וּקְדוֹשִׁים בְּכָל יוֹם יְהַלְלוּךָ סֶּלָה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יֹהֵוָהֵ, הָאֵל הַקָּדוֹשׁ: בעשרת ימי תשובה: הַמֶּלֶךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ
You are Holy, and Your Name is holy, and Your holy ones will praise You every day forever. Blessed are You L·rd the Holy G·d.
Minchah, the afternoon before YOM KIPPUR
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You HASHEM, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Ps 19:15)
אֱלֹהֵינו Our God and the God of our forefathers, may our prayer come before You, and do not ignore our supplication for we are not so brazen and obstinate as to say before You HASHEM that we are righteous. Rather, we have sinned. (Ps 88:2, Ps 55:1, Ps 106:6)
We have turned away from Your commandments and from Your good laws but to no avail. (Job 33:27)
What can we say before You, Who dwells on high, and what can we relate to You, Who abides in the highest heavens – for indeed, everything that is hidden and revealed You know. You know the secrets of the universe, and the innermost mysteries of all the living. You test thoughts and emotions, and nothing is concealed from Your eyes. And so may it be Your will HASHEM that You pardon us all our iniquities and atone for all our willful sins. (Prov 20:27)