Kadosh” means “holy” or to be “separated from.” This week’s Torah portion is called Kedoshim. In it, the Jewish People are referred to as “kadosh”/”holy” three times. Each time, the bible repeats that the people are holy because their God is holy. There is a prayer, called the Kedusha, which features the threefold repetition of the word “kadosh.” This prayer is repeated each morning service, you guessed it- three times. What’s up with this?

The midrash compares this to a kingdom whose citizens made three crowns for their king. With one they crowned their ruler but the remaining two they kept for themselves. They explained: Even though all citizens have some measure of authority, the king’s authority is singular and cannot be compared to an ordinary citizen. The unique status of the king is represented by the king’s crown. The people retain two crowns to symbolize that being sanctified cannot mean being separated from one another. A king is separate and apart from his subjects, but ordinary citizens typically must band together in order to make a positive difference. Wearing the crown means the individual matters. When I realize my neighbor may also wear the crown of being created in the image of God, then I can begin to recognize what it means to be holy. “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh” – God is holy, there is a spark of holiness in me. And in you.

B’yedidut (w/friendship),

Rabbi Mitch Levine