Holiness in Repetition

April 28, 2022

Although this week we are blessed with another double Torah portion, Achrei Mot-Kedoshim, I wanted to focus on an interesting repetition (some would claim redundancy) that occurs in the second Torah portion, Kedoshim, (translated as “holy [people]”).

In previous columns, I have written about several redundant, or seemingly redundant, phrases in the Torah. However, this week, I consciously differentiated the characteristics between redundancy and repetition. When Gd is redundant in the Torah, there is an immediate duplication and repetitive reference to a commandment, message, or elaboration in the text. Yet, the repetitive message in this week’s text bookends a laundry list of divine commandments through which we are to sanctify ourselves to the holiness of Gd:

“You shall be holy, for I, your Gd, am holy” 19:2

“You shall be holy to Me, for I Gd am a holy Gd” 20:26

Repetition is something we see time and again in our traditions. There is the annual repetition of our weekly Torah portions. There is the traditional repetition of the Amidah prayer in the daily service. There is the thrice-repeated word kadosh-kadosh-kadosh from the text in Isaiah 6:3. And there is the duplicate tzedek-tzedek tirdof (“justice, justice, shall you pursue”). Repetition is used to demonstrate that an action, behavior, or concept is so important that even if we change, the conduct must be perpetuated.

Similarly, this is the purpose of the Jewish Federation. Since 1928 the Jewish Federation of San Antonio has repeated a process of (a) convening the community, (b) planning for the community’s future, and (c) securing the resources to take care of the community needs.

A wonderful example of this annual repetitive process was the result of the Federation’s Grants Distribution Committee (GDC). After reviewing numerous applications, the GDC has recommended over $42,000 for Jewish Overnight Camps, College & University Scholarships, Jewish Overnight High Schools, and local community agency Micro-Program Grants.

These funds are in addition to the more than $600,000 that has been sent to support Ukrainian refugees and communities in crisis this year, which is also above and beyond the more than $1.3 Million that was allocated to our community agencies to support indigent and vulnerable Jews, seniors, families, children, and other programming across our San Antonio community.

Repetition has its purpose, and being “holy,” the message of this week’s repetition has its purpose too. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel so eloquently said, “Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”

This week, let us all live up to our Gd-given holiness and find a behavior or action that someone in our life appreciates and/or needs, and let us repeat that action in their support. Because we are…



Shabbat Shalom,