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Kadosh/Sacredness/Serial Relationships/Breaking Up

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

The Hebrew root KDS (kaf, dalet, shin) ties together separateness and sacredness. making them essentially the same thing. In a Jewish wedding kiddushin is the sanctification of the two partners to each other, separating them from being available to others. Kiddush is the blessing over wine or grape juice to make holy and separate Shabbat or a holiday from mundane days. Kaddish is the prayer for the dead, generally said only by those closest to the deceased, and it is also the marker of separation between sections of the liturgy.


Your significant other, partner, girlfriend, committed set of polyamorous relationships, are important to you. They are also set apart by you. We, in essence, separate these people from the mass of humanity and take them to ourselves as special, separate, sacred. You may find the word “sacred” too much: either alienating because of its association with religion, or because you find it melodramatic. I don’t. I find that I do make someone sacred and separate to myself, even when, frankly, the relationship does not merit my doing so. There is simply a momentum to having sex with someone and spending a lot of time together and gathering a timeline of shared experiences that makes them and our time together importantly and essentially different for me. I don’t just separate them because they appear as sacred to me, but I make them sacred by separating them to myself. Maybe profoundly experiencing the sacredness in every individual is something that tzadikim and saints can do, but it is beyond my abilities and beyond even my aspirations.


What culture in history has ever had such a widespread pattern of serial relationships as the primary way a large portion of the population arranges their lives? Our society is far behind in helping us navigate this reality. What are the rituals for the intense involvement in and loss of so many relationships? Not one or two, but five or eight or fifteen? How do you believe in the specialness, the sanctity of the twelfth person you have pulled from the shelf of humanity, the twelfth you have made sacred to yourself? How do you profoundly risk yourself again? Besides late night phone calls to best friends and ill-advised appearances on talk shows, what rituals are offered by our culture?


How do you return someone to the mass of humanity, how do you de-sanctify them? Do you find a middle place of specialness but not fully separated sanctification? Particularly in monogamous relationships, when can you de-sanctify them enough to make a place to separate and make sacred to yourself another person? And how do you manage when someone you are apart from releases you back in to the wash of humanity before you have released them? And what is more horrifying: when you can’t or when you can?