"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Making a Kiddush Hashem

Making a Kiddush Hashem
Rabbi Y. Oliver

A Jew must set a living example for one and all of proper conduct, for he represents G–d. This is the idea of making a kiddush Hashem, sanctifying G–d’s Name.

The Talmud explains:
“You shall love the L–rd your G–d” (Devorim 6:5): The Name of Heaven should become beloved through you. One should read Scripture, learn Mishnah, and serve Torah scholars, and his dealings with people should be conducted pleasantly. What do people then say of him? “Fortunate is his father who taught him Torah. Fortunate is his teacher who taught him Torah. Woe unto people who do not learn Torah. This person who learned Torah, see how pleasant are his ways, how refined are his deeds.” Of him Scripture says: “He [G–d] said to me, ‘You are My servant, Israel, through whom I am glorified.’” (Yeshaya 49:3)
Yoma 86a.
In other words, when we do not behave as we should, others interpret our actions as reflecting upon the values that we profess to stand for. Since we hold those values dear, and do not want people to think less of them—on the contrary, we want others to adopt them, if possible—we need to be extra careful not to allow our own weaknesses to give G–d and the Jewish people a bad name; on the contrary, we should make every effort to behave in a friendly, decent manner, one that will reflect favorably upon G–d and the Jewish people.

This is despite the fact that in reality one’s undesirable behavior does not stem from the Torah, but from his personal weakness. All Jews are “believers the sons of believers” (
Shabbos 97a), yet they may sin because they choose to give in to their evil inclination, which does not care to follow the Code of Jewish Law.

However, an outsider will not interpret the action he observes in this way. He will only see the action itself, and extrapolate from the action that such behavior conforms to the values of Torah.

This concept applies not only in terms of one’s behavior in the eyes of gentiles, not-yet-observant Jews, or peers; it also applies when relating to anyone who is in some sense on a lower level than oneself, for whatever reason. They may be:
  • less knowledgeable
  • coming from a less observant background
  • less particular in observance of Mitzvos
  • it applies in terms of the difference between Yissochor, those devoted to full-time Torah study, and Zevulun, those in the workforce, who should look to Yissochor for inspiration
To a far lesser degree it would seem to apply even when in the presence of someone on a much higher level, in the sense that everything that happens in a person’s environment has an impact upon him or her.

Hashem help us to always remember the importance of making a kiddush Hashem, and may we always succeed at doing so.

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