A Thought for the Week
"Do not shame My holy name; sanctify me amongst the people of Israel, I am G-d." (Vayikra 22; 32)
This is a strange juxtaposition. Chillul Hashem is the biggest aveira. Kiddush Hashem is the biggest mitzva. One would think that the person prone to making a Chillul Hashem is very far removed from the great mitzva of making a Kiddush Hashem. What are these two people doing in the same verse?
My Rebbe (Rav Chaim Pinchus Scheinberg) once put it very succinctly. Life is very confusing and decision making is so complex. To make it easier, it is worth understanding that before acting there is really only one question that a Jew must ask himself: Will this be a Kiddush Hashem or a Chillul Hashem? It's one or the other, there is no parve.
When I first heard these words I found them quite harsh. Do we have to feel the pressure of self-evaluation all the time? If everything we do is either a mitzva or an aveira, when do we just live? Can't we just relax? Yet the difficult truth remains that there is no porch sitting for Jews.
We may resent always being judged but that doesn't change the truth. Is there any other country or nation today or throughout history that is as scrutinized by the international press as are the Jews? Whether we like it or not, every act we do, militarily or politically, is either a Kiddush Hashem or a Chillul Hashem!
The same is true for us as individuals. It may not always get into the paper, but we are always being judged. We want to disappear into the crowd, we want to just be people -- but we are Jews. When we do well we give kovod to Hashem when we don't we desecrate His holy name. The papers these past weeks are full of Kiddush Hashem and Chillul Hashem. Two hundred thousand Jews gather in Washington to support Israel - Kiddush Hashem. Fifty thousand gather on Wall Street to pray for Israel - Kiddush Hashem. The president calls Sharon a "man of peace" and Powell testifies before the Senate that, based on his visit to Israel, the Israelis are morally incapable of a massacre - Kiddush Hashem. Jews with Taleisim, beards and peyos join supporters of terror and march against Israel --Chillul Hashem!
I'd like to say a word about this unforgivable, unjustifiable and arrogant Chillul Hashem. Please don't succumb to what we as a people have been victims of. This Chillul Hashem was done by less than ten people that represent a group of a couple hundred. I've researched this. The Satmar Rebbe, who held the most extreme anti-Zionist view, forbade his Chassidim to march with the enemy. Almost all listened. If we say things like "all chassidim, all shtreimlich, all chareidim" not only are we increasing the Chillul Hashem, but in fact we are making a Chillul Hashem. It blunts our age-old answer to those who say "all Jews". Don't go there!
More than ever as a country, as a people and as individuals, we must measure our words and our actions. The reward for Kiddush Hashem is beyond imagination. In the zchus of our Kiddush Hashem may our people be blessed with peace and tranquility: the sort that only G-d can supply.
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"