Torah Tidbits

18 April 2014 / 18 Nisan 5774
Issue 1042
Shabbat Parshat Emor
April 25, 2013

Portion of the Portion

Desecrating and Sanctifying God's Name

In Vayikra 22:32, G-d warns us against profaning His holy name in any way and encourages us to sanctify His name. Sefer HaMitzvot list these as two separate mitzvot - one a negative commandment not to do anything to give G-d or His Torah a bad name, so to speak, and the second, a positive commandment of Kiddush HaShem, to enhance the reputation of G-d and His Torah.
When thinking of the concept of Kiddush Hashem, people usually think of the act of giving up one’s life in order not to transgress one of the three big sins - murder, idolatry, and adultery. What we are willing to die for teaches us what to live for. It gives more value to our lives - since we live with values that are more significant than any single individual life. This is doing a Kiddush Hashem through death.
But how does one do a Kiddush Hashem and prevent Chilul Hashem throughout his life, while he is alive, without having to give up his life?
The Gemara in Yoma (86a) lists some things that are considered a Chilul Hashem. Rambam elaborates on this in Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah (5:11). He says if a Torah scholar does things which cause people to talk against him, even if the acts are not transgressions, he is profaning G-d’s name. Examples of this are if a religious person buys something and doesn’t pay promptly (though he is able to pay), or if he doesn’t speak pleasantly to others and does not receive them with a pleasant facial expression, but is instead quarrel- some and easy to anger. The greater the person, the more careful they must be with their behavior.
“If a Torah scholar will be careful about his behavior, will speak pleasantly to people, act friendly toward them, receive them with a pleasant facial expression, will refrain from retorting when he is insulted, will honor even those who treat him in disdain, will be honest in his business dealings, will constantly devote himself to Torah study, will always go beyond the letter of the law, and will avoid extremes and exaggerations, then he will be praised and beloved and others will desire to emulate him. This man has sanctified G-d”
So another way of fulfilling the mitzva of Kiddush Hashem - to sanctify Hashem’s Name - is by performing commandments (mostly in the area of human interpersonal relationships) in a way which will cause others to wish to emulate our deeds.
These are everyday acts that we all come in contact with. They are little acts that require a big moral code of action to fulfill. For example, it is not always easy to speak nicely to people who insult you, but it is an opportunity to create a Kiddush Hashem. Everyone is constantly looking at religious Jews to find bad things to say about them, the religion, and ultimately about God. We must not give them those opportunities - rather we should act in a way that will make them bless God , Judaism and Jews.
An example of this comes into my head. This year I attended the “Reaching Higher” special program for women that was organized by Rivka Segal for the L’ayla Women learning series which meets regularly at the OU Center. The event was highlighted by inspirational talks from Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi and HaRav Yitzchak Dovid Grossman of Migdal H’Emek. The main shul at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem was filled women who had come to hear these great speakers. While Rav Grossman was in the middle of his talk, an elderly man barged into the hall and shouted something at the Rav in front of everyone. There were many ways that Rav Grossman could have reacted to this situation. He could have gotten angry at the man and shouted back at him for interrupting his speech. He could have yelled at the guards who had let a man enter and disrupt an all women event. He could have remained silent on the stage till someone removed the man from the room. He did none of those things. Instead, he greeted the man from the stage, calling him with warmth in his voice, ZADIK, gave him a blessing and the episode ended with the man leaving quietly and happily. That in my mind was a Kiddush Hashem. 
We as Jews always have to be extra good. In this time of Sefirat HaOmer when we are trying to improve our deeds, we should look to others who have been successful in doing a Kiddush Hashem and try, each one of us in our own sphere, to follow in their footsteps.
LAG BAOMER IS HERE. One segula (merit) mentioned in connection to Lag BaOmer, is to distribute “Chai (18) Rotel” (each ‘Rotel’ is approx. 3 liters, so that adds up to 54 liters) of drinks to those coming to pray at the burial-site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron. This is mentioned in a famous letter written by Rav Benzion Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe, to one of his acquaintances in 1912. Whatever the segula is, if done properly, it can be a Kiddush Hashem to give tired and thirsty people a drink without asking for anything in return. Here is a recipe for an energy drink, which I’m sure anyone making the trek to Meron would enjoy drinking -  but the custom of “chai rotel” can be done with any drink, including water.

ENERGY DRINK
1 banana, frozen & sliced
1/2 cup frozen, unsweetened strawberries
1 orange, peeled
1/2 cup low fat yogurt
1/2 cup low fat milk
2 pitted dates

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. You can play around with the amounts of all the ingredients to get the consistency and taste that you like. Add whatever fruits you like. You can even add some flax seeds as well. Enjoy!

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