Friday, May 12, 2017

Making A Kiddush Hashem

The Tolna Rebbe Shlita

“You shall not desecrate My sacred Name, and I shall be glorified amidst Bnai Yisrael.” (Vayikra 22:32) 

The Sefas Emes (Emor, 5641) explains this pasuk to mean that by ensuring to avoid any form of desecration of the Name of G-d, one thereby earns the privilege of fulfilling the great mitzva of glorifying the Name of G-d. The Torah first commands ולא תחללו את שם קדשי ,that we avoid causing chilul Hashem, because it is by avoiding chilul Hashem that we earn the privilege of achieving kiddush Hashem. The Sefas Emes references in this context the Gemara’s discussion in Maseches Yoma (86a), where several Amoraim give examples of how far they needed to go to avoid chilul Hashem.

Rav remarks that he would violate the prohibition of chilul Hashem if he would buy meat in the butcher shop on credit, without paying immediately, as this could arouse suspicion. Rabbi Yochanan said that he would create a chilul Hashem if he would walk four amos without wearing tefillin and learning. These Amoraim teach that if one acts in a manner from which people might mistakenly learn that they can be lax in their mitzva observance, then he creates a chilul Hashem. By avoiding any form of conduct that can result in chilul Hashem, one earns the privilege of achieving ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל – fulfilling the great mitzva of kiddush Hashem. The Sefas Emes also cites in this context the Mishna’s comment in Avos (4:4), whoever desecrates the Name of HKB”H in private is punished in public. Chazal teach us that  – HKB”H rewards more than He punishes – and the Sefas Emes thus concludes that if one ensures to avoid all chilul Hashem even in private, then he receives great rewards in public – meaning, he earns the privilege of creating a public kiddush Hashem. In earlier generations, the mitzva of kiddush Hashem was fulfilled in its tragic, literal sense, as many Jews were forced to sacrifice their lives for the sake of HKB”H. Nowadays, however, due to our lowly stature, HKB”H does not subject us to these kinds of tests, except in the rarest of circumstances, and the vast majority of Jews are able to observe the Torah and perform mitzvos freely, without any fear. In our time, then, we achieve kiddush Hashem through mesirus nefesh, by sacrificing our will for the sake of the will of HKB”H. And the way we achieve this lofty goal is by avoiding all forms of chilul Hashem, by ensuring that we do not act in a way that could lead others to belittle or be lax in their observance of Torah, mitzvos and Jewish customs. The Sifsei Tzadik, here in Parshas Emor (262 ), writes the following in explaining the command, 

 ולא תחללו את שם קדשי - יש בכל איש ישראל ניצוץ משמו של הקב"ה, שזהו שורש נשמת ישראל, ובאה אזהרה רבה שלא יחלל הניצוץ הקדוש הגנוז בו, אם עושין מעשה חולין הוא מזלזל באותו ניצוץ, וכשאדם זוכה ומרגיש למה נברא, לאיזו ענין כבוד שמיים הוא, ומתקן מה שנצרך, הוא ככותב שם קדושה.  

There is within every Jewish person a spark from the Name of the Almighty, which is the root of the Jewish soul. This severe prohibition warns one not to desecrate the sacred spark that is concealed within him. By committing an unholy act, one belittles that spark, whereas when one is privileged to sense why he was created, how he can bring glory to Heaven, and he corrects everything he needs to, then it is like he writes a sacred Name. 

Each and every one of us must recognize that HKB”H has part of His Name residing among us, that we are endowed with a pure, sacred soul, a חלק אלוקי ממעל – a piece of HKB”H from above – and His seal is imprinted upon our bodies. We must therefore protect this sacred Name within us by ensuring that it is not soiled and defiled by impurity. If we act, speak or even think in an inappropriate manner, this has the effect of desecrating the Name of HKB”H which is implanted within us. The Gemara in Maseches Yoma (8a) establishes that if the Name of G-d is written upon one’s skin, he may not wash that part of his body, and he may not stand in a place where there is filth. Each and every one of us has the Name of HKB”H engraved upon our souls, and if we do not take appropriate measures to protect it, we can end up defiling that Name and committing an act of  chilul Hashem, Heaven forbid. The Ba’al Ha’Tanya likewise writes (chapter 45) that one must “have compassion” for the divine spark within his being which has been sent down from the pristine heavenly realm to reside in a physical body, and one must recognize the contamination this spark endures as a result of his wrongdoing. In this vein, the Ba’al Ha’Tanya explains the pasuk in (Yeshayahu 55:7), "He [the sinner] shall return to G-d, and He shall have compassion for him” – one must return to Hashem and have mercy on the divine Name which resides within him and was contaminated through his sinful actions. We must all be mindful of the divine spark within us, and ensure to maintain the purity of our bodies so that the Name of HKB”H within us will not be defiled, Heaven forbid. The Gemara (Yevamos 63b) teaches that Mashiach will come only when all the souls in the heaven have been sent down to this world. The tzadikim teach us that in the final generations before Mashiach, the souls that descend into this world will be especially pure and sacred, hewn directly from the Heavenly Throne where they had been throughout the generations. Those exalted souls are sent to this world, into simple people growing up in simple families. We must all recognize that souls of our sons and our daughters are especially sacred, and originate from the highest, loftiest realms, thus requiring us to pay extra careful attention to their education. The Gemara (Sukka 52b) teaches, the greater a person is, the greater his yetzer ha’ra. And thus today’s children, whose souls originate from an especially lofty place in the heavens, must be very carefully guarded and protected from the traps set by the yetzer ha’ra. We must bear in mind that, as the Gemara there comments, "A person's evil inclination  overcomes him every day and tries to kill him. If the Almighty would not help him, he would be unable to withstand it.” Therefore, we must utilize every strategy we can to protect our children so the sacred Name within them is not defiled, which would cause a 'ה חילול ,Heaven forbid. The only way to overpower the yetzer ha’ra is the way which Chazal taught us בראתי יצר הרע ובראתי לו תורה תבלין, ואם אתם עוסקים בתורה, אין אתם נמסרים בידו. I created an evil inclination, and I created Torah as its antidote. If you engage in Torah, you will not fall into its hands. (Kiddushin 30b) The Gemara there also teaches: אם פגע בך מנוול זה, משכהו לבית המדרש. אם אבן הוא, נימוח, ואם ברזל הוא, מתפוצץ. If this despicable being [the evil inclination] confronts you, drag it to the study hall. If it is like stone, it will dissolve; and if it is like iron, it will burst. The power of Torah is the only force that can overcome the force of the yetzer ha’ra. By engaging intensively in Torah learning with joy and vitality, and by ensuring not to defile in any way the sacred Name within us through our actions, we will have the privilege of glorifying HKB”H in this world. If we commit ourselves to work to oppose the yetzer ha’ra with all our might, and to devote ourselves as much as we can to Torah learning, we will succeed in preserving our sanctity and purity, and in preserving the sanctity of the divine Name that is engraved within each and every one of us, and we will then be worthy of having the Shechina reside among Am Yisrael and within each and every member of our nation. 

[Adapted by R' David Silverberg]