Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FOOD FOR THOUGHT- Desecrating G-d’s name

This week’s parsha, Emor, continues with Hashem commanding,  “And you shall not desecrate My Holy Name!” (Vayikra 22:32).

There are three cardinal laws where a Jew must die to sanctify Hashem’s name. If someone threatens his life, telling him he must murder, worship idols, or commit adultery, he must sacrifice his life to avoid desecrating G-d’s name. However, if he is threatened with his life to commit any other sin, i.e. breaking Shabbot or keeping kosher, he may transgress the Torah to preserve his life. However, if ten Jews are together, and a non-Jew bids one man to sin, the man must sacrifice himself rather than sin. Moreover, during times of religious persecution, when upholding any Jewish law would lead to death, a Jew must sacrifice himself for upholding even a minor Torah mitzvot.

From all this, we can see the gravity of desecrating Hashem’s name. As Jewish people, who have been persecuted and discriminated throughout the centuries, it is our responsibility to continue observing the Torah and sanctifying Hashem’s name and glory. By doing that, not only are we fulfilling this mitzvah, but we are giving honor to those who sacrificed themselves for G-d name, and we are making sure that their lives were not lost in vain.

Moreover, the parsha continues with the verse, “And I shall be sanctified in the midst of Bnai Israel” (Vayikra 22:32). Not only does the parsha prohibit us from desecrating Hashem’s name, but also it commands us to sanctify His name. This mitzvah teaches us that we must do whatever possible, even give up our own lives in order to sanctify Hashem’s existence in this world.
In today’s society, thankfully we are not in the same circumstances where we would have to give up our lives to sanctify Hashem’s name.  However, we can all do a kiddish Hashem- sanctifying Hashem’s name- by refraining from sinning for the sake of submitting to Hashem’s will. Even on a personal level, when a person makes an internal decision to keep more mitzvot, etc, he is fulfilling the mitzvah of sanctifying Hashem’s name. Additionally, one may sanctify Hashem’s name by behaving in an admiral way in order to be a good example, demonstrating to others the greatness of the Almighty’s Torah.

Everyday we all struggle with getting closer to Hashem, whether keeping kosher, giving charity, being modest, keeping Shabbot, etc. However, we must all recognize that every effort we make in getting closer to Hashem, no matter how small or insignificant we may think it may be, we are fulfilling the mitzvah of sanctifying Hashem’s name. Hashem sees any efforts we make, but it is up to us to realize how significant any efforts are to Him. If only we knew how a little bit could go a long way.

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