06 May 2015 Kiddush Hashem in Our Everyday Lives
In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Emor, the Torah commands us regarding the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem – the sanctification of the Divine Name (Lev.22:32). While this mitzvah requires one to be moser nefesh, to give up his life, for the sanctification of the Divine Name (see Rashi there, and Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah 296), there is also the all-encompassing requirement to live Al Kiddush Hashem.
R’ Soloveitchik zt’l writes that there are two ways in which the total sacrifice is implemented – the physical and the experiential. While the need for sacrifice was established as an iron law in Jewish history, this command finds its expression in one of two ways. At times man is called upon to sacrifice on a physical altar atop some mountain the way Gd summoned A”A to do; and at times, man is called upon to sacrifice himself to Gd in the recesses of his personality. At times the sacrifice for the Divine Name consists of physical agony, pain and extinction of life; and at times, of spiritual surrender, humility, and resignation (the surrender and resignation of my will to Gd’s Will)” (Abraham’s Journey, p.10-11).
Hence, we frequently admonish our children, each other, and ourselves to “make a Kiddush Hashem.”
It happened one time that the Chafetz Chaim sent his son on a mission. The C”C warned his son to be careful as to how he acts. For were he to act in a fashion which was even slightly inappropriate for a Torah scholar, it would be a great desecration of Gd’s Name. Rav Pam zt’l relates that the son said to his saintly father, “But, father, I am not a talmid chacham (Torah scholar)! I am but a simple Jew.” To which the C”C replied, “For Chilul Hashem, you’re enough of a talmid chacham!”
We have opportunities every single day, perhaps even every hour, to sanctify Gd’s Name in our daily lives. And when it comes to living Al Kiddush Hashem, we are all “enough of talmidei chachamim.”
A woman approached me this week and told me an unbelievable story that happened to her. Every day she would drive to work, and every day she would park her car on Atlantic Avenue, in what is commonly known as not-such-a-good-neighborhood. It just so happened that every day, when she got out of her car, she would see a certain man who sat on a stoop, right near where she parked. Every day she parked and got out of her car; every day the same man was sitting there. One day she began to say “Hello, good morning” to this person.
And so now, every day when she drove to work, she would park on Atlantic Ave. in a not-such-a-good-neighborhood, she would get out of her car and see this man. And every day she made sure to say hello and good morning to him.
One day, she left work, and as she walked back to her car, she saw that all the cars parked on that block had their car windows smashed – all the cars except her car! She could not believe her “luck.” And there, on the stoop, was the man. She said to him, incredulously, “What happened here?” And he looked at her and replied, “When they were breaking the car windows, they got to your car, and I looked at them and said, ‘DON’T TOUCH THAT CAR!’”
And they didn’t…
For living Al Kiddush Hashem, we are all enough of talmidei chachamim. May we merit that the Name of Hashem becomes sanctified through us; not only R”L when we are called upon to offer the ultimate sacrifice, but even when, especially when, we live in a way that brings honor and glory to His Great and Holy Name.
Wishing you all a beautiful Shabos Kodesh,