Torah portion Emor contains the commandment “You shall not desecrate My Holy Name.” (Lev. 22:32) This is related to the Third Commandment “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” (Ex. 20:7) What does it mean to desecrate God’s Name, and how can we make sure to sanctify it instead?
Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the Name) is a core precept of Judaism and an obligation of every Jew. It can mean dying to defend the faith, or living in a way that reflects well on the Jewish people. On Mt. Sinai 3000+ years ago, God chose us to be His ambassadors in this world. As chosen representatives of the Holy One, we must conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our position, especially in public. If a non-Jew sees a man in a yarmulke drop litter on the sidewalk, she may associate this bad behavior with Jews in general. Albert Einstein said, “If my theories prove correct, the Germans will claim me as a German, the French will say I am theirs, and the Americans will call me their own. If my theories are incorrect, they will all say I am a Jew.”
A few years ago, a late-night comedy show did a “man on the street” segment in which somebody in a cumbersome Sponge Bob costume falls down and can’t get up. His muffled voice calls for help but for over six minutes people on the busy boulevard walk right past him. Then some yeshiva boys come by, immediately notice his predicament and help him back on his feet. The clip went viral in the Jewish world because it was a Kiddush Hashem and made us all proud.
Jews are God’s PR team and people pay attention to what we do. Rabbi Yossy Goldman says, “Like it or not, every Jew is representing his faith, his people, and his God. Ultimately, how we act will bring fame or infamy upon all of us. May we all be successful ambassadors!”
Image courtesy of The Tonight Show