Monday, October 11, 2010

Rambam- Yisodei Hatorah Perek 5 Halacha 10- How Others View G-D Through The Jews

כל העובר מדעתו בלא אונס על אחת מכל מצות האמורות בתורה בשאט בנפש להכעיס הרי זה מחלל את השם. ולפיכך נאמר בשבועת שקר וחללת את שם אלהיך אני ה'. ואם עבר בעשרה מישראל הרי זה חילל את השם ברבים. וכן כל הפורש מעבירה או עשה מצוה לא מפני דבר בעולם לא פחד ולא יראה ולא לבקש כבוד אלא מפני הבורא ברוך הוא כמניעת יוסף הצדיק עצמו מאשת רבו הרי זה מקדש את השם:

"Anyone who knowingly and purposefully transgressed one of the commandments stated in the Torah with disgust and out of spite is performing a Chilul Hashem (Desecration of G-D's name). Therefore it says by one who makes a false oath (Vayikra 19:12), 'And you disgraced the name of your G-D, I am G-D.' If this person [performs this] transgression in front of ten other Jews then he or she is disgracing G-D's name in public.

[On the other hand,] anyone who separates himself or herself from performing a sin or anyone who performs a commandment without being compelled, not by fear, or trepidation, or to gain honor, rather [they are performing this commandment] simply because of the Creator, blessed be He, just like Yosef the righteous one held himself back from the wife of his master, then this person is performing a kiddiush Hashem (sanctification of G-D's name)."

There is a very valuable idea that can be taken away from this idea in the Rambam. Other people view G-D based on the actions of a Jew. It is not even the actions of the Jewish people as a whole that matter, but every single Jew. This is also not exclusively for a non-Jew basing his or her opinion on the Jewish people based on a single Jew, but a Jew basing his or her opinion of the Jewish people solely on individuals.

Here is a good example, if a Jew from Dallas is visiting Chicago and the Jew from Dallas sees another Jew in Chicago eating at a Burger King then the Jew from Dallas will think that Jews from Chicago do not keep kosher. Similarly, if a non-Jew sees a Jew running a Ponzy Scheme, then that non-Jew will think all Jews are thieves. However, this will not only reflect on the Jewish people, but G-D as well. Why? People will think that the G-D of the Jews must not be real or care about His people because they do whatever they want.

The essence of a desecration of the name is not the action that is being performed, but the backlash that comes off of that action. The statements that will be whispered around because of the action. If one Jew steals, that is not the nations problem. However, the gossip that leads to a bad reputation for all Jews IS the ENTIRE nations problem.

This is most easily seen by the old joke that all Jews are bankers and are money hungry. Also, it can be seen by Muslims since everyone says Muslims are terrorists. These things are based on individuals or small groups that lead to the larger population of that religion being labeled as evil because of a select few.

Also, when a nation is labeled as evil then their G-D is attacked as well. Again, this is easily seen by the fact that many people say Allah is an evil god or that  G-D is evil. These declarations are either made by complete idiots (which we don;t need to worry about) or people that have come to this conclusion based on people that misrepresent the religion.

On the other hand, a person that is able to cause people to respect our religion or love our religion is to be applauded. Respect leads to peace and tranquility that will allow us to pursue our goals of serving G-D and making connections with Him. We should all believe that this peace and tranquility is dependent upon us, as individuals, and think that every action we make is being scrutinized by those around us. If we act appropriately and lovingly, people will respect our religion and our G-D. If we act with hate and disgusting behavior the exact opposite will happen and people around us will not only hate us, but our G-D as well.

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