Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rambam Yisodei HaTorah Perek 6 Halacha 7- Destroying Stones of The Mizbaiach (Alter), Temple, or Temple Courtyard

הסותר אפילו אבן אחת דרך השחתה מן המזבח או מן ההיכל או משאר העזרה לוקה שנאמר בעבודת כוכבים כי את מזבחותם תתוצון וכתוב לא תעשון כן לה' אלהיכם. וכן השורף עצי הקדש דרך השחתה לוקה שנאמר ואשריהם תשרפון באש וכתיב לא תעשון כן לה' אלהיכם:

If someone removed even one stone, in a destructive manner, from the Alter, the Temple or from the rest of the temple courtyard he or she is given lashes for it says with [regard to] Idol Worship (Shemos 34:13) "Their alters you shall break apart" and it writes (Devarim 12:4) [with regard to destroying Idol Worship objects] "You shall not do this to Hashem, your G-D." Also, someone who burns sanctified wood in a destructive manner receives lashes, for it says (ibid 3) "And their sacred trees shall you burn" and it says (Ibid 4) "You shall not do this to Hashem, your G-D." 

In this halacha the Rambam moves on to talk about a Chilul Hashem (desecration of G-D's name) that is no longer focusing on G-D's written name. This halacha teaches us that someone must destroy sanctified objects in a malicious manner in order to be punished for transgressing this halacha. Furthermore, it seems like it must be in a malicious manner and directed towards G-D, if it is just to anger other Jews, perhaps it would not be a transgression of this halacha (This is my own thought based on the pasuk that is brought). However, if you take a stone from the Temple and use it to build a house, or if you burn a fire to keep warm using sanctified wood, you are not transgressing this commandment. Chilul Hashem requires a type of malignant behavior that displays a persons disdain for G-D. Someone needs to show the same hatred to G-D that G-D shows toward Idol Worship in order for this halacha to apply to them. 

This idea can allow us to understand how rare it is to find a true apikores (someone who rebels against G-D). Most people in the Jewish religion nowadays either do not believe in G-D or they believe in G-D and try to follow his commandments or what they perceive as his commandments. It is very rare to find someone who says that they believe in G-D and they hate Him and specifically go against His will. From the people I have met there seems to be certain general categories of how people act in the Jewish religion. Firstly, there are those who do not believe in G-D. Secondly, there are those that believe in G-D, but they do not believe most of what Orthodox Judaism says is truly His will. Finally, there are those who believe that what Orthodox Judaism says is His will is actually His will. The first category can do anything against G-D's will and it is not a true Chilul Hashem or an act of an apikores because they do not believe G-D exists, so there is no ill will towards G-D. The second category has people who believe they are following G-D's will and this is true of the third category as well. A true apikores can only come from the second or third category and finding people who believe in G-D and hate Him is rare. Most people, nowadays, just stop believing in G-D if they don't want to follow His will. 

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