Emor: Creating a Kiddush Hashem

This year, we had a very subdued Memorial Day and Independence Day, for obvious reasons.  There are still splits within Israeli society that were only "band-aided" on Simchas Torah, but have resurfaced over the past months.  I saw a very thought-provoking point somebody made.  "Liberal Western culture centers around the individual and views the state’s role as facilitating the individual’s well-being, the Jewish national one sees the individual as part of a people, whose vehicle for realizing a collective interest is the state.  Taken to its extreme, the collective approach leads to fascism, but the extreme individualistic attitude is also dangerous, certainly in our context. Ceding to Hamas will lead to thousands dying and terrible consequences for Judea and Samaria and vis-à-vis Hezbollah. Everyone knows this, but the extreme individualistic approach either ignores or accepts these prices.”

It's an interesting point to ponder and it's something Israeli society has always wrestled with and is currently wrestling with.

"You shall not profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people, I Hashem who sanctifies you" (Vayikra 22: 32).

Rashi explains the concept of Kiddish Hashem (sanctifying Hashem's name) is when a person gives of himself for Hashem's name.

There's a famous Gemara (Pesachim 50a), which relates the story of the "Martyrs of Lod."  Two tzaddikim who gave their lives in order to save the city of Lod.  What they did was so great, the Gemara relates that nobody could stand where they stand.

Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that a person can only give as much to another person as he, the first person can give, and the second person is able to receive. 

Regarding the giver, for example, as much as I would love to buy a car for my wife, at this point, I cannot afford one.  So, I am unable to do such a chesed, even though she would be more than happy, and able, to receive it.

In terms of the receiver, however, an example is, if I were to buy both my wife and my son a pair of tefillin.  To my wife, I didn't do anything.  I didn't do any chesed for her since she does not need tefillin.  Yet, to my son, who needs them, it's a very big chesed.

However, regarding Hashem, there is only one "limit."  He can give whatever He wants.  That's not an issue.  The only question is, can the receiver receive such a thing?

When a person gives of himself fully, he is breaking all personal boundaries.  When the two tzaddikim of Lod gave their lives, they gave everything they had in order that the entire city should receive life.  When a person is able to "give it his all," he is no longer within the bounds of nature, and therefore, nobody can stand in his place.

I guess this is apropos, considering Israeli Memorial Day was this week.  Somebody asked me what Memorial Day in America is like, to which I responded, "shopping sales."  Here, to their credit, they take it very seriously.  And how can you not?  So many people know people who have fallen.  I have two neighbors, who live right next to me, who lost first cousins in this war, for example.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach told somebody that if he wants to daven at the grave of a tzaddik, go to the grave of a soldier who fell in battle, since he died al Kiddush Hashem.  He gave everything to give everything.

Of course, we should also know that this status is not just conferred on those who gave their physical lives.  But this title is also conferred on those who worked on and broke their own personal, natural, barriers for the sake of Hashem.  When a person "gives it his all" in order to do mitzvos, he too is breaking barriers and he too is creating a Kiddush Hashem, whether or not others are around to see.

With that, I wish you all a wonderful and quiet Shabbos.