The last stretch of the week was: Let go of a grudge, a hurt, or a negative assessment of someone. Really deeply let go. Think about this as a kiddush HaShem, of intentionally making you and K'lal Yisrael a vessel for His b'rachos.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Sanctifying the Name of HaShem
For the next weeks we will be focusing on the mitzva of kiddush HaShem, Sanctifying the Name of HaShem, based on Rabbi Shraga Freedman's book Living Kiddush Hashem. What is the connection between kiddush HaShem and Ahavas Yisrael? The answer to this question becomes apparent when we consider our ultimate purpose on earth - the hastening of the geula, our final Redemption. This is the time when all people, Jew and non-Jew recognize HaShem. It is our tafkid, our task, both as individuals and as a People, to bring about the geula by means of kiddush HaShem. But, telling others about our beliefs and our philosophy is not the way to bring this about. It's our actions that count. By following the blueprint given to us in the Torah, we are influencing those around us to look favorably at us, and by extension to look favorably at the Torah lifestyle, and ultimately to appreciate the Glory of HaShem. Our loving and careful performance of all mitzvos is the method by which HaShem is sanctified in the eyes of others. kiddush HaShem is actualized by others seeing our attitudes, our behaviors, our priorities, and (eventually) appreciating HaShem. Our interactions with others is a crucial component in triggering this appreciation. This means we must be sure we are giving at least equal emphasis to bain adam lachavairo mitzvos, interpersonal behavior, as we do to bain adam laMakom mitzvos, religious obligations. So, as we work on improving our Ahavas Yisroel actions, we are simultaneously being m'kadesh HaShem, sanctifying HaShem's name and hastening the time when His Glory and Goodness is known to all people.
In the coming weeks, we will be discussing how to look carefully at our actions in light of, as far as it is possible, being the ambassadors or representatives tasked with demonstrating to others the beauty of HaShem's ways.
First, let's consider some general principles of kiddush HaShem regarding mitzva observance. As we said, the observance of mitzvos is the vehicle in which others may come to appreciate HaShem. But what happens when the performance of a mitzva may, however unintentionally, cause negative feelings? We must be careful not to allow our justifiable concern for how others view us to delude us into thinking that we may or even should, G-d forbid, not perform a mitzva to avoid chillul HaShem. Holding firm to the mitzvos of the Torah will, in the long run, be the medium for sanctifying the name of HaShem, even if in the short term we appear impolite.
For example: We are at work and lunch was ordered in by a very well-meaning person, from a "kosher" deli that is open on Shabbos and does not have a reliable hechsher, certification. We may not eat or drink something of questionable kashrus to avoid hurting someone's feelings. In a situation like this, as difficult as it may be, we must explain to the best of our ability, and we may not eat the food.
That being said, this applies to mitzvos, not chumros (stringencies) or hiddurim (beautifications). In those cases, we need to be tolerant of others viewpoints, we need to go out of our way to be sure that we are not acting in a way that could be hurtful or even mildly annoying to others. Kiddush HaShem becomes the overriding concern.
(Reproduced from Living Kiddush Hashem by Rabbi Shraga Freedman, with permission of the author. For more resources, please contact: email@example.com.)
Story: (based on a true story)
I recently attended the funeral of the mother of my friend Leah. Leah is a ba'a'las t'shuva and comes from a loving, traditional family that is not fully mitzva observant. There were dozens of people at the funeral and it was not easy to distinguish between observant and non-observant people by their dress. After the funeral, a number of people who were not going to the cemetery were on line waiting to wash before returning home. As I was standing on line, I heard a number of comments about the "custom" of washing, its purpose, and how to do it correctly. However, I noticed that no one was observing the minhag of not handing the cup directly to the next person. I had always learned that the cup is placed on the ground or on the sink in between people washing at such a time. As I waited my turn I debated-should I gently instruct this open and willing audience regarding the minhag as I understood it?
With my new-found consideration of kiddush HaShem, several questions came to mind: Will I seem pushy? Will others think I am being judgmental? Might there be someone who would feel undermined by my butting in, thus creating a chillul HaShem? What would you have done?
In the case of the not quite Kosher food in the workplace, how could the situation be handled in the most positive way within the parameters of halacha?
Stretch of the Week:
In a making a decision this week, try to consider the kiddush HaShem implications of your choice.