We are here to improve our relationships with others
in order to transform the Jewish people in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Share something inspirational with someone in order to instill a pride in being Jewish.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
All of our actions, as individuals and as a community, and even as a nation, can contribute to bringing about a Kiddush Hashem. There are some specific acts that are especially effective in bringing honor to HaShem and His Torah. First among these is scrupulous honesty.
In reference to honesty, the Torah teaches "midvar sheker tirchak", distance yourself from falsehood. The wording is unusual, not only must we not speak falsely, we must keep far away from any hint of untruth. Even if a lie is merely an exaggeration and causes no one any harm, it is still prohibited. Lying, in any form is, in essence, an attempt to escape the reality of life. Whether it involves cheating on a test, making up excuses to avoid responsibility, reneging on a commitment, or cheating for monetary gain, falsehood allows a person to live for a moment in a fantasy. This is a destructive delusion.
In terms of our relationships with others, including neighbors, co-workers, shopkeepers, as well as friends and relatives, scrupulous honesty, even beyond the letter of the law, goes a long way in making a Kiddush Hashem.
There is a story about a Yemenite Jew named Reb Avraham Badichi. Reb Avraham was a craftsman working on an expensive piece of jewelry in the palace of the prince. In the room where he was working, he came across an old metal urn, covered with layers of rust and dirt. When one of his tools struck the metal, Reb Avraham recognized the sound that indicated that the urn was made of gold. He told the prince that the urn was a valuable treasure, but the prince discounted the discovery and told Reb Avraham that he could have it for himself. Reb Avraham realized that the prince would not have given him the urn had he believed that it was truly made of gold. Reb Avraham toiled to clean and polish the urn, proving to the prince its true value. The prince rewarded Reb Avraham by inviting him to attend his coronation as king, in defiance of the Yemenite laws discriminating against Jews, praising the honesty of the Jew before his countrymen.
Although we may never have the opportunity to decline accepting a valuable treasure from a prince, we have many opportunities to examine our own honesty and distance ourselves from falsehood of any kind.
(Reproduced from Living Kiddush HaShem by Rabbi Shraga Freedman, with permission of the author. For more resources, please contact: email@example.com.)
· Encourage our child to tell the teacher she didn't finish the homework, instead of saying she left it at home.
· Tell the boss that I need to take tomorrow off, instead of calling in sick in the morning.
· Tell the neighbor it was my son who broke your window playing ball when you weren't home (or help my son to say it).
· Put a note on the windshield of the car I dented with my shopping cart.
· Avoid paying someone "off the books" or getting paid "off the books".
· Return money when I am undercharged.
· Give credit to a co-worker when the boss thinks something was my idea.
In each of these examples, and in the many more we can probably think of, there are consequences to our honesty, and those consequences may cost us, either financially, or in other ways. However, it is our responsibility to keep in mind the other consequence of our integrity: Kiddush HaShem!
A related example of actions that are especially effective in engendering Kiddush HaShem is hashavas aveida, returning something lost. There are many Jewish laws involved in what types of items must be returned, how much effort must be expended, whether the person who lost the item has despaired of finding it, etc. However, it is meritorious to return lost objects or lost money, even if one goes beyond the strictures of Jewish law. This is especially true in returning things to non-Jews, particularly because it negates the generally held maxim of "finders keepers losers weepers" prevalently held in secular society. A famous incident regarding an observant Jewish family who found close to $100,000 in a used desk they purchased, and returned the money to the amazed seller made national headlines. The family was encouraged to appear on national television to publicize the incident, explaining that since negative stories about religious Jews get news coverage, this type of positive story should also be covered, creating a huge opportunity for Kiddush HaShem.
Can you give other examples where you or someone you know has shown scrupulous honesty despite the seemingly negative consequences, or where honesty has resulted in a Kiddush HaShem?
What are some justifications people may give for less than honest behavior?
Do you think that someone who returns a lost item should accept a reward?
Stretch of the Week:
Find an opportunity to be honest with yourself or others and avoid making excuses.