Always Be Prepared by Yair Manas


22:32 says, ולא תחללו את שם קדשי ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל, “You shall not desecrate My holy Name, and I will be sanctified among Bnai Yisrael.”  This Pasuk contains the solemn warning against profaning Hashem’s Name and the positive commandment upon every Jew to sanctify His Name through moral conduct and, if necessary, through death.  Although this is spoken in reference to the Kohanim, this command applies to the entire nation.

The Sages say that one should be aware of his actions so he does not do anything to tarnish the honor of Judaism or the Jewish People.  In his Mishna Torah, the Rambam describes in detail the main applications of this law to daily life.  Specifically, every wrongful action against a non-Jew is considered an unforgivable sin because it creates a false impression of Judaism’s moral standards.  Every Jew must constantly be aware that the glory of Hashem is entrusted to him and that he holds in his hands the honor of his religion and his people.

To not desecrate Hashem’s Name is not only a negative Mitzva.  The word ונקדשתי teaches us that every Jew must live in such a way that his acts contribute to the glory of Hashem’s holy Name and His Torah in a positive way.

The Gemara mentions many examples of humanity and integrity toward Jews and non-Jews that are considered acts of Kiddush Hashem.  The highest form of this Mitzva is martyrdom.  Jewish law requires every Jew to give up his life rather than desecrate the Name of Hashem in public.  During the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s persecution of the Jews, the readiness for martyrdom began to endanger the existence of the Jewish nation.  The sages decreed that a Jew should die only if he is forced to violate these three fundamental laws: murder, idolatry, or forbidden sexual relationships.

The words בתוך בני ישראל teach us that it is even more important to sanctify the name of Hashem among Bnai Yisrael.  Rashi deduces from this that the obligation to die for Hashem’s Name for Mitzvot other than these three comes into effect when the threatened desecration is in public, among Bnai Yisrael.  Rashi also points out that in risking martyrdom, a person should be fully prepared for death.  When Yitzchak was on the altar, he prayed to Hashem to enable him to submit to martyrdom without weakness, regret, or hesitation.  We should have Yitzchak’s mindset when we perform Kiddush Hashem, whether in life or, ,חס ושלום in death.

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