The Ultimate Kiddush Hashem

May 18, 2016 at 12:46 PM , , ,

“…I shall be sanctified amidst the children of Israel…” – Vayikra 22:32

וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל – ויקרא כב, לב

The Torah’s directive to cause G-d to be sanctified teaches us the obligation of mesirus nefesh, meaning, that in certain situations we must sacrifice even our lives in order not to disobey G-d’s commands. For when a Jew exhibits his commitment to G-d to the point that he is willing to surrender his life for Him, his devotion causes G-d to be revered and sanctified.

There is yet an even greater manner through which G-d is glorified in this world. That is, when He miraculously saves those who surrender their lives for Him. Rashi notes, however, that one who surrenders himself to die for the sanctification of G-d’s name must do so with the willingness to die. “For anyone who surrenders himself anticipating a miracle, a miracle is not performed for him.”

Kiddush Hashem

Notably, the Rambam, who details all the laws pertaining to this mitzvah, makes no mention of the possibility that a person who sacrifices his life wholeheartedly will be miraculously saved. The Rambam’s reasoning is obvious: a mitzvah only dictates the obligations of the individual, not their miraculous consequences. Therefore, whether your intentions will cause a miracle to happen or not is irrelevant to the mitzvah. (On the contrary, the Rambam’s words indicate that the ultimate fulfillment of this command is in instances where one is not saved.)

Rashi, on the other hand, notes the possibility of a miracle, and cautions us not to interfere with its occurrence by anticipating it. For according to Rashi, though your duty to sanctify G-d’s name is fulfilled by exhibiting your willingness to die for Him, yet your actual death cannot possibly be G-d’s greatest publicity. On the contrary, when a Jew is harmed as a result of his beliefs this causes people to deride the Torah and to question G-d’s existence. In the words of Tehilim (79:10), “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their G-d?’” Rashi therefore cautions that when you fulfill your obligation to sanctify G-d’s name by surrendering your life for Him, you must do so in a manner that will allow for the great glorification of His name that only He can bring about—your miraculous deliverance.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 27, pp. 167-175


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