Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Chillul HaShem in Private

In case you haven't heard, let me be the first to bring your day down just a bit: on June 5, 2012 (27 Sivan, in case you want commemorate the yahrtzeit), 100 or so yeshiva students were kicked off an AirTran plane because they did not follow the instructions of the flight crew to turn off cell phones and to sit down, both violations of Federal Air Regulations.  A terrible chillul HaShem no matter how you spin it.  My question: what, exactly was the chillul HaShem?

You may think that is a crazy question, the chillul HaShem is obvious, isn't it?  I respectfully submit that the chillul HaShem is not obvious at all.  The mishna in Avos (4:5) quotes R' Yochanan ben B'roka as making two startling statements about chillul HaShem:

  1. One who makes a chillul HaShem in private will be repaid in public.
  2. There is no difference whether it was on purpose or by accident.
Wait... what is a chillul HaShem in private?  The Rambam says that when one averts his eyes from seeing something inappropriate, he is m'kadesh sheim shamayim.  If so, a chillul HaShem must occur when one simply does not avert his eyes.  R' Yochanan ben B'roka's words are now more than startling, they are chilling.  From the viewpoint, being kicked off the plane was the payment in public for some private chillul HaShem.  And so my question: What was the Chillul HaShem?

I once told a colleague (a goy and a dogmatic atheist) that I expected more out of Jew in terms of being polite and what not.  He was furious with me!  "How dare you think that Jews should be held to a higher standard!  Do you think you are better than other people?!"

I do, indeed, dare think that Jews should be held to higher standard.  The Am haNivchar, the nation chosen by the Creator of the world to be His ambassador to the world.  Darn tooten I expect more.  My boss expects more out of me than he expects out of the janitor.  I am not "better" than than the janitor, but I certainly have more education and I am expected to act accordingly.  Jews may not be "better" than any one else, but we are more educated.  We stood at Har Sinai and received direct instruction on being human from our beloved Creator.  More is expected from us.

So, in my personal opinion, the chillul HaShem is any time that a Jew says things like, "they're teenager and, you know, teenagers will be teenagers".  No.  They are Jews.  More than that, they are yeshiva students.  Bad enough that the world say such disgraceful behavior.  Far, far worse is that anyone thought it was excusable.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…