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: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…