Shabbat Emor

Candles - May 12th @ 7:44pm
Havdalah - May 13th @ 8:40pm

You might have heard the expression “Hillul HaShem.” Literally it means treating God’s name in a derogatory or a mundane manner. In ancient Israel, this was a very important concept. Society was predicated on Law and Order and Law and Order was based on the authority of the ruler and the ruler on earth depended on the authority of the Divine Ruler. Hence the concept of the “Divine Right of Kings.” Nowadays we no longer treat kings or Presidents that way. We are happy to criticize, insult and demean our leaders without a second thought. Similarly, many of us use the word “god” as if it was a swear word. We are careless with our actions and words.

Hillul HaShem has now come to mean something else. Desecrating God’s name means doing something that brings God or one’s religion into disrepute. As in: “See, another Jew who breaks the law. All Jews are like that. You can’t trust them.” Or internally, when non-religious Jews see an apparently Orthodox Jew behaving disreputably they will say, “See, Orthodox Jews are all hypocrites,” and use this to justify not following the Torah.

Maimonides quotes the Talmud when he says this is such a serious matter in Judaism that even Yom Kipur cannot atone for someone who causes God or Torah to be demeaned and disrespected.

The source for this is in Torah portion we read Leviticus 22:31 & 32: “You should keep My commandments (says God) and not desecrate My holy name, because I expect the people of Israel to sanctify My Name.”

When we are good human beings, we elevate God. When we misbehave, we diminish God’s influence in the world.