Wednesday, September 17, 2008

To Fix A Desecration of God's Name

With thanks to my builder of castles in the sky
We are approaching the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) and as such, there is an emphasis on ways in which we can improve or appraise ourselves and recognize what it is that we must work on, or focus on. With that in mind, I thought there are many who would be interested in R' Bachya's statement on Emor 22:32.

He begins by asserting there is no worse sin than a Chilul Hashem, or a desecration of God's name, citing the verse in Ezekiel 20: 39:

לט וְאַתֶּם בֵּית-יִשְׂרָאֵל כֹּה-אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה, אִישׁ גִּלּוּלָיו לְכוּ עֲבֹדוּ, וְאַחַר, אִם-אֵינְכֶם שֹׁמְעִים אֵלָי; וְאֶת-שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי לֹא תְחַלְּלוּ-עוֹד, בְּמַתְּנוֹתֵיכֶם וּבְגִלּוּלֵיכֶם.

39 As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD: Go ye, serve every one his idols, even because ye will not hearken unto Me; but My holy name shall ye no more profane with your gifts, and with your idols.

Explains Rabbeinu Bachya, our Rabbis, may their memory be for a blessing, state that this is a sin for which man has no power to atone on Yom Kippur, and which cannot be fixed through teshuva or through suffering. This, of course, is very damning and upsetting to anyone who has committed such a sin.

But there is hope, Rabbeinu Bachya continues, because the way to fix a Chilul Hashem is to honor and sanctify God's name with regard to whatever it was you transgressed. Hence, a man who sins with his lips and speaks lashon hara should learn Torah, and a man who sinned with his eyes should heal them with his tears. One who commits a Chilul Hashem is like a sick man who will only be cured if he has a treatment which is completely the opposite from what he currently suffers; so too, if a man sanctifies God's name in the opposite of the way from which he defiled it, he may fix his error, and fix his desecration of God's name. He even cites Chazal as saying that the same way in which one's thoughts and actions were formerly directed to do bad, so too will they be directed to do good; the feet that ran to do evil will run to do good, and the hands that shed blood will wear Tefillin.


Anonymous said...

Interesting, so chazal said that only death will be mchapeir and then say there is a takkana during lifetime. Do you understand the latter as somehow limiting the former or are they both true?
Joel Rich

Anonymous said...

Neurotics build castles in the sky, and psychotics live in them, and people like me just pretend to live in them

Anonymous said...

Stern's Honor student said...

Can you enlighten the rest of us?
Joel Rich

Chana said...

stern honor's student,

While I appreciate the compliment, I am going to remove your comment because it emabarasses a person publically. Thank you, but I am not planning to become a defense attorney, or any sort of lawyer.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem to me that Rabeinu Bachya claims that chillul Hashem is the worst sin, only that it is a very seroud sin! Not that it makes a great difference, I realize I am nitpicking