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בקרבי אקדש

Through those who are close to Me, I will be sanctified. (10:3)

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When Hashem carries out His decree of Strict Justice, especially when – as a result of this decree – someone dies, Hashem’s Name is sanctified. There is no greater Kiddush, sanctification, of Hashem’s Name, than missah, death. It indicates that Hashem is in control, that He alone determines how long and under what circumstances one will live. The Talmud (Niddah 30b) comments concerning the pasuk, Ki li tichra kol berech, “To me will every knee bends” (Yeshayahu 45), Zeh ha’missah, ‘This is a reference to death.”

Indeed, the solemnity of a funeral – even one that takes place with a majority of non-practicing Jews in attendance – is compelling. Everyone dons a yarmulke, recites Kaddish and attempts to observe the various halachos intrinsic to the mourning ritual. This is because death evokes the spiritual dimension within a person and calls to mind the awesome power of death/mortality. It demonstrates to us that everything and everyone is nullified before G-d.

With the understanding that Kiddush, sanctity, means understanding that Hashem’s Presence and power fill the world, that He controls every aspect of Creation, we understand the meaning of chillul Hashem. Chillul (derived from the word chalal, hole, vacuum) is a statement that the sinner makes (by inference through his actions) that Hashem does not, in fact, fill the entire world. When a person commits a chillul Hashem he makes a statement: “G-d does not fill this place. I can do what I want.” With this in mind, Horav Shimshon PIncus, zl, explains why the only kapparah, atonement, for chillul Hashem, is death. When a person desecrates Hashem’s Name, he creates a void in the glory of Heaven, a void that can be filled only through a Kiddush Hashem of the same caliber of the void. This is death.

This is a frightening statement. The very idea that chillul Hashem can be repaired only through death is in and of itself alarming. The “why,” the statement inferred from his actions that G-d does not exist here is dreadful. We do not take chillul Hashem seriously. Otherwise, we would exert the greatest care in our public activity to make absolutely certain that a bystander who does not know any better does not suspect us of a misstep. The consequences can be devastating.

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