Sunday, June 27, 2010

Living a Life of Kiddush Hashem

Rav Shach, zt”l, would explain how one can fulfill the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem his entire life. “People mistakenly believe that sacrificing oneself to sanctify Hashem’s Name only applies to actual martyrdom. This is based on the well known halachah: If one must either transgress the mitzvos of the Torah or die, he should transgress except for the three cardinal sins for which one must give up his life. Rav Yochanan adds that during a time of religious persecution, even if they demand one to violate a minor mitzvah he must die.
“Yet one who delves a bit deeper will realize that self-sacrifice has a much more common application: to live a life through which one sanctifies Hashem’s Name. Although dying to sanctify the Name is a very great merit, we are also required to sanctify His name every instant of our life by living with self-sacrifice. The proof to this is from the verse, 'וחי בהם'—‘And you shall live by them.’ Our sages learn from this that one should live through the mitzvos, not die on account of them. We see from here that Hashem wants one to live fulfilling the mitzvos, not die in their fulfillment. The Torah values life to such a great extent that our sages tell us that one who commits suicide forfeits his portion in the next world.
“But how can one live a life of self sacrifice? Life is filled with tests, especially for those who keep Torah and mitzvos. We have a clear precedent for virtually every step of life. What we can and cannot do, and how to do that which we must. Those who withstand the many trials of life and fulfill Torah as it should be kept live with self-sacrifice. We have six hundred and thirteen mitzvos which teach us how to live our lives. How to eat and how to sleep; every detail is explained. Non-Jews are free to do as they please. Nevertheless, a Jew who overcomes his base urges feels filled with joy. Like a general returning from a victorious battle, he sees the positive and rejoices in his success. Most importantly, he rejoices in his portion as one of the chosen of Hashem, a son of the King.”

No comments: