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What a Nice Jew!

In the past month, we have been learning about the importance of making a Kiddush Hashem. First, we explained that the entire world was created only for the sake of us learning to recognize Hashem as our Creator and giving honor to Him. For as long as we are in Galus, though, Hashem’s Presence cannot be fully revealed. That is why we daven and yearn for Mashiach to come – so that there will finally be a big Kiddush Hashem and everyone will finally recognize Hashem as our Creator.

Next, we explained that even while we are in Galus, we can still start to bring the world closer to its ultimate purpose by making a Kiddush Hashem in our own personal lives. Every time that a person does a mitzvah, they are, in essence, living in a state of “personal geulah” because at that moment, Hashem’s presence is very real to them.

Finally, we discussed how a sincere Kiddush Hashem is most easily achieved by making a Kiddush Hashem in private, where nobody else sees it. Making a Kiddush Hashem “in private” means committing yourself to fulfilling Hashem’s commandseven when no one else can see you and be impressed by what you did. This is still considered a Kiddush Hashem, because you are giving honor to Hashem in front of your own two eyes.

What a Nice Jew!

Aside from making a Kiddush Hashem in private, another powerful way to make a Kiddush Hashem is by interacting with other people in a pleasant and honest manner. When people see that Jews act nicely and are trustworthy, it makes a great Kiddush Hashem. We are Hashem’s children, and whatever we do reflects on the greatness of Hashem Himself!

The Talmud Yerushalmi1 tells the following story about Shimon ben Shetach:

Shimon ben Shetach once purchased a donkey, and found that the previous owner had left diamonds in the saddlebag. Shimon ben Shetach’s students were ecstatic about the find, because they thought that now their rebbe would become rich, and can continue learning Torah in peace without worrying about financial difficulties at all.

But Shimon ben Shetach refused to keep the diamonds. “I bought a donkey, not diamonds!” he said. “It would be dishonest for me to keep these diamonds in my possession!”

Shimon ben Shetach went to return the diamonds to the donkey’s previous owner. When the owner received his diamonds back, he was blown away by Shimon ben Shetach’s display of honesty. “Blessed is the G-d of Shimon ben Shetach!” he cried. He realized that if Shimon ben Shetach is so honest, it must be that Hashem (the G-d of Shimon ben Shetach) is honest and righteous also.

We see from this story that when we deal with people in an honest and upright manner, it makes a great Kiddush Hashem and brings honor to Him.

The Mitzvah to Love Hashem

Aside from creating a Kiddush Hashem, the truth is that whenever deal righteously with other people, it is also a fulfillment of the mitzvah to love Hashem. How so?

Every Jew is required to love Hashem, as it says in Shema: “V’Ohavta Es Hashem Elokecha.” The Gemara2 explains this requirement to include that we should also cause other people to love Hashem, too. How do we do that?

The Gemara answers: When someone learns Torah and conducts his business dealings honestly with other people, what do people say about him?“Fortunate are his father and Rebbe who taught him Torah! Woe to whoever does not learn Torah! This person who learns Torah – see how pleasant are his ways and how sweet are his actions!” This is the meaning of the passuk in which Hashem says: “You are my servant, Yisroel [the Jewish People]; through you I am glorified.”3

When we deal pleasantly and honestly with other people, it brings glory to Hashem and makes other people recognize Hashem’s greatness. But if, chas veshalom, we act dishonestly or insensitively to other people, we risk the chance that others might see us and have a negative impression of Hashem and His Torah.

In the coming month, as we continue to lament our current state in Galus, let us seize the opportunity to make a Kiddush Hashem as much as possible, by dealing pleasantly and honestly with other people. When other people see how we act, it will hopefully bring honor and glory to Hashem, and people will recognize how great are Hashem and His Torah is, as the passuk says, “[The Torah’s] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all of its paths are paths of peace.”4

Sources: [1] Talmud Yerushalmi: Bava Metzia 2:5; [2] Yoma 86a; [3] Yeshaya 49:3; [4] Mishlei 3:17

Your Challenge

Once a day, do something nice for another person, in order to make a Kiddush Hashem in their eyes.

FOR EXAMPLE:

  • Hold the door open for someone else.
  • Assist another person in carrying their heavy bags.
  • Smile at another person.
  • Make sure to pick up any garbage or scraps of paper you left on the floor.
  • Give up your seat on a bus or train for someone else.

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