Thursday, May 04, 2017

chilul Hashem -- a cheit bein adam l'chaveiro

Mitzvos apply equally to everyone and anyone chayav in them.  The Torah says, for example, to eat matzah, and so whether you are Joe Ploni or whether you are R' Akiva Eiger you have to eat the same amount of matzah in the same time span.  No so when it comes to the mitzvah of kedushah.  The redundancy of "kol adas Bnei Yisrael," explains Netziv, means that the mitzvah of being kadosh was not given to everyone equally as a blanket one size fits all chiyuv, but rather it was given to each individual member of Klal Yisrael according to his/her ability.  This would mean that for someone on a higher level, acting with greater kedusha is not a hidur, but is a necessary. 

The gemara (Yoma 86) writes that teshuvah and Yom Kippur cannot wash away the sin of chilul Hashem.  It can only be expiated by the sinner's death.  Why should that be so?  The Meshech Chochma (19:12, see Rav Cooperman's notes) quotes the derasha of Chazal (Sh 114) on the pasuk "...kol m'san'ai ahavu ma'ves" not to read it as "m'san'ai" but rather as "masni'ai" -- not "those who hate me [G-d]," but rather, "those who cause me [G-d] to be hated."  If a talmid chacham does not act properly, does not dress properly, e.g. he walks around in stained clothes, does not appear dignified, then people will lose respect for Torah.  Rashi in Yoma (86a d"h chilul Hashem) explains chilul Hashem means being "chotei u'machti," causing others to sin.  In other words, chilul Hashem is not just an offense against G-d -- it's an offense against man, a bein adam l'chaveiro problem.  Who knows how many people may have seen this "talmid chacham" who does not act properly and been negatively influenced?  Who knows how many people were caused spiritual harm by his bad example?  A bein adam l'chaveiro requires making restitution to those who were harmed.  It's one thing to return stolen goods, to repay someone for damages caused to their property, but how to you restore faith that was has stolen from others?  

The Mishna in Avos 5:18 tells us that a "chotei u'machti es ha'rabim" will not be able to do teshuvah.  Bartenu explains that teshuvah is precluded because otherwise the chotei might end up on gan eden while those he led astray would be in gehenom, which would not be fair.  Based on the Meshech Chochma's approach, it is impossible to do teshuvah because it is impossible to make restitution. 

I was wondering if the Rambam agrees with this definition of chilul Hashem as being chotei u'machti.  He writes in Yesodei haTorah 5:11:

ויש דברים אחרים שהן בכלל חילול השם. והוא שיעשה אותם אדם גדול בתורה ומפורסם בחסידות דברים שהבריות מרננים אחריו בשבילם. ואע"פ שאינן עבירות הרי זה חילל את השם כגון שלקח ואינו נותן דמי המקח לאלתר. והוא שיש לו ונמצאו המוכרים תובעין והוא מקיפן. או שירבה בשחוק או באכילה ושתיה אצל עמי הארץ וביניהן. או שדבורו עם הבריות אינו בנחת ואינו מקבלן בסבר פנים יפות אלא בעל קטטה וכעס. וכיוצא בדברים האלו הכל לפי גדלו של חכם צריך שידקדק על עצמו ויעשה לפנים משורת הדין. וכן אם דקדק החכם על עצמו והיה דבורו בנחת עם הבריות ודעתו מעורבת עמהם ומקבלם בסבר פנים יפות ונעלב מהם ואינו עולבם. מכבד להן ואפילו למקילין לו. ונושא ונותן באמונה. ולא ירבה באריחות עמי הארץ וישיבתן. ולא יראה תמיד אלא עוסק בתורה עטוף בציצית מוכתר בתפילין ועושה בכל מעשיו לפנים משורת הדין. והוא שלא יתרחק הרבה ולא ישתומם. עד שימצאו הכל מקלסין אותו ואוהבים אותו ומתאוים למעשיו הרי זה קידש את ה' ועליו הכתוב אומר ויאמר לי עבדי אתה ישראל אשר בך אתפאר:

According to Rashi, bad behavior by the talmid chacham is wrong because there is always a therefore... that follows -- therefore, people will be led astray.  The Rambam doesn't mention this.  It sounds like the negative behavior itself is the issue; the very fact that the "talmid chacham" falls short of what is expected of him is wrong.   


  1. Warning: irrelevant pedantry ahead!

    The word "Hashem" is used as a substitute for any of the actual Names of G-d. While it literally means "the Name", when used in this way it is just a substitute for "G-d".

    A chillul haShem is a desecration of G-d's Name, not a "desecration of G-d". As such, the capitalization of the S is preferable, as a disambiguation scheme. Similarly, the common abbreviation ה' is used to indicate a reference to G-d (and, in fact, does have intrinsic significance as such, which is why some further substitute ד). When writing the phrase חילול השם, the word should be spelled out, rather than abbreviated.

    I have heard that Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl Shlita was once given a manuscript of a sefer on kiddush haShem to peruse prior to its printing, and he crossed out every instance where the phrase was written with the ה abbreviation, substituting the full word in its stead.

    Have a great Shabbos! :)

  2. That's interesting. The nafka minah l'halacha would be in erasing the letter 'ה. Although 'we' pasken like the Rema in 276:10 that there is no issur to erase a letter written to avoid writing Hashem's name, like 'ה, the Radvaz is quoted as saying that there is an issur mechika. Almost nobody paskens like the Radvaz, but some people avoid erasing such letters where they are part of the shem havayah. This is why some people write בס״ד instead of בע״ה. The Briskers, I believe, write neither, davka because of this problem. In any case, in light of your point, sometimes, if you write 'ה, like chillul hashem, even the Radvaz would not have a problem, because that is not an alternative way of writing the Sheim.

    1. Indeed. (I think some have an added level of zehirus with the letter ה than with the other letters in the Name, since the final ה represents the Sefirah of Malchus, which can stand for the full Name, albeit at the next level down.)

  3. there is a second "you shall be...holy for holy am I Hashem", at 20:26, that comes after a new address, at 20:1, to Bnei Yisrael-- without the "kol adas": does that then mean to refer to a collective/national kedusha, in contradistinction to individual sanctity? perhaps of note, the particular chilul Hashem stated before 20:1, swearing falsely by His Name, at 19:12, is rather refined when compared to the gross desecration of Name at 20:3, offering offspring to Molech; am ha'aretz are to be found at 20:2, as prospective stone throwers, and at 20:4, averting their eyes (the latter a collective exercise of "lifnim meshuras hadin"??)

    Mishlei 8:34 offers a partial redundancy (see "kol adas Bnei Yisrael") that might work with the derasha at 8:36, "masni'ai", with "doors" considered as a reference to general traffic, and "doorposts" alluding to those who are well-versed in the laws of mezuzot (b'ki'im, chachamim)-- either group does well to acquire Wisdom/Torah; either group may slip to chilul Hashem at 8:36 {taking the first phrase of 36 to refer to chilul Hashem (by reflexive derasha), we've got bein adam l'Makom, bein adam l'atzmo, and bein adam l'chaveiro, bundled into one pasuk ('a threefold sin is not easily broken'!)}

    (its hard to hear the implicit comparison between Yaravam ben N'vat of Avos 5:18, who cynically and calculatedly revived the sin of the golden calf [X 2, Kings I, 12:28], and a talmid chacham with some blintz on his sleeve; were the chacham seen to be wearing a shimmering rolex, the beginning of a dim equivalence would appear, and if the gadol were to in fact wear two such bracelets, one on each wrist, then he and Yaravam could even be partners-in-crime...)