Kiddush Hashem Parshat Emor 2022

Jonny exclaimed exuberantly when arriving home from the bus stop, “Mommy! Mommy! The Head of School asked me to be an ambassador at the Open House this Sunday!” Mom responded, “I am so proud of you. Let’s pick out a nice outfit so you can look your best when you represent the school.”

It’s quite an honor and responsibility to be asked to represent your institution. This also happens at conferences and summits of businesses, universities, and even countries when ambassadors and representatives meet.

The truth is that all Jews are also ambassadors and representatives of the greatest “product” ever distributed throughout the world. We represent G-d and the Torah of Israel.

The Torah in this week’s Parsha, Emor, advances the directive of ambassadorship in the following way:

Leviticus 22:32
לֹ֤א תְחַלְּלוּ֙ אֶת־שֵׁ֣ם קׇדְשִׁ֔י וְנִ֨קְדַּשְׁתִּ֔י בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֲנִ֥י יְוָ֖ה מְקַדִּשְׁכֶֽם׃
You shall not profane My holy name, rather, my Name shall be sanctified among the Jewish People—I G-d sanctify you

Great, so we are ambassadors and representatives, but what does that mean practically?

It means that G-d, Torah, and Judaism are associated with us; and we have a responsibility and opportunity to represent them well. We do so by the way we talk, interact, do business, and even drive down the highway. 

Even though we may not view ourselves as representatives, our gentile friends, neighbors, and coworkers may see us as their connection to Jews, Israel, and Judaism. Therefore, it is our unique responsibility to show and share the best of our heritage, and make a Kiddush Hashem. 

It is curious that the verse above states that sanctification will be “among the Jewish people.” If the imperative is to be representatives and ambassadors to the world at large, why does the verse say specifically, “among the Jewish people?”

The answer is because it all starts within our own families and communities. When we reflect Torah values within our own families and communities, it will be natural for us to share and reflect these values to our friends, neighbors, and colleagues as well. If we do not exhibit and reflect decency, morality, and the values of the Torah within our homes and communities, we will unfortunately not merit to reflect it outside our orbit.

Just as Jonny was thrilled to be appointed ambassador of his school, we too are honored to have the privilege and opportunity to represent G-d, Torah, and Judaism. At our Jewish Federation we aim to take care of those in need at our Jewish Family & Children's Service (JFCS) Food Pantry, our ACHaD Program (Achieving Community Hopes and Dreams), as well as our Aleph Day Center. Anyone who applies is eligible for assistance at these and other Jewish Federation sponsored programs. Our roles and our goals are to fulfill the mandate in the verse above, namely: to make a resounding Kiddush Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Epstein
Community Scholar in Residence