Kiddush Hashem?

There is an idea that as Jews, we can either be a kiddush Hashem – a sanctity to God – or a chilul Hashem – a desecration of God. The thinking is that since we are God’s representatives in this world, the way we behave says something about God and the Torah and, of course, about Jews.

But I can tell you that growing up, whenever anyone told me that I could/should do something because then I’d make a  “kiddush Hashem”, it made me shudder. It makes me shudder now, still, as I write this! Isn’t that funny.

I wonder why it bothers me so much.

Why don’t I like being told I could/should/would be a kiddush Hashem? It definitely is pressure. That’s for sure. It’s like saying to me, “You better behave because otherwise you’re going to give everyone – even God, how dare you! – a bad name.”

Yes, it’s the guilt that makes me shudder. Judaism may have been about guilt – at least in Easter Europe it was – for hundreds of years (I’m no history expert, feel free to dispute me) but it is not about that any longer! It cannot be if it is to survive. To tell someone that they have to act a certain way because otherwise they’re just being plain mean to God… oy.

It also bothers me because you’re being told to focus on how it looks, as opposed to the actual consequences of your actions. It’s sort of like saying to you, “You may not be a good enough person to act in a correct way. But maybe if you remember that you’re making a bad impression, then you’ll behave.” Shudder shudder shudder.

Yeah, this idea definitely bothers me.

At the same time, of course I am one of those Jews very aware of being a representative of God, Torah and Jews and I do try to act accordingly… So in my own way I’m trying to be a kiddush Hashem but the terminology makes me cringe.

Am I the only one who cringes from this one?


2 thoughts on “Kiddush Hashem?

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  1. I only cringe from the pressure on the days when I question the existence of G-d, or when I am really far removed from an idea of G-d….

    I have a different issue with the pressure of doing something out of attempt to satisfy “Kiddush Hashem” requirement. I fear that people do certain things, not because the desire comes from the depth of their souls, but because they are whipped into doing so.

    For example, if a person doesn’t feel like helping me, but feels obligated to do as means to perform “Kiddush Hashem”, I truly rather not be helped in that instance. I am someone who appreciates being seen and interacted on a very individual level. When someone isn’t feeling me as an individual, and is simply doing something for me (but in fact anyone would do), the personal component is removed, and somehow being helped in such a way is painful to me.

  2. I hear that. It’s not exactly comfortable being helped and when we are being helped, we need to feel reassured that the person is so happy to do it, loves to be able to do it and is choosing to do it. Doing it to fulfill “Kiddush Hashem” doesn’t really fit into that, does it.

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