Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chillul Hashem

During a d'var Torah someone recently gave the concept of chillul hashem came up. The speaker said that Jews are looked upon as those who should be better than others, so if we're seen doing something wrong, it's all over newspapers, similarly if something we're doing right is perceived as wrong the newspapers get that as well. The speaker's point was, that we're supposed to not do things that can be perceived as bad, even though they're NOT bad. I have a major problem with that. I personally don't care very much what others think, and I don't think we can do half the things we do if we worry about what the goyim think.

For example, there's kolel. If we really worried about Chillul Hashem we'd ban kollel. It's only a matter of time until the media gets insight on the fact that ABLE-BODIED men in areas like Lakewood are sitting around on welfare, with five kids. Their wives having crappy jobs, and they refusing to work because they "need" to "learn."

What about shidduchim? What about that WSJ article Single Jewish Female Seeks Stress Relief? The article portrays how pathetic our dating system is. We're frum Jews, we're not supposed to pressure our daughters into marrying a random idiot to avoid being "old maids" by 25. There's something seriously pathetic about that. This entire concept is truly a chillul hashem.

What about how yeshivot are open on national holidays? What message does that send? We can live here but not give a damn about your holidays?

Or how about the fact that there's no shaking hands at job interviews or at rewards ceremonies? What kind of message does that send? How about the fact that Jews are so oversexed that they refuse to SHAKEhands at interviews.

-While there's good in having a FEW full-time learners, having any at all would be a chillul hashem.

- While certain aspects of shidduch dating are good (none of the wasting time), none of it would be allowed because the entire referencing and driving girls crazy with all the pressure, is a chillul hashem.

Personally I think the frum community is a walking chillul hashem, but what do I know? I'm a BT and modern.


BrooklynWolf said...

What about how yeshivot are open on national holidays? What message does that send? We can live here but not give a damn about your holidays?

I don't think this is so bad. It's certainly no worse than stores that are open on Independence Day, Memorial Day, etc.

The Wolf

Child Ish Behavior said...

See: bad is relative. And boy are relatives bad. Because guess what, It really is all the relatives fault that people are so worried about doing bad. if it weren't for messing up some family reputation how many people would really care about Chillul Hashem?

Michelle said...

Ya ain't crazy.
I think that quite often. I believe it's better to shake the hand of a member of the opposite sex than make a chillul Hashem by trying to explain it away.
Yes, the fact that we are SOOO separated from one another gives the impression that a guy is aroused, at say, Hillary Clinton, hence the Yated won't publish a photo of her.

I think your comments are, unfortunately, on the mark.

Ophir said...

1. Christmas and New Years are Christian holidays, we should have school on those days. I had off Thanksgiving, President's Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day. These are the major American holidays. Many business are open on MLK Jr, Columbus and Veteran's Days.

2.Yes there are problems with kolel and shidduchim(supposedly), but there are problems in every religious community. We are trying to solve these problems and that is what matters. I think a better example of chilul Hashem is the federal raid at the Rubashkin's plant.

3. Everyone nowadays is very sensitive to people's religious beliefs and customs. Why is Judaism singled out for not shaking someone of the opposite sex's hand? We should be tolerant and accept it. Other religions do other things and we tolerate it. Also, many rabbis (including mine at YU) will say to shake someone's hand and not embarrass them. It might be a small minority of frum Jews who will not shake hands. Then again you have radicals in every religion.

I think the worse chilul Hashem is towards other Jews. I can't stand when I am in the Jewish Mart and people just leave their carts blocking the aisle, not caring who wants to get by. Or, I go to a Jewish pizza/bagel store and ask for a bagel and coffee and the board says it should cost $2.50. The Jewish owner charges me $3 and when I ask why he says that those are old prices and he himself is changing them tonight. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I came in 3 weeks later and those prices were still up. That is against the law and against halacha. That is a chillul Hashem!!!

Ophir said...

One more thing-That article in the WSJ was probably a chilul Hashem. If problems exist in our community it is bad enough. We don't need Jews exposing our problems to the world. Let them find out on their own. That article was totally unnecessary and pointless because how many people actually understand and care what she wrote about? Probably very few besides Orthodox or Conservative Jews.

Nimrod said...


Talking about hanging out dirty laundry for the neighbors.

But I dont think our "aveiros" are worse than other ethnic groups, at least our unemployed dont go around killing people and performing acts of violence

Japanese/Asian's also dont shake hands, so what? People can respect other people's traditions, its actually very American.

US public holidays have lost all meaning, and are just anther excuse for sales and consumption.

Dave said...

Any notion of "hiding your dirty laundry" is less and less likely in the modern era.

Means of recording and dissemination of information are too easily available.

frumpunk said...

"How about the fact that Jews are so oversexed that they refuse to SHAKEhands at interviews. "

What? Don't be stupid, oversexed? You know the reason is to not create a situsation of familiarity. Its a bit of an extension of the idea of "building a fence" (so as to put another prohabition beyond whats actually disallowed) but not unreasonable I feel.

Mockery is only effective if your facts are correct.

s(b.) said...

wow; you've got balls (okay, ovaries). good for you. you make some strong points. thank you.

frumskeptic said...

The point of this post is to show how messed up it is to constantly fear how something may be effected by maaras ayin and constantly fear that we're doing a chillul hashem even when doing something right.

I do not think that being open on national holidays is necessarily bad, just that since it MAY look bad, we shouldn't do it, based on the logic " that we're supposed to not do things that can be perceived as bad, even though they're NOT bad"

Similarly I didnt mean that Jews ARE oversexed, just that it may APPEAR that we think everyone is, and therefore we do not trust them. Which could look very bad.
Not that Jews ARE oversexed, just that since the concept of shomer negiah (in most cases good) can appear negative.

Sorry, I wasn't clear.

frumskeptic said...

dont get me wrong, theres ALOT of crap that we literally SHOULD avoid because it IS bad, but that wasn't the overall point of the post

Ophir said...

Frum Skeptic- Do you know how much sex and smut goes on in this society? I don't think you can ever be too careful. As much as I want to say that not shaking hands is ridiculous, Chazal knew what they were doing and are a lot smarter than me and you. It seems they knew what they were doing. You don't think this is oversexed?-A stat on pornography in the US. "$12.0 billion of this is US revenue, more than all combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises or the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC (6.2 billion). $2.5 of the $12 billion is related to internet porn." I think that is oversexed.

frumskeptic said...

The concept of shomer negiah is the gate thing and the concept of nidda.

However, in a culture that sees nothing wrong with shaking hands, it may just appear that Jews are so oversexed and so untrustworthy that they refuse to do something so menial as shake hands at an interview or rewards ceremony where somthing literally could not happen.

That was the point.

Jersey said...

I was actually taken aback by your initial statement: "The speaker said that Jews are looked upon as those who should be better than others..."

What goyim think we should be better than others? When do you ever see a goy point out a Jewish problem and add that we should be better simply because we're Jewish?

Just because we believe we're better than everyone else doesn't mean the goyim do. If they make a big deal out of our problems, it's not because they think we're so great. This Jewish ego is also a chillul HaShem.

Dave said...

Two monks on a pilgrimage came to the ford of a river. There they saw a girl dressed in all her finery, obviously now knowing what to do since the river was high and she did not want to spoil her clothes. Without more ado, one of the monks took her on his back, carried her across and put her down on dry ground on the other side. Then the monks continued on their way.

However, the other monk, after an hour or so, started complaining, “Surely it is not right to touch a woman; it is against the commandments to have close contact with women. How could you go against the rules for monks?”

The monk who had carried the girl walked along silently, but finally he remarked, “I set her down by the river an hour ago, why are you still carrying her?”

--Irmgard Schloegl, The Wisdom of Zen Masters

Why is it that people in the secular world can do their jobs with mixed genders, immodest (by frum standards) dress, shaking hands, and so on, but frum Kollels are issuing letters stating that modestly dressed women dropping off their husbands are so distracting that the men won't be able to learn for the rest of the day because of it?

frumskeptic said...

dave: thanx so much. that is one awesome quote. So true among the frummies. :)

The Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: the thing is, what your saying can be looked at as a chillul Hashem, superficially, but really its not, because all these things have reasons to them, and their underlying reason is more important. Their done out of a belief, the fact that Jewish people can be strong in their beliefs is more of a Kiddush Hashem then the results they cause.

By the Kosher Chesse Burger issue, there is no way it can be a kiddush Hashem, there is no belief behind it.

The Babysitter said...

Dave: that may be a good point, but not totally perfect. The fact that the person is still "carrying her" in his mind could be a good thing, it means he's dedicated to following the rulings, so when he sees someone doing something different from it, he asks questions to better understand it.

There are many Rabbi stories like this, it doesn't negate the action though. For example, the famous one about a Rabbi coming to a village and being served horrible food by the cook, he ate the whole thing making believe it was excellent so that the cook shouldn't get fired. His talmud questioned him, was his talmud doing something bad by questioning, no he was learning something, he learned the lesson of how important it is not to make people feel bad and that they shouldn't lose their parnassah because of you. Does that mean that there was nothing wrong with the food because the Rabbi ate it? no the food was still horrible.
Same here, lihavdil, in Jewish standards, was carrying the girl wrong? yes. The reason why the other guy was thinking about it was because he was thinking over in his head the different reasons why in this case it would be permissible then after a while of not being able to think of a reason he questioned it and said it aloud.

frumskeptic said...

Babysitter: I completely disagre with you. the entire concept of chillul hashem is complete nonsense. We should do what we have to do, no matter how it appears no matter what.

We should also be allowed, infact encouraged, to do things we want to do, just because we can, even though we don't have to do it. ie the cheeseburger. Specifically because that encourages individuality. If all we did was sit around and eat the same type of foods over and over again, and did the same actions over and over, out of fear of chillul hashem, we'd all be lame idiots with identical lives..

oh wait look...the frum community is already like that. boring, dull, and exactly the same.

The Babysitter said...

The whole point of Chilul Hashem is to explain to children why they shouldn't be acting in a bad way and doing things they are not supposed to do. You can say there's no such thing as a chillul Hashem, and that you should just do what you do. Ok fine, you can say it that way, but the stuff that are deemed chilul Hashem worthy are stuff that people shouldn't be doing, the only reason their called Chilul Hashem is to give people a reason of why it shouldn't be done, to help people understand.

For example: a child on the city bus shouldn't be screaming out loud and hitting people and calling people names and staring at people, these things may not be avairos but their wrong on a behavioral level, so there may be no Jewish reason why they shouldn't do it, so they call it a chillul Hashem so it has a Jewish reason.

frumskeptic said...

or you can just tell your kid that its not nice to disturb people on the bus.

or you can mess with the kid. When he's trying to talk, you whine and kvetch to him, real loud at home, the way he would do it on the bus, so he learns his lesson.

Othewise, if you constantly "chillul hashem" everything, the kid feels trapped within his religion.

The Babysitter said...

True, I agree with you on that.

Anonymous said...

Chilul Hashem can be made by a jew in front of jews as well.

frumskeptic said...

Anonymous: When the guy was making the speech he was referring to the goyim when it came to making a chillul hashem.

Either way, it really is irrelevant. Why should it matter what something looks like if we aren't doing anything wrong? If we constantly feared it, EVERYTHING we did would just be wrong, because everything can be twisted.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading some of your blogs and you seem like a very intelligent woman hauling a lot of misunderstanding and resentments. I hear your frustration BUT the emotional bias does not leave you much room to seek out REAL answers. Orthodox Judaism is not about what we as finite human beings decide with our very limited brains to be truth but more importantly what G-d says is truth. You don't like it....that is life...and it is okay because you can only see as far as your human capacity will allow. Thank goodness we don't make the would be disasterous. Find a competent Orhodox Rabbi to discuss all of these issues if you really want the truth.

A Concerned Mother