Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Going All In

Vayiqra’/Leviticus 22:32
ולא תחללו את שם קדשי
ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל
אני ה' מקדישכם
And do not desecrate my name of holiness;
I will be sanctified among the Israelite People —
I am God, your sanctifier.


R' Shelomo Yarhhi/Yitzhhaqi explains, based on the Midrash Sifra, that ונקדשתי "I will be sanctified" is referring to the ultimate sanctification of God's name — giving up your life for its sake — and adds:
And when one gives themself over, they must give themself over to die — for anyone who gives themself over, [trusting] that a miracle [will be performed for them], no miracle is made for them.

If you're going to do something, do it properly.
There is no 'hedging your bets' in matters of faith.
Pascal's Wager is nothing but a scare tactic.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Dave ( Balashon) said...

A number of years ago, I heard a shiur where the speaker talked about how Spanish Jewry in the Middle Ages had a very different attitude towards martyrdom than the Ashkenazim. Basically, they didn't believe - as Rashi does here - that Kiddush Hashem necessarily requires martyrdom. That changed after the Spanish Inquisition...

5/03/2007 5:28 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I've heard the same thing, attributed to the Visigothic period. Supposedly, when the Visigoths came and conquered Iberia, they forced the Jews to convert to Christianity; not long afterwards, the decrees were lifted, and the Jews were able to go back to being Jewish — and that set a pattern for later periods of persecution, since they were seemingly confident that no period of forced conversion could last long, and if they just held out as anusím for a while, everything would work out again.

5/03/2007 5:43 AM  
Blogger rabbiben said...

There is a remarkable article by R. Dr. Haym Soloveitchik entitled "Religious Law and Change: The Medieval Jewish Example" published in AJS Review in 1987. In it he goes on at length about martyrdom becoming operational kiddush Hashem. If one has not read it I highly recommend it.

5/03/2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

rabbiben:

thanks for the reference! i found the article on JSTOR, but i don't quite have access to it :-P hrrrmm... i could probably find it in my local university library?

5/03/2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger Kylopod said...

Pascal's wager only works for Christianity, if it works at all. (Actually, it doesn't.) The statement "I believe in God only because I'll be rewarded for doing so if I happen to be right" wouldn't fly in the Jewish understanding of divine justice.

5/03/2007 4:18 PM  
Blogger rabbiben said...

Steg,
I'll be able to obtain a PDF of the document from JSTOR on Monday. I have access to JSTOR from Yeshiva but unfortunately not from home.

If you get a copy before then just let me know.

Shabbat Shalom!

5/03/2007 8:39 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Kylopod:

my brother once claimed in a letter to the editor of our college newspaper (in response to a jews for jesus campaign on campus) that he "can think of nothing more immoral than the idea that God would decide someone's eternal fate based solely on whether they hold an arbitrary idea to be true."

5/12/2007 11:04 PM  
Blogger Kylopod said...

I think that to most Christians accepting Jesus is a lot deeper than holding an arbitrary idea to be true.

5/14/2007 5:49 AM  

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