Marc Ashley 2020

Kiddush Hashem (Sanctification of God’s Name): Between Holiness and Martyrdom

Marc Ashley’s adult education class between Pesah and Shavuot

Sunday, April 26, 2020 at 10:30 am (single session only)

The Torah frequently urges us to sanctify God’s name and to avoid profaning it. Accordingly, the affirmative concept of kiddush Hashem (the duty to sanctify God’s name), and the inverse and complementary principle of chilul Hashem (the obligation to avoid desecrating God’s name), have become core ideas in Jewish thought. But what does kiddush Hashem mean in both theory and practice? How, in our concrete behavior, are we to sanctify God’s name, and to what lengths must we go to fulfill this essential commandment? Should we, in our abiding commitment to God, sometimes sacrifice our lives for the Jewish cause? Over time, Jews concluded that even the essential principle of preserving life was superseded, under particular traumatic circumstances, by the equally compelling imperative to sanctify God’s name. From brutal Roman persecution of the Rabbis, to the decimation of the medieval Crusades, to the vast horror of the Holocaust, holiness could give way to martyrdom.