[Editor’s Note: this month’s “Glimpses” column appears on page 25.]
I treasure Rav Schwab’s Torah commentaries and lessons, none more so than his strongly worded admonitions against Chillul Hashem, which ring just as true today as they did when he wrote them decades ago:
Every form of Chillul Hashem lowers the awareness of the Divine Presence in the world. But if the desecrator happens to be a professed Torah observer or, even worse, a so-called scholar of the Torah, then the Chillul Hashem not only weakens the respect for Torah on one hand, but strengthens on the other hand the defiance of the nonobserver and adds fuel to the scoffers, fanning the fires of religious insurrection all around.
Chillul Hashem is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the increase of frivolity, heresy, and licentiousness in the world. Therefore, we should not be surprised reading the harsh words of condemnation we find in the Talmud:
* “[For someone] who has committed Chillul Hashem, even teshuvah, Yom Kippur, and suffering cannot fully atone for his sin until the day of his death” (Yoma 86).
*”There is no delay in the Divine punishment for Chillul Hashem, whether committed knowingly or unknowingly” (ibid.).
* “If one steals from a non-Jew, swears falsely and dies, his death is no atonement for his sin because of Chillul Hashem” (Tosefta B. Kamma 10).
* “All sins are forgiven by God but Chillul Hashem He punishes immediately” (Sifri Haazinu).
This is but a small selection from the many fierce condemnations addressed by our Sages to the desecrators of the Divine Name…. While it is obvious that the vast majority of loyal and observant Torah Jews deal honestly and correctly with their fellow men, a very small minority of criminal perpetrators suffices to cast sinister aspersions on all Orthodox Jews and, what is worse, on Orthodox Judaism as a way of life.
The Chillul Hashem of a few individuals provides excuses for the doubter, and encourages the desecration of Torah learning, Torah education, and Torah influence. To defraud and exploit our fellowmen, Jew or gentile, to conspire, to betray the government, to associate with underworld elements – all these are hideous crimes by themselves.
Yet to the outrage committed there is added another dimension, namely the profanation of the Divine Name and that means the profanation of all that is supposed to be held sacred by us as well as – in their heart of hearts – by the perpetrators themselves. What a sorry picture that is. Suppose I have cheated my neighbor or my government and then I stand in the midst of a congregation of honest and decent men and women to recite the Kaddish, which is the prayer for Kiddush Hashem in the world. What audacity! What a shame! Can there be a worse contradiction than the strict Sabbath observer who may also be a stickler for kashrus and who at the same time violates the spirit of Shabbos and kashrus during the week with non-kosher money manipulations?
….Therefore, no whitewashing, no condoning, no apologizing on behalf of the desecrators. Let us make it clear that anyone who besmirches the sacred Name ceases to be our friend. He has unwittingly defected from our ranks and has joined our antagonists, to make us all suffer in his wake….