"I scattered them amongst the nations ... And they came to the nations to
whom they came, and they desecrated My holy name, for it was said of them:
these are the people of Hashem, yet they have had to leave His land!"
An important principle is expressed here.
The Name of Hashem is bound together with the fate of the Jewish people. If we are sent into exile because of our sins, and all the world sees the sorry plight of the people of Hashem, then we must bear the responsibility for the resulting desecration of Hashem's name.
The Rabbis of the Talmud (Yoma 86a) add the following observation:
"'You shall love Hashem your Lord'--[this means] that the name of Hashem shall become beloved through you. For you shall learn and study ... and deal pleasantly with your fellow man. Then what will the people say of you? 'Fortunate is his father who taught him Torah! Fortunate is his teacher who taught him Torah! So-and-so who studied Torah--look how pleasant are his ways, how proper his actions!'
" ... But he who learned and studied ... and yet his business dealings are dishonest and he does not speak pleasantly with people, then what do the people say of him? 'Woe to his father who taught him Torah! Woe to his teacher who taught him Torah! So-and-so who studied Torah--look how crooked are his actions, how unpleasant his ways!' And of him it is written, 'And they desecrated My name, for it was said of them, these are the nation of Hashem, yet they have had to leave His land!'"
In its context, our verse speaks of the Jewish people as one collective entity. Collectively, we are certainly responsible for our actions, for in the eyes of the world they reflect the ways of Hashem's teachings.
But perhaps we could have thought that we need not be concerned about our private dealings as individuals. After all, who will take note of what we do in private?
Here is where the Sages of the Talmud have taught us otherwise. Every single Jew represents the entirety of Israel in the eyes of the world. If even one Jew stoops to act in an improper manner, we may be sure that we will hear the chorus: "These are the people of Hashem, and this is how they act!"
Every single one of us is a standard-bearer for Hashem--in every action that he takes.
Copyright (c) 1997 by Rabbi Levi Langer
Courtesy of www.JewishAmerica.com
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