Interactive Learning Module
Courage of a Mother
לגרסה בעברית של יחידת לימוד זו, לחצו
The concept of
sanctifying Hashem's name
("קידוש השם") is considered by many to be one of the central precepts of Judaism. The oft-cited source for the obligation is
, where Hashem states, "וְלֹא תְחַלְּלוּ אֶת שֵׁם קׇדְשִׁי
וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
This module will explore how various commentators and enumerators of the mitzvot understand this mitzvah and the extent to which their understandings match the simple sense of the verses.
An in depth analysis of the issue can be found at
Sanctifying Hashem's Name
. As you use this module, you are invited to compare your own analysis with the analysis found there.
2. The Verse in Context
Let's begin in the Mikraot Gedolot on
in order to see the verse "וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל" in context.
Scan the chapter
. What are the topics covered in the chapter as a whole? What is the subject of the immediately preceding verses (26-30)?
At whom are the laws of the chapter primarily aimed? Does this imply that our verse, too, is being addressed only to this group?
Where else in the chapter does the concept of the sanctification or desecration of Hashem's name appear?
Based on your perusal of the unit, how would you explain our verse? What is it trying to express?
3. Consequence of Observance
Let's return to
and look at
Ibn Ezra's understanding
of the verse.
According to him, at whom is verse 32 directed? To what is it connected?
Are the words "וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל" a
command or a consequence?
What is the verse saying about Hashem's sanctification? How is Hashem to be glorified?
How does the
of the verb "וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי" support Ibn Ezra's reading?
4. Variation of a Refrain
According to Ibn Ezra, our verse is not a command at all, but rather simply states that
proper priestly observance
of the cultic laws just mentioned will
result in Hashem's sanctification
As such, the phrase is similar to others in the chapter (see verses 2, 9, 15, and 16) which also serve to remind the priests to be careful in their service so as not to profane Hashem and thereby to promote His sanctity.
Let's see these inside. Access the
on our chapter by clicking
. [The lab can also usually be accessed by clicking on the microscope icon above the verse.]
5. Tanakh Lab
In verse 2, click on the words
so that all appearances of words with these roots will now be highlighted. Where else in the chapter is the sanctification or desecration of Hashem's name discussed?
Note how variations of the phrases
"וְלֹא יְחַלְּלוּ אֶת שֵׁם קׇדְשִׁי"
"אֲנִי ה' מְקַדְּשָׁם"
repeat. [Highlight the phrases in verses 2 and 9 and choose "highlight instances" from the drop-down menu so that all appearances will be colored.]
Do you think the usage of these phrases throughout the chapter supports Ibn Ezra's reading, or is our verse significantly different?
6. Upright Behavior and Observance
Let's now return to the
to look at a second reading of our verses.
R. D"Z Hoffmann
speaks about our issue in his comments to
. We'll look at just the first part of his commentary, until the words, " שהכל יהיו כפופים לו ומשועבדים לעבודתו".
According to him, at whom is our verse aimed? Is it a command or consequence? What is it requiring of the nation?
Compare R. D"Z Hoffmann to
in in his halakhic code of Mishneh Torah,
Hilkhot Yesodei Torah 5:11
. In what ways do the two works agree? According to Rambam, what types of behavior sanctify Hashem?
7. Broad Context
R. D"Z Hoffmann and Rambam suggest that our verse is commanding the nation to
observe Hashem's mitzvot
and behave in a manner that will
cause others to praise
and sanctify Hashem.
How might they explain the fact that the word "וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי" is not written in the
form? Can you think of other verses which form the source for a mitzvah which are not formulated as a command?
question this reading
from the immediate context of cultic law which appears to have nothing to do with the nation's behavior and observance of Torah.
How does R. D"Z Hoffmann
? [Return to the Mikraot Gedolot by pressing
]. According to him, for which unit do verses 31-33 serve as a summation?
See the opening of the unit in
. What do the words
suggest is the unifying subject of this entire unit? What is the goal of all the commands therein?
8. Concordance Check
R. D"Z Hoffmann suggests that all of Chapters 19-22 revolve around the themes of sanctification and desecration.
Let's use the
to check his assertion. Access the concordance
into the input box, choosing the verb form from the drop-down menu. Out of 75 appearances of this
in all of Torah, how many are in these four chapters?
Now, type in
, again choosing the verb form from the drop-down menu. How many of the 40 appearances of the
in Torah are in our unit?
[For a visual demonstrating how Sefer Vayikra compares to other books of Tanakh in its usage of these roots, click on the
Let's now turn to what is perhaps the most well-known understanding of our verse, that sanctification of God's name is connected to the obligation to
sacrifice one's life for Hashem
Return to the Mikraot Gedolot on
and press the button "Show Additional Commentaries" so that the
, the Midrash Halakha on our verses, will now appear. What does it say our verse is commanding? Under what circumstances?
Hilkhot Yesodei Torah 5:1-2
goes further to include also the need to martyr one's self in private if asked to transgress one of the three cardinal sins of idolatry, illicit sexual behavior or murder.
What difficulties does this approach face from our chapter? [To return to the chapter, press
10. Alternative Sources?
As our chapter appears to be aimed at the priests, deals with cultic law, and contains no hint to self-sacrifice, we must attempt to better understand the approach that our verse refers to martyrdom. What might be the factors that led to such an interpretation?
Is there an
for the obligation of martyrdom which more explicitly mandates forfeiting one's life?
If you were looking for such a source, what verse might you have chosen?
11. Ahavat Hashem as Martyrdom
Sifre Devarim 6:5
, "וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת י"י אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכׇל לְבָבְךָ
וּבְכׇל מְאֹדֶךָ" as a possible source for martyrdom.
Do you think this is the simple understanding of this verse? What else might the verse be obligating? [For discussion of alternative understandings of the mitzvah, see:
What are the
of using this verse as a source for the obligation of martyrdom rather than the verse, "וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל"? What are the
Bonus work: Access the
מאגר מוני המצוות
to compare how the various enumerators of the mitzvot define each of these mitzvot and whether they view each as an obligation at all.
12. A Talmudic Tale
Let's close by looking at one
story of martyrdom
in the Gemara, R. Akiva's being tortured to death by the Romans.
Bavli Berakhot 61b
is taken to be killed, he accepts his fate. What does he say to his students when explaining to them how he is able to do so?
What verse does he point to as the
for the obligation of martrydom?
We have explored three very different understandings of the verse "וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל".
offers what is perhaps the simplest explanation, suggesting that the passive formulation of the phrase teaches that it is
not a command
at all. The phrase is related to the immediate context of priestly observance and declares that the
result of proper priestly service
will be the glorification of Hashem.
R. D"Z Hoffmann
, in contrast, views our verse as a summation of the entire unit of "Holiness laws" beginning in Chapter 19. The nation as a whole is being commanded to sanctify Hashem's name through
proper observance and behavior
, as delineated throughout the unit.
suggests that our verse serves as the source for the
obligation of martyrdom
. This explanation, though, is not agreed upon by all, and other sources adduce alternative verses for this obligation.
May we all merit to be able to sanctify Hashem's name through careful observance of Hashem's precepts and upright behavior in all areas of our lives.
14. Additional Reading
For further discussion of this topic, see:
Sanctifying Hashem's Name
For other topics related to Parashat Emor, see:
Parashat Emor – Topic List
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