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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Negative Mitzvah 63, 65,
Positive Mitzvah 172

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Negative Mitzvah 63: Desecrating the name of G-d
Leviticus 22:32 "Neither shall you profane My holy name"

Everything a Jew does, has an effect on the way others look at the Jewish people and the Torah.

The Torah expects a Jew to behave in a proper and fitting manner.

If a person follows the Mitzvot and acts in a just manner, other people will notice him and praise HaShem and His chosen nation (see also Positive Mitzvah 9).

However, if the individual does not act properly, people will see and criticize, not only the person himself, but HaShem and His nation.

This is called a "Chillul HaShem" - a desecration of G-d's name.

This Negative Mitzvah describes three types of situations where a Jew must be very careful in what he says and how he acts, so that he will not cause a Chillul HaShem.

  1. The first type of Chillul HaShem is when the Jewish religion is challenged.

    If an evil nation or person proclaims that Jews are no longer allowed to follow the Torah, obeying such a ruling would be considered a Chillul HaShem.

    Our history is full of countless stories of Jews who chose to sacrifice their lives rather than deny their faith.

  2. The second type of Chillul HaShem is when a Jew's behavior is irresponsible and disrespectful of Torah and Mitzvot, even if he does not benefit from his actions. This is also a Chillul HaShem.

  3. The third type of Chillul HaShem involves an individual who is regarded as a religious person and upholds the Torah.

    If this person does something that even seems wrong, other people will point at him and say: "Look at that person who calls himself a religious Jew!"

An example of this type of Chillul HaShem would be, Yeshivah students dumping their garbage out of the bus windows... Or a girl siting comfortably on a public bus, ignoring an elderly lady who is standing...

If we act in such a manner that causes other people to disapprove of our actions, because they are not proper or fitting, this too is considered a Chillul HaShem.

Negative Mitzvah 65: We are forbidden to destroy or damage a Jewish place of worship, or holy books, or to erase sacred names.
Deuteronomy 12:4 "This you shall not do to the L-rd your G-d"

This Negative Mitzvah tells us that we are forbidden to destroy or damage a synagogue or Yeshivah. We are also not allowed to damage a sefer, or to erase any one of the sacred names of HaShem that appear in writing.

All old sefarim and books (even school notebooks!), that have the name of HaShem in them or have notes from learning Torah, may not be thrown out in the garbage.

They are called "Shaimot" and must be given to the "Genizah" which may be found in Yeshivot or Synagogues. These books are then buried in a special place.

Positive Mitzvah 172: Heeding a Prophet
Deuteronomy 18:15 "You shall listen to him"

Children obey their parents.

Students listen to their teachers.

Players carry out the instructions of their coach.

Hikers follow their leader.

We all have our goals and are guided by those who help us to reach them.

The Jewish people's goal is to fulfill the will of HaShem as stated in the Torah.

HaShem chooses a specific person and appoints him as a prophet.

His job is to help the people in explaining the ways of the Torah and to encourage them to fulfill the Mitzvot.

We are commanded to listen to the prophet and obey his instructions.

There are people who do much good, but with pessimism -- because to them the world is an inherently bad place. They do good things, but without light and vitality. Who knows how long it can last? We must know that this world is not a dark, sinister jungle, but a garden. And not just any garden, but G-d's own pleasure garden, full of beauty, wonderful fruits and fragrances, a place where G-d desires to be with all His essence. It is only that we must break through the thorny shells and peels to discover the fruit inside.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman -

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