Rabbi Robinson’s Sermon May 17, 2024

Parashat Emor Reading Plaut p. 823

Source Sheet by Yair Robinson



Leviticus 22:31-33

(31) You shall faithfully observe My commandments: I am the Eternal. (32) You shall not profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people—I the Eternal who sanctify you, (33) I who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God, I the Eternal.


ויקרא כ״ב:ל״אל״ג

(לא) וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֙ מִצְוֺתַ֔י וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָֽה׃ (לב) וְלֹ֤א תְחַלְּלוּ֙ אֶת־שֵׁ֣ם קָדְשִׁ֔י וְנִ֨קְדַּשְׁתִּ֔י בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה מְקַדִּשְׁכֶֽם׃ (לג) הַמּוֹצִ֤יא אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לִהְי֥וֹת לָכֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִ֑ים אֲנִ֖י יְהוָֽה׃ (פ)


  • This past Monday, many of us gathered with the Schoenberg family to help them grieve and mourn Geoffrey, who passed last Friday. At the funeral, there was some use of cuss words in the various eulogies, and I’m sure some of us gathered were thinking that the cussing on the bimah was somehow profaning God’s name.
  • While maybe distasteful—though certainly an authentic expression of his friends’ and family’s grief—cussing is not profaning of God’s name as Torah understands it. Which is good, because being a New Englander, I may have a particular affection for, shall we say, colorful metaphors.
  • So, What is Chilul Hashem? What does it mean to profane God’s name? Rashi understands it as willfully disobeying God’s Mitzvot. I would argue that, since so many mitzvot are about how we treat one another, that active disrespect or abuse of others is chilul Hashem.
  • So: burning aid trucks meant for Gaza might be an expression of grief over the hostages, but it profanes God’s name. Failing to see the anguish of the family members of the hostages, or the pain of parents in Gaza caught betwixt and between is chilul hashem. Telling a bunch of soon-to-be graduates that the women among them belong in the kitchen is profaning God’s name. Failing to see the divine image in one another and reflecting that failure in our behavior is profaning God’s name.
  • God can handle some curse words, even on the bimah. But when we fail to care for one another, then we really are turning God’s name into ash in our mouths. May we remember always to make sure our actions then act as praise of God’s name instead, so that all our actions are a blessing. Amen.