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Rabbi Jonathan Ganger
by Published on May 8, 2020

Jews are credited with a plethora of creativity in the fields of arts, science, economics- basically any field under the sun. Unfortunately, we are not always credited with our most creative and productive work, sanctifying G-d’s name. What does it means to give sanctity to G-d’s name and why is it our most creative work?

              To begin, we need a working definition of sanctity.  One way of defining sanctity is the ability to do an act purely for its own sake. In other words, our world is bounded and anything in it can at best be exchanged, one thing for another, whether in physics or in our daily interactions. Normal terms of operations between people is if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Or, at the least, if it isn’t a direct exchange, a person expects something else in return whether it be recognition or a sense of satisfaction. Holiness is realizing that one can get past that natural path and do things in an altruistic way that breaks the cycle of nature and creates a one way street.  Since we are created in the image of G-d, we can act G-dly and give because that is who we are and not because of what we get in return.  To be able to break out of the natural cycle, and create a new way of interacting is the greatest act creativity one can do.

              Not only is it a great thing, but the verse in this week’s Torah portion indicates that this is what we are meant to do! It says, “You shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people—I the LORD who sanctify you, I who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God, I the LORD.” Why is the first verse followed by the second? Because it indicates that the entire reason for bringing is out of Egypt was so that we could create this new pathway of holiness and by doing so, this shows the world that our ability to subdue nature is a product of the fact that there is a Divine spark in each human being that in itself bespeaks to a Divine presence in the world.  The good news is that this innovation has another result.  If we break out nature, G-d says, I will break nature in return and express sanctity to you in the form of Divine miracles.  We can never rely on this, as this would actually bring us back in to a cycle of doing something for something, but it is something that exists.

              In light of some negative news about the Jewish people and the fact that there have been some small groups among us that find social distancing to be a challenge, a way to fight the negative news is to up our Kiddush Hashem. That has happened via plasma donations and other amazing activities that often goes underreported   And we can continue with a few other things as well. Maimonides points out how to do it. First, invest in Torah and then show exemplary behavior in your actions with small things such as paying workers on time, and maintaining an exceptionally pleasant demeanor among a few others things.  The best defense is a better offense.