Dealing with Adversity – Making a Kiddush Hashem

Making a kiddush Hashem and glorifying the Name of Hashem in the world is the job of every Jew. There are so many ways to achieve this since every Yid has a different tafkid — assignment — in the world.

But first some perspective. The Navi Yeshayah tells us (43:21), “Am zu yetzarta li tehillasi yesapeiru — this people that I have fashioned for myself that they may declare my praise.” Daas Sofrim explains this to mean that Klal Yisrael relates praise of the Ribbono shel Olam through words and by serving as a stellar example to the nations of proper conduct.

Opportunities to glorify the Name of Heaven (or its opposite, chillul Hashem, chas v’shalom) through our speech and our deeds arise each day. The examples are endless — holding a door open for someone, speaking politely, showing honesty and integrity and being considerate of others, to name a few.

Sefer Mishlei (14:28) amplifies the message, telling us “B’rov am hadras melech — the glory of the King is manifest in a multitude of people,” who unite to accept His sovereignty. There is a greater kvod Shamayim when many people come together to fulfill a mitzvah. This principle comes into play when we blow shofar, read the Megillah or even recite Kiddush on Shabbos. Besides the halachic ramifications that exude from these words, we are being imparted an attitude and an ideal as well. During the pandemic when we were davening privately or in backyard minyanim, we pined for the opportunity to realize the fulfillment of “B’rov am hadras melech.”

A sense of how the prospect of chillul Hashem should affect us is inherent in the words of Tehillim (42:11): “B’retzach b’atzmosai cherfuni tzoreray, b’omram elay kol hayom ayei Elokecha — with a murderous dagger in my bones my foes have mocked me by saying to me the entire day, ‘Where is your G-d?’” Radak comments here that Dovid Hamelech is saying that when someone asks, “Where is your G-d?” it is akin to being pierced with a sword because of the lessening of the honor of Heaven that results. This shows how imperative it is to make a kiddush Hashem.

The possibilities for kiddush Hashem exist both in an individual and communal context. A Rav in an out-of-town community I interviewed several years ago related he once attended the conference of a medical organization in his city. He suggested they implement as a matter of policy that if a Jewish patient is near death, R”l, and wishes to pray, a Rabbi would be sent to the patient rather than a non-Jewish clergyman. Despite his presentation, the officials denied his request, citing legal and ethical arguments.

After the meeting, since the Rav had partaken of the kosher lunch that was provided, he recited Birkas Hamazon, slowly and with kavanah as he would in his home. Some of the non-Jewish clergy understood that he was thanking Hashem for the food and stood by with bowed heads as a gesture of respect. When he finished, they said, “Rest assured, Rabbi, that we will contact you if we have Jewish patients who desire to pray.” It was not his articulate presentation that convinced them but their perception that he was a sincere servant of the Creator.

The Rav added, “Here in this community, I came to realize the koach a ben Torah has. The kiddush Hashem one can achieve is unbelievable.”

Yet, we can bring the standard of kvod Shamayim into our personal avodas Hashem as well. At the recent convention of Agudath Israel, Harav Binyamin Eisenberger spoke at length about this topic. (He mentioned that the ongoing trend of antisemitism “is a bizayon of kvod Shamayim.”) He said that our present-day Yiddishkeit is on the highest level as regards hiddur mitzvah — the most mehudar matzos, arba minim — a wonderful sign of growth. What if we added the component of lishmah — doing the mitzvah solely for Hashem — which just needs a bit of reflection? This attitude will translate into actions as well. 

One more story demonstrates how kiddush Hashem can impact on a wide scale. Many years ago, a baal habayis bought a home in Brooklyn. One day the family discovered jewelry and bonds worth a huge sum that obviously belonged to the previous owner. Upon consulting with a major Posek, they were instructed to return the items. The earlier owner, who was Jewish but not frum, said that he knew of the existence of the treasure, which was from his parents, but was never able to find it. He added that he believed that if the new owner — a religious Jew — would ever find it, it would be returned to him.

This Yid who had returned the money went on to experience tremendous success in his business and has become a leading baal tzedakah who has had many more opportunities to increase kvod Shamayim. 

In these uncertain times, it is encouraging to know that making a kiddush Hashem can turn things around in situations of challenge and be an  abundant source of blessing. Let us keep this in mind the next time such an opportunity knocks.

Rabbi Yosef Gesser is a longtime writer for Hamodia Newspaper as well as an inspirational speaker on various topics, including dealing with adversity. He can be reached at

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