Use profanity on someone who is verbally abused

Michael Zank

Is there still such a thing as blasphemy in secularized society? Or is the subject of blasphemy just an "old Bavarian legal chapel", as someone put it in the context of the first reading of a draft law by the CDU on February 8, 2001 for the amendment of Paragraph 166 of the Criminal Code, the paragraph that constitutes the offense of Is blasphemy a criminal offense in Germany? [1] The bill to tighten Paragraph 166 was not about the observation of an increase in unpunished disrespect for religion in general or for any religions, i.e. not a counterpart to political correctness. Rather, it was about the question of whether Christianity still represents the religion of the majority of German citizens and therefore deserves special protection from vilification. The discussion about the religious offense of blasphemy therefore concerned not only the Christian religion as such, but its role in the context of national identity. This link between religion and national dignity indicates that in blasphemy we are dealing with an issue that affects both religion and therefore the relationship between church and state, as well as issues of collective identity. The fact that there is still such a thing as blasphemy legislation in a modern state like the German can only surprise those who confuse the ideal of the secular state with the idea of ​​a completely secularized society. Such a thing only exists in our terms, but not in reality.

Blasphemy has something to do with the difference between the sacred and the profane, a distinction that has shaped and guided human behavior in its many cultural manifestations over millennia. Blasphemy of the saint was a religious offense and is still today in many societies and legal communities. The modern, western experiment of separating church and state must not be confused with an assignment of the sacred to the church and the profane to the state. This mix-up is the cause of many misunderstandings. For the secular state, which in modern times relied on the duality of spiritual and secular regiment that is characteristic of the Christian West, is by no means a profane thing. Rather, the modern state receives its authority, indeed its plausibility and thus its acceptance, from a certain sanctity that it claims, be it in the form of the divine grace of the absolute monarch, be it in the sanctity of the etre supreme, whose insult also the French Revolution criminalized, be it in key terms such as nation, people or workers, be it in “God with us” on the belt lock or be it simply in the sanctity of the flag, the burning of which is a criminal offense in many places. Loss of majesty and blasphemy are Siamese twins, which throws some light on secularization itself, which apparently only works with the transfer of religious powers to secular carriers.

As for the Siamese twins of majesty and deity, the political philosophy of the Enlightenment and the constitutions based on it attempted to somehow separate them from one another. The old offense of religion (StGB Par. 166) continues to exist, but it stands next to the new offense of violating a political taboo, which is now a much more serious offense. In the Federal Republic of Germany, for example, it is much easier to prosecute an insult to state power and its bearers than to insult Christian symbols and their representatives. The state has not simply restricted the church, but has to a certain extent replaced it and in doing so has also taken on the claim to the inviolability of its insignia. State blasphemy is the new blasphemy. The virulence of this transfer of the inviolability of the taboo to the state is particularly evident where the state becomes extremely religious. An example of this was the National Socialist cult of the Führer, in which taboos on the biological basis of one's own people were combined with the demonization of other such biological entities. For fear of a repetition of such developments, today's enlightened and educated people on the left of the political spectrum are now tending to a radical disenchantment of politics, i.e. to legitimize profanity as an expression of consistent secularity. However, the profanation of education and enlightenment remains exempt from this. Anyone who laughs at Kant, Herder or Humboldt is blaspheming the friends of God.

Jokes, especially political jokes, and satire, including the satirical treatment of sexual morality, are references to what is considered "sacred" in bourgeois society, i.e. to the much-invoked "common values." From the beginning, modern media culture has been connected with what used to be found primarily in the sermons of wandering and bus preachers, namely with the possibility of using words and images to violate taboos and thereby evoke certain feelings in the masses. The violation of taboos through word and image becomes an instrument for the dissemination of political ideologies and the value judgments associated with them, which take the place of previously valid value judgments. For this they need a certain strength and plausibility. They get this from the common enemy. The tabooing of a new good that is to be achieved is achieved by tabooing another, latent evil or evil that is already understood as such, i.e. by making a negative taboo. This explains the importance of propaganda in the history of modern politics.

An important example of the violence of secularized blasphemy is anti-Semitism. This phenomenon, in which political and religious motives are mixed up to form the religious-like secularization of a stoked hatred of the Jews, is at the same time an indication of what is really supposed to be achieved with its help. In the late 19th century it was about reducing the plausibility of the liberal worldview of the Enlightenment and building the plausibility of the political-religious priority of the people's welfare. The appeal to the naturalness of this idea served to create the impression that those who had made this idea their program should also be the most reliable representatives of the general interest of the people. The satirical-propagandistic or seriously believed disavowal of the ideals of 1789 as instruments in the struggle of another, “foreign” people for rule over their own people did not meet so much political resistance from the elites (for example in the Berlin anti-Semitism dispute of 1879 / 80) as an aesthetic resistance. Anti-Semitism was a violation not of the human rights of the caricatured minority but of good taste.
Blasphemy and its correlate, the sanctification of certain names and values, is thus not only secularizing in the state and politics, but also in aesthetics and education.
The religious definition of the religious offense of blasphemy, which in addition to the taboos of the secular state (including its sources, carriers and ideals) has held up to this day, can perhaps help us to determine some psycho-social constants of blasphemy. First, a definition of blasphemy should be given, which I found quoted on a website of the Old Catholics (opponents of the “V2 sect”), which commented on the already mentioned debate on paragraph 166 of the StGB. The source quoted is an excerpt from a text by the Catholic moral theologian Bernhard Häring (1911-1998) from 1954, i.e. from the time before the amendment of Par. 166.
Blasphemy is the diatribe against God himself directly or against His work or against His friends with regard to God himself. The worst form is the deliberate and fully conscious insult or mockery of God in order to offend Him in His honor and holiness (diabolical blasphemy). The use of expressions, actions and statements which, by their meaning, represent a blasphemy is a sin of the same nature with the directly intended blasphemy (even if this is not the intention), if and to the extent that the person concerned accepts this reviling meaning of his speech or is aware of doing and acts freely. Blasphemy can also occur as a mere thought sin. In the case of confessors who mentally accuse themselves of blasphemy, it is always natural to think of mere temptations or obsessive thoughts when they are otherwise leading a believing and pious life. The obsessive-compulsive patient is advised never to react violently to such thoughts, but usually to pay no attention to them at all, and to answer them from time to time with a calm prayer of praise. Blasphemy can also be committed through signs and gestures, for example when someone raises a fist to heaven or against the cross or dishonors a sacred image. It is also blasphemy if one wishes evil (the cursing blasphemy) people with reference to the mysteries of divine love (cross, sacrament, blood of Christ). Heresy is often associated with blasphemy, when the blasphemy denies God something true or claims something about him that contradicts faith. Blasphemy is a terrible mortal sin in its very nature. It is absolutely mortal sin, regardless of whether the motive is impatience, irascibility, hatred or contempt for God. Habitual blasphemy is "the language of hell" and a sign of rejection [FN: S. th.II q 13 a 4. [hl. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae]). [...] Blasphemies are for example: "Can there still be a Lord God!" "You can no longer believe in God." "Stop me with the righteousness (goodness) of God!" be cruel! "" The devil understands it better than the Lord God! "" God has miscalculated heavily with His creation! "" The Lord God has betrayed us. "" Religion is a private matter. Everyone can do what he wants with the Lord God! "[...] The angry abuse of holy words (to vent anger or impatience through these" strong expressions ") is not in itself the sin of blasphemy, can but easily come into dangerous proximity to them. If this is directly associated with a voluntary impulse of anger or impatience towards God, it becomes blasphemy through the intention. When several holy words, to a certain extent a "litany" of holy names and revelations of God's love, are shouted out together, it is generally felt that this is an abuse of God, a blasphemy, so that a blasphemous disposition can be inferred. [...] Insulting the saints, especially the Mother of God, is certainly the sin of blasphemy because, as friends of God, they are directly related to God. Just as the glory of God lights up in them, so their insults indirectly hit God himself. The cursing and cursing of creatures is (if it is meant seriously) a grave sin against love for one's neighbor and an opposition to prayer (an act of worshiping God), but no blasphemy unless there is a direct reference to God or a divine quality. Blasphemy while intoxicated is seriously sinful if the person concerned knows beforehand that he will sometimes utter such speeches while intoxicated. If he still does not want to avoid intoxication, he shows that he does not seriously detest blasphemy [FN: St. Aphonsus, Homo Apostolicus tr. 8 n 8.]. In the OT, blasphemy was punishable by death: “Whoever blasphemes the name of God is to be punished with death. Let the whole congregation stone him infallibly ”[Lev 24:16]. Jesus called the assertion that with the help of Beelzebub he cast out devils a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit which is forgiven neither in this nor in the other world [Mt 13,31f.]. The ancient pagan peoples ostracized and avoided the blasphemer. Justinian still put the death penalty in his legislation on blasphemy. German criminal law threatens blasphemers with up to three years' imprisonment if they give "nuisance" and violate the "religious feeling" of members of recognized religious communities. Large groups are doing everything they can to render this law ineffective. Even if the composure is unhappy (how do you find out that the feeling is offended and offended?), The penal law of a people who still claims religion and religious reverence must consider insulting God more punishable than that Insulting private or public officials.
(Häring, The Law of Christ, Freiburg 1954, 704-707) [2]

Haring advocates a reform Catholic moral theology, which, however, is not yet so clearly apparent in the first significant text of the theologian cited here that it would displace the traditional casuistry of blasphemy, which is currently important to us. From this quotation, which is very rich in content but also extensive, only a few features should be emphasized. Blasphemy is apparently a very serious matter, after all a "mortal sin". However, this sin is not always equally serious, and blasphemy-like cases can be distinguished from genuine blasphemy. The gradation is psychologically easy to understand. The sin of blasphemy relates not only to actions, especially to speech, but also to thoughts, and only deliberate or free actions and thoughts are culpable, while obsessive thoughts are subject to the obligation to confess, but are more a matter of pastoral care than of canon law. Of course, one can easily put oneself into a situation with such a confessional mirror in which church discipline was still accompanied by political violence. Such a thought experiment is a good way to remind us of what a special good the legal guarantee of the freedom of our thoughts is. This right is certainly all too natural for us today, in fact it is usually completely forgotten as a separate legal asset over the question of the limits of freedom of the press, i.e. freedom of expression. What a profound political and psychological gain it meant to have the right to one's own thoughts is again clear to us when we consider that even blasphemous thoughts can be punishable in some places.

However, the cited text by Haring is also suitable to remind you that the conflict between religion and the free constitutional state has not been completely resolved as long as there is such a church blasphemy doctrine. Or is it not worrying if, in 1954, a progressive Catholic adopted the central dogma of tolerance of the modern state, i.e. the statement that “religion is a private matter. Everyone can do whatever he wants with the Lord God ”, referred to as blasphemous. Here Häring touches on the raison d'etre of the modern state. As far as possible, the secular state is based on the inviolability of human rights, including freedom of religion. The state in the modern sense is largely based on the assumption, to speak freely with Spinoza, that freedom of expression is not only compatible with peace in the state, but can only be abolished if this peace is damaged. The rule of law honors its citizens of a coercive space of freedom of thought and expression.Now, of course, in such a state man can voluntarily, if not in the sense of an irrevocable metaphysical transformation, submit to a compulsory right that forbids him, for example, from believing the truth of the proposition that religion is a private matter. He can even under the condition of freedom of expression in the state for this opinion in the

Advertise publicly, i.e. it can try to spread its commitment to intolerance publicly, but the state has the right to determine the ultimately subjective degree of compatibility of such dissemination of intolerant opinions with public peace. The result of the difference between such a church belief and its conception of blasphemy and state responsibility for public peace is the smoldering or open cultural war that, if one follows the principles of Häring's confessional mirror, takes place for every practicing Catholic on every day of his life . It is understandable that the state prerogative in determining what constitutes criminal blasphemy is understandable for the Catholic Church and for the Christian parties associated with it in Germany.

As is well known, Islam has a similarly tense relationship to the possibility of a secular state as Catholic theology, which is particularly evident there in the religious offense of blasphemy. If one searches the Internet for pages on the subject of blasphemy, there is a whole series of references to the convictions of Christians in Pakistan for allegedly denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, as well as to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie's novel, Satanic Verses. It is less well known how blasphemy is understood and handled among the Jews. This is also true when referring to Leviticus 24:16, like Häring. "In OT, blasphemy was the death penalty:

“Whoever blasphemes the name of God should be punished with death. Let the whole church infallibly stone him "[Lev 24:16]." As far as I know, since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, no one has been stoned to death, at least not by Jews, at least not with reference to the aforementioned law, the conditions of which were first increased by the rabbis to the point of impracticability and for its implementation should it ever have been appropriate, the rabbinical courts lacked authority without state sanctions. There are relevant sections about this in Moses Mendelssohn (in Jerusalem, or on religious power and Judaism, 1783), which I do not want to cite here.

Judaism offers an interesting dimension for a religious-historical view of blasphemy, because in the eyes of Christianity it represented blasphemy par excellence up to the second Vatican Council (in which the aforementioned B. Haring, incidentally, had an important part in some respects). The Jews were regarded as murderers of God, a community whose religion in its mere persistence represented an insult to the honor of God and whose persistence one had to endure on the Christian side only because the punishment of God's justice was evident in it. The oppression of the Jews was seen as evidence of how blasphemers fared, all mockery, ostracism, exclusion, persecution and punishment an obvious judgment of God and thus a warning of the consequences of blasphemy, which consisted in the Jewish denial of the deity of Christ. Much has been written by sociologists of religion about the demonization of the other to determine one's own identity, including much that should be relevant to the function of the blasphemy accusation, which I cannot go into further at this point.

What I would like to contrast Haring's confessional mirror is the corresponding theory and practice on the Jewish side. So I would like to briefly present the concept of blasphemy as it is present in Jewish legal thought. As far as I can see, two expressions play a central role here, with the expression hilul hashem, which largely corresponds to the Christian concept of blasphemy, at the same time illuminates a problem that had not yet emerged. Hilul hashem literally means the profanation of the holy name. This is understood to mean the consequence of sinful acts that have been committed by individuals or the entire community of Israel and that could serve other peoples who have witnessed them to rightly despise or deny the God of Israel. The prerequisite for this concept of profaning the name is that the sanctification of the name of God among the peoples depends on the action of Israel. If Israel defiles the name of God, the God of Israel is defiled in the eyes of the peoples. In a recent interview on the behavior of the ultra-Orthodox community (i.e., the Charedim) in Israel, the Israeli religious philosopher Avi Saguy refers to this responsibility. From this and the following examples it becomes clear what significance the Jewish concept of blasphemy still has in the inner-Jewish discourse today.
The idea of hilul hashem […] Is somewhat paradoxical, because the one who determines what is hilul hashem is someone else. Hilul hashem is dependent on someone else — the one who sees it; and this doesn't have to be a Jew like me, but it could be a non-Jew, a secular Jew, or anyone who watches the practices of a community that claims to follow God’s ways. The paradox is that what happens internally is conditioned by what the outside observer thinks. This forces us to care about what those outside of our community think of us. [3]

As I said, the author makes this remark in connection with a criticism of the behavior of the ultra-Orthodox community in the Zionist state. Saguy claims that it is precisely the ultra-orthodox Jews who are today following the principle of hilul haschem turned their backs, living as if there were no one who could use their conduct as an occasion for denying God. In contrast, Saguy invokes the possibility that the secular state in particular is vitally interested in observing this principle and that one's interests are violated if ultra-orthodoxy neglects or terminates it. The rhetorical trick at hand is based on the transfer of a religious concept of sanctification to the secular realm, which was observed at the very beginning. In the case of the Jewish state, however, this transfer is not only carried out by the secular side, but also by the religious side, as the next example shows. In other words, in the context of the problem of religion and Zionism, there is not only the attempt to secularize Jewish tradition in a cultural Zionist way, but also the opposite attempt to interpret political Zionism in a religious way.

The most important example of this is Harav Avraham Hacohen Kook and his son. Rav Kook was the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the so-called “old Yishuv”, ie the pre-Zionist Jewish inhabitants of the Land of Israel, and one of the first important Orthodox proponents of the modern settlement of the Land of Israel, which he interpreted as the beginning of messianic redemption. The following quote is from the sayings of his son, Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook, who acted in the spirit of his father. He also believed that the secular settlement of the land of Israel as such already contained a sanctification of the divine name and thus set in motion the process of redemption, i.e., brings the messianic age closer. In contrast to today's radical religious Zionists, Rav Kook considered the event of the messianic era itself to be a matter of divine intervention. More precisely, opinions today differ on whether the blending of sanctification and desecration of the name, which is inevitable in the current process (see the following quote), has to be overcome by God himself or through human activism.

[In saying this] it is not our intent to flatter heretics and Torah scoffers. There are in the State of Israel many grievous things in which there is much hilul haShem (the Description of the Name) ... Nonetheless, with all that is shocking from the aspect of hilul haShem, there is an enormous value of kiddush haShem (the Consecration of the Name) which cannot, by any account, be set aside in relation to the State and Israel’s Day of Independence.

In Ezekiel, Chapter 36, the program for Redemption is set out: "I will sanctify My great name". This will come about because "I take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land." Only afterwards will come “And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your uncleannesses ... And I will ... cause you to walk in my statutes ” (Ezek. 36: 23-26). The Repentance (Teshuvah) of the people will come only after the ingathering of the Exiles. (For this interpretation of Ezekiel 36 see R. Shlomo Elyashiv, Hakdamot U’Shearim. R. Shlomo Elyashiv was the greatest of the Kabbalic scholars of his generation. His grandson is HaRav HaGaon Shalom Yosef Elyashiv of Jerusalem.)

At first glance it would appear that there is a balance between the kiddush haShem involved in the building of the kingdom of Israel, on the one hand, and the hilul haShem involved on the other. But we are instructed by the Sages in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Kedushin) that "kiddush haShem is greater than hilul haShem”. Certainly the significance of this saying of the Sages is not an injunction that kiddush haShem is of more importance than hilul haShem. Rather the explanation is that when both are present together, when in the same matter there is to be found an aspect of kiddush haShem and an aspect of hilul haShem, then one does not say this case is doubtful, we are at an impasse. For the aspect of kiddush haShem is prominent, decisive and obligatory. How much more is this so in the great, divine kiddush haShem involved in the rebirth of Klal Israel.

And, as the fulfillment of the mitzvah of the settlement of Eretz Israel continues to grow within our midst, as the tens of thousands of Israel are gathered within the Land, out of the completeness and greatness of faith in the realization of the “works of the L-rd”, we may attain the right to see desecrations and profanations (hilulei haShem) gradually be abolished and disappear.“And the rugged shall be made level, / And the rough place a plain; / And the glory of the L-rd shall be revealed; / And all flesh shall see it together; / For the mouth of the L-rd hath spoken it.”(Isa. 40: 4-5). [4]

Both the Orthodox members of the Israeli peace movement such as Saguy and Rav Zvi Yehuda refer to the concept of the hilul haschem in the context of the attempt to create solidarity between secular and religious Jews in the State of Israel. In the background there is something like a specific idea of ​​a binding public, something like national solidarity which does not, as it seems otherwise usual, disregard what others think of us, but derives our own responsibility for the whole of the community from it, how one stands together in front of the world if one acts one way or another. No group can escape this communal responsibility, especially not one that invokes the Torah. The common sense of responsibility results in the effort to prevent the complete breakup of society into a secular and a religious sector, or not to accept the fact that it has broken apart as a lawful fact.

The possibility of an obligatory solidarity between orthodoxy and non-orthodoxy also represents the central problem in the other area of ​​Jewish life, i.e. in the diasporah, which is dealt with with the concept of blasphemy. Also in the following source will hilul haschem thus brought into the context of the question of solidarity which, according to rabbinical tradition, connects “all of Israel” with one another. But how far is one, it is asked, obliged to show solidarity with those who profaned the name of God? The author of the following answer brings the question into the context of the halachic, i.e. religious law, obligation to correct sinners. The point here is how a Jew who is loyal to the Torah should behave towards representatives of Reform Judaism or towards those Jews who no longer adhere to the rabbinical Halachah. The rabbinical term for the rules to be followed when it comes to correcting someone is hilchot keruv rechokim, i.e. commandments regarding the approach of the distant. The need for rebuke does not arise from political or messianic motives, but from the religious reason that the violators of the law give rise to blasphemy of the name of God (hilul hashem) give. But one is halachically obliged to prevent such a blasphemy from occurring at all, even if one does not give the occasion oneself. The author, a Californian rabbi who relies on the relevant sources of Jewish legal literature, believes that the commandment to prevent blasphemy is being fulfilled today by fulfilling the commandments to bring the distant closer together. First of all, it is clarified who is meant by the distant, and which attempts at re-approach one are obliged to take with regard to which degree of remoteness. [5]

From: A. Seinfeld
Date: Fri, May 25, 2001 01:58:45 -0700
Subject: Hilchos Kiruv Rechokim

Another member of the list and I have been communicating off-line about the halachos of kiruv [i.e., hilchot keruv rechokim, the regulations regarding the approach of the distant]. This seems an appropriate topic for the season [meaning Shavuot, the Jewish Pentecost, on which one remembers the gift of the Torah], as one pre-requisite for receiving the Torah seems to be that we be “like one man with one heart "- today, the Jewish people are fragmented into many hearts. The amount of machlokus [Religious dispute] is extraordinary. We have a lot of work to do, on all fronts. One of those fronts is Jews who are far from Daas Torah [Torah knowledge, education regarding religious sources]. For the sake of opening up an important discussion, here are some basics:

The Chafetz Chaim (in the sefer [Book] Chizuk haDat) mentions three categories of Torah mitzvos [Commandments of the Torah] that compel us to try to bring other Jews back to Torah:
1.           ahavat hashem - love of the Almighty - which requires us to make a kiddush hashem [Sanctification of the name] and to prevent a hilul hashem.
2.           tochacha (rebuke).
3. misc. mitzvo's leg adam l’chaveiro (obligations to other individuals).
These latter two are mentioned in the Torah (Vayikra [Leviticus] 19: 13-18, 25:14, 25:17, 25:36; Dvarim [Deuteronomy] 22: 1-4) in conjunction with specific types of individuals:
· To your "brother" - don’t hate him, strengthen him, return his lost object. (His soul is considered "lost" so we must return it to him.)
· To your “neighbor” - don’t stand by his blood, love him.
· To your "compatriot" - judge justly, don’t speak lashon hara [defamation] about, rebuke, don’t turn away from him.
· To your “enemy” - return his lost object (Shemot 23: 4-5).

Now, in which of the above categories are Jews who eat shrimp or drive on Shabbat (for example)?

Shogeg (one who sins accidentally or unknowingly) and a tinuk shenishba lvein hagoim (one who had been kidnapped and raised by non-Jews, i.e., doesn't know any better) - is still your brother, compatriot, neighbor - therefore we are obligated to fulfill all of the above mitzvos [Commandments] for him.

Avar aveira b’meicide - (sins intentionally and hasn’t done teshuva [Reversal]) because his yetzer hara [his evil instinct] got a hold of him - he is no longer “your brother” and mutar [allowed] (even a mitzva [bid]) to hate him (i.e., his ways) but ussur [prohibited] to embarrass him or speak lashon hara [defamation] about him. Must judge him favorably and we are required to rebuke him, to love him, and to return his lost object to him. (Gamara Avoda Zara 26b and Tos [aphists, i.e., commentary on Gemara, i.e., on the Babylonian Talmud at this point]).

Matmid b’aveira - (sins intentionally and habitually because of yetzer hara) no longer “your neighbor” for the mitzva of "don’t stand by his blood."

Mumar shlo l’teavon - (sins intentionally and habitually because he just doesn't care about that mitzva) - major maclokus [Disagreement among legal scholars] on what his status is. Don’t need to judge him favorably and are exempt from rebuking him if he won’t accept it.

Mumar l’hachis - (sins intentionally and habitually out of maliciousness) major maclokus again - most hold we should hate him, speak lashon hara about him, judge him unfavorably. Some say still required to return his lost object (in this case, his soul).

Apicorus - (denies Hashem and / or the Torah) - no longer "your neighbor."

Kofer machmat thaws - (denies because of an error in his learning) - Rambam [Maimonides] holds he’s like an apikorus, Raavad holds he’s like a shogeg.

Rambam [Maimonides] holds in several places that we must try to bring Jews back to mitzvas - that we err on the side of caution in terms of what a given Jew’s status is as per above. See Deos [Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Deot] 6: 3, Hagahos Maimonius [Halachic commentary on Maimonides] 1.

The Chafetz Chaim holds that we are required to try to bring Jews back to halacha; see Beer Mayim Chaim 4:14 and 10:30.

The Chazon Ish z ”l [Chason Isch is the name of a scholar whose name is mentioned here with the addition of“ blessed memory ”] writes in YD [Yoreh deah] 2:16 that the mitzva of preventing hilul hashem in this day and age should be fulfilled via kiruv rechokim.

Further, at 3:28, the Chazon Ish writes that a person doesn’t have the status of "mumar"Until someone has tried to rebuke him. He goes on to say that in our times, people don’t know how to give rebuke. This statement is sometimes misconstrued as meaning that we therefore have no obligation to do kiruv rechokim. In fact, pshat [the literal sense] is that since we don’t know how to give rebuke, everyone who sins remains in the status of shogeg [Sin of ignorance] and we are obligated to rebuke them.

How to rebuke? There are many halachas, but it boils down to speaking to a person in the way that they will hear it. If that means you need to hold a social event just to get them to come in the door, then so be it (as long as it be kosher, obviously).

Hope this has been a helpful summary. It is far, far from complete. Each one of us has the obligation to try to help our fellow Jews who don’t know what Shabbat is, don’t know what Sukkot [Feast of Tabernacles] is, never opened a Chumash [Pentateuch] or a Gamara [bab. Talmud].
May we merit to learn Torah together!

Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld

Aish Hatorah 2275 Ramona St .; Palo Alto, CA 94301 [email protected],

Even if one does not exegesis this text in all details, the following becomes clear.

As in the case of the Catholic blasphemy order, the same applies to the Jewish legislation regarding the admonition (tochacha, rebuke) mainly a pastoral matter. The sinner is to be brought back on the right path. Unlike in the case of the confessional mirror, however, the focus here is not on the sinner and his / her sin (also here fanned out according to the degree of severity of the offense, also here the breakdown according to habitation, so to a certain extent Aristotelian-scholastic), but, as in the case of desecration in general of the name (hilul haschem), the relationship between sin and witness.

In the case of the hilul haschem it depends on the consequence of the sin on uninvolved third parties and the sin consists in the transgression of the prohibition to become an occasion for the desecration of the name of others. In the case of the tochacha or bringing back the distant, it is about the sanctification of the name (kiddush hashem), which represents a positive commandment, but which is only really fully fulfilled if no one breaks it anymore, who can be expected not to break it, and according to Seinfeld's interpretation, these are all Jews. All Sabbath transgressors and shrimp eaters are to be regarded as those Jews who only erroneously transgress the commandments and are therefore accessible to admonition. This move guarantees human dignity, i.e. the potential innocence of the sinner, his fundamental reformability, an idea that Hermann Cohen implements in his ethics of pure will for criminal law.

Secondly, the solidarity of those who abide by the law with those who do not abide by the law is inculcated, which in the sense of the starting point of the homily is supposed to be the meaning of the Shavuot festival.

Third, law-abiding people are encouraged to do everything in their power to view law-deniers as reformable. With Maimonides, one should rather accept the best of one's fellow men than the worst.

The most important thing here seems to me to be this. While conceptual sin is also mentioned in the Christian catalog of blasphemy, in the Jewish understanding of law not only is thought sin not mentioned, but one does not even pretend to know about the intentions of the person who violates the law in his deeds. Rather, one must exclude all speculation about this and positively switch on the possibility of erroneous transgressions as a principle. The point in Catholic seems to be to deter people from sin by deterring them, while the point in Jewish seems to be to transform as much as possible the empiricism of breaking the law and desecration of the name into a reality in which all Jews in of mutual solidarity to persevere in the sanctification of the name and to accomplish this as far as possible.

The relationship between sanctification and desecration of the name can also be understood differently in Judaism, namely as a kind of paradoxical identity. Perhaps this possibility is related to the deepest psychological problems of monotheism. The sharpest commitment to monotheism, i.e. to the unity and uniqueness of God, is found where on the one hand the reality of evil is fully recognized, but on the other hand evil is not dualistically separated from the unity of God or opposed to it. There were two conditions that first led to this kind of confession in Judaism, namely the calamity of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the Davidic State in 586 BC. and the confrontation of ancient Israelite prophetic religion with Persian dualism. In the tradition of Isaiah, the anonymous prophet limits the solidarity of the exulated Judeans with the new political power of the Persian great king by pointing out that there is a power that has produced the primordial powers of light and darkness and still commands them. It was this power that made King Cyrus ruler, and its intention was to do all of this for the sake of his servant Jacob. (Compare Isa. 45).

Isaiah's radical monotheism, for whom God is not only the author of good but also of evil, could not be sustained. The literature of the second temple and later epochs places the benevolent ruler of heaven by the many obedient, but also the many disobedient angels, the latter to initiate all the confusion and suffering that is going on on earth. Only in Kabbalah, the Jewish mysticism, is the unity of action and suffering, male and female, good and bad, love and justice completely transferred back to God, since otherwise the unity of God, but also the unity of man, is not properly thought of could. It was not just about thinking, however, but about the interaction between the upper and lower world, about the experience of suffering and the question of divine compassion, about the big issues that otherwise moved the occidental, platonic mystics.

This tradition found a later, strange variant in the strange, law-breaking acts of the Messiah aspirant Shabtai Zvi from Smyrna, who seemed to usher in the new aeon with such acts. Most disconcerting, however, was that his successors also understood the later forced conversion of their leader to Islam as a mysterious act of signs and followed him in it. Besides the Dönmeh in the Ottoman Empire, many descendants of the secret Sabbatians were also found under the messianic sect of the Frankists, who last resided in Offenbach near Frankfurt. The paradoxical myth of Isaac Luria of the breaking of the vessels and the sparks of light in the darkness is reflected in these apparitions. Here, too, it should be explained how from the unity of God not only the diversity of the world but precisely also evil could emerge. While with Shabtai Zvi it ​​was initially a manifestation of redemption through symbolic violations of the law, with the Frankists it is the acceleration of redemption through a transition into the realm of darkness. Paradoxically, it is not the sanctification of the name but its desecration that leads to redemption.

It is only a short step from the symbolic evil plot with the redeeming consequence of religious mysticism to the latest political apocalyptic. We saw at the very beginning that the state can in many ways become the heir to religious taboos, indeed that its authority depends on the ability to become the new bearer of sacred duties above all criticism. We also saw that the struggle to overcome blasphemy, be it in the Catholic or in the Jewish sense, always has to do with generating solidarity, with common basic values ​​and norms or a common vocation playing a unifying role. No event brings the sanctity of the state more to the center of national attention than its violation, and no violation of that sanctity is more evident than the act of war. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 not only had the purpose of hitting the great Satan and blasphemer, the USA, in the symbols of his power (WTO: money, Pentagon: military power), but they also had the opposite effect To restore the sanctity of the struck state by violating it. All of a sudden, patriotism (“United We Stand”) and solidarity (Schröder: “unrestricted solidarity”) gained a new force, which even had an effect on the bearers of this power, who had hitherto been widely despised. Since then, not only the world of radicalized Islam but also the USA has been in a fever of mutual condemnation. Like his role model Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush uses the rhetoric of blasphemy: the axis of evil means a substantial identification of those who habitually and irreparably violate the sacred basic values ​​of civilization and against whom one must therefore act with all violence.

Our observations on blasphemy allow us to state that the modern, liberal state can act so loud and pseudo-religious because its authority is based on accepting religious taboos. But we can go further. We have the opportunity to refer to the Jewish model again here. The agitators around George W. Bush are concerned with deterrence, with accepting the worst case with regard to the intentions of the opponent, demonizing the stranger, etc. In contrast, in the spirit of Maimonides, it would be possible to decide in dubio pro reo, the In other words, in case of doubt, to assume the best motives and, as long as the opposite is not proven, to preserve human solidarity with him. Above all, one must consider what effect the “city on the mountain” has on the outside, ie how western civilization affects those who do not believe in our “God”. Do we not have an obligation to prevent all of us together, i.e. the entire West, from giving rise to slanderous values, which is the case if we allow those values ​​to be trampled underfoot whose claim to leadership is solely and derived solely from maintaining these values? This results in an alternative reasoning for action for an Irenik, which is not primarily based on altruism but on mutual responsibility and the obligation to counteract any desecration of one's own good name in the eyes of others.

[2] Cf.: The Law of Christ. Moral theology. Shown for priests and laypeople. Freiburg i. B. 1954, 5th edition 1959, 6th edition 1961, 8th edition 1967. From the 6th expanded edition in three volumes: Vol.1. Basic form of Christian existence. General moral theology; Vol. 2. Living in fellowship with God. 1st part of special moral theology; Vol. 3. The yes to the all-embracing love rule of God. 2. Part of Special Moral Theology. Translations in Chinese, English, French, Italian, Japanese, Croatian, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Hungarian. Source: Biographisches-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (on-line),
[3] Found on the website of OZ veSHALOM - NETIVOT SHALOM on May 20th, 2003.
[4] From the later famous “Sikhah” (conversation) of Tzvi Yehudah Kook, which he led immediately before the Six Day War in June 1967 and which was later perceived as prophetic. Source: (read May 22, 2003)
[5] Explanatory comments on my part appear in square brackets in the text. Some of the text has been slightly reformatted to make it easier to read.