This is a topic I didn’t want to broach. However, after publishing my last blog I feel compelled based on some comments I received. The Rally that took place this week was deemed a Kiddush Hashem by those who participated and a Chilul Hashem by others. It is remarkable that one event can be seen in such a polar opposite fashion.

Admittedly Jews gathered together to pray is beautiful. Saying Shma with hundreds of thousands of Jews is a truly moving experience. The problem lies in what was not said. Because aside from the people who attended there were a whole lot of people who did not – but they watched carefully. And to many of those watching God’s name was not sanctified – it was defiled. The larger problem is that these people on the outside do not really count for those who chanted with fervor, for if they did then the message would indeed have been different.

It started with offensive signs and continued with a vile video. I only wish that the Rabbis had the foresight to know such things would occur and forbid it in advance. Since presumably they follow everything their Rabbis say this could have minimized the damage done. In addition, they don’t seem to grasp the concept that their lack of gratitude to the government and all the people who serve our country is antithetical to being a Jew.

We are Jews named after Yehudah which comes from the word lehodot. The definition being to admit and or to give thanks. This is the character trait that made Yehudah outstanding and worthy of representing all of Am Yisrael. The trait that strengthens our character and propels us to greater heights.

Rav Ari Kahn says that “hakarat hatov is the start of authentic religious expression.” He therefore goes on to suggest the following as means for them to have made a true Kiddush Hashem:

a. Thank the soldiers who fight and protect this country and say a prayer for them.

b. Thank the government and the people of Israel for supporting learning in a way that has never happened in history.

c. Reach out to all people who learn no matter the color or texture of the kipa (or other head covering).

d. Help join all segments of orthodoxy by valuing others and giving thanks to them.

Rav Kahn says giving thanks and praise to others does not demean oneself, it only makes one a better person, citizen and ultimately enhances relationships. Learning can be valued – and a soldier can be valued. This need not be an inherent contradiction. We all need to understand that this holy country is ours and it is holy work to defend, protect and serve it. We do not learn Torah to merely accrue information, but to guide our lives! If it is not “deveirim bitailim” to protect G-d’s children and land; it is a sacred endeavor. Therefore Yehoshua and David Hamelech opted to partake in army service, it was their privilege and honor, why not for the rest of us Jews? It is a disgrace for the demonstrators to claim that their time devoted to Torah study is worth more than that of our revered leaders from the past.

A true Torah Jew lives Torah, not just learns it, and realizes we are one. One nation; one people with one country and one G-d. This is the Shema Yisrael that would make a kiddush Hashem. This is the declaration of Shema Yisrael we need recite together; ALL of us, not just the ultra us.