Tag Archive: chillul hashem

The Chillul Hashem of A-Rod

Anti-semitic groups the world over have relished in the fact that Bernard Lawrence “Bernie” Madoff is of Jewish descent (see here for instance). Certainly his scheme that appears to have cost 50 billion dollars is no Kiddush Hashem!

On the contrary it has caused a great Chillul Hashem.

Indeed, when the actions of another Jew, Jack Abramoff came to light, there was much conversation about his wearing of a black hat. Indeed, Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein writes:

If you ask me, they all got it wrong. He did not wear the hat to look more pious.

Decades ago, the head of a large group within American Orthodoxy faced extremely serious charges of nursing home impropriety. Although he did not identify with the haredi world, this figure turned to America’s greatest halachic expert, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l for guidance. He asked Rav Moshe how he should appear in court, with scores of television cameras trained on him. Should he keep his yarmulke on, or remove it? Rav Moshe advised the latter, to prevent or diminish the chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s Name) that would result from millions of people associating his bekippahed (I just made up the word) head with the scope of his crimes. He did not follow the advice.

I suspect that Jack Abramoff attempted much the same. He did not want to remove the yarmulke that he usually wore, expecially at an emotionally trying time. On the other hand, he did not want to make a bad thing even worse by further tarnishing the image of Orthodox Jews. The hat was meant to hide the yarmulke.

Like most attempts at pushing a chilul Hashem genie back in the bottle, Abramoff’s attempt did not work. The media are buzzing with talk of Abramoff’s Orthodoxy. The damage cannot be undone. Too many people have a real need to reject G-d and religion, and pounce on every excuse they are afforded. Perhaps this is part of the reason that the Gemara (Yoma 86A) considers chilul Hashem the most severe of all transgressions.

As far as looking for high profile Jews who look to make a Kiddush Hashem, one needs to look no further than at Ben Brafman. A well respected criminal lawyer in the state of New York, he is currently serving as the lawyer to embattled New York Giants wide-receiver, Plexico Buress. As noted in both the OU’s Jewish Action as well as more recently in Mishpacha Magazine, Mr. Brafman found himself in a scenario in which Shabbat was rapidly approaching, and yet he faced an onslaught of reporters waiting to discuss an important verdict. To that end, he was very conscious of the fact that every word he said would be quoted all over the world. Most importantly however, was that it was already very late in the day and on the cusp of Shabbat. Accordingly, he simply gave a very short statement to the media, and concluded by saying “Shabbat is coming!” and then jumped into a waiting car and sped away. Those three words splashed across television sets throughout the country were certainly a Kiddush Hashem and elevated the status of many other Orthodox Jews who make a mad dash to leave their place of work due to the coming of Shabbat on a weekly basis.

And yet, while Alex Rodriguez or A-Rod has no Jewish blood in him, he has of late begun an apparent affiliation with The Kabbalah Center (a cult that leans upon some Kabbalistic teachings and brings their ideas to the masses). Nonetheless, while The Kabbalah Center has absolutely nothing to do with mainstream Judaism, people still seem to attribute it to Judaism nonetheless.

And so,  if you haven’t been hiding in a cave, you know that arguably the best player in all of Major League Baseball is is Alex Rodriguez. Likewise, you would have also heard by now that he was taking steroids from 2001-2003. Accordingly, he has “stepped up to the plate” and done what other greats such as Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, etc. did not do.

He has admitted his mistake.

And while there are certainly journalists who are looking for holes in his story, I find it interesting (and certainly has many other members of the media see here for example) that Alex has made it a point to wear his red string throughout all of the media sessions of this ordeal.

Let’s not kid ourselves he knows what he’s doing!

He has hired a professional consulting firm to help with “damage control” ever since this story broke. His wardrobe, to the bottle of water he had next to him when he reported to spring training, to the ever present red string have been analyzed, scrutinized and reported.

And before you think no one noticed a small little string….google “alex rodriguez red string” and tell me how many stories note what was on his wrist!

All in all, it certainly doesn’t invoke a Kiddush Hashem, and will be viewed by many as another “strike” against the Jews. At the end of the day, I wish that Alex would end his infatuation with this “religion” and do his part to keep anything that might appear even remotely Jewish out of his spotlight.


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