In a learning session with a student yesterday, we read the following passage from Tractate Yoma (in preparation for the High Holidays and Yom Kippur). The section comes about in a discussion about what constitutes hilul Hashem, desecration of God’s name. How sadly timely in light of today’s news.

Abaye explained: As it was taught: ‘And you shall love the Lord your God’ (Deut. 6:5) i.e., that the Name of Heaven be beloved because of you.

If someone studies Scripture and Mishnah, and attends on the disciples of the wise, is honest in business, and speaks pleasantly to other people, what do people say about him? ‘Happy is the father who taught him Torah, happy is the teacher who taught him Torah; woe unto people who have not studied the Torah; for this man has studied the Torah look how fine his ways are, how righteous his deeds!’ Of him does Scripture say: And He said unto me: You art My servant, Israel, in, whom I will be glorified. (Is. 49:3)

But if someone studies Scripture and Mishnah, attends on the disciples of the wise, but is dishonest in business, and discourteous in his relations with people, what do people say about him? ‘ Woe unto him who studied the Torah, woe unto his father who taught him Torah; woe unto his teacher who taught him Torah!’ This man studied the Torah: Look, how corrupt are his deeds, how ugly his ways; of him Scripture says: “In that men said of them: ‘These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of His land.’” (Ezek. 36:20)

~ Babylonian Talmud Yoma 86a

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