Chillul Hashem Alert


By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss


As summer approaches there is an annual migration to our favorite vacation spots.  In the tristate area, over a half million people make the annual pilgrimage to the Catskills summer homes and bungalow colonies strewn all over Ulster and Sullivan counties.  Towns such as Monticello, Woodbourne, Fallsburg, Ellenville, Kiamesha, Swan Lake, Hurleyville and many others are packed with myriads of orthodox Jews.  All these city-folk come like an avalanche upon these quiet rural towns suddenly descending at the end of June like a raging bull in a china closet.


This is a good time for us to brush up on the severity of chillul Hashem, the crime of desecrating Hashem’s Name in front of the other nations.  (It applies in front of other Jews as well.)  The Gemora teaches us that this transgression is so heinous that when it is perpetrated, even repentance, suffering, and the holy day of Yom Kippur combined do not fully atone.  Only death completely atones for this terrible crime.


In wanting to convey how horrible chillul Hashem is, the Alenu L’shabei’ach relates the following anecdote.  There was once a couple in Eretz Yisroel who suffered from terrible marital discord.  The husband, wanting to wreak hurt to his wife, put in motion to send their Jewish son to a monastery in Italy.  Horrified, friends of the family wanted to go to the government to stop this at all costs.  There was however a concern that the major news outlets would get a hold of the story and it would result in a chillul Hashem.  However, those that were involved in the case felt that the risk was justified in order to save the child from shmad, from being sent to a catholic mission.  They consulted Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, zy”a, the Posek Hador, and to their surprise he told them that if there was a chance of chillul Hashem, they cannot risk it, even to prevent the loss of a Yiddisher neshama.  This is a striking example of how serious the crime of desecrating the Name of Hashem is.


I know a family that was attacked in the secular papers regarding a nasty custody battle.  When the papers asked them if they wanted to comment to defend themselves, Rav Dovid Feinstein, shlit”a, ruled that they could not participate in the discussion in the secular press even to defend themselves for it would be advancing more chillul Hashem.  That’s asking a lot from a person – not to defend themselves against public humiliation – but that’s how high the stakes are when it comes to chillul Hashem.  So let’s start talking about how this subject applies to the many city-folk who ‘invade’ the peaceful mountains during the summer.


The first thing that needs to be eliminated is horn honking from our cars.  The bedtime for many rural-folk is ‘early to bed and early to rise,’ while many of us city-people start first waking up when they are already in bed.  We have to be aware of this whether it comes to blowing the horn, slamming the car doors, or just carrying on in a boisterous summer-way when many of the locals are already sleeping.


Then there’s our behavior in the supermarkets.  If you’ve ever been to the Catskills in the winter, you’ll see how nicely the shelves are setup and how orderly the store looks.  So, while shopping if you decide not to take an item, put it back in its place – especially if it needs refrigeration.  Try to bring your cart back to the store or to the place where they are gathered, and not leave helter-skelter in the parking lot.  And here’s something to really think about.  Don’t go around tasting the grapes, having your kids taste them, and popping the olives in your mouth, and even munching on the grapes while they’re already in your wagon.  I sincerely believe that if there’s no sign up saying “sampling allowed,” it is theft to taste fruit in order to decide if you want to buy the item.  And, even if some stores will let you get away with this and not escort you out, this is certainly not the behavior of the Am Segula, the nation that is supposed to be the model of behavior.  If I see a gentile waiting in line who has only two items, I always try to let them go ahead of me so they don’t mutter under their breath, the ‘Jewish invasion.’  Right or wrong, we need to be sensitive when we are trampling on their peace and quiet.  And yes, it is true that they are looking for things to blame us for.  That just means that we must be doubly careful not to give anyone ammunition.


When driving in the night, we must always shut off our bright headlights to oncoming traffic and we shouldn’t drive like it’s a video game.  Let’s remember that the locals are very proud of their pristine unpolluted environment so don’t open the car window and toss out the leftover drink, a bag with a dirty diaper or the wrapper from a nosh, carelessly to the side of the road.  There are many more examples but the main thing is to heighten your sense of awareness and to be truly inhibited to causing any type of chillul Hashem.


Finally, I’m sorry there’s a need to mention this but it should be obvious to ensure before having your children with other children that they are properly vaccinated.  In Yiddishkeit, we follow the majority, especially in the face of sakana, danger, and chillul Hashem.  The overwhelming majority, 90 percent plus of master physicians and Godolei Yisroel hold that it is mandatory to vaccinate.  Any other discussion is a waste of time.  The massive chillul Hashem that has resulted already on a global stage from measles epidemics needs to be repaired.  Furthermore, as a child that had rubella, measles and mumps, I can tell you that only a criminally negligent parent will abstain from vaccinating a child.

One more point. A smile goes a long way in improving relationhips. When you pass a gentile in the parking lot or in Home Depot tilt your head in greeting or give a smile. If thousands of us take this not so little step, we will make a huge difference in their attitude towards us


May Hashem bless us with the smarts to avoid chillul Hashem and in that merit may we be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.


Rabbi Weiss is currently booking speaking engagements for the summer in the Catskills.  To bring him to your community or bungalow, call 718.916.3100 or email

Start the cycle of anytime Mishna Yomis with Rabbi Weiss by dialing 718.906.6471.  Listen to Rabbi Weiss’s daily Shiur on Orchos Chaim l’HaRosh by dialing 718.906.6400, then going to selection 4 for Mussar, and then to selection 4.   Both are FREE services.

Rabbi Weiss’s Rebbetzin, Shoshy Weiss, LCSW-R is moving her therapy practice from Monroe and Monsey to Boro Park and Staten Island.  She will be in Boro Park on Mondays and Staten Island on Tuesdays.  She caters to women and girls only and specializes in the treatment of anxiety, low self-esteem issues, depression, trauma, and relationship enhancement.  She is a specialist in E.M.D.R. and I.F.S (Internal Family Systems) and D.B.T. (Dialectical Behavior Therapy).  She has been practicing for over two decades.  To get a slot, call or text 845.270.3699.

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  1. Dear Rabbi Weiss,

    Thank you for the timely reminders.

    A couple of points, if I may:
    1) My understanding is that sampling ONE grape from a bunch to see if it’s to your liking is OK. Obviously this means being erlich – only trying if you’re buying and not taking more than one.
    2) Last year in Woodbourne in a small park next to a stream, we saw lots and lots of litter, primarily bags and wrappers of heimish chips and candy. It was very dispiriting and we can imagine what the local residents thought of it.

    Have a great summer, all.

  2. Thank you RMW for this timely article! One other thing is the driving. Very specifically I would like to discuss Tailgating.

    Per Wikipedia… “Tailgating is when a driver drives behind another vehicle while not leaving sufficient distance to stop without causing a collision if the vehicle in front stops suddenly.

    The safe distance for following another vehicle varies depending on various factors including vehicle speed, weather, visibility and other road conditions. Some jurisdictions may require a minimal gap of a specified distance or time interval. When following heavy vehicles or in less than ideal conditions (e.g. low light or rain), a longer distance is recommended.”

    For example in the Catskills I have noticed people sometimes will tailgate. Many roads it is very dangerous as there are many deers wondering about. If a car suddenly needs to stop for a deer, the driver behind if they are tailgating will rear end the car in front. It is just an extra second or two to give enough distance between the two cars to be a safe distance.

  3. Not taking bad behavior up to the Catskills is important, but not misbehaving in our everyday habitat is equally important. Whether non-Jews are watching or not, Someone Else is.

  4. Thank you Rabbi Weiss! This information is always timely, but in light of the increase in anti- Semitic attacks recently, we need to be all the more wary of our public behavior. Even the notion that we’re “on vacation” while many non-Jews are going on with their regular lives is upsetting to some.

  5. Rabbi,

    I applaud your efforts in protesting against Chillul Shem shamayim r’l. There is a major breach that has penetrated the charedi tzibur r’l. That is the use of mesira and arkois without a heter from a bais din signed by three dayanim. I have been trying to get the message out. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.



  6. Using the phrase “Chillul Hashem”, means that we need to make a good “impression”. Its like when a mother tells her child, ‘Don’t go shoplifting in the supermarket because if you get caught you will make a bad “impression” on our family.
    We must teach our children to be ‘Sincerely’ nice to all our fellow people, and always be respectful and have empathy even when nobody hears.

  7. “Let’s remember that the locals are very proud of their pristine unpolluted environment so don’t open the car window and toss out the leftover drink, a bag with a dirty diaper or the wrapper from a nosh, carelessly to the side of the road.”

    No one should do such a disgusting thing anywhere. Especially not a member of the am segulah.

    Anyone who does such a despicable act should held accountable, ticketed, etc.

  8. I hate to say this, but I think it’s important to bring it up. Some of these Chillul Hashem problems don’t begin in the mountains. Some of these things are being done right here at home. Cutting lines or courtesy when driving are just two examples. Of course, mistakes happen, but its an attitude. Some of these issues can be corrected if the yeshivos (parents) would teach some social skills and mentchlickite. We are the am hanivchar this is fine, but when you make the non jewish worker, custodian, or goyta feel a second class citizen this can carry over to everyday interactions with non jews especially among children. We have to teach our children even non-jews have a tzelem elokim. Have a great summer.

  9. As usual. Rabbi Weiss you are right on the mark. Yasher koach for also mentioning vaccinations what a chilul Hashem this has caused may you and your rebbetzin be gebenched

  10. Woa, I’m not sure where this Rabbi’s get’s his definition of חילול השם? Is Kiddush Hashem a matter of tribal pride?
    First and foremost, Kiddush Hashem means doing Hashem wants, and Chilul Hashem is the inverse (see Rmb”m Yesodai Hatorah).
    If Vaccination is what Hashem wants then it’s a Kiddush Hashem, but if it’s not right for someone, that’s a Kiddush Hashem too!
    Those who have suffered harm from vaccines, cannot vaccinate according to Halacha. No-one ever suggested during the Black Plague that the Jew deliberately infect themselves so as not to be a “chillul Hashem”….

    • thank you Rabbi
      it is not a chilul Hashem not to vaccinate if that is the right thing for the your child. i don’t really understand why everyone has such a hard time with this.
      the chilul Hashem in this parshah is the divide in Klal yisroel on this issue and the public bashing going on. that is 100% a chilul Hashem.
      the only reason the media picked up on this is because the pro vaxx fanatics made very public and went to the authorities. so please don’t blame the anti vaxxers for a chilul Hashem

  11. Thank you Rabbi Weiss for a well-written, critically important message to all of us – no matter where we are visiting or living. Perhaps it would be good to also remind people to walk on the correct side of the road, facing traffic, and not in the middle of the road. If one is wearing dark clothing, it would be advised that one also wears a reflector strap of some sort to help visibility. May everyone stay safe and healthy always, b’ezrat Hashem!

  12. L’chvod Rabbi Weiss,
    Perhaps the majority of doctors today feel that when it comes to vaccines, “one size fits all” is safe. However, why is it when it comes to heart medicines (or other types of medicines), it is not one size fits all? Some people can tolerate beta blockers and others can’t, for example.

    In addition, history has shown that the majority opinion of doctors can eventually be proven wrong. Some examples: smoking, DES, thalidomide. It takes one brave doctor or a small group of brave doctors to speak out about something to bring about a good change. Are you familiar with Dr. Semelweiss? He came up with the idea that if doctors would wash their hands after touching corpses before delivering babies, then the women would not get childbed fever and possibly die. And what was the reaction to his discovery?

    “The tragedy is that, despite the evidence, Semmelweis’ theory — that childbed fever was caused by some ‘substance’ (what we today know as bacteria) from autopsy room corpses — was ridiculed by contemporary scientists. The medical community largely rejected his discovery and in 1849 he was forced to leave the Vienna General Hospital for good.”

    A good question that should be asked is: If pharma companies paid out $38.6 billion in criminal and civil penalties from 1991 through 2017 for products that they ARE liable for, can we trust them with the safety of vaccines, which they are NOT liable for?

    Twenty-seven years of Pharmaceutical Industry Criminal and Civil Penalties: 1991 -2017

    There is so much more that can be said on this subject. Thank you.

    • You can add coffee to that mix as well. When I was growing up the experts told us that drinking coffee was extremely dangerous and all those irresponsible people who do drink coffee will drop dead by the age of 28. Now they’re saying that coffee has tremendous health benefits and actually extend ones life.

  13. Please use your yiddishe kup and read between the lines below. If you do, you may begin to understand why some people are very suspicious of the CDC’s ACIP committee that studies and approves vaccines for us and our children. This is from an ACIP meeting held yesterday I believe:

    Transcript starting at 42:08: ACIP Meeting 42:08
    Dr Romero speaks briefly about the link between Shingrix and GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) and Bell’s Palsy. Then questions are allowed.
    42:08 mark:
    Dr. Moore: “uh Dr. Romero, it may be helpful to have the workgroup uh interpretation of the results uh presented before we have a more in depth conversation about the safety, because uh..we have a brief presentation available on that. If…if you…you are in agreement with that”
    Dr. Romero: “eh…uh…. I’m…I’m sorry. I missed that. I was talking with…(inaudible)”
    Dr. Moore: “(inhales/ chuckles) it… it may be helpful for purposes of our discussion to have Dr. Dooling present the workgroup’s interpretation of the safety stuff before we have an in-depth discussion”.
    Jose Romero (ACIP Chair, moderator): “Uh…uh…just a moment, because I believe GSK (Glaxo-Smith-Kline), Dr. Friedman, wanted to offer a comment. Is that correct?”
    (Amanda Cohn in whisper to Jose Romero: “Input”)
    Jose Romero: “Input”.
    Dr. Friedman: (reading off electronic device) “Uh uh. Thank you. It’d be my pleasure. Leonard Friedman from GSK. I just want to mention, as we did last time, that GSK’s top priority of course is patient safety and we are committed to monitoring and ensuring the safety of all of our vaccines which of course includes Shingrix. As was indicated in the presentation uh today at ACIP, and thank you Tom for that presentation, the ongoing safety monitoring data to date are insufficient to conclude that a safety problem exists for GBS or Bell’s Palsy, but continued vigilance and further evaluation are warranted. So, what are we doing at GSK? We’re going to continue to monitor reports of GBS and Bell’s Palsy following vaccination with Shingrix through our enhanced pharmacovigilance and we will be evaluating any new information that becomes available. In addition, existing (?) cases of GBS will be measured in the objectives of our planned post marketing targeted safety studies. In summary, we remain confident in the favorable benefit risk ratio profile of Shingrix for the prevention of herpes zoster and GSK will continue to work closely with the CDC and FDA to actively monitor the safety of Shingrix. Thank you.”
    Jose Romero: “Thank you. Now, uh, if Dr. Dooling would like to present.”
    Dr. Dooling: HZ Work Group Liaison presents a summary of the data regarding the signal between Shingrix and GBS and Bell’s Palsy.
    SO IF YOU WANT TO BE PART OF A HUMAN EXPERIMENT, go ahead and get your Shingrix vaccine, but keep in mind that the manufacturer has no liability for this product but will be glad to put your story into their post-marketing safety studies.

    When will our community wake up and see the reality of what is going on here??? With all due respect, when will Rabbis be open to hearing the other side of the story before giving their psak, instead of responding with “We have to follow what the doctors say”?


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