In this week’s portion, we find the commandment to sanctify God’s name – Kiddush Hashem. In essence, this entails living in such a way that others recognize Godliness in our actions and feel drawn to act similarly.
Specifically, Maimonides talks about someone who is scrupulously honest in his business dealings, speaks softly and kindly with people, greets people with a smile, and honors even those who put him down. These are just examples. The principle of Kiddush Hashem is that of wishing to set an example that others might follow.
And it is the essence of what Judaism is about. Sanctifying God’s name is one of the rare commands that one is required to give one’s life for (in extreme circumstances). God talks about the idea with Abraham. At Mount Sinai, God tells the Jewish people that it is their national purpose. It is discussed all through the prophets. It is the end goal of all of Judaism – that its adherents should act in such a way that others understand the concepts of ethical monotheism simply by being around them.
Both Christianity and Islam converted by the sword. And in an age where that is no longer acceptable, active missionizing is still part and parcel of their world view.
But Judaism believes differently. A religion must speak its truth only through the actions of those who live by it. If our example alone does not inspire others, then our religion is not worth sharing.