Chilul Hashem vs. Kiddush Hashem: The Clinton-Mezvinsky Wedding, Rabbi Asher Lopatin

We are living in interesting times.  In years past, it would be clear that an intermarriage, between a Jew and a Methodist, with a rabbi and a Methodist minister co-officiating, on a Shabbat afternoon, no less, is a high level chilul Hashem: Have we no pride?  Have we no shame?  And I am not saying that everything has changed.  The Clinton Mezvinsky wedding could clearly be categorized in the chilul Hashem column.

And yet, how can you look at the pictures of Marc with his tallis – a wool tallis! – and his kipa, with American royalty, Chelsea Clinton, and not say, “Hmm… maybe there is something significant and even, good?, for Americans to see.”  Here was not a Jew who was hiding his identity, who was minimizing his Jewishness.  No, what the world saw is that a fully attired – proud? – Jew could get right to the top of American society.  Not that reaching high society is our goal.  But the fact that there were Sheva Brachot, a chupa, a k’tuba and that tallis and kipa, for the world to see, doesn’t that put the wedding in the category of Kiddush Hashem as well?  Perhaps not, but I would bet that a lot of our enemies are scratching their heads wondering how the Clintons could marry their daughter to a Jew.  Maybe some are saying, “Aha, see this intermarriage! We now know the Jews are doomed.”  But I would bet most are scratching their heads wondering if the Jews have gotten the upper hand.

We are living in a world where what was once taboo, intermarriage, has the possibility to expose millions – millions of Jews – to a tallit they may never have known about.  And it was a Reconstructionist rabbi Ponet who did the “dirty” work.  For now, Orthodox rabbis, even Conservative, don’t want anything to do with an intermarriage.  But this Mezvinsky guy was willing to wear a tallis and a kippa in all the pictures – should we shun him forever?  No, certainly after the wedding, we welcome him – and Chelsea as well.  But maybe we need to think of a way of extracting the Kiddush Hashem from the Chilul Hashem.  I don’t know how – but I know that a lot of smart people read this blog.

Perhaps Chilul Hashem and Kiddush Hashem are closer than we thought.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin

14 Responses to Chilul Hashem vs. Kiddush Hashem: The Clinton-Mezvinsky Wedding, Rabbi Asher Lopatin

  1. Max says:

    You appear not to know the definition of kiddush HaShem. There is not kiddush Hashem in a public chillul HaShem. Wearing a tallis etc. only enhances the chillul HaShem. Sheva Brachot etc. imply the intermarriage is somehow ok or Jewish. We love pets. We develop relationships with them. But if you decided to marry and be intimate with your pet it would be a chillul HaShem, a transgression, not a mitzvah. Even if you dance the horah with the poodle’s father, have a chuppah,etc. If you put it on t.v. and shared your tallit and chuppah with the world that would be a bigger chillul HaShem.

    A Kiddush HaShem increases Godliness, sanctity and holiness in the world. A tallit at an intermarriage does not increase do that; it does the opposite. A Chillul HaShem decreases Godliness.

  2. Mr. Cohen says:

    The Jewish Bible [Tanach] condemns marriage between Jews and non-Jews 12 times:

    {1} Exodus 34
    {2} Bamidbar 25
    {3} Deuteronomy 7
    {4} Proverbs 2
    {5} Proverbs 5
    {6} Proverbs 6
    {7} Proverbs 7
    {8} Ezra 9
    {9} Nehemiah 10
    {10} Nehemiah 13
    {11} Hosea 5
    {12} Malachi 2.
    The great Jewish scholar and leader Ezra pulled his hair out when he learned that Jews were intermarrying with non-Jews (Bible, Book of Ezra, chapter 9).

    In Ezra’s time, there were only 400 intermarriages out of a population of 4 million Jews; less than a 1% intermarriage rate.
    The great Biblical Jewish leader Nehemiah beat up Jews who intermarried with non-Jews, and also tore their hair out (Bible, Book of Nehemiah, chapter 13, verse 25).

    Nehemiah was never criticized for this by any prophet, even though prophecy was still active in his time.
    The Biblical Prophet Malachi cursed Jewish men who took non-Jewish girlfriends (Bible, Book of Malachi, chapter 2).
    G_d sent a plague that killed 24,000 Jews because they were “making love” with non-Jewish women (Bible, Book of Numbers/Bamidbar, chapter 25)
    G_d awarded the High-Priesthood to Pinchas because he killed a Jewish prince who was “making love” with a non-Jewish princess
    (Bible, Book of Numbers/Bamidbar, chapter 25)
    Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, Page 82A:

    A Jew who is intimate with a non-Jewish woman, he is considered as if he married an idol. ____________________________________________
    According to Jewish Law, no marriage can exist between a Jew and a non-Jew (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Kiddushin, page 68B).

    Even if they undergo a wedding ceremony and live together for many decades, and have many children together, they are NEVER married to each other.
    Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Vayesheb, chapter 8:

    Non-Jewish women are forbidden to Jews, even if they are unmarried. ____________________________________________
    Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Vayesheb, end of chapter 8

    A Jew who has intercourse with a non-Jewish woman…
    she brings him down to Gehinom [Hell].”
    “Every place that has immorality – tragedy comes and kills both the innocent and the guilty.” (Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Sotah, Chapter 1, Law 5)

    “This especially includes Jews who have intercourse with non-Jews.” (Sefer Pele Yoetz, Chapter Zenut).
    Rabbeinu Bachya ben Asher (born 1265, died 1340) taught that intermarriage with non-Jews was one of the sins that caused the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

    SOURCE: Yalkut Meam Loez, Commentary on Genesis, Chapter 27, Verse 46)
    Yalkut Meam Loez, on Genesis 39:10:

    “If a Jew has intercourse with a Gentile, he cannot rid himself of her, neither in this world nor the next. Intercourse between a Jew and a Gentile causes one of the worst defilements imaginable.”
    “A Jew who married a non-Jew may NOT be eulogized or buried near a righteous Jew.”

    SOURCE: Page 73 of: Chaim VaChessed: Laws and Customs for the House of Mourning, Rabbi Shemuel Pinchasi, Jerusalem, 5761)
    “During the Nazi persecution, some of the most vicious anti-Semites and cruelest informers were children of mixed marriages.”

    SOURCE: Page 149 of Confessions of a Jewish Cultbuster by Shea Hecht & Chaim Clorfene, 1985, Tosefos Media, Brooklyn, NY ISBN 0-936617-00-4 (hard cover) 0-936617-01-2 (paperback).
    “According to a 1990 survey, only 28% of intermarried couples raise their children soley as Jews.”

    SOURCE: Jew Vs. Jew, by Samuel G. Freedman, 2000, Simon and Schuster, New York, ISBN 0-684-85944-0.
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  3. minda says:

    good to read a rabbi thinking & feeling conflicted.
    Whose tallit was it? What is the significance of wool?
    What happens when they become a family?
    What rabbis officiate on Saturday afternoon? (i do know the exceptions. Was that to be public knowledge?)

  4. Carrie says:

    The fact that he wore a kippa and a talit adds to the sadness of this, in contrast to this blog. This is not an unaffiliated, unconnected Jew – yet he still married a non-Jew. Intermarriage is so rampant now that only the Orthodox maintain a taboo against it.

  5. Izzy says:

    There is no Kidush Hashem, it’s all Chillul Hashem. The notion that we should take some communal pride in a Jew who scales the heights of American society by abandoning any real commitment to his religion while clinging to its outer trappings is misguided. Does anyone really think that God “sees” this as a positive in any way?

  6. Anonymous says:

    “The Clinton Mezvinsky wedding could clearly be categorized in the chilul Hashem column.”
    I think this was the most important sentence in the article. Are we, Chatz Ve’Shalom to understand that intermarriage is ok if it’s with a former Presidents daughter? I hope that in the end the whole situation works out somehow-possibly with very high levels of Tshuva for them, but I also hope that this wedding does not encourage any other intermarriages.

    Further complicating the matter is the extreme negative attitudes most “Frum” people have to the offspring of these specific marriages even if their children attempt to do Tshuva. Some sincere offspring from these marriages end up wanting to do Kosher/Orthodox conversions & yet the majority of people in communities worldwide are outright hostile to them. I congratulate you specifically for attempting to foster an educational & sensitive atmosphere at your Shul towards potential converts within the confines of a rigorous overall Bet Din process. This sensitivity in no way led to intermarriages, yet it fostered an environment where sincere converts or potential converts could hopefully feel somewhat comfortable while learning Torah.
    For that you deserve a “Yesah Coach”.

    Unfortunately, the far majority of “Frum” people fail miraculously when it comes to sensitivity towards converts or potential converts. It is as if they know only 1 Halacha, to turn away the convert & in their ignorance, think they are personally responsible to turn converts or potential converts away as opposed to realizing that that is the Beit Dins & true leaders of the communities responsibility. They exacerbate the matter by being rude & callous towards converts & potential converts, causing a Chillel Ha’Shem in the process.

    Returning to inter-marriage specifically, if we can increase Torah education at an early age regarding the importance of a Halachic marriage & continue that education throughout the teenage & college years, then we have a greater hope that our children will B”H have Halachic Chuppot. Alternatively, Chatz Ve’Shalom if we do not increase education on this matter, then unfortunately, the trend of intermarriage will seemingly continue & only increase.

  7. […] suggestion that we try to find something, anything, good about the Clinton-Mezvinsky intermarriage (link). I think people are being too harsh on him and need to see his essay in light of the above. He was […]

  8. eclipse says:

    “American royalty???” You seem to forget that we fought a revolution to get rid of royalty. You know, that thing in 1776, about how all people are created equal. By using this language you are promoting a blatantly anti-American concept. We have no royalty in this country. George Washington was offered the crown and turned it down, saying, “in America, the law is king.” Do we need to have anothe revolution? I’m sensing the answer is yes. Shame on you.

  9. top-father-daughter-wedding-songs…

    […]Chilul Hashem vs. Kiddush Hashem: The Clinton-Mezvinsky Wedding, Rabbi Asher Lopatin « Morethodoxy: Exploring the Breadth, Depth and Passion of Orthodox Judaism[…]…

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  12. […] symbols, and even some of the most traditional rabbis who strongly oppose interfaith marriage acknowledged the power of Marc’s open display of Jewish […]

  13. […] matrimony symbols, and even some of a many normal rabbis who strongly conflict interfaith matrimony acknowledged a energy of Marc’s open arrangement of Jewish […]

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