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Rambam: The Letter on Martyrdom Print E-mail

WritingsPart V: How Should A Person Perceive Himself During This Persecution: A person may be unable to fulfill the aforementioned advice to leave the land of persecution, either because of his fondness for his native country or because of his fear of the dangers of a sea voyage. He stays where he is. He, then, must regard himself as desecrating God’s Name, not quite deliberately, but almost so. He must consider himself as being scolded by God and punished for his bad deeds.

At the same time, he should realize that if he performs a Mitzvah, the Holy One, Blessed is He, will give him a two-fold reward. He did the Mitzvah for the sake of heaven, and not to impress others or to be regarded as an observant Jew. In addition, a person’s reward for performing a Mitzvah knowing that if caught, he will lose his life and all his possessions, is much greater that that of a person who fulfills a Mitzvah without such fear.

The Torah, referring to a time like the present, when observance of Mitzvot is done for the sake of Heaven and despite the fact that one’s life is in danger, says, “If only you seek Him with all your heart and soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)  Nevertheless, you should not take your mind off your plans to leave the provinces that God is angry with, and do your utmost to carry them out.

It is not right to shun and despise people who desecrate the Shabbat. Rather, you should reach out to them and encourage them to fulfill the Mitzvot. The Rabbis ruled that a sinner who willfully transgressed should be welcomed to the synagogue and not humiliated
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