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If, G-d forbid, a Jew should behave badly in public (anything from simply doing something quite embarrassing, to being rude, to making a scene/causing a disturbance, to actually [ch"v] committing a major sin or breach of ethics) should he then try to conceal the fact that he is Jewish?

Two cases: both if it would involve another sin to do so (such as removing his kippah [?]) and if not.

  • I suppose another question is "If he knows he's going to do something bad, should he try to hide his Jewishness while doing it?" IT shouldn't happen to anyone. – SAH Dec 24 '15 at 6:49
  • That should mean that it wou;d stop him from doing the deed in the first plsace. – sabbahillel Dec 24 '15 at 8:06
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    @SAH Regarding your comment, Chagiga 16a and Kiddushin 40a discuss a person wearing black and going where he is not recognized if he is going to sin. Rashi indicates that hopefully this tactic will result in his avoiding the sin, but even if he sins, there at least won't be the same chillul HaShem. Rabbeinu Chananel indicates that sin is always under a person's control, but this is merely a tactic to avoid sin. The Rif (Kiddushin ibid.) and the Rosh (Mo'ed Kattan 3:11) seem to disagree and say that Rabbi Il'ai holds that sometimes a person might not be able to control his urge to sin. – Fred Dec 24 '15 at 8:11
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    @Fred Your comment is an answer, isn't it? – Avrohom Yitzchok Dec 24 '15 at 12:30
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    I think that in a case where you have offended someone, and have apologized doesn't require revealing the fact that you are Jewish. However, it can actually be a merit if you do because people will see that Jews are human, make mistakes and are quick to acknowledge their error and make amends for it. I think you need to asses the situation and victim, individually. Some may not be appeased as easily and may worsen the situation even after you apologize. – DanF Dec 24 '15 at 16:27
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No, he/she should not conceal the fact that they are Jewish. When you do this, you say that you worship men more than you worship God. The Jewish people are called to be a nation of priests to the whole world, and we are commanded to wear certain clothing to illustrate this point. It's understandable that there will be certain points at certain times where you will fall short of this ideal, and you will have sinned against God. But the moment that you become more worried about how others will perceive your sin, rather than being worried about the fact that you sinned against God, you have a much bigger problem. Because you are worshiping men, rather than worshiping God.

It has become commonplace to view tzit tzit or kippot as outward expressions of ones being Jewish. Rather than their actual purpose, which is to remind us of God's commandments, anywhere at anytime, especially when we are sinning. A practical example will be that one will be afraid to be seen wearing a kippah at a McDonalds in which he is grabbing a coke (which is permissible), but feels no remorse about actual sins in which no one is looking at him. Rather than this hypocrisy, one should embrace their Judaism at all times, and all moments, using it as a force toward holiness and repentance to God.

A great example of this is brought down in the Talmud in Menachot 43b-44a

Once a man, who was very scrupulous about the precept of zizith, heard of a certain harlot in one of the towns by the sea who accepted four hundred gold [denars] for her hire. He sent her four hundred gold [denars] and appointed a day with her. When the day arrived he came and waited at her door, and her maid came and told her, ‘That man who sent you four hundred gold [denars] is here and waiting at the door’; to which she replied ‘Let him come in’.

When he came in she prepared for him seven beds, six of silver and one of gold; and between one bed and the other there were steps of silver, but the last were of gold. She then went up to the top bed and lay down upon it naked. He too went up after her in his desire to sit naked with her, when all of a sudden the four fringes [of his garment] struck him across the face; whereupon he slipped off and sat upon the ground.

She also slipped off and sat upon the ground and said, ‘By the Roman Capitol, I will not leave you alone until you tell me what blemish you saw in me. ‘By the Temple’, he replied, ‘never have I seen a woman as beautiful as you are; but there is one precept which the Lord our God has commanded us, it is called zizith, and with regard to it the expression ‘I am the Lord your God’ is twice written, signifying, I am He who will exact punishment in the future, and I am He who will give reward in the future. Now [the zizith] appeared to me as four witnesses [testifying against me]’.

She said, ‘I will not leave you until you tell me your name, the name of your town, the name of your teacher, the name of your school in which you study the Torah’. He wrote all this down and handed it to her. Thereupon she arose and divided her estate into three parts; one third for the government, one third to be distributed among the poor, and one third she took with her in her hand; the bed clothes, however, she retained. She then came to the Beth Hamidrash of R. Hiyya, and said to him, ‘Master, give instructions about me that they make me a proselyte’.

‘My daughter’, he replied; ‘perhaps you have set your eyes on one of the disciples?’ She thereupon took out the script and handed it to him. ‘Go’, said he ‘and enjoy your acquisition’. Those very bed-clothes which she had spread for him for an illicit purpose she now spread out for him lawfully. This is the reward [of the precept] in this world; and as for its reward in the future world I know not how great it is.

Source: http://www.halakhah.com/rst/kodoshim/42b%20-%20Menochos%20-%2027a-58b.pdf

Rather than taking off his tzit tzit when he was on his way to the prostitute, he kept them on. Rather than hiding the fact that he was Jewish when he realized he was sinning, he made it very clear that he was Jewish, and even explained the Judaism to a gentile, and the world was made better for it.

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    KIDUSHIN 40A R`Il'ai the Elder said: If a man sees that his [evil] desire is conquering him, let him go to a place where is unknown, don black and cover himself with black,(42) and do as his heart desires,(43) but let him not publicly profane God's name.(44) – kouty Mar 29 '16 at 17:48
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    @kouty And that's why i love Judaism. Two sides to everything ;) – Aaron Mar 29 '16 at 17:58
  • But if you see tosfot in name of Rabenu Chananel and perhaps rashi too, not understand as the literal lecture, but tosfot Chagiga 16A concludes "Kepshuto" – kouty Mar 29 '16 at 18:33
  • I think the point of the story is he forgot he was wearing them. Not that he purposefully left them on. He only explained to her when she asked about something weird; he didn't volunteer anything. I don't think your conclusion follows from this story. – Double AA Apr 1 '16 at 15:25
  • @DoubleAA If that were the case then the opening line of him being scrupulous about wearing tzit tzit would be superfluous. – Aaron Apr 1 '16 at 18:12

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