I recently kashered my kitchen. My rabbi is encouraging me to publicize this new development in my social circles. Would it not be better for me to keep this mitzvah between me and G‑d?

-Discreet Jew


Mazel tov on your new kosher kitchen! It is a beautiful mitzvah to be involved with.

Indeed, Judaism considers discretion to be a positive virtue. There are plenty of sources that suggest that it is not proper to parade mitzvahs for all to see. Maimonides writes that one of the highest forms of charity is giving to the poor without knowing who will be the receiver, and the poor person not knowing who the benefactor was. Quiet, anonymous giving is best.

However, there is also an advantage to publicity. When others see the good deeds of another, it encourages and motivates them to do the same. Your isolated deed can cause a ripple effect and be the catalyst for many more mitzvahs.

So, what to do?

Over 800 years ago, a community was faced with the following predicament: A certain member of the community who lived adjacent to the synagogue had graciously donated his property to allow for the expansion of the synagogue, and had also paid for the construction. After the project’s completion, the benefactor wished to have his name inscribed upon the building as its patron. The community members felt this to be ostentatious and sent a lengthy letter with their objections to Rabbi Shlomo Ben Aderet, one of the great 13th century authorities of Jewish law, commonly known as the Rashba.

In his landmark response to the community,1 the Rashba rejected their concerns and unequivocally wrote: “It is the Torah way to record and publicize those who perform mitzvahs.” He then brought several sources from the Torah and Jewish tradition to support this.

Is there the concern that one’s ego will be inflated as a result? Possibly. However, the upside to modest, tasteful publicity is far greater. Creating a trend in the right direction is of primary importance, and its effects, immeasurable.