Lena Bosinova’s self-immolation in protest against the Israeli government’s eviction of Jews from Gaza is a case of sanctification of God’s name. The destruction of Jewish settlements by the Israeli government qualifies as idolatry: worship of democracy and submission to foreign sponsors. People can die not only of physical wounds, but also of moral wounds—in heart strokes. Some dishonor cannot be lived with: victims of rape sometimes commit suicide, and Japanese soldiers who failed in their missions performed hara-kiri. Suicide missions not only aim at killing enemies, but also at boosting the morale of one’s troops; the Spartans famously died in the hopeless fight with the Persians.
In the Book of Maccabees, Hannah urges her seven sons to die a horrendous death at the hands of the Greco-Syrians rather than transgress the commandments. Stand-alone transgression of kosher laws is generally recognized as less important than life; narrowly speaking, Hannah should have transgressed the law. But something more important than an individual incidence of observance was at stake: the example to the nation. Had Hannah and scores of other Jews like her transgressed under the threats, they would continue transgressing under the same threats days after and years after. Like Marranos, they would soon cease being Jews. Hannah’s alternative was not her life vs a particular instance of observance, but her life vs the survival of the Jewish people. She gave her life and the lives of her seven sons as an example for the nation. Her goal was preserving national dignity rather than merely observing kashrut in one particular case. Millions of Jews just like Hannah gave up their lives in the crusades and pogroms instead of accepting Christianity. Lena Bosinova is a martyr of similar standing.