The Fortress of Faith

The Fortress of FaithKiruv is the essence of the mitzvah to love G-d.

by the Chofetz Chaim

An excerpt from the introduction to the Chofetz Chaim’s Chomas Hadas, translated by Shmuel Elchonon Brog.

“And you shall love the Lord your God.”

The Rambam, in the Sefer Hamitzvos, writes that this command, “…also implies an obligation to call upon all men to serve the Most Exalted One and to trust in Him. When you love someone you praise and extol him and call upon others to love him. Similarly, when you sincerely come to love the Exalted One you will without doubt urge the foolish ones and the simpletons to understand, to comprehend the truth which you know.

“The Sifri writes: ‘And you shall love the Lord‘ (Deut. 6:5), make Him beloved to man by acting like your father Abraham, concerning whom it says, ‘And the soul that he made in Choron” (Gen. 12:5), i.e. because Abraham was in love with God — as the Torah itself declares, ‘Abraham, the one who loves Me‘ (Isaiah 41:8) — he called upon man, because of his intense love, to trust in God. Therefore, you too must love God to the extent that you call others unto Him.” (This is an abridged quotation.)

Here we see clearly that alerting one another to fulfill the Law of God (the function of any group that seeks to strengthen Torah) is the essence of the Positive Command to Love God, a passage we recite daily, in the morning and in the evening, and which we accept as an obligation upon ourselves immediately afterwards, in the blessing Emis Viyatsev, by proclaiming, “His words live and endure forever … for our forefathers and for us….”

But alas, today, when, because of the Yetzer Hora, the increase in flagrant depravities everywhere is literally like a raging fire that seeks to destroy all that is good, it is very urgent that groups of God-fearing individuals be formed in every community to quench the sheet of fire in their midst.

In former times when fires were infrequent it was enough for the government to appoint one company of firemen. Today, however, because fires are common everywhere each community has a group of volunteers. The same applies to the Yetzer. Once it was sufficient for the Holy One, Blessed Be He, to select a few chosen individuals in each generation who with the power of their inspired words could quench the flame of passion (the Holy Alshich in his generation, the Sheloh in his generation, the Dubno Maggid in his generation, and others of their caliber), but today, when, because of our many sins, fires are common everywhere, volunteers must be found in every community.

Furthermore, we must realize that when the number of those who attempt to destroy Torah increases, there is a corresponding increase in Divine Anger because no one is willing to uphold His honor. However, when men, who because of God’s honor, steel themselves to elevate the Faith, they serve as a shield for the whole of Israel. We find a parallel to this in the Torah concerning the Tribe of Levi. After they upheld the Word of God as commanded them by Moses [at the sin of the Golden Calf], the Torah writes:

“And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I will attain an atonement for your sins.”(Ex. 32:30)

This also removes the shame from Israel, as it says:

“Jacob is not shamed now, neither is his face white for he sees the righteous amongst his children [lit. the work of My hands in his midst], how they sanctify My Name … and acknowledge the strength of the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 29:22-23)

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