By Rav Shlomo Wolbe, zt l
We need the entire Jewish people to do teshuva. This is a realistic goal…if everyone does his share.
We know that these are very hard times today. [Terrorist blew up a bus in Hadera only hours before the vaad, killing two and injuring many.] This coming Monday, B’nai Yisroel are supposed to collect together and say Tehillim. There will be a half-day fast, and we will beseech G-d for mercy.
We should also take time to think. Perhaps this event will prepare us for the Moshiach. Even if he is ready, the Moshiach cannot come unless we repent. The Gemara (Sanhedrin, 67) discusses this in detail, and the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva, 7:5) records it as follows: “Every single one of the prophets commanded repentance. Israel will never be redeemed without repentance. The Torah promises that ultimately Israel will repent at the end of their exile, and immediately they will be redeemed…”
This means that the only requirement for the coming of the Moshiach and the redemption is repentance. We have to repent. And what about our brothers…B’nai Yisroel who are far away from fulfilling the commandments? They have to repent, too! And we have to help them come close to repentance.
If all the avreichim [married yeshiva students] in Israel would participate in kiruv rechokim, the entire country would experience a revolution. These avreichim have not taken action because they do not know the extent of their obligation in this matter.
There is something wonderful in the book Chovos HaLevavos (Shaar HaBitachon, Chapter 4): “A person’s good deeds alone do not make him suitable for the reward of the World to Come. G-d considers him suitable only because of two other things that he must also do: one, that he should teach others about the service of G-d and guide them in doing good…”
This concept is awe-inspiring. If a person does not “teach others about the service of G-d and guide them in doing good,” then he will not be worthy of the World to Come… Everybody who is involved in Torah needs to know this…especially today, when we are in such a dreadful situation. The only solution is for Moshiach to come, and Moshiach will only come if Am Yisroel repent. That means everybody! Every member of Yisroelmust come back in repentance.
We repent as individuals, but it does not seem to bother us that there are thousands of Jews who are far from Torah and the commandments. We do not even think about them. May the Heavens have mercy, we are not worthy of redemption. Every avreich who is occupied with Torah must help bring the unobservant back to G-d.
A leading Rav has determined that everyone is required to give a tithe of their time to helping others, which would amount to approximately one evening a week. Just once a week! Go to some place where non-observant Jews live and help them come close to Torah and the commandments.
An avreich might wonder, ‘Who am I, and how will I know what to say?’ That is no excuse. There is no excuse for this.
A group of avreichim went to Ramle in order to help bring the people there closer to Torah. One of the volunteers was a very serious student. He asked, ‘What am I supposed to say to them?’
The head of the group told him, ‘You’ll figure out what to say in the moment. Try this door here…’
He rang the bell. A woman answered the door and asked him what he wanted. He asked to speak with her husband. ‘About what?’, she asked. He told the woman that he had come to speak with her husband about yiddishkeit.
The woman called to her husband, ‘Come here, there is somebody here who wants to talk to you about yiddishkeit.’ He went looking for his yarmulke, which he would wear whenever he attended a funeral. He found it and put it on.
The avreich had brought a book of Mishna. The two of them studied it together for a half-hour. Then, the avreich got up to go. The Jew that he was visiting stopped him on his way out and said, ‘Maybe you can come back and learn with me again next week?’
The avreich agreed, and the next week they studied Mishna together for another half-hour. About a month later, the avreich returned to Ramle to check in on this family. He discovered that after the two study sessions, the couple had taken their child out of secular schools and placed him in one of our schools. They themselves had committed to observing the laws of shabbos. Two times learning Mishna, and their child was in a religious school! They were observing Shabbos!
This is the way it can be. You have no way of knowing how many people can be brought back to Torah today!
They have nothing left to believe in. Once they were Socialist. Today there is no Socialism, no Communism, and no Zionism. There is nothing left for them. They are just waiting for someone to come along and give their lives meaning. That is what Torah scholars, avreichim that learn Torah, have to do! Each and every one of us is obligated!
I must admit that I am very sad that I cannot participate myself. It is difficult at my age. Even leaving Jerusalem is difficult. And I am so busy bringing those who are already close even closer…
When I was younger, after the Yom Kippur War, I would go out to share yiddishkeit in the kibbutzim and in the army. I was always amazed by the way that they listened to the things that I told them. I am talking about kibbutznikim from Histadrut!
Once I went to speak with artillery soldiers. When I finished at the first artillery station, I began walking to the next. The first group stopped me. They said, ‘Why are you going now; we have to hear more.’ And it was just the same at then next station and at the station after that. They wanted to hear. I saw the same thing at the kibbutzim. They were extremely interested in the ideas that I was sharing. When I speak to an observant crowd, I am not sure that they demonstrate the same sort of interest.
You have no excuses. Every avreich must participate in kiruv rechokim. You can call up these organizations, and they will partner you with someone else who will be visiting a non-observant neighborhood. But you cannot excuse yourself from this obligation.
If all of the avreichim in Israel would participate in this effort, it might be only a short time before they transform the entire community into baalei teshuva. Then, we could be sure that Moshiach was on his way.
Of course, we also need to repent ourselves. Every one of us. But we cannot ignore the entire congregation that is far from Torah and the commandments. We have to bring them close. Everyone who gets involved in this effort will see firsthand the kind of success that is possible.
Considering today’s miserable situation, we need to say Tehillim and pray. We also need to know that even though the arrival of Moshiach might be very close, he will not come unless we repent. If the entire land of Israel would return to the Torah, we can be sure that Moshiach would come and rescue us. May G-d have mercy. May all of us be strong and help to bring back those who are far away. Then, G-d will send the Moshiach, our righteous one, soon and in our time, Amen.
The translator copyrights this translation as the exclusive property of HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, zt”l. It may be distributed to others privately – not on the web – with the exception that such distribution shall not be for profit, and that such distribution must include this notice.
Reprinted with permission.