Outreach with Love: Part One


As previously mentioned, most of the Jewish men and women of our era who are not committed to the spiritual path of the Torah are individuals who did not receive a Torah education; moreover, they did not grow up in a Torah environment. In the upcoming letters of this series, we will discuss various mitzvos of the Torah which call upon us to reach out to these brethren and help them to rediscover their spiritual heritage.
The theme of spiritual outreach is very relevant to our discussion on the “soul” of Zion – the inner spirit that gives Zion its purpose and meaning. As we learned in previous letters, the Torah – the Divine Teaching – is the “soul” of Zion; thus, when we bring people closer to the Torah, we are also helping them to develop a deeper connection to Zion.
As we shall learn, this outreach needs to be both loving and respectful. In this letter, we will begin to discuss the importance of “loving” outreach. As the Mishnah teaches in the name of Hillel:
“Love people, and bring them closer to the Torah” (Pirkei Avos 1:12).

Dear Friends,
Our discussion on outreach with love will begin with a teaching of the Chazon Ish, a leading sage and halachic authority of the 20th century who moved to the Land of Zion in 1933. He settled in the Torah-observant city of Bnei Brak, and he became a major guide of the Chareidi communities in the Land of Zion. He also gained the respect of many people in the Land who were not committed to the Torah path. With regard to outreach to these uncommitted brethren, he wrote:
“It is incumbent upon us to bring them back with cords of love and to show them the light of the Torah to the best of our abilities.”
The above quote is from the halachic work, “Chazon Ish” – Yorah Deah 2:16. It is cited in Volume 1 of the book, “In Their Shadow” by Rav Shlomo Lorincz, a former member of Israel’s Knesset. Volume 1 includes stories from the lives of the three leading sages that guided Rav Lorincz in his community work: The Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, and Rav Shach.
Rav Lorincz describes how the Chazon Ish opposed ideologies that were against Torah ideals; moreover, there were occasions when he needed to take a stand against the organizations that were promoting these anti-Torah ideologies. Rav Lorincz, however, adds the following observation regarding the approach of the Chazon Ish:
“He was careful to distinguish between the ideologies themselves and the individual Jews who had fallen prey to them. The latter he drew close with cords of love.”
Rav Lorincz then shares with us the following information and story:
“When, for instance, dealing with questions involving parents whose children had left the Torah’s path, the Chazon Ish held that the parents should do everything possible to draw their wayward children back with love and not push them further away. A teenager who publicly desecrated the Shabbos asked his father for a car. His father agreed to buy him a car on condition that he promise not to drive on Shabbos, but the son refused to promise. As a consequence, the tension between them grew.
“The Chazon Ish heard about the situation, and advised the father to buy his son the car without any conditions, for only in this fashion would he increase his influence on his son. In those days, many young people (from observant families in the Land) were floundering in their religious observance, but in most cases, if their parents did not push them away with both hands, they found their way back.”
The above story about the Chazon Ish reminds me of the following story about the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement:
A father came to the Baal Shem Tov for guidance on how to deal with his son who became estranged from Hashem. The Baal Shem Tov replied:
“Love him more!”
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen – (See below)
A Related Teaching and Comments:
1. Hillel taught: “Love people, and bring them closer to the Torah” (Pirkei Avos 1:12). The Chazon Ish would often share the following insight on Hillel’s teaching:
Loving people and bringing them closer to the Torah are not two separate virtues, for each is connected to the other. Who is capable of bringing people closer to the Torah? The one who loves!
The above insight of the Chason Ish is cited in the “Mishel Avos” commentary on Pirkei Avos 6:6.
2. “In Their Shadow,” by Rav Shlomo Lorincz, is published by Feldheim: www.feldheim.com  . I highly recommend this fascinating book.


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