The Chofetz Chaim on Parashas Shemos


Hashem saw B'ney Yisrael, and He knew. (Bereishis 2:25)
In these times, the hardships of servitude and exile are unfortunately increasing, with each day worse than that preceding it.  Daily we hear of terrible suffering decreed upon our nation Israel throughout the world.  The hatred toward us is increasing everywhere, and the nations are rising up against us to destroy us.

Some countries are at peace with us, and appear to seek our welfare and promise us security.  Yet, to our chagrin, even they break their promises and subject us stealthily to all forms of subjugation.  Ages pass without relief.

When our ancestors were in Egypt, and the hardships of enslavement were daily worsening, all the Jews gathered together into a single assembly and forged a covenant to do chessed (kindness) with each other.  They resolved further that all would keep the mitzvah of bris milah, the covenant of their forefathers: Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov; that all would serve their Father-in-Heaven; that they would not abandon the language of Yaakov's house (Loshon HaKodesh); and that, to avoid idolatry, they would not learn Egyptian (see Tanna D'vey Eliyahu, Chapter 23, at length).

Now I shall offer a brief explanation of just what we must do.  We must perform acts of gemillus chasadim.  This includes many mitzvos, and they are explained at length in my work "Ahavas Chessed."  The general principle is that one must do whatever he possibly can for his neighbor in need, to help him physically, spiritually or financially.   Nothing should be viewed as too difficult.  He must be as eager for his neighbor's welfare as for his own.  Hashem, in turn, will treat us with kindness as well when we need it.

We must strengthen ourselves with all the spirit and energy we possess for the mitzvah of bris milah.  Chazal state that in entering into the covenant of bris milah, Hashem forged 13 bonds with Avraham.  This is a mitzvah the Jewish People have never neglected.

We must also strengthen ourselves in the Avodas Hashem, serving Him with a full heart and a willing spirit, and doing our utmost to fulfill the Torah.  As for those mitzvos which cannot be fulfilled at this time, such as the Temple korbanos, and the system of Temple purity, we must strive to study them.  Hashem will consider our study as if we had fulfilled the mitzvos.

Chazal state (Menachos 110) that when Talmidei Chachamim study the Temple service, the Torah treats them as if they brought korbanos in a Temple rebuilt in their day.  His study will hasten the arrival of Moshiach.

We must also become more careful about ensuring that our children's education follows the ways of our ancestors, the path of Torah and fear of G_d.  In every city, we must do our utmost to establish real Jewish schools where our small children receive a proper Jewish education.  They must not be allowed to study in the sort of schools that are full of heresy and skepticism.  They should not delve into foreign languages and literature, for these contain alien ideas hostile to our faith [see letter 74].

Excerpted from Michtavei Chofetz Chaim, Letter 70.

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