From today's Hakhel email:
Special Note Four: Today is the Yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim. We provide a sampling of his essential teachings, excerpted from the excellent Sefer, Give Us Life, collected and edited by HaRav Mendel Weinbach, Shlita:
1. Everything approaching its end summons all of its energies for a last stand. A candle’s brightest flame appears before it dies, and it is always darkest before dawn. The power of evil is approaching its end so it has summoned all of its resources and massed the greatest attack in history on the forces of good.
2. People often say “This world is also a world,” but the truth is that “Only this world is a world” because only here can a person improve and accomplish. This is the World of Action, the World to Come is only for the reward.
3. Good manners require a person to carefully prepare for an audience with an important official. If one is privileged to see the king, he takes several days to get ready. So if Chazal tell us that we must prepare for a lifetime before entering the palace of the King of Kings we must appreciate how supremely exalted this palace must be.
4. The reward mentioned by the Torah for certain Mitzvohs such as honoring parents is not their real payment for that is only due in the World to Come. The small reward we receive in the meantime is like the meals given to the king’s soldiers which are not subtracted from their pay.
5. Teshuva must be performed with great energy. A person should return to Hashem with at least the same degree of enthusiasm and energy with which he had sinned.
6. The greatest sinner will be called to account for the slightest wrongdoing because his terrible record is no license for further evil. The Rambam writes that the wicked King Yerovom will be punished for not fulfilling the mitzvah of Eruv Tavshilin.
7. Just as there are rich and poor, strong and weak, so do people vary in their talents and abilities in Avodas Hashem. The Torah therefore commands; “You shall love Hashem with *your* heart, *your* soul and *your* might--each man according to his particular powers. Additionally, the real meaning of “all your might” is whatever is most precious to you--Chazal knew that to most people money is the most precious item. However, to someone who Torah and Mitzvos is most precious, he must be prepared to sacrifice even these, if necessary, for the honor of Hashem. A Rosh Yeshiva, for example, must be prepared to sacrifice his own Torah study--his “all your might”--in order that Torah may flourish among his disciples.
8. An orderly, efficient shopkeeper knows exactly where each item in his stock is located and its precise value. An orderly Jew does every act with Hashem in mind because he knows that the simplest act--like the simplest ware--can bring a tremendous profit if it is used correctly.
9. One of the signs given by Chazal of a madman is that he sleeps overnight in a graveyard. A man has the opportunity of returning from the grave to a new and eternal life by studying or supporting Torah. If he wastes this opportunity and remains forever sleeping in the graveyard, he is truly a madman.
10. If you should ask your wife for Shabbos Kugel on Friday she will suggest that you eat something else because “ this Kugel is for Shabbos”. Honor is like Kugel and is only to be enjoyed on the day which is forever Shabbos--Olam Haba. If you eat the Kugel today, you may go hungry on Shabbos.
11. HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, compared momentary interruption in Torah study to the uprooting of two feet of railway track from a line stretching for thousands of miles. Just as this seemingly insignificant act can wreak havoc upon the railroad, so too can a break in Torah study.
12. I am neither a Chosid or a Misnagid. My only ambition is to fulfill what is written in Shulchan Aruch. Chazal teach that a person will be asked whether he set aside times for Torah study and whether he dealt honestly in business. There is no mention of ever being asked whether one is a Chosid or Misnagid.
13. Even a small storekeeper keeps a record to know the small amounts that his customers owe him. Let us not fail to keep records of our life in this world--for it affects us for eternity.
14. A Torah supporter gives a few copper coins and the institution he supports gives him a share in an eternal Torah.
15. What good is our Selichos if all we do is tell Hashem our sins? He knows them well enough already. Our duty is to resolve not to repeat our foolishness!
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