Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Lead Jews Back

This is from today's Hakhel email. It really touched me that I felt obliged to include it here. It's something I have been thinking about recently and the author expressed the idea very well. We need to internalize in some way the impact of our actions as Kiddush H-shem vs. Chillul H-shem and take pains to avoid the latter. I have personally been a witness to negative impressions that are extremely hard to undo from repeated disrespectful behavior from religious Jews. Fortunately I was also witness to the opposite. We can't realize the impact of just greeting someone pleasantly on the street. I will have to save this story for a future post. It was already posted once on Daily Dose of Kindness.

Special Note Three: We are now only four weeks from the giving of the Torah in 5771. The following is excerpted from the wonderful work Leading Jews Back by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, based upon the teachings of HaRav Avraham Pam, Z’tl: “What did Rus see in Naomi that impressed her so much? The Midrash (Rus Rabbah 2:5) gives an explanation: Why was she called Naomi? Because her actions were sweet and pleasant. Rus saw in Naomi what a life devoted to Torah and Avodas Hashem can do for a person. She saw her sterling middos, her nobility of spirit, her warmth and caring personality. That was what attracted Rus and motivated her to give up a life of ease and luxury and “return” to Yiddishkeit as a penniless, widowed convert, forced to live off the charity of others. This is the enormous power a person with a pleasant, warm personality and good middos has on other people. He attracts followers like a magnet and can have great influence on their lives. This is a proven method to bring closer to Yiddishkeit those who are estranged from the heritage of their forefathers. While philosophical discussions and proofs of the existence of a Creator are certainly tools in bringing Ba’alei Teshuvah back to their roots, a critical factor is to show how the ways of Torah are pleasant and all its pathways are peace (Mishlei 3:17). This has the drawing power to influence people to a Torah way of life. Derech Eretz precedes Torah (Vayikra Rabbah 9:3). This concept underlines the vital importance of Torah Jews conducting themselves with the utmost courtesy and respect in their interpersonal relationships. They must not forget that wherever they go--whether in the business or professional world, or as neighbors or friends--they represent the Torah. One does not have to be a Rabbi or kiruv professional to influence others. Every Torah Jew presents an image to those around him which, depending on his conduct, will either bring others closer to Yiddishkeit or, c’v, cause estrangement from it. It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. This can be seen by the great influence one woman (Naomi) has on another (Rus), which set into motion the chain of events which led to the founding of Malchus Bais Dovid and planted the seeds of Moshiach.

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