Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Teves 5761 - January 10, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Our Joint Responsibility

by HaRav Moshe Man

Part I

We have merited to see the Torah world grow and expand throughout many spheres. This growth includes Torah schools for children, yeshivos ketanos, yeshivos gedolos and kollelim as well as shiurim in gemora and mussar for those who do not study Torah the whole day. Many people seriously aspire to advance in Torah study, good character traits and yiras Shomayim in the way our gedolei dor have paved for us.

Regretfully, many Jews do not yet know what Torah is. They neither recognize nor understand the importance of Torah study and fulfilling its mitzvos. In his opening speech to the Yarchei Kallah of Yeshivas Ponevezh in Menachem Av 5745, Maran Rosh Hayeshiva HaRav Elozor Menachem Man Shach shlita, cried out in genuine pain: "A million children are given a secular education! Do they know what a Chumash is? Were they ever taught Chumash in school? How awful this is! What type of a generation is being educated here in Eretz Yisroel? It is a generation that does not know what tefillin is, what Shabbos is, what Yom Kippur is, what gemora is."

It is common knowledge that every year, activists engaged in registering children for Torah schools are amazed at how many young parents who have neither seen the radiance of Torah nor even fulfill its mitzvos are nonetheless ready to hear about the educational alternative offered by Torah schools. This willingness stems from the fact that the public at large is sincerely disappointed with the general Israeli public school system. The violence, permissiveness, and emptiness in those schools worry and disgust many parents.

Were a single Jew -- and certainly many Jews -- to face a life- threatening situation, we would do all we can and even more than we are capable of to help, using all possible financial resources in an attempt to save them. When Jews far from Torah and mitzvos sin, they do not even know they are sinning, and we are undoubtedly required to rescue them. Chazal in Tanchuma, parshas Pinchas, 3, write: "Causing another to sin is worse than killing him."

We should volunteer to work in organizations engaged in kiruv such as Lev L'Achim. During summer vacation, registration for schools takes place throughout Israel. This registration is so crucial that some gedolim have defined these days of registration as being yemei din, days of judgment, for those young boys and girls who need to be enrolled in schools. Those zoche to go to Torah schools will, along with their future families, study Torah and observe mitzvos. At such a time the obligation to volunteer is much greater for anyone who can help register these children for pure Torah education.

It is appropriate to cite what R' Shlomo Cohen zt"l, a talmid of the Chazon Ish zt"l, wrote during the Arab pogroms in Eretz Yisroel in the year 5706 (1946) in which many Jews were slaughtered. When Rav Shlomo Cohen visited Maran the Chazon Ish zt"l, he told him how frightened he was and that no day passes without Jewish casualties. Maran rebuked him: "Why are you not equally terrified when thousands and tens of thousands of Jewish children )today hundreds of thousands( receive a secular education, which is like burning the neshomoh and leaving only the body? Is this mass murder less cruel than when Arabs murder only individuals and not such large numbers? Chazal resolutely write: `Causing another to sin is worse than killing him.' "

It is obvious that we must do more to save a Jew from his neshomoh being burnt than from his body being burnt.

Indeed, each Jew is required to concern himself personally and to do what he can so every Jew can study Torah and fulfill mitzvos. "Every Jew is responsible for the other" )Shavuos 39a(. This joint responsibility is not to be understood in a negative sense: Despite people being different, without there being any connection between them, we request and demand that each one help the other. It really means that all individuals are but one reality with others.

Proof can be brought to this. The gemora )Rosh Hashonoh 29( rules, "One can fulfill another's obligation with all brochos even if he himself already fulfilled his own obligation." Rashi )ibid.( explains that he can do so, "since every Jew is responsible for the other doing mitzvos." The Rosh too, in his commentary to Brochos 20, writes that a Jew can fulfill another's obligation to say a brocho because of the joint responsibility. The Rosh adds, "He is responsible for him, he must save him from sin, and he can fulfill his obligations in mitzvos for him."

One Jew to the other is like one reality. Even when the first person has already fulfilled his obligation, since the second has not done so it is like the first also has not, so he can do the mitzvah for the other. He must also save him from sin.

The Chofetz Chaim, zt"l, in Chomas HaDas )ch. 2( writes that one Jew can fulfill another's obligation in a mitzvah because if the other lacks a mitzvah it is as if he himself is also lacking. Likewise, each person should prevent another from committing a lo sa'aseh, since if another person does not abstain from committing the sin when he could have prevented him then he, too, is culpable for punishment.

The Tomer Devorah )ch. 2( explains that our joint responsibility is because, "all of Yisroel are related to each other. The neshomos are combined together, each one having a part in the other, making every Jew responsible for the other." The Maharal )Nesivos Olom, Nesiv HaTorah, ch. 2( writes: "All of Yisroel are responsible for each other since they are one nation, something you will not find in any other nation. They are similar to a person whose whole body hurts when one limb is wounded since he is one body."

Maran the Chazon Ish )Koveitz Igros III: 62( writes, "Just like the parts of a person's body are divided according to their activities: the eye sees, the ear hears, and hands are busy doing things, so the whole nation is like one body composed of different individuals, and each person must fulfill his own purpose."

It is fitting to mention the following story about the degree to which each Jew is actually connected to every other Jew. In Pe'er Hador )vol. 1(, the five volume work depicting the life of the Chazon Ish, the Mendel Beilis Case )1911-1913( in Kiev, Ukraine is described at length. The Russian government accused Beilis of murder, saying he murdered a non-Jewish child to use his blood as part of a religious ritual. The Russian secret police wanted to utilize this case to awaken feelings of hatred and anger towards the Jews and to distract the common people from their suffering in Russia, using the well-known slogan: "Hit the Jews and save Russia."

Torah-true Jewry throughout the world felt this libel was aimed not only at Beilis but rather that all Jewry was standing trial. Throughout the hearings the following saying was discussed at length. R' Shimon bar Yochai rules )Yevomos 61( that non- Jewish graves are not metamei in an ohel )underneath a ceiling of some sort( since the Torah writes, "When an odom )a man( dies in a tent, all that comes into the tent, and all that is in the tent shall be tomei seven days" )Bamidbor 19:14(. [It is from here that we learn the concept of tumah transmitted and filling an ohel.] The gemora continues: "You )bnei Yisroel( are called `odom' )"man"(, but non- Jews are not called `odom'" [and thus they are not included in the aforementioned posuk].

The Torah was thus accused of having a low opinion of all non- Jews. This accusation necessitated an appropriate reply.

Beilis' defense attorney received an urgent letter from HaRav Meir Shapira zt"l, then rav of Galicia and later rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin and initiator of the Daf Hayomi, who at that time was not even thirty years old. He wrote: "Our Sages taught us in Shavuos 39 that `all Jews are responsible for each other.' We learn from this that the fate of an individual Jew concerns the whole Jewish Nation who are worried about his welfare and when one is on trial all make intensive efforts to win his acquittal.

"On the other hand, there are daily occurrences of non-Jews on trial but no one except their nearest relatives takes any interest in them. Our Sages, therefore, emphasize, "You are called `odom,' but non-Jews are not called `odom.' " The noun odom is unique in that it has no plural form and is always singular, in contrast to the nouns ish or gever that in plural are anoshim and gevorim respectfully. "You are called `odom' " means that you, all Jews, always feel like one person and when Mendel Beilis is put on trial all Jews stand behind him and are concerned with what will happen to him.

"Non-Jews can be called anoshim or gevorim since they do not feel any partnership between individuals and it is undoubtedly appropriate to say about them that they are not called odom."

We also saw this unity in the summer of 5760 )2000( when Jews throughout the world tried to free the thirteen Jews who were tried and "convicted" in Iran for spying for Israel.

We can conclude that each Jew has a distinct commitment to help other Jews who are suffering and in danger. In Tomer Devorah, the Ramak writes, "all Yisroel are related to each other," and as the Maharal comments, the Jews "are similar to a person whose whole body hurts when one limb is wounded, since he is one body."

So, when another Jew is in pain or sick, it is like every other Jew's limbs, as the Maharal writes, and every Jew is required to do as much as he can to cure him.

Similarly, a Jew unacquainted with Torah and mitzvos who does not fulfill the Torah is in a sorrowful situation and his neshomoh is sick. Unquestionably, each Jew must do everything he can to strengthen, cure, and save him, as we cited in the name of Maran the Chazon Ish zt"l, "Causing another to sin is worse than killing him."

Another possibility also exists to assist Jews who have gone astray. Maran the Chazon Ish, zt"l, writes )Koveitz Igros III:62(: "If bnei Torah were truly toiling over Torah they could save many children and people from thinking of sinning and from heresy and the like. This they could do through the abundance of sanctity they [would] create that makes a spirit of tohoroh surge throughout the world. In the vicinity of a real ben Torah great influence on many people is evident and his neighbors attain a spiritual uplift. Likewise, those far away are also influenced, although we cannot sense this influence since it is so fine."

This is astounding! The responsibility to engage in Torah is amplified. Besides the obligation for each Jew to engage in Torah study for himself, he has an additional obligation because of his joint responsibility for Klal Yisroel, since when he studies Torah he is also saving others from sin.

In addition, the whole aspiration and desire of each Jew must surely be, as Dovid Hamelech writes: "One thing have I desired Hashem, that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life" )Tehillim 27:4(. Our entire aim should be to engage and labor only in Torah, and by doing so, a Jew fills his duty properly.

We find in Chazal, however, that someone who travels to places where people have no knowledge of Torah and influences and teaches them to come nearer to Torah and without his effort they would not know or study the Torah, is on a more elevated level than someone who studies Torah itself.

"R' Chanina and R' Chiya quarreled. R' Chanina said to R' Chiya: `How can you quarrel with me? If, chas vesholom, the Torah is forgotten I can return it through my pilpul.' R' Chiya said to R' Chanina: `How can you quarrel with me? I caused Torah not to be forgotten in Yisroel. What did I do? I sowed flax and made nets. I hunted deer [with the nets] and fed orphans from their meat. I made parchment from their skin and wrote the five Chumshei Torah. I went to the city )where there were no melamdim for children( and taught five children in five separate Chumashim and taught )orally( six children six sedorim )of Mishnayos(. I told them that until I return they should review their pesukim and their Mishnayos. I insured that the Torah would not be forgotten from Yisroel. This is what Rebbe would say: "How great are Chiya's deeds' " )Bava Metzia 85b(."

The Maharsha )ibid.( writes: "It seems that R' Chiya answered that what he was doing is preferable to what the other was doing. [He argued:] If the Torah is forgotten, chas vesholom, surely what you do is preferable, since through your pilpul you will restore it. But I insure it will not be forgotten. If so, your power is merely potential, while mine, which is already in force, is thus more praiseworthy. [R' Chiya] said that I sowed . . . that every act already in its beginning was for the sake of Heaven. It had no matter nor intent that was not for the sake of Heaven. [The gemora] concludes and points out that Rebbe said, `How great are Chiya's deeds.' What he has done is greater than what R' Chanina has done since R' Chiya actively accomplished something while what R' Chanina could do was only in potential."

How great is the power of those who work devotedly, who go out to the nation and persuade them to enter their children in Torah institutions. Today it is easier to succeed, since people see the bankruptcy of secular education. The more people join in helping register students and the more we finance these activities, the more Jews will be saved from their deteriorated condition, and we will ascend the path to the House of Hashem.

We live today in a period where, Rachmono litzlan, many suffer and are harassed with harsh decrees. Each person must reflect on what he can do to annul this. Rebbe himself said, "How great is what Chiya has done." Rebbe surely did much so that Torah would not be forgotten from Yisroel in the way of R' Chanina --"to return it through my pilpul."

End of Part I

HaRav Moshe Man is the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Be'er Yitzchok.

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