Description: Chapter 9 - 04
Chapter 9 – 04
The Chafetz Chaim has demonstrated that one of the things holding us back from doing chessed, or from doing it happily and looking for opportunites to do chesed, is the simple lack of knowledge. Both not understanding the extent of the obligation to do chesed, thinking that its only good middos, while it really is a Torah obligation. Also not understanding the depth of this mitzvah, and how great the reward is. The Chafetz Chaim exhorts us to learn!
The Chafetz Chaim adds in a footnote, that sometimes the Yetzer Horah attacks learning directly, saying, if you learn you will truly become aware of the obligation! Don’t do that! You don’t want to really know how much you are obligated… if you do you probably still won’t do it, and then you will be even more condemned. Better do without knowledge than to be a maizid. Before we continue on to the Chafetz Chaim’s approach to this, we should realize that we all think this way. We might think, hey I wish I would struggle whether to learn or not for this reason, but think of the times we might have not asked a shailah because we don’t want to hear that it is prohibited! That’s exactly this Yetzer Horah. Think of the reasoning – don’t ask, because if you ask you either will have to listen, or you won’t listen and then you will be even a greater sinner! In addition, at times we also consciously try not to find out about people who are in need, or organizations that need our help, because we know that we are in a position to help them, but we don’t want to be burdened by either – helping them, or the guilt of not helping them! Same goes for various opportunities of chesed that present themselves – how many times have we walked a different way so as not to have to speak to someone – although speaking to that person may be the greatest chesed you can do for them. This is all the same line of thinking.
The Chafetz Chaim goes on to say, that he heard from one of the gedolim of his generation, that this is like someone who was warned that a certain path is dangerous because of potholes and other obstructions. The fellow is worried that he’ll fall in and he’ll seem foolish, so he chooses to tie something over his eyes, so that if he falls in, at least it won’t be his fault! Obviously, this is idiocy because tying something over your eyes is the simply most foolish thing to do! Likewise, choosing not to look, not to learn, not to find out, is not in any way an argument to absolve oneself. It will be held against us as if we knew and chose not to keep our obligations.
The concept of its better someone should be a shogaig than a maizid is only applicable when debating if to give someone mussar and let him know he’s doing an avairah – if you are 100% certain he won’t listen anyways, it’s better not to rebuke him, because all you will accomplish is to render him a maizid. But this in no way is an absolution of our obligations! We personally can’t use that argument for ourselves! That’s equivalent to being a maizid!