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Our Job - To Battle for Torahעת לעשות לה' הפרו תורתיך A time to do for the Lord; they have made void Your Torah. (Tehillim 119:126) Chofetz Chaim on the Torah.
The Chofetz Chaim used to interpret the above possuk as follows:
It is possible to void a neder in one of 2 ways: A person's personal neder is released by התרה - a release. A wife's neder can be released by her husband through הפרה - a voidance. To release a personal neder through התרה the Beis Din or Chachom must find a פתח - an opening that the neder had some unforeseen results and therefore was a mistake, or חרטה - remorse that the person ever made the neder in the first place. But for a husband to void his wife's neder we need only his verbal statement.
Similarly voiding the mitzvos of the Torah is possible through 2 means. There are those who try all sorts of ways to permit everything that is prohibited. They look for loopholes and subterfuges. They dream up all sorts of logic disproving the validity of the Torah and proofs that there is no Creator. However there are other apikorsim who don't need any logic whatsoever. They just wash away the entire Torah with one swipe and say, "The Torah is void, everything is permitted." This is what Dovid Hamelech is telling us in this possuk. When this second group amass together to void (הפרו) the Torah, we should not try to reason and argue with them. We have to just "do." Our job at this time is to realize it is a "time to do for Hashem." We have to work to spread Torah and work for the honor of Heaven in the world. If we put all our efforts into this the detractors of Torah will simply vanish.
This is what we say at a siyum: "we arise early and they arise early." When we see that the reshoim are arising early to propagate their evil plans, we have to learn from them and arise early to do our job. This is the battle plan most acceptable in Hashem's eyes.
Another time the Chofetz Chaim explained the possuk differently. He asked what does it mean, "it is a time to do for Hashem?" Isn't it always time to do for Hashem? One's whole life should be full of avodas Hashem.
It is a well know statement of Chazal that the course of action of the Kingdom of Heaven mirrors the protocol of earthly kingdoms. Every government requires its citizens to serve in the army for a certain amount of time. This gives them the ability to learn how to defend their nation. After their term of service the soldier returns home to work as any other civilian. This is true during times of peace when there is no imminent danger threatening his country. However when the government declares a state of war, everyone is responsible to protect the homeland. In times of major crisis everyone, even the most delicate of people, even the most affluent personages must leave their homes be drafted into the armed forces to protect their country and native soil.
This is also true regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. When a person appears, after 120, before the Beis Din Shel Maala, he is asked, "Did you set aside set times for Torah learning?" (Sanhedrin 7). Learning an hour or two a day is fine during normal times. But at times of emergency when rebels are gathering to plan the downfall of the kingdom and are fanning the flames of rebelliousness among the populace, then setting aside time is insufficient. We are all obligated to put all our efforts into protecting the king, everyone according to his abilities.
כבד את ה' מהונך "Honor Hashem with your wealth" (Mishle 3:9). Chazal darshan to read the word מהונך as מחונך - meaning whatever gifts He has graced you with. If you were graced with Torah, try to teach others. If He graced you with wealth, help and support those studying Torah. If He graced you with outstanding speaking abilities, lecture before audiences to encourage them to strengthen their observance, to educate their children properly, family purity, etc. Each and every soldier has his specific job cut out for him by the General in Chief of the Army and he is obligated to concentrate all his energies for the honor of the King of the Universe.
This is what Dovid Hamelech is telling us. When it is a time that the rebels are trying to void the Torah, when all the apikorsim and deniers are waging war against the Master of the Universe, then it is a time when your time, day and night, is not yours; it belongs to Hashem alone. Join the army and fight Hashem's battle.
The Chofetz Chaim used to quote the Beis Halevi, zt"l. It is incumbent upon each and every soldier to perform his duty in the service of the king. One who shirks his responsibility is called a deserter. Even if one merely decided on his own to change his duties join a different division, he is also called a deserter, even though he may still be working in the army. His responsibility is to perform the duties given to him by his superiors.
This is the responsibility of a ben Torah and a supporter of Torah. The student must learn, and the wealthy must support them. If the wealthy switches jobs and leaves his post and joins the ranks of the learners and thus stops supporting those toiling in Torah, he is a deserter.
The Chofetz Chaim once retold an incident that happened to a wheat dealer in a large city in Russia. When the First World War broke out the merchant was complaining about his lot. He wasn't making enough profit to provide a Parnossah. This was in spite of the fact that he sold 10 wagons of wheat each week to the granary. The market was flooded with wheat and so the buyers were very scrupulous and picky about the quality of the wheat they bought. They took only the best and passed up the poor quality. And after all this they bought on credit and he didn't get paid for months on end.
After the Russian revolution the Chofetz Chaim happened to meet this merchant again. Now there was hardly any wheat in the market and the little that was sold was smuggled into the black market and hidden from the government inspectors. Everyone in the country received a daily ration. The Chofetz Chaim asked the merchant how business was. "Baruch Hashem. Everything's picked up. I'm finally making a good profit."
"How is that?" asked the Chofetz Chaim. "How can you be making a profit in such hard times? Everyone is hungry and receives only a measly ration. And you say that now the merchants are making a nice profit?"
The merchant answered simply. "Rebbe. That's it. Now the buyers aren't picky. They buy whatever they can get their hands on, no matter what the quality. All they want is for us to give them more and more. And they pay upfront to make sure we sell to them. They know how hard it will be for them to get wheat on the open market like before. I'm profiting from the little I sell them each month more than I used to profit four years ago each week.
The Chofetz Chaim concluded. If that's the way it is with wheat, all the more so with Torah. Once everyone taught his son Torah. The Batei Medrashim were full from wall to wall. In the Chadorim and the Yeshivos thousands of Yiddishe Kinder learned Torah. Then Hakadosh Baruch Hu was very selective. Only one who learned Torah for pure reasons - lishma - was chosen to be a Torah-leader. Only a tefilla that came from purity of heart went up to Shomayim to be accepted. Only mitzvos done purely for the sake of Heaven were accepted. Mitzvos done for personal glory, Torah learned not l'shem shomayim, imperfect tefillos couldn't find their way in to the Heavenly court to be presented to the King of Kings.
Now, however, when there is a scarcity of those who study Torah, and so many Yidden don't go to shul or even daven, and those who support Torah, well, they're hard to find. In such times Hakadosh Baruch Hu isn't so picky with the quality of the merchandise being sold. Even when one doesn't daven with such kavanna, or learns for other motives, he will receive his reward. It is an emergency and there is a famine. It is possible in such times to profit from just a little bit of low quality merchandise more than those of previous generations profited from tons of high quality.
Wishing everyone a Gut Yom Tov!
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood).
If you would like to correspond with Rabbi Parkoff please contact him:
Yeshiva Shaare Chaim
Shema Yisrael Torah Network