A special gathering was held in Bnei Brak last week to asses and advance Arachim’s outreach activities, and was attended by the Rishon LeTziyon, Harav Yitzchok Yosef, shlit”a, Arachim’s CEO, Rabbi Yosef Wallis, and Rabbis Binyamin Druk and Yosef Kahati.
During the gathering, Harav Yitzchok Yosef remarked that his father, Hagaon Rav Ovadya Yosef ZT”L, had a special endearment for our dear and dedicated friend, Rav Yosef Wallis. At times, my father was very critical and outspoken about activities that he disagreed with, but he embraced Rav Wallis with both arms because he knew that he was doing tremendous work for the Jewish Nation.
Rav Wallis described the uniqueness of Arachim’s outreach approach and techniques. “We are not satisfied with an ‘instant’ emotional inspiration toward teshuva which eventually wears off. Rather, we work with a logical approach and Torah hashkafos to build the spiritual world of a potential baal teshuva until he is able to continue on his own toward Torah observance. This is the proper method for making baaeil teshuva.”
Rav Yosef emphasized the importance of Torah study for a baal teshuva. “It is prohibited to be separated from Torah study. Chazal say that Torah is the weapon to overpower the yetzer hara. The Torah is what gives us strength. In Arachim, they educate the baalei teshuva to have regular Torah study sessions throughout the day, including Shabbos and Yom Tov. Without Torah study, a person will simply digress.
“When I was invited to this assembly, I immediately accepted. Strengthening and supporting Arachim is equivalent to strengthening and supporting the Jewish nation. Chazal say ‘Whoever saves a Jewish soul is considered as if he saved an entire world,’ and we must constantly think ‘How can we bring another Jew closer to our Father in Heaven.’
“Baruch Hashem, there is a thirst to hear the Dvar Hashem. We merely have to open people’s eyes and show them the beauty of the Torah. This is what Arachim does, and their work is very highly praiseworthy.”
Afterwards, Rabbi Wallis told the audience that over 50,000 children were born to families that became baalei teshuva through Arachim’s seminars. He also shared with them some of the important issues that Arachim must confront which were presented to the past and present Gedolei Yisrael for their guidance.
“Maran Hagaon Rav Ovadya Yosef constantly spoke about the importance of educating our Jewish children. He said that we are all obligated to assist in Jewish education as they are the next generation who will continue the mesorah. Since educating our Jewish children was always one of his top priorities, at the end of each seminar, Arachim has undertaken to immediately register the children of the participants in religious schools.”
Rav Binyamin Druk, one of the Arachim’s lecturers who emceed the event, spoke about Arachim’s worldwide outreach activities since its inception over 35 years ago. “Tens of thousands of Jews from the entire spectrum of Judaism who were unknowingly severed from the source of life, are now returning to their Father in Heaven. All the past and present gedolei Yisrael have endorsed this remarkable organization whose work carries the keys to the final redemption. (Shai, the pasuk that he quotes “Uva le’tziyon etc.” does not mean that teshuva is the key to the geula, but that also the baalei teshuva will be greeted by Moshich, so I left it out.)
Rav Yosef Kahati, a seminar graduate who is presently one the Arachim’s lecturers, concluded the event relating how the Arachim seminar changed his entire life. “Being a partner in Arachim is the highest form of fulfilling the mitzvah of ‘Ve’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha.’ ”