Rav Shmuel Boruch Genut, who is close to Rav Chaim Kanievsky, reported in the Israeli Yated Ne’eman that Rav Chaim was recently asked by the director of a cheder in Elad whether he should accept a ba’al teshuvah to teach at his institution. In response, Rav Chaim pulled out a volume of the Rambam and paged to Hilchos Teshuvah, from where he read:
“A person should not think that a ba’al teshuvah is far from the heights of the tzaddikim because of the sins and transgressions he committed. This is not so. Rather, he is beloved and pleasant before the Creator as if he never sinned. Furthermore, his reward is great, for he tasted the taste of sin and left it and conquered his inclination. The chachomim said: The place where ba’alei teshuvah stand, complete tzaddikim cannot stand in, etc.”
Rav Chaim’s intent was clear.
Rav Genut added that he once asked Rav Chaim whether ba’alei teshuvah should be given preference when it comes to tzedokah, for the Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 431) writes of the mitzvah to love the convert that this mitzvah also teaches to have mercy on anyone who is torn away from his birthplace and family.
“If so,” Rav Genut argued, “we should invest more efforts in helping ba’alei teshuvah, who are physically and mentally far removed from their families and friends.”
Rav Chaim agreed, noting, “When one needs to give financial assistance to needy ba’alei teshuvah families, one should give them special help. And sometimes, where relevant, it is worthwhile to even give them precedence to other families.”
David Steger – Matzav.com Israel