Is it worth it to spend my own time, time that I could be using for learning, to teach others?
The question is, how much are you willing to sacrifice from your own perfection for the sake of the great perfection of zchus harabim? Zchus harabim means benefiting the public and it’s the greatest thing that can be done.
I’ll quote to you what the Chovos Halvovos says of this great deed of helping bring the public back to Judaism, back to avodas Hashem. He says like this: “No matter how perfect you are in all the forms of shleimus, in every kind of perfection, it is as nothing compared to the perfection that comes from causing the multitude to become virtuous.” And he explains that it’s because all of their subsequent good deeds are credited to your account. So it pays.
Of course, you have an alternative. You can retire to the yeshiva and spend your life on your own perfection, which is certainly not a silly thing to do. Not everybody has the opportunity to be mezakeh es harabbim. But if you have the opportunity and you’re suited for it, then it’s a big zchus.
If you’re suited for it! Many times young fellows go out from the yeshiva to help the rabim – it’s like a green apple. It’s too soon to pick it from the tree and you have nothing yet to teach others. You have to make sure that you’re ripe. So, remain in the yeshiva until you’re well on in years, until you’re full and juicy and then go out and do what you can with the public. But don’t leave before you yourself have accomplished what you have to accomplish.
And that’s the tragedy of American yeshivos (this Q&A was recorded in 1972). People go out – and they have no message for the world. They’re still unripe. And the truth is, they get spoiled quickly and they help nobody else.
TAPE # R-48 (1972)