The great tzaddik Rav Nosson Wachtfogel, zt”l, Mashgiach of Lakewood, would often say, “We cannot forget that the Chofetz Chaim’s yahrtzeit is at this time of year, right before Rosh Hashanah. For some reason, no one makes a big deal out of it, but they should. The Chofetz Chaim’s primary emphasis was on shemiras halashon, being careful in matters of speech. He taught the primacy and power of speech and that it was possible to guard one’s tongue. During these days before Rosh Hashanah we must improve in matters of speech, lashon hara, idle chatter and ridicule. If we want to renew ourselves, the way is through guarding one’s mouth.”
This was said by Rav Wachtfogel more than two decades ago, but over the last five years, Dirshu, the organization that promotes accountable Torah study and mussar, has been making a big deal about the Chofetz Chaim’s yahrtzeit and its juxtaposition right before Rosh Hashanah.
This year, too, on Tuesday, 24 Elul/September 24, Dirshu held its ‘International Yom Limud and Tefilla’ where more than half a million Jews throughout the world recited specific chapters of Tehillim and learned segments from the two seminal seforim written by the Chofetz Chaim, the Mishnah Berurah and the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, to invoke rachmei shomayim in advance of Rosh Hashanah. School children also learned special material about the Chofetz Chaim.
From the Kosel Haamaaravi to classrooms in Texas and Williamsburg; from Teveria to Melbourne, Australia, and Buenos Aries, Argentina, Yidden came together to recite Tehillim and learn the seforim of the Chofetz Chaim, while resolving to follow the hallowed path which he forged. Children, adults… indeed, Jews from all walks of life participated.
When Hashem sees His children living in unity and harmony, He looks upon them favorably. The Chofetz Chaim stresses this point countless times, especially in the sefer Chofetz Chaim and Shemiras Halashon. This is one of the primary reasons that Dirshu holds its special, yearly Yom Limud and Tefilla on his yahrtzeit, 24 Elul, just over a week before Rosh Hashanah.
Certainly the fervent tefillos of Jews from around the globe and the thousands of school children the world over who learned about the Chofetz Chaim added tremendous merit to Klal Yisroel before Rosh Hashanah.