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Is kiruv a mitzvah? Is it biblical or rabbinic? Is there any reason it should supersede other mitzvot? what are the sources in chazal and halacha relating to kiruv?

related: Kiruv and halachik compromise

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    Well IIRC one may be mechalel Shabbos to save a person spiritually as well as physically, so hatzalas nefashos is one place to start looking – yitznewton May 11 '12 at 17:05
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    +1 I was just thinking about this question. I know there is a Zohar about it, but that's not necessarily authoritative. – Hacham Gabriel May 11 '12 at 21:57
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Rav Sheinberg ZS"L said the source is "Kol Yisrael Arevim ZeLaze."

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The mitzvah of tochecha(rebuke) and vahavta l'reacha kamocha(loving ones friend) are intertwined and kiruv is a huge mitzvah and it is like saving a life. Rambam (Mitzvos Aseh 3),Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 239 Os 4) .The Gemara in Shevous 39 brings the idea from a passuk of areivus(responsible for a community)that not only one has to help individuals but also bring a community closer.

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    Sam, is tochecha the same thing as kiruv? would that mean that kiruv would follow the same halachic parameters (such as only doing if you know the person will listen/improve)? Is there a source that pairs kiruv with any of the mitzvot you mention? – rachav May 11 '12 at 17:14
  • The Rambam in sefer hamtzvos mitzva 3( to love Hashem) he explains kiruv is part of this mitzva because if one really loves someone he will get everyone interested to also love that person.The Ramban explains tochecha and loving ones friend is one concept and the idea is really kiruv to bring the person back to Hashem with love. – sam May 11 '12 at 18:23
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There is an Ohr haChaim by the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah which learns homiletically (al derech derush) that returning lost objects to one's friend is an allegory for returning lost Jews to Hashem.

I am not sure how authoritative it is really as a halachic source though.

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Rav Yitzchok Berkowitz, based on the Chofetz Chaim's introduction to his sefer Chomas HaDas, compiled a source sheet which explains four basic ideas which obligate kiruv:

  1. Kavod Shamayim - Honor of Heaven:

    • We are obligated to care about and increase kavod shamayim in the world. The Chofetz Chaim brings a Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 54:4) which says the Jewish people were reprimanded for caring more about their animals than the fact that the Aron HaKodesh was stolen by the Pelishtim (I Samuel 5:1). This obligation stems from the mitzvah of Ahavas Hashem, Loving G-d. The Rambam (Sefer HaMitzvos #3) explains that part of the mitzvah is the desire to spread the knowledge of Hashem in the world. This should obligate us to educate those ignorant of the Torah and inspire them to fulfill it.
  2. Arvus - All Jews are guarantors for each other:

    • As long as others haven't fulfilled their mitzvah, there's a lacking in my fulfillment of my mitzvah. Sometimes it's even better to lessen my own mitzvah in order to facilitate others fulfilling theirs (see Magen Avraham to Orach Chaim 658 §12 and 671 §1). This shows how important it is to ensure all the Jews are doing what they are supposed to be doing.
  3. Hashavas Aveidah - Returning a lost object:

    • The Chofetz Chaim claims that if the Torah obligates us to return someone's lost object, all the more so should we return their souls. This idea is also found in the Shelah (Torah Shebekesav Parshas Kedoshim s.v. שלא לעמוד על דם) and Minchas Chinuch (#239 §6).
  4. Hakamas HaTorah - Upholding the fulfillment of the Torah:

    • There's a curse against those who don't uphold the Torah (Deuteronomy 27:26). The Yerushalmi (see Ramban ad. loc.) explains that this includes making sure those that are ignoring the Torah fulfill it. The Chofetz Chaim holds that anyone who can influence others to fulfill the Torah and decides not to should be very afraid that this curse not affect them. Those who do inspire others are therefore included in the corresponding blessing for those who uphold the Torah.

The sources I didn't link to are readable in the above source sheet.

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