By Rabbi Aharon Seleh:
Harav Ovadia Yosef zatzal spoke at one of his grandsons’ sheva brachot. Instead of speaking about the chatan, he sadly related a dream he had. “I saw Moshiach by the entrance of the gate of Jerusalem. But his feet were stuck in the ground. I asked him to come and redeem the Jewish people. He said he can’t, because there are 1 million(!) Jewish children who don’t know שמע ישראל. I persisted and beseeched him, but to no avail,” the number was too high. Who knows, maybe if we could reach out to just a few more children, Moshiach would come.
There is a fascinating חובות הלבבות that says even if a person could reach the highest level of perfecting himself in his service of Hashem and even if he could reach the level of the prophets, still, his merits wouldn’t come close to the merits of those who influence others for the better by drawing them close to religion – all the more so if he could influence people who have become wicked. His merits are continuously multiplied every time they do mitzvot.
The Zohar says when people convince others to be more religious and leave their bad habits, they’re literally upholding the world. The Zohar ends off, “If people realized how powerful it is to chase after the wicked to make them repent, they would run after them with all their strength as if they’re chasing life itself!”