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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table


Your Number

"Sir how much do these potatoes cost?"

"Three shekels per kilo."

"How many potatoes are in this sack?"

"I don't know young man. I sell the potatoes by weight, not number."

"You don't know how many potatoes you have in these sacks?"

"Not really."

"Can I ask you a personal question, sir?"

"Go right ahead, young man."

"How many children do you have?"


"You know how many children you have, but you don't know how many potatoes you have?"

"Young man, there is a bit of a difference. Every child is a person. A whole world. Each one needs my person attention and supervision to grow up to be a normal, productive person. Potatoes are just potatoes. Although they are different shapes and weights, we eat them all just the same."

"Take a census of the entire assembly of the Children of Israel" (Bamidbar 1:2). Hashem wanted a precise number. The Keli Yakar zt"l explains that this number distinguishes the Jewish people. Things that are numbered are important. Each Jew is very important. So important, that he is guided by hashgacha pratis (Hashem's personal supervision). The number expresses that we are important enough to warrant hashgacha pratis. The Ramban zt"l stresses the same point when he explains the word "tifkidu" - you shall count (Bamidbar 1:3). This word illustrates that Hashem remembers and supervises. As the verse states, "Hashem pokad (remembered) Sara" [to grant her a child] (Bereshis 21:1). A pikadon (from the same root word) is an object that someone watches and supervises for you. Hashem is watching and supervising each Jew individually.

Kinderlach . . .

Did you eat a delicious meal today? Chasdey Hashem (an act of kindness from Hashem). Did you do well on your test? Chasdey Hashem. Did Imma give you a big, warm, loving hug? Chasdey Hashem. Did you bang your toe? Chasdey Hashem. Did someone embarrass you? Chasdey Hashem. Why are the last two things chasdey Hashem? They are very unpleasant. Because Hashem is personally supervising our lives. Everything that He does is for the good. There are very good reasons for even the unpleasant things. If you hear news about unpleasant things happening to the Jewish people you must know that it is all chasdey Hashem. He is taking care of us, as He has for the past 3800 years.

The Best You

"The Children of Israel shall encamp each man by his banner" (Bamidbar 2:2). What were these banners and what did they signify? The Medrash Tanchuma (Bamidbar 14) relates that 22,000 chariots of angels, each with its own banner, descended along with Hashem at Har Sinai. The Jewish people were jealous and desired their own banners. What was so special about these banners that aroused jealousy? Rav Zeidel Epstein, Shlita, in his sefer "Heoros" explains that each angel had a specific unique purpose. Only he could fulfill that purpose. Similarly his banner, an expression of his purpose, was unique. The Children of Israel wanted banners, and the clear definition of purpose that they expressed. Moshe Rabbeinu was concerned. Even if Hashem granted their wish and gave them banners, perhaps they would not be satisfied with the banners they received or their locations in the encampment? Perhaps they wanted to change their life's mission. Hashem assured him that everyone would be happy with his station. Yaakov Avinu had assigned them positions around his bed at the time of his death. These were the same positions that they would take up in the camp. Along with the banners, these locations expressed each tribe's unique qualities and singular path to best serve Hashem. Each tribe realized that he must follow his path and no other, to fulfill his life's mission.

Kinderlach . . .

"Abba, I feel very behind in my learning." "Why Shimi?" "When the Shaagas Aryeh zt"l was my age, he knew all of shas (the Babylonian Talmud). I only know a few mesectas." "Shimi, don't worry. Rav Aryeh Leib MiMitz (the Shaagas Aryeh) had his banner (so to speak). His job was to learn through shas 1000 times and write his commentaries which are still challenging our greatest Torah minds. You are someone completely different. You have a different banner, the Shimi Goldman banner. Your job in life is not to be the Shaagas Aryeh. Your job is to be the best Shimi Goldman that you can be." "Abba, maybe my destiny is to learn through shas 2000 times." "Could be, Shim." "If so, I must get back to learning." "Atta boy, Shim."

Neat and Orderly

In this week's parsha, we find the description of the encampment of the Jewish people in the desert. Throughout the next few parshios the Torah uses quite a few words to describe in detail how the camp was arranged, how the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was taken apart and packed up to travel, and how the entire camp traveled. We know that the Torah does not waste words. What is the purpose of the detailed descriptions of these arrangements? Rav Aharon Kotler zt"l explains that the Torah teaches us the importance of seder (organization). All matters of holiness and service to Hashem require seder. The Torah is replete with examples. Our prayers are all arranged in a precise and specific order. In fact, our prayer book is called the siddur, which literally means order. Rav Kotler stresses that we should also be very concerned about the seder in our lives. We find that our Gedolim (Torah giants) were very careful about maintaining order. We should follow their example.

Kinderlach . . .

We should not leave our clothes, shoes, books, or toys lying around the house. Instead, we should put them away. Why not also organize our storage closets? What a waste of time it is to look for something that was misplaced. In addition to our possessions, our time should also be orderly. Why be late to school when, with a little more effort, we can be on time? Seder enriches our lives, so let us all do our best in this area.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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