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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Beha'aloscha

Good Question!

"I have a question, Abba."

"Excellent, Chaim!"

Chaim is a little taken aback.

"Abba, I am very flattered, but do I really deserve such a compliment? I did not even ask the question yet. And I surely do not have an answer to the question."

"You earned the praise, Chaim. You are a very thoughtful young man, and I know that your question will be an important one."

"Why does an important question deserve such praise, Abba? It would seem to me that the answer is much more valuable than the question."

"The answer to that question is actually in this week's parasha, Chaim. In the beginning of chapter nine, the Torah discusses the Korbon Pesach that was brought by the Jewish people one year after they left Mitzrayim. Certain people were tomei (impure) due to contact with the dead. Because of this, they were not able to bring the Korbon Pesach. They did not want to lose the opportunity to sacrifice this important korbon; therefore, they asked Moshe Rabbeinu if there was any way that they could bring it. Moshe asked Hashem the question, and received the answer. One month later, they brought the korbon on Pesach Sheini. Rashi cites the Sifrei who praises these people for asking the question. They had the merit that a portion of the Torah was taught as a result of their question. 'Merits come to a person who deserves them' (Gemora Shabbos 32a)"

"That is impressive Abba, however, I am puzzled by one thing. Ultimately, Moshe Rabbeinu taught this portion of the Torah, just as he taught all of the portions of the Torah. All they did was ask the question. Why did they receive such a merit for just asking a question?"

"Excellent, Chaim! Rav Yerucham Levovitz, zt"l, the Mashgiach, asks the very same question. He answers, 'The question of a wise man is half of the answer.' The thought required to learn and understand the subject well enough to formulate a relevant question already places a person halfway on the path to comprehending the answer. By now, he has the important points clear and organized, and when he hears the answer, everything will just fall into place. Where does the question begin? With desire. The person must care enough about knowing the emmes of the Torah to ask the question. Without the question, the answer is just not an answer."

"What about the rest of the Torah, Abba? Moshe Rabbeinu taught it without questions."

"Not true, Chaim. Rav Yerucham points out that Moshe brought the Torah down from heaven to earth. How? By asking questions. All of the Torah that Moshe learned was Hashem's answers to his questions. Without the questions, the answers would not have come. That is the hidden meaning in the verse, 'Whoever sought (mevakesh) Hashem' (Shemos 33:7). In order to learn, one must be a mevakesh - one who seeks Hashem; one who asks questions. That is the secret of learning Torah."

Kinderlach . . .

Do you have a question? Good! That means that you care about what you are learning. You put careful thought into it and realize that something is not clear. Then you go to ask a chochom to find out the emmes of Torah. That is the way to learn, kinderlach. That is the way that Moshe Rabbeinu learned the Torah on Har Sinai. That is the way that the parasha of Pesach Sheini was taught. Your question benefits your own learning. If it brings an answer that is taught to others, it is a zechus for you. You merit having Torah taught by way of your question. Be a 'mevakesh'. Seek the truth of Torah. Ask questions. Learn and help others learn. That is your zechus.

Refuah Shelayma

"Moshe cried out to Hashem saying, 'Ana Kel na refa na la' ('Please, Hashem, heal her now!')" [Bamidbar 12:13]. The word "na" (please) is used twice in the same verse. Why? The Kesav Sofer has a novel and interesting explanation of this verse. Moshe Rabbeinu was praying for his sister, Miriam. She was sick with tsoraas. This disease came about because of her aveyra (sin) - speaking loshon hora about Moshe Rabbeinu. Tsoraas and indeed all sickness is a form of yissurin (suffering) in this world. Yissurin has a cleansing effect, as the verse states, "Praiseworthy is the person whom Hashem afflicts..." (Tehillim 94:12). The sick person's suffering in this world will save him from a much harsher punishment in the next world. If so, then why do we pray for the refuah shelayma (complete recovery) of a sick person? Do we want him to suffer terrible punishments in Olam Habbo? Of course not! Therefore, we pray for two things: refuas ha'guf - a physical healing of the body, and refuas ha'nefesh - a healing of the soul, so that he will not require the punishment of gehennom. This is one explanation of the verse, "Heal me Hashem, and I will be healed. Save me and I will be saved..." (Yirmiyahu 17:14). The prophet is asking for a cure for both his body and soul, so that he will not have to suffer neither in this world nor in the World to Come.

And so, our original question is answered. Why is the word "na" used twice in the same verse? Once for refuas ha'nefesh, and once for refuas ha'guf. For Moshe Rabbeinu felt Miriam's suffering, and pleaded for Hashem's mercy. However, not at the expense of Olam Habbo.

Kinderlach . . .

Every experience in life has a positive side to it. The Kesav Sofer shows us the benefit of being sick. This thought is useful to the sick person himself, to keep his spirits up. However, we his friends and relatives must have rachmonus (mercy) and sympathy for him. We must do whatever we can to ease his suffering. That includes praying for him. The words of the eighth blessing of the Amidah - the tefillah for sick people - almost exactly follow the verse in Yirmiyahu. "Heal us Hashem, and we will be healed. Save us, and we will be saved." We are praying for a refuah shelayma (complete recovery) for his body and soul. Kinderlach, may Hashem accept all of your prayers, and send a refuah shelayma - body and soul - to all of the sick people, amen.

Parasha Questions:

At which age did the Leviim begin learning the halachos of the avodah, and at which age did they begin serving? (Rashi 8:24)

How many Korbon Pesach's were brought during the forty years in the desert? (Rashi 9:1)

Over which tribe was the anan resting when they were traveling? When they were encamped? (Rashi 9:18)

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