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Simcha Groffman

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Parshas Beha'aloscha

For parents to give over to the children at the Shabbos table

This week's Kinder Torah is dedicated in loving memory of Binyomin Ezra Ben Meir Z"L

Basic Training

Here we are in the desert, packing up camp again, getting ready to travel. This is a lot of work, packing up all of our belongings and placing them onto our wagons, donkeys, and camels.

The anan (cloud) lifted up from on top of the Mishkan (tabernacle). That is our sign from Hashem to break camp. We will keep traveling in the direction of the anan until it comes to rest upon the Mishkan again.

We have arrived after a long journey. The anan has settled, signaling that this is our new encampment. Unpacking is a lot of work, but we will be able to rest when we are settled. This seems to be a very nice place to camp. Look at that, the anan has risen again after only one day! Time to pack up again. This is not easy. I was hoping that we would be staying for a longer time.

We have reached our destination. This place is actually not so nice. I hope we do not stay too long. Should we unpack everything? Perhaps we are we only going to stay for a short time.

The anan has settled down. It has not moved for quite a long time. This traveling has taught me a lesson. Hashem is guiding us. We each have our own ideas about where and when we should travel. However, we travel according to Hashem's wishes.

The Torah (Bamidbar 9:15-23) tells us that the Jewish people traveled according to the word of Hashem. When Hashem said to travel, they traveled, and when He signaled them to stop, they encamped. Rav Dessler says that this was not an easy situation. Why did Hashem guide them in this way, and not give them advance information about their travel schedule? To mechanech (train) them to follow Him. The travels in the Midbar (desert) were a training course to learn to follow the words of Hashem.

"Children . . .
Just as Hashem was training the Jewish people to listen to Him, so too our parents mechanech (train) us to listen to them. We may have our own ideas about when to come in the house, or when to go to sleep, or what to eat for dinner. However, we must listen to Abba and Imma. They love us so much and know what is best for us."


Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth." (Bamidbar 12:3). These are the words that the Torah uses to describe Moshe Rabbeinu. The Shlah learns from this how truly great the trait of humility is. Moshe Rabbeinu was the finest of Hashem's created beings, the prince of the prophets, and yet of all of his superlative qualities, the one the Torah chooses to praise is his humility. We need to conduct ourselves to the extreme with this trait of humility, as Rebbe Levitas Ish Yavneh says in Pirkei Avos (4:4) "Be exceedingly humble in spirit."

Jewish history is replete with tales of the humility of our great leaders. The gemora in Shabbos (30b) tells of how two men once made a wager to try to anger Hillel. One came to Hillel's house on Erev Shabbos while Hillel was bathing. He said, "Who here is called Hillel?" Hillel came out of the bath, put on his robe, and went to the man. The man asked Hillel a silly question about why the heads of the Babylonians are round. Hillel patiently praised the man's question and answered him, "Because their midwives are not alert." The man then left, only to return in a short while when Hillel had returned to the bath. Again, he called Hillel out of the bath to ask him another trivial question. "Why are the eyes of the Tarmudians weak?" Again, Hillel praised the question and answered, "Because they live among the sand dunes." The man left and returned a short time later to try to anger Hillel a third time. "Why are the feet of the Africans broad?" As he did the previous two times, Hillel commended the man on his important question and answered, "Because they live in the swamps." The man said that he had many questions to ask, but he was afraid that Hillel might become angry. Hillel said, "Ask all of the question that you want." The man asked, "Are you Hillel, who is called the leader of the Jewish people?" "Yes," was Hillel's reply. "Then may there be no more like you because you caused me to lose my wager."

Do you see how patient Hillel was? He did not become angry although he was disturbed three times in the middle of his bath by someone who feigned ignorance of who he was. He was asked silly questions and ultimately cursed.

Hillelís patience is a sign of his humility. A humble person places himself below others, therefore he does not become angry with them. He sees the good in others. He knows that his good qualities are a gift from Hashem, therefore he does not flaunt them.

"Children . . .
Let us have a contest at the Shabbos table. Who can think of examples of humble behavior? Perhaps Abba will give a treat to the one who has the most examples. (I will give you a few hints -- not interrupting someone who is speaking, not getting upset when things do not go our way, speaking softly, not bragging about our accomplishments, taking the blame when we do something wrong.)"

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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Simcha Groffman

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