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Simcha Groffman

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Parshas Beshalach

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

This week's Kinder Torah is dedicated for a Refuah Sheyma for Ruchoma Nomi Bas Chaya

This week's parsha begins by telling us that the Bnei Yisrael did not travel through the land of the Pelishtim when they left Mitzraim. Instead, they went through the desert. The Chofetz Chaim explains the advantages and disadvantages of each route. The land of the Pelishtim was an inhabited area. Food and drink would be easy to obtain. On the other hand, this route posed a spiritual danger. The Bnei Yisrael had just emerged from the 49th level of tumah (impurity) in Mitzraim, and could not afford to travel through the land of the Pelishtim, which was fraught with tumah. The desert route was uninhabited and did not have this spiritual danger. However, as we said last week, there was no food or drink in the desert. Hashem decided to take them through the desert to avoid the spiritual danger. He provided for their sustenance with the miracle of the man. He chose this route to prevent them from returning to their previous level of tumah. Kinderlach, many times we have to make choices in our lives. One of the alternatives may hold attractive possibilities for parnasa or gashmius (material benefits). The price to be paid, however, may be a situation that will bring down our spiritual level. The other alternative is rich in ruchnius (spirituality), but does not promise to provide much gashmius. The Chofetz Chaim is telling us to make the ruchnius our top priority, and Hashem will take care of the gashmius. These choices confront us all of the time. B'ezras Hashem, we will learn from the Chofetz Chaim to make the proper decisions.

Rabbeinu Bechaye details the many miracles that occurred at kriyas Yam Suf (the splitting of the Red Sea). The Yam split into twelve tunnels, one for each of the shevatim (tribes). The water froze hard as rocks and formed walls on the sides of the tunnels. The ground was not muddy like a riverbed; rather it was dry land. The walls of ice were clear as glass and the shevatim could see each other through the walls as they walked through the tunnels. Hashem made sweet drinking water flow out of holes in the walls of the tunnels. When they finished drinking, the holes froze up again. The same ground that was dry for the Bnei Yisrael became muddy for the Mitzrim when they entered the yam. All of the waters in the world split not just the Yam Suf. Just imagine kinderlach, in one instant, the Bnei Yisrael went from being in mortal danger on the shores of the yam, to a beautiful, wondrous tiyul through the water. The Sefer HaChinuch says (Mitzvah 21) that these events are the pillar of our emunah in Hashem. Kinderlach, the more details we know about the great nissim (miracles) that Hashem performed, the more we can appreciate them and strengthen our emunah. We can try to dramatize them and even act them out at the Shabbos table. That will make them really come alive.

Posuk 15:2 contains the phrase Zeh Keli v'anveihu, this is my G-d and I will glorify Him. The Gemora in Shabbos 133b says that this posuk teaches us to beautify the mitzvos. We should acquire a beautiful sukkah, lulav, shofar, tzitzis, Sefer Torah, etc. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 656) details the monetary guidelines for beautifying the mitzvos. Rav Moshe Feinstein, in Darash Moshe explains that a person puts effort into the things that are important to him in life. His home, furnishings, and sustenance are all important to him. Therefore, he invests time and money into beautifying them. A person's Torah and mitzvos are the center of his life. Consequently, he must perform them in the most beautiful manner possible, taking care to do them properly. He should not just rush through them fulfilling the minimum requirements. Kinderlach, how do we make our brochos? How do we daven? Let us make sure that we take the proper time and care to daven and say brochos with kavanna. When we do an act of chessed for someone, let's do it wholeheartedly with a big smile. We can glorify Hashem by learning Torah with great hasmada. Hashem wants us to sanctify our speech by refraining from loshon hora and speaking divrei Torah and kedusha. We should build our family relationships with the utmost love, care, and respect. Do we observe Shabbos correctly, as a day of complete kedusha? Hashem wants us to put our best efforts into His Torah and mitzvos. This brings Him the glory of Zeh Keli v'anveihu.

Posuk 15:13 tells us that Hashem redeemed His nation with kindness. The Chofetz Chaim explains this posuk with the words of the Tanna DiBay Eliyahu. When the Bnei Yisrael were in Mitzraim, they all joined together and formed a pact to do chessed with each other. They saw that it was beyond their power to free themselves from the bondage of Mitzraim. Therefore, they turned to Hashem. They did chessed with each other in order that Hashem would do chessed with them and take them out of Mitzraim. The Chofetz Chaim quotes the Gemora Yerushalmi in the 11th perek of Sanhedrin. Hashem said to the Bnei Yisrael, "My children, if you see the zechus avos (merits of the forefathers) failing you, go and cleave to acts of chessed." That is the meaning of the posuk, "Hashem redeemed His nation with kindness," because they acted kindly towards each other. Rav Beifus in Yalkut Lekach Tov says that the Chofetz Chaim explained the bracha borei nefashos rabbos vi'chesronan as follows. Hashem created many beings with deficiencies. Why? He could have created everything complete and perfect. If He did that, there would be no need for one to help the other. Instead, He created them with deficiencies. What one is lacking, the other provides for him. We do chessed by providing for each other. This sustains the world. The end of the bracha says lihachayos bahem nefesh kal chai (in order to sustain the life of every being). Our lives are all inter-related; not separate. Because we are dependent upon each other, we do chessed with each other and sustain life in this world. You see how important it is kinderlach, to do chessed. With our families, our neighbors, our classmates, our friends, and all of Klal Yisrael. Lend a helping hand, give tsedaka, be a good listener. We can all think of ways to do chessed. Let us all do our part in sustaining the world with our acts of chessed.

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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