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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Devarim

Meam Loez

"Avi, the first chapter of Hallel spoke about Hashem's supervision of each individual's private life. The second chapter continues the same theme on a national scale. Dovid HaMelech recounts the Almighty's demonstration of His awesome power at the time of Yetzias Mitzrayim. He supervised the life of our entire nation, performing a myriad of miracles in Mitzrayim and at the Yom Suf. The personal attention that we receive from Hashem comes from His great love for us both as individuals and as His nation. Dovid HaMelech begins by highlighting two different aspects of the Jewish people and their predicament. 'When Yisrael went out of Mitzrayim, Beis Yaakov from am loez'.ii Tehillim 114:1 We are called 'Yisrael' and 'Beis Yaakov'. Our slave-masters are called 'Mitzrayim' and 'am loez' - a people of alien language. Any language that is not loshon ha'kodesh (the holy tongue) is called loez - alien.iii Rashi, Rav Saadia Gaon, Iyun HaTefillah, and Radak The Targum Yonason goes even further when he translates 'am loez' to mean 'a barbaric people'. The language reflects the nature of the people, thus the nations of the world diametrically oppose Klal Yisrael in both their spirit and their culture."iiii Siddur Kavannas HaLev "Abba, what is the difference, between taking Yisrael out of Mitzrayim, and Beis Yaakov from 'am loez'?"

"Excellent question, Avi. It was to the merit of our ancestors that they did not change their language to the loshon Mitzri.iiv Medrash Shochar Tov (Medrash Vayikra Rabba 32:5 says that they did not speak loshon hora) Those who did not leave Goshen, the place designated for Klal Yisrael to live, kept to themselves and spoke loshon ha'kodesh. They did not fully understand the Mitzri tongue. Even those who went out amongst the Mitzrim spoke loshon Mitzri because it was required. Between themselves, however, they conversed in their native tongue. The Blessed Merciful One took them out of that foreign nation because they only used the alien language out of pure necessity.vv Radak Additionally, they did not change their national name, and were always referred to as 'Yisrael'.vvi Maggid Tsedek Dovid HaMelech uses the name 'Yisrael' to refer to the tribe of Levi, the Elders, and others who segregated themselves. They did not mix with the Mitzrim, nor did they learn from their ways. They were redeemed from the land of Mitzrayim, not the culture, for they did not absorb the culture at all. However, some of the Jewish people did attempt to assimilate. They are referred to as 'Beis Yaakov'. They mixed in to the Mitzri culture, learned their ways, and tried to blend in. They were in a deeper golus (exile), and had to be liberated from am loez.vvii Malbim, Maase Nissim cited in Otzer HaTefillos Even so, they did not completely negate their zechus (merit) to be redeemed, for they did not change their names, abandon their language completely, reveal secrets, or behave immorally.4 Twelve months before Yetzias Mitzrayim they were told that they would take jewelry from the Mitzri women.vviii Shemos 3:22 Not one of them revealed this matter. Only one person acted immorally, and the deed was recorded."iix Vayikra 24:10 "Abba, we are in a golus which has lasted over 2000 years, and are awaiting the geula (redemption) any day. We surely do not want to assimilate or absorb any of the alien culture that surrounds us in any way."

"Absolutely not, Avi. We want the Merciful One to gather our exiles in from the four corners of the earth,xx Yishaya 11:12 and not from the clutches of the culture of 'am loez'. Our Torah, our deep relationship with the Holy One Blessed be He, our essence, and our culture is superior to theirs in every way. We must recognize our madrayga elyona (high spiritual level) and maintain it. In that zechus may we merit seeing the Moshiach speedily in our days."


Kinderlach . . .

The golus of Mitzrayim was two-fold. We were exiled from our homeland - Eretz Yisrael and forced to live in Mitzrayim. Secondly, we were in the clutches of an alien culture, which spoke a different language and had a different ideology. All those who merited redemption retained their language, names, purity, and guarded their speech. However, the tsaddikim and elders achieved the higher level of complete separation from the Mitzrim and their lowly ways. In our present golus, we are surrounded by the alien culture. The modern technological equipment feeds a person the message of the 'am loez' - 24/7 - everywhere, all of the time. We need a major effort, along with siyata di'shmaya (heavenly assistance) to free ourselves from its clutches. May we all merit being called 'Yisrael', and need only to be gathered in from the four corners of the earth. And may we merit to see the end of the 'am loez' speedily in our days, amen.

Praise and Bless

"Shalom, Chaim! How was school today?"

"Wonderful, Abba! I got a 100 on my test in hilchos Shabbos."

"That is fantastic, Chaim! You are a very smart boy. Hashem should bless you with many, many more excellent grades in your examinations."

"Thank you, Abba, for the beautiful praise and bracha (blessing)."

"My pleasure, Chaim. I learned a lesson from Moshe Rabbeinu."

"In what way, Abba?"

"Let's look at the parasha, Chaim. 'Hashem, your G-d has multiplied you and behold, you are like the stars of heaven in abundance! May Hashem, the G- d of your forefathers increase you one thousand times, and may He bless you as He told you'" (Devarim 1:10,11).

"What a beautiful bracha, Abba!"

"Yes, Chaim. The sefer, 'Yesod V'Shoresh Ha'Avodah' (Shaar 1, Chapter 7) cites the Zohar. He separates this blessing into two parts. The first part is praise. Moshe Rabbeinu praised the phenomenal growth of Klal Yisrael. Then he proceeded to bless them - they should multiply even more! The Zohar teaches us that one who praises his friend - his children or his possessions - should also bless him."

"That is beautiful, Abba."

"Wait, Chaim. There is even more. If a person praises and blesses his friend, he himself will be blessed. However, if he only praises him, without the blessing . . . oy va voy! How should the blessing be given? With an ayin tovah (good eye - i.e. generously)."

"I see, Abba."

"Praising and blessing people is one of the foundations of 'bein adam li'chaveiro' (interpersonal relationships). Rav Avigdor Miller zt"l advises us to look for the good points in our fellow Jews, and praise them. Not only individuals, but even groups, and even all of Klal Yisrael! Follow up this praise with a huge generous blessing, given with an ayin tov. Then wait to see how people react. They will love you! Guess what? You will love them too. The Zohar promises another benefit. You will be blessed min HaShomayim (from Heaven)."

"I'm ready, Abba. Thank you for sharing that wisdom with me. You always take the time to teach me good things. May Hashem bless you with all the wisdom to continue teaching more and more."


Kinderlach . . .

Is your brother a generous person? Praise his generosity! And bless him that he will have enough parnassa (income) to be able to continue giving. Does your neighbor have a big library of sefarim? Praise his dedication and self-sacrifice in collecting sifrei kodesh (holy books). Bless him that his library should continue to grow. Did your sister help you with the Shabbos preparations? Praise her for her chessed (kindness), and bless her that she should be able to do many, many more acts of chessed. Praise and bless. Praise and bless. That is the formula for success.

i Tehillim 114:1
ii Rashi, Rav Saadia Gaon, Iyun HaTefillah, and Radak
iii Siddur Kavannas HaLev
iv Medrash Shochar Tov (Medrash Vayikra Rabba 32:5 says that they did not speak loshon hora)
v Radak
vi Maggid Tsedek
vii Malbim, Maase Nissim cited in Otzer HaTefillos
viii Shemos 3:22
ix Vayikra 24:10
x Yishaya 11:12

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