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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Devorim

From Low to High

"Eicha [yashva badad] (How can it be [that she sits in solitude])?" (Eicha 1:1). This word begins Megillas Eicha, the megilla that we will read in a few days, on Tisha B'Av. The same word also begins a verse that we read in this week's parasha. "Eicha essa livadi . . . "How can I alone bear alone your troubles, your burdens, and your fights?"(Devarim 1:12). We read this verse with the same tune as Megillas Eicha. What is the connection between the two?

The Kesav Sofer has a fascinating insight, which begins with the previous two verses. "Hashem your G-d has multiplied you and behold, you are like the stars of heaven in abundance" (Devarim 1:10). This was a time of greatness for Klal Yisrael. We were like the stars of the sky. How should we react to that greatness? With humility. Yaakov Avinu is our prototype. His name "Yaakov" (the heel of the foot), exemplified his humility. He lowered himself like the "ekev" (heel). This aroused Hashem's love for him, and He elevated him. As the gemora states, "Hashem raises up one who lowers himself" (Eiruvin 13b). Now his name would be "Yisrael" - Hashem's Minister. A position of honor.

So too it is with Klal Yisrael. When we lower ourselves, Hashem elevates us. As the very next verse states. "May Hashem the G-d of your forefathers increase you a thousand times, and bless you as He has spoken of you" (Devarim 1:11). However, when we react with gaava (pride), and we raise our heads up, then we become unbearable. As the next verse states, "How can I alone bear...?" How could Moshe Rabbeinu alone carry the burden of such a self-serving nation? A nation of humble people is governable. A nation of "baalei gaava" is unbearable.

This is one of the messages of Megillas Eicha. We have suffered so much persecution and golus (exile). One of the reasons is sinas chinam (baseless hatred). One of the sources of sinas chinam is gaava. Now is the time to lower ourselves, correct that, and bring an end to this golus.

Kinderlach . . .

We are all mourning over the Beis HaMikdash and the golus. We have suffered so much persecution. We are suffering this very day. Who does not want to put an end to all of this? One key is humility. Speak softly and nicely. Give in when you can. Never start an argument. Put an end to existing disputes. Say only nice things about people. Be grateful to Hashem for everything. These are the hallmarks of humility. This will bring us greatness. May we see the crown of Hashem's nation rise speedily in our days.

You Don't Say!

"Good Shabbos my good friend Yosseleh! It's great to see you!"

"Good Shabbos Shmuelke! Seeing you is always a pleasure. Where are you headed this beautiful Shabbos evening?"

"To the Rebbe's tisch."

"I am going also. Come let's walk together."

The two Chassidim walk down the streets toward the shul. As they turn the corner, two young men approach them.

"Excuse me, we are new in town. We want to go to a Chassidic Rebbe's tisch. Do you know of one nearby?"

"Yes, of course. We are going ourselves. Please join us."

The four men walk up the steps and open the doors into the shul. They are treated to a splendid sight. In the center of the room is a long table, covered with a white silken tablecloth. Seated at the end is the Rebbe, dressed in royal clothes to honor the Shabbos. In front of him, the table is set with the finest tableware. The rest of the room is filled with benches packed with Chassidim. All have come to enjoy the holy atmosphere of the Rebbe's Shabbos Tisch. A sumptuous Shabbos meal awaits them. The Rebbe makes his blessings, eats, and the food is distributed to everyone. The two guests sit shoulder to shoulder with the Chassidim. They are overwhelmed by the holiness of the moment.

"This tisch is simply beautiful."

"Boruch Hashem."

"Thank you so much for bringing us here. May I ask you something?"

"Yes, please."

"When does the Rebbe say a Devar Torah?"

"If I tell you, it will spoil the experience. Wait and see. You won't regret it."

And so they waited, and waited, and waited. The Chassidim sat and watched the Rebbe. They sang Shabbos songs. Finally, they made their blessings after eating, bid the Rebbe a "Good Shabbos," and began to leave. The young men turned to their hosts.

"The Rebbe didn't speak."

"That is correct."

"I thought that one of the main reasons that the Chassidim come to the tisch is to hear the Rebbe's Divrei Torah."


"Was the Rebbe feeling well?"


"Then why didn't he speak?"

"Our Rebbe never speaks at the tisch."

The young men are astounded.

"The Rebbe never speaks at the tisch? Then why do the Chassidim come?"

"They don't come to hear what the Rebbe says. They come to hear what the Rebbe does not say."

* * *

What did the Rebbe hope to convey to his Chassidim by sitting silent at the tisch? One possibility is that a holy person can inspire others with just his presence. He does not need to say a word. Another is that we need not feel uncomfortable with silence. When one feels an obligation to talk, he can end up saying many things that are unnecessary and even forbidden. Be relaxed about keeping quiet. Perhaps he wanted to make an even stronger point. Would anyone ever suspect the Rebbe of saying anything improper? Of course not! Even so, he kept quiet. How much more so, should we guard our speech.

This week's parasha brings a recounting of the chet ha'meraglim (sin of the spies). This disaster was caused by loshon hora. Hashem had promised the Jewish people a miraculous conquest of Eretz Yisrael. The spies spoke loshon hora against The Almighty Himself, claiming that the residents of the Holy Land were too powerful to defeat. This sin caused the entire generation to die in the desert, never entering the Promised Land. The night the spies returned was Tisha B'Av. "That night you cried for nothing. Therefore, it will be a night of crying throughout the generations" (gemora Taanis 29a).

We are still crying over all of the destructions. Will it ever end? Yes. It is within our power to end this golus (exile) and bring Mashiach. Which power do we have? The power of speech.

Kinderlach . . .

Watch what you don't say. Who knows what you don't say? Hashem. He knows that you were tempted to spread some juicy gossip. Or that you really wanted to put somebody down. But you didn't! You were a hero! You held yourself back from loshon hora. Hashem will reward you greatly for that. Count your words like precious gems. Don't spend even one more than you have to. You have the power. The power to bring Moshiach. The power of speech. You don't say!

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