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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah

Parshas Ki Savo

Remember Him First

Chana! Come out and look at this!
What is it Aharon?
Look, the first fig of the new season has grown on our tree!
Oh, Aharon, I am so happy! You worked so hard on that tree. You plowed the land around it, fertilized it, watered it, pruned it, and weeded it. Now you finally see the first fruit.
Chana, can you please call the children out to see this?
Children, come see what Abba has outside by the fig tree!
What is it Abba?
Look kids, the first fig of the year. What should we do with it?
Let's all eat it for dessert at the Shabbos table.
No, Abba you should eat it. You worked so hard for it.
Let's give it to a poor person to eat.
Children, those are all wonderful ideas. Let us hear what Hashem tells us to do with the first fruits of the season. Chana, please bring me a piece of straw to tie around this fig. Now I must say this, "Behold this is the first fruit of the year." Next we will wait until it ripens, and then take it, along with our other first fruits to the Beis HaMikdash in Jerusalem. There we will give it to the Kohen as a gift for Hashem.

We all have a tendency to be very proud of our work. We get satisfaction seeing it finally come to fruition. Our first natural impulse is to enjoy the fruits of our labor. After all, we worked hard for them. The Sefer HaChinuch (Parshas Mishpatim, Mitzvah 91) explains why we bring our bikurim (first fruits) to Hashem. We must place Hashem at the head of all of our happy occasions. We must remember that all of the blessings that we enjoy in this world come from Him. Therefore, we remember Him first, which shows our gratitude to Him. We accept Him as our ruler and provider of all of the good that we receive.

Children . . .

In our days, we have no mitzvah of bikurim because we have no Beis HaMikdash. However, we can still apply the Sefer HaChinuch's reason for the mitzvah to our lives. Many times, we work very hard on something. For example, a school project, a flower garden, studying for a test, cleaning our rooms, fixing our bicycle. When we finish, we want to enjoy our accomplishments and admire our work. Before anything else, let us all say, "Hodu LaShem" (Give thanks to Hashem). He comes first. If not for Him, we surely would not be able to enjoy this achievement, nor anything else in this world. Show Him that we appreciate Him and everything that He has done for us.

Gratitude Brings Us Closer to Him

Oy vey are these packages heavy. Imma sent me to the store to buy some things. I think I will stop here to rest for a moment. Shloimie, I see that you are having a hard time with those packages. Let me help you. Gee thanks Yankel. I really app-reciate it. Those packages were very heavy. Imma, I'm home. Yankel helped me with the packages. I really want to show my appreciation. Why don't you write him a note, Shloimie, telling him how much you appreciate what he did? Try to help him out when he needs it. Be a good friend to him. That is the greatest expression of appreciation.

We naturally gravitate toward those people who help us. We appreciate them, and want to express our appreciation. The more they help us, the more we appreciate them. Who helps us more than anyone does? Hashem. He provides everything for us. Without Him, we would not even exist. How can we show our appreciation? By coming close to Him. By doing tshuva (returning to Hashem). That is what this month of Elul is all about. The Hebrew spelling of Elul forms the first letters of the words "I am my beloved's and He is mine." Hashem wants us to be close to Him. This is our special time with Him. Let us show Him our appreciation for all that He has done for us by returning to Him.

Children . . .

Who can think of examples of things to thank Hashem for? Our health. Our parents. Our friends. Our home. The delicious meals that Imma cooks. The time that Abba spends learning with us. Let us try to make a whole long list of as many things that we can think of. When we realize all of the things that we should be thankful to Hashem for, then it is easy to come close to Him. We see how much He loves us, cares for us, and does for us. Therefore, we naturally want to do what He wants. Let us have a contest, children, to see who has the longest list of things to be thankful for.

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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Simcha Groffman

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