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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Ki Seitze

Knock Down, Build Up

"If you build a new house, you shall make a fence for your roof, so there will be no blood in your house if someone falls from it" (Devarim 22:8). This verse simply teaches that we are responsible to prevent our property from damaging others. Someone may fall off our roof; therefore we must surround it with a fence. The Noam Elimelech has an interesting and deep drasha on this verse. "If you will build a new house..." The inner character of a person is called his house. That is where he lives. No matter where he is, he is always the same person. He builds his middos, his thoughts, and his ambitions into his soul. Through this inner world, he relates to the outer world.

How do we build this house? By learning Torah. Those pure thoughts of Torah penetrate our souls and build them up. The verse refers to a "new house." The Divrei Torah that a person learns must always be "new" to him. Each time he learns, he should take a fresh approach. One time learn faster, the next time learn slower. Learn the halachos, and then learn the drashas. If so, he will get a new insight, a different understanding of the sugya (subject).

"You shall make a fence for your roof." The roof is the highest part of the house. It represents the gaava (haughtiness) of a person. The Hebrew word "maakeh" is similar to the word "omek" - deep. As the verse states, "From the depths I called you Hashem" (Tehillim 130:1). We have to put a maakeh on the roof - to lower the gaava to a low place. We must humble ourselves. This is the way to build a proper house. A house permeated with humility and built with pure thoughts of Torah.

Kinderlach . . .

Did you ever see workers building a brick house? How do they do it? One brick at a time. One on top of the other. Slowly, the walls begin to take shape. You may not notice the progress after each brick. However, every brick makes a difference. Each succeeding one is built on the previous one. So too with the spiritual "house" that we build. Each pure word of Torah is a brick. We may not feel the progress after each and every brick. However, they add up. Slowly, the shape of the house forms. Finally, when the walls are completed, we come to the roof - the highest part of the house. It must be crowned by a maakeh, a symbol of humility. In order to build a proper, strong, house, the construction must contain huge portions of humility. Kinderlach, we are all in the construction business. Let us all build big, strong, beautiful houses, built with Torah, crowned with humility.

Good Advice

"Class, we are now in the beginning of the month of Elul. Rosh Hashanah, which is Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment), is soon coming. How can we tip the scales in our favor?"

"Judge people favorably."

"Excellent answer, Chaim. Hashem judges us as we judge others. Therefore, if we dan lechaf zechus (judge others favorably), He will judge us favorably."

"Be patient with others."

"Correct, Avi. He will then be patient with us."

"Have mercy on others."

"Wonderful, Yossie! Hashem will be merciful upon you if you are merciful on His creations."

"Guard your speech."

"I couldn't have said it better myself, Yanky. If a person does not speak badly about his fellow Jews, the accusing angels can say nothing bad about him. Even if he has committed evil deeds, their lips are sealed. They cannot prosecute him."

"Attach yourself to the tsibbur (community)."

"Right, Shaya. It is much easier for an individual to receive a harsh judgment than a community. If you are part of a tsibbur, then you will be judged along with them."

"Do work to help the tsibbur."

"Now that is a superb answer, Yona. When you do provide for another, then he needs you. Even if you deserve a harsh judgment, you may be saved for the sake of the other person, because he needs you. Multiply that by a hundred or a thousand. If you help the tsibbur, then they all need you. For their sake Hashem will judge you favorably."

"Strengthen Shabbos observance."

"Great, Doni! When the Jews guard the Shabbos, Hashem guards the Jewish people."

"Learn Torah."

"Brilliant answer, Moishie! Torah learning is our strength; it is a mighty force that affords great protection from all sorts of evil mishaps."

"Put all your energy into answering the Kaddish: 'Amen! Yehei shmei rabba mevorach le'olam ul'olmei almaya!' (May your Great Name be blessed now and forever!)"

"Yes, Aharon. Our Sages say that even if one has already been judged harshly, Hashem will tear up his judgment if he does this."

"Be careful to make 100 blessings each day."

"One hundred percent, Yitzy. One hundred people were dying each day during the reign of King David. Then he obligated the people to make 100 blessings each day, and the dying stopped. Those 100 blessings retain their protective power."

"It seems like the list is endless."

"It is, Shmully. Therefore, the best advice is not to waste a single moment. Always busy yourself with a mitzvah. May we all receive a good judgment this Rosh Hashanah."


Kinderlach . . .

Rosh Hashanah is coming. What shall you work on in order to receive a good judgment? You have so many options. Pick one and get to work. If you feel ambitious, you can try more. The main thing is your sincere effort. Serve Him with a full heart. Hashem is waiting for you. He wants your teshuva. He will help you along; you just have to make the first step. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. The King is coming.

Parasha Questions:

What did Amalek do to us? (25:18)

What will you do with the big weight? The small weight? (Rashi 25:13)

What is the maximum number of lashes a person can receive for one aveyra? (25:2,3 and Rashi)

What will you receive if you leave forgotten bundles of grain for converts, orphans, and widows? (24:19)

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