For parents to give over to the children at the Purim and Shabbos table
Parshas Ki Sisa (Purim)
Let us try to imagine kinderlach that we lived in the generation that left Mitzraim. We experienced the miracles of the eser makkos, kriyas Yam Suf, Har Sinai, and kaballas HaTorah. These were wondrous events; each one alone would have been enough to inspire a person for a lifetime (as we say in the Pesach Haggadah, dayeinu.) How could we have fallen so quickly to commit the Chet HaEgel, (Sin of the Golden Calf), just forty days after receiving the Torah? Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz in Sichos Mussar explains the Chet HaEgel as follows. The Bnei Yisrael had grown to trust and depend upon Moshe Rabbeinu. He was leading them through every facet of their miraculous deliverance from the time they were slaves in Mitzraim. Now, suddenly, he did not descend from the mountain at the expected time. The Satan tricked them into thinking that their beloved leader had died. The prospect of continuing without him made the Bnei Yisrael frightened and panicky. In this type of environment, the Satan was able to convince them to commit the Chet HaEgel. He would never have been able to accomplish this under normal calm circumstances. It all began, kinderlach, with panic. Rav Dessler, in Michtav MiEliyahu explains the tefillah Al Chet that we say on Yom Kippur when confessing our sins. He takes each sin and delves into its roots. The first chet is oness (a sin committed under duress.) Rav Dessler explains that due to the pressure, we are likely to be overly lenient in our mitzvah observance. We thought the situation warranted a heter, (leniency) when in reality our tension biased our judgment. How many times does it happen kinderlach that someone takes our toy away from us? What should we do? Should we panic and grab it back, or should we ask nicely? What happens when they are giving out candy or peckeles in shul? We should not get excited and misbehave. We have to behave nicely even in these situations kinderlach. Remember that Hashem is really deciding who gets the treats. If He wants us to get one then we will. And if we don't is it really so terrible? It is much worse to display bad middos. Whenever we feel that we are under pressure, we have to stop ourselves and say that we will not let this ruin our behavior.
We all know kinderlach that Haman's evil plan was to destroy the Jewish people. With whom did he want to begin the destruction? The Medrash Rabba (Esther 9:4) tells us that Haman found Mordechai in the beis hamedrash with 22,000 children, dressed in sackcloth learning Torah and crying out to Hashem in prayer. Haman bound them in chains and told them that the next day they would be the first to be slain followed by Mordechai. The mothers of these children wanted to send food, but the children would rather fast and weep for the salvation of the Jewish people. Their cries went straight up to heaven. Hashem heard them and arose from His seat of judgment to go sit on His seat of mercy. At that moment, Hashem tore up the evil decree against the Bnei Yisrael. That night He disturbed Achashverosh's sleep, thereby beginning the salvation. Kinderlach, we see from this the power of tefillah (prayer). The prayers of those 22,000 children aroused Hashem's mercy for the Jewish people. At times we may get lazy, and allow our tefillos to become a dull repetition of the words. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (2:18) says, "Do not allow your tefillah to become routine, rather you should appeal for mercy and favor before Hashem." We always have to remember kinderlach that Hashem listens to all of our tefillos. Make sure you say your tefillos slowly and with kavannah (concentration). Think about the words you are saying. Look into the siddur or close your eyes. Do not get distracted by looking around. In the zechus (merit) of your tefillos, kinderlach, Hashem should have mercy on all of Klal Yisrael.
The posuk in Megillas Esther (2:7) tells us that Esther was "yifas toar vi'tovas mareh" (very beautiful in appearance.) The Vilna Gaon in his commentary on the Megillah explains that yifas toar means her mitzvos and tovas mareh means her middos tovos (good character traits.) He elaborates that the appearance of the person is a reflection of their heart. One who has good middos is called beautiful. A good heart is the source of all good middos, as the Mishna says in Pirkei Avos (2:9). Later the Megilla (posuk 2:15) tells us that Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. The Vilna Gaon says that she was constantly distressed, having been forced to marry Achashverosh. This anguish caused her skin to turn green. A woman with green skin is usually not very pretty kinderlach. Even so, says the Vilna Gaon, Esther's inner beauty was able to overcome her physical appearance and she found favor in everyone's eyes. From here we learn what true beauty is. We certainly must take care of our appearance, kinderlach. We should not be dirty or sloppily dressed. Our clothes should be neat and clean and our hair combed. However, our clothes and our outward appearance are not the real beauty. Our good heart and good middos are what make us genuinely beautiful. If we truly want to be beautiful kinderlach, we should not spend our time in front of the mirror perfecting our clothes and our physical appearance. We should rather put our efforts into perfecting our middos.
The gemora in Taanis 29a says, "When Adar enters, increase your happiness." How do we increase our happiness kinderlach? The Chovos Halevovos (in the introduction to the chapter on Free Will) says that one who is not satisfied with what he has will not be happy. How can we be satisfied with what we have when there is so much that we don't have? When Yaakov met Eisav (Bereshis 33:11) he said, "I have everything." Rashi explains that Yaakov meant that all of his needs were fulfilled. We learn a principle from this that Hashem gives each one of us everything that we need. Imagine kinderlach that someone told you to come to his house to fix his table. When you got to the house you found the hammer, nails, saw, and drill that you needed to fix the table. You even found a nice snack ready in case you became hungry in the middle of the job. You also found soap and a towel for clean up after the work. In short, everything you needed for the job was provided for you. That is what Hashem does for us kinderlach. He gives us everything we need in this life to fulfill our purpose. If we do not have it, we do not need it. The realization that we are lacking nothing, makes us very fulfilled and happy. We should all merit increasing our happiness in this month of Adar.
Enjoy your Shabbos table !
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