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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
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Parashas Lech Lecha

A Mitzvah to Bless

"Good morning Chaim!"

"Good morning to you too, Avi! How are you this wonderful day?"


"That is great to hear. Do you realize that you just performed a mitzvah, Avi?"

"Really? What did I do, Chaim? Which mitzvah did I perform?"

"You wished me a good morning."

"How is that a mitzvah? Is it one of the 613?"

"I will explain. Good morning is a blessing. You blessed me that this morning will be good for me. One who blesses his fellow Jew gets a mitzvah."

"Amazing! I never heard of this mitzvah. What is its source?"

"It is actually the third verse in this week's parasha. 'I will bless those who bless you, and he who curses you I will curse' (Bereshis 12:3). Rav Shmuel Hominer zt"l, in his sefer Eved HaMelech, explains the mitzvah as follows. Hashem blessed those who blessed Avraham Avinu. To receive a blessing from the Almighty is great. Hashem gives rewards for good deeds - things that He would like us to do. Mitzvos are good deeds that Hashem wants us to do. Therefore, blessing someone is a mitzvah, because Hashem rewards it. The reward shows that He wants it done; and that is precisely what a mitzvah is - something that Hashem wants us to do."

"That is fascinating, Chaim. However, the verse was written about Avraham Avinu. How do we know that it applies to all Jews?"

"The gemora (Chullin 49) cites this very same verse, 'I will bless those who bless you, and he who curses you I will curse' as the source of the Bircas Kohanim - the blessings that the Kohanim give to all Klal Yisrael. Therefore, the blessings of the verse apply to the entire Jewish people. Rav Hominer illuminates many facets of this mitzvah. Would you like me to share them with you, Avi?"

"Yes, please, Chaim."

"The Medrash Tanchuma (parashas Vayechi) states that blessing a member of Klal Yisrael is like blessing the Shechina (Divine Presence), and helping him is like helping the Shechina."

"That is awesome."

"Any seemingly small blessing, such as 'good morning,' or 'be healthy' is rewarded. However, it must be said with good intentions and a full heart. The one who has been blessed should answer 'amen.' If he wants to give the same bracha to the one who blessed him, he should answer, 'vichain limar' (the same to you sir)."

"These are such gems."

"We receive two additional mitzvos when we bless our fellow Jews. 'You shall love your fellow as yourself,' (Vayikra 19:18) and 'You shall go in His ways' (Devarim 28:9). Blessing your friend is an expression of your love for him. Hashem blesses Klal Yisrael every day, therefore when we bless them, we go in His ways. The verses of Tehillim that we say in Hallel sum it all up. 'Hashem Who has remembered us will bless; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron; He will bless those who fear Hashem, both small and great. May Hashem increase you more and more, you and your children. You are blessed of Hashem, maker of heaven and earth.' (Tehillim 115:12-15)."

Kinderlach . . .

When you get up in the morning and see Imma, give her a big blessing, "Good morning Imma!" You get three mitzvos for this - blessing her, loving her, and emulating Hashem. What a way to start your day! Do the same to Abba, your brothers and sisters. Do not stop there. Bless your friends and teachers in school. If someone does a favor for you, besides saying thank you, you can bless him by saying, "Tizke li'mitzvos" (may you merit performing mitzvos). Wish people success in learning, good health, good parnassa, shalom bayis, nachas, and all sorts of other wonderful things. You will be getting mitzvah, after mitzvah, after mitzvah, for every blessing that you give. What a life! One filled with bracha and osher (spiritual wealth)! "Vi'avorcho mivorachecha" - "I will bless those who bless you!"

No Greater Wealth

"You will surely know that your offspring will be aliens in a strange land (Egypt) . . . they will be oppressed for 400 years . . . and afterward they will leave with great wealth" (Bereshis 15:13-14). Thus, Hashem informed Avraham Avinu of the upcoming slavery and redemption from Egypt. Rav Zalman Sorotzkin zt"l comments that the simple reading of the verse cannot be correct. Although the Jewish people did leave Egypt with much gold and silver, it could not possibly have been worth more than the suffering and hard labor that they endured there. No amount of money could possibly have compensated them for all of the children who were slaughtered for Paroh to bathe in their blood. Or the children who were cemented into the walls in place of bricks. Or the salary for 600,000 men for 210 years of backbreaking labor. Therefore, what is the meaning of the "great wealth" that they were to receive upon leaving Egypt? Their middos (character traits) were purified like gold and silver. The slavery and suffering in Egypt burned out the bad feelings that existed amongst the sons of Yaakov. There is no greater wealth than the acquisition of good middos.

Kinderlach . . .

Any successful businessman will tell you that you become rich by working hard. Similarly, to acquire the wealth of good middos, you must work hard. Hashem gave us a job to do in this world. Here is one of your tasks. Have patience with your brothers and sisters. Do your best to overlook little things like seating arrangements at the dinner table. Or who must go to bed first. Or who plays with a particular toy. Do things for your brother. Help him with his homework. Offer him your piece of cake. Share your new book with your sister. Smile and speak softly to everyone in the house. Now you are working at your job, which will bring you great wealth and fortune.

Parasha Questions:

Why did Avram and Lot not live in the same place? (13:6 and Rashi)

Where did Lot choose to settle? (13:11,12)

How do we know that Avram had emunah in Hashem that he would have many descendants? (15:6 and Rashi)

Kinder Torah Copyright 2008 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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