I Can't Remember
Try to imagine the scene. Rav Leib Chasman zt"l depicts the drama of the moment in his sefer, "Ohr Yohel". The Jewish people had just emerged victorious from a war with the Midianites. In their hands were the spoils of war - gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, and lead vessels. They wanted to use these items in their homes. "How do we kasher these vessels to use them for kosher food? Please tell us, Moshe Rabbeinu, the teacher of the Jewish nation. You stood before Hashem on Har Sinai for forty days and forty nights and learned the entire Torah. Please tell us how to kasher these vessels." Moshe Rabbeinu was silent. He could not remember the halachos of kashering vessels. His silence spoke louder than words. What caused him to forget? Anger. The army had not carried out their orders when fighting the war. When Moshe Rabbeinu heard this he became angry. What is the punishment for anger? A person's wisdom is taken away from him. If Moshe Rabbeinu lost his wisdom out of anger, what about us? He became angry only three times, and he only became angry over the honor of Hashem, not his own honor. He learned Torah directly from Hashem, and reviewed it four times in holiness and purity. Still, he forgot. What about us?
Children . . .
Do you want to do well in your tests in school and cheder? Do you want to grow up to be big talmidei chachomim? Then you have to remember what you learn. To do that you have to review it many times until you know it well. You have to ask Hashem for siyata dishmaya (heavenly assistance). In addition, you have to guard against anger. When you become angry, you cannot think clearly. And you cannot remember what you learned. You worked so hard to learn and remember what you learn. What a shame to forget it.
In the beginning of parshas Masei, the Torah details our travels during the forty years in the desert. Rabbeinu Bechaye explains that Hashem wanted to strengthen our emunah (faith) in Him. Therefore, He mentioned those places to remind us of the miracles that occurred for the Jewish people during those years. We were miraculously sustained by the man and the water well of Miriam. The ananei hakovod (clouds of glory) miraculously protected us from all dangers. Remembering and reviewing these wondrous events helps us to remember the One who cared for us then and continues to care for us now. As we look back on our own lives, we can sometimes piece together events and see how the hand of Hashem was guiding us along the way. A situation or event may have looked very bad at the time it happened. A few years later, when we have time to look back and reflect, we see that the event was not bad at all, but a step on the way to something very good. Reviewing all of the chassadim (acts of kindness) that Hashem has done for us in our lives will strengthen our emunah.
Children . . .
When you do not get something that you want is that good or bad? It seems bad, but it may be good. Maybe the thing that you want is harmful. Maybe it is good for you to learn that you cannot always have what you want. What seems bad is sometimes very good. We do not recognize the good until later. Perhaps we can share some stories at the Shabbos table about how Hashem has guided our lives, and the many good things He has done for us. We do not have to look too far to see Hashem's guiding hand. It is right there in our own lives.
The tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half of the tribe of Menashe preferred to settle on the eastern side of the Jordan River, rather then the land of Israel. Moshe Rabbeinu granted their request, on the condition that they fight the battles of conquest of the land of Israel, along with the rest of the Jewish people. When the conquest was complete, they could return to their homes. "Then you shall be vindicated from Hashem and from Israel" (Bamidbar 32:22). They would now be above any suspicion. The Gemora relates several examples that stress the importance of placing yourself above suspicion. The members of the family of Gormu were experts in making the lechem hapanim (bread for the Beis HaMikdash). They never ate any bread made from the same type of dough. Some one might suspect them of taking from the dough of the lechem hapanim. The members of the family of Avtinus were experts in making the ketores (incense) for the Beis HaMikdash. None of their daughters or daughters-in-law wore perfume at their weddings. Some one might suspect them of taking from the incense of the ketores (Yoma 38a). The gabbai tsedaka (one who distributed charity to poor people) could not make change for himself from the charity money. If there were extra food supplies after the distribution to poor people, he could not purchase them himself; rather he had to sell them to others (Pesachim 13a). That is how far we have to go to keep ourselves above suspicion.
Children . . .
You are playing with a group of boys who begin to bang on someone's car. Or they begin to write graffiti on the fence. Or they are playing rough with someone's bicycle and it is only a matter of time until it breaks. Although you are not doing the wrong thing yourself, you are with the group. When the word gets out, the whole group will be suspected. Try to stop them. If that does not work, you must play elsewhere. Remember that you must place yourself above suspicion.
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