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Simcha's Kinder Torah on the Chumash - 330 pages
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Only Pure Oil
The miracle of Chanukah: one flask of pure oil, normally just enough for one day, burned eight days. Rav Moshe Feinstein asks (in the name of the Re'ame) the following question. Hashem does not like (so to speak) to perform miracles. Since the entire congregation was tomei (impure), it was permissible to light the menorah with tomei oil. Why then did Hashem perform a miracle, making the tahor (pure) oil burn, when the tomei oil could have been burned in its place? The answer to this question begins in the very beginning of the Torah.
"There was darkness on the face of the deep" (Bereshis 1:2). The Medrash explains that darkness was the golus (exile) of Yavan (Greece), who darkened the eyes of Klal Yisrael with their gezeiros (decrees against the mitzvos) [Bereshis Rabba 2:4]. What darkness did Yavan bring? The ancient Greeks are usually regarded as an "enlightened" society, excelling in architecture, philosophy, and sport. However, their field of vision was limited. They saw nothing Divine in the creation. Klal Yisrael's service to Hashem disturbed their illusion that man was the greatest power. Therefore, they set out to force Hashem out of the picture.
They outlawed the observance of Shabbos, Bris Milah, and Kiddush Ha'chodesh. Shabbos testifies that Hashem created the world. Kiddush Ha'chodesh demonstrates holiness in time. Bris Milah shows that our bodies are to be used for serving the Almighty. These three mitzvos exemplify Hashem's presence in the world, therefore the Yevanim wanted to stamp them out. They entered the Beis HaMikdash, plundered it, and defiled its purity.
Their rule spread spiritual darkness throughout the land of Israel. Most Jews became Misyavnim (Hellenists), joining the Greek way of thinking. Loyal Jews were afraid to protest, until there Mattisyahu and his sons arose. These twelve Chashmonayim stood up for the honor of Hashem and His Torah. They began a revolt, which eventually led to the overthrow of Greek rule in the Holy Land. They expelled all of the evil and brightened the darkness. They purified the Beis HaMikdash and lit the menorah.
Rav Moshe explains that they could not be lenient and allow the use of tomei oil at such a time, when evil forces sought to destroy the holiness of our nation. This small amount of oil was the beginning of a new era of purity and holiness. The spiritual light of the menorah would shine for millennia. Therefore, only the purest oil could be used. Never mind that it was small in quantity. Mattisyahu and his sons were also small in quantity, yet the succeeded in spreading great light in the darkness. Why? Because they were absolutely pure in quality. So too the pure oil, spread, and continues to spread spiritual light throughout Klal Yisrael.
Kinderlach . . .
The miracle of Chanukah is an inspiration to all of us. We have the power to push away the darkness that surrounds us. Our Torah learning, mitzvos, and acts of kindness can light up the world. However, we must guard their purity. What we see, hear, read, and say must be tahor, without even a trace of tumah. Be on the lookout for books, magazines, music, and electronic gadgets that contain improper material. Guard your mouth to say only words of purity. Keep yourself as pure as the oil. B'ezrat Hashem kinderlach, your light will shine forever.
Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin 260 words
"Can I see your menorah, Yossie?"
"Wow, it really is beautiful."
"I am really looking forward to lighting all eight candles tonight. I have just enough oil left."
As Yossie said that, he noticed that Dovid's face fell.
"What's the matter Dovid?"
"It's really nothing, Yossie. Just that I do not have enough oil to light any candles tonight."
"Oy vey. That's terrible! Let me give you some of my oil."
"You can't do that, Yossie. You will not be able to light all eight candles."
Yossie opened up the Chofetz Chaim's masterpiece of halacha, the Mishna Brura to the halachos of Chanukah (671:2).
"It says clearly that if oil is scarce, and your friend has no oil, it is better to give him some oil, and you can both do the mitzvah. The din (minimum requirement of the law) is only one candle per night."
"That is wonderful. I will be able to light my menorah tonight after all."
Kinderlach . .
. We all know the halacha of "Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin" (doing the mitzvah in the most beautiful fashion). We light one candle the first night and add one each night until we light eight on the last night. Yossie has another type of "Mehadrin" in mind. The Mishna Brura allows one to sacrifice his own "Mehadrin" to give another the opportunity to do the mitzvah. Yossie wants to do a "Mehadrin" (beautiful) act of chessed (kindness) for his friend Dovid. This adds a new dimension to the "Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin" of Chanukah.
Greatness 255 words
What do you want to be when you grow up? Whatever you do, you want to do it well. You want greatness in your field. How do you achieve that greatness? The Medrash Tanchuma on this week's parasha gives us the key.
"And Paroh said to Yosef, 'I dreamt a dream, but no one can interpret it' . . . Yosef replied, 'That is beyond me. It is Hashem who will answer about Paroh's welfare'" (Bereshis 41:15- 16). The Medrash states, "Hashem said, 'You do not want to elevate yourself? So be it that you will rise to greatness and royalty.'" Therefore, we see that one of the secrets of greatness is humility. One who does not ascribe his good qualities and accomplishments to himself, rather he gives the credit to Hashem, is destined for greatness. In a sense, he has already achieved greatness, because the realization that Hashem is the source of all good is a great accomplishment indeed.
Kinderlach . . .
Try giving a truly great person a compliment. What does he reply? "Boruch Hashem." He realizes that The One Above is the source of all greatness. When you have a difficult test before you, say a short prayer asking Hashem for Siyata Dishmaya (Heavenly assistance). If you are successful, thank Him. In this way, you will constantly be in touch with Him. You will humble yourself by realizing that He is the One granting you the success. May you all merit becoming illustrious people, a Kiddush Hashem in every way.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2011 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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