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Simcha's Kinder Torah on the Chumash - 330 pages
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"Abba, can you please help me with my homework?"
"My pleasure, Chaim. What's the subject matter?"
"This week's parasha. What name did Pharaoh call Yosef after he was promoted to second in command over Mitzraim?"
"Let's have a look here in the Chumash. Here it is - chapter 41, verse 45. "And Pharaoh called Yosef by the name Tsafnas Paneach."
"Tsafnas Paneach. What an unusual name. Does it have a meaning?"
"Chaim, I had the same question. I looked at the commentaries of our sages on the Chumash. Rashi explains that Tsafnas means "one who explains hidden things". Yosef was able to explain the hidden meanings of dreams."
"What about the other name, Abba?"
The Netziv writes that the word Paneach is a combination of two words: 'Pa' is from the word 'hofah' means appearance and honor. 'Nach' is from the word 'nachas', a spiritual pleasure. Yosef received great honor, and was a pleasure to all who saw him."
"Why did Pharaoh give him that name, Abba?"
"Pharaoh was amazed, Chaim. He never saw anyone like Yosef. Yosef was awesome. He was a young man, only thirty years old. He had spent the past twelve years in prison. He was so lowly that when Pharaoh summoned him, they drew him out of a pit, bathed him, shaved him, and changed his clothes. Then he proceeded to interpret Pharaoh's dreams, and draw up a plan to save Mitzraim from the starvation of famine."
"That is pretty awesome for a slave who has been in prison for twelve years."
"True, Chaim, but Pharaoh was even more impressed by something else. When Yosef was given all of this honor and responsibility, he handled it perfectly. Normally, a lowly slave prisoner cannot become a royal officer overnight. Yet, that is exactly what Yosef did. He handled himself as if he had been born a prince. Pharaoh saw that Yosef was not really a slave, but a true leader. Therefore, he gave him a name which reflected his inner qualities."
"Abba, this is great. Thank you so much."
"My pleasure, Chaim. Do you know that we all have this quality of Yosef within us?"
"Really Abba? In what way?"
"The Torah refers to the Jewish people as a 'Kingdom of Kohanim and a Holy Nation.'"
"What does that mean Abba?"
"Hashem chose us from among all the other nations, to be a light to the world. We received the Torah, our guide to life. When we live according to the Torah, we have a perfect society, which is a shining example to the world."
"What you are saying, Abba, is that we lead by example."
"Exactly, Chaim. When we are on the job, we can be an example of how to conduct our business matters honestly and faithfully. Our relationships with our neighbors also show our commitment to peace and cooperation."
"I can think of other examples, Abba."
"Go ahead, Chaim."
"When we give charity and help other people, we show how important it is to care for and help people. When we honor our parents and older people, we teach the world the importance of respect."
"Wonderful, Chaim. In this way, we are like Yosef. The more that we live according to the Torah, the more we lead by example. And the more we lead by example, the more our true leadership qualities shine. Pharaoh recognized it in Yosef, and people will recognize it in you."
"What a wonderful feeling, Abba, to know that we can have an impact on the world."
"That is our leadership quality, Chaim. We inherited it from our ancestor Yosef."
"I should get back to my homework, Abba. I have to learn the Torah well, to know how to live by its rules, and to be a good example."
"Spoken by a true leader, Chaim."
Kinderlach . . .
Chaim said it all. We are born leaders. The best type of leaders - ones who lead by example. Kinderlach, may we all be shining examples of perfected personalities, who follow Hashem's Torah will all of our hearts.
"Abba, the sun goes down so early these days."
"These are the shortest days of the year, Avi."
"These are also the days of Chanukah, Abba."
"Yes, Avi. Not only are they days of physical darkness, but there was a time when the Greeks caused great spiritual darkness for Klal Yisrael."
"Please tell me the story, Abba."
"The Greeks craved wisdom, Avi. They wanted to gather all of the knowledge in the world, study it, and claim that they were the wisest people. They even wanted to study the Torah . . . as a textbook. Can you imagine that? Talmei HaMelech translated Hashem's Holy Torah into Greek. That was their way of saying that there was nothing holy about the Torah. It was just a textbook in the Greek library."
"They did not stop there, Avi. Having denied the holiness of the Torah, they now proceeded to uproot Klal Yisrael's kedusha (holiness). The Maharal explains that the Greeks claimed that we were no longer Hashem's Holy Nation because we sinned with the Chet Ha'egel. Therefore, they launched a spiritual war against us. They made decrees against the observance of our holy day - Shabbos, against the holiness of our bodies - bris milah, and attacked our holiest place - the Beis HaMikdash. They then tried to defile all of the pure oil stored there."
"Why were they so interested in the oil, Abba?"
"The oil burned in the lamps of the menorah, whose light represented the Torah. The windows of the Beis HaMikdash opened outward, because the menorah cast the spiritual light of Torah upon the entire world. We know, and they knew that the Torah is our strongest connection to Hashem."
"Therefore, when the Greeks defiled the Beis HaMikdash and the oil, they were attacking the root of our holy connection to Hashem."
"Now I see why we celebrate Chanukah by lighting the lamps, Abba. The miracle of the oil was no small detail of the Jewish victory over the Greeks; rather it was the theme of the whole struggle."
"I could not have said it better myself, Avi. That is why the Rambam calls the mitzvah of Chanukah lights 'chavivin ad meod' (very, very dear). They celebrate the victory over the forces that tried to sever our special relationship with Hashem. By overcoming them, we came to a new closeness with the Almighty and His Torah. There is nothing more dear to us than that."
"Abba, may our Chanukah lights inspire us to push away the darkness, and illuminate the world with more and more Torah learning."
Kinderlach . . .
Chanukah is a time of renewal. The Greeks tried to cut away everything that was holy, and make the Jewish people into a nation like all the others. We stood up for Hashem's Honor, and in return, He gave us miraculous victories. He fought for us and purified all that was impure. This renewed our relationship with Him. Therefore, kinderlach let us celebrate this Chanukah by strengthening our strongest connection to Him - the Torah. May the lights of Chanukah inspire us to learn Torah with a big bren (fire) and thereby light up our souls, Klal Yisrael, and indeed the world with the light of Torah.
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