Everyone Is Going
"Do I really have to go, Abba?"
"Who else is going?"
"The whole family - Imma and I, and all of your brothers and sisters."
"What about Saba and Savta?"
"They are going also."
"Uncle Aaron and Aunt Rachel?"
"Yes, along with their children."
"What about the next-door neighbors?"
"They are all going - even the little infant and their great-grandfather."
"Everybody on our street?"
"Is there anyone who is not going?"
"Not that I know of."
"But why? It must be a very important event if everyone is going."
"It is. Once every seven years, the entire Jewish nation - men, women, and children, gathers together on the second day of Succos in the Beis HaMikdash."
"What do they do over there?"
"That's good. You always tell me that it is important to listen. What do they listen to?"
"Words of Torah, from the beginning of Sefer Devarim."
"But we just read the beginning of Sefer Devarim two months ago in the Beis HaKinesses. Didn't they hear it then?"
"Okay, Avi. I will tell you the whole story. We are going to perform a very important mitzvah called Hakhel. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that we gather the entire Jewish nation together to perform this mitzvah. The foundation of Klal Yisrael is the Torah. It is what separates us from the other nations. It is or glory and our greatness. It guarantees us a wonderful life, in this world and the next. Therefore, it is only fitting that we gather everyone together to hear these words of Torah. This demonstrates its paramount importance. In addition, it fills everyone's heart with a tremendous desire to learn Torah. From learning Torah, they will come to know Hashem, and merit to receive all of His goodness."
"Wow. It really is important to go. I want to be a part of this National Mitzvah. When everyone gets together, I want to be there."
Kinderlach . . .
What is the most important thing in our lives? The Torah. We have no mitzvah of Hakhel in our days. How do we show the importance of the Torah? We stand up and kiss the Sefer Torah when it is removed from the Aron Kodesh. We stand up when a Talmid Chochom approaches us. He is a living Sefer Torah. Most importantly, we learn Torah with all of our koach (strength). We listen to shiurim (Torah lectures). We stretch our minds to understand Hashem's Word. And we review it many times until we remember it. It becomes a part of us. It sinks into our bones and our hearts. And it guides our lives. Kinderlach, you should all be adorned with the glorious crown of Torah.
Hide and Seek
In times of tsaros (suffering), people may ask, "Where is Hashem?" Sickness, poverty, terrorism, family strife; where is Hashem? They may wonder, "How can a merciful G-d allow so much suffering?"
"And I will surely hide My Face on that day, for all of the evil that it did, because it turned to other gods" Devarim (31:18). Hashem hides His Face (so to speak). He "turns away" and allows the troubles to descend upon Klal Yisrael. Is this fair? Does the punishment fit the crime? It seems that the suffering outweighs the sin. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains that Hester Panim (Hashem's hiding His Face) is just and fair. Klal Yisrael turned away from Him. They followed foreign gods. They hid their faces from Him; therefore, He hides His Face from them. Serving foreign gods is like denying the whole Torah. Therefore, the tsaros come.
What is the remedy? To turn towards Him. To serve Him. To fulfill His mitzvos with joy. To speak to Him in prayer. To listen to His words of Torah. To help fellow Jews, His children. When the Jewish people turn towards Him, He turns to them. Seek Him and He will not hide.
Kinderlach . . .
Are you thinking about Hashem right now? What can you do this minute to please Him? Can you help Imma with the baby? Can you learn a mishna? Can you pray with kavannah (concentration)? Can you cheer someone up? Can you listen to someone who needs to talk? These are all ways to serve Hashem. Think about Him. Ignore those distractions that modern technology brings you on the little screen. They only serve to turn you away from Him. Turn towards Him. Stop playing the "hide" game. Instead, "seek" Him. Uncover the "hidden face".
"The matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to perform it" (Devarim 30:14). The Sforno z"l explains that this verse is referring to the mitzvah of tshuva (returning to Hashem by correcting your mistakes). Tshuva is not far away; it is not unattainable. Rather, it is close and available to those who want to sincerely get closer to Hashem. How? Examine your heart. If a person introspects and looks into his heart, he knows what his problem is. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz z"l explains that middah kineged middah (measure for measure punishment) is Hashem's way of communicating with us. He shows us the problems and the bad middos (character traits) that we need to correct. The yissurin (difficulties) that we receive, are designed to communicate to us the areas that we need to work on.
Kinderlach . . .
Now you have the key to doing tshuva. Examine your world. Do certain difficulties keep coming up? Do you notice a pattern? What is Hashem trying to tell you? What do you have to work on this Elul? Look into your heart. Perhaps Abba and Imma can help you. They probably know you better than you know yourself. Get the answer and get to work. Rosh Hashanah is almost here. The King is coming.
· What will happen if we become overconfident? (29:18-20)
· Which sins do men judge, and which sins does Hashem judge? (29:28 and Rashi).
· From where will Hashem gather us in? (30:4)
· Did Moshe become weak before he died? (Rashi 31:2)
· Which year was Hakhel? (31:10)
· What song would be Hashem's witness? (Rashi 31:19)
Kinder Torah Copyright 2003 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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