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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parashas Nitzavim-Vayelech

Who Gets the Extra?

"What time is it?"

"Four o'clock."

"When does Shabbos come in?"

"Five o'clock."

"Look at all of this food. We have so much left over. What shall we do with it?"

"I don't know. What happened this week? Why does the 'tamchui' (charity fund which distributes food to needy people) have so many leftovers?"

"Most of the poor people who usually take food from our 'tamchui' did not come today. If we leave these leftovers sit until after Shabbos, they will spoil. Do you know anyone who would be willing to buy this Shabbos food?"

"Buy it? I have a big family, bli ayin hora. I could buy most of it from the tamchui."

"I'm afraid that you cannot do that."

"Why not?"

"Because you are a gabbai (treasurer) of the tamchui."

The question is:

Why is the gabbi not permitted to buy left-over food from the tamchui?

The answer is:

The Gemora (Bava Basra 8b) discusses this point. It brings several examples of how a gabbi of a tsedaka fund, including a tamchui, must place himself above suspicion of any stealing or misuse of charity funds. Therefore, he cannot buy left over food because people may suspect him of paying a cheaper price for the food, or perhaps not paying for it at all (Heaven forbid).

A Reason to Celebrate

The sofer took the quill in hand, and dipped it in the ink. He painstakingly filled in the letter "lamed." Cameras clicked. Flashes popped. "Mazel tov!" The Sefer Torah was complete.

This was the culmination of over a year's worth of work. The parchment upon which the letters were written began its life as the skin of a kosher animal. It was tanned by a G-d fearing Jew who performed every step of the process with a singular kavannah (intention) - "li'shaim kedushas (for the sake of the holiness of the) Sefer Torah." It was then cut to the proper size and scored lightly with lines that would serve as guides for the writing of the letters. The ink was then prepared from the special ingredients which are listed in the Gemara and the Halacha. The sofer took his quill, make from a turkey feather, dipped it into the ink, and began to write. Now he sat, one year later, with a finished Sefer Torah.

The Gabbai closed the Sefer Torah, fastened it, and covered it with its mantle for the first time. He picked it up, held it next to his heart, and carried it down into the street. The gathering that awaited him was beyond belief. Young boys bearing lit torches lined the street, forming a path for the Sefer Torah to pass through. A chuppah (wedding canopy) help by four men stood waiting to escort the Sefer Torah on its journey. A band played beautiful dancing music. The Gabbai walked under the chuppah, and the Hachnoses Sefer Torah parade began. The streets were full of people, hundreds, even thousands, dancing and rejoicing with the Sefer Torah. Spectators lined the streets, and filled the overlooking windows and balconies. Jews of all ages, origins, and backgrounds danced together in joyous celebration. What happiness! What unity! A new Sefer Torah!

The verse states, "So now, write this song (Sefer Torah) for yourselves" (Devarim 31:19). The Sefer HaChinuch explains that each and every Jew has a mitzvah to write his own Sefer Torah. (For a discussion of the halacha see Shulchan Auruch Yoreh Deah 270) Why is a Sefer Torah so important that everyone must write his own? The Sefer HaChinuch explains that everyone should have one available to learn from it at all times. You may ask, "We have other sefarim to learn, as well as printed Chumashim." True. However, the Sefer Torah has a very high level of kedusha. The sefer Derech Eitz Chaim describes that each letter is a coal, waiting to be fanned into a fire. Our learning down here ignites a spiritual fire in the upper worlds, which sheds the light of kedusha down here. The Sefer Torah represents the Torah itself. One who writes his own Sefer Torah is considered as if he personally received the Torah at Har Sinai! Therefore we must honor it. The Hachnoses Sefer Torah is a massive Kovod HaTorah.

A Hachnoses Sefer Torah is one of the most beautiful experiences on the face of the earth. Enjoy it! Appreciate it! Understand the deeper meaning behind it. We have a new Sefer Torah in the world. A new kedusha. Something for us to give great honor to! Let it inspire us to learn Torah with a new vitality, a new energy. Light up the world!

Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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