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Simcha Groffman

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


Look Into Your Heart

"What was wrong with sending spies?" asks the Maharal of Prague zt"l. The Jewish people were about to begin conquering a strange new land. They were unfamiliar with the territory. The Torah tells us not to rely on miracles. Therefore, we must prepare to fight in the normal way. An army usually sends spies before fighting a war on unfamiliar territory. It does not reflect a lack of emunah (faith in Hashem). Yehoshua Bin Nun also sent spies forty years later when he prepared to conquer the Land of Israel.

Moshe Rabbeinu asked Hashem whether to grant the people's request to send spies. "Shelach lecha (Send for yourselves)" was the reply. Hashem looked into the people's hearts. He saw that their intentions were not good. They did not trust Hashem, who had told them that the land was good and easily conquered. However, they did not want to admit their fault. Rather, they disguised their intentions in the form of a legitimate request. Hashem saw through the facade. "Send spies for yourselves." "I do not command you to send them," Rashi explains. Moshe Rabbeinu understood Hashem's answer. Their request was an evil scheme, reflecting a lack of bitachon (Trust in Hashem). He tried to discourage them, but failed, and the result was disastrous.

Kinderlach . . .

"Dasi, why is your sister crying?" "I don't know, Imma. I just gave her a nice big hug and she broke out in tears." "Dasi, you know that you can be too rough sometimes. Did you just give her a hug? Or did you squeeze a little too hard." "Ummm . . ." "Dasi, you don't have to answer me. But, you have to answer to Hashem. He knows what is in your heart."


"And you will see it (the tzitzis) and remember all the mitzvos of Hashem and do them" (Bamidbar 15:39). The Gemora (Menachos 43b) comments that seeing causes one to remember, and remembering causes one to do. The Torah Temima illuminates this idea by citing the Vilna Gaon's explanation of the verse (Shmuel I 17:34) according to the Medrash. Dovid HaMelech expressed his trust in Hashem before going to battle Golias. He explained to Shaul HaMelech that lions and bears would carry off sheep from his flocks. He pursued the animals, killed them, and rescued the sheep. He would then shecht (slaughter) the sheep and make a jacket from its skin. He would always wear this jacket, because it reminded him of the miracle rescue that Hashem performed, protecting him from the wild animals. He trusted that Hashem would save him from Golias, just as He rescued him from the lions and bears. This episode teaches us that a person is obligated to make a sign that will remind him to stay on the path. That is the function of tzitzis.

Kinderlach . . .

"He hit me. I'm going to hit him back." The boy was about to jump up from his seat in the Beis HaKinesses to run after the other boy that hit him. However, he could not stand up. His tzitzis got caught in the hinge of the seat. He was stuck fast. "What's going on? Why can't I move? What's this? My tzitzis are caught. Oy vey. Now I will never catch the other boy." Slowly, he began to untangle the tzitzis, looking at them all of the time. "There must be a reason that this happened. Wait a minute. These tzitzis are supposed to remind me that I must do Hashem's mitzvos. It is forbidden to hit someone or to take revenge. I can't hit that boy who hit me. It is good that my tzitzis got caught and therefore I looked at them. They saved me from two big aveyros (sins). Hashem is really watching over me."

Learn The Lesson

"Okay, let's pack up and get ready to move on."

The Jewish people folded their tents, packed their belongings, and prepared to break camp. It was time to move onward on their journey to the Land of Israel.

"What happened? Why are we not moving? Where are the Annanei HaKovod (Clouds of Glory which protect the Jewish people)? Where is the miraculous well of Miriam? Where are our leaders, Moshe, Aaron, and Miriam?"

Something very strange was happening. Miriam was afflicted with the dreaded disease of tsoraas. The healing process included seven days of isolation outside of the camp. The entire Jewish nation pitched their tents, set up camp, and waited seven days for Miriam. Miriam spoke Loshon Hora about her brother Moshe Rabbeinu. She spoke only to her other brother Aaron. Moshe Rabbeinu was so humble that he was not affected by the Loshon Hora. Yet, she was punished terribly.

"Why is the episode of the spies recounted after the story of Miriam?" asks Rashi. The Torah is not a history book and is not necessarily in chronological order. Therefore the two events are juxtaposed to teach a lesson. Miriam was afflicted because she spoke Loshon Hora. Her sin was exposed in a most public and dramatic way. The entire Jewish people knew about it. Yet those evil people saw it, and did not learn the lesson. They committed the very same sin.

Kinderlach . . .

The spies should have learned something from Miriam's punishment. Her punishment taught a lesson to the Jewish people for all generations. One of the reasons that Hashem sends punishments is to teach lessons. We are supposed to learn from them. Hashem is sending tzorus (suffering) to the Jewish people at this time. Our Gedolim (Torah giants) are urging us to learn from the tzorus and to do tshuva (correct our ways). Are we learning the lesson?

Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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