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From
Simcha Groffman

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

Shemini

Soul Building

"It was on the eight day . . ." (Vayikra 9:1). This was the eighth day after the seven days of miluim (inauguration) of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). For each of the first seven days, Moshe Rabbeinu single-handedly erected the Mishkan, offered the korbonos (sacrifices), and took down the Mishkan. Still the Shechina (Divine Presence) did not come down. Finally, on the eight day, Aharon HaKohen offered the korbonos and the Shechina came to rest upon the Mishkan. Then Moshe and Aharon blessed the people. "May the pleasantness of Hashem our G-d be upon us; and may the work of our hands be fixed upon us; and may He make the work of our hands permanent" (Tehillim 90:17). The Malbim zt"l explains that Hashem (so to speak) has pleasure when His creations fulfill their intended purpose. We were created to perform His mitzvos properly. When we do that, He takes pleasure in us. He continues to explain that when a person builds a house, it may be beautiful, strong, and comfortable, but it is not a part of the person. It is outside of him. The blessing states that our handiwork should become a part of us. When a person does a mitzvah, it becomes fixed in his soul. It becomes a part of his character and is with him forever. Lastly, we are blessed that Hashem should make all of our handiwork a permanent part of us. All of our deeds should be good in His eyes; therefore, He will fix them within our souls.

Kinderlach . . .

People build all sorts of things. Some have hobbies building model cars, boats or planes. Some people build buildings. Some exercise to build up their bodies. The blessing of Moshe and Aharon tells us to build up our souls by doing mitzvos properly. Soul building is important for two reasons. Number one, it lasts forever. Longer than the biggest, tallest, strongest building. More importantly, it gives Hashem pleasure. That is the greatest thing that we can do.

With All of Your Efforts

Mitzvah number 149 according to the Sefer HaChinuch prohibits the Kohanim from entering the Beis HaMikdash wearing long hair. The holiness of the Beis HaMikdash requires the Kohanim to sanctify it using every means within their power. As the Sefer HaChinuch explains (mitzvah number 95), Hashem wants His children to attain the highest levels of purity and holiness. To accomplish this we need a place that is sacred and free from even the smallest impurity. Only there can we totally purify our thoughts and our hearts. What makes the Beis HaMikdash so holy? Our efforts to sanctify it. Any action that is counterproductive diminishes the purity. The Gemora (Brochos 8a) states that from the day that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, Hashem's only possessions in this world are the Jews who observe the halacha. Since the Divine Presence is not felt in the Beis HaMikdash, it rests only upon those Jews who observe the halacha. Therefore, just as we put our full strength into sanctifying the Beis HaMikdash, so too we must observe the halacha with all of our efforts.

Kinderlach . . .

We are all striving to follow the halacha. Whatever you do, don't you always want to do your best? To do your best you have to refrain from counterproductive activities. The Torah relates that a Kohen's long hair in the Beis HaMikdash is detrimental. You might say, "What difference does the length of his hair make in his service to Hashem?" You see that it makes a big enough difference for the Torah to prohibit it. Similarly, he cannot serve with torn clothing. We can never think, children, that anything we do is unimportant. Even maintaining a neat appearance is part of Avodas Hashem. We want to observe the halacha as perfectly as possible. We want all of our activities to bring us closer to Hashem, and thereby increase His Presence in the world.

How Great Are Your Works, Hashem

This week's parsha lists the animals that the Torah forbids us to eat. There are animals that live on the land, in the water, and in the air. Rabbeinu Bechaye zt"l quotes the Medrash which writes about an animal that could only live in the intense heat of a fire. When Rebbe Akiva read this Medrash he said, "How great are Your works, Hashem, You made all of them with wisdom." If a land animal enters the water, he will surely die. Similarly, a water animal cannot live on the land. A flying animal cannot live in the fire. And, this fire creature cannot live in the air. What sustains the life of one creature is fatal to another. Only a Creator as wise as Hashem could create a world so wondrous and complex.

Kinderlach . . .

The wonders of Hashem's world are all around us. When we look at the beauty of a flower, or the complexity of even the smallest insect, we realize that there is a Master Designer at work. Consider that honey, something so sweet, comes from an insect, the bee, which is not sweet or even appetizing at all. Consider that a cow eats grass and hay, something totally inedible to us, and converts it into delicious milk. Kinderlach, take note of Hashem's creations. Let us all go around the Shabbos table and describe something wondrous. We will see with our own eyes, that Hashem created this world with infinite wisdom. How fortunate we are to be a part of His creation. Thank you Hashem for everything!

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


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