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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Shemos

Holy Ground

"Tzippy, please come in to the house now."

"Okay, Imma."

"Tzippy, thank you for being so prompt. Now it is time to do your homework. We are going to eat in about an hour, and you have to take a bath tonight, so you must begin your homework now."

"Imma, my tummy hurts, I have a headache, and I'm tired from playing jump rope. I don't feel like doing homework now."

"Tzippy, when you were jumping around outside, you didn't complain about your tummy and your head."

"I guess I wasn't thinking about them."

"It doesn't matter. Once you begin your homework, you won't be thinking about them either. Now take a drink of water and see if you feel better."

"Okay Imma. Can you help me with my homework?"

"Sure, Tzippy. What is it about?"

"We have to write a Devar Torah about Moshe Rabbeinu, from this week's parasha."

"How about the burning bush?"

"That's a great idea, Imma. How does the story go again?"

"Moshe Rabbeinu was tending sheep. He saw a bush that was burning. However, there was something very strange about that bush. It kept burning and burning and burning."

"And it never got burned up."


"Moshe Rabbeinu turned aside to get a good look at this bush, because it was a wondrous site. Then Hashem called out to him from the bush. Do you remember what He said, Tzippy?"

"Something about shoes?"

"Right again! 'Take your shoes off your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy ground.'"

"Where was Moshe standing, Imma? In the place of the Holy Temple?"


"In the Holy City of Jerusalem?"


"In the Holy Land of Israel?"


"Then what was so holy about that place?"

"Excellent question, Tzippy. The Chofetz Chaim asks the very same question."

"That's really exciting. What's the answer?"

"Every place where you are standing is holy ground."

"How can that be?"

"Because, my dear Tzippy, you have the opportunity to make it holy."

"Wow! How, Imma?"

"Every mitzvah that Hashem gives you is an opportunity to make that moment and place in your life holy. That is the purpose of a mitzvah. To turn ordinary things into holy things. When you give charity, you make ordinary money holy. Did you ever write a nice note to someone and make them feel good?"

"Sure, Imma."

"You have taken an ordinary piece of paper and some ink, and turned it into a wonderful note which brightens a person's whole day. What a mitzvah!"

"That's great Imma, but I still don't understand what the Chofetz Chaim is saying about the burning bush."

"Hashem was pointing out this fact to Moshe Rabbeinu. By telling him to take off his shoes because this ground was holy, He was telling Moshe that all ground is truly holy. We just do not see the holiness. Sometimes, a mitzvah is difficult for us to do. We are tired. We are hungry. We have a headache. We would rather just forget the whole thing. Why? Because we do not see the holiness. That mitzvah is holy ground and we do not realize it."

"I am beginning to understand, Imma. When you told me to begin my homework, that was an opportunity to do the mitzvah of listening to you, and learning Torah at the same time."

"Excellent, Tzippy! Now let me tell you something else. Sometime it is easy to do a mitzvah. Other times, that same mitzvah is difficult because you are tired or hungry. The reward for a mitzvah when it is difficult is much greater than the reward for that same mitzvah when it is easy to do."


"Sometimes we try to avoid mitzvos when they are difficult. We do not realize that we are on holy ground. Hashem had a good reason to give us this mitzvah now when it is difficult. He wanted us to get a bigger reward."

"That is a great Devar Torah Imma. Thank you so much for helping me with my homework. I'm going to write it down now."

"Fantastic, Tzippy."

"Do you know something, Imma? You were right. My tummy doesn't hurt anymore. And I don't have a headache. And I'm not tired."

"Baruch Hashem."

"I guess I just did not realize where I was."

"Where were you, Tzippy?"

"On holy ground."

Kinderlach . . .

Everywhere is holy ground. Hashem presents us with mitzvos all of the time. Did you listen to Imma without interrupting? You got a mitzvah. Did you make a blessing before you ate the apple? Mitzvah. Did you let your brother have the last piece of cake? You got a mitzvah. Did you learn Torah? You got a mitzvah. Did you smile and make someone feel good? You got a mitzvah. The world is full of mitzvos, each one a holy opportunity. Don't let them slip by.

Believe It

"I will send you to Paroh to take My people out of Mitzraim." "Go, gather the elders of Israel, and say to them, '…I shall bring you up from the affliction of Mitzraim to the land of Canaan…'" "They will not believe me" (Shemos 3:10-4:1). This seems like a perfectly justifiable claim. Yet, the Medrash calls these words loshon hora, and Moshe Rabbeinu is held accountable for them. The Chofetz Chaim explains that Moshe should have said, "Perhaps they will not believe me." Instead, he doubted their emunah. This led to many problems. It may have caused Korach, many years later, to raise doubts about Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy. It caused Moshe's staff to turn into a snake. That cunning creature was the first one in history to speak loshon hora. The staff was close at hand. This teaches us that The Almighty does not look far to find a means to punish loshon hora. It can come from an object that is in our hands. The staff appeared harmless, yet it turned into a deadly snake. So too, loshon hora appears harmless, but can be as lethal as the snake.

"Stretch out your hand and grasp its tail" (4:4). This hints to the fact that the punishment will not end until we accept it. "He stretched out his hand and grasped it, and it became a staff in his palm (4:4)." As soon as a person accepts the suffering that comes from loshon hora, his heavenly punishment is removed.

Kinderlach . . .

We see how every word that we say is heard and judged. If we say good things like Divrei Torah, prayers, words of appreciation, love, and chizuk (strength) to others, we will be rewarded. If we say loshon hora, Heaven forbid, the punishment can be fatal and close at hand. "They will not believe me," said Moshe Rabbeinu. Loshon hora like that can really hurt you. Believe it.

Parasha Questions

What was the staff that turned into a snake hinting to? (Rashi 4:3)

Which people spoke badly about or tried to harm Klal Yisrael and were punished with tsoraas? (Rashi 4:8)

Why did Aharon HaKohen merit to wear the Choshen upon his chest? (Rashi 4:14)

What were the seven names of Yisro? (Rashi 4:18)

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