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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Shemos

Where's the Mouse?
Check the House

"Did you see that?"

"Yes I did. It was a mouse."

"What was in its mouth?"

"A piece of bread."

"Oh no. It is Erev Pesach and a mouse is running around with a piece of bread. Where did it go?"

"Into one of those two houses."

"Oy vey! The left house is mine. It is all clean for Pesach. Do I need to do another bedikas chometz? What shall I do?"

"I think you should find your neighbor and tell him what happened. Then go to your Rav to ask a shayla."

The question is: What is the halacha? Are the homeowners obligated to do another bedikas chometz?

The answer is:

The Gemora (Pesachim 10a) discusses this question. According to Tosafos, the question is understood as follows. The houses were definitely clean and free of chometz. The mouse did not go into both houses. If you look at house A, the mouse only presented a possibility of bringing in chometz, because maybe he went into house B. The same thing is true for house B. That possibility of chometz coming in is not strong enough to require a bedikas chometz on a house that was definitely clean.

However, there is another twist. When each homeowner comes individually to ask the Rav, he can poskin that each one is not obligated to do a bedikas chometz. Why? Perhaps the mouse went into the other house. However, when both homeowners come together to ask the Rav, he cannot say, "perhaps the mouse went into the other house" on both houses at once. Because the mouse definitely went into one of the two houses. The Rav's psak would be based on a statement that is not true. Therefore, he must require each homeowner to do a bedikas chometz on the chance that the mouse went into his house.

This puzzle and answer is for learning and discussion purposes only. Do not rely upon it for psak halacha! Consult a Rav to determine the correct halachic ruling.

Lend a Heart

"This labor is excruciating!"

"I feel the same way. Making bricks with mud and clay is the hardest work in the world. The mud is dirty, sticky, thick, and hard to knead and shape. The straw cuts my hands and feet."

"That's only half of the problem. The allocation of the work of carrying the building materials is all wrong. Small men carry big loads, and big men small loads. Old people have heavy burdens and young men light packages. Men do women's work, and women toil with men's labor. Everyone's body is aching from doing work that it is not suited for."

"Oy va voy, what can we do to lighten our burden?"

"Not much. It just should not get any worse. Oh no! An entourage of the king's servants is approaching. Here comes more trouble, more work, more suffering. Hashem please help us!"

Little did the Jewish slaves know that the entourage was escorting none other than Moshe Rabbeinu. Since he was raised in Pharaoh's palace, he received royal attendants wherever he traveled. Moshe Rabbeinu looked out from his carriage, saw the suffering of his brothers, and cried. It pained him greatly, so much so, that he did something about it. He left the royal servants who were accompanying him, and went directly to the Jewish slaves.

"My poor brothers, let me help you. This load is far too big for a man of your advanced age. Let this younger, stronger man take it from you. Take his small load in return. My thin, frail brother, you have such a heavy burden. Give it to this husky, strong worker, and you will take his light pack in exchange. The women must not do men's labor and vice versa. Let them switch and take the work that is appropriate for them!"

And so, Moshe Rabbeinu, a member of the royal household, put aside his honor, left his entourage, and went out to help his suffering brothers.

* * *

Many years later, Moshe Rabbeinu was tending the sheep of his father-in-law, Yisro, in Midian. He saw a strange sight. A thorn bush was burning with fire, yet the wood was not being consumed. He turned aside to contemplate this wondrous fire.

"Hashem saw that he turned aside to see, and Elokim called out to him from amidst the bush saying, 'Moshe Moshe.' (Bereshis 3:4). The Shechina (Divine Presence) revealed itself to the future leader of the Jewish people! An astounding event! How did Moshe Rabbeinu merit such a revelation? The Medrash Rabba (Shemos 1:27) relates the following. The Holy One, Blessed be He said to Moshe, "You put aside your royal duties (servants and escorts) and went to attend to the suffering of Klal Yisrael. You treated them like brothers (in lightening their burdens). So too, I will put aside My attendants (heavenly hosts) and speak directly to you. And so, "vayikra," Hashem called to him, an affectionate and honorable greeting, "Moshe, Moshe." He repeated his name twice - once for affection, and once for honor. This Divine Revelation, filled with love and honor, came to Moshe Rabbeinu because he cared about his fellow Jews. Their suffering pained him. He cried for them. He humbled himself and left his royal duties to help them. This empathy, mercy, and humility, merited for him the affectionate greeting from the Almighty, Creator of the universe. That is the merit of these good middos.

Kinderlach . . .

Many times our fellow Jews need our help. Let us care for them and help them. Begin in the home. Does Imma have a lot of housework? Lend a hand and help her out. Does your younger brother or sister need help with schoolwork? Care for them, and take some of your precious time to learn with them. Does Abba need your appreciation? Give it to him. Do elderly relatives come to visit? They often need a lot of empathy, time, and assistance to ease their burden. Give them the help and nachas that they deserve. Neighbors and schoolmates often need someone to talk to. Be a good listener, lend a heart, and share their burden. Of course, if they need assistance in other areas, you should be there for them. Moshe Rabbeinu saw the suffering of his brothers, felt their pain, humbled himself, and went out to help them. For this, he merited Divine Revelation. We see how great the reward for these middos is. Work on them kinderlach. Great things await you.

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