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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
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Parashas Shemos

Be Happy for Him

"Yaakov, I have great news for you."

"What is it, Avi?"

"I was just accepted into the top shiur (class) of the Yeshiva."

"Avi that is wonderful! I am truly happy for you."

"Yaakov, I always enjoy telling you good news."

"I always enjoy hearing good news, Avi. Especially news about people's successes."

"That is precisely why I enjoy telling you. What is your secret, Yaakov? How are you so happy for other people?"

"Why shouldn't I be happy, Avi? Hashem has blessed a person with success. That makes him happy. He wants to share his happiness with others. I give him pleasure by joining in his happiness. Also, Hashem shows His love by granting him success. Shouldn't I love someone who Hashem loves?"

"You have the right attitude, Yaakov. Not everyone thinks so positively. Some people are jealous."

"That is an aveyra (sin) which is listed in the Aseres HaDibros. On the other hand, being happy with another person's accomplishments is a mitzvah. Rav Shmuel Hominer, in his sefer Eved Hamelech points out the source from this week's parasha."

"Really? Where?"

"Hashem says, 'He (Aharon) is going out to meet you (Moshe) and when he sees you he will rejoice his heart' (Shemos 4:14). Rashi comments that one might have thought that Aharon would be resentful that Moshe rose to greatness. After all, he was the younger brother. He also fled Mitzraim 68 years before, leaving his older brother Aharon to shoulder the burden of leading the people. Quite the contrary! Aharon rejoiced in his heart. Not just a superficial happiness. For this mitzvah, he merited to wear the choshen (breastplate) on his heart. Rav Hominer relates that we are commanded to be happy and have a good heart for our friend's good fortune and accomplishments. Therefore Avi, I am doing a mitzvah every time that I am happy for another person."

"Yaakov, may you merit many more mitzvos."

Kinderlach . . .

Did your friend just get a good grade in his test? Be happy for him! Did the neighbor just have a baby? Rejoice together! Did your sister just get a new Shabbos dress? Enjoy her happiness! Sharing people's good fortunes makes them even happier. And it gives you a big mitzvah. Which should make you happy. And of course we know that our mitzvos make Hashem happy. So, join in and make everyone happy!

The Shepherd

"Abba, we have an interesting homework assignment today."

"What is it, Avi?"

"We are supposed to describe the job of a shepherd, and imagine ourselves shepherding a flock of sheep. I don't know anything about shepherding. Can you please help me Abba?"

"My pleasure, Avi. A shepherd has a flock of sheep that he must tend to. Sheep eat grass and other vegetation. His job is to feed his sheep by allowing them to graze on the grass. However, he must be very careful not to take them into private property, because they will damage the vegetation there. He has a rod in his hand, which he uses to guide them along the straight path, to only those places that are permissible. If they begin to wander off, he gives them a 'potch' with the rod. He also protects them from wild animals and other dangers. A good shepherd cares for his sheep with love and mercy. Our parasha speaks about this."

"Really? Where, Abba?"

"Chapter three, the first verse. 'Moshe was shepherding the sheep of Yisro, his father-in-law.' The Shelah HaKadosh compares Moshe's shepherding his sheep to Hashem's shepherding of Klal Yisrael."

"That sounds very interesting, Abba. What is the connection?"

"The Shelah describes the job of a shepherd, as I just explained to you. He then states that Hashem is our shepherd. He keeps us on the straight path. He always has the rod in His hand (so to speak) ready to reprimand us if we begin to wander off. He cares for us with love and mercy, protecting us from many dangers."

"Is this still true nowadays, Abba?"

"Definitely, Avi. It is important for us to understand where we are situated in history, and to see Hashem's guiding and loving hand shepherding us. We are awaiting the final geula (redemption) from our long golus (exile), just as our ancestors awaited the geula from Mitzrayim. The Vilna Gaon relates that there were four factors that brought about the geula from Mitzrayim. They are contained in his commentary on the following verse. 'Hashem heard their moaning and He remembered His bris (covenant) with Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. Hashem saw the Children of Israel and Hashem knew' (Shemos 2:24,25). 'Their moaning' refers to the suffering they endured in Mitzrayim. 'He remembered His bris with Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov' refers to the zechus (merits) of the forefathers. The extra word in the verse, 'es' adds the zechus of the foremothers. 'Hashem saw the Children of Israel and Hashem knew.' What did He know? He knew that they did teshuva in their hearts and in their deeds. This was the fourth factor that was necessary for the geula to come.

"What about today, Abba?"

"We are awaiting our geula, Avi. We still have the merits of the forefathers and foremothers. We have suffered and continue to endure the anguish of golus. We have only one thing left to do."


"Exactly, Avi. Hashem wants us to turn to Him and realize that He is the One who will redeem us. He is our hope and our salvation. We must do teshuva and hope and pray that the geula will come today - this minute!"


Kinderlach . . .

We are all awaiting the final geula. We pray for it three times a day. Our Sages tell us that the final redemption will be like the first one. This time, as last time the merit of teshuva helps us. We are now beginning the weeks of Shovavim Tat - a time ripe for teshuva. These eight weeks, we are encouraged to "Shuvu bonim shovavim," "Return O wayward sons." Now is the time to do teshuva, and bring the geula, speedily and in our days, amen.

Now It Is Known!

"Indeed, the matter is known" (Shemos 2:14). What was known? The simple interpretation of the verse implies that the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu had killed an Egyptian, was now public knowledge. The day before he had seen the Egyptian beating a Jewish man. He struck down the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. The next day he saw two Jews quarreling and tried to make peace between them. The wicked one said to Moshe, "Do you propose to murder me as you murdered the Egyptian?" Moshe thought, "Indeed, the matter is known" (Shemos 2:14).

Rashi offers a deeper explanation of the verse from the Medrash. Moshe Rabbeinu was wondering why the Jewish people were subjected to such slavery, hard labor, and torture. When he heard the words of loshon hora spoken by the wicked man, he understood that this was the reason for their suffering. The Chofetz Chaim zt"l points out that they had committed other very serious sins. They worshipped avodah zara (foreign gods). Yet, until they spoke badly about their fellow Jews, the Satan (Evil Angel) could not speak badly about them. That is the tremendous destructive power of loshon hora. It allows you to be punished for other sins.

Kinderlach . . .

We are all striving to do as many mitzvos and as few aveyros (sins) as possible. Why? Because we know that we will receive reward for the mitzvos and punishment for the aveyros. However, we learn something very important here. Our bad speech gives the accuser the power to speak badly about us. If we do not speak loshon hora, the news of our aveyros will not reach Hashem's ears. Therefore, this one mitzvah can help us avoid punishment for all of our aveyros.

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