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Simcha Groffman

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For parents to give over to the children at the Shabbos table Parshas Shemini

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 in 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 in Brochos (8a) tells us that from the day that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, Hashem's only possessions in this world are the Jews who observe the halacha. That means that since the Divine Presence is not felt in the Beis HaMikdash, it rests only upon those Jews who observe the halacha.

Children, 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 is telling us that for a Kohen to wear 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. Maintaining a neat appearance is part of Avodas Hashem.

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 quotes the Medrash that tells us of an animal that could only live in the intense heat of a fire. He tells us that when Rebbe Akiva would read this Medrash he would say, "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. The wonders of Hashem's world are all around us, children. 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. He created this world with infinite wisdom. How fortunate we are to be a part of His creation.

Thank you Hashem for everything!

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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