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"Please come in my dear guests. Welcome to my new home."
"Thank you very much. Your home is beautiful."
"Boruch Hashem. Please sit down and wash your hands. We are ready to begin the chanukas ha'bayis (festive meal celebrating the acquisition of a new home)." The guests wash their hands and the host begins serving the food. Plate after plate of delicacies are brought to the table. The guests enjoy the delicious seudas mitzvah. Then, the "baal ha'bayis" rises to speak.
"I would like to welcome you to my new home, and thank you for participating in this chanukas ha'bayis. I would like to say a short Devar Torah explaining the meaning of our 'chanukas ha'bayis.' The source of this seudah (festive meal) is actually a verse in this week's parasha. The Torah speaks about going to war against our enemies. There are certain individuals who have an exemption from going to fight. One of them is a man who has built a new house and has not yet inaugurated it. He should return to his home, lest he die in the war and another man will inaugurated his home. (Devarim 20:5). The Torah Temima directs us to the Magen Avraham's commentary on the Shulchan Auruch (Orach Chaim 568:2). He states that a chanukas ha'bayis is a seudas mitzvah here in Eretz Yisrael. The Yam Shel Shlomo at the end of the seventh perek of Bava Kamma adds that one should not act with frivolity when he first enters his new house, rather he should make a seudah to 'chanech' his home. He should say Divrei Torah and darshen about the meaning of the event. This gives the meal the status of a seudas mitzvah.
"Therefore, I ask you my dear guests, 'What is the meaning of a chanukas ha'bayis? Why do we need to inaugurate our homes?' Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch, in his commentary on the verse in this week's parasha states that the actions that a person performs when he first moves into a new home make an impact. They prepare the home for its ultimate purpose - to become a place of kedusha (holiness). Rav Hirsch refers to his commentary on parashas Lech Lecha (Bereshis 14:14). 'And when Abram heard that his brother (Lot) was taken captive, he armed his disciples, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them as far as Dan.' The Hebrew word for disciples is 'chanichav', which has the same root as 'chanukas'. Why does the verse need to tell us that the disciples were born in his house? Because there is a connection between the home and the 'chinuch' (education). The chinuch of the people in the home begins with the chanukas ha'bayis.
"Chinuch begins at a young age. A child is taught to focus his strengths and efforts in the proper direction. He can grow and develop to his fullest potential if he uses his resources productively. This brings him the true pleasure in life. Therefore, chinuch is proper guidance at the beginning of ones life. This sets the direction that will be followed into the future. The same is true by chanukas ha'bayis. We are inaugurating this home by setting it in the proper direction. It was built with just empty rooms. We, the owners and residents, decide what these rooms will be used for. We set the goals of this home. Most of all, we set the atmosphere that will prevail within these four walls. By making a seudas mitzvah, saying Divrei Torah, and tefillah, we are setting the tone for this house. This will be a makom kadosh (a holy place) infused with Yiras Shomayim (fear of Heaven), ahavas Hashem, ahavas Yisrael, ahavas chessed, and ahavas mitzvos (Love of Hashem, our fellow Jews, acts of kindness, and mitzvos). This will be a home where we can all find peace and comfort for our souls, and rise to the highest spiritual levels. Thank you all for coming and helping inaugurate this home to be a Mikdash m'at (miniature Beis HaMikdash) b'ezras Hashem."
Kinderlach . . .
Your home is a very special place. It is a place where the whole family can live and grow together, and fulfill their potential. It is a place that can reach great levels of holiness. To do that, it needs a proper chinuch. It must be imbued with holiness, Divrei Torah, and Yiras Shomayim in the beginning of its life as your home. That will set it on the right path. However, it does not stop there. We must always act properly in our homes. We must respect our family members with whom we live. We must be engaged in mitzvos within the four walls of our homes. Our conduct in our homes must befit the holiness of the place in which we live.
"What happened? Why are the chairs and tables not set up?"
"I don't know."
"Whose job was it?"
"As I remember, at the last meeting we never really assigned jobs. We just made a list of tasks, and assumed that people would take responsibility and finish the job."
"That was a big mistake. The Torah realized the faultiness of this logic."
"Yes. It is a mitzvah in this week's parasha. The Kohanim and the Leviim had fixed weeks of service in the Beis HaMikdash. Each of the 24 groups would serve one week."
"The Sefer HaChinuch explains that any task that is assigned to a specific individual or individuals will get done. However, if the job is vaguely left to a group of people, sometimes only a few will do a little of the work, or some people will refuse all but a certain type of work. Laziness and despair can then take root, and the job will never be completed."
Kinderlach . . .
The wisdom of our Torah is endless. It even guides us how to get the job done. We can use this wisdom on Erev Shabbos. Imma can make a written list of all of the jobs that need to be done to prepare for Shabbos. Then each of the kinderlach can write their name next to the job or jobs that they will do. When you finish the job, you can put a big ? next to your name. I am sure that the preparations will go very smoothly, and the family will arrive at Shabbos relaxed and happy.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2015 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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