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Simcha Groffman

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

Chol HaMoed Succos

Even In Your Sleep

"I am so tired. I must get to sleep. I can hardly lift my hands. I will lay down here on the sofa for a few minutes."

Resting on the edge of the sofa was the man's older son's camera. He saw it but did not bother to move it away. He quickly fell sound asleep. His older daughter walked into the house with the new clay flowerpot that she had bought. She put it down near her father's feet and rushed to answer the telephone. The father shifted his sleep position, and in doing so stretched out his feet. He knocked the camera and the clay pot to the ground, breaking both of them.

The question is:

Does the father have to pay for the camera and clay pot that he broke? Or is he not liable because he was sleeping and therefore not in control of his movements?

The answer is:

The Mishna (Bava Kamma 26a) discusses this point. It states that a person is always liable, to pay for the damage that he caused, whether intentionally or unintentionally, whether he is awake or asleep. The Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 421:3,4 qualifies this. If the man went to sleep next to a breakable object, then he is obligated to pay for its breakage. However, if someone rested the object near him while he was sleeping, and he broke it in his sleep, then he does not have to pay. Therefore, the father must pay for his son's camera, which was there before he went to sleep, but he does not have to pay for his daughter's flowerpot, which she put down while he was sleeping.

Remember the Clouds

"Isn't this a great tour, Reuven?"

"I am enjoying it very much, Eli. The desert is absolutely beautiful. But, it sure is hot. The sun is so strong. Let's ask the tour guide if it is dangerous to be out here."

"Excuse me Mr. Tour Guide, the desert seems like a really dangerous place. Are we safe out here?"

"You are correct young man; the desert is very dangerous. The sun is very strong and there is no shade. Without proper protection, a person can get sunstroke. There is no water to drink. A person can dehydrate in a matter of a few hours. There is also no food here. Snakes and scorpions live in the desert. Their sting can kill a person. The desert is no place for people unless they have plenty of supplies and protection."

"I am amazed. I am totally amazed."

"What's so amazing, Eli?"

"The Jewish people lived in this inhospitable desert for forty years."

"That is pretty amazing."

"Mitzrayim was a very fertile and settled land. The last of Hashem's ten plagues was 'death of the first-born'. That resulted in Pharaoh freeing the Jewish slaves. Over two million men, women, and children were now free to settle in the land of Egypt. However, Hashem had a different plan. "Follow Me into the wilderness, into an unsowed land" (Jeremiah 2:2). Where? The wilderness? Two million men women and children (including old, sick people, and pregnant women)? What will they eat? What will they drink? Do you know how much food two million people eat? Where will they find shelter? What about snakes and scorpions? Go into the wilderness? It sounds suicidal. Yet our ancestors did it out of love for Hashem and appreciation for all that He had done for them. Do you know what? He surrounded them with Ananei Kovod (Clouds of Glory) protecting them from the hostile elements of the desert. He performed miracle after miracle sustaining and protecting those two million people in this unlivable desert."

Kinderlach . . .

Sitting in the Sukkah is a beautiful mitzvah. The Torah explains why we live in the Sukkah during the seven days of Sukkos. "So that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to live in Sukkos when I took them out of Egypt" (Vayikra 23:43). The Gemora explains that the Sukkah reminds us of the Ananei Kovod (Clouds of Glory) that surrounded and protected us in the desert for forty years. Hashem performed so many miracles and did so many acts of kindness for us then. Guess what? He is still protecting us and showering us with kindness. When we sit in the Sukkah, let us all try a little harder to appreciate all of the good that Hashem has done and continues to do for us.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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