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Simcha Groffman

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


Dedicated in Memory of Harry and Fannie Weiner z"l

True Beauty

Esther was "yifas toar vi'tovas mareh" (very beautiful in appearance), (Megillas Esther 2:7). The Vilna Gaon zt"l in his commentary on the Megillah explains that yifas toar means her mitzvos and tovas mareh means her middos tovos (good character traits.) He elaborates that the appearance of the person is a reflection of their heart. One who has good middos is called beautiful. A good heart is the source of all good middos, as the Mishna states in Pirkei Avos (2:9). Later the Megilla (2:15) writes that Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. The Vilna Gaon relates that she was constantly distressed, having been forced to marry Achashverosh. This anguish caused her skin to turn green. A woman with green skin is usually not very pretty. Even so, Vilna Gaon explains that Esther's inner beauty was able to overcome her physical appearance and she found favor in everyone's eyes. From this we learn what true beauty is.

Kinderlach . . .

We certainly must take care of our appearance. We should not be dirty or sloppily dressed. Our clothes should be neat and clean and our hair combed. However, our clothes and our outward appearance are not the real beauty. Our good heart and good middos (character traits) are what make us genuinely beautiful. If we truly want to be beautiful children, we should not spend our time in front of the mirror perfecting our clothes and our physical appearance. We should rather put our efforts into perfecting our middos.

The Clothes Fit

"You shall make holy garments for Aharon your brother for glory and splendor" (Shemos 28:2). The Malbim zt"l explains the spiritual aspect of the middos of these garments. Although the Torah appears to be explaining the character and construction of the external clothing of the Kohanim, in reality it is detailing the internal garb of their souls. Those holy Kohanim who serve Hashem must clothe their souls in good middos (character traits), proper ideas and attitudes. The holy external garments were only a means to teach the Kohanim that they must fix up their souls and their middos, which are the internal garb of the soul. Then they will be truly fit to serve Hashem.

Kinderlach . . .

"Middos Tovos are the measure of a person. Let's go around the Shabbos table and see how many middos tovos we can name." "Patience." "Very good Leah!" "Always telling the truth." "Excellent, Rivkah!" "Speaking softly." "That's so important Efraim." "Being organized." "That helps everything go well, Ahuva." "Not wasting anything." "I can see you appreciate what Hashem gives you Doni. Okay, let each one of us pick a middah and work on it this week. Next week we will report back with our success stories."

Before The King

The pain was unbearable. The family had lost their close relative. They all sat shiva together in the house, broken hearted. Can you imagine if they had lost two family members instead of one? Double the anguish. What if the whole family was wiped out in a tragic accident? Can we even begin to describe the shock? However, this is only one family. How many families live on your street? Losing them would be a tragedy beyond words. Thousands of people live in the neighborhood. We are now speaking about a major disaster. The loss of a whole city is already an earth shattering, historical event. Yet something much worse faced the Jewish people during the times of Mordechai and Esther. The entire Jewish nation, men women, and children appeared to be doomed. Haman was plotting a crime so evil, that it would devastate the world.

The situation looked hopeless. We had no King to fight for us, no prophets to inspire us, no homeland to defend, no place to hide. What could we do? Mordechai had a plan. Queen Esther would appear before the King without being summoned, a brazen action usually punishable by death. The same King Acashverous had Queen Vashti executed when she refused to listen to his summons. Esther called upon the Jews of Shushan to fast for three days on her behalf. She would fast along with them and then go before the King.

The scene was suspenseful. Queen Esther was so weak from the fasting that she could barely stand up. She donned the royal garments, and took two maidservants with her to keep her from falling. She stood in the inner courtyard of the King, facing the direction of the Beis HaMikdash, praying to Hashem. "Please Hashem, save my soul from this evil King." As she approached the King's chamber, the Shecina departed from her. "My G-d, My G-d, why have you forsaken me?" (Tehillim 22:2). The King sat on his royal throne facing the entrance of the palace. Esther said, "Master of the world! Do not give me over to the King. Let me find mercy in his eyes, and fulfill my request. In Your mercy do not give the children of Yaakov into the hands of Haman, the offspring of Eisav." King Achashverous lifted up his eyes and saw Queen Esther with her servants. He was filled with anger at her defiance of his decree and appearance before him without permission. Ester saw his eyes burning with the fire of hatred. She was seized with fear. She stopped in her tracks, eyes filled with tears. Hashem saw her tsar (distress) had mercy on His nation. On behalf of this orphan girl who trusted in Him and defied death to appear before the King, He performed a miracle and she found favor in the King's eyes.

Kinderlach . . .

Although Queen Esther was standing before King Achashverous, she knew that she was standing before The King of Kings, Hashem. She was praying to Him the entire time. This is a high spiritual level that we should all strive for, "I have set Hashem before me always" (Tehillim 16:8). Hashem is everywhere. He is with us at all times. We just have to see Him, and speak to Him. B'ezras Hashem our prayers will be answered, just as Esther's were.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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