For parents to give over to the children at the Shabbos table
This week's Kinder Torah is dedicated to a Refuah Shelayma for Chana Shaindel Bas Tova Tziporah and Tovah Tziporah Bas Ita
"And you shall take trumah for Me" (Shemos 25:2). The posuk uses the word lekach, which means take or acquire. Shlomo HaMelech in Mishlei (4:2) uses the same word lekach to describe the Torah. "A good acquisition I have given to you, My Torah, do not abandon it." When we go to the store, we want to buy something good. We see, kinderlach, the best acquisition that a person can make is Torah. The Medrash Tanchuma tells the story of a talmid chochom who was on a ship with a number of wealthy merchants. They asked him where his merchandise was. He told them that his wares were far better than theirs were. They searched all over the ship and could not find his goods, so they began to laugh at him. Shortly afterwards, pirates came and looted the ship, taking all of their valuable merchandise. The ship landed, and they were all very poor men with not even enough food to eat or clothing to wear. The talmid chochom went to the beis hamedrash and began to learn and darshen. The people saw that he was a wise man and they respected him greatly and provided for all of his needs. The former merchants, who were at the point of starvation, saw this and begged him to persuade the townspeople to help them. He said to them, "I told you that my merchandise was greater than yours. Yours is lost and mine is with me. Not only that, you do not profit every minute that you do business. Even when you do profit, you sometimes lose that profit. But the Torah is never lost, not in this world, and not in the next world." Let us all grow up to be smart businessmen, kinderlach, and put our resources into Torah, der beste schorah (the best merchandise).
In this week's parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu begins to gather the materials for the Mishkan (tabernacle). This was the holy site where the Bnei Yisrael would offer up their korbonos (sacrifices) to Hashem. The shechina (divine presence) rested upon this holy place. We spoke about the holiness of Shabbos in parshas Yisro. The sanctity of Shabbos is holiness in time. Wherever you are, Shabbos is a holy day. The Mishkan was a holy place. Its holiness was independent of time. Kinderlach, we no longer have the Mishkan or the Beis HaMikdash in our days. We still have holy places, however. Our shuls and bottei medrashim are places of kedusha. The Mishna Breura calls them mikdash mi'at (small sanctuaries). We have to respect them and their holiness. We learned in parshas Yisro that we have to behave differently on Shabbos because it is a holy day. Similarly, we have to behave differently in the shul and the beis hamedrash, because they are holy places. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 151 tells us how to guard the sanctity of our holy places. Joking, idle conversation, and sarcasm are all prohibited there. We cannot enter them only for the purpose of gaining shelter from the outside weather, for a pleasure walk, or shortcut. We cannot discuss our business affairs there. Our clothing and shoes should be clean when we enter these holy places. We have to keep the shul itself clean. Kinderlach, our shuls and bottei medrashim are places for tefillah and learning Torah. Therefore, we have to behave with the utmost respect when we are there. It is a privilege to go with Abba to daven or learn. We cannot abuse that privilege. We have many places to play -- the park, the garden, the schoolyard, and the playground. The shul is not one of them. The shul is a place to be close to Hashem. Kinderlach, you will all get tremendous reward for behaving properly in our holy places.
The Alshich asks the following question on the posuk, "And you shall take trumah for Me" (Shemos 25:2). The trumos were gifts given to Hashem for the construction of the Mishkan and its holy vessels. The posuk should therefore say "And you shall give trumah to Me." Rav Shlomo Ganzfried in his sefer Aperion (as quoted by Rav Beifus in Yalkut Lekach Tov) answers this question. The Torah is telling us that when you give to Hashem, you are really taking. When we give of our time or possessions to do a mitzvah, we receive a reward. The value of that reward is far greater than the cost of what we gave. Rav Dessler says in the beginning of Michtav MiEliyahu that we cannot even begin to imagine the reward that we will receive for the mitzvos we do. Let us play a game at the Shabbos table, kinderlach, which will help us realize that when we give to Hashem we are really taking. Take a package of raisins or another treat and give a few raisins to each person at the table (even Abba and Imma can play.) Now, explain to everyone that when they give you one raisin, they will receive five raisins in return. I am sure that everyone will be very happy to give away their raisins in order to get more raisins. The more raisins you give away, the more you get. It is the same with mitzvos, kinderlach. Let us take the mitzvah of chessed, for example. When we give up some of our playtime to help our neighbor with his homework, we get reward from Hashem that is worth far more than that playtime. The same is true about tsedaka. The posuk "aser taaser" is darshened to mean, "give maaser (charity) in order to become wealthy. B'ezras Hashem we will all become very wealthy. We will all be the owners of a treasure house of Torah and Mitzvos.
The gemora in Menachos 97a tells us that when the Beis HaMikdash was standing, the mizbeach (altar) atoned for our sins. We would bring korbonos (sacrifices) and receive an atonement. Nowadays, since we have no Beis HaMikdash, our table is like an altar. If we are sitting in front of an alter, we should conduct ourselves properly. The Shlah explains that when we speak divrei Torah at the table at mealtime, or have poor people as mealtime guests, our table is like the holy alter. The Pele Yoatz in his chapter on eating and drinking tells us that a person's purpose for eating should be to strengthen himself to serve Hashem. He should say his berachos before and after eating with kavannah. He should sit correctly at the table, not slouching or standing. He should not overeat. He should always speak divrei Torah at the table, as the Mishna says in Pirkei Avos (3:4) "Three people who ate at a table and spoke divrei Torah, it is as if they ate from Hashem's table." We can accomplish many important things at mealtime, kinderlach. We can strengthen our bodies with food, strengthen our emunah by thanking Hashem, and strengthen our minds by learning Torah. We can leave the table with lots of koach! Hashem should give us the koach to do all of his avodah (service) properly.
Enjoy your Shabbos table !
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