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Simcha Groffman

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


Keep The Fires Burning

"A permanent fire shall remain lit on the altar; it shall not be extinguished" (Vayikra 6:6). The Sefer HaChinuch zt"l explains that we receive blessing from Hashem through our deeds; specifically those that are done to fulfill His Will. For example, fulfillment of the mitzvah of Lechem Hapanim (ShowBread of the Beis HaMikdash) brought blessing upon all of the bread that the Jewish people made. What was the blessing that resulted from keeping the fire lit on the altar? Fire is one of the four elements that make up the world (water, earth, and wind are the other three). Fire is the energy that powers a person's body. Too little fire will leave the person weak and sluggish all of the time. On the other hand, too much fire will cause tension and hyper-activity. Just the right amount of energy is a blessing.

Perhaps we can draw an analogy to our fulfillment of Hashem's mitzvos. There are many ways to perform a mitzvah. One can choose a very low level, performing the mitzvah with very little energy or enthusiasm. Just go through the motions. Or, one can put fire into his mitzvos. Do them with real feeling. The Noam Elimelech zt"l shares a similar idea in his explanation of the first Rashi in the parsha. "Tzav (Command) Aaron and his sons saying . . ." (Vayikra 6:1). Rashi explains that the command tzav implies carrying out the order quickly. We must take extra care to be quick with a mitzvah that involves chisaron kis (a loss from the pocket [of money]), such a bringing a burnt offering. The Noam Elimelech broadens this concept to describe the way that we must fulfill all mitzvos - swiftly and with middos tovos (good character traits). One who serves Hashem lazily and unwillingly, is lacking substance. He is like a kis (pocket) which has a chisaron (lack of anything inside). Such a person must take extra care to perform mitzvos quickly, to arouse his enthusiasm. For a mitzvah done without enthusiasm is like an empty pocket.

It is impossible for us to comprehend the enormous benefit of a mitzvah done properly. It accomplishes many important things in this world and in the spiritual worlds, in addition to the tremendous reward that we earn for each and every mitzvah that we perform. This alone is reason enough to keep the "mitzvah fires" burning.

Kinderlach . . .

We are all involved in the mitzvos of preparing for Pesach. Cleaning the house, preparing the matzos and other Seder needs, and learning the Haggadah are all big mitzvos. What is our attitude toward these mitzvos? "Only ten more cabinets to clean and we finish the kitchen. I can't wait. Pesach cleaning is a real drag." This is not how Hashem wants us to view His Holy Mitzvos. "Imma, look at this chometz that I found!" "Wonderful, Leah! You have saved us all from a big aveyra (sin) of owning chometz on Pesach! Let's see who can find more chometz." "I am giving a prize to the one who knows the most about Yitzias Mitzraim (The Exodus from Egypt)." "I already learned ten Midrashim, Abba!" "Excellent Moishie. Keep up the good work." Kinderlach, keep the "mitzvah fires" burning, and make this your best Pesach ever.

Eat Like a Mensch

The Mizbeach (Altar) was the place where the offerings were consumed by the Holy Fire and offered up to Hashem. Alas, in our days we have no Beis HaMikdash, and no Mizbeach. However, we do have a substitute. The Shlah HaKadosh tells us that our table serves in place of the altar. Our food is the sacrifice. What serves in place of the fire? The words of Torah that we speak at the table. When done properly, our eating is compared to the avodah (service) in the Beis HaMikdash.

The Pele Yoatz offers some guidelines about proper eating and drinking. One must sit with kovod (honor) at the table, for he is eating at the King's table. He must not be a glutton, for this is bad for both his body and soul. It can ruin his health, and cause his Yetzer Hora of tayva (desire) to become very strong. Do not complain about the food. Complaints show a lack of hacoras hatov (appreciation) for the hard work that Imma put into preparing and serving the meals. Put effort into saying your berachos (blessings) before and after the meal with kavannah (concentration). This is how you thank Hashem for His Kindness. Speak words of Torah at the table. This will bring the Shechina (Divine Presence) down, just as the Heavenly Fire came down to consume the sacrifices.

Kinderlach . . .

Eating is yet another way to serve Hashem. You can elevate your meals to the level of the Avodah of the Beis HaMikdash! Just follow the guidelines of the Pele Yoatz. When we are eating, let us all do our best to tell Abba and Imma some of the Torah that we learned today. Ask Abba and Imma to share with us what they learned today. With Hashem's help, we will constantly keep burning the miraculous fire from heaven that comes down and illuminates us with wisdom and spirituality.

Pesach Kosher ViSameyach !!!

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

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