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Simcha's Kinder Torah on the Chumash - 330 pages
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"Shalom Aleichem my old friend Reuven. How are you?"
"Baruch Hashem Ephraim. I am so happy that I ran into you today. I would like to invite you to a seudas mitzvah."
"I am so honored. What is the occasion?"
"Not so long ago, I was very sick."
"Through the chessed (kindness) of Hashem I recovered, and am standing here healthy today. Please come to the seudas hoda'ah (feast to give thanks to Hashem) to celebrate this wonderful event."
The night of the seudah arrives, and Reuven's home is full of friends and relatives, who have come to share in his simcha (happy event).
"I would just like to say a few words about the subject of hoda'ah - giving thanks to Hashem. If we were living in the times of the Beis HaMikdash, we would all be eating from the Korbon Todah (Thanksgiving Offering). This week's parasha speaks about this offering. Rashi comments (Vayikra 7:11) that four people are obligated to bring a korbon todah: those who have crossed the sea or the desert, those who have been freed from captivity, and those who have recovered from a dangerous illness. Along with this sacrifice, a shir was sung - Mizmor Li'Todah (Tehillim 100).
"The Malbim explains that when Hashem runs the world according to natural laws, He is like a King, sitting in His palace, governing the nation via his officers. When He performs a miracle, and saves someone from a danger, He leaves the palace and goes out amongst the people Himself, to personally govern them. Hashem put my life in danger, and then saved me in a miraculous way. He has shown His hashgacha pratis (personal supervision) over my life. Therefore, I thank Him for caring so much about me. How?
"'Serve Hashem with happiness' (Tehillim 100:2). One who serves a mortal king is not sure if he will receive a reward for his service. Therefore, he is not happy until he receives the reward. The service alone does not give him happiness. On the other hand, one who serves the King of Kings knows that he will be rewarded in full for every deed. Therefore, he is happy while he is working. 'Know that Hashem is G-d; He made us and we are His' (Tehillim 100:3). That knowledge brings a person true happiness."
Kinderlach . . .
Hashem is so kind to all of us. He gives us food, clothing, and shelter every day. He is so dependable, that it is easy to take Him for granted, chas v'shalom (Heaven forbid). Therefore, He needs to wake us up. He puts us into a situation where we clearly see His Hand guiding us. We are saved from danger. We are ecstatically happy. We focus this happiness on Him in thankful praise. Kinderlach let us thank and praise Him all of the time. Say the "Mizmor Li'Todah" prayer every morning with great feeling. "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise . . . For Hashem is good. His kindness endures forever."
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 Shelah 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.
Chol HaMoed Pesach
Chol HaMoed Pesach
"How's business, Jack?"
"Couldn't be better, Simcha. My store is always full of customers."
"Really, Jack? Please tell me about it."
"I have a fruit and vegetable store. I do not even have to advertise. People flock into my store from the early morning to the late evening. I can barely order enough produce to keep up with the demand. I have a fantastic parnassa (livelihood)."
"That is great, Jack. To what do you attribute your success?"
"If you want to know the truth, Simcha, it's my emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust) in Hashem. I do not work very hard. I just open the store, keep an eye on the workers, and empty the cash register at night. I have a very high level of bitachon. I trust that Hashem will send me parnassa with just minimal exertion on my part. Those people who work hard, or find it necessary to cheat and steal, are just not on my madrayga (spiritual level) of emunah and bitachon."
"Wow, I really envy you Jack. Hashem should continue to bless you."
A few days later, Jack is walking to his store. Along the way, he passes a storefront that is being refurbished. A big sign hangs on the front window. "OPENING SOON. MACK'S FRUIT AND VEGETABLE STORE. THE BEST QUALITY AND THE CHEAPEST PRICES." Jack's heart drops. This new store will be a strong competitor for his business. He worries that he may lose customers. His is afraid of his income going down. Jack begins to get depressed. Then he gets angry.
"What nerve this guy Mack has! I have the only store in this area. I can't allow him to cut into my business. I must take drastic action. However, I must do it secretly. No one must know, or else I will ruin my good name."
And so, Jack files an anonymous complaint with the city hall mercantile department. He hopes that Mack does not have the license to open a store. His plan is foiled, however, because Mack's papers are all in order. He then files a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. He accuses Mack of trying to steal customers. This plan also fails. Mack is an honest businessman. Jack does not give up. He begins circulating anonymous leaflets belittling Mack's produce and his business practices. All this is to no avail. Mack's store flourishes. Finally, Jack goes into the open. He slanders Mack, saying that he has no faith in Hashem. He tells people to shop at his store, because he has true emunah, bitachon, and Yiras Shomayim (fear of Heaven). He then threatens his customers to prevent them from shopping at Mack's. He finally hires thugs to stand outside of Mack's store and harass the customers. He proves to himself and the world that he will stop at nothing to close down Mack's business. The police are called in, and Jack ends up paying a big fine for corrupt business practices. His once good name and his store are ruined.
This story is based on a parable from the Chazon Ish's sefer, Emunah and Bitachon, chapter two. He lays down the basic principle that bitachon is the faith that there are no chance happenings in the world. All events under the sun are decreed by The Almighty. "Chance is not our master." Hashem has no shortage of ways to save us from difficult situations. He can turn everything around in a moment. We must strongly root the truth into our hearts that everything is from Him, whether is appears good in our eyes or not. In this way, we are prepared to accept an unpleasant situation, knowing that it is from Him.
When a person accomplishes this, wonderful things happen. Bitachon has the power to direct a person's actions, heal his pain, and help him recover from the trauma of the event. He can then take the proper action. He does not panic and turn to underhanded practices to foil the plans directed against him. Rather, he realizes that Hashem sent him the tsorus (trouble) because He wants something from him. Therefore, he turns to his heart, and contemplates his deeds. What mistakes did he make that brought this suffering down upon him? He does teshuva on his aveyros (sins), he turns to Hashem in tefillah (prayer), and he has mercy on others by giving tsedaka. In this way, he makes himself fit to receive Divine Mercy. He does minimal physical preparations, all guided by the Torah and Halacha, to allow Hashem to save him.
One who has bitachon does not flaunt it. He walks humbly and modestly with Hashem. His mouth does not voice his bitachon, and his heart bemoans the fact that he lacks shelaymus (perfection) in this area. Jack's "bitachon" was all a fake. He just spoke about it. When he came to a difficult situation, he failed miserably, trusting in no one and stopping at nothing.
We are now in the midst of Pesach, the chag of emunah. During Yetzias Mitzrayim, Hashem showed the whole world that He is the only power, controlling everything in the universe. It was plain for all to see that He directs every event, and nothing happens by chance. Recalling and reliving those wonderful happenings strengthens our emunah and bitachon. Use these days of Pesach to come to new levels of faith and trust in the Almighty.
Kinderlach . . .
Did you eat a delicious meal today? Thank Hashem when you make your blessings. He sent you the tasty food. Did you understand the Mishna that you learned with Abba today? Thank Hashem. He is the One Who favors a man with knowledge and teaches him wisdom. Did you bang your toe when you were walking barefoot? You can also thank Hashem for that. Any suffering, no matter how small, is a tremendous kapara (atonement) for sins. Do you know someone who is sick, poor, or in trouble? They need Hashem's rachmonus (mercy) to get them out of their difficult situation. What is the best way to seek Divine rachmonus? By having mercy on others. What a blessing in disguise! Hashem puts people in a situation where they need rachmonus, in order to help them learn to have rachmonus on others. Their teshuva, tefillah, and tsedaka will strengthen their emunah, bitachon, and their connection to the Creator. They will feel more confident about being saved. They will place their faith in Him, and not in the authorities. Now, during this chag of Pesach, we have a golden opportunity to fortify our emunah before any tsorus comes. Take advantage, kinderlach. Take a big step closer to Hashem.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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