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"Avi, we learned in the beginning of the second chapter of Hallel, that Klal Yisrael was redeemed from Mitzrayim in the zechus (merit) of four things - they did not change their names, abandon their language, reveal secrets, or behave immorally.ii Medrash Shochar Tov (Medrash Vayikra Rabba 32:5 says that they did not speak loshon hora) Now, as we continue to study this chapter, we learn of another merit. 'Yehuda became holy to Him, Yisrael His dominion.'iii Tehillim 114:2 Rashi and the Radak explain that the tribe of Yehuda sanctified the Holy Name when their prince Nachashon ben Aminadav rose up and jumped into the sea. His tribe followed after him, and after them all of Klal Yisrael. Upon seeing this act of kiddush Shem Shomayim the sea split."
"Were they prepared to give up their lives and drown in the water, Abba?"
"They certainly were, Avi. The Medrash Shochar Tov tells the dramatic story of the dispute between the tribes of Binyomin and Yehuda over who would be the first to mekadesh Shaim Shomayim. Binyomin was actually the first to descend into the sea. Nachshon saw this and jumped ahead into the waves. The sea saw them battling over the zechus to sanctify the Holy Name. It said, 'How can I stand before this?'iiii Yalkut Shemoni (There are many Medrashim which relate different stories about the splitting of the sea) Immediately it fled, as the verse states, 'The sea saw and fled.'iiv Tehillim 114:3 Their emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust) in the Almighty's salvation merited the miracle."vv Maase Nissim (in Otzer HaTefillos)
"It must have been awesome, Abba."
"It certainly was, Avi. The tribe of Yehuda also merited becoming the monarchy of Klal Yisrael, as the verse states, 'Yisrael his (Yehuda's) dominion.'"
"Just a moment, Abba. Yaakov Avinu had already blessed Yehuda with dominion over his brothers, over 200 years earlier."vvi Bereshis 49:8-12
"What an astute observation, Avi! We may say that Yehuda's deeds enabled the fulfillment of the bracha. Yaakov was a novi (prophet) and he knew that the mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice) of the descendants of his son Yehuda would earn them the monarchy. Some meforshimvvii Radak, Malbim explain that Yisrael was no longer under the government of Mitzrayim; rather the Almighty was their exclusive King and Supervisor. The verse is therefore translated as, 'Yisrael His (the Almighty's) dominion.'"
"I see, Abba."
"Dovid HaMelech continues describing other awesome miracles. 'The Yarden turned backwards. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like young sheep.'vviii Tehillim 114:3,4 The Medrash Shochar Tov relates that the sea did not want to part. It said, 'They (Klal Yisrael) are rebels! Why should I split before them?' Even in the sea itself they are rebelling!' The water began to drown them. The Almighty roared at the Yom Suf, it became dry, and He led them through the depths as through a desert.iix Tehillim 106:9 Moshe asked the sea, '"What bothers you sea that you flee?"xx Tehillim 114:5 You said that you will not split, and now you are running away.' The sea said, 'Rightfully, it is not fitting that I split before you (humanity), for I was created on the third day, and you on the sixth. Therefore, I am not fleeing from you, rather, "From before The Master, for Whom the earth trembles, from before the G-d of Yaakov, Who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of water."'xxi Tehillim 114:6,7,8 The miracle of the Yarden was at the time when Yehoshua was leading the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael, and the skipping of the mountains was at the time of Matan Torah."
"Abba, your explanation has raised another question. The first Medrash explained that the sea split because of the mesirus nefesh of jumping into the water to be mekadesh Shem Shomayim. Now this Medrash relates that the sea split out of fear of the Almighty. Which is correct?"
"That is an excellent question, Avi! If we contemplate the depth of the subject, we can resolve the contradiction. The Maggid Tsedek illuminates the subject with an insight on how Hashem runs the world. The Almighty controls the entire universe. Klal Yisrael, in a manner of speaking, also controls it. Not only this, but we even control Him (so to speak), as the verse states, 'The G-d of Israel has said - the Rock of Israel has spoken to Me - [Become a] ruler over men; a righteous one, who rules through the fear of G-d.'xxii Shmuel Beis 23:3 Hashem says, 'I rule over the universe, and who rules over Me? The tsaddik.'xxiii Yalkut Shemoni - Shmuel Beis 23 I make a decree and the tsaddik overturns it.' Hashem decrees that the sea should be wet. The tsaddik jumps into the water with mesirus nefesh likaddish Shem Shomayim, overturns the decree, and the sea becomes dry land. Similarly, Hashem decrees that the Yarden flows from north to south, the mountains and hills stand solid, and the rock and flint are dry. The tsaddik is mekadesh Shem Shomayim, and the Yarden flows from south to north, the mountains and hills skip, and the rock and flint become water. Hashem set up the world with the condition that He will fulfill the will of the tsaddik."
"That is awe-inspiring, Abba. If a person sanctifies and purifies himself with the proper thoughts and deeds, he can reach the level of tsaddik. The tsaddik may then have the power to overturn Hashem's laws of nature and merit receiving miracles."
"Yes Avi. This principle is true to this very day. The 'laws of nature' are inflexible only to those who do not address themselves to the One Who set up those laws and keeps them functioning. However, when one appeals directly to The Source, fulfills His Will, expresses appreciation, and makes heartfelt requests, he may merit blessing, success, and salvation far beyond the natural norm. May we all merit becoming tsaddikim and receiving all of Hashem's goodness."
Kinderlach . . .
Hashem loves us and watches over us all of the time, both as individuals and as a nation. He set up the world to run regularly, according to nature - seemingly inflexible physical laws of cause and effect. However, these laws are not inflexible at all. The Almighty can change or negate any or all of them as He pleases. For whom does He do this? For the tsaddik. One who purifies himself with the proper thoughts and deeds can reach the level of a tsaddik. He may then have the power to overturn Hashem's laws of nature and merit receiving miracles. This is what happened at the Yom Suf, at the Yarden, at matan Torah, and at the rock. We can also experience unforeseen salvation. We just have to be tsaddikim, and b'ezras Hashem we will merit all of His blessing and goodness, amen.
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