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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
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Parashas Vayechi

Give Him Honor

"Leah, did you get your Chumash test back?"

"Yes I did, Miri."

"Do you mind if I ask you how you did on the test?"

"I don't mind at all Miri. I got a 95."

"Ninety-five. That's great Leah. You are so smart."

"Boruch Hashem."

"You always say that when I compliment you, Leah."

"Say what?"

"'Boruch Hashem.' Why do you say it?"

"My parents say it. They are wonderful role models. I always try to do what they do. Now you've got my curiosity going. I want to ask them why they always say 'Boruch Hashem'."

"When you find out, please tell me."

"Sure, Miri."

A few minutes later . . .

"Imma, I'm home."

"Great to see you, Leah. How was school today?"

"Great. I got a 95 in my Chumash test."

"Boruch Hashem."

"I'm glad that you said that, Imma."

"So am I."

"I always wanted to know why you say 'Boruch Hashem' whenever you hear good news, or whenever someone gives you a compliment."

"Leah, you always ask the most thoughtful questions."

"Boruch Hashem."

"A compliment is a very nice thing. It tells a person about his good qualities. Think about it for a minute. Who gave the person his talents?"


"Who gave him the opportunities to develop his good qualities?"


"Who keeps a person alive every minute of every day?"


"Therefore, who deserves to be blessed when a person does something good?"


"Right. That is why we say, Boruch Hashem. Do you know one of the places that we learn this from, Leah?"

"Let me guess - this week's parsha."

"Right, Leah. Yaakov Avinu was sick in bed at the end of his life. Yosef brought his two sons, Efraim and Menashe before him to receive a blessing. Yaakov asked Yosef, 'Who are they?' Yosef replied, 'These are my sons who Hashem has given to me here' (Bereshis 48:8-9). The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh comments that this is the way of tsaddikim. Whenever they mention a good thing that happened to them, they give honor to Hashem, because He is the Giver. That is what we do when we say, 'Boruch Hashem.' We are giving all of the credit to Him."

"Imma, I have only one thing to say."

"What, Leah?"

"Boruch Hashem."

Kinderlach . . .

Did someone give you a compliment today? Boruch Hashem. "Esti, you got dressed so quickly this morning." "Boruch Hashem." "Ahuva, you washed the floors in the whole house." "Boruch Hashem." "Savta, you brought us such yummy treats for Shabbos." "Boruch Hashem." "Shoshie, you made shalom with the neighbor." "Boruch Hashem." "Imma, the Shabbos food is outstanding." "Boruch Hashem." This is how we respond to good things, good news, and compliments. We give honor to the One Who made these things happen.


"La'briut (to your health) Chaim."

"Thank you, Avi. You are very considerate."

"Thank you, Chaim. In what way am I considerate?"

"After I sneezed, you gave me a blessing for good health."

"You deserve it, Chaim. Everyone should have good health, especially after they sneeze."


"Because there is a lot more to a sneeze than just hot air."

"Are you speaking about allergies?"

"No, I am speaking about mankind from the beginning of creation until Yaakov Avinu."

"That is a big subject, Avi - nothing to sneeze at."

"It is actually related to this week's parasha."

"Now you really have my curiosity going."

"The Torah states, that someone told Yosef that his father (Yaakov) was sick (Bereshis 48:1). This was an earth-shattering event, unprecedented in the entire history of mankind."

"What was so earth-shattering about being sick?"

"The Chizkuni zt"l informs us that Yaakov Avinu changed the way people die. From the beginning of creation, a man's sneeze would be his last breath.

Wherever he was, whatever he was doing, when he sneezed, his neshama (soul) would leave his body - without warning."

"How abrupt."

"Exactly. Yaakov Avinu wanted to bless and admonish his children. The Torah Temima explains that one should admonish ones children shortly before one dies. Therefore, Yaakov asked for Hashem's mercy, to know his time of departure from this world. Hashem responded by making him sick, informing him that his death was imminent."

"I see. Yaakov Avinu was the first person in history to get sick."

"Precisely. The Torah Temima relates several minhagim (customs) regarding sneezing. Some people say li'chaim u'li'shalom (to life and peace) because the sneeze was considered a dangerous event. Rashi (Berachos 53a) explains that people would say 'To your health' to the one who sneezed. The Yalkut states that a person is obligated to thank Hashem after he sneezes. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (61:5) advises saying a verse from this week's parasha, 'For Your salvation do I long, O Hashem!' (Bereshis 49:18)."

"Avi, this is all amazing. Who would have thought that a simple sneeze is so full of meaning?"

"Chaim, a sneeze is nothing to sneeze at."

Kinderlach . . .

Health is a wonderful gift from Hashem. Many people do not appreciate it until they become sick or injured lo aleinu (may it not happen to us). Thank Hashem for everything. When we are healthy we can see, eat, sleep, breathe, walk, and hear properly. Good health is a pillar of avodas (service to) Hashem. As we say in the blessing "Asher Yatzar". . . "(without a healthy body). . . it would be impossible to survive and stand before You". Hashem gives us a wonderful reminder to appreciate our health . . . the simple sneeze. People would die when they sneezed. However, we sneeze and live! Therefore, every time we sneeze, we can thank Hashem for our life and our health. "La'briut!"

Unity Brings Moshiach

"Yaakov called to his sons and said, 'Gather together and I will tell you what will happened at the End of Days (the time just before the coming of Moshiach)'" (Bereshis 49:1). The Medrash Rabba (98:2) offers many explanations of what Yaakov Avinu said to his sons. Rabbanan say that he commanded them concerning quarreling. He said, "You shall gather together into one group ... make the Children of Israel into one unified band, then prepare yourselves for the final redemption." The first step is for the Jewish people to rid themselves of strife and dissention. Then we must gather ourselves into one unified group. This will signal the event that we have been waiting and praying for the past 2000 years, the coming of Moshiach.

Kinderlach . . .

Who can count how many of our prayers are for the coming of Moshiach? In the Shemoneh Esrei (daily prayers) there are blessings asking for geulah (redemption), kibbutz golius (ingathering of exiles), the restoration of Hashem's rule, the rebuilding of Yerushalaim, the restoration of the kingdom of Dovid HaMelech, and the return of the avodah (service) of the Beis HaMikdash. We see how important the geulah is by how many prayers are devoted to it. Therefore, it is important for us to do our part to speed its arrival. Unity is our project. Let us begin with our own family. Avoid unnecessary confrontation. When arguments do occur, listen patiently to the other person's point of view. When he is finished, you may say what you feel, but say it nicely. Always be the first to apologize. Treat family members with respect. Go out of your way to do nice things for them. Our family is doing its best to bring the geulah.

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