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Simcha Groffman

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


Peace and Quiet

"Yaakov settled in the land where his father lived, the land of Canaan" (Bereshis 37:1). Rashi adds that Yaakov wanted to live in serenity. However, the distress of Yosef came upon him, and spoiled his hopes. Tsaddikim want to live in serenity?!? In heaven, the angels were dumbfounded by this request. Hashem said, "Isn't it enough for tsaddikim to have peace in the next world? They want tranquility in this world also?" At first glance this seems a bit puzzling. After all, why would a tsaddik want peace and quiet? Not to sit back on his easy chair and daydream all day. A tsaddik is not interested in just passing the time away. He wants to be free of stress and worries, in order to learn Torah better. He wants a beautiful private study; walls lined with new seforim, comfortable new furniture, and sparkling clean windows, open to the clean fresh air. Such a place will allow him to put all of his energies into serving Hashem. What is wrong with wanting nice surroundings in order to perfect ones Avodas Hashem (Service to Hashem)? Rav Leib Chasman zt"l, in his sefer Ohr Yohel answers this question. We may think that we want these things to broaden our spiritual vistas. They are really the requests of the Yetzer Hora (Evil Inclination). He cares nothing about our souls, and only wants to increase our physical desires. Rav Chasman relates a fundamental principle. A person's mission in this world is not to acquire things that he does not have. Rather, he must use what he does have to acquire as much wisdom as he can. Hashem gives him everything that he needs to perfect himself. We say this twice daily in Kriyas Shema. "And you shall love Hashem your G-d . . . with all of your might" (Devorim 6:5). Rav Chasman interprets the Gemora's (Berachos 54a) commentary on this verse to mean that you must love Hashem in each and every situation that He creates for you. You are lacking nothing.

Kinderlach . . .

"I can't learn now. I'm too tired. I'm too hungry. I don't like the Rebbe. I'm not happy with my chavrusa. My seat is too near the window. My seat is too far from the window. My gemora is too small. My foot hurts. My glasses are dirty." Kinderlach, these may all be valid reasons for not being able to learn. Or, they may be the Yetzer Hora talking to you. He wants to spoil you, telling you that things have to be "just so" in order for you to learn well. Don't believe him. Remember that the greater the difficulty, the more reward for the mitzvah. Take a deep breath and "full speed ahead"!


"Yosef was seventeen years old . . . and he was a youth" (Bereshis 37:2). Why does the verse mention that he was a youth, after it just stated that he was seventeen years old? Rav Ovadiah Sforno zt"l explains that Yosef made the mistakes of a young person. He did not think deeply into his actions, contemplating the possible outcome. Therefore, he brought Yaakov Avinu a bad report about his brothers. Yosef was very intelligent, and he was blessed with common sense. Still age brings experience, and the wisdom that goes along with it. As the Mishna states (Pirkei Avos 5:21) "At fifty, one is able to give counsel." The Baal HaTurim explains this verse in a more extreme fashion. The word "naar" (youth) has the same gematria (numeric value) of 320 as the word "shoteh" (fool). This points out that Yosef's youthful actions were foolish.

Kinderlach . . .

Do you know more now than you knew five years ago? Surely. Do you think that five years from now you will know more than you do now? Surely. What about ten years from now? Twenty years. Your parents and teachers are many years older than you. They have a special wisdom that comes from many years of life's experience. Listen to them. They can teach you something.

Every Word Is Heard

"Yosef brought an evil report (about his brothers) to their father Yaakov" (Bereshis 37:2). The Medrash Rabba (84:7) explains that Yosef reported that the brothers were eating meat that was not shechted (properly slaughtered). Secondly, they were considering marrying girls that were not suited for them. Thirdly, they were degrading the sons of the handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpa, calling them servants. Hashem punished Yosef, middah kineged middah (in exact accordance with the crime committed). For reporting that they ate unshechted meat, the brothers shechted a goat to dip Yosef's coat in its blood. In exchange for the report about unsuitable wives, Yosef was sent to prison by Potiphar's wife. For reporting that some of his brothers called the others servants, Yosef was sold into slavery.

Kinderlach . . .

As we have said many times before, speech is so very important. Hashem hears every word. Yosef spoke badly, and was punished for each and every bad thing that he said. We surely do not want to speak badly about people. How do we guard our tongues? The Chofetz Chaim zt"l explained all of the laws in his famous book, "Chofetz Chaim". B'ezras Hashem, we should follow the directions of Rav Yehuda Zev Segel zt"l and learn two laws from the book every day. Then we will never speak any loshon hora!

Kinder Torah Copyright 2001 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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