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From
Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Vayetze

The Push or the Fall?

One sunny day, an ox was grazing quietly by the edge of a deep pit. Along came another ox, which was known to be dangerous. He had already killed three oxen. He pushed the grazing ox into the pit, where he suffocated and died. The owner of the dead ox came to claim damages.

The owner of the ox said, "I don't have to pay. Your ox suffocated. The pit killed it, not my ox."

The one who dug the pit said, "I don't have to pay. If his ox would not have pushed your ox, he never would have died."

The question is:

Who is right?

The answer is:

This case is disputed in the Gemora (Bava Kamma 53a). The Tanna Kamma says that the owner of the dangerous ox must pay full damages. Rashi explains that without his pushing, the animal would not have fallen and died. Rebbe Nosson says that the owner of the dangerous ox must pay 50% of the damages, and the one who dug the pit must pay the other 50%. Rashi explains that it took both of them to kill the ox. The Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 410:32 rules like Rebbe Nosson.

Ahavas Torah

"What time is it?"

"Two in the morning. You look tired."

"I am tired, my dear chavrusa. It has been a long day of learning Torah."

"You may be tired, but you are learning very well. Your mind is sharp."

"Thank you. I need the encouragement to overcome this tiredness and keep learning."

"Let me tell you a story about Yaakov Avinu from this week's parasha. It will give you chizuk (strength). Eisav was planning to kill his brother Yaakov. Therefore, Yaakov had to flee. He left his home to make his way to his uncle Lavan in Charan. On the way he stopped at the Beis HaMedrash of Shem and Ever to learn Torah."

"How long did he stay there?"

"Fourteen years."

"That is no small detour. Fourteen years is a tremendous amount of Torah learning."

"True. However, it is even more than you think. I will explain. After the fourteen years, Yaakov Avinu resumed his journey. He reached the future site of the Beis HaMikdash and he lay down there, as the verse states, 'And he lay down in that place' (Bereshis 28:11). Rashi points out - Here he lay down. However, the fourteen years that he learned in the house of Ever he did not lay down at night, because he was toiling in Torah (day and night). On this subject, Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt"l, brings us an insight from the Alter of Kelm.

"How quickly we read this verse! We pass right by without even taking the time to stop and think. Even the simple meanings of the words are incomprehensible! Imagine not sleeping even one night. How tired we would be, dragging ourselves through the next day - weak and incapable of functioning. What about two nights without sleep? We would be crushed. Three nights, four nights -l impossible. Here we learn that Yaakov Avinu did not lie down to sleep for fourteen years straight! That is more than five thousand nights! What could motivate a man to do such a thing? Only an intensive love of Torah, far beyond our comprehension."

"You are right, my dear chavrusa. That is very inspiring. You have given me the motivation to continue learning. I am a descendant of Yaakov Avinu. His love of Torah is in my bones. If he could stay up for over five thousand nights learning Torah, I can stay up this one Erev Shabbos. Come, let's get back to the Gemora."

"I am with you my dear chavrusa, five thousand percent!"

Kinderlach . . .

We love Torah! It is in our genes. The more that we learn it, the more we love it. There is a famous story about the Chazon Ish, zt"l. He described how the Torah gets sweeter the longer you learn it. If you learn for three to four hours straight, you begin to taste its sweetness. After five hours, you feel elevated. Six hours of learning allows you to forget about Olam Hazzeh, and be concerned only with spiritual matters. After seven hours, you feel close to Hashem. After eight hours, no thought of materialism can enter your heart. After nine hours, you become totally sanctified. Nine hours is not even one day. Can you imagine fourteen years - five thousand days? Kinderlach, we may not be on the level of Yaakov Avinu to go five thousand nights without sleep. However, we can be inspired by his Ahavas Torah. We can also take the Chazon Ish's advice about how to taste the sweetness of the Torah ourselves. Kinderlach, the Torah is the best sweet treat in the world. Learn it! Taste it! Enjoy it! Love it!

Silence

"And Hashem remembered Rachel, He listened to her, and He opened her womb" (Bereshis 30:22). The Sifsei Chachomim explains that whenever the Torah states that Hashem remembers someone, He remembers a good deed or deeds that the person performed in the past and subsequently grants their request. The Medrash Tanchuma notes that Hashem remembered Rachel's silence. Yaakov wanted to marry Rachel. He sent gifts to her. Lavan intercepted the gifts and gave them to Leah instead. Rachel was quiet. The Medrash praises her silence by quoting the Mishnah (Avos 1:17). Shimon the son of Rabban Gamliel said, "All of my life I have been raised among the sages and I have not found anything better for the body than silence." Our sages praise silence in many other ways. Rebbe Akiva said, "The fence that protects wisdom is silence" (Avos 3:17). The Gemora (Megilla 18a) writes, "The best medicine in the world is silence." "Those who listen to insults and do not answer back are beloved by Hashem. They will grow stronger as the rising sun from morning to midday." The Vilna Gaon writes in the name of the Medrash, "Each and every minute that a person seals his lips he merits to see the light that was hidden away (from the time of the creation of the world). This value of this reward is beyond the comprehension of any creature."

Kinderlach . . .

Let's go around the Shabbos table giving examples of when we should be silent. "When we are thinking of saying Loshon Hora." Very good Dovid. "When someone who will not listen to criticism says something insulting to us." Excellent Rivkah. "When we are bored and just want to say something silly." You're right, Chaim, it's better to say nothing. "When we are in the middle of an argument." So true, Esti. The other person cannot continue arguing with himself. Kinderlach, silence is a beautiful sound.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman


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