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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Vayikra

Don't Embarrass

"Yaakov, Pesach is coming in a few weeks."

"I know, Rachel. I am preparing the korbon that we are bringing to the Beis HaMikdash."

"Are we bringing a big animal this year?"

Yaakov's eyes fell. He spoke hesitatingly, in a low voice.

"I am afraid that we cannot afford an animal this year. We will bring a mincha (grain offering) instead."

"When a nefesh (person) offers a mincha to Hashem . . . He shall bring it to the sons of Aaron, the Kohanim . . ." (Vayikra 2:1-2). The Baal HaTurim zt"l explains the use of the word nefesh, which also means soul. A poor person, who could not afford to bring an expensive animal, brought a mincha offering. Even so, he put his soul into paying for that mincha. Regular animals were sacrificed in public, where everyone would see. The mincha, however, was brought privately, only to the Kohanim. The public would not see that he was too poor to bring an animal sacrifice. This would save him embarrassment.

Kinderlach . . .

Do you see how the Torah is sensitive to people's feelings? This is a model for our behavior. Did your sister get a good grade on her test? Or was it not so good. Let her tell Imma privately. Don't embarrass her in front of the family. Always knock before you open a closed door. Someone may be doing something private in the room. Don't ever make fun of someone's clothes or haircut. These things can be very embarrassing. Sensitivity to other's feelings is the mark of real derech eretz.

Sweet Treats

What is the Sefer HaChinuch's reason for not allowing honey to be burned as a fire offering? The korbon (sacrifice) cannot have sweet honey in it. Therefore, we should learn from the korbon to limit or eliminate sweets from our foods. The Yetzer Hora constantly wants to trap us and make us run after our tayvas (desires). He would want us to eat sweets all day long. We would never eat any nutritious food that strengthens our bodies and guards our health. Therefore, a person should not let his appetite control him. Rather, he should control it, and use it for the good.

Kinderlach . . .

Sweets are delicious. They are a real treat. We receive them as a reward when we do mitzvos, and as a treat on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Eating too many sweets is not good for our bodies or our souls. Control your appetite for sweets. Then they will always be a treat.


"Is there a special maftir this week, Abba?"

"Yes, Avi. Parashas Zachor."

"Zachor means remember, doesn't it, Abba?"

"Yes, Avi. We must remember what Amalek did to us."

"What did he do, Abba?"

"Amalek is the personification of evil, Avi. His entire purpose in this world is to turn people away from Hashem. He tries to show them that Hashem does not exist cholila (Heaven forbid) or does not care about us. He first attacked Klal Yisrael when we left Mitzrayim, shortly after Kriyas Yam Suf. The entire world was terrified of Hashem and His chosen people. Amalek jumped in with tremendous chutzpah, attacked us, and showed the world that we were not invincible. By doing this he lowered the world's yiras (fear of) Hashem."

"That is horrible!"

"Yes, Avi. Therefore, we were given a mitzvah in the Torah, at the end of parashas Ki Seitze, to remember this terrible thing that Amalek did. We fulfill that mitzvah by reading that parasha for this week's maftir."

"Why do we read it this week, Abba."

"Because this is the week before Purim, Avi. Haman was a descendant of Amalek. Like his forefathers, he tried to wipe out Klal Yisrael and disgrace Hashem's Holy Name. We remember Amalek at the time when we rejoice over his defeat."

"What about nowadays, Abba? Who is Amalek? Where is he?"

"He is still here with us, Avi. Rav Zeidel Epstein zt"l shares an insight into Parashas Zachor. Amalek, whose entire purpose in this world is to disgrace Hashem, is the personification of evil. We must hate him and the evil that he brings into this world. Chilul Hashem is revolting! We detest it! We run far away from it! We uproot it from our lives! That is how we remember Amalek. We recognize him in all of his forms, and we stamp him out of our lives."

"I'm ready Abba . . . Zachor!"

Kinderlach . . .

This is the second of the four parshios which prepare us for Pesach. Last week, parashas shekalim, we worked on dedicating all of our gashmius (material possessions) to Hashem. This week we work on hating the evil of Chilul Hashem and uprooting it from our lives. Do not do anything that would make people look down upon Hashem or His mitzvos. Act nicely towards people, with tremendous kovod (honor) and derech eretz (respect). Value the mitzvos and perform them carefully and properly. Fear Hashem and distance yourself from any aveyra (sin). This is how we wipe out Amalek, kinderlach. Zachor!

Parasha Questions:

Name four different ways to steal (5:21)

Which korbon varies, depending upon the person's financial status? (5:1-9)

Which types of animals are brought for a shlomim? (3:1)

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