Formula For Success
"They (the Jewish people) traveled from Refidim, came to the Sinai desert, and camped there. Yisrael encamped there opposite the mountain" (Shemos 19:2). The Jewish people thus prepared for receiving the Torah. The Ohr HaChaim writes that we learn from this how to prepare ourselves for receiving Torah. First, we must put all of our energy into learning. The verse says, "they traveled from Refidim," a place where their Torah learning was weak. We have to strengthen our learning. Second, we must humble ourselves. Torah can only come to one who is humble. "They camped in the desert," a place of humility, where everyone treads. Thirdly, they were unified. "Yisrael encamped." Rashi explains, "like one man with one heart."
Children . . .
We all want to be successful in learning. The Ohr HaChaim tells us the secret. First, we must learn with all of our energy, even if we are sometimes tired, or may feel like doing other things. Second, we have to be humble, listening to our teachers and study partners and learning from them. Third, we have to do our part to increase the unity in the place where we learn. With Hashem's help, children, we should all grow in Torah by following the advice of the Ohr HaChaim.
The Holy Day
In Shemos 20:8-11 we find the mitzvah of remembering the Shabbos and sanctifying it. Verse 58:13 in Sefer Yishaya gives us more details of proper Shabbos observance. " . . . And honor her [Shabbos] by not going in your own ways, [refrain] from seeking your own needs or discussing the forbidden. Then you will delight in Hashem . . . " The gemora (Shabbos 113a) explains the verse as follows. "And honor her," your Shabbos clothing should be different from your weekday clothing. "By not going in your own ways," your way of walking on Shabbos should be different from during the week. "[Refrain] from seeking your own needs," tending to business affairs is prohibited on Shabbos. "Or discussing the forbidden," your speech on Shabbos should be different from the rest of the week.
Children . . .
Shabbos is a day completely different from the six days of the week. On Shabbos we dress differently, walk differently, and even talk differently. Shabbos Kodesh is a holy day, set aside for engaging only in holy activities. How do we properly honor the Shabbos Queen? We prepare for Shabbos by bathing and dressing in our nicest clothes. We help Abba and Imma clean the home and cook the special Shabbos food. When Shabbos arrives, we behave our best to honor the Holy Day. We only speak words of Torah at the Shabbos table. Even when we are playing, we do not speak about weekday subjects. We play nicely, with nachas. We walk slowly, taking time to enjoy the day. We learn Torah with Abba. There are so many ways that we can infuse Shabbos with kedusha (holiness). We have our goal set for us . . . to make Shabbos a day of complete kedusha. With Hashem's help we will be successful.
A Friend in the Garden
The gemora writes (Kiddushin 30b), "When a person honors his father and mother Hashem says, 'I consider it as if I lived with them and they honored Me.'" The Torah writes (Shemos 20:12), "Honor your father and mother to have a long life in the land that Hashem gave to you." The Seder Hadoros tells a story of Rebbe Yehoshua Ben Elem, one of the great Torah scholars of his generation. He dreamed that his place in the Garden of Eden was next to Nanas the butcher. How could this be? From the day he was born, Rebbe Yehoshua spent all of his time learning and teaching Torah. How did this simple butcher merit a place in the Garden of Eden next to him? Rebbe Yehoshua would not allow himself to rest until he discovered the merit of Nanas the butcher. He sent messengers to bring Nanas to him. They found Nanas and told him that Rebbe Yehoshua Ben Elem wanted to meet with him. The butcher thought they were joking and refused to come. When Rebbe Yehoshua learned of this, he went himself to Nanas. Nanas fell on his face and asked the great Rav why he merited this visit? Rebbe Yehoshua replied by asking him, "What are your good deeds?" Nanas answered, "My father and mother are old and sick. They cannot stand on their feet. Every day I wash them, clothe them, and feed them with my own hands." Immediately, Rebbe Yehoshua kissed Nanas the butcher and said to him, "My son. How fortunate you are; how good and pleasant is your lot. And how fortunate am I that I merited to be your friend in the Garden of Eden."
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