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Simcha Groffman

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


Not For You

"Here comes the King. Let's get closer so we can see him."

The men push forward in the crowd. The King's procession passes right in front of their eyes.

"Look at the crown on his head. It is magnificent."

"Let's steal it. Do you know how much money it must be worth?"

"Steal it? What would we do with it? We cannot sell it. Everyone knows that it is the King's crown. No one will buy it. It is certainly beautiful and valuable but it is useless to us."

"You shall not covet your friend's house, . . . wife, . . . servant, . . . ox, . . . or anything that belongs to him" (Shemos 20:14). The Iben Ezra zt"l states that many people are amazed by this mitzvah. How can one not desire something nice? He answers with a parable similar to the King's crown. No one with common sense would truly desire that crown because it is not relevant to him. It is something that belongs to royalty. That is the way we must view other people's possessions. Hashem gave each person what he needs to fulfill his purpose in life. He has exactly the amount of money that he needs. His possessions are perfectly suited to him. He did not receive a nice car like his neighbor because he does not need one. Therefore, how can he desire something that is not his? It is not relevant to him. He has no use for it.

Kinderlach . . .

Does your friend always get the newest toys? Does she wear fancy clothes? Is her house decorated with expensive furnishings? All of these things are beautiful. However, they are not yours. Do you think that it would be too difficult for Hashem to arrange fancy clothes and toys for you? He is All Powerful and can do anything. He did not give you these things. Therefore, they are not right for you. Desiring them is not only a waste of energy; it is a violation of one of the Aseres HaDibros (Ten Commandments). It can lead to many worse sins, as we will see.

To Sum It Up

The Avi Ezer zt"l elucidates that the Aseres HaDibros are arranged in a very orderly fashion. The first nine dibros deal with the details of observing various mitzvos. The last mitzvah "lo sachmode" (do not covet) sums up all of the details into one mitzvah. Observing it entails observing all of the previous mitzvos. It is well known that most aveyros (sins) are a result of desire for the possessions of the other person. The sinner immediately violates "lo sachmode". The next step is to give false testimony to get the money. Or to work on Shabbos to make more money. One who really desires wealth will stop at nothing. He will insult his parents or even commit murder if the stakes are high enough. He will even worship idols to find favor in the eyes of his employer. Therefore, Hashem arranged the mitzvos in the order from the details to the general rule. When a person prepares himself by observing the details, the thought of desiring something that is not his will never enter his heart.

Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch zt"l relates that "lo sachmode" is Hashem's "signature" (so to speak) on the Aseres HaDibros. People can legislate laws like "do not murder" and "do not steal". These are only the symptoms of the problem. In the heart lies the root of the sin. The eyes of man cannot detect this. Only Hashem can search the innermost chambers of a person's heart. Only He can forbid evil desire and purify the heart. Therefore, any system of law written by man is at best a shaky building. It lacks the strong cornerstone of Divine law. Only the Torah recognizes the holiness of man. Every good deed must come from a pure heart. And every pure feeling must express itself in a good deed. Only the Torah can accomplish this. The mitzvos penetrate our hearts.

Kinderlach . . .

We are fortunate to be living under the best legal system in the world: the Torah. Hashem, who understands our hearts, wrote the Torah. The heart guides the person. If we rule over our hearts, then the rest will fall into place. This requires preparation however. The mitzvos accustom our bodies to doing good. It becomes second nature and the thought of doing bad never even enters our heart. "Create a pure heart for me, Hashem" (Tehillim 51:12).

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."

Kinderlach . . .

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.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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