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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Yisro

Long Life

"Chaim, stand up."

"Why, Avi? Is a Rabbi walking by?"

"Not exactly. That elderly gentleman just entered the room."

"I see. He looks very old."

The two boys stood respectfully as the man approached them. They smiled sweetly and he smiled back.

"Thank you very much boys. You have made my whole day."

"Really? What did we do?"

"First of all, you stood up out of respect for me. Then you smiled at me, which shows that you have warm hearts."

"Thank you very much, sir."

"When you get to be my age boys, you appreciate every small action, even a smile."

"May you live many more years, sir."

"Now that is a real blessing. I am already 95 years old."

Chaim and Avi were amazed. They had never met or even seen anyone over ninety.

"It is a genuine privilege to meet you sir. Do you mind if we ask you a personal question?"

"Go right ahead."

"What is your secret to long life? A special diet? Exercise? Avoiding stress?"

"The Torah encourages us to take care of our physical needs, boys.* However, the promise of long life is given with other mitzvos."

"Which ones? Please tell us."

"The mitzvah is in this week's parasha, in the Aseres HaDibros. Take a look in your Chumash."

Chaim and Avi look studiously into Chaim's little pocket Chumash.

"I found it! 'Honor your father and your mother so that you may live longer on the land that Hashem is going to give to you' (Shemos 20:12)."

"That's right, boys. When my father and mother were alive, I tried my best to honor and fear them. I served them food and drink whenever I could, I took them where they needed to go. I stood up for my father when he entered the room, just as you stood up for me. I was careful never to argue with them or interrupt them. Only Hashem Himself knows how long a person will live. However, He promises long life for this mitzvah. Perhaps that is why I am here today, speaking to you."

"Sir you have inspired us. We want to honor our parents, as you did yours."

"Boys, you are already on the right track. You showed the proper honor to an elderly person. It is just a small step to honoring your parents. May Hashem bless you with much success and long life."

Kinderlach . . .

Who wants to live a long life? Everyone! One of the secret keys to long life is in the Aseres HaDibros. Honor your parents. Serve them, escort them, and help them with their clothing. Revere them. Stand up for them, do not interrupt them, and do not sit in their place. Add years to your life. Kinderlach, we hope to celebrate your 100th birthday together!

*See Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah 546 - Maakeh.

It Comes Back

"Shloimie, would you like to go shopping with me today?"

"I would love to, Abba. I love being with you."

"I feel the same way, Shloimie. We are going to the grocery store to buy food for Shabbos."

"I am so excited."

"Grab your coat and let's go."

They reach the store and Shloimie's father takes a shopping cart. He begins filling it up with all kinds of good things.

"Shloimie, please choose eight nice challahs."

"So many, Abba?"

"Yes, we are having a lot of guests this Shabbos. Here is the meat department. We need chicken and fish."

Shloimie's eyes open wide as his father places several chickens into the basket. Slowly they move on from aisle to aisle.

The cart fills up with fruit, vegetables, wine, cake, and drinks - all to honor the Shabbos Queen.

"We're almost finished, Shloimie. We just have to pay."

Shloimie's eyes open even wider as he sees the cashier ringing up all of the items. Finally, she makes a total - a lot of money.

"Abba, I never realized that the Shabbos food is so expensive. Maybe we should cut down on the number of guests to save money?"

Shloimie's father smiled.

"Shloimieleh, to answer your question, I would like to share a Devar Torah from the Medrash Rabba (Yisro 27:7) with you. It begins with a puzzling verse from Shlomo HaMelech. 'Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it' (Koheles 11:1). Are people foolish enough to throw their food away into the sea? Of course not! Who is this verse referring to? Yisro, who gave bread to Moshe. As the verse states, 'Call him and let him eat bread' (Shemos 2:20)."

"Abba, why is Moshe Rabbeinu referred to as water?"

"Because Paroh's daughter named him Moshe, which means, 'I drew him from the water' (Shemos 2:10). Shlomo HaMelech concludes 'for after many days you will find it.' This refers to Aharon and all the elders of Israel who came to eat bread with Yisro."

"I still do not understand the message, Abba."

"The Medrash is addressing the fact that many verses in the Torah are written about Yisro, and how Moshe and Aharon greeted him (Shemos 18:1-12). This must be an important event, if so much is written about it. The episode of Yisro teaches us the reward for good deeds. Do not be afraid to do a good deed, even if it appears that you will lose money. Yisro was not afraid to feed Moshe. Who knows if he would ever see him again? No good deed goes unrewarded! In the merit of his hachnasas orchim (act of kindness of welcoming and feeding a guest), Yisro merited to become close to the Shechina (Divine Presence). As the verse states, 'Moshe...Aharon...and the elders of Israel came to eat bread with the father-in-law of Moshe before Hashem."

"I see Abba. We are not wasting any money on food for our Shabbos guests."

"Not a penny, Shloimie. We will get it all back, one way or another. Hashem will not let any good deed go unrewarded."

Kinderlach . . .

"I am getting frustrated. I spend money on mitzvos. I invest a lot of time trying to help people. I am working on my middos. Do people appreciate what I am doing? Do they realize how much effort I am putting in?" Don't worry. Every effort is important. Every chessed is remembered. Every penny spent is accounted for. No good deed ever goes unrewarded. You will benefit from all of your efforts. Only Hashem knows when and where. Trust Him. He will not let you down.

Parasha Questions

Were there any blind or deaf Jews at Matan Torah? (Rashi 20:15)

What is the reward for honoring parents? (20:12)

Should we think about work on Shabbos? (Rashi 20:9)

How does an eagle carry it young? (Rashi 19:4)

How can one receive pleasure from the glow of the Shechina? (Rashi 18:12)

How was Moshe saved from the sword of Paroh? (Rashi 18:4)

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