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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Yisro

Hashem is Close

"You look frustrated, Yankel."

"I am, Mutty. I have been trying to call a professor who specializes in heart disease."

"What is the problem?"

"He is so hard to get to. I keep calling the office. First they told me to call back, and then they kept me on hold for twenty minutes until I finally gave up. Next they took my number and he never called back. This is so frustrating! A person can have a heart attack just from trying to reach the cardiologist!"

"I doubt that, but you have brought up an important point. A person has to be accessible in order for him to help you. The biggest expert in the world is of absolutely no use if you cannot reach him."

"You are 100% right Mutty. Do you have any advice for me?"

"Yes, Yankel. I have a bigger expert for you to get in touch with. He is always available. His line is open twenty-four hours."

"Really? That is amazing!"

"He is incredible. I will show you how to contact Him."

Mutty pulls a small sefer out of his pocket. He opens it up and begins reading the words printed inside.

"Shir ha'maalos. Esa einai el ha'harim, me ayiin yovo ezri? (A song of ascents. I raise my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come?) Ezri me'im Hashem, oseh shomayim vi'aretz. (My help is from Hashem, the Maker of heaven and earth) [Tehillim 121:1,2]."

"Aha! I see what you mean, Mutty. The expert is Hashem, and I can reach Him any time with tefillah (prayer)."

"Precisely, Yankel. This fact is actually expressed in a verse in 'Ashrei'. 'Hashem is close to all who call upon Him - to all who call upon Him sincerely' (Tehillim 145:18). The Chofetz Chaim, in his commentary on parashas Eikev exults, 'How fortunate a person is in this world! He can attach himself to the Creator, and call out to Him whenever he wants, as the verse states, "Seek Hashem when he can be found; call upon Him when He is near" (Yishaya 55:6).' In this world everyone can find Him, as stated in a different verse, 'Wherever I will permit you to mention My Name I shall come to you and bless you' (Shemos 20:20). Hashem can be reached by any Jew, any place any time. He is completely accessible. When we reach the next world, after 120 years, the situation will be different. Whatever connection we have established with the Almighty will remain fixed. We cannot come any closer."

"Oy vey!"

"Yes, oy vey. Therefore, my dear friend Yankel, now is the time to act! Now is the time to call out to Hashem. He is always there. He always receives your calls. He always listens. He is All Powerful, and capable of granting all of your requests. Furthermore, He desires a close relationship with you. He wants you to call out to Him, look to Him, open your heart to Him, and trust Him. In return He will come close to you. That is the most precious relationship that a human being can ever have. It gives you strength, comfort, and faith. It gives the Almighty nachas ruach, something more valuable than diamonds. And, it lasts forever. You relationship with Hashem will continue in the next world . . . for eternity."

"That is awesome."

"Indeed. Call out to Hashem. He will cherish your call, and give you unbelievable reward."

Kinderlach . . .

When you are down, Who do you call? When you are happy, Who do you thank? When you need something, Who do you ask? When you are alone, Whose company do you seek? Who is always there to listen? Who will always stay with you forever and ever? Only One. Hashem. We say every day in Ashrei, 'Hashem is close to all who call upon Him - to all who call upon Him sincerely.' Take these words to heart, and call out to Hashem. He hears you, and He will relate to you. This relationship that you will establish is more precious than gold and silver. Cultivate, cherish it, guard it, and you will enjoy it forever. Call out to Hashem. He is yours.

A Love of Torah

The Medrash Tanchuma relates that Yisro had seven names. One of them was Chovav, which means dear. Why was Yisro called Chovav? Because he cherished the Torah. HaRav HaGaon Mordechai Gifter zt"l passed away ten years ago. His love of Torah knew no bounds, as the following stories heard at the hespedim (eulogies) in Jerusalem illustrate.

Rav Gifter once went with his son-in-law, Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer to a diamond dealer in Manhattan. The dealer explained to the Rav the details about the size and value of the diamonds. Some of the diamonds were so small that their beauty could only be appreciated with a microscope. Yet, the dealer was very careful with each and every diamond, no matter how small. Rabbi Feuer related that Rav Gifter valued each and every word of Torah as a great treasure, in the same way that the diamond dealer valued even the smallest diamonds.

Once Rabbi Feuer told Rav Gifter a chiddush (original Torah thought) on Mesecta Eruven from one of his congregants. Rav Gifter, upon hearing this was so elated that got up, took his son-in-law's hand, and began dancing around the dining room table singing, "Tov li Toras picha me-alfei zahav vokesef" (The Torah of Your mouth is better for me than thousands in gold and silver - Tehillim 119:72).

The Rav was once giving a shiur (lecture) to the entire Yeshiva. His shiurim were very deep and complicated, and to interrupt him was unthinkable. A young student stood up in the middle of the shiur and asked a question. Rav Gifter walked several feet across the room, and gave this young man a big kiss on the forehead. That is how much he valued the student's words of Torah.

The Radak explains the following verse in Tehillim (84:6). "Fortunate is the man whose strength is in You. It forms paths in his heart." Constant learning and striving to increase his knowledge and wisdom of Hashem's Torah will make paths into your heart. Each day you will traverse those paths and strengthen them. That is the secret to love of Torah. Learn it constantly. It will enter your heart.

Kinderlach . . .

Someone who loves another person cannot bear to be separated from them. They want to be together all of the time. A person who loves a particular place or thing also cannot bear to leave it. That is what we are striving for in Torah. Rav Gifter zt"l learned so much Torah with such fire, that his love for it grew very strong. So strong that he and the Torah became inseparable. In his memory, let us strive to emulate him. Try to increase your learning. And try to learn with real enthusiasm. Keep in mind that the Torah that you are learning is more valuable than diamonds.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2011 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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