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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Shemini

The Shadow Knows

"I see you, Chaim."

"No you don't, Avi."

"Yes I do, Chaim."

"How can you see me, Avi? You are looking behind me. You don't have eyes in the back of your head."


"Do you have a mirror in front of your eyes?"


"I know, Avi. You have an electronic camera eye hidden in your clothing, and you are watching me on a miniature screen."

"You really have a vivid imagination, Chaim. However, I have no mini-screen."

"How about a fiber-optic lens viewer?"

"When you hear the answer, Chaim, you are going to plotz."

"Please tell me Avi. I'm plotzing already."

"I see you by looking at your shadow. When you lift up your hand, your shadow lifts up its hand. When you take a step, your shadow takes a step."

"Aha! You don't really see me, Avi. You see what I am doing."

"Right, Chaim. Your shadow reveals what you are doing. Just like Hashem shows a person what he is doing."

"That's a big jump, Avi. From my shadow to Hashem."

"The Torah Temima makes this jump, Chaim, on this week's parasha."

"Now you really have my curiosity going, Avi. Where?"

"Chapter 11. Verse 43 repeats the word tumah (spiritual impurity) twice. The Gemora (Yuma 39a) uses the extra word for a drasha. If a person makes himself a little impure, Hashem adds on much more impurity. If a person defiles himself down here, Hashem defiles him from Up Above. If a person corrupts himself in this world, Hashem corrupts him in the next world."

"That looks like a bleak picture."

"Yes, but the converse is also true. The same Gemora interprets the very next verse to show that when a person comes to purify himself, he gets Heavenly assistance."

"That is very reassuring, Avi. But what does this have to do with my shadow?"

"The Torah Temima uses a shadow as a parable to Hashem's relationship with a person. Dovid HaMelech writes, 'Hashem is your shade at your right hand' (Tehillim 121:5). The Torah Temima explains in the name of the Medrash that a person's shadow reflects his movements. Up, down, smile, frown; the shadow shows what the person does. So too, the Almighty shows a person what he does, by helping him along the direction that he is going. If a person is on his way up (in levels of kedusha) Hashem helps him rise higher."*

"I see. Hashem is my shadow. He knows where I am headed."

"That's right, Chaim. 'The Shadow knows.'"

Kinderlach . . .

How are you doing in your Avodas (service of) Hashem? Are you moving in the right direction? Hashem will show you by helping you. If you are on the way up, Hashem will give you a lift. If you are learning well He may give you a good Rebbe and a good chavrusa. Try to be a good friend, and see if He sends you good friends. Pay attention, and you will see His Hand assisting you. Kinderlach may you always be moving upwards, and merit Siyata Di'shmaya all the way.

*(For further explanation see Nefesh HaChaim 1:7)

Eat to Live

"Is there any food left in the bag?"

"Let's see. No, it's all gone."

"That's too bad. I'm starved."

"Me too. Let's keep driving on this highway until we come to a rest stop. There will surely be food over there."

And so, the young couple continues driving. In a few minutes the come to a rest stop. They pull in and park the car.

"Here is a little snack bar. Let's see what they have."

The couple looks over the selection of packaged foods. They all look good. They begin looking for a familiar hechsher (Kashrus certification).

"That package of crackers looks good. Does it have a hechsher?"


"How about that candy?"


"Here is a package of potato chips with a hechsher."

"I don't recognize that hechsher. I have never seen it before in my life."

"Neither have I, but it's only potato chips. Just potatoes, oil, and salt. What could be unkosher about it?"

"Let's look at the ingredients."

The young couple examines the package and sees a list of fifteen ingredients including artificial coloring, flavoring, fillers, and preservatives.

"This is a bit more complicated than I thought. Let's think a minute. These potato chips were made in a factory. Each one of these ingredients was probably purchased from a supplier who made it in his factory. Therefore there are really fifteen hechsherim required for these fifteen different ingredients. There are 138 chapters in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah dealing with the laws of kashrus. These include tens of thousands of halachos. The Kashrus organization must be very dedicated and organized to keep track of all of the details necessary to certify this little bag of potato chips. How can we even think about eating these chips if we do not know about the hechsher?"

"True, however, it is only food. How harmful can it be?"

"We all know that unhealthy food can damage the body and make a person sick. Many diseases are the result of poor diet. In a similar way, unkosher food damages the soul. It clouds the ability to think clearly, thereby distancing a person from reality. It drags the neshama down to a low level, far away from Hashem."

"You are right, my dear. Even though we are hungry, we would never eat poison. Therefore, how can we eat something that might spiritually poison us? Let us keep looking."

The couple finds a very tasty looking cake in a package. They turn over the package and find . . . a top grade hechsher!

"Baruch Hashem! He is watching over us!"

"As always. He is just testing us."

"This was a worthwhile test. I learned an important lesson about Kashrus."

"May we always merit keeping our minds and bodies pure."


Kinderlach . . .

Parashas Shemini lists the animals that are tahor (pure) and tomei (impure). This is an important foundation of kashrus. Kashrus has many facets. Choosing a reliable hechsher, keeping an organized kitchen, and learning the halachos are all very important. There is another aspect. We must be prepared to say, "No," if the food is not up to standard. Keeping a proper level of kashrus requires mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice). In order to keep your guf (body) and neshama (soul) pure, you must be prepared to sacrifice. Listen to stories of people who kept kosher under the most difficult circumstances. They will inspire you. What a holy nation we are! We do not live to eat. We eat to live!

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