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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah

Parshas Bamidbar / Shavuous

For parents to give over to the children at the Shabbos table

Neat and Orderly

In this week's parsha, we find the description of the encampment of the Jewish people in the desert. Through the next few parshios the Torah uses quite a number of words to describe in detail how the camp was arranged, how the Tabernacle was taken apart and packed up to travel, and how the entire camp traveled. We know that the Torah does not waste words. What is the purpose of the detailed descriptions of these arrangements? Rav Ahron Kotler says that the Torah is teaching us the importance of seder (organization). All matters of holiness and service to Hashem require seder. The Torah is replete with examples. Our prayers are all arranged in a precise and specific order. In fact, our prayer book is called the siddur, which literally means order. Rav Ahron Kotler tells us that we should also be very concerned about the seder in our lives. We find that our Gedolim (Torah leaders) were very careful about maintaining order. We should follow their example.

"Children, we should not leave our clothes, shoes, books, or toys lying around the house, rather, we should put them away. Why not also organize the closets where we store them? What a waste of time it is to look for something that was misplaced. In addition to our things, our time should also be orderly. Why be late to school when, with a little more effort, we can be on time? Seder enriches our lives, so let us all do our best in this area."

The Key to Peace

Rav Ahron Kotler develops the subject of seder as it pertains to peace. We say in the morning prayers, "[Hashem] forms light and creates darkness, makes peace and creates everything." Everything in the creation has its function and purpose. It is all organized in a wondrous manner. Each part fulfills its function and not the function of anything else. If anything were to disrupt that order, chaos would result. If the sun were slightly closer to or farther from the earth, the world would be destroyed. This world could only be created and exist with peace and harmony amongst the creations. This lofty concept applies very much to our lives. When we each have defined tasks, then fulfilling those tasks brings peace and harmony. Each one does his own job, and not the job of another. Discord results when our goals and responsibilities are unclear, or unheeded.

"Children, last week we spoke about making peace by having patience. This week the method is seder. Let us ask Abba and Imma to make a list of jobs for each of us for Erev Shabbos. Then, tape that list to the refrigerator. As we do each job, we can cross it off the list. Each one does his job and not anyone else's. We will all be busy, working together to prepare for the Shabbos Queen. We might even ask Abba for a prize because the Erev Shabbos went so smoothly."

The Entire Night

This Shavuous night, as every year, the shuls and bottei medrashim (study halls) will be filled with people learning Torah the entire night. What is the source of this custom? The Magen Avraham (494) explains the possible reason from the Zohar. The Jewish people slept the night before the giving of the Torah. The Medrash tells us that Hashem had to awaken them. We stay awake to correct that mistake. The Pesach Haggadah tells us that each person is obligated to consider himself as if he left Egypt. We make many preparations for the Pesach Seder and have many mitzvos that night to bring us to the experience of leaving Egypt. Rav Chaim Friedlander says that the same is true about the receiving of the Torah at Har Sinai. A person is obligated to prepare himself to receive the Torah on Shavuous. We have been doing advance preparations during the 49 days of counting the Omer. Perfecting one's character traits is one of the keys. Unity amongst the Jewish people is another key. When Shavuous night arrives, we do not want to waste one minute of learning time. Hashem is prepared to give the Torah in its entirety, just as He gave it at Har Sinai. We must be in the Beis Hamedrash learning in order to show Him that we want to receive it. The Shlah write that the Divine Presence was revealed to the Beis Yosef and his companions on Shavuous night.

"Children, it is a big privilege to stay up and learn Torah with Abba on Shavuous. It may be tempting to run around and play outside. After all, when do we get to stay up so late? However, the reason that we are awake is to learn. If we cannot learn, then we can sleep and be rested for the next day. Let us use the opportunity that Abba gives us in the proper way."

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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Simcha Groffman

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