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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Bereshis


"Abba, look at this gift from the neighbors."

"It looks like a sapling, Aryeh."

"It is going to be a willow tree, Abba. I want to plant it in the garden."

"Okay, Aryeh. Roll up your sleeves and get ready for some hard work. First you must dig a hole big enough for the roots of the sapling and all of the soil in the pot."

"No problem, Abba."

Little Aryeh takes out his shovel and begins digging. He finds the dirt heavy and difficult to move.

"Abba, can you help me?"

"Sure, Aryeh."

"I never realized how hard it is to move dirt."

"Hashem formed the man from the dust of the earth." (Bereshis 2:7) The Mesillas Yesharim, in chapter six, explains the character trait of zerizus (quickness). A person must hurry to begin a mitzva. If not, his laziness will overcome him and the mitzva will be lost. This is the nature of a person. Why? Because he is created from the earth. The same organic elements and compounds found in the soil, are the building blocks of the human body. Dirt is heavy and will stay put indefinitely, if not moved. That is the nature of a person.

"Rebbe Yehuda ben Teima says, 'Be as bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion to do the will of Your Father in Heaven'" (Pirkei Avos 5:20). Do we really need to be as fast as a deer, one of the swiftest animals? Does doing the Will of Hashem truly require the strength of a lion, such a strong animal? Yes. Because we are formed from the earth. Great efforts are required to move our physical nature.

Kinderlach . . .

"Aryeh, it's time to get up. Shachris (the morning prayer) is about to begin." "I'm so tired, Abba. The bed is so comfortable." "I understand, Aryeh. I also have difficulty getting up. However, this is our test in life. We must learn to overcome our natural laziness. People who learn this lesson early in life, can go on to accomplish great things. Those who do not, can be frustrated." "Abba, I want to be a great person. Come, let's hurry to shul. I don't want to miss a minute of the Shachris prayers." "Aryeh, may you always be as strong as your name."

Toras Chessed

"Shalom! How are you Mr. Zorg?"

"Fine, thank you Mr. Parness. I just came into the store to buy a few things."

"My pleasure Mr. Zorg. Here are your groceries, and here is your change."

"Who is this fine looking man standing next to you, Mr. Parness?"

"That is my son, Mr. Zorg."

"You should have much nachas from him."

"Thank you Mr. Zorg, and have a nice day."

The customer leaves the store, and the boy turns to his father.

"Do you call all of your customers by name, Abba?"

"No, Avi. However, Mr. Zorg is a very special customer. He comes into the store at least ten times each day. He gives me a tremendous amount of business. I am grateful to him for helping provide me with parnassah (a livelihood)."

"There is no limit to the mitzvah of gemillus chessed (performing acts of loving kindness). You may even do it one hundred times." (Ahavas Chessed 1:1:7). The Chofetz Chaim zt"l explains that even if someone borrows money from you 100 times, you should not be upset with him. If he came into your store 100 times to buy merchandise, you would not be upset. Quite the opposite! You would be happy with the profit that you were making. How much more so should you be happy when this needy person brings you mitzvah after mitzvah after mitzvah. What a profit!

The Chofetz Chaim begins his sefer, "Ahavas Chessed" with a quote from the Gemora (Sota 14a): "The Torah begins with gemillus chassadim and ends with gemillus chassadim. As it is written, 'And Hashem made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, and He clothed them'" (Bereshis 3:21). The Chofetz Chaim goes on to list over forty different examples of gemillus chassadim in the Torah - each one containing many details and many mitzvos. Chessed may be performed with one's money - such as loans; or one's body - such as welcoming guests, escorting them on their way, rejoicing with a chosson and kallah, visiting the sick, and comforting mourners. In short, the Torah is a book full of chessed in all shapes and forms.

Kinderlach . . .

We are now beginning the Torah anew, as we do every year, with Parashas Bereshis. This year, let's keep our eyes open for all of the acts of chessed described in the Torah. Hashem did chessed for Adam and Chava. Noach and his sons saved the world, a tremendous act of chessed. Avraham, Lot, Yitzchak, and Yaakov; their lives were filled with chessed after chessed after chessed. Learning about all of these acts of kindness will motivate us to do chessed. Our whole outlook on life will change. We will begin to see each person as an opportunity to do chessed. Kinderlach, you should all become big "baalei chessed" this year!

Parasha Questions

Why does the verse omit the words "ki tov" on the second day? (Rashi 1:7)

What is the Leviathan? (Rashi 1:21)

Why is the letter "hey" added to the word "ha-shishi"? (Rashi 1:31)

Where does the soul enter the body? (2:7)

What were Adam's jobs in Gan Eden? (2:15)

What did Adam add on to Hashem's commandment? (Rashi 3:3)

What punishments did the snake receive? (3:14-15)

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