For parents to give over to the children at the Shabbos table
This week's Kinder Torah is dedicated in loving memory of Alexander Mordechai Ben Zev and Yehudis Bas Shalom Their Shabbos table inspired their family for generations.
Let us begin this week's parsha with a parable from the sefer "613 Stories on the Taryag Mitzvos" by M. Frankel. There was once a king who went hunting in the forest. He met a young shepherd there and was amazed by his intelligence. The king took the shepherd back to his palace and hired tutors for him. The boy grew to become a very wise man, and the king appointed him to be in charge of his storehouses. The other officers of the king were jealous of this former shepherd, so they fabricated a story to turn the king against him. They claimed that he was stealing from the king's storehouses and using the money to beautify his own home. The king reluctantly summoned the former shepherd and told him that he must inspect his home, in order to see if the charges were substantiated. They went together to his home, and the king found it to be very simply furnished. They went from room to room and there was absolutely no evidence of embezzlement. They came to a room with a locked door. The king asked, "What is in this room?" The officer replied in a low voice, "Nothing, my king. Please let us return to the palace." The king's suspicion was aroused. He asked the officer to open the door. The officer begged the king to spare him humiliation and leave the door locked. The king insisted and the door was opened. The king entered the room and found an old shepherd's bag, walking stick and flute. Why did the officer keep these things in a locked room? The former shepherd explained that from the day that the king brought him to the palace he never forgot that he was once a lowly shepherd. Twice each day he sat in this room to remind himself of this and to reinforce his gratitude to the king. When the king heard this, he knew that the charges against this former shepherd were false, and that he was a loyal servant.
Kinderlach, the king changed the shepherd's whole life. He did it in a most unconventional manner. If that shepherd wanted his kinderlach to understand the might and chessed of the king, he only had to tell them the story of his life. This week's parsha contains the mitzvah of sipur yitzias Mitzraim (telling our children the events of the exodus from Mitzraim). The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 21) explains why so many mitzvos, tefillos, and brochos center on this event. At yitzias Mitzraim, Hashem proved to all that He is in control of everything in the world. Not only that, He changed the natural laws for the Bnei Yisrael. This is the basic pillar in our emunah in Hashem. It explains Hashem's might and how we came to be His nation. Therefore, every Pesach, fathers tell over their family history (yitzias Mitzraim) to their sons, explaining how Hashem changed the life of our nation in a most miraculous way.
We have explained what Hashem did for us. What did we do for Him? Posuk 12:39 tell us that the Bnei Yisrael carried no provisions with them out of Mitzraim other than the matzo. Rashi says that this is a big compliment to them. They did not question, "How can we go into a desert without food?" Rather they had emunah and went out. The prophet Yirmeyahu describes how Hashem fondly remembers the chessed that the Bnei Yisrael did for Him when they followed Him into the barren desert (posuk 2:2). Kinderlach, do you know what a desert is? There is no food or water in a desert. No animals can live there except for scorpions and snakes. The sun is scorching and there is no shade. A person cannot survive in the desert. Do you know how many Yidden went out of Mitzraim? 600,000 men plus their wives and children. That is almost as many people as live in Eretz Yisrael! Do you realize how much food it takes to feed all of these people? Where are they going to sleep in the desert? Where will they wash? The Bnei Yisrael did not let any of these factors stop them. They followed Hashem's wishes and went out of Mitzraim into the desert. Hashem calls that a chessed for Him. Kinderlach, whenever we do what Hashem wants we do a chessed for Him. After all that He has done for us, this is what we can do for Him in return. Listen to Him and follow His Torah and Mitzvos.
Kinderlach, have you gone with Abba to bake matzos before Pesach? The main thing you notice there is that everyone is working very quickly. If you want to bake matzos, you have to be quick. One second too late and you have chometz, not matzo. Rav Chaim Friedlander in his sefer Sifsei Chaim explains that chometz is the result of the natural fermentation process. If you mix flour and water, it will naturally become chometz. Matzo, on the other hand, is supernatural. We take the dough out of its natural process by speeding up its baking as fast as possible. Chometz is compared to the yetzer hora of laziness. Laziness wants a person to just lay back and take it easy. The only way to free ourselves from this yetzer hora is to be quick. Do not put off doing a mitzvah. Posuk 12:17 says, "And you shall guard the mitzvos." Rashi brings the Mechilta who darshens, "Guard the mitzvos -- if a mitzvah comes to you, do it immediately." Kinderlach, do we do our mitzvos immediately? When Imma tells us to get up and get ready for school, we have to start right away. "Imma can I have five more minutes of sleep?" That is the yetzer hora talking, trying to get us to be lazy. Do we do our homework as soon as we come home from school? How about our jobs helping in the house? When we see someone who needs help, do we run to help him? Do we make our brochos right away, or do we wait? Are we on time for davening? Are we early for davening? Do not let our tefillas become chometzdik. Zerizus (being quick) is so important that the Tur begins his sefer with a quote from Pirkei Avos (5:23), "Yehuda Ben Teima says, 'Be strong as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven.'" The Mesillas Yesharim says in the chapter on zerizus that the lazy person does not do evil, but rather evil overtakes him because he does nothing to stop it. Kinderlach, let us never let the words, "I have no koach" cross our lips. Lets do what we are supposed to do RIGHT AWAY. May our zerizus enable us all to overcome the yetzer hora and accomplish great things in life.
Enjoy your Shabbos table !
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