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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Bo

The Glory of the Kingship

"Look out of that window Avi, and tell me what you see."

"A beautiful tree, Abba. It is planted in a green grassy field."

"What do you think about when you see this wonderful sight, Avi?"

"The glory of Hashem and His creations."

"That is amazing, Avi! That is the subject of the first part of the next prayer of Pisukei DiZimra - 'Yehi Kovod'."

"Please teach me about it, Abba."

"'Yehi Kovod' is mentioned in Mesechtes Sofrim (17:11). It is a tefillah composed of verses collected mostly from Tehillim, but also from Divrei HaYomim, Mishlei, and Sefer Shemos. Imagine the world in the third day of creation. Hashem has just commanded the earth to sprout forth vegetation - grasses and trees. He tells the trees to spring up individually, in an organized fashion. The grasses understand that they must also sprout separately, and they indeed grow in an organized fashion. The angel appointed over the creation is so excited when he sees the grasses performing Hashem's will (event though they were not commanded) that he proclaims, 'May the glory of Hashem endure forever, let Hashem rejoice in His works!' (Tehillim 104:31). This is the first verse of our prayer."


"The subsequent verses continue to describe the splendor of Hashem's kingship from the rising of the sun to its setting, in the heavens and above; over all the nations and for all time. The second section of the tefillah declares that the Gentiles will proclaim Hashem as King."

"That will really be something, Abba."

"Yes, Avi. However, only then will they realize what has been going on all throughout history. Hashem annuls their plans and disrupts their intentions to destroy the Jewish people. They had, and continue to have many thoughts about bringing about our downfall. However, Hashem's counsel stands forever."

"We are so fortunate, Abba."

"Indeed, Avi. That is the theme of this last section of the prayer. At the time of the final redemption, Hashem will rule openly once again. Klal Yisrael, His chosen nation, will play the central role. He chose Zion for His dwelling place, Yaakov to be His, Yisrael for His treasure. He will not cast off His people nor abandon His inheritance!"

"May we all experience this right now, Abba."


Kinderlach . . .

Spend some time reading and thinking about the tefillah of "Yehi Kovod" before you pray. It speaks of awesome praise to the Creator and Ruler of the entire universe. The nations of the world will one day realize that Hashem rules, has always ruled and will continue to rule forever. At that time they will realize that He has thwarted their plans to destroy us. Hashem has foiled terrorist plots, misguided missile attacks, confused battle plans, and even brought down the Iron Curtain to protect us, His dear nation. So too, in the future He will not abandon us. He will save us; answer us on the day that we call out to Him.

Heart Disease

"What are you cooking, Imma?"

"Liver, Chaim."

"It smells delicious, Imma. May I have a taste?"

"You surely may, Chaim. However, don't be surprised if it is a bit difficult to chew."

Chaim takes the piece of liver and begins chewing.

"It is very difficult to chew, Imma. Did you cook it enough?"

"I roasted it to get the blood out and then I cooked it. Liver is unique among meats, the more you cook it, the harder it gets. Therefore, this liver is tough. I am planning to grind it to make chopped liver."

"Sounds yummy, Imma. The Medrash Rabba says exactly what you said about liver."

"Very interesting Chaim. In what context?"

"It is speaking about Paroh. Hashem 'hardened his heart'. The verse uses the word 'hichbaditi', which is the same as the word 'koved' - liver. Just as a liver becomes hard with cooking, so too Paroh's heart became hard. The Medrash continues to explain that this is the reason why he did not listen to Hashem's words. Imma, I always wanted to know what is the connection between the two - a hard heart, and not listening to Hashem. We always think of a hard-hearted person as cruel or unfeeling, but not unable to listen."

"Abba told me a wonderful Devar Torah on this very subject, Chaim. Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt"l the Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva quotes a verse and a Medrash in Koheles (1:15) to explain the subject. 'I spoke with my heart,' says Shlomo HaMelech. 'The heart sees...the heart hears...the heart speaks...' says the Medrash. It goes on to list 58 actions that the heart performs, bringing a verse to prove each one."

"Fascinating. The heart is the center of the person's existence."

"Correct. Rav Yerucham concludes that when the heart is healthy, everything is right with the person. He sees, hears, speaks, and does everything else properly. However, when his heart is sick, he cannot hear. That was Paroh's problem. His inability to hear the word of Hashem was due to his 'heart disease'. The symptom of his illness was confusion. First Paroh said, 'Who is Hashem, that I should heed His voice?' (Shemos 5:2). He did not recognize The Almighty. Then he said, 'Pray to Hashem to remove the frogs from me and my people' (Shemos 8:4). He changed his mind and did recognize Him. Later the Torah relates that he did not listen to Moshe and Aharon (Shemos 8:11). Then he changed his mind again! 'I sinned this time. Hashem is the Tsaddik, and I and my nation are guilty' (Shemos 9:27). He kept flipping back and forth. That is because his heart was not straight."

"I see, Imma. Is it still true in our days?"

"Yes, Chaim. Rav Yerucham goes on to describe a person who is ill, trying to get comfortable in bed. He lays on his right side, and then shifts to his left. He is still uneasy. He finally feels a little better on his back. Then he props his feet and head up with pillows, and he relieves most of his discomfort. Is he uncomfortable because he cannot find the right position? Not at all. He feels badly because he is sick. If he were healthy, he would feel good in any position. So too with the heart. A person who is confused due to an unhealthy heart, can claim that he is not happy or motivated because of his environment. The food is bad, someone hurt my feelings, I am tired, etc. However, these are only symptoms of 'spiritual heart disease'. The person with a spiritually healthy heart will be okay in all situations."

"Therefore, the cure must work on the root of the illness - the heart."

"Exactly, Chaim. Learning Torah, especially mussar (ethical values) will straighten a person's heart. This is the key to his spiritual health."

Kinderlach . . .

The heart is the center of it all. A healthy person has a healthy heart. Strengthen your heart! Do spiritual exercises! Learn Hashem's Torah! Its' kedusha (holiness) purifies your heart. Learn mussar. Its' teachings guide you on the straight path. Kinderlach, keep your heart spiritually strong and everything will be okay.

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