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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah

Parshas Chukas

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

The Reward of a Mitzvah

The Torah now jumps almost forty years from the sin of the spies to the beginning of the conquest of the Land of Israel. Moshe Rabbeinu is leading the Jewish people towards territory of Og Melech HaBashan. Og comes out to make war with the Jews. Hashem tells Moshe, (Bamidbar 21:34) "Do not be afraid of him, because I have delivered him into your hands along with all of his nation and his land, etc." Why did Hashem have to reassure Moshe Rabbeinu? What was his fear? Hashem was (and still is) with the Jewish people. He had given them one miraculous victory after another. He had promised to bring them into the Land of Israel. Rashi explains that Moshe was afraid of Og because he had the zechus (merit) of one mitzvah that he had performed over four hundred years ago.

It was the time of Avraham Avinu. Four kings had prevailed in a war against five kings. Lot, Avraham's nephew was captured by the four kings. Avraham Avinu knew nothing of these events until Og informed him. Og's motivation was entirely selfish. He thought that Avraham Avinu would go to war against the four kings in order to free Lot. He would subsequently be killed, and then Og would marry Sarah. Avraham Avinu was victorious. In the zechus (merit) of this mitzvah of informing Avraham of the news, Hashem promised Og long life. Indeed, he lived for 500 years. Let us take a minute to think about the tremendous reward for such a small mitzvah done for selfish reasons by someone who did not believe in Hashem. Moshe Rabbeinu was actually afraid of Og Melech HaBashan. In the zechus of his one mitzvah, he might now, 400 years later have the power to wipe out the entire Jewish people! That is incredible! This teaches us the tremendous power of a mitzvah.

"Children . . .
In our lives, we should take this lesson with us, and not pass up even one mitzvah! We may not feel that it is an important mitzvah. However, we do not know the reward. In Pirkei Avos 2:1, Rebbe says . . . 'Be as careful with a light mitzvah as you are with a serious one, because you do not know the reward of mitzvos.' Let us put the effort into saying our prayers and blessings with kavannah (concentration). Let us not pass up even the smallest act of chessed (kindness). May we all enjoy the reward of the zechus of many mitzvos."

Loving and Pursuing Peace

Aharon shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the Land . . . " (Bamidbar 20:24). Thus, the Torah begins recounting the passing of Aharon HaKohen. Upon hearing the sad news, the entire House of Israel wept for thirty days. Rashi explains that both the men and women wept because Aharon would make shalom between husbands and wives. How far would Aharon go to make shalom? Listen to what Hillel has to say about Aharon HaKohen (Pirkei Avos 1:12). "Be a student of Aharon, ohev shalom (love peace) u'rodef shalom (and run after peace)." Do we ever see people running after something? How about running for the bus? Or running to catch the ice cream truck before it pulls away. Why is the person running? He wants very much to be on the bus. He wants very much to catch the truck. We only run after things that we want very badly. That is how Aharon felt about shalom. He wanted peace so badly that he would run after it. Avos DiRebbe Nosson tells us that Aharon did not sit back, waiting for peace to happen. He went out amongst the Jewish people and made shalom between them.

"Children . . .
Let us all follow Aharon HaKohen and run after shalom as we would run after the bus. Do not let a silly argument continue. Is it really worth fighting over whose turn it is on the park swing? Or who gets the bigger piece of cake? Let us be above these little things and make shalom."

They All Obey the Master

Miriam had passed away, and the well that in her zechus (merit) had supplied the Jewish people with water for forty years was gone. "We will die without water," complained the nation to Moshe Rabbeinu. Hashem instructed Moshe and Aharon to speak to a certain rock, and water would flow out. Instead, Moshe struck the rock with his rod, thus committing the sin that would prevent him from entering the Land of Israel. Rashi explains the sin as follows. If Moshe would have spoken to the rock, a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of Hashem's name) would have occurred. We see that a rock, which does not speak, hear, or eat listens to the word of Hashem. We, who have these faculties are much more obligated to listen to Hashem.

"Children . . .
If we look carefully and contemplate the beautiful world around us, we see that it is one big Kiddush Hashem. The sun obeys Hashem's will and rises every morning, supplying us with light and heat. The clouds gather and bring rain, the birds chirp, the trees provide shade, and the gentle breeze cools off a hot summer day. All of Hashem's creations obey His will. We, who can appreciate this wonderful world, have much more reason to follow the word of Hashem. "

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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Simcha Groffman

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