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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Chukas

"Elokeinu Melech HaOlam"

"Class, we now continue in our shiurim explaining the siddur. Last time we explained the words, 'Boruch Atto Hashem.' Now we will b'ezras Hashem, continue with 'Elokeinu Melech HaOlam.' Who knows the meaning of the name 'Elokeinu'?"

"Our G-d."

"Very good Refael. That is the p'shat (simple meaning). What specific middah (trait) does the name 'Elokim' refer to?"

"Hashem is All Powerful."

"Excellent, Akiva. There are three adjectives used to describe His strength: 'takif' - mighty, 'baal hayicholos' - supremely capable, and 'baal ha'kochos kulam' - the Master of all forces. The Sefer Avodas HaTefillah adds that He watches over the events of our lives with hashgacha pratis (individual supervision)."

"We are very fortunate to have the All Powerful Almighty G-d supervising every aspect of our lives."

"Indeed we are, Meir. We then continue the blessing by declaring His Kingship over the world - He is 'Melech HaOlam'. The Almighty rules over every world in the heavens, and every creature and speck of matter on this earth. We have the privilege of declaring His Kingship when we bless Him every day."

"That really increases His Honor in the world."

"It certainly does, Yonason. We, Klal Yisrael, are the ones whom He chose to carry out this holy task. Therefore, this should be our kavannah (intention) when we bless Him. This in itself is a kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the Holy Name). It also strengthens us to live our whole lives for the sake of sanctification of His Name."

Kinderlach . . .

Hashem, the All Powerful G-d, watches over us and supervises our lives with hashgacha pratis. That is absolutely wonderful! We have the Almighty guiding us and caring for us all of the time. Additionally, He is the King of the universe! He rules over everything and every one. We are privileged to declare His Kingship when make brachos. What a kiddush Hashem! What an opportunity to sanctify His Holy Name! Think about this every time you say these words, kinderlach. You will give Hashem endless nachas.

Take an Accounting

Sichon, the king of the Amorite nation did not let the Jewish people pass through his borders on their way to the land of Israel. Instead, he and his nation came out to wage war against them. They were defeated, and then the Jewish people temporarily settled in his city of Cheshbon. The poets of the time composed a poem commemorating their victory, which began with the following words: "Regarding this the moshlim (poets) would say, 'Come to Cheshbon . . . '" (Bamidbar 21:27). The Gemora (Bava Basra 78b) makes a beautiful drasha on this posuk. The word moshlim can also mean rulers. The word cheshbon can also mean to take an accounting. Rebbe Yochanan says that the moshlim are those who have learned to rule over their yetzer hora (evil inclination). They come to take a cheshbon, an accounting. This accounting is what enables them to rule over their yetzer hora. They consider the loss of time and money that they will incur as a result of doing a mitzvah. Rashi explains that they could be working making money at that time. The mitzvah may actually cost them money (for example giving tsedaka). This has to be weighed against the reward of a mitzvah. The reward of a mitzvah is incomprehensible.

The following story about the Chofetz Chaim illustrates this point. The Chofetz Chaim's yeshiva in Radin was in very difficult financial straits. One of the students wanted to help the yeshiva. He had an idea. He would sacrifice his reward for the mitzvah of tefillin for one day. In exchange for that reward, he would ask Hashem to bless the yeshiva with financial support. The young man asked the Chofetz Chaim what he thought about the plan. The Chofetz Chaim answered with a parable. A very poor peasant once found a coin worth a million rubles. He was overjoyed. His days of poverty had ended. He hurried quickly to the grocery store to buy the milk and bread that his family sorely needed. He picked out a few items and went to pay. He handed the coin over to the storekeeper and the storekeeper laughed at him. "You can't pay with this," he said. "W-w-why not?" stammered the peasant. He was afraid the coin was counterfeit. This coin is worth more than all of the merchandise in the store, and the store itself put together! I can't possibly give you enough change for the million ruble coin." It is the same with a mitzvah, explained the Chofetz Chaim. The reward for one day's mitzvah of tefillin is worth much more than all of the money in the world!

The Gemora continues the drasha. They (the moshlim) consider the reward of an aveyra against its loss. The reward of stealing is illegal profit. The reward of pushing ahead of someone in line is saving time. However, the loss caused by an aveyra is far greater than any possible profit gained. Those who rule over their yetzer hora carefully consider all of these things before making their decisions, and inevitably decide to do the mitzvah and refrain from doing the aveyra.

Kinderlach . . .

We can all take a lesson from the accountants. They carefully weigh the profits and losses of each project before they make their decisions. They make very careful decisions based on the cheshbon. Aren't our lives at least as important as any of their projects? Let us run our lives with the same kind of careful cheshbon. Praying and saying berachos with kavannah is worth the time invested. Stopping to help someone while on your way to play is another valuable time investment. Giving tsedaka is a much better use of money then buying a treat. Pretty soon, kinderlach, you will be the moshlim!

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