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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Emor

Count it Carefully

"That sure is a big pile of coins that you are counting, Akiva."

"This is all tsedaka money that has been collected for poor people, Elazar."

"You are counting out those coins one at a time. It is going to take you a long time to count them at this rate. Why don't you save yourself time and count them out two by two?"

"A gabbai tsedaka is not allowed to do that."

The question is:

Why is a gabbai tsedaka not allowed to count out tsedaka coins two at a time?

The answer is:

The Gemora (Bava Basra 8b) discusses this point. Someone who is watching the gabbai tsedaka will see him moving the coins two at a time. They may think that he is moving two, but only counting one. This would mean that he is keeping half of the money for himself. In order to avoid this suspicion, he can only count out the coins one by one.

This puzzle and answer is for learning and discussion purposes only. Do not rely upon it for psak halacha! Consult a Rav to determine the correct halachic ruling.

Happy Thoughts

"You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of the citron tree, the branches of date palms, twigs of a myrtle tree, and brook willows, and you shall rejoice before Hashem your God for seven days" (Vayikra 23:40). The holy days of Succos are times of great simcha to Klal Yisrael. We have a mitzvah d'oraysa (from the Torah) to be happy on these days, and indeed on all of the shalosh regalim (three pilgrimage festivals). What about the rest of the year? Rav Volbe zt"l cites the Gemora (Taanis 29a) to answer this question. The Gemora states that when the month of Adar enters, we increase our simcha. When the month of Av enters, we decrease our simcha. What about the rest of the year? Fundamentally, a Jew is happy the entire year. In the month of Adar, he increases his happiness to a higher level. In the month of Av, he reduces it. However, his normal state the year round is joyous. How important is happiness? We see that it is Torah commandment as well as a normal healthy state of mind and body. Additionally, a lack of joy is given as the cause of terrible suffering in Klal Yisrael, as stated in parashas Ki Savo, "Because you did not serve Hashem your God with gladness and goodness of heart, when everything was abundant" (Devarim 28:47).

How does one attain and maintain this state of happiness? The Mesillas Yesharim (chapter seven) gives us the key. Outward actions arouse inner thoughts and feelings. If we act and talk with happiness, we will come to think joyous thoughts and become truly glad. Let us examine these points one by one.

One of the happiest actions that we can perform is . . . smiling! When? As often as possible. Afraid of getting a negative response? Smile at mirrors! They always smile back. As you accustom your face to smiling, you will begin smiling at everyone, regardless of the reaction. However, you will notice that the responses improve. A happy person makes others happy. Walking upright, breathing in the fresh air, eating, and sleeping well also contribute to your overall cheerfulness.

How do we talk happily? Firstly, eliminate negative talk - no complaining, depression, pointless criticism, loshon hora, insults, worry, anger, sadness, or other negative speech. Replace these counterproductive statements with kind, soothing words of gratitude, encouragement, positive advice, and spiritual chizuk (strengthening). Talk about Hashem's goodness. Praise the good deeds of others. Open your mouth and heart to the Creator in sincere prayer.

We can control our thoughts by training our minds to think joyously. Recall happy times in your life. Feel the delight that you felt then. See the happiness in the present moment. Everything is for the good! Sometimes it is obvious, and other times we need to work to see it. However, it is always there, because Hashem is totally good; therefore, everything that He does is good. Performing a mitzvah triggers especially happy thoughts. When I do a mitzvah, I am giving the Almighty nachas ruach by doing His will! I am getting unimaginable reward for it! It is helping me improve my middos!* Delight in the simcha shel mitzvah! This is our greatest pleasure in this world and the next. Conversely, one who is not happy, cholila (Heaven forbid), when he serves Hashem, causes much suffering, as we see in parashas Ki Savo. As you see, kinderlach, attaining happiness takes work, but it is well worth it. It is the "sugar" that makes your entire life sweet. Be happy kinderlach, and enjoy the wonderful life that Hashem has given you.

Kinderlach . . .

Here are a few suggestions to increase joy in your life. Wake up happy and appreciative - Hashem has given you another day of life! Eat with gladness and gratitude for the food and its delicious taste. Pray to Hashem with a warm heart, expressing your love for Him. Learn Torah with inner satisfaction; knowing that you are privileged to hear the Devar Hashem. Perform acts of kindness, sharing the happiness that you bring others by helping them. Honor your parents by being a happy, obedient child. At the end of the day, review your accomplishments and mistakes; thank Hashem for all that He has given you, and ask Him to help you do teshuva and improve. "Love Hashem and His creations! Make Hashem and His creations happy!" (Pirkei Avos 6:1). Live a life filled with joy!

*See Chazon Ish - Emunah and Bitachon - Chapter 4

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