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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Ki Sisa

Who Pulls Back?

"Hi, neighbor!"


"What are you doing?"

"I'm digging a pit."

"What are you going to do with the pit?"

"I'm going to put water in it, and then soak my flax in the water. That will soften up the flax so that I can make it into linen."

"You can't do that!"

"Why not?"

"Because you are digging the pit very close to the border of your property. On the other side of the border, I have planted a vegetable garden in my property. It is a known fact that dirty flax water ruins vegetables. You are damaging my vegetables! You must dig your flax pit farther back from the border."

"Wait a minute. I am digging within my own property. The water reaches your vegetable patch by seepage through the ground. I am not responsible for that. If you want to prevent your vegetables from suffering damage, you must move them farther back from the border."

The question is:

Who must move back? The owner of the pit or the owner of the vegetable garden?

The answer is:

This is a dispute in the Gemora (Bava Basra 18a & b). The Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 155:31 rules that although the dirty flax water does indeed damage the vegetables, the owner of the pit does not need to move his pit inward. He only needs to distance his pit three tefachim (about 10 inches) to prevent direct damage as a result of the digging. However, since the pit is totally within his own property, he is not responsible for the indirect damage caused by the dirty water seepage. Therefore, the vegetable owner must move his vegetables inward to prevent their being damaged.

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.

The Gift of Shabbos

"Only five days to go, Avi. I can't wait!"

"You sound pretty excited, Chaim. What's happening in five days?"

"I'm getting a big gift."

"Wow! What's the occasion?"

"It is a special gift that was promised to me a long time ago. I am not the only one receiving it."

"Who else will get it, your brothers and sisters?"

"Yes. All of my family members, all of my friends and neighbors, and all of my classmates. In fact, all of Klal Yisrael will receive this gift."

"I am beginning to understand. Who will be giving this gift?"

"The greatest giver in the universe."

"I figured it out, Chaim. Today is Monday. The gift that is coming in five days is Shabbos. It is Hashem's precious gift to His chosen nation, Yisrael."

"Right, Avi! This week's parasha describes Shabbos as a 'sign' between Hashem and Klal Yisrael (Shemos 31:12-17). Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, in his sefer Kedushas Levi cites the Gemora (Shabbos 10b) which learns an important lesson from these verses. When one gives a gift to his friend, the giver must inform the receiver. Hashem informed Yisrael by saying, 'I have a good gift in My treasury, and Shabbos is its name.'"

"It is a very good gift."

"Rav Levi Yitzchak describes the goodness of Shabbos. Its light and holiness come from heaven and illuminate our hearts. A spirit of holiness, a new seichel (intellect), and a spiritual life force enter our souls on this holy day."

"That is mind boggling. What a matanah!"

"Yes, Avi. However, this gift needs preparation to properly receive it. During the weekdays, we have to anticipate the arrival of Shabbos. We have to yearn for its spiritual gifts. We also have to physically prepare for the holy day with special food and clothes. However, even with the greatest preparation, we do not 'earn' Shabbos entirely on our own merits. It is still . . . a matanah."

"You have really kindled a great desire for this special present, Chaim."

"Let me tell you more, Avi. The Kedushas Levi speaks about the reward for the mitzvos. 'There is no reward for a mitzvah in this world' (Gemora Kiddushin 39b). We all know that we will receive our reward in Olam Habbo for the mitzvos that we performed here on this earth. However, the Almighty, in His infinite kindness, wants us to taste that reward here in this world. The taste is called . . . Shabbos. It is referred to as may'ein olam habbo - a bit of the world to come. All of the spiritual delights of Shabbos that we spoke about are a small taste of the great pleasures that are in store for us in olam habbo." "You have really whetted my appetite for Shabbos, Chaim. I can't wait for it to come. B'ezras Hashem I will keep Shabbos in mind all week, and do some preparation each day. I want to properly experience the sweetness of Hashem's great gift - may'ayin olam habbo."

"May the Almighty help you to succeed!"

Kinderlach . . .

We all love gifts. They show us how much the giver cares for and appreciates us. Hashem has given us so many beautiful gifts. Torah, mitzvos, and their reward. The reward is reserved for the next world; however, He gave us a taste of that reward in this world . . . Shabbos. What a wonderful present! Where would we be without it? Appreciate it! Prepare for it! When the holy day comes, enjoy its spiritual delights! Show Hashem how much you value His special matanah.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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