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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Mattos

Eye Spy

"Avi, it looks like you have a really good pair of binoculars."

"I do, Chaim. I received them as a birthday gift."

"Mazel tov. What are you looking at?"

"That village off in the distance."

"That is really far away. Can you see it clearly?"

"Yes. Here, take a look."

"Thank you. Wow! It looks so close and clear. You can see everything. You can be a real spy with these binoculars."

"Spy? How can I be a spy, Chaim? A spy is someone who gathers information and secrets for the enemy. I would be seeing secret things for myself, not for any enemy."

"Don't be so sure about that, Avi."

"What do you mean, Chaim?"

"You may see something destructive. It burns a visual image into your memory. Later, when you are trying to learn Torah, you cannot get that sight out of your mind. It ruins your whole day."

"That is terrible. But who is the enemy?"

"He is none other than . . . the Yetzer Hora (Evil Inclination). He tries to get you to look at things you should not see, in order to drag you down to the spiritual depths."

"Oy vey. What shall I do?"

"The Torah states at the end of this week's parasha, 'Do not explore after your heart and after your eyes which you stray.' (Bamidbar 15:39). The Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachos) explains that the heart and the eyes are two agents of aveyra (sin). They draw the person towards aveyros. However, they can also draw the person towards good. If they are agents of the Yetzer Hatov, all is well. They seek out mitzvos and good deeds for the person to perform. However, if they are agents of the Yetzer Hora, oy va voy."

"I see. I really am a spy. A secret agent of my Yetzer. May Hashem help that it should be the Yetzer Hatov."


Kinderlach . . .

A person is happy when he uses Hashem's gifts for the purpose that they were intended. He gave us a wondrous creation - two eyes that see. If we use them to look upon holy things - sefarim (holy books), mitzvos, and tsaddikim, then they will stay pure, and draw us toward mitzvos. However, one who does not guard his eyes is led down the path of spiritual destruction. Set your eyes on the right path, kinderlach. Be an eye spy for the Yetzer Hatov.

An Important Reminder

"What is that strange looking thing on your belt, Chaim?"

"That is my new electronic gizmo, the latest high-tech wonder, Avi."

"What does it do?"

"Just watch."

Chaim pressed a button and suddenly the little device lit up with bright lights. It began emitting strange noises. "Bing! Bang! Whiz! Wop! Zoom! Ding! Ding!"

"Wow! That sure is impressive, Chaim. What is the point of that big sound and light show?"

"It is a reminder. When I have an important appointment or job to do, I set the time on my machine. When that time arrives, it reminds me in a big way. It can even tell me what to do, or flash the words on the wall."


"It is very sophisticated. It has different levels of alarms. An important appointment gets a lot of bells and whistles, while a simple reminder will get a small beep."

"That sounds very practical, Chaim. Use it in good health. I also have an extremely sophisticated memory jogging device."

"Really? How does it work, Avi."

"With string."

"String? That's the oldest trick in the book - tying a string around your finger."

"Not exactly, Chaim. I tie strings on the corners of my clothing."

Chaim thinks for a moment. Strings? On clothing? For a reminder? Suddenly his eyes light up.

"Oh! You mean tzitzis, Avi!"

"Exactly, Chaim."

"Very clever. However, I have a question for you. Why do you say that tzitzis are very sophisticated? They are nothing more than strings."

"They are not just ordinary strings, Chaim. There are many complicated halachos about manufacturing and tying them, down to the tiniest detail. Even the person's thoughts at the time of tying tzitzis must be purely for the sake of the mitzvah. That is one aspect of their sophistication. Another is that they are a reminder for a very important thing: the 613 mitzvos. As the verse states, 'And you shall see them, and you will remember all the mitzvos of Hashem, and you will perform them' (Bamidbar 15:39)."

"How do they remind you?"

"Each one has five knots, which recall the five books of the Chumash. The gematria (numerical value) of the word tzitzis is 608. Add the five knots and you have 613 - the number of mitzvos."


"The tzitzis themselves contain five mitzvos, according to the Gemora in Menachos 44. Therefore, although a person only has a mitzvah of tzitzis if he is wearing a garment of four corners, the Tur (Orach Chaim 24) advises that it is good and correct to wear a small garment with tzitzis all day, in order to see them and be reminded of all the mitzvos, for that is their main purpose."

"How do you know all of this, Avi?"

"Rav Shmuel Hominer zt"l mentions these points in his sefer Eved HaMelech."

"Does he say anything else?"

"Yes. Looking at the tzitzis all the time brings great benefit to the neshama (soul). There is a complicated calculation which shows that this one mitzvah of tzitzis is equal weight to all 613 mitzvos!"

"I am so impressed."

"The Chazon Ish relates that fulfilling the mitzvah of tzitzis binds you eternally to the entire Torah. Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai says that all who are careful with the mitzvah of tzitzis will merit receiving the Shechina (Divine Presence)." "Amen, speedily in our days!"

Kinderlach . . .

It is important to remember the important things. What could be more important than the 613 mitzvos? Nothing! The mitzvos of the Torah are the greatest thing in the world! Therefore, it is VERY important to learn each and every mitzvah and remember them. Hashem gave us a great and wonderful way to remember the mitzvos - tzitzis! Use them, kinderlach. First learn the mitzvos, then look at your tzitzis. They will remind you of the mitzvos you learned. Then you will do them. Kinderlach, you should have much hatzlacha (success) with all of your mitzvos.

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