"Mr. Kohen, I would like to give you a gift."
"That is so nice of you, Mr. Toram."
"There is only one condition, however, Mr. Kohen. After I give it to you, it will be mine."
"I do not mind, Mr. Toram, but I have a question. If the gift remains yours, then you cannot really claim that you gave it to me. Something that you give away does not remain yours; it goes into the possession of the other person."
"In principle, you are right, Mr. Kohen. However, there is a verse in this week's parasha that backs up what I am saying. 'A man's holy things shall be his, what he gives to the Kohen shall be his' (Bamidbar 5:10). If someone gives something away to the Beis HaMikdash or to the Kohen, how can it still be his?"
"That is exactly my question, Mr. Toram."
"The Chofetz Chaim zt"l answers this question with a parable from the Medrash. There was once a man who had three friends. He was very close to the first friend. He spent most of his time with him, and devoted much thought and effort to their friendship. The second friend was different. He was somewhat friendly with him. He spent less time with him than the first friend; however, he still cared for him very deeply. The third friend was the least close of any of them. He received hardly any of the man's attention.
"One day this man was called to make an appearance before the king. He was frightened. 'What does the king want from me? When the king summons someone, it is not a good sign. I need help. I will call on my friends to assist me.' The man went to ask his first and best friend to go before the king with a good recommendation about him. Perhaps the king would look upon him more favorably after hearing words of praise from another loyal subject. 'My good friend, will you please speak to the king on my behalf?' The first friend flatly refused. He did not want to have anything to do with the king. Who knows what the king might do to him for defending his friend? He valued his own life and security too much to help his troubled friend.
"The man proceeded to go to his second friend. 'Will you please speak to the king on my behalf?' The friend thought for a moment and answered. 'I will tell you what I will do for you, my friend. I will accompany you to the gates of the palace. I will give you moral and emotional support. However, I will not go in and face the king. That is too dangerous. After the gates of the palace, you are on your own.'
"The man was crushed. These were his two best friends, whom he had loved and cared for his whole life. What would he do? He had no choice but to go to his third friend, the one to whom he hardly paid attention. He did not hold much hope. His close friends had already refused him. What could he expect from this casual friend? He approached him tentatively. 'My friend, I am in a tough situation. The king has summoned me and I do not know what to do. I fear the worst. Perhaps you can help me out by speaking to the king on my behalf. Put in a good word, a character reference, whatever you can do.' The man held his breath, waiting for the response. 'Do not fear. I will go with you straight to the king, and I will speak on your behalf until you are saved. Nothing will happen to you.' And so it was. The third friend went with the man to the king and saved him from disaster.
"Who is the first friend? That is a man's money. It is very dear to him. He spends much time earning it, investing it, counting it, spending it, and worrying about it. After 120 years, a person faces the King of Kings, Hashem. Can he take his money with him? Not at all. The money stays behind - here in this world. It refuses to speak on his behalf before Hashem. The second friend is a man's family and friends. He spends time with them, although not as much time as he spends on his livelihood. They can give him a proper sendoff from this world. At his levaya (funeral) they accompany him to the kever (grave). More than that, they cannot do. They are also left behind in this world. They cannot speak directly to the Almighty as He sits in judgment. Who is that third friend who will speak on his behalf before Hashem? The Torah he learned and the mitzvos he performed. They are the only things that he can take with him to the next world. They will always stand fast at his side. 'A man's holy things shall be his, what he gives to the Kohen shall be his.' Mr. Kohen, the gift that I want to give to you is a mitzvah. Therefore, it will always remain mine. It is my friend forever. It will stand before the King of Kings and extol my merits in this world. Only my Torah and mitzvos will save me from a severe judgment."
Kinderlach . . .
Now is the time to make good friends. No one wants to have a friend who will betray him. Oy va voy. Friends who cannot help us when we are in trouble are not the best friends either. We want good, trustworthy, capable friends who will stand by us forever, through thick and thin. Who are these friends? Torah and mitzvos. Every word of Hashem's Holy Torah that you learn, stays with your forever, even after 120 years. Every act of kindness that you do for your fellow Jew is eternal. It will stand by you on the day of judgment. Every blessing that you make, and every sign of respect that you show to your parents, teachers, and elders is a true friend to you. You can count on it to help you when you need it. Kinderlach put your efforts into the best friendships . . . the ones that last forever.
What does the spoon that Nesanel ben Tsuar brought represent? (Rashi 7:20)
What is the gematria of the "silver plate," and what does it correspond to? (Rashi 7:19)
How did the Voice of Hashem speak from above the paroches? (Rashi 7:89)
Kinder Torah Copyright 2008 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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