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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
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Parashas Re'eh

Expense Account


The taxi driver sees the man's outstretched hand. He quickly pulls the cab over to the curb.

"Yes sir! May I help you?"

"I hope so. I would like to go home."

"Where do you live?"

"Kiryat Shemona."

"That is quite a ride. We are here in Eilat, and you want a taxi to Kiryat Shemona? We have to cross the entire length of the country."

"I realize that. Don't worry. I will pay you well. I have the money at my home; therefore I will pay you at the end of the journey."

The driver looks a bit skeptical.

"I see."

"My name is Ne'eman."

The cab driver's eyes open wide.

"Are you Mr. Ne'eman, the famous businessman with a world-wide reputation for honesty?"

"That is me."

"Please sit down in the cab. Let us begin our journey. I just have to inform you of one thing. This is such a long trip that we will have to stop for gas and tolls along the way."

"No problem. I will pay whatever expenses you have during the journey. I will give you whatever you need to fulfill my directive to bring me home."

"Yes sir, Mr. Ne'eman."

* * *

This is a parable from the Dubner Maggid. The verse states, "See, I place before you today blessing and curse. The blessing: that you will listen to the mitzvos of Hashem..." (Devarim 11:26-27). Why do we receive blessings in this world for listening to Hashem's mitzvos? The true reward for mitzvos is the schar in Olam Habbo (The Next World), not in this world. The answer is that Hashem gave us Torah of 613 mitzvos to keep. He does not demand the impossible. Therefore, He must give us the means to fulfill those mitzvos. The commandments have "expenses". They take time, energy, thought, and money. He wants us to fulfill the mitzvos; therefore, He must pay our "expenses". When we perform a mitzvah, Hashem says (so to speak), "I see my little Yiddel is doing what I want. He is keeping My mitzvos. I want him to continue to keep My mitzvos. Therefore, I will 'pay his expenses', and give him the blessings that he needs to keep going."

Kinderlach . . .

We learn two important lessons from the Dubner Maggid. Firstly, one of the reasons that a person is blessed with success in this world is because he fulfills Hashem's mitzvos. Hashem sees that person as a "good investment", and gives him the means to continue fulfilling mitzvos. Secondly, if you want to increase your material blessings, try increasing your mitzvos. Increase your "investment value". Make yourself irresistible. How can Hashem not shower blessings on His little "Mitzvah Man"?

The Three Firsts

"Observe the month of springtime, and make Pesach for Hashem, your G-d" (Devarim 16:1). Thus, the Torah begins recounting the Shalosh Regalim - the three festivals when Klal Yisrael would go up to the Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalayim and rejoice in the glory of Hashem's Holy Presence. The Torah previously detailed the laws of these festivals in parashas Emor. "On the first day there shall be a holy meeting, you shall do no melacha (constructive work)" (Vayikra 23:7). This verse is referring to the mitzvah of resting by refraining from melacha on the first day of Pesach. "On the first day there shall be a holy meeting, you shall do no melacha" (Vayikra 23:35). This verse refers to the mitzvah of resting by refraining from melacha on the first day of Succos. "You shall take for yourself on the first day (of Succos) a beautiful fruit (esrog), the branches of date palms (lulav), twigs of a myrtle tree (hadassim), and willow of the brook (arovos)" (Vayikra 23:40). This verse details the mitzvah of the daled minim (four species). The Torah instructs us to take them on the first day of Succos.

What do these three verses have in common? They all contain the word "rishon" - first. The Gemora (Pesachim 5a) states that the word rishon in the Torah refers to the time before an event begins. However, these three rishons are different from all the others. They are used for a beautiful drasha. The Maharsha elaborates that Klal Yisrael will merit three other rishons as their reward for keeping these three rishons. They will defeat the descendants of Eisav, who is called rishon, as the verse states, "The first one (of Rivka's twins - Eisav) emerged red" (Bereshis 25:25). This will be in the merit of their refraining from melacha on the first day of Pesach. Why? Because Pesach commemorates the redemption from Mitzrayim. At that time, The Almighty judged our tormentors, punished them with all sorts of plagues, and ultimately drowned them in the sea. In the merit of our resting on this day, the rishon, we will be redeemed from our current oppressor, Eisav, who was the rishon - the first one to afflict us. It will occur in the very same month - Nissan. Additionally, we destroy all chometz before Pesach. Chometz is compared to our internal enemy - the Yetzer Hara, who gives strength to the guardian angel of Eisav. At the time of the ultimate redemption, the angel's strength will be cut off, and along with it, the power of Eisav.

When Hashem redeemed us from Mitzrayim, He spread His "succah of peace" upon us. As the verse states, "I settled the Bnei Yisrael in Succos" (Vayikra 23:43). The chag of Succos commemorates this event. In the merit of refraining from melacha on that day, the rishon of Succos, we will merit seeing the building of the Beis HaMikdash. It is also called rishon, as the verse states, "Like the Throne of Glory - first (rishon) exalted - is the place of the Mikdash" (Yirmiyahu 17:12). At that time Hashem will spread His Shechina (Divine Presence) upon us like a Succah, as the verse states, "Then His Succah (figuratively meaning Tabernacle) was in Yerushalayim (Tehillim 76:3).

On the rishon - first day of Succos - we take the lulav. There is intense simcha on that day. In the merit of our performing this mitzvah with great simcha, we will merit the indescribable simcha of the coming of Mashiach. He is also called rishon, as the verse states, "The first (rishon) ones to come to Zion [will announce], 'Behold! They are here!'" (Yishaya 41:27). His name will be Menachem, which means comforting. For he will comfort us and bring us joy, as the verse states, "Gladden us according to the days You afflicted us" (Tehillim 90:15). May we merit it speedily in our days.

Kinderlach . . .

This coming week is Rosh Chodesh Elul. It marks the beginning of an important seven week period of time. We begin with the month of Elul, doing teshuva and drawing close to Hashem. On Rosh Hashanah, we crown Him as King over the world. We intensify our teshuva during the Aseres Yimay Teshuva, culminating in Yom Kippur. We fast and pray the whole day, and our sins are forgiven. What a reason to be happy! And so, we arrive at the first day of Succos, intensely joyous. We refrain from melacha, and we take the lulav. In the merit of these two mitzvos, may we merit to see the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash and the coming of Mashiach, amen.

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