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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Shelach

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.

Do As You Are Told

"What did they do wrong?" This is the famous question asked by the Ramban about the meraglim. They were sent to spy out the land. What are the people like - strong or weak? Few or many? How is the land - good or bad? How are the cities? Open or fortified? Is the land fertile or lean? Does it have trees? Bring back some of the fruits. (From Bamidbar 13:18-20). They brought back the answers to the questions, as well as the fruits. What did they do wrong?

The Shelah answers, in the name of the Baal Akeida, that they gave advice. The spies were only capable of seeing and reporting what they saw. They were not on the madrayga (spiritual level) to advise Klal Yisrael what to do. They added the word, "effes" - "however" - followed by their opinion (Bamidbar 13:28). The nation is strong and we will not be able to overcome them. Who asked for their opinion? Hashem promised the land to the Jewish people. He knew better than they did. The following true story brings out this point.

* * *

"How was the matza baking, Yossie?"

"Great, Abba."

"Did you work hard?"

"Yes, very hard."

"What job did you do?"

"I pounded out the dough. After the 'mixer' mixed the flour and water together in the bowl, it became a mass of dough. My job was to pound that dough with a heavy stick until the next stage, when it was rolled into a loaf and cut into pieces."

"Let me ask you something, Yossie. Did you pound out the dough to work out any pockets of flour and water that might not have mixed well, or did you keep working the dough to prevent it from becoming chometz if the process took more than eighteen minutes?"

"Abba, I kept pounding the dough because if I stopped, the Mashgiach (supervisor of the kashrus of the matzos) would yell at me to keep pounding."

Yossie's father chuckled.

"Abba, I also thought of the same question as you. However, there was no time to ask the Mashgiach while we were working. There was only time to follow orders. He knows the halachos of matza baking much better than I do. He needs workers who will do the job. Therefore, I did what he said without asking." "Yossie, you are a very smart young man. You know when to express your opinion, and when to follow orders. For example, when you are in the Beis HaMedrash, we want to hear your opinion. We want to see if you understand the material that you are learning. We look for talmidim (students) who will ask good questions. However, when you are baking matzos, we want you to work. There is no time for questions. Everyone must quickly follow orders, no questions asked."

"That's exactly what I did, Abba."

Kinderlach . . .

We all have to learn when to offer our opinion, and when to follow orders without question. When is the time to ask questions and offer our opinion? When we are learning, or when things need clarification. However, there are times when everyone must follow instructions without asking. For example, the school has certain rules that everyone must follow without exception. The administration knows better than you do. Don't ask questions. Don't add your opinion. Do as you are told.

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