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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Shemos


"Abba, the first section of Pisukei DiZimra - Hodu - sounds like a magnificent song of praise and gratitude to Hashem."

"It is, Avi. It was written by Dovid HaMelech for the celebration of the return of the Aron to Ir Dovid."

"That sounds like a monumental event, Abba. Please tell me about it."

"My pleasure, Avi. The story is recorded in Sefer Shmuel Aleph 4-7. In the early days of Shmuel HaNovi, the Pelishtim attacked Klal Yisrael at Even HaEzer, killing 4,000 Jews. The people sent messenger to Shilo to bring the Aron Bris to the camp. They reckoned that Hashem would now be in their midst to save them. The Pelishtim were frightened, but they attacked again; this time killing 30,000 Jews, capturing the Aron Bris, and bringing it to Ashdod. They subsequently brought the Aron Bris before their avodah zara - Dagon. They arose early the next morning and found that Dagon had fallen on its face. They returned their idol to its place, and the next day it fell again with its head and two hands severed. A third try resulted in the Pelishtim along with the people of Ashdod being stricken with a plague. In attempting to avoid further disasters, they decided to bring the Aron Bris to Gat. Once there, Hashem plagued all of the people of Gat with the same sickness. This continued for seven months, during which the Pelishtim were stricken altogether with seven makkos (plagues). At that point they returned the Aron Bris to the Jews. It was brought to Kiryat Yearim where it stayed for twenty years until Dovid HaMelech brought it to Ir Dovid (Divrei HaYomim Aleph 13:1-16:7). He gathered all Klal Yisrael and made a huge festival celebrating the return of the Aron Bris. He composed a special Shir (which is recorded in Divrei HaYomim Aleph 16:8-36) and taught it to Assaf and his fellow singers. That Shir is divided into two parts. The first fifteen verses (16:8 thru 22) thank Hashem for His promise to the Avos to give their descendants Eretz Yisrael. 'Remember His covenant forever . . . To you I shall give the land of Canaan . . . When you were but few in number . . . wandered from nation to nation . . . Dare not touch My anointed ones, and do not harm My prophets!' The second section (16:23 thru 36) expresses gratitude specifically for the nissim (miracles) performed when the Aron Kodesh was in the hands of the Pelishtim. 'Relate His glory among the nations . . . for all the gods of the peoples are nothing - but Hashem made heaven! Tremble before Him, everyone on earth . . . The heavens will be glad, the earth will rejoice, and say among the nations, "Hashem has reigned!"'"

"What an incredible story, Abba! This Shir is very special."

"It surely is, Avi. The Seder Olam records that the last 43 years before Shlomo HaMelech inaugurated the Beis HaMikdash, the first fifteen verses of Dovid's Shir were sung daily during the offering of the morning Korbon Tomid. The last fourteen were sung during the offering of the afternoon Korbon Tomid. Therefore, we say them every day before our morning prayers."

"It is a privilege to repeat these holy words each day."

"Indeed, Avi. The sefer Yesod ViShoresh HaAvodah focuses on the verse, 'Hishaalilu bishaim kodsho' Glory in His holy Name (Divrei HaYomim Aleph 16:10). A person must glorify himself in the Creator."

"What does that mean, Abba?"

"We should all have a tremendous unlimited simcha (happiness) in our hearts that we have the ultimate G-d, Master, and Benefactor. This can be understood with a parable. Imagine a man who has a father who is a Gadol BaTorah (both revealed and hidden), filled with wisdom in all areas. He is also an exceedingly kind person, holy, pure, strong, great, awesome, and enormously wealthy. He is unmatched in all of his qualities. Because of his greatness, he becomes king of the entire world. Anyone can understand and appreciate the glory and the pleasure that the son carries in his heart always, that he has such a father, who has no equal in the entire world. He will always go around speaking the praises of his Father, his honor, his wealth, his mercy, his strength, to everyone he meets. But wait one minute! Who gave the father all of these gifts? Who favors a person with knowledge, and teaches him understanding? Who gives him the strength to move his limbs, and guides his steps? Who supplies his material needs and those of his family? Who makes him successful in all of his endeavors? Only One - the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He. Of Him we should speak praises! Of Him we should exult and glory!

'Hishaalilu bishaim kodsho' - Glory in His holy Name!"

Kinderlach . . .

We begin Pisukei DiZimra with 'Hodu' - a wonderful song of praise written by Dovid HaMelech for the celebration of the return of the Aron HaBris to Ir Dovid. It was subsequently sung during the offering of the Korbon Tomid. The first half thanks Hashem for His promise to the Avos, and the second half speaks about the miracles that surrounded the Aron Bris. The third verse instructs us to exult in Hashem's Glory. Cultivate a tremendous simcha in our hearts for the zechus (merit) of being the chosen people of the Almighty, Creator of the universe. That is the true glory; His Glory. Kinderlach, when you say Pisukei DiZimra, concentrate on the fact that you are exulting in the Glory of Hashem. That is the true simcha! That is in the Jewish heart - always.

Believe It

"I will send you to Paroh to take My people out of Mitzraim." "Go, gather the elders of Israel, and say to them, '…I shall bring you up from the affliction of Mitzraim to the land of Canaan…'" "They will not believe me" (Shemos 3:10-4:1). This seems like a perfectly justifiable claim. Yet, the Medrash calls these words loshon hora, and Moshe Rabbeinu is held accountable for them. The Chofetz Chaim explains that Moshe should have said, "Perhaps they will not believe me." Instead, he doubted their emunah. This led to many problems. It may have caused Korach, many years later, to raise doubts about Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy. It caused Moshe's staff to turn into a snake. That cunning creature was the first one in history to speak loshon hora. The staff was close at hand. This teaches us that The Almighty does not look far to find a means to punish loshon hora. It can come from an object that is in our hands. The staff appeared harmless, yet it turned into a deadly snake. So too, loshon hora appears harmless, but can be as lethal as the snake.

"Stretch out your hand and grasp its tail" (4:4). This hints to the fact that the punishment will not end until we accept it. "He stretched out his hand and grasped it, and it became a staff in his palm (4:4)." As soon as a person accepts the suffering that comes from loshon hora, his heavenly punishment is removed.

Kinderlach . . .

We see how every word that we say is heard and judged. If we say good things like Divrei Torah, prayers, words of appreciation, love, and chizuk (strength) to others, we will be rewarded. If we say loshon hora, Heaven forbid, the punishment can be fatal and close at hand. "They will not believe me," said Moshe Rabbeinu. Loshon hora like that can really hurt you. Believe it.

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