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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Shemini

What Can I Do?

One chattos (sin offering), two olahs (burnt offerings), two shlomims (peace offerings), and one mincha (meal offering). Aharon and his sons entered the Mishkan, on the eighth day of its inauguration and sacrificed all of these korbonos to the Almighty. They waited for His acceptance. Yet the Shechina (Divine Presence) did not come down. Where was the Heavenly fire that would descend and devour the korbonos? Was Hashem ignoring them? What would be? What was Aharon's reaction to this disappointment?

"I know that The Holy One is angry with me. It is because of me that the Shechina did not come down." Imagine that! Klal Yisrael sinned with the Egel HaZahav (Golden Calf). Aharon tried to stop them in every way possible. They even threatened to stone him to death. Yet he still felt responsible.

Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt"l points out that the nature of a person is the opposite. When something bad happens, he looks to blame others. Even if he realizes his own mistake, he feels that other people's mistakes are greater, and they caused the problem. Yet every person's actions can influence the world. For better or worse. Aharon HaKohen shows us the proper way to react to difficult situations. To arouse ourselves to improve.

Kinderlach . . .

We do not know why tragedies happen. Who knows what Hashem's cheshbonos (calculations) are? Why did that happen to those people? However, there is one thing that we do know. Every event is an opportunity to uplift ourselves. Try to change one little thing that we are doing. Try to speak a little nicer to our classmates. Try to come a little faster when Imma calls. Try to concentrate a little harder during your tefillos (prayers). Try a little harder to stay away from arguments over silly things. Who knows? Maybe your not-so-small effort will make the difference.

The Shadow Knows

"I see you, Chaim."

"No you don't, Avi."

"Yes I do, Chaim."

"How can you see me, Avi? You are looking behind me. You don't have eyes in the back of your head."


"Do you have a mirror in front of your eyes?"


"I know, Avi. You have an electronic camera eye hidden in your clothing, and you are watching me on a miniature screen."

"You really have a vivid imagination, Chaim. However, I have no mini-screen."

"How about a fiber-optic lens viewer?"

"When you hear the answer, Chaim, you are going to plotz."

"Please tell me Avi. I'm plotzing already."

"I see you by looking at your shadow. When you lift up your hand, your shadow lifts up its hand. When you take a step, your shadow takes a step."

"Aha! You don't really see me, Avi. You see what I am doing."

"Right, Chaim. Your shadow reveals what you are doing. Just like Hashem shows a person what he is doing."

"That's a big jump, Avi. From my shadow to Hashem."

"The Torah Temima zt"l makes this jump, Chaim, on this week's parasha."

"Now you really have my curiosity going, Avi. Where?"

"Chapter 11. Verse 43 repeats the word tumah (spiritual impurity) twice. The Gemora (Yuma 39a) uses the extra word for a drasha. If a person makes himself a little impure, Hashem adds on much more impurity. If a person defiles himself down here, Hashem defiles him from Up Above. If a person corrupts himself in this world, Hashem corrupts him in the next world." "That looks like a bleak picture."

"Yes, but the converse is also true. The same Gemora interprets the very next verse to show that when a person comes to purify himself, he gets Heavenly assistance."

"That is very reassuring, Avi. But what does this have to do with my shadow?"

"The Torah Temima uses a shadow as a parable to Hashem's relationship with a person. Dovid HaMelech writes, ‘Hashem is your shade at your right hand' (Tehillim 121:5). The Torah Temima explains in the name of the Medrash that a person's shadow reflects his movements. Up, down, smile, frown; the shadow shows what the person does. So too, the Almighty shows a person what he does, by helping him along the direction that he is going. If a person is on his way up (in levels of kedusha) Hashem helps him rise higher."*

"I see. Hashem is my shadow. He knows where I am headed."

"That's right, Chaim. ‘The Shadow knows.'"

Kinderlach . . .

How are you doing in your Avodas (service of) Hashem? Are you moving in the right direction? Hashem will show you by helping you. If you are on the way up, Hashem will give you a lift. If you are learning well He may give you a good Rebbe and a good chavrusa. Try to be a good friend, and see if He sends you good friends. Pay attention, and you will see His Hand assisting you. Kinderlach may you always be moving upwards, and merit Siyata Di'shmaya all the way.

*(For further explanation see Nefesh HaChaim 1:7)

Parasha Questions

Which blessing did Moshe and Aharon give the nation? (Rashi 9:23)

What was Aharon's reward for keeping quiet? (Rashi 10:3)

Who must mourn for talmidei chachomim? (Rashi 10:6)

What are the signs of an animal that can be eaten? (11:3)

Which animals have only one sign, and therefore cannot be eaten? (11:4-7)

Can a Jew touch the carcass of a dead animal? (11:8 and Rashi)

What are the signs of permissible fish? (11:9)

Which sheretz ha'of may be eaten? (11:21,22)

If someone touches a carcass while he is in the mikveh, does he become tomei? (Rashi 11:36)

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