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Simcha Groffman

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

Parshas Toldos

Be Straight

Rivkah, after twenty years of marriage to Yitzchak, finally gives birth to twins - Yaakov and Eisav. The Torah (Bereshis 25:27) describes Yaakov as a simple man who dwells in tents. The Ksav Sofer zt"l says that Yaakov conducted himself with simplicity toward all people, even those whom it would be easy to trick. He had no desire to deceive people because his character was one of truth. To paraphrase this in today's language, Yaakov Avinu was a "straight shooter." The Shelah zt"l says that we see from this how much a person has to distance himself from trickery. Of all of the good points and good character traits that Yaakov Avinu had, the Torah chooses to describe him as a straight person. Therefore we must conclude that the Torah places paramount importance on being straight.

Children . . .

We have to be straight and true to everyone. Do not twist things just to get your way. When Imma says that it's time to do something, be straight and listen to her. Don't think of excuses why you don't have to do what she says. When you have to stand in line at the store, wait patiently until it is your turn. Don't ask people to let you go in front of them or to hold your place in line while you go to do something else. Don't look for favors or shortcuts. Be straight, like Yaakov Avinu.

Keep Plugging

The Torah devotes eight verses (Bereshis 26:15-22) to tell us about the various water wells that Yitzchak Avinu dug. We all know that the Torah does not waste words. Why then does the Torah write so much about the wells? The Chofetz Chaim zt"l says that the Torah is teaching us to keep plugging away until you succeed. If Yitzchak Avinu dug and didn't find water, he dug another well until he found water. And if there was a fight over that well, he dug another well. And he continued in this fashion until finally he found a well that was uncontended and he called it "Rechovot."

Children . . .

Many times we do not succeed at something the first time that we try. We did not understand something the first time we tried to learn it. We did not remember the multiplication tables. We did not write the letters of the aleph-bais correctly. Are we going to get discouraged and give up? No, we're not! With Hashem's help we are going to be like Yitzchak Avinu and keep plugging. It might take two times, three times, or even ten times, but we are going to keep trying until we get it right!

A Sense For Mitzvos

The Torah tells us how, toward the end of his life, Yitzchak Avinu blessed his twin sons, Yaakov and Eisav. Yaakov came in, disguised as Eisav. Verse 27:27 tells us that Yitzchak smelled the "scent of a field" which Rashi explains as the scent of Gan Eden. Rav Yerucham Levovitz zt"l in his sefer Daas Torah explains Yitzchok's sense of smell with the following story. Eliyohu HaNovi was walking with a student. They passed the carcass of a dead animal. "What a dreadful smell!" said the student. "What white teeth!" said Eliyahu Hanovi. They then continued on and passed a person doing an sin. At that point Eliyahu Hanovi covered his nose because he could not bear the smell. Eliyahu Hanovi could sense the spirituality just as we sense the physical smell. He could see down to the essence of a thing.

Children . . .

If we work hard we can develop this "mitzvah sense." We will be able to see the mitzvos all around us, even if they are hidden. When we see someone struggling with their packages, do we think that it is too hard to carry a package for them? We also would lose time from playing with our friends. Or do we see the mitzvah in helping the other person. When we say the blessings after we eat a meal with bread, do we worry about how much time it will take to say the blessings properly with concentration? Do we rush through them without thinking and go out to play? Or do we see the opportunity to do the mitzvah of saying the blessings with great feeling.

Enjoy your Shabbos Table!

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Simcha Groffman

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