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From
Simcha Groffman

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

Va'eira

Working Together

"Why is the sky darkening?"

"There are strange things in the sky. Those white and gray things."

"I know what they are. Once I traveled to a far away land and saw them. They are called clouds."

"We never have clouds here in Mitzraim."

"That is because it never rains here. We get all of our water from the river. I wonder why the sky is now filled with clouds."

Suddenly a loud crashing noise is heard. Flashes of light fly through the dark sky. The people of Mitzraim are terrified. They have never experienced thunder or lightning before.

"What is that? The gods are angry with us. What shall we do?"

Hail begins to fall from the sky.

"What is this? The sky is falling! It looks like pieces of ice. Ouch they hurt."

"It cannot be ice. When it hits the ground, it breaks open and there is fire inside. Fire cannot burn inside of ice."

"Oh no. It looks very miraculous. It must be another plague from the G-d of the Jews."

The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh comments that fire and water are two opposite extremes. They cannot co-exist. Either the amount of water is great enough to extinguish the fire, or the heat of the fire is great enough to evaporate the water. However, this case was different. The fire and water were messengers of Hashem, sent to do a job for Him. The fire changed its nature and burned inside of the ice, in order to do the will of Hashem.

Kinderlach . . .

"I can't work with you. You are too sloppy." "What do you mean? You are too neat. It stifles my creativity." "I can never travel anywhere with you. You are always late." "Have we ever missed the bus on account of me?" "No, but we are always rushing." We can all think of many reasons why we cannot work together. We are just too different. Are we more different than fire and ice? They were able to work together to do Hashem's will. We are all striving to do Hashem's will. Cleaning the house for Shabbos, traveling together to a seudas mitzvah, getting ready for school in the morning, are all Hashem's will. We can surely overcome our differences and work together at these times. Pretty soon, we will realize that everything can be done according to Hashem's will. Then we will always be working together. What a wonderful world it will be!

Thunder

The noise was deafening. The likes of which had never been experienced in Mitzraim before. This was thunder. Not ordinary thunder, but the thunder of a makko (plague) from Hashem. Why did Hashem bring this punishment upon the Mitzrim? We know that all of the makkos were middah kineged middah (measure for measure) in proportion to the sins that the Mitzrim committed. The Keli Yakar zt"l explains that Paroh did not want to listen to the pleasant voice of Hashem. He asked Paroh to let the Jewish people go. What was Paroh's response? "Who is Hashem that I should heed His voice to send out Israel?" (Shemos 5:2). Not only did Paroh not listen, he spoke loshon hora about his Creator. He did not listen to the pleasant voice, therefore he must hear the terrifying voice. Paroh heard the voice. "This time I have sinned; Hashem is the Righteous One, and I and my people are the wicked ones" (Shemos 9:27). Moshe responded, "Pray to Hashem". Do tshuva, correct your ways, and the thunder will cease.

Kinderlach . . .

Hashem can speak to us in many ways. He can speak nicely, telling us about all of the rewards that we will receive for doing His mitzvos, and the punishments for ignoring them. We read this twice each day in the second paragraph of the Kriyas Shema. If we are smart, we will listen to His voice. If not, then He must speak to us with a harsher voice. We have all heard the thunder in our days. Our Gedolim (Great Rabbinical Leaders) tell us that Hashem is sending us a message. Now is the time to listen.

Busy, Busy, Busy

A slave has no free time. Paroh put the Jewish people to work day and night. Gathering straw, kneading it, forming it into bricks, building buildings, was all hard, time-consuming work. They had no free time to rest. More importantly, they had no free time to think. The Mesillas Yesharim (Chapter 2) explains one of the reasons for this. A person with no time to think cannot plot against the king. He is too busy to fully grasp the desperation of his situation, or to contemplate how to escape his plight. The Mesillas Yesharim points out that this is one of the tactics of the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination). He keeps us busy, busy, busy. We have no time to introspect and consider if we are going on the right path. If we would stop and think, then we would realize the areas that we need to improve, and we would act. Therefore, he keeps us busy.

Kinderlach . . .

There are times when being busy is good. If you are traveling on a boat, you want the motor to be very busy, running as fast as possible to get you to dry land. However, the captain needs to check the bearings from time to time, and steer the boat in the right direction. Similarly, we want to be busy doing mitzvos. We want to keep the mitzvah motor running. However, we also need to take time out and talk with our parents about big things. We need to make sure that we are going in the right direction. Are we in the right class? Do we have the right friends? Are our after school activities right for us? Take the time to make sure you are steering yourself in the right direction.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2001 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman


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