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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Voeschanan


"Shalom, Chaim. How are you?"

"Baruch Hashem, Abba. How are you?"

"Baruch Hashem. I'm calling to give the family a message that I will be home a little later than usual tonight. I have to menachem avel (comfort a mourner)."

"May I come with you, Abba?"

"Yes you may, Chaim. Wait for me outside the home of Mr. Gross at six o'clock."

"B'ezras Hashem I will be there, Abba."

Chaim meets his father at the appointed time and place, and they walk into the home together. They see Mr. Gross sitting on a low stool. He is wearing a torn jacket and slippers. He looks very sad. They sit down in front of him. They do not speak to Mr. Gross; rather they wait for him to open the conversation.

"I am glad you came, Yossie and Chaim. You knew my father very well. Perhaps you can share with us some of the mitzvos that he did. Speaking about a person's good deeds gives an elevation to his neshama (soul). This is especially important during the shiva (seven days of intense mourning)."

"I saw him do many acts of kindness. He always gave generously of his time and money to those who needed it. Many times he helped me put up my Succah. He also learned Gemora with Chaim."

Chaim and his Abba sit for a while longer. They speak more about the niftar (departed one). They listen to Mr. Gross and help him unburden his heart.

"Thank you so much, Yossie and Chaim. You are a real nechama (comfort) to me."

"That is what we came here for. To help lighten your load."

Chaim and his Abba give Mr. Gross a blessing and then make their way to the door.

"That was beautiful, Abba. It meant so much to Mr. Gross."

"Yes, Chaim. Nichum aveylim (giving comfort to mourners) is a very big mitzvah. It is especially appropriate this time of year."

"What do you mean, Abba?"

"This past week was Tisha B'Av. It was the culmination of a three week period of national mourning. We all sat on the floor of the Beis HaKinesses and cried and cried over the churban (destruction) of the Beis HaMikdash. We said kinnos (poems of mourning) about the many tragedies and destructions in Jewish history. We felt broken and destroyed over what we lost. Now, following the period of mourning, we have a period of nechama (comfort). These seven weeks between Tisha B'Av and Rosh Hashanah are called the 'Shiva D'Nechamta' - the Seven Weeks of Nechama. They are marked by seven special haftoras which speak about the comfort that the Novi (prophet) gave to Klal Yisrael."

"Please tell me about them, Abba."

"The Levush, in his introduction to this week's haftorah, cites a Medrash which compares the golus of Klal Yisrael to a King and his household that was captured by the enemy. The Queen was left alone in the palace. There she stayed, broken and alone for days, weeks, and years. Finally, she received the good news that the King was returning. The King is Hashem and the Queen is Yerushalayim. She waits patiently for the news of the return of her children to their home, speedily and in our days. These seven haftoras represent the return of her sons, daughters, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, brothers, sisters, and finally the King Himself.

"The Levush also offers an explanation of the order of the haftoras. The first one is 'Nachamu nachamu ami' - Comfort, comfort My people (Yishaya 40:1). Hashem directs the neviim to comfort Klal Yisrael. The second week begins with the words, 'Tzion said, "Hashem has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me"' (Yishaya 49:14). She is not comforted by the neviim. She wants comfort from Hashem Himself. The third week, 'O afflicted, tempest tossed one, who has not been consoled,' (Yishaya 54:11) describes how the neviim return to Hashem and tell Him that Kinesis Yisrael is not satisfied with their words of comfort. The Almighty Himself returns on the fourth week and says, 'I, only I, am He Who comforts you' (Yishaya 51:12). Therefore, on the fifth week the barren woman rejoices. 'Sing out, O barren one, who has not given birth, break into glad song and be jubilant!' (Yishaya 54:1). All join in her joy on the sixth week. 'Arise! Shine! For your light has arrived, and the glory of Hashem shines upon you!' (Yishaya 60:1). Finally, on the seventh week, Hashem returns to us amidst great exultation. 'I will rejoice intensely with Hashem, my soul will exult with my G-d; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of victory!' (Yishaya 61:10). That is the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah, when the King Himself comes to be with us."

"Abba, that is so beautiful. You have given me a new insight into these seven weeks, and their haftoras."

"Chaim, I also give you a blessing that you should use this insight as an opportunity to come closer to Hashem."

Kinderlach . . .

We stand now, sad and broken from the loss of our Beis HaMikdash. Who can comfort us? Ultimately, only One. The Holy One, Blessed Be He. We turn to Him for comfort during these seven weeks of nechama. This can serve as the basis for our teshuva in the months of Elul and Tishrei. One who deeply regrets his sins, and realizes that they are the cause of his tsorus (troubles), comes to Hashem with a broken heart. Such a person can seek comfort in Hashem, and come back to Him in teshuva. These seven weeks are an opportunity, kinderlach. An opportunity to come back to Hashem.

Call Me Any Time

"Can we go over the Gemora again?"

"Sure. Rava had a tremendous kasha (question) for Abaye."

"Right. How could two witnesses who are related . . ."

Ring, ring.

"What's that?"

"My cell phone. Excuse me one second."

The man is stunned as his chavrusa (study partner) carries on a phone conversation in the middle of their learning session.

"I'm sorry about that interruption. Now, what were we learning? I can't seem to remember."

"It's not so easy to remember when there are interruptions."

"I need to have a cell phone in order that people can reach me at any time."

"I also have something that can reach someone at any time."

The man pulls a small brown object out of his pocket.

"What is that? Your cell phone?"

"In a manner of speaking. I can call and get through whenever I want."

"Really? What's the number?"


"What kind of a number is that? I never heard of such a number for a cell phone."

"Maybe you recognize the number better in Hebrew. Kuf-chof-aleph. 'Shir LaMaalos. Esa einei el he'harim, may ayin yovo ezri' (A song of ascents. I raise my eyes up to the mountains. From where will my help come?)"

"Stop joking around. That's no cell phone in your hand. It is a book of Tehillim."

"I'm not joking. I can speak to Hashem whenever I want. I just open up this book and begin speaking. He hears every word. Just as He heard Moshe Rabbeinu's tefillah (prayer) in the beginning of the parasha."

Kinderlach . . .

Hashem's line is always open. Dial Him up whenever you want. Are you feeling a little down? Call His number. Are you a little nervous about a big test? He can help you. Are you scared about the security situation? Give Him a call to remind yourself that He is protecting you. Take your Tehillim with you at all times. Call Him 24 hours a day. His line is always open.

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