Who knows what bracha Abba gives the boys at the Shabbos table? Hashem should make you like Efraim and Menashe. The Torah (Bereshis 48:5) writes that Efraim and Menashe, although they were born in Egypt, were like sons to their grandfather Yaakov Avinu. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l writes that the other grandsons should have had a closer relationship with Yaakov Avinu. It was they who were born in the Land of Israel, and were raised in close proximity to Yaakov Avinu. They should be considered his sons. What is the Torah telling us? A father must educate his children very well in Torah and Mitzvos. So well, that the child will follow the Torah even under the most trying of circumstances. Yosef HaTzaddik kept the entire Torah while he was a slave, in prison, and in the royal court of Paroh in Egypt. None of his family was there to help him. Not only that, he educated his own sons, Efraim and Menashe to learn Torah and keep the Mitzvos, even in these alien surroundings. What a wonderful education Yosef received!
Children . . .
This is what Abba and Imma are trying to accomplish. Sometimes we are strict with you. Sometimes it is not easy to listen to what we say. You may think it is not fair. However, Hashem made us your parents, therefore we have a mitzvah to educate you. We are trying to do our very best. So when Abba gives you that bracha on Shabbos night, think about how much he loves you, and how much he wants you to be tzaddikim, just like Efraim and Menashe.
The Highest Level
At the end of his life, Yaakov Avinu asks Yosef to do chessed v'emes (kindness and truth) for him and not bury him in Egypt (Bereshis 47:29). Rashi comments that chessed that one does with the deceased is true kindness because one receives nothing in return. The Sifsei Chachomim adds that any act of kindness that is done without expecting repayment is chessed v'emes. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (1:3) tells us that Antigonos Ish Socho used to say, "Don't be like servants who serve the Master on the condition of receiving a reward. Rather, be like servants who serve the Master unconditionally. And the fear of Heaven should be upon you." True acts of kindness expect no reward.
Children . . .
Many times our teachers, Abba and Imma give us treats to encourage us to do acts of chessed. It's very nice to receive treats, isn't it? Who doesn't like prizes? We want you to enjoy them. What is the Torah telling us about chessed v'emes? There is a higher madrayga (spiritual level) that we can and should strive for. Being kind to others without receiving a prize for it. Our teachers are encouraging us to do acts of chessed, so that we will do them regularly, and with great pleasure, even when there is no reward (in this world). So, let's help our neighbor with her homework, and our Imma with the housework, and our brother with his learning, without getting a treat, just because we love them!
White With Milk
Is it important to smile? Let's see what the Torah says about it. Part of Yaakov Avinu's blessing to his son Yehuda was, "His eyes are red with wine, and his teeth are white with milk." (Bereshis 49:12). The gemora in Kesuvos (111b) writes that it is better to whiten your teeth to your friend (smile to him) than to pour milk for him. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (1:15) also tells us the importance of smiling, "Shammai says . . . receive everyone with a beautiful facial expression." Also in Mishna 3:16, "Rebbe Yishmael says . . . receive everyone with happiness."
Children . . .
It is so important, to greet people with a smile. When we come home from school, let's have a big smile on our face. When Abba comes home at night, let's have a wonderful welcome for him. We can practice greeting people with a smile at our Shabbos table this week. Tell our brother Yitzy to go out of the room for a minute. When he returns, let's all give him a big smile and say, "Shalom Yitzy! How are you?" That will put a big smile on Yitzy's face. Then each member of the family (even Imma and Abba) can take their turn going out of the room and getting their greeting when they return. We get so many mitzvos Children, when we smile. We make people happy, we do chessed for them, we make shalom between people, and we make a real Kiddush Hashem. Let's all keep smiling, and keep those mitzvos coming.
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