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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Vayechi

Good Merchandise

"Last call to board flight 001 to New York."

The announcement brought a flurry of activity in the boarding area. The last remaining passengers gathered up their possessions. Betzalel waited patiently in line. Behind him was a friendly looking man. He smiled.

"It looks like we'll be traveling together for the next ten hours."

"May we all arrive safely."

"Amen. What is your name, young man?"

"Betzalel. And yours sir?"

"Kalman. Pleased to meet you, Betzalel."

And so, the two strike up a conversation.

"What do you do with your time during the day, Betzalel?"

"I learn in yeshiva."

"Wonderful! Do you have an opportunity to teach?"

"In a manner of speaking."


"I just wrote a sefer (book) of chidushei Torah (original Torah thoughts)."

"That is fascinating! May I see it?"

"Umm. I'm sorry. I don't have a copy with me. I put them all in my suitcase."

"Betzalel, what kind of a businessman are you? A good businessman always carries his merchandise with him."

Betzalel thought for a moment, smiled, and began to speak.

"I will answer you with a Devar Torah from the Keli Yakar on this week's parasha. Yaakov Avinu blesses his sons at the end of his life. To Yissacher he gives the following blessing: 'Yissacher is a strong donkey; he rests between the boundaries' (Bereshis 49:14). Yissacher was a great Torah scholar. Rashi explains that he bore the yoke of Torah as a donkey bears a heavy load. The Keli Yakar elaborates. Just as the donkey and his load are inseparable, so too the scholar and his learning are inseparable. The Torah that he has acquired through diligent learning is always with him. It is not like other merchandise, that can be separated from its' owner. Quite the opposite! He and his Torah never part."

"Betzalel, that is fascinating."

"Would you like to hear more?"

"Yes, please."

"The Keli Yakar continues to darshen the verse, 'He rests between the boundaries.' (Bereshis 49:14). Which boundaries do Yissacher and his cargo rest between? The verse in Mishei (3:16) elaborates: Long life are on its (Torah's) right side, on its left are wealth and honor. One who carries his Torah knowledge with him is always accompanied by the blessings of health, wealth, and honor."

"Wonderful! Betzalel, Please forgive me. I must apologize. I see that you are a very good businessman. Your merchandise is Torah, and your Torah is always with you, on your fingertips. May you grow to be a big talmid chochom, and may health, wealth, and honor always be yours."


Kinderlach . . .

What is the best business to work at? Learning Torah. If you work hard, pray to Hashem and are zoche (deserving), you will acquire a lot of Torah. Those are your earnings. Now you can invest them in merchandise. What is the best merchandise? Torah! It is always with you. Its blessings of long life, prosperity, and respect accompany you wherever you go. It is also the only merchandise that you can take along with you after 120 years into Olam Habbo. Everything else stays behind. When you get there, you will find that your goods are worth far more than gold, silver, and diamonds. So work hard learning and earning Torah, kinderlach. It is an acquisition that gives you benefits now, and stays with you always and forever.

Choose Your Weapon

"The news these days is very frightening."

"What are you concerned about?"

"One of our neighboring countries is working on developing very powerful weapons. They could be a major threat to our security."

"I'm not worried."

"Why not?"

"We have a mighty arsenal at our disposal. We have a variety of extremely powerful weapons that will put our enemy to shame."

"Really? I wasn't aware of that. The enemy claims to have nuclear weapons. They are the most powerful on earth."

"They are mere child's play. Our arsenal can dispose of his nuclear bombs in seconds."

"You have my curiosity really going. What weapons are you talking about? What can stand up against the atomic bomb?"

"The sword and the bow."

"What?!?! The sword and the bow?!?! Are you joking? They are thousands of years old. They are so primitive that they cannot defend against even the simplest gun or cannon. Please be serious."

"I am serious. Very serious. Our ancestor Yaakov Avinu used them very effectively against his enemies. Since then, they have been the traditional weapons of the Jewish people against their foes."

"That is a pretty surprising statement. Do you have a proof to back it up?"

"Yes, it is actually a verse in this week's parasha. 'As for me, I have given you Shechem - one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Emorie with my sword and with my bow' (Bereshis 48:22). The Targum Unkelos reveals the secret of the strength of the sword and bow. He translates sword as prayer and bow as request. This is actually based upon the Gemora (Bava Basra 123a). 'Did Yaakov Avinu truly take the land of the Emorie with a sword and bow? Of course not! He took them with prayers and appeals to Hashem.' The Maharsha elaborates that Yaakov's enemies were blessed by Hashem with military prowess. 'By the sword you shall live' (Bereshis 27:40) was Eisav's blessing. 'And Hashem was with the lad . . . and he became an archer' (Bereshis 21:20) was Yishmael's fortune. To battle these forces, Hashem gave Yaakov prayer (described as a sword) and appeals (described as a bow)."

"That is fascinating."

"There is more. Rav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel zt"l states that tefillah is the true sword! It has the power to overturn the entire world! Atomic bombs pale against the might of tefillah! Therefore, the Yetzer Hora works very hard to distract us during tefillah. It takes a gibbor (strong person) to overcome the yetzer, and concentrate on the tefillah. One who does this has the awesome power in his hand."

"May Hashem help us all in this area."

"Amen. Rashi and the Sforno have a different interpretation of Yaakov's weaponry. The sword is chochma (wisdom). The Sifsei Chacomim elaborates that just as the sword has the capability of saving its bearer (from danger), so too chochma saves the wise person from danger."

"Now I see why you are not nervous about the news of the day. The puny weapons of our enemies do not stand a chance against our prayers, requests, and wisdom."

"That's right. Just choose your weapon and be victorious."

Kinderlach . . .

Hashem gave us the world's most powerful arsenal. Our enemy's weapons don't stand a chance against our tefillos, bakashos (requests), and chochma (Torah wisdom). Why? Because we are speaking directly to Hashem, asking Him to fight for us. He is more powerful than any nuclear bomb. When we learn His Torah, we absorb His chochma. That is better than the best anti- missile defense system. Choose your weapons, kinderlach. Tefillos, requests, chochma. They will win the battle.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2011 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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