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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
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Parashas Vayishlach

What Did He Mean?

"Aharon, how are you?"

"Boruch Hashem, Nachman."

"Aharon, I am just reminding you that you owe me $100."

"I know, Nachman."

Two outsiders are watching and listening to the conversation.

"Will you two gentlemen be witnesses to Aharon's agreement to the loan?"


The next day...

"Aharon, can you please pay me the $100 that you owe me?"

"Hundred dollar loan? Nachman, I don't know what you are talking about."

"What? You just contradicted yourself! Yesterday you admitted to owing the money."

The question is:

How do we understand Aaron's apparently self-contradictory statement. Also, does he have to pay the $100?"

The answer is:

The Gemora (Bava Basra 6a) presents this case. The Nimukei Yosef presents two ways to understand Aharon's statements. One, that Aharon paid back the money. When a loan is paid back, it is no longer a loan. Therefore, when he said that there is no loan, he meant that it no longer exists because he already paid it back. The other explanation is as follows. If someone never borrowed, he surely did not pay back. There is nothing to pay back. Therefore, one who said that he did not borrow meant that he did not pay back. The Gemora rules like the second explanation, and therefore Aharon owes the $100.

"Kotonti" (1)

Yaakov was about to meet Eisav and he was afraid. Afraid? Yaakov had tremendous emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust) in Hashem. What was he afraid of? "Kotonti (I have been diminished) by all of the chasodim (kindness) and by all of the emes (truth) that You have done for Your servant" (Bereshis 32:11). Rav Leib Chasman, in his sefer, Ohr Yohel, illuminates this verse. Yaakov was concerned. He was the recipient of many acts of kindness from Hashem. Perhaps he had received all of the reward for all of his mitzvos, and he had no merits left. Was that really possible? After all, Yaakov Avinu had learned Torah for 14 years in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever. He kept all 613 mitzvos in the house of Lavan the trickster. Could he really have no merits left? Yet, that is how Yaakov looked at life. He knew that there was always room for improvement in spiritual endeavors. Perhaps his mitzvos were lacking in quantity and quality. Yet, in the area of physical blessings, he felt that he had received more than he deserved.

What about us? We are satisfied with so little spirituality. "I prayed shemoneh esray in five minutes. What more does Hashem want from me?" On the other hand, in the area of comfort, we demand full rights. We are the ones who must say "kotonti". Do we appreciate the kindness?

What is the emes that Hashem performed for Yaakov Avinu? Every act of kindness from Hashem, when properly appreciated brings truth into a person's heart and soul. Hashem spills barrels of truth upon us daily. As the Mesillas Yeshorim states in Chapter 8. When a person sees and appreciates all of the acts of kindness that the Almighty performs for him every moment of every day, he feels a tremendous debt to the Creator for all of the good. That motivates him never to be lazy or weak in his service to Hashem.

Kinderlach . . .

Let's make a simple calculation. Three meals a day, 365 days a (solar) year equals 1,095 meals a year. If you are ten years old then Hashem has provided you with 10,950 meals. That is awesome! Your heart beats 72 times per minute. Multiply that by 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, and you have 37,324,800 beats per year. If you are ten years old then Hashem has made your heart beat over 370 million beats. Astounding! If you are awake for 16 hours a day, 365 days per year, then your eyes are seeing for 5,840 hours per year. That is 58,400 hours of vision in ten years! We have so much to thank Hashem for! It's almost beyond comprehension.

"Kotonti" (2)

The Keli Yakar offers another beautiful explanation of this verse. "Kotonti (my powers are too small to have caused) all of the chasodim (kindness) and all of the emes (truth) that You have done for Your servant" (Bereshis 32:11). Yaakov Avinu alone could not have amassed all of the wealth that he now possessed. "For with my staff I crossed this Jordan (River)" (32:11). I owned nothing but a stick when I came here. "And now I have become two camps" (32:11). Just now, in a very short time, Yaakov's wealth increased dramatically. He worked for Lavan for twenty years: seven for each daughter and another six tending Lavan's sheep. He received no wages for any of this and was just as poor as when he came. Only at the very end, when he asked Lavan to pay his wages, did his flocks increase in number supernaturally. It was apparent to Yaakov that the Hand of Hashem was at work here. No human being could amass so much wealth so quickly. Hashem made him rich in the blink of an eye.

Kinderlach . . .

We have mentioned two important points. In serving Hashem, we must be prepared. We never know what challenges He will present to us. Secondly, we should never be satisfied with our spiritual accomplishments and always strive to do better. Now we come to a third point. Success. It is so sweet. We want to enjoy it and we should. However, we must realize that it is The One Above, who gave us that success. Kinderlach, you should all be very successful in life, and realize Where the success came from.

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