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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
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Parashas Vizos Habracha

Complementary Blessings

"Abba, I always enjoy learning parashas Vizos Habracha."

"Why is that Chaim?"

"Because the blessings that Moshe Rabbeinu gave the shevatim (tribes) show their true greatness. It is so inspiring to know that we are the descendants of such exalted people."

"How true, Chaim! I never studied the parasha in that light. Thank you for pointing it out to me."

"I have a question, Abba. The brachos of Yissacher and Zevulun are a bit unusual. The tribe of Yissacher had the greatest Torah scholars. They sat in the tents of Torah, learning all of the time. The members of the tribe of Zevulun were merchants who supported them. Yissacher's outstanding Torah learning should have earned them the biggest blessing of all of the tribes. Yet theirs is the smallest. They have but two words, 'and Yissacher in his tent,' mentioned at the end of the first verse of Zevulun's blessing. Why does such an important tribe receive such a seemingly insignificant blessing?"

"That is an excellent question Chaim! Rabbeinu Bechaye asks the very same question."

"What is his answer, Abba?"

"It has two parts to it, Chaim. Firstly, the words of the blessing, 'Of Zevulun he said, "Rejoice, O Zevulun in your excursions, and Yissacher in your tents"' (Devarim 33:18). What happiness will Yissacher finds in the tents of Torah? The joy of learning, as the verse states, 'The orders of Hashem are upright, gladdening the heart' (Tehillim 19:9). Learning Torah is the greatest pleasure of this world and the next."

"If so, Abba, then why is Zevulun happy? He goes out and struggles in the business world each day. He does not have the Torah learning that brings joy."

"True, Chaim. However, he is the reason that the Torah scholars of Yissacher are able to learn. He provides them with parnassa (livelihood). They need not go out to work; therefore, they are free to learn Torah undisturbed. Zevulun derives great simcha from being Yissacher's benefactor. The main reward will come in olam habo, when he will sit in the tents of the Torah learners that he supported here in this world."

"I see, Abba. Yissacher and Zevulun are both experience the simcha of Torah learning. However, the question still remains, why is Zevulun mentioned first, and why is his blessing bigger than Yissacher's?"

"Without someone providing parnassa, Yissacher would not be able to learn. Zevulun's support is the reason that Yissacher is free to toil in Torah. Therefore, he is mentioned first, because he is the provider for Yissacher's Torah. Zevulun's blessing is not particularly long; it is average length. Rather Yissacher's bracha is exceedingly short. 'Simcha in his tents' includes everything. That is the greatest bracha! Nothing more need be said. Zevulun's bracha is longer in quantity, but Yissacher's is greater in quality."

"Wonderful, Abba. Klal Yisrael should always have an abundance of Bnei Torah, with all of the supporters that they need!"


Kinderlach . . .

Yissacher and Zevulun are role models for the ages. Zevulun recognizes the supreme importance of Torah learning, and dedicates his time and efforts to supporting those who toil in the tents of Torah. He receives the ultimate simcha of their learning by sitting in their tents in olam habo. Yissacher, labors day and night - contemplating, understanding, remembering, and teaching the Devar Hashem. He has simcha in both worlds. Kinderlach may you all merit to make Torah learning your top priority. Simcha shall be yours, in this world and the next!

The Only One

"I'm so excited Eli!"

"Me too, Nochum. It is that special day of the year - Simchas Torah. We are so happy. We finish the yearly cycle of reading the Torah. And we celebrate, dancing with the Sifrei Torah, day and night."

"Great. We are about to begin taking out the Sifrei Torah, Eli. Listen to the chazzan (cantor)."

"Atto horaysa lo-daas . . . (You were shown to know that Hashem is All Powerful, there is none other than Him)" (Devarim 4:35).

"I wonder why we begin this celebration by reading that verse?"

"That is an excellent question, Nochum. Rav Chaim Friedlander answers that question in his book, Sifsei Chaim. This verse was written about Har Sinai. At that time, Hashem opened all of the heavens to us. Everyone was able to see with perfect clarity that nothing else in the world exists except for Hashem."

"That was an experience unparalleled in history. Why are we reminded of it tonight?"

"Because we can reach it again. This moment is the culmination of all that we have been working on for the past 51 days since Rosh Chodesh Elul. Our hearts broke as we heard the shofar every day. We recited "L'Dovid Hashem Ori," asking Hashem to remove the barriers between us so that we can cleave to Him. We pleaded with Hashem to forgive us during the days of Selichos. On Rosh Hashanah, we crowned Hashem as King. After 10 days of fervent tshuva (repentance) we fasted and prayed for 25 hours, crying our hearts out to Hashem on Yom Kippur. Then we reached Sukkos, the opportunity to do tshuva from love. We basked in the glow of the Shechina (Divine Presence) inside of our Sukkas for seven days. Now we have reached such a high level of closeness to Hashem that we can say, 'Ain Ode Milvado' (There is none other than Him)" (Devarim 4:35)."

"That is awesome, Eli. Now I see why we are so happy today. There is no greater happiness than getting close to Hashem. However, I have another question. What is the connection between this and finishing the Torah?"

"It is all one entity, Nochum. The Zohar tells us that the people of Israel, the Torah, and Hashem are all One. We become One with Hashem by learning and observing His Torah. The Torah has a tremendously powerful influence upon us, making us a holy nation. We cleave to Hashem by cleaving to the Torah. Therefore, there is no better day to finish and start the Torah than Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah. Both are the pinnacle of our diveikus (cleaving) to Hashem."

Kinderlach . . .

Did you ever see a person who just received a piece of wonderful news? He is so happy that he cannot sit still. He wants to show the whole world how happy he is. That is how happy we are on Shemini Atzeres. We are rejoicing with our Father, Hashem, over our love for each other. We are rejoicing with the Torah, the key to loving Him. We say in the prayers of the day, "Load us up Hashem our Master, with the blessings of your holy day." Today we are loading up with happiness. Be as happy as you can be today, kinderlach. Dance until your feet are falling off. Load up that warm glowing feeling in your heart. The love that you express will last you the whole year.

Parasha Questions:

Where was Moshe Rabbeinu buried? (33:6)

Which tribe received the richest land? (33:13 and Rashi)

Whom did the Bnei Levi have to kill after the chet ha'egel? (Rashi 33:8)

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