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Parashios Vizos Habracha and Bereshis
Parashios Vizos Habracha and Bereshis
The Real Thing
"How are you, dear? How is your day going?"
"Wonderful, Yaakov. I have some great news for you, my dear husband."
"Fantastic! Let's hear it!"
"Our little baby spoke his first words today."
"Our little Yoni? Wow! I'm so happy, I'm going to cry. Chasdei Hashem (this is an act of kindness from Hashem).
The father's face beams with an ear-to-ear smile.
"Yoni, come to Abba. Yoni, say Torah."
"Beautiful, Yoni! This is the happiest day of our lives."
"Moshe commanded this Torah to us. [It is] the inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov." (Devarim 33:4). These are the first words that a Jewish father teaches his son. Why was this verse chosen, amongst all of the other words of Torah, to be the first words to cross the child's lips? The Torah Temima explains. We want to strongly root the greatness and holiness of the Torah in a child's heart, from the earliest age. These few words form the strong foundation upon which the whole Torah is built. The Torah is an inheritance, passed on from father to son. Each man learned from his father, who learned from his father, back to Moshe Rabbeinu, who learned Torah from Hashem. Therefore, we know that the Torah is the authentic true Word of Hashem, as taught throughout the generations. It is the eternal inheritance of the "congregations of Yaakov" - the Jewish People, who are descendants of Yaakov Avinu.
Kinderlach . . . "That mitzvah seems a bit strange. How can we perform it in our modern world? Are you sure that it is part of the Torah?" "Here it is, written in the verse - black on white." "I see. Maybe it is a mistake. Anyone can make a mistake. After all, this Torah is over 3000 years old. It has been through a lot of hands." "There are no mistakes in the Torah. My Abba taught it to me. His Abba taught it to him. It is a part of our family inheritance. If I do not understand a mitzvah, I need to work harder to learn it better, or to ask someone who does understand it. It is I who am mistaken, not the Torah. This Torah is 100% true. It is the ultimate 'real thing'."
"What an exciting moment, Avi! I can hardly wait."
"What is so exciting, Chaim? Everything seems to be proceeding normally. Did I miss something?"
"We are about to finish reading the entire Sefer Torah."
"We do that every year on Simchas Torah."
"I know, but it is still exciting."
"I wish I had your enthusiasm, Chaim. How do you do it?"
"Avi, learning through the Sefer Torah is a year-long project. Every week a parasha. Some weeks two parshios. We put in so much effort reviewing the weekly sedra, learning it, and understand it. Now we reach the climax - the siyum (completion) of the project."
"You're right, Chaim. I need to take the time to contemplate and appreciate the significance of this event. I also need to devote more time each week to delve into the weekly parasha."
"It is time well spent, Avi. We can even begin now. Let us think about the words we are about to read, the last words of the Torah - 'Li'einei kol Yisrael' [Before the eyes of all of Klal Yisrael] (Devarim 34:12). These words complete the Sefer Torah. In a short while, we will be beginning the Sefer Torah anew with the word 'Bereshis.'"
"Is there a connection between the end and the beginning?"
"That is a very good question, Avi. The Sefer Taamei HaMinhagim (p. 69) finds an interesting connection. He points out that the Torah is called 'Reishis' - the main thing. The word 'reishis' is from the word 'rosh' - head - which is the guiding part of the body. So too, the Torah guides our lives. This Torah, which is called 'Reishis' was given before the eyes of all of Klal Yisrael. The eyes are referring to seeing. Each and every Jew - all of Klal Yisrael - sees and understands the Torah according to his abilities, his merits, and the purity of his eyes."
"That is beautiful. It certainly motivates me to look into the Torah more deeply."
"If you do that, Avi, you will find another beautiful drasha in the Sefer Taamei HaMinhagim. Look at the last letter in the Torah."
"What is the first letter?"
"Together they spell 'lev' - heart. Our Sages say 'Rachmana liba boye' - the Torah requires heart. To properly learn and fulfill all of the Torah, you have to put your full heart into it. Nothing less will suffice. Once you do that, the Torah enters into your heart. That is the ultimate success. Hashem wants your heart. He wants you to learn Torah with all of your heart, so that you will want to do His Will with all of your heart. That is what the Torah is all about."
"What a heart-warming thought, Chaim."
"Wonderful, Avi. Now that your heart is warmed up to learning Torah, let's make a commitment to learn with our full energies this year. This day of Simchas Torah, when we complete and begin the Torah anew, is a day of great Siyata Di'Shmaya (Heavenly Assistance) for learning. A sincere commitment on this day, accompanied by great rejoicing over the Torah, will help your learning throughout the entire year."
"I'm ready. Let's go for it."
"'Li'einei kol Yisrael.' 'Chazak, chazak, vi'nischazek!' 'Be strong! Be strong! And be strengthened!'"
Kinderlach . . .
Today is a momentous event. We are finishing the Torah. It is followed by another significant event. Beginning the Torah anew. This is a tremendous opportunity for us, kinderlach. If we decide to learn Torah with our full hearts this year, we will merit great things. We will understand it to the best of our abilities. The Torah that we learn will enter our hearts, penetrate our souls, and implant a deep love for Hashem and desire to fulfill His Will. That is the whole Torah. Rachmana liba boye. With all of your heart.
The Spice of Life
"Mmmm, Imma this sweet kugel is delicious."
"If you like that, Chaim, I have something even sweeter - apple crisp."
"Mmmm. This is so sweet that it can be served for dessert."
"When we get to dessert, you will taste something even sweeter. I must confess one thing to you, kinderlach. I make the food sweet for oneg Shabbos (the mitzvah of delighting on Shabbos). However, the sweetest thing at the Shabbos table is not the food."
"What could be sweeter that your delicious desserts, Imma?"
"Abba's Divrei Torah. Just as I prepare the food for the Shabbos table, he prepares the Divrei Torah. Just as the food is sweetened by the delicious spices, so too the Torah has it own spice."
"What do you mean, Imma?"
"Perhaps let Abba explain it to you."
"Kinderlach please let me share with you an insight that I once heard from an Odom Godol (Torah Giant). The Gemora (Kiddushin 30b) states, 'I created the yetzer hora and I created the Torah as its tavlin. If you will toil in Torah, you will not be given over to his clutches; as the verse states, "If you do well (by learning Torah) then you will be lifted up." If you do not toil in Torah, you will be given over to his clutches; as the verse states, "sin rests at the door."' This verse is found in this week's parasha. It contains Hashem's words to Cain, exhorting him to improve himself in order that his sacrifice can be accepted.
"The word tavlin normally means spice; however, it is translated in this context as antidote. The yetzer hora is like a disease and the Torah is like its antidote. This explanation begs a question. If the Gemora meant antidote, why did it not write the word trufah (medicine)? It used an inappropriate word - tavlin."
"What an insightful question!"
"Yes. The Odom Gadol gave an electrifying answer. The yetzer hora makes the lowly pleasures of olam haze (this world) look so tantalizing. He shows us riches, luxuries, and technologies that are beyond belief. He says, 'You can have it all. Just put your time and energy into acquiring possessions here, and forget about olam habo.' He has strong arguments. 'You have a lot of time until you get to olam habo. Who knows what it will really be like over there? Maybe it does not exist at all. I am offering you pleasure here and now. Take it!' How can the yetzer hatov answer these claims? They are so strong. The yetzer hora's 'reward' is tangible, here and now. Therefore, the yetzer hatov needs a special weapon - Torah. The Torah is pure emmes. Only it can stand up to the lies of the yetzer hora. However, even the Torah alone is not enough. It must have a sweet taste to it. Learning Torah will fend off the yetzer hora, however, what if learning is not pleasurable? How can it match the yetzer hora's delights? Therefore, Hashem made the Torah tavlin. He made it delicious. He made Torah learning the sweetest thing in the world. One who learns Torah properly has no appetite for the puny pleasures of the yetzer hora. They are worthless in comparison to the sweetness of understanding a Tosafos. Answering a difficult question on the Rambam is more exhilarating than skiing down the Swiss Alps. What does the yetzer hora have to offer? Nothing!!! That is the tavlin of the Torah. That is the spice of life."
Kinderlach . . .
Do you want to taste something yummy? What is your favorite sweet? Cake? Cookies? Chocolate? Ice cream? Hashem has something that is far sweeter than all of these things. Torah. That pleasure - the sweetness that comes with learning Torah - is the antidote to the trickery of the yetzer hora. He tells us to eat cookies all day, wasting our time and energy on the delights of this world. We answer him, "Cookies?!? They are tasteless compared to the sweetness of the Torah!" Enjoy the best treat, kinderlach - Torah. This week we begin the Torah anew. Learn it with a new energy, kinderlach! Learn it deeper and better than you did last year. It will taste even sweeter than before. Delight in the Torah, kinderlach! It is the spice of your life.
Avi's mother is startled. She had been washing dishes and did not see or hear her son walk in the door. He hands jump and she drops the plate that she was washing.
"Oy vey, Imma. I am so sorry."
Avi's mother regains her composure.
"It is okay, Avi. You startled me. I did not hear you come in."
"I guess that I should have knocked before entering the room, Imma."
"That is a wonderful idea, Avi. Did you know that this week's parasha hints to this very point?"
"Really Imma? Where?"
"Here. 'Hashem Elokim called to the man and he said to him…' (Bereshis 3:9). Hashem did two things. First, He called to Adam HaRishon. Then He began speaking to him. Why did He call first before speaking?"
"To teach us derech eretz (the proper way to behave)."
"Exactly, Avi. Our sages (Mesechta Derech Eretz 5) explain that a person should never enter a room suddenly without warning. Rather he should call out to those inside or knock before entering. Why? Because the person inside the room may be doing something private. He surely would not want to be disturbed."
"Imma, I noticed that Abba is always careful to knock on the front door before entering the house."
"Abba has true derech eretz, Avi. He does not want to disturb or startle any of the family members, even though he is walking into his own house."
"I want to be like him, Imma."
"B'ezras Hashem, Avi."
Kinderlach . . .
Derech eretz is composed of small deeds, done in an unassuming way. Knocking before entering is one example. This is one example of the importance of not disturbing or frightening people. Respect their feelings and do not frighten them or annoy them. Respect their privacy and do not disturb them. Respect your fellow human beings! That is the key to derech eretz.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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