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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Lech Lecha

Change the World

"And (Hashem) said to him (Avram) 'I am E-l Sha-dai. Walk before me and be perfect.'" (Bereshis 17:1). We know that Hashem has many names. Why did He choose to refer to Himself as "Sha-dai"? The Malbim zt"l explains that this name is a contraction of the phrase, "I said to world, 'dai' (enough)." He created the world, and then stopped the creation at a certain point. The world was not yet finished but Hashem said "dai". Leave the world unfinished. Man will complete the job.

The name Sha-dai is used in conjunction with the bris mila. Just as the world was created incomplete, so too the man is created imperfect. His first mitzvah is mila - perfecting his physical body. He begins his life by fixing himself, and he continues throughout his days to fix and perfect himself and the world around him.

There is a famous story told about the Chofetz Chaim zt"l. When he was a young boy he wanted to change the whole world. He tried, but became frustrated. So, he revised his goal. He was only going to change Poland. He soon saw that this was also a bit too ambitious, so he decided to just change his little town of Radin. Alas, this also proved to be too much, so he decided to change just the Beis HaMedrash where he prayed and learned. He soon realized that the only person he was capable of changing was himself. So, he got to work. As we all know, he succeeded in becoming a big talmid chochom and a tsaddik. People began gravitating toward him and his Beis Medrash soon filled with people eager to learn from him. Soon, his name spread through Radin. The small town became a Torah center by virtue of the great tsaddik who lived there. Sure enough, the Jewish population of Poland began heeding the words of this tsaddik and Godol HaDor (Torah leader). He wrote many seforim (books). His masterpiece of halacha (Jewish Law), the Mishna Brura is used by poskim (halachic authorities) worldwide as the final word in halacha. His works, "Chofetz Chaim" and "Shmiras HaLoshon" have revived the all-but-forgotten mitzvah of proper speech. It has become a cornerstone of Avodas Hashem (serving Hashem). His multitude of seforim cover all aspects of Jewish life, and anyone who wants information or inspiration on practically all aspects of Torah need only turn to him. Yes, Rav Yisroel Meir succeeded. He changed the whole world.

Kinderlach . . .

You can do it. You can change the world. Where do you begin? With yourself. See yourself as who you want to be. Who is that big tsaddik walking down the street? It is you --- 30 years from now. How do you get there? One mitzvah at a time. Wake up in a good mood. Pray well and get to school on time. Learn well and help your friends. Help Imma when you come home. Give Abba a warm welcome when he comes home. Go to sleep on time. Each mitzvah is another brick in the wall. You're building a big tsaddik. "Tsaddik yesod olam." A tsaddik is the foundation of the world. Become a tsaddik. Change the world.

The Happy Test

The fire was hot. Very hot. Very, very hot. They had worked forty days gathering wood for this fire. The flames reached up to the very heavens. Where and when was this fire burning? In Meron on Lag B'Omer? Hardly. It was in a place called Ur Kasdim, approximately 3800 years ago. Nimrod, the evil king, prepared the fire in order to burn Avraham Avinu, the rebellious "Ivri" who ridiculed idol worship. Our Holy Father Avraham was not worried. He was prepared to sacrifice his life to sanctify Hashem's name. And so, he was thrown into the fire. Hashem Himself told the fire to stop burning. The burnt wood came back to life, sprouted fruit, and the furnace became a lovely garden, where angels sat with Avraham Avinu.

This was Avraham's first test. There were nine more to come. Avraham was sent away from his homeland. A famine forced him into exile, where his wife was taken away from him. He went to war against four kings to save his nephew, Lot. Avraham was then shown a prophecy of the four exiles of his children, the Jewish people. He underwent bris milah at the age of 99. His wife Sara was taken from him a second time. He had to send his son, Yishmael out of the house. Finally, Avraham Avinu was commanded to sacrifice his son Yitzchak.

Avraham Avinu, the first of the Avos HaKedoshim was tested in every way possible, with all types of suffering. He passed all of the trials. We learn about them every year when we come to these parshios in the Torah, heaping praise upon Avraham Avinu. As the Mishna states, "Avraham Avinu was tested with ten ordeals, and he stood firm through them all, to show how great was the love of Avraham Avinu (for Hashem)" (Pirkei Avos 5:4).

The Chovos HaLevavos, in Shaar Cheshbon Hanefesh (3:27) takes a deeper look at Avraham's ten trials. Why do we praise Avraham Avinu? Because he accepted everything that Hashem gave him willingly and with a good heart. As the verse states, "You found his heart faithful before You" (Nechemia 9:8). Avraham Avinu understood that everything Hashem does is for the good. Similarly, we are put into difficult situations in order to react properly and grow from them. Therefore, we should be happy that Hashem is testing us. It is for our own good.

There is a famous story about a prominent Rosh Yeshiva of the pre-war generation. One of the students left the yeshiva to make his way in the world. He was not able to maintain the same madrayga (spiritual level) that he had reached in the yeshiva. He began to slide downhill. After a while the yeshiva received news that the man's house had burned down. What was the Rosh Yeshiva's reaction? "Ah! I see that Hashem still loves him (the former student)!" The Rosh Yeshiva understood that Hashem is like a caring father. He has great love for His children, and treats them with loving kindness. He sends down difficulties to give His children the opportunities they need to grow. An uncaring person would just ignore them and allow them to continue down the wrong path. However, Hashem in His Infinite Wisdom and Kindness, shows His love by testing us. Therefore, we must be happy and grateful for each trial and tribulation. It is a special opportunity to grow closer to Hashem.

Kinderlach . . .

Sometimes life seems very easy. Everything comes our way. These are times to thank Hashem for His Kindness and Generosity. At other times, life is not so easy. We are not feeling well, we are hungry, or we are under pressure. We may have to deal with a difficult person. We cannot get something that we want. These are also times to thank Hashem. He is testing us with difficulties. He loves us, cares about us, and wants us to grow closer to Him. Avraham Avinu, our Holy Forefather teaches us how to react to life's difficulties. With simcha (happiness) and a good heart. Why not? Hashem loves you.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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