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Simcha Groffman

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

Parashas Devorim

Cosmic Message

"Avi. Avi."

"Oh. Hello Chaim. Shalom. How are you?"

"Fine. Did you hear me calling you?"

"I was so absorbed in the science fiction story that I am reading that I did not hear you."

"Can I read it?"

"Sure, Chaim. Here it is."

One cold, clear winter evening in the observatory, high atop a mountain in northern Washington . . .

"Come quickly, Dr. Benson. Look at this!"

Dr. Benson rushes from the other end of the deserted laboratory to join his colleague, Dr. Rosen in front of the radio-telescope screen.

"Do you see this on the screen?"

Dr. Benson's eyes open wide.

"It looks like a message coming in."


"Who could be transmitting this message?"

"We must investigate. Read me the coordinates of the radio telescope."

"39 north, 147 east."

"That cannot be."

"Why not?"

"The nearest star in that quadrant is 3500 light years away. That means that the message that we are receiving has been traveling at the speed of light for 3500 years."

"Do you mean that the senders of this message began transmission 3500 long years ago? They must be all long gone by now. Nevertheless, their message is reaching us today."

Words slowly form and fill the screen. The two scientists are in awe of what they are seeing.

"Dr. Benson, this will make international news headlines. A communication from the distant past. A message launched across 3500 years of history . . ."

We return to our friends, Chaim and Avi . . .

"Chaim. Chaim."

"Yes, Avi. I'm sorry. I was very absorbed in the story. A message from 3500 years ago. You know, Avi, the story has some truth to it."

"Really Chaim? In what way?"

"The first verse in Sefer Devarim states, 'These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Israel.' Moshe gathered the Jewish people together in the desert, shortly before their entrance to the Land of Israel. It was there that he delivered his final message to the Jewish people before he passed on from this world. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains why the expression 'all Israel' was used instead of just stating 'Israel'. Moshe was not speaking only to those Jews present in the desert at that time. Rather he was addressing all of the Jews of all future generations. These words of Torah that he was about to convey to them were timeless. There are no other words in existence that can inspire and guide a people throughout history like the Torah. So you see, Avi, every time that we read and learn the Torah, we are receiving a message that began transmission 3500 years ago, and is still going strong today." "What a cosmic experience. If people realized this, they would be standing in lines from here to Cincinnati to read the message."

"Avi, let's see what we can do to help people realize the timeless value of the Torah."

"I'm with you, cosmic buddy. Let's blast off!"

Kinderlach . . .

The Torah is timeless. The same words that inspired the Jewish people 3300 years ago inspire us to this very day. Let us learn the Torah with all of our might. Let those words sink into our minds, our hearts, and our bones. They will inspire us also. And we will merit to become a link in this 3300-year chain.

Self Esteem

The beginning of Sefer Devarim recounts some of the events that the Jewish people experienced during their forty years in the desert. One of those events was the Chet HaMeraglim (Sin of the Spies). This was the first of many calamities that occurred on Tisha B'Av. Loshon hora was spoken about the Land of Israel, which led to the punishment of golus (exile from the Land). What caused the people to commit such a terrible sin? The Chofetz Chaim explains in his sefer, Shmiras HaLoshon, that the spies sensed the extreme holiness of the Land of Israel. Hashem rules the Land with Middos HaDin (strict justice). One must be on a very high spiritual level to live there. We are not tsaddikim gemurim (completely righteous people); therefore, we are not fit to inhabit the Land.

In retrospect, we can look back and say that they were able to inherit the Land at that point. After all, Hashem never gives anyone a test that is too difficult for him. We learn an important lesson from their mistake. A person should never underestimate himself. His madrayga (spiritual level) may be higher than he thinks. His potential may be much greater than he imagined. There is only one way to find out. Consult knowledgeable people for their opinion of your abilities. Then, go ahead and give it your best. Don't sell yourself short. Don't count yourself out. B'ezras Hashem you will be pleasantly surprised at what great things you can accomplish.

Kinderlach . . .

"Abba, the class is having a contest to memorize a perek of Mishnayos. Should I do it?" "Why not Shuie?" "But I never memorized a whole perek before. Maybe I will make a mistake. I will be so embarrassed." "If you don't try Shuie, you will never know. I am sure that you have a wonderful memory. You just have to learn how to use it. That takes practice. These contests are designed to help you along the way. Give it a try. Nothing ventured nothing gained."

Later that week . . .

"Abba look what I got!" "Wow Shuie, that's a beautiful prize!" "I memorized more Mishnayos than anyone else in the whole class!" "I knew that you could.

You only needed a little encouragement. Shuie, you are only beginning to discover the greatness inside of you."

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