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Simcha Groffman

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



"Tzippy, can you please wash off the porch?"

"I already did, Abba."

"It still looks dirty to me."

"It must have been the dirty water dripping down from the neighbor's porch."

Tzippy's Abba is upset. He goes storming up to the neighbor, knocking on the door.

"Did you just wash your porch?"


"The water spilled down on to my nice clean porch."

"This is the tenth time that you have complained about this and I have told you every time that it is not my problem."

"If you do not stop this I am going to Beis Din (Rabbinical Court)."

"Suit yourself."

Tzippy's Abba comes downstairs even more upset. He knows that going to Beis Din is not easy. But what choice does he have?

"How did it go with the neighbor, Abba?"

"Not good. I may have to go to Beis Din to settle this."

"Really? We were just learning about Beis Din today in our parsha class."

"What did you learn, Tzippy?"

"The teacher taught us something that the Baal HaTurim wrote about the word mishpatim, in the very first verse. The letters of the word form an acronym in Hebrew. 'The judge is commanded to make a compromise between the two parties before he judges.' When you go to Beis Din, Abba, the first thing that the Dayan (Rabbinical Judge) will do is try to reach a compromise between you and our neighbor."

"If that is the case, then why don't I try to reach a compromise with him? It will save us a lot of time, expense, aggravation, and possible sinas chinam (hatred)."

"Great idea, Abba."

Tzippy's Abba goes upstairs with a good attitude.

"I have an idea. Why don't we make a schedule so that you wash your porch before we wash ours? Then your dirty will not be falling on our clean porch."

"No problem. I'm always ready to compromise."

Kinderlach . . .

Compromise is a wonderful thing. Each side gives in a little and they come to a settlement. "Esti, it is time to go to sleep." "I want to stay up another half hour Imma." "That is too late." "How about another twenty minutes?" "Esti, make it ten minutes and we have a deal." "Okay, Imma. Ten minutes." Kinderlach, now is the time to master the skill of compromising. It may take some practice, but it is definitely worthwhile. You will avoid most of life's petty arguments. Your life will be much more peaceful, happier, and relaxed.

Serious Business

"One who curses his father and mother will surely be put to death" (Shemos 21:17). He is executed by stoning, the most severe death penalty. Contrast this with the person who strikes his parents. He is put to death by strangulation, a less severe penalty. This is puzzling. Striking one's parents is more serious than just cursing them. Why does the lighter aveyra (sin) receive the stricter penalty?

The Ramban zt"l answers that cursing ones parents is a more common sin. We spend a lot of time with our parents. A foolish person will get involved in arguments with them, get angry and curse them. Therefore, the Rambam zt"l states in Moreh Nevuchim (A Guide to the Perplexed) that a more common sin is fitting to receive a more serious punishment. This will remind us of the seriousness of the sin and deter us from transgressing it.

Kinderlach . . .

Arguing with our parents is a very serious business. It can lead to cursing them, a sin punishable by death in the times of the Beis HaMikdash. This is an aveyra that we want to stay far away from. We are permitted to disagree with our parents. However, it must be done in a most respectful way. It must never lead to an argument. Long life is the reward for respecting and fearing ones parents. Stay calm and stay alive.

His, Not Yours

"This view is absolutely magnificent."

"Yerushalayim is the most beautiful part of our tour of Eretz Yisrael."

"I must take a picture. Oh no. My camera is out of film. Can I please borrow your camera?"

"If it was my camera, I would lend it to you in an instant. However, I am only borrowing it from someone else."

"I am sure that he will not mind. I'll pay you for the picture."

"He only give permission for me to use it. No one else."

"What's the difference?"

"I will explain it to you. My possessions are mine. If they get lost or damaged, I alone suffer the loss. However, with other people's possessions, I must be very careful. He trusted me with his camera. He wants it back in one piece. I must answer to him."

"Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce. And in the seventh, you shall let it rest . . . Six days you shall do your activities, and on the seventh day you shall rest . . ." (Shemos 23:10-12). Why are these two mitzvos juxtaposed? They both have common themes of working six time periods and resting on the seventh. The Torah Temima has a deeper insight. The purpose of resting on the seventh day and the seventh year are one and the same. They demonstrate that Hashem created the world. It all belongs to Him. He instructs us how to use His world, when to work and when to rest. Therefore we must take special care of His possessions. Just as the boy in the story took extra special care of the camera that was not his.

Kinderlach . . .

The Torah is our instruction book. It provides directions for the proper use of Hashem's world. Follow the directions, and you will accomplish great things. You will be happy and Hashem will be happy. Think about this all of the time. Your eating, sleeping, playing, walking to school, time at home, and many other things should all be done according to the Torah. Use Hashem's world to the max.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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