Kinder Torah - Parshat Vayishlach
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
"Imma, I'm home."
"Devora, shalom! Welcome home. How was school?"
"Take off your coat and let me give you a big hug."
"Imma, you're the best. What's that delicious smell?"
"Vegetable soup. I have a nice hot lunch for you."
"Yum. I'm so hungry."
"Okay, go wash and sit down so we can eat together."
"Imma, it's so nice to eat with you every day."
"It's my pleasure, Devora."
"Imma, can I tell you something personal?"
"Of course, my dear."
"You make our home such a wonderful place. You always greet us with a smile, a hug, and a kiss. You have a warm meal waiting for us. You take care of all of us. Our home is clean, orderly, and well stocked with food. You always have the time to listen to us, and to give us good advice. You make Shabbos and Yomim Tovim so beautiful and special. I just love coming home!"
"Devora dear, you make me feel so good. I work so hard on all of these things. It is wonderful to hear your appreciation. Can I tell you a secret?"
"This is the most important thing that I can be doing."
"What is the most precious thing in the world?"
"Do you know what a person can accomplish? People can move mountains. They can create cities. They can write beautiful Chidushei Torah (original Torah thoughts). An evil person, cholila (Heaven forbid) can destroy a whole world. People are worth more than anything."
"What's the secret that you wanted to tell me, Imma."
"Do you see those two house-plants over there, Devora?"
"Yes, Imma. One looks very strong and healthy. But the other one is barely alive."
"When I bought them, they looked the same. I planted one in a flowerpot filled with good, rich soil. It grew big, strong, and beautiful. The other one was planted in weak soil. It hardly grew at all."
"Imma, tell me the secret."
"A person is like the plant, and the home is like the soil in the pot. When a person grows up in a good home, he will flourish. His body and soul will receive the nourishment that they need to bloom into a healthy, strong, productive adult. If not, cholila, the person will find it much more difficult to meet life's challenges. That is why my work in the home is so important. It helps to make you into beautiful people. This is the secret to the most precious thing in the world."
"Imma, how do you know this?"
"We have a hint in this week's parsha. The Torah writes that Dinah, the daughter of Leah went out to see the daughters of the land where they were living (Bereshis 34:1). Unfortunately, a terrible thing happened to her when she went out. The Medrash Tanchuma comments on this event by quoting a verse in Tehillim (45:14), 'All of the honor of a princess in inside.' When a woman is modest within her home, she atones for her family members. Just as the holy altar atones for the Jewish people, so too she atones for her people. When a woman is modest within her home, she becomes like a fruitful vine. Her children become like strong olive trees."
"Imma, that is beautiful."
"The home is the woman's field of endeavor. That is where she can be creative. That is where she can create life's most valuable possessions."
Beautiful daughters, we are counting upon you. You are our future. You create the next generation. You make the home that nurtures them into beautiful people. Where would we be without people? Nowhere. Where would we be without you? Nowhere. We appreciate you!
After thirty-four years of separation, Yaakov is on his way to meet his brother Eisav. He is informed that Eisav is coming to meet him with 400 men at his side. "And Yaakov was very frightened . . ." (Bereshis 32:8). What was he afraid of? Yaakov certainly had emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust) in Hashem. He also had the zechus (merit) of many mitzvos to protect him. He learned Torah with Shem and Ever for fourteen years. He observed all 613 mitzvos in the house of Lavan. He was scrupulously honest in all of his dealings. But what about Eisav? The Medrash (76:2) explains that Eisav also had mitzvos to his merit. "All of these years he (Eisav) honored his parents. He will come to battle me with the strength of that mitzvah on his side." For those thirty-four years, Eisav honored his parents and Yaakov did not. Think about the implications of this. Even with all of his merits, Yaakov was still afraid of Eisav because he had honored his parents. This shows the importance of honoring ones parents.
Honoring Abba and Imma is one of the mitzvos whose reward is mentioned directly in the Torah. "Honor your father and mother so that your days will be lengthened" (Shemos 20:12). We honor them by helping them and serving them. Standing up for them, listening and not contradicting them shows our reverence for them. By honoring our parents, we are really honoring Hashem. Let us all do our best to strengthen our observance of this very important mitzvah.
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