Kinder Torah - Parshat Mishpatim
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
Yahrtzeit 5th of Adar I, 5736
Be Neat and Organized
"Do not delay bringing your first fruits or your trumah (gifts to the Kohanim)" (Shemos 22:28). Rashi relates that the Torah is warning us to do these mitzvos in the proper order. First bring the bikurim (first fruits), then separate the trumah, and finally the maaser. This is actually one of the 613 mitzvos written in the Torah. The Sefer HaChinuch explains the reason for this mitzvah. When things are done in the proper order, they are done correctly, without confusion. Conversely, if the order is mixed up, mistakes always result.
This mitzvah shows us the great importance of seder (order). Rav Simcha Zissel zt"l, the Altar of Kelm, stressed that seder is one of the foundations of Avodas Hashem (serving Hashem). He saw that the entire Torah is based on precision and order. One moment separates Shabbos and the weekday. One millimeter is the difference between a kosher shechita (proper slaughtering) or a posul (unfit) shechita. One drop of water is the difference between a kosher mikveh and a posul mikveh. In the Kelm Yeshiva, seder was emphasized as a fundamental spiritual value. External disorder is a reflection of internal disarray. If a person's possessions are sloppy, his thoughts are also jumbled. If he is not careful about the cleanliness of his house, he is also lax about the purity of his spirit.
Once Rav Simcha Zissel zt"l, went to visit his son, Nochum, when he was a bochur in Yeshiva. First, he went to the boy's room. He found his possessions in order. From this alone, he could tell that his son was doing well in Yeshiva. Only then did he go to see Nochum.
Who can think of ways to be more orderly? How about leaving five minutes earlier for school, so we can arrive early and relaxed. We can put our toys away right away after we finish playing with them. Then they will not get lost. If we arrange things neatly in our drawers, we will find that we have so much more room. Also, we can find things much more easily. Just think of how much time you will save if you know where everything is, and do not have to go looking for it. All of these things are a big chessed for Imma. We know how busy she is and how hard she works. Why should she have to clean up our mess? Keeping our hands and face clean, and our clothes neat and clean is also very important. Kinderlach, all of these things help us to be happier, more relaxed and serve Hashem better.
Stay Far Away
"Distance yourself from a false matter" (Shemos 23:7). The Pele Yoatz writes that this refers to speaking sheker (lies and falsehoods). The words, "distance yourself" are not used by the Torah in reference to any other sin. Therefore, one can see how harmful it is to speak falsely. We must stay very far away from a lie. The Orchos Tsaddikim lists nine different categories of sheker. Some examples include not fulfilling a promise, or saying that you did something when you really did not do it.
Sometimes we are careless and break a plate. Then Imma comes into the room and asks, "Did you break the plate?" To say "no, Imma" might seem easy. There will not be any scolding or punishment. However, Hashem heard our words. His punishment for sheker is much worse than what would happen if we admitted the truth to Imma. A person who becomes a habitual liar will have many problems in his life. Besides all of the sins he accumulates, he loses his credibility, both to himself and to others. Even when he speaks the truth, he will not be believed. As Avos D'Rebbe Nosson writes (30:4), "This is the punishment of a liar. Even when he tells the truth, they do not believe him."
One of the main subjects of Parshas Mishpatim is the law of property damages. Forty verses and ten mitzvos are devoted to these laws, including damages inflicted by a person's property, his actions, and his negligence. This is such an important subject that an entire Mesechta in the Talmud (Bava Kamma) is dedicated to it. It is very important to guard your property so that it does not damage anyone. When you are watching or borrowing someone's object, you must be very careful to take good care of it. Having things is a privilege, but also a responsibility. Make sure that you fulfill your responsibilities.
If you leave your toys spread around the floor, someone can trip over them and fall. When you borrow someone else's toy, make sure that you return it in exactly the same condition that it was when you got it. When you are riding your bicycle, ride slowly enough that you can stop if someone crosses your path. Do we even need to mention how dangerous it is to throw rocks and stones? Firecrackers and sparklers can blind or seriously burn a person. If you break something accidentally, make sure to clean up the pieces so that no one will get hurt. Taking care of things shows Hashem that we appreciate what He has given us. It also shows our concern for others. We surely would not want someone to get hurt due to our negligence.
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