Kinder Torah - Parshat Chukat
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
The Value of Shalom
"What a beautiful gem! What is it?"
"Look at how it sparkles. It must be very valuable."
"It is quite expensive."
"The ring that it is set in is also nice. I have a silly question for you. If you needed the ring for something else, would you throw away the diamond to use the ring?"
"Of course not. The diamond is much more valuable than the ring."
This week's parsha relates the death of Aharon HaKohen (Bamidbar 20:27-29). The entire Jewish people, both men and women mourned him, because he was a lover and pursuer of peace.
People sometimes get confused. They have a good relationship with a friend or a neighbor. Then they get into a disagreement about money, or building repairs, or a seat in shul. What do they do? They allow the disagreement to ruin the relationship and they bear a grudge against the person. Good relationships between people are as valuable as diamonds. They are the shalom in the world that Hashem wants so much. Throwing away a good relationship over a money dispute is like throwing away the diamond and saving the ring.
Don't get confused. Let Aharon HaKohen be your guide. Always make good relationships your main goal. Always try to be nice and giving to people in order to develop good relationships. When you get into disagreements, do not let them ruin the relationship. Usually the disagreement is over something that is worth far less than the relationship. Save the relationship and keep the diamond for yourself.
"Okay partner, what should we do? Buy or sell?"
"I have a hunch this stock is going up. Let's buy 1000 more shares."
They indeed bought 1000 more shares, but the partner's hunch was wrong. The stock went down and they lost thousands of dollars.
"I'm sorry partner. You caused me a big loss. Our partnership is finished."
The Medrash Rabba (Bamidbar 19:15) says that this is the way of the world. When two people do business and one causes the other a loss, the loser separates from the other one and does not want to see him again. Not so with Moshe Rabbeinu. The Jewish people caused him to lose his opportunity to enter Eretz Yisrael. They complained about the water, which caused Hashem to test Moshe by asking him to speak to the rock. Moshe failed the test and hit the rock. His punishment was the loss of Eretz Yisrael. Did he separate himself from the people who caused him the loss? Definitely not. The very next verse relates that Moshe sent messengers from Kadesh to Edom on behalf of the Jewish people. He still was their leader. Moshe Rabbeinu loved the Jewish people dearly. He held no grudges for the loss they caused him.
Moshe Rabbeinu also teaches us the value of a close relationship. We know how much he wanted to go into Eretz Yisrael. We see how he pleads with Hashem (in parshas Voeschanan) to let him enter the Land. Yet, he would not let his loss of Eretz Yisrael come between him and the Jewish people. This is how we must value our friends, family and neighbors. Sometimes they cause us to lose money or sleep or convenience. These things are small in comparison to a good relationship. Kinderlach, don't get caught up in the small things.
"And Miriam died there (in Midbar Zin) and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation" (Bamidbar 20:1-2). The Keli Yakar explains that the drought was a punishment. They did not give a proper hesped (eulogy) for Miriam. When Moshe and Aharon died the Jewish people cried in mourning. The verse does not mention crying over the death of Miriam. They did not feel the loss at all. Therefore, they lost their source of water. This was to show them that the miraculous well that traveled with them all of these years was in her merit.
Anyone was has gone to a levayo (funeral) and heard the hespedim (eulogies) feels remorse. He hears many good things about the niftar (person who has passed away). Perhaps he feels that he did not appreciate the person fully when he was alive. Perhaps he overlooked that person's good qualities. Perhaps he let bad habits or a silly disagreement prevent him from getting close to the person. He begins to feel regret. He should have gotten closer to him. He should have helped him. Now it is too late. He is gone from this world.
At hespedim, they only say good things about people. It is a zechus (merit) for the niftar. Why wait until then? We can all think of good things to say about people. Say them. When you see the person, think only about his good qualities. Appreciate him. Get close to him. Every person is a treasure. More valuable than diamonds. Learn to recognize the treasure and value it. You will all become very wealthy.
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