Simcha's Torah Stories - Beha'alotcha

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Avi, fancy meeting you here.

I'm on my way to meet my little brother at school.

I am too. We can walk home together.

Ring ring ring ring!

There's the school bell.

Suddenly, the school doors open and the children burst out, running at full speed.

Wow, look at that Chaim. Did you ever see anything like those kids? We had better step out of the way before we are run over.

Chaim slowly shakes his head.

Three thousand three hundred years.

These kids haven't been running that long Chaim. They are not that out of breath.

I know that Avi. I mean to say that things have not changed much in 3300 years.

Sure they have Chaim. Now we have electricity, telephones, washing machines, and a whole lot of inventions that we did not have 3300 years ago.

That's true Avi. But I am taking about human nature.

Oh, I see. What reminded you of that Chaim?

These kids running out of school. A similar thing happened 3300 years ago.

Really? What was it?

If you look in your Chumash in this week's parsha, you will see some funny letters. The letter "nun" is written upside down and backwards before verse 10:35 and after verse 10:36.

Let me open my Chumash and take a look Chaim. Wow, look at that. Why is it written that way?

Rashi explains that these two verses do not really belong in this place. G-d moved them from their proper place in the Chumash and inserted them here.


These verses separate two bad events. Before these verses the Torah writes about how the Jewish people traveled quickly from Har Sinai after the giving of the Torah, like a child running from school. Just as a child feels that he has learned enough for the day, so too they felt that they had learned a lot of Torah. They were afraid that if they stayed longer, G-d might give them more mitzvos.

Afraid? Mitzvos are great! I have a story for you about how great mitzvos are. Do you want to hear it?

Sure Avi.

There was once a man who got a job polishing gems. He was to be paid for each stone that he polished. The first day of work, he received five stones to polish. He happily finished his work and got paid for the day. He noticed that the worker next to him received twenty stones that day. The next day he reported for work and again received five stones to polish. He finished the job quickly and watched his neighbor working hard polishing twenty stones. He was a little upset but figured that since he was new at the job, he did not yet receive a full workload. However, the situation did not change. Every day he received five stones, while his neighbor received twenty. One day, he could no longer hold back. He went to the boss complaining, "What are you doing? Why aren't you giving me more work? I came here to work and make money! Give me work so that I can make money!"

That's a great story Avi.

It is a parable to the mitzvos and their reward. The gems are like mitzvos and the pay is like the reward that we receive for doing the mitzvos. So you see, Chaim, mitzvos may be hard work, but they give us great reward. We came to this world to work at doing the mitzvos to earn the reward. The Mishna in Makkos (3:16) writes: Rebbe Chanania Ben Akashia taught, "G-d wanted to reward the Jewish people. That is why He gave them such a large Torah and so many mitzvos. As the Prophet (Yishayahu 42:21) says, 'Hashem wants the Jews to be tsaddikim, therefore he enlarged and strengthened the Torah.'"

As we are talking, Avi, our little brothers have come out of school.

Come, boys. Let's walk home. We have a story for you.

Great! We're so out of breath after running so hard.

Well, I have news for you. After you hear this story, you will want to run back to school faster than you ran out of school.

What? Run back to school? School's out.

That's what you think.

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Written by Simcha Groffman
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