Simchat Torah

SimChat Torah is one of the most joyous days in the entire year. We celebrate the completion of the Torah and our commitment to begin again. If one reflects on the entirety of the Torah, one would see that the first mitzvah is peru urvu (to have children) and the last is to write a Sefer Torah (Debarim 31:19).

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro explains that there is a correlation between these mitzvot as it applies to parents’ obligation in the hinuch of their children.

Every parent should realize that the ultimate goal of parenting is to bring up children who are living Sifrei Torah. When we commission a Sefer Torah we look for the best scribe, a scribe who is G-d-fearing and an exemplary individual. In our parental role as “scribes” of our children, are we as meticulous in our Yirat Shamayim? Are we exemplary in every aspect of our lives?

Let’s give two examples. A number of years ago a woman was getting on a bus in Israel. The child had turned five a few months prior. Since one was obligated to pay a separate bus fare for a child of five or over, she told her son, “When the bus driver asks you how old you are, tell him you are four.” The bus arrived and the mother paid only for herself. The bus driver turned to the little boy and asked, “How old are you?” Remembering his mother’s words, the child responded, “Four.” The bus driver then asked, “And when will you be five?” The little boy replied, “The second I get off the bus!”

The second story is : Someone was visiting his relative in Israel, a family with two children, ages eight and nine. The kids were playing a lively game of Monopoly with their friends. The only problem was that it was lasting for many days, each night for a whole week. On Thursday evening, while the children were playing, he asked what was taking so long? As soon as people run out of money the game is over. To that they responded, “Oh, no, not in our game. We started a gemach. When a person is low on money, we just lend him more.” These children instinctively and intuitively understood this concept, for this is exactly what they had witnessed growing up.

Will our children absorb an education of, “I will be five when I get off the bus,” or “We started a gemach”?

As we rejoice on Simhat Torah, let it be with a fervent prayer that we lead our lives as consummate “scribes” and merit raising children who will be living Sifrei Torah.

The Pearls of Life

The Pearls of Life want to remind the nearly 100,000 who around the world now receive the Pearls shouldn’t allow the festivities of the Succos to forget Yom Kippur was only a week ago. HaRav Avigdor Nebenzahl tells us that as the Torah concludes its description of the Yom Kippur service, it presents a precis of sorts: This shall be to you an eternal decree to bring atonement upon the Children of Israel for all their sins once a year [Vayikra 16:34]. The entire Yom Kippur service is described by the Torah as chukat olam, an eternal decree or statute. The term chukim, as opposed to Mishpatim, implies mitzvot whose reasoning lies beyond the grasp of our limited human intellect. Yom Kippur is beyond Human Comprehension. What aspect of Yom Kippur is a chok? The entire concept of Yom Kippur is beyond our understanding! There can be no greater chok than a day that atones, a day that contradicts everything that we are accustomed to during the rest of the year. The concept of teshuvah [repentance] contradicts the regular order of the world. Anything a person does affects either the present or the future. Is there anything we can do now that will retroactively affect what has already taken place? Teshuvah is capable of doing just that! When we repent out of love [teshuvah me’ahavah], we are moving backward in time and transforming our past sin into a mitzvah. The moment Yom Kippur begins, the teshuvah [repentance] goes into effect. During that moment, the inexplicable happens the past is rewritten! Let us all keep that past rewritten with no new negative entries into our book of Life.

Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim

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