Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Aleph Binah

Once upon a time, not too long ago, there lived a little boy named Menashe. 
He was in first grade and his class was busy learning the Aleph Bais. While the entire class was busy singing the Aleph Bais out loud, Menashe wouldn't join along. If his Rebbe would tell everyone to turn to page Gimmel, Menashe would turn to a different page! And when his Rebbe would ask Menashe to stand up and read aloud from his Aleph Binah, he wouldn't listen!

Some boys tried to talk with Menashe, but he would scream at them and say "Get away from me! I don't like you!"

It didn't take long until he was known as Mean Menashe. 

Throughout the year, Menashe would be rude to his fellow classmates, and never listened to his Rebbe.

One day, as Menashe was sitting in class not paying attention, he realized he was really bored. The class had their Aleph Binah's out, and Menashe had his open to the first page. He took the fingernail of his thumb and started scratching on the letter Aleph. Soon, he scratched away the entire letter! Next, he scratched off the Raish, then the Nun, and then the Hey. He was about to erase another letter, when his Rebbe caught him "Menashe" he screamed "what are you doing? You are destroying your Aleph Binah!"
And with that, Menashe was sent to the principal's office.

Even though Menashe erased the four letters from his Aleph Binah, they were not gone. Everything holy is still around. So the four letters, the Aleph, Raish, Nun and Hey flew up to Shimayim to where Hashem is.
They cried, saying: "Hashem! We have been in that Aleph Binah for many years. Hundreds of little Jewish boys have learned to read the Aleph Bais through us, so that they can read and love the Torah. But now, because of Mean Menashe, we will never be able to teach another little Jewish boy the Aleph Bais! What is going to be?!"

Hashem replied "You will see, it will all be good."

First grade came to a close, and Menashe was still mean. 
Second grade began, and Menashe did not change his ways. He never looked in the Chumash or played with the other boys.
At the end of second grade, the Aleph, Raish, Nun and Hey again went before Hashem:
"Hashem, it has been one year since Mean Menashe has erased us. And still, nothing has changed! What is going to be?"

Once again, Hashem replied "You will see, it will all be good."

Third grade came, and Menashe was still mean. His parents didn't know what to do with him. They thought that maybe he was sick, so they took him to see Dr. Schlamazale.

Dr. Schlamazale poked and prodded, looked at his eyes, in his ears, at his throat and at his big toe.  "Hmmmm.." he finally said, "he needs to have grape jelly three times a day!"
Menashe's parents never heard of this, but if that's what the doctor says to do...
So three times a day Menashe ate grape jelly. But he was still Mean Menashe.

He went back to Dr. Schlamazale, and after looking at his tongue and nose and right pinky finger, he said "Four times! He needs grape jelly four times a day!"
So four times a day Menashe ate grape jelly. But he was still Mean Menashe.

Once more he came back to Dr. Schlamazale, and after looking at his hair and chin and left leg, he said "Umm, maybe five times...?"
But even five times a day, he was still Mean Menashe.

At this time, Menashe also stopped talking to everyone. All he would ever say was "No!"

Fourth grade began, and he was still the same Mean Menashe.
The Aleph, Raish, Nun and Hey again went before Hashem and complained:
"It's been three years since we have been erased from the Aleph Binah, and still he is Mean Menashe. What will be?"

Yet once again, Hashem replied "You will see, it will all be good."

It was now the beginning of fifth grade, and the Yeshiva had enough of Menashe. He never played with the other boys, never listened to the Rebbe, and never did his Hebrew homework. They wanted to throw him out of Yeshiva!

But this year, he had a new Rebbe, and his name was Rabbi Zalman. 
Rabbi Zalman always had a smile on his face, and never had anything bad to say about any of his students. "Wait!" said Rabbi Zalman "Don't throw Menashe out. Let me work with him and see if I can figure out what is going on."

So Rabbi Zalman called Menashe's parents, and asked if he could come over after Yeshiva to learn with Menashe. His parents were thrilled that Rabbi Zalman offered to help, since they did not know what to do anymore.

Everyday after Yeshiva, Rabbi Zalman would come to Menashe's house. He would sit in the dinning room with Menashe, while his parents would look on hopefully.
Rabbi Zalman would say "Would you like to learn some Gemorah tonight?"
But Menashe would not answer. So Rabbi Zalman would open the Gemorah and start learning.

The next night, Rabbi Zalman would ask "Would you like to learn some Mishnah tonight?"
Again, Menashe would not answer. So Rabbi Zalman would just open the Mishnah and start learning.

Night after night after night, Rabbi Zalman would come to learn with Menashe, but Menashe would never even look inside.

It was about two months since Rabbi Zalman started coming over to learn with Menashe. Even though Menashe did not look inside, Rabbi Zalman was not giving up.

On this night, Rabbi Zalman asked "Would you like to learn some Chumash tonight?"

Menashe thought to himself; "This Rabbi Zalman is not so bad. He comes over everyday, he tells me stories, makes some funny jokes, and even gives me candy.."

Again, Rabbi Zalman asked "Would you like to learn some Chumash tonight?"
This time, Menashe replied! He said "I can't."

Rabbi Zalman never even heard Menashe speak! "Why can't you Menashe?"

With this, Menashe began crying "I can't because I never understood the Aleph Bais! While everyone else was singing along, I never could follow! And when the Rebbe would tell us to turn to a certain page, I never knew what page it was because I couldn't read the Aleph Bais! But, I didn't want my friends to call me stupid. So I became mean to them, so they wouldn't realize I didn't know and wouldn't be embarrassed!"

At this point, Menashe was crying many tears. Rabbi Zalman's eyes were all watery as well. 
All this time, everyone thought Menashe was mean because he didn't want to learn. But really, he was mean because he didn't know how to learn!

"Your secret is safe with me" said Rabbi Zalman "but I know what we are going to learn tonight."
With that, he took out Menashe's first grade Aleph Binah! He opened it to the first page, and saw that the Aleph, Raish, Nun and Hey were missing. He carefully wrote each letter back exactly the way it was. And then he began singing "Aleph Bais Vais..."

In two weeks' time, Menashe knew the entire Aleph Bais. In another two weeks, he knew all the Nekudos. In a month, he was reading Chumash!

Even though fifth grade came to a close, Rabbi Zalman didn't stop learning with Menashe, and he continued to come over every night. By the time Menashe was to start eighth grade, he didn't need Rabbi Zalman anymore. He would come to school early to prepare the Gemorah, and when his Rebbe would ask a question, his hand would be the first to go up. After school, Menashe would review what he learned that day.

He also was much friendlier to the boys in his class and started playing with everyone.
They stopped calling him Mean Menashe, and started calling him Masmid Menashe.

Well, Menashe grew up and he himself became a Rebbe to help teach other little boys. He soon got married and had a little baby boy. 

At the Bris, the Mohel asked Menashe "What do you want to name your son?"

And Menashe thought about the Aleph, the Raish, the Nun and the Hey he erased from his Aleph Binah. He realized that if you switch the letters around, it spells Ahron.

"I want to name my son" said Menashe "Ahron Zalman!
Ahron for the letters I didn't know how to learn, and Zalman for the Rebbe who showed me how to learn and love the Torah."

Menashe taught his little Ahron Zalman to love and enjoy learning the Torah. 
That little Ahron Zalman grew up to be one of the biggest Rebbi's of all time. He authored many Seforim, answered many difficult questions and was the leading Rabbi of Klal Yisroel.

And just like Hashem said, it all turned out for good.


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