Schlep the Kids Avi Wollman

(2004/5764) When explaining the Mitzvah of Hakhel, Moshe tells
Bnei Yisrael, “Assemble the people – the men the women and
the small children” (31:12). Rabi Elazar ben Azaria
(Masechet Sofrim 18:6, quoted by Rashi) is puzzled by this
statement. He understands why the men and women must
come to Hakhel; however, he is baffled as to why the Torah
commands that the children should join their parent and come
too. He explains that the children are also commanded to
come “to give reward to those who bring them,” i.e. their
parents. However, Rabi Elazar ben Azariah’s question is
seemingly unnecessary and awkward. It would seem to make
more sense for Rabi Elazar to ask a different and more
obvious question: why does the Torah feel it necessary to
make it a commandment for the children to go? Parents are
obviously not going to leave their children home, and must
bring them anyway. Why, then, is there a specific mandate
for the attendance of children?
The question is answered by the Gemara in
Kiddushin (31a), which states that a Mitzvah that one is
commanded to do is greater than one that is done voluntarily.
The Torah went out of its way to add bringing children,
something that people would have done anyway, to the
Mitzvah of Hakhel. This shows us the kindness of Hashem
and the opportunities He gives us to perform Mitzvot. He
gives us as many ways as possible, even easy ones, to earn
merit. Thus, Rabi Elazar stated that the children are
commanded to come “to give reward to those who bring
them.” It is important to seek out all sorts of opportunities for
Mitzvot and Chesed in our communities. We must make time
for them on a regular basis, and do justice to the opportunities
that we have been so abundantly given.

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