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Section:  Avodah   Category: Chanoch L'Naar
Parshas Re'eh: The Kotzker Rebbe - Filling Our Children's Needs

The Peninim Al HaParsha tells a story of a Rebbe once came to Kotzk to visit with the Rebbe Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk.  The Kotzker Rebbe made a big Seudah in his visitor's honor.  It was known to all the chasidim that the Kotzker did not think very highly of this Rebbe so after the visiting Rebbe left they all asked the Kotzker in bewilderment why he threw such a grand party which was totally out of character for him. 

He answered that it says (Devarim 15:8), "Dai Machsoro Asher Yechsar Loi", you need to fill the poor person's needs.  The gemara Kesubos (67b) says that if you must support him to the standard he is used to.  Even a horse to ride on or even a slave to run before him.  The Kotzker asked, a horse I understand, but why an Eved to run before him?  If he wants something that is "Shtus" and nonsensical why must we give it to him.  Yet the gemara says that if that is what he is accustomed to, it is your obligation to give it to him.  We see from here that giving a fool his foolish desires is also considered Gemilas Chesed.  So too explained the Kotzker, he had an obligation to make a big seudah for the visiting "Rebbe".   

Our children have many requests and wishes.  Many of them very foolish from our point of view.  How do we deal with them?  I for one, am not really into supplying foolish things to meet my children's insatiable appetite just because someone in their class has it or because they themselves have too much time on their hands to dream up these ridiculous things.  However this vort makes you stop and think.  Maybe sometimes (and I say sometimes) it may be better to give them their perceived need.  Then after you have done your chesed and they are happy you can switch hats and become the Mechanech and explain to them why they don't really need an Eved running before them.  After you've made them happy they may be more open to accept you opinion, especially since they know it is not self serving since you already have gone through the bother of giving them what they wanted.  

I don't know when and where this would apply best, and certainly not in all cases. This is a novel but very logical idea if applied and executed right.  I am sure on Shabbos I will have ample opportunity to put this to good use.  So I will think about it, and so can you.  Gut Shabbos!

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