It was the last week of summer vacation. Camp was over, and the children had been home all week. They were delighted when their father came home early one Friday afternoon and said, “Come on kids, I’ll take you out to the Botanical Gardens and we’ll all give Mommy a well-deserved rest.”

Off they went to the park, equipped with their balls and snacks.

“Let’s try to find a nice shaded area to play,” their father suggested.

The children raced about happily, stopping to watch the ducks splash noisily in the pond. Soon they found a perfect spot to play. As Shloimie helped take the baby out of the stroller, he pointed to a uniformed man standing nearby. “Daddy, why are there so many guards and policemen in the park? There were at least five others at the entrances we passed. What would anyone want to steal from a park?”

“The city officials built this park so that people could come and enjoy the outdoors,” his father said. “There are many entrances to the park, and these guards watch who and what comes through. They help keep the park safe and orderly. Actually, Shloimie, we’ll be reading about guards and policemen in shul tomorrow.”

Shloimie looked at his father in surprise, “Guards and policemen in the Torah?”

“Yes,” his father replied. “Shoftim describes the judges and officers who were to watch our city gates in order to prevent harmful people or things from entering.”

Shloimie’s father bent down and looked directly into his eyes. “Do you know, Shloimie, that you are just like a miniature city yourself? Your eyes and ears are the ‘gates’ to your ‘city,’ and they allow pictures, sounds, and feelings to come in. But not everything is good for your city. So HaShem told us to place judges and officers at our gates.

“Don’t let everything go through, Shloimie. Judge and decide if the picture you let through your ‘eye gates’ is tzniyus, and if the talk or music you allow through your ‘ear gates’ is proper.

“Be on guard. If you catch something that should not enter through your gates, enforce the law; prevent it from coming in.”

(Adapted from Sichos Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5744)