Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
APRIL 2007 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE
Sent April 30:
Reminder to please say
Tehillim for the three Shevuyim:
Eldad Ben Tova
Ehud Ben Malka
Gilad Ben Aviva
Special Note One: Chazal
teach that Sinas Chinam is the basis for our current Galus (See Yoma 9A).
The Torah in last week’s Parsha of Kedoshim teaches us “Lo Sisna Es Achicha
B’Livovecha--you shall not hate your brother in your heart” (Vayikra 19:17).
In order for us to better understand this Issur, we provide a special
teaching from the wonderful Sefer Torah Treasury by Rabbi Moshe
Lieber, Shlita (Artscroll, p.302).
“The term ‘Sinas Chinam’ is
usually translated as ‘causeless hatred’. The term does not refer
exclusively to hatred with absolutely no cause because almost all hatred has
“HaRav Nisson Alpert, Z’TL,
explains as follows. When people are hurt, they often suppress their
feelings. Whether out of fear of confrontation or a sense of bravado, they
refuse to try to work things out with the person who caused them their pain.
Instead, the animosity to that person grows stronger.
“Had the person made an effort
to reach an understanding with the one who hurt him, the hatred would have
never reached that level. The extra hatred is ‘chinam’--it came about for
no good reason.”
Let us take this penetrating
yet practical lesson to heart and try to eliminate and avoid Sinas Chinam in
our lives right now and in the future.
Special Note Two: Two
additional notes on “V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Komocha”:
A Holocaust Survivor (Mr. Landau from
Hungary) relates how he and hundreds of others were on a train bound for
Auschwitz towards the end of the war. The train stopped abruptly when
Allied bombs started to fall around it, and everyone was ordered to
disembark and take cover. A Nazi supply train stopped at the same
location as well, and the enemy soldiers scattered for cover. The
bombing stopped and the prisoners were ordered back on the train. In
the upheaval, Mr. Landau found a crate of sardines on the supply train
and brought it back with him to the Auschwitz transport. As all the
prisoners alighted back onto the train, he handed them each a can of
sardines which the hungry captives began to eat with zeal. The
Nazi soldiers came back on the train and noticed many Jews eating the
sardines. They asked the prisoners who had given them the cans, and no
one replied. The soldiers surprisingly left the train, and Mr. Landau’s
life was spared--because instead of hiding the cans for himself, he had
shared them with as many people as he could. Chazal (Vayikra Rabbah 34)
teach that “more than the wealthy person does for the poor person, the
poor does for the wealthy”. This last story is a similar indication of
how the proper fulfillment of loving another as yourself did more for
Mr. Landau than it did for the others on the train--for it actually
saved his life.
The following is brought in Growth
Through Torah (p. 282).
Chaim Koldetzky related to his family how he was once a guest at the home of
the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim personally made the bed for him
and prepared his pillow and blankets. Rabbi Koldetzky was startled to see
that after preparing the bed, the Chofetz Chaim laid down on the bed for a
few seconds to make sure it was sufficiently comfortable for his guest!
As we go through the day with
the various acts of Chesed we perform for acquaintances, friends, and
family, let us remember to take the extra step(s) necessary to elevate the
level of our Mitzvah to a degree that Mr. Landau, or even the Chofetz Chaim,
would be proud of!
Sent April 27:
Shatnez Alert: Hakhel
received a Shatnez Alert regarding a ladies’ “Betty Jackson Studio” suit
manufactured in Turkey and purchased in England, at TK Maxx. The content
label of the suit listed its content as 70% Acrylic, 14% Polyester, 14%
Wool, 2% Other Fabrics. Upon checking, it was revealed that the “other
fabrics” included linen and that the garment was considered Shatnez.
The lesson here is that
garments listing “other fabrics” should always be checked.
For more information on this
or other Shatnez matters, please contact the International Association of
Professional Shatnez Testers at (732) 905-2628 or by email at
Kashrus Alert: Don’t get your
hopes up! General Mills’ Lucky Charms cereal is NOT OU certified. Any
Lucky Charms boxes that you find with an OU should be brought to the store
manager as they are labeled incorrectly, and are being recalled.
Special Note One: We have
been advised that one is free to send as many correspondences as he may wish
to the President relating to Jonathan Pollard, and that the President takes
each correspondence into consideration. Every correspondence, then, becomes
a separate Mitzvah on your part.
Special Note Two: On the
mitzvah of “V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Komocha”, one reader provided the following
“When I tell a friend about a
particular tz’aar or illness, I am sure to say ‘lo aleichem’--that this
trouble or misery should not befall them. Conversely, when I receive a
Bracha from someone, I am always careful to say at the very least ‘V’Chayn
l’Mar--may you be blessed in kind, as well.’”
Special Note Three: In
yesterday’s Bulletin, we wrote that one must rise when an elderly person
comes within four amos of where you are sitting (it being then evident that
you are standing out of respect for him). We additionally wrote that one
should remain standing until the elderly person has passed from in front of
you. A reader pointed out that it is the opinion of the Vilna Gaon (in his
gloss to Shulchan Aruch) that one should not sit down until the elderly
person is at least four amos away from where you have stood up. Another
reader referred to the Sefer HaChinuch on this Mitzvah (in this
week’s Parsha), who writes that the reason we stand for the elderly is
because they have, over the years, developed a greater understanding of
Hashem’s wonders in the world!
Special Note Four: The Torah
in this week’s Parsha (Vayikra 19:3) states that “a person must fear his
mother and father and observe the Shabbos.” Why does the Torah
relate the honor of parents to Shabbos observance? Although there may be
several answers to this question (see e.g., Rashi and Sifra there), Rabbi
Moshe Faskowitz, Shlita, a scion of the great Novordaker dynasty, suggests
the following wonderful approach: When it comes to Shmiras Shabbos, one
cannot be too busy, too involved in something else, too taken, to do what he
has to do in order to observe, and not Chas V’Shalom, violate, the Shabbos.
Indeed, when Shabbos arrives, one cannot say he needs “just another five
minutes” or that “he will turn on the fire just a little bit later” because
he is too busy now. So too, when it comes to our parents (especially
elderly parents), no matter how busy one is--even if he is the busiest
person in the world, ONE CAN NEVER BE TOO BUSY TO HAVE TIME FOR HIS PARENTS.
Every person must apply this
great insight to his own circumstances. Your parents are like your Shabbos.
This is what the Torah instructs.
Special Note Five: This
week’s Parsha begins by teaching us that we should be holy--“Ki Kadosh Ani
Hashem Elokaichem” (Vayikra 19:2)--you shall be holy, for I am holy…. It
behooves us, then, to further sense, to further appreciate, the sanctity of
Hashem. The Kaddish (Holiness) Prayer, which is recited so many
(approximately ten) times in Shul daily, and is so holy in and of itself,
that it requires a Minyan for its recitation, describes the feelings we
should have for the Kedusha of Hashem in the World.
With this in mind, we provide
a card in both
English (please click the links), which explains the entire Kaddish,
phrase-by-phrase. This is a recent monumental work, prepared by Rabbi Meir
Birnbaum, Shlita, author of the Pathway to Prayer series (in Hebrew,
the Kuntrus Avodas HaTefillah). The Hebrew version of the card
received the approval of HaRav Chaim Kanievski, Shlita. For laminated
copies of the card, or for any comments, you may call Rabbi Birnbaum at
One final thought, as we are
instructed to be “Kedoshim” by our Parsha this Shabbos, let us pay special
attention to, and try to instill just a bit more additional spirit of,
Kedusha …into tomorrow’s Shabbos Kodesh!
Sent April 26:
Special Note One: Each one of
us is urged to write a personal letter to President Bush, as often as
possible, which conveys a SHORT, SIMPLE, AND STRAIGHTFORWARD MESSAGE:
April 26, 2007
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
pardon Jonathan Pollard.
Pollard has served long enough. The time has come to free him.
You may, of course, add
additional text if you wish. Please provide this form of letter to as many
people as you can.
Special Note Two: In this
week’s Parsha, we find the immense Mitzvah of “V’Ahavta L’Rayacha Komocha” (Vayikra
19:18)--you shall love your fellow as yourself. The scope and breadth of
this “K’lal Gadol B’Torah--great principle of the Torah” (Shabbos 31A)
includes the following situations which are listed in, or based upon, the
teachings of Love Your Neighbor (by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, the
wonderful work referred to yesterday). The Mitzvah is fulfilled when:
A craftsman or worker is mindful that he is
making a product, or performing a service, not merely for a source of
income, but also for the benefit or pleasure of the person who will use
Teaching another person Torah;
Forgiving one who has hurt or offended you;
Helping someone by making change for a
larger bill or coin, or giving them a quarter for the parking meter;
Going out of your way not to keep people
waiting--trying to be the first one present on a conference call or for
Intentionally steering clear of annoying
others--such as not slamming doors, making screeching noises with your
nails, or doing something to which another person present would respond
with “Uch”! or “How could you do that?!” Note here that the “L’Rayacha
Komocha” is dependent on the person who is present, and is not the
standard of the average person. You must specifically relate to the
person who is with you;
Bringing good news or happiness to others;
Getting some air or taking a walk with
someone who appears troubled or is clearly in need of talking;
Complimenting someone for their job, effort,
or appearance; and
Giving Tzedakah to someone, or helping
someone with something he needs help with, **BEFORE** being asked.
In honor of this Mitzvah we
are attaching our “Ahavas Yisroel Checklist”, which provides some practical
suggestions and reminders on a daily basis.
After having read this Note,
how about writing the letter on behalf of Jonathan Pollard right now,
addressing the envelope, and reciting chapter 121 for Yehonasan Ben Malka?
Special Note Three: In this
week’s Parsha of Kedoshim, we also find the great Mitzvah of “Mipnei Sayva
Takum…” (Vayikra 19:32)--In the presence of an elderly person shall you
rise, and you shall honor the presence of a Sage....
The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah
244) rules that one must rise if a person over the age of 70 (even if
unlearned, but provided he/she is not wicked) enters within your 4 amos
(i.e., within 6-8 feet of you). One should remain standing until he/she has
passed from in front of you. Respect does not only consist of rising, but
also includes respectful words and a helping hand (ibid. 244:7). Let us
take a moment to reflect upon our diligence in the performance of this
Mitzvah as it may apply in our own homes, in the homes of friends and
relatives, in Shul, in doctor’s offices, and in the various situations that
may present themselves to us throughout the day. Let us also thank Hashem
for giving us the opportunity to be in their presence (and having the
opportunity to learn from them, if applicable)--and making it a Mitzvah on
top of that!
Additional Note: Some
opinions hold that the minimum age to which respect must be accorded is
actually 60 and not 70.
Did you say hello to at least one person before they said
hello to you?
Did you make someone smile or laugh today? Did you boost someone’s
Were you truly happy to hear good news about a friend? Even if you
wish that the same good news would happen to you?
Did you judge someone favorably today? Did you see people
positively—or did you sum up their lifestyle, pros and cons, with one glance
of the eye?
How often did you find yourself talking about someone else?
Did you actually do any of the following:
Visit a sick person
Help the needy in some way
Invite a guest without family in town for a Shabbos meal
Patronize Jewish products and stores
Help a single person find a Shidduch
Sincerely ask Hashem to bring the Geulah for all of us
(This checklist is based largely on a
checklist developed by N’shei Ahavas Chesed of Brooklyn.)
HOW TO BE HOLY
One of this week’s Parshios,
Kedoshim, contains 51 mitzvos. We present below several important notes
from Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (citations and
sources presented there have been omitted-please refer to this wonderful
Sefer directly for further detail):
Parshas Kedoshim begins with the words
“Daber El Kol Adas Bnei Yisroel--speak to the entire congregation of
Bnei Yisroel.” The Chasam Sofer comments that to attain holiness one
need not be isolated and withdrawn from the rest of society. On the
contrary, the Torah’s admonition here to be “Kedoshim--to be holy--was
especially stated in front of the entire congregation. A person must
learn how to sanctify himself by behaving properly amongst people!
“Lo Sa’ashok” (Vayikra 19:13)--the
prohibition of withholding money. In order not to be guilty of
withholding someone’s wages, or payments due to a worker, you should
always reach an agreement about payment before he begins doing the job.
Failure to decide on a price in advance usually leads to arguments
later on, with the results that both sides feel cheated. The Chofetz
Chaim’s son wrote that his father would not ask someone to do any work
for him without first reaching an agreement as to all the details of the
job, including the price. If for some reason they could not settle upon
a price before hand, the Chofetz Chaim would pay whatever the worker
“Lo Sikallel Chayreish” (Vayikra 19:14)--it
is forbidden to curse even the deaf who are unable to hear the curse,
all the more so is it forbidden to curse people who are able to hear.
Saying to someone “G-d should punish you” is a violation of this
prohibition. Note that it is considered using G-d’s name even when the
name is not in Hebrew. Although using G-d’s name constitutes a more
serious offense, it is nonetheless forbidden to curse someone without
using G-d’s name as well. For example, it is forbidden to say “Drop d -
- d” or the like to someone.
“B’Tzedek Tishpot Amisecho” (Vayikra
19:15)--you shall judge your fellow man with righteousness. In
Yerushalayim, there is a group that regularly discusses practical ways
to judge people favorably. A member of the group gives true-to-life
situations, and everyone else offers explanations that would present the
person involved in a favorable light. For instance:
You did not receive an invitation to a
wedding. Possibilities: A. Perhaps the person was under the impression
that he had already sent you an invitation B. Perhaps he sent it to you
and it was lost in the mail. C. Perhaps he cannot afford to invite so
You are standing in a bus stop with a heavy
load of packages, and a neighbor drives by in an empty car and does not
offer you a ride. Possibilities: A. Perhaps he was only going a short
distance. B. Perhaps he has already committed himself to pick up some
other people. C. Perhaps he has a problem that weighed on his mind so
heavily that he couldn’t think of anything else.
You are hoping someone would invite you to
his house, but he failed to do so. Possibilities: A. Perhaps someone in
his family is ill. B. Perhaps he is planning to be away from home. C.
Perhaps he did not have enough food in his house.
“Lo Sisna es Achicha Bilvovecha” (Vayikra
19:16)--you shall not hate your brother in your heart. The Chofetz
Chaim writes that if someone has embarrassed or humiliated you, you
should not hate him. Although he has committed a transgression, he has
actually rendered you a service--for when a person suffers humiliation
in silence, it atones for any sins he may have. The situation is
analogous to that which someone prepared a hot bath for you. Although
it may cause you some pain, it will also cleanse you. Keeping this
thought in mind should prevent feelings of hatred from arising. There
is a proven method of changing someone’s feelings of hatred towards you.
You should consider him as if he were righteous and treat him
favorably. In a very short time, that person will begin to like you. Ravid
HaZahav interprets this verse, “You shall not hate your brother BECAUSE
of your heart.” You might have a warm heart and do favors for others.
Nevertheless, if your friend lacks this trait, do not hate him for it.
*“Hochayach Tochiach Es Amisecho, V’lo Siso
Alov Chait” (19:17)--you shall rebuke your fellow man, and you shall not
bear sin because of him. We are commanded to correct someone who
behaves improperly, whether in matters pertaining to man’s relations
with G-d or man’s relationship with his fellow man.
important rule to remember about rebuke is that it must be administered with
love and as painlessly as possible. Only when the recipient of rebuke feels
that the rebuker loves him, will he readily accept the admonition.
people mistakenly think that the commandment to admonish others applies only
to Rabbis and teachers. But the truth is that every single person, even if
he is unlearned, who sees someone behaving improperly is obligated to rebuke
him. Quite often the rebuke of a friend will be more effective than the
rebuke of a Rabbi. Some people might not heed the admonition of a Rabbi
with the following rationalization: “If I were a Rabbi I would or would not
do such and such. But I’m just an ordinary layman.” If, however, their
friend rebukes them, they are likely to think to themselves: “If he is
careful about this matter, then I should be, too.” The author of the
Noam Hatochocho writes that the mitzvah of correcting others is a Mais
Mitzvah (a Mitzvah that is improperly ignored). There are many Mitzvah
observers who do not realize that correcting others is obligatory and not
merely meritorious. The severity of failing to correct others can be seen
from the opinion in the Talmud which states that Yerushalayim was destroyed
because the inhabitants failed to rebuke one another. The Chofetz Chaim
wrote that some people are careful to fulfill the commandments themselves,
but never try to influence others to fulfill them. In essence, they are
saying, “I won’t suffer in gehinnom, so I don’t have to…..” Such a person
is selfish for he thinks only about himself and his own reward. He shows a
lack of feeling for Hashem’s honor and his fellow man’s spiritual welfare.
He is also wrong--for he will be held responsible for failing to perform
this essential Mitzvah.
* When you
rebuke someone, you must do so privately so as not to embarrass him. This
applies both when the matter pertains to his having wronged you, and when
the matter pertains to his improper behavior relating to his obligations to
transgresses in public, you should rebuke him immediately so as not to cause
a Chillul Hashem. For example, if someone is in the middle of speaking
Loshon Hora in front of a group of people, it is correct to point out his
transgression immediately, even though other people are present. Of course,
this should be done in the most tactful manner possible (HaRav Eliashiv,
be very careful not to grow angry when rebuking someone. Rebuke delivered
in anger will not be heeded. Even when you admonish your children or other
members of your family, you should do so in a pleasant tone of voice.
admonishing someone, offer a prayer that your admonition should be delivered
in a manner that will be effective.
person you have rebuked did not heed you the first time, you should continue
to rebuke him as many times as necessary until he corrects his ways. The
Talmud says “Even a hundred times”. The Chofetz Chaim gives an analogy to
someone who sells apples from a stand. He will keep calling out “Apples for
sale!” the entire day. Even if only one passerby in a hundred heeds his
sales pitch, it is worthwhile. This is his livelihood, and he cannot afford
to remain silent. The same is true of rebuke. Of course, a person does not
always effect a change in the recipient of his rebuke. But even if he is
successful only occasionally, it is worth his efforts.
should feel love for someone who rebukes him. A person is willing to pay a
doctor for trying to heal him; how much more grateful should he be to
someone who corrects his spiritual failings.
*If a whole
group of people are in need of correction, you will be most successful if
you admonish each person individually. Speaking to the group as a whole
will not have the same effect.
person heeds you and improves his ways, all the Mitzvos he subsequently
performs as a consequence of this reproof bring reward to you as well as the
doer himself (Vilna Gaon in Even Shlaima 6:7).
Special Note One: We received
the following beautiful thought from one of our readers:
“Chazal relate: ‘Shnaim Asar
Elef Zugos Talmidim haya lo l’Rebbe Akiva v’lo nohagu kovod zeh bazeh--Rebbe
Akiva had 12,000 pairs of students who did not conduct themselves
respectfully with each other.’ Why do Chazal say that Rebbe Akiva had 2
times 12,000 talmidim? Why not just say that he had 24,000 students that
were not respectful to each other??
The answer may be that, of
course, when they were all together in the dining room and one asked the
other to pass the Corn Flakes, or when saying “Good Morning or “Good Night”,
they were all very gracious and answered with a smile. But that’s not
where the true test was. The test presents itself when two chavrusos sit
down for hours together and one comes up with a good “Kashe--question” or a
“S’vorah--line of reasoning” that is enlightening--is it accepted
graciously? When one pours out his heart to the other about a difficult
situation that he is going through is the other empathetic--or is his mind
elsewhere? The same is true in relationships between spouses, siblings etc.
Chazal here are not referring to dealings by and among acquaintances. They
are referring to the close relationships between “Zugos”, people close to
each other, those we perhaps take for granted. That’s the true test of
“Noheg Kovod Zeh Bazeh”.
There are now only four (4)
weeks left to the Omer…try to apply this lesson every day until Shavuos!
Special Note Two: What does
Hashem really want? Dovid HaMelech himself (Tehillim 147:11) writes “Rotze
Hashem Es Yereiav…Hashem wants those who fear Him, those who **look out for
His kindness**.” From this Posuk, it is clear that, succinctly stated,
Hashem would like us to recognize, acknowledge and appreciate that our
entire existence is permeated and imbibed with His Chasodim--Kindnesses. It
is therefore no coincidence that, in another Posuk in Tehillim (26:3), Dovid
HaMelech specifically relates “Ki Chasdicha L’Neged Aiynei--[I place] Your
kindness in front of my eyes.” Every so often during the day we should take
a moment or two to recognize and express our appreciation for the multitude
of kindnesses that Hashem is performing for us at that very moment--and try
to tangibly feel and experience as many of them as possible. Take the
senses, for example. Sight and the beauty of what you can see; hearing and
the consequent words of Torah you can learn from others; smell and an
appreciation of necessary nutrients entering your body in a pleasant way;
walking with your feet, legs and hips in concert to Shul, to work and to
help others; touching and being able to hold, push and move objects for the
benefit of yourself and others.
Of course, this is only a
cursory list of some of the immediate items around us. As we have noted in
the past, the beautiful prayer known as “Nishmas” which is recited on
Shabbos, Yom Tov, on the night of the Seder, and by some at a Seudas Hoda’ah--a
meal of thanks, contains the following moving words: “Were our mouth as full
of song as the sea [is of water], and our tongue as full of joyous song as
its multitudes of waves, and our lips as full of praise as the breadth of
the heavens, and our eyes as brilliant as the sun and the moon, and our
hands as outspread as eagles of the sky and our feet as swift as hinds
[deer]--we still could not thank You sufficiently Hashem our G-d and the G-d
of our forefathers, and bless Your name for even one of the
thousand-thousand, thousands of thousands and myriad myriads of favors that
You performed for our ancestors and for us… (Translation from the
Complete Artscroll Siddur).
Each and every one of us is
faced with concomitant daily, short-term, and long-term troubles, trials and
tribulations, which may be or are very difficult and very real. We should
not, however, lose sight of all that we have to be thankful for. Another
sunrise, another day of life, is truly, in all reality, another opportunity
to acquire everlasting eternity through the performance of Mitzvos and
proper conduct in life. As HaRav Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, recently
related at a Hakhel Shiur in the name of one of his Baalei Batim--“My cup
may be smaller than that of others--but it is still full!!”
When we realize that we have
moments in which we can ponder a bit (or when we are reflective enough to
create those special moments), let us think of the words of Nishmas cited
above , and let us emulate the words of Dovid HaMelech (who went through so
many trials and tribulations in his own life), as he declared to the world:
[I place] Your kindness in front of my eyes!
Special Note One: Yesterday, the 28th day of Nissan, marked the
day that Yericho fell to the Hakafos and Shofar blasts (and not to the
military prowess) of B’nei Yisroel. It was none other than Yehoshua Bin Nun
who composed Aleinu at that time in recognition of Hashem’s Omnipotence--and
the thanks that we owe Him for our position in this world! According to the
Sefer Chareidim, as brought in the Siddur Rashban, Aleinu was
actually recited forwards and then backwards by Yehoshua and Bnei Yisroel,
and this was the final blow that caused the walls to fall in. This Tefillah
is so crucial to us that we recite it at the end of each of our daily
prayers, and it is the essence of our Tefillos on Rosh Hashanah and Yom
Kippur (where we additionally genuflect). The Rema in Shulchan Aruch (Orach
Chaim 132:2) writes that we should be careful to recite Aleinu with Kavanah
each day. Most certainly, this week--the anniversary week--we should be
most careful to recite it from a Siddur, and with sincere reflections of
Special Note Two: Chazal teach that on Pesach we are judged on “Tevua”--for
the success of our crops. The Gemara there reconciles the concept of
judgment on Rosh Hashanah with the judgment that occurs on other days of the
year, including Hashem’s judgment of our sustenance on Pesach. In all
events, at this time of year we recognize that Hashem is ultimately in
charge of our Parnassa--and it is not our business acumen, gifted
intelligence or ordinary or extraordinary efforts that bring about our
success, or even the basic food on our plates, or clothes that we wear.
Just as Hashem took us from the Makkos to the Splitting of the Sea, Hashem
also writes the script for our livelihood. Thus, aside from pleading with
Hashem three times daily in “V’Seyn Bracha” in Shemone Esrei for Hashem to
provide us with prosperity, we may also demonstrate our absolute awareness
of Hashem’s graciousness in another way. From time to time, when we are
thinking about how to be successful on a particular project at work, which
investment to make, how to get a customer or client or some other monetary
matter, you may want to consciously catch the thought and switch it to a
D’var Torah, or think about a Mitzvah that you could perform. This would
affirmatively demonstrate that you fully and ultimately recognize,
acknowledge and believe that it is Hashem who takes care of you in Olam
Hazeh--and it is you who must take care of your Olam Habah.
Special Note Three: The Tur (Orach Chaim 417) writes that each of the
Shalosh Regalim corresponds to one of the Avos, with Pesach corresponding to
Avraham Avinu, whose primary middah was Chesed (See Micha 7:20). It is
certainly no coincidence(as it never is) that Pesach, which symbolizes the
Chesed of Hashem in redeeming us, is followed by the Holiday of Shavuos,
which is represented by Yitzchok Avinu--and the Gevura of the study of
Torah. The message is clear: We must first improve our acts of Chesed, in
order to be worthy to receive the Torah on Shavuos.
Mitzvah of escorting a guest out of our home is an act of Chesed which is
greatly under-appreciated, to say the least. The Chofetz Chaim (Sefer
Ahavas Chesed 3:2) clearly writes that a guest is protected from harm if
you escort him--and that if you do not escort him, it is “as if you shed
blood!” This ruling of the Chofetz Chaim is based squarely on the ruling of
the Rambam (Hilchos Aveilus 14:2, 3). The Chofetz Chaim (ibid.)
additionally brings from the Rambam that escorting a guest is “the rule that
Avraham Avinu himself established”, and that the reward for escorting is
“merubah min hakol--greater than all.” Although the S’MA to Shulchan Aruch
(Choshen Mishpat 427) writes that one need not escort guests for any
specified distance, the Chofetz Chaim explains that it is definitely “assur”-forbidden-for
a guest to be mochel the Mitzvah of Liviya--being escorted--by his host, and
“cholila--Heaven forbid”--for one to suggest that one is free of this
Mitzvah initiated by Avraham Avinu. If one additionally helps show the way
or assists the traveler in any other manner, the Mitzvah is even further
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: Let us demonstrate an extra level of care and
concern for all who visit our home by escorting them, and perhaps guiding
them--enabling them to, B’ezras Hashem, have a safe trip. Let us not forget
to give our guests a final brocha (see Moed Katan 29A) of “L’Chaim U’Lshalom”
as we take leave of them, as well!
In his commentary on Pesach,
HaRav Dessler, Z’TL, writes that life is like a train ride in which one
disembarks at stops along the way to replenish his provisions until he gets
to his final destination. The stops include Shabbos, Pesach, and other
similar special times and events. Similarly, the Ramban in his commentary to
Shir HaShirim (8:3) writes that the way one demonstrates his love of Hashem
is by attaching it to a particular mitzvah or act of accomplishment, so that
it will go beyond mere thought and be actualized in real terms in this
In yesterday’s note, we
provided one example of a Pesach lesson to get us to the “next stop”. We
must recognize that the physical pounds that we may have gained over Pesach
is symbolic of the spiritual weight which we really should have gained--and
not shed--in the days and weeks after the Holiday. Accordingly, we provide
the following additional clear lessons we all undoubtedly learned over
Pesach, and some practical way to implement each one in our daily lives:
Hakaras HaTov—Such as Moshe Rabbeinu recognizing the good that the earth,
the water, and Basya Bas Paroh did on his behalf. There are also many
examples--what we owe to the dogs, the donkeys--and even the Egyptians for
being our hosts for so long.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: Pick one person in your home or office and show
him/her an added level of thanks or respect daily in recognition of what
he/she has done for you, even if it was only a one-time act or event.
Segulas Yisroel—Pesach was a “second creation” for mankind, as it not only
established Hashem as the Creator of the world, but as Ongoing Supervisor of
the world with B’nei Yisroel chosen as the nation to epitomize the purpose
of man’s creation. The commentaries on the Siddur explain “Ata V’Chartanu
M’Kol Haamim” as specifically referring to Hashem choosing to redeem us from
Mitzrayim and giving us the Torah 49 days later. This explains why so many
Mitzvos are “Zecher L’Yetzias Mitzrayim”--because they all emanate from this
great choice--our eternal selection to be mankind’s crown jewel.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: Do something daily--even if it is a Mitzvah--only
because you recognize the gift and opportunity that Hashem has presented you
with in being unique, special and different from all that surrounds you--for
being that crown jewel!
Hashgacha Pratis—Hashem’s care and concern for each individual member of
B’nei Yisroel evidenced by such examples as thousands of children being
saved from the king’s decree of death, by Moshe Rabbeinu being raised in
Paroh’s palace, and B’nei Yisroel walking through Egyptian houses in
daylight as just a few feet away Egyptians were enwrapped in such tangible
darkness that they could not even move.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: At some time during the day, and really as often
as possible, feel the Hashgacha Pratis, Hashem’s watching over you, in your
daily life. There must be a reason that you saw a loose dog, that you met
this particular person, or that you heard that D’var Torah. Also, of
course, remember to say “Baruch Hashem”, “Thank You, Hashem” or “Please Help
Me, Hashem” quietly (or out loud) as many times as possible during the day.
and Punishment—The Egyptians who hid their animals in fear of Hashem were
spared those animals. Similarly, in reward for saying that “Hashem is
righteous”, the Egyptians merited burial after their Yam Suf debacle. On the
other hand, the Egyptians were punished in kind and in proportion to their
level of cruelty and animosity expressed towards Bnei Yisroel, as is
evidenced, for example, by the way each individual Mitzri died at the Yam
Suf--some sinking quickly like lead, others being tossed as stones, and yet
others being thrown about like straw. Even those who were gleeful over our
servitude, such as the bechorim (first born) of other nations, got their
due. May the same exact justice be meted out against each individual Nazi
and each one of our past and present enemies, speedily in our days.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: Before doing a Mitzvah, and prior to or while
contemplating a possible Aveira, recognize that Hashem’s Justice is exact,
accurate, and correct. When one is rewarded for davening with Kavannah, he
will also be rewarded for coming to Shul in the first place, for arriving
there on time, and indeed for every step of the way (instead of turning over
in bed). On the other hand, when one is punished, every hurtful word will be
counted, each mistruth will be weighed and every degree of Chillul Hashem
and Kiddush Hashem will be accounted for. As the Pasuk teaches (Devorim
32:4) “Hatzur Tomim P’Alo…”--perfect is His work, for all His Paths are
just. This is related to the incredible degree of middah k’neged middah
(measure for measure) with which Hashem runs this world (as we learn when
studying the precise nature of each of the ten Makkos). Dovid HaMelech
teaches (Tehillim 121:5) “Hashem is your shadow”--Hashem responds to us and
it is up to us whether that shadow will be dark and gloomy--or illustrious
(nature)—The Makkos, the concomitant freedom of B’nei Yisroel from the
Makkos, the miraculous growth of B’nei Yisroel (from seventy to millions of
people) while in desperate servitude, the entire world’s viewing and
experiencing of the miracles at the Yam Suf, all dispel the concept of
nature and natural existence. Pesach occurs in the spring not only because
it made it easier for B’nei Yisroel to leave, but also for us to appreciate
that what the world calls nature, is really the Hand of Hashem. It is
fascinating to note that the Hebrew word for nature, or Teva, consists of
the same letters as “Tava”, which means to drown, referring us back to the
Sea, to teach us how ‘natural’ events really occur. It is not surprising,
then, that we do not eat Chametz on Pesach, which represents nature taking
its course on flour and water, but instead use Matzah, which demonstrates
control over what would otherwise occur. The Ba’alei Mussar explain that we
must take this lesson and exercise control over our own nature, for the more
we do so, the more we will overcome the physical forces of this world, and
raise ourselves from the impurities surrounding us, up and towards the 49
levels of purity that we must begin to strive for.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: When we see something that looks like a beautiful
or even frightening element of nature, recognize that it is really the Yad
Hashem, and have it serve as a reminder to you of Hashem’s control over
every aspect of the world’s existence--and that you, too, must control your
nature and elevate your precious everyday life to the sublime and spiritual!