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Special Note One: We are still in the midst of Geulah--for the last of the four Leshonos of Geulah--Velakachti--refers to Matan Torah, which we are all preparing for. Rebbe Yonasan Eibishitz, Z’tl, writes that the Matzah that we eat on the Leil HaSeder commemorates daily Matzah that the Bnei Yisroel would prepare awaiting the Geulah and anticipating that they would not have time to prepare provisions before they left, and it would all happen in a moment. Pisom Yavo--he can come at any time! Are you prepared--what are you doing daily?!


Special Note Two:  Sometimes a person may find his mind blank, unoccupied, or unfocused.  May we suggest that if one realizes that he is in this situation he think of three words:  Hashem.  Teshuva.  Geulah.  There is a three word parallel in the human relations area on which to focus from this week’s Parsha.  VeAhavta LeReiacha Kamocha.  You can choose one of the two phrases, or both--they should certainly put you back on track!


Special Note Three:  The last Pasuk in Shemone Esrei is also the first Pasuk of the Haftora for Shabbos HaGadol--VeArva LeHashem Minchas Yehuda VeYerushalyim Kiymei Olam U’Cheshanim Kadmonios--then the offering of Yehuda and Yershulayim will be pleasing to Hashem as in days of old and former years (Malachi 3:4).  Why is the Karbon Mincha used as the ultimate example of Nachas to Hashem?  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, answers that when a person brings an animal as a Karbon, he may be essentially bringing something that he put little effort into.  The animal can feed itself, clean itself, and otherwise take care of its needs.  However, in order to make something into bread or Matzah, ten to fifteen Melachos may be involved, and a person may perceive that it his own efforts and skills that is producing the end result.  By bringing this object as a Mincha to Hashem, he acknowledges that it is not Kochi VeOtzem Yadi--his own power and prowess--that produce this result but that Hashem is the true source of anything and everything--including all of what is otherwise perceived to be human effort.  Perhaps we can leave Pesach with a goal to recite this final Posuk of Shemone Esrei three times a day with a special yearning to bring a Karbon Mincha in the Bais HaMikdash--fully and finally demonstrating ones closeness and recognition of Hashem as the source of life and all of the blessing that comes with it!


Additional Note:  The Gematria of Yeiush--despair is 317.  The Gematria of Eliezer--Hashem helps me is 318.  Let us always remember that in any and all events Yeiush should be overridden by the realization of Eliezer.  



Special Note Four:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series:


1.  In Kiddush on Leil Shabbos we recite the words “Zecher LeYetzias Mitzrayim.”--a remembrance of our leaving Egypt .  What does Kiddush on Leil Shabbos have to do with leaving Egypt.  HaRav Yonasan Eibishitz, Z’tl, in Sefer Ya’aros Devash 2:8 provides an incredible explanation-- see there.  Tosfos (Pesachim 117B) writes that in Mitzrayim the Jews were forced to perform the 39 prohibited Melachos on Shabbos, as the term “Bepharech” is equal to the 39 Melachos based upon the Att-Bash formulation.  We thus celebrate our freedom from Bepharech by not performing these Melachos on Shabbos. 


2.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch writes (76:20) that it is not a positive omen for a person to err and begin reciting a weekday Shemone Esrei on Shabbos.  If this happens, the Kitzur writes, one should examine his deeds throughout the entire week, in order to come and repent. 


3.  The Kitzur also writes (77:17) regardless of the number of meals a person eats on Shabbos, he should recite HaMotzi over Lechem Mishne two whole loaves at each meal.  The Kitzur fascinatingly adds:  “Similarly a person who recites Kiddush and eats pastry in the morning before partaking in a meal should have two whole pastries before him (I saw a great Torah sage behaving in this manner).


Special Note Five:  Practical Outlook on Kibud Av V’Aim.  In addressing a crowd of many middle-aged adults, Rabbi Moshe Faskowitz, Shlita, provided the following amazing insight.  The Torah in this week’s Parsha (Vayikra 19:3) states that “Ish Imo VeAviv Tira’u…--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 the Sifra there), Rabbi Faskowitz, a scion of the great Novordaker dynasty, suggested the following novel approach:  When it comes to Shmiras Shabbos, one cannot be too busy, too taken, to do what he has to in order to observe, and not Chas V’shalom violate, the Shabbos.  When Shabbos arrives, one cannot say he needs “another five minutes” or that he “will do it later” because he is too busy now.  So too, when it comes to parents (especially elderly parents), no matter how busy one is-even if he is the busiest person in the world-HE 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 Six:  The following are excerpts relating to this week’s Parsha from the monumental Sefer Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


A. “Lo Signovu--you shall not steal” (Vayikra 19:11)


1.   You are forbidden to steal even the smallest article from either a Jew or non-Jew. (Choshen Mishpa’at 348: 1)


2.   You are forbidden to use someone else’s possession without permission, even though you intend to return it. (ibid. 358: 1; SMA, ibid.)


In a bathhouse, the Chofetz Chayim once saw a person using an article that belonged to someone else.  The Chofetz Chayim went over to him and whispered, “A person who washes himself with something that does not belong to him ends up dirtier than when he started.” (Tnuas Hamussar, Vol. 4, p. 120)


3.  You are forbidden to take an article from someone as a practical joke or in order to make him suffer, even if you intend to return it. (Choshen Mishpa’at 348: 1 and Ktzos Hachoshen, ibid. Machaneh Yisroel 2: 6).  Similarly, it is forbidden to steal someone’s possession in order to teach him to be more careful with his belongings. (Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, Shlita)


4.  The Torah writes, “You shall not steal,” in the second person plural (in the Hebrew).  This is to teach us that if someone witnesses another person stealing and remains silent, he is also considered to have participated in the theft. (Ibn Ezra, on this Pasuk)


5.  Just as it is forbidden to steal money or property, so too is it forbidden to “steal” someone’s opinion or feelings.  Included in this prohibition are all actions or words that will cause someone to have a higher opinion of us or a greater feeling of gratitude toward us than we actually deserve. Some examples are:


a)  You may not insist that someone should eat with you when you are sure that he will refuse, because your insistence is merely an attempt to gain unearned gratitude (Choshen Mishpot 228: 6).  However, asking once or twice out of politeness is permissible (SMA, ibid.)


b)  You may not keep offering someone gifts when you know that he will refuse to accept them. (Choshen Mishpot, ibid.)


c)  You should not do or say anything to someone that will make him assume that you have troubled yourself on his behalf when such is not the case.  However, in situations when the person should have realized on his own that you did not exert yourself on his behalf, you need not notify him that he is in error if he assumes that you troubled yourself especially for him. (ibid.)


6.  If a person offers you something out of embarrassment, but really does not want to give it to you, you must not accept it because this would be similar to robbing (Sefer Chasidim 316 and Pele Yoatz, section gezel).


7.  Rabbi Chayim of Brisk, Z’tl,  used to say that robbing people of their sleep is included in this prohibition.  (Heard from his grandson, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, Rosh Yeshiva of Brisk Yeshiva in Yerushalayim).  The Chofetz Chayim commented that robbing people of their sleep is worse than robbing money.  Money can be returned, sleep cannot.  Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl,  admonished his students that roommates in a dormitory must be especially careful not to wake up anyone who is already sleeping.  He told them that they must be as quiet as possible in order that they should not disturb the sleep of others (Lev Eliyahu, Vol. 1, pp. 183-184).  Of course, to wake someone up for Shacharis is not only permissible but is actually a mitzvah.


B.  “Lo Sekalel Cheireish--it is forbidden to curse others” (Vayikra 19:14 )


1.  It is forbidden to curse a person using any of Hashem’s names. (Choshen Mishpa’at 27:1)


2.  Saying to someone, ‘Hashem should punish you,’ is a violation of this prohibition. (U’rim Vetumim 27: 2)


3.  It is considered using Hashem’s name even when the name is not in Hebrew. (Choshen Mishpa’at 27: 1)


4.  A person is forbidden to curse himself (ibid.)  It is forbidden to say concerning a false statement: “This statement is true, so help me G-d.”  This is considered cursing oneself, since from the positive we infer the negative. (Shaarei Teshuva 3 :47)


5.   It is an especially severe transgression to curse a Torah scholar (C.M. 27:2), or an entire group. (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 4:3)


6.  Although using Hashem’s name constitutes a more serious offense, it is nonetheless forbidden to curse someone without using Hashem’s name (ibid.).


7.  It is forbidden to curse someone by the use of an inference.  For example: “You should not be blessed by Hashem.” (ibid.)


8.  Cursing someone who .is deceased is not as serious as cursing someone who is alive, but it is nevertheless forbidden. (ibid.)


9.  If someone says Hashem’s name with the intention of cursing another person, it is a mitzvah to interrupt him so as to prevent him from transgressing. (Sefer Chasidim 64)


C.  “Lo Saamod Al Dam Reiacha--we are obligated to save people whose lives are in danger” (Vayikra 19:16 )


1.  When we see that someone’s life is in danger, we are forbidden to stand idly by if we are able to save him (Chinuch 237).  We are obligated to trouble ourselves with a lost ox or sheep; all the more so, we must aid their owners (Shaarei Teshuvah 3:71).


2.  If you see that someone’s life is endangered (for example, you see someone drowning or being attacked by robbers), you are obligated to save him.  If you are unable to rescue him yourself, you must hire someone else to save him (for example, call the police).  Failure to save someone is a violation of a Torah prohibition. (Choshen Mishpa’at 426: 1)


Rabbi Zalman Chayim Rivlin, who served as principal of the Aitz Chayim Talmud Torah in Yerushalayim, related that Rabbi Moshe Magid once came to his house and saw a young child with a knife in his hand sitting on top of a table. “Save the child! Save the child!” Rabbi Magid called to the child’s family.  Members of Rabbi Rivlin’s family came rushing in, but when they saw the child peacefully playing on the table, they asked Rabbi Magid, “Rav Moshe, why are you shouting? Thank G-d, the child is all right.” “When should I shout?  After the child falls from the table and hurts himself?” replied Rabbi Magid. “A child playing with a knife is a matter of life and death.  After he falls down, how will shouting help?  If I shout before he harms himself, however, the family will be more careful in the future not to allow their children to climb on chairs or play with knives (B’Tuv Yerushalayim, p. 45).


When the first World War ended, Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz, Z’tl, returned with his family by train to Poland from Kramentzog , Ukraine , where he maintained his yeshiva during the war.  There were many soldiers on the roads and trains.  At one station, an elderly woman and her daughter tried to get on the crowded train, but the soldiers inside would not allow them to enter.  Upon seeing this, Rav Boruch Ber told his family, “We cannot let this elderly lady and her daughter wait alone among murderers.”  So he and his family got off and waited with the two women for another train. (Rav Boruch Dov Leibowitz: Chayav Upeulosov, p. 96)


D.  “Hocheiach Tochiach Es Amisecha VeLo Sisah Alav Cheit--we are forbidden to embarrass people” (Vayikra 19:17 )


1.  You are forbidden to embarrass someone, even when you and that person are alone. (Rambam, Hilchos Daios 6: 8)


2.   Shaming a young child who is old enough to feel embarrassment is also forbidden. (Mitzvos Halvovos 4: 5)


3.   Although you personally might not be embarrassed if someone made a particular statement in your presence, you are forbidden to make that statement if it might embarrass someone else. (ibid. 4: 6)


4.  If you are doubtful as to whether a particular statement or act will embarrass another person, it is forbidden. (ibid. 4:7)


5.   A person must be especially careful not to embarrass his or her spouse or child. (ibid. 4:12)


6.   You must take precautions to avoid embarrassing someone even when you are trying to help him.  For example, if a person to whom you want to give charity would be embarrassed if he knew -that you were the donor, you must make certain that your identity remains secret. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Vol. 6, p. 1756)


7.  If a student asked his teacher a question and the teacher was unable to answer, the student should not repeat the same question to another person in the presence of his teacher, since this could embarrass him. (Sefer Chasidim 299)


8.  You must not stand in a place where your presence will cause someone embarrassment or discomfort. For example, if someone wants to tell another person private information, you should step aside even if you are not asked to. (Mitzvas Hashalom, p. 238-240)


E.  Lo Sikom VeLo Sitor Es Bnei Amecha--you shall not take vengeance nor bear” (Vayikra 19:18 )


1.  If you cut your left hand while slicing meat, would your left hand take revenge on your right hand by cutting it?  So too with one Jew taking revenge on the other.  All Jews are one body, and one should not take revenge on the other. (Yerushalmi Nedorim 9: 4 and Korbon Aidah there)


2.  We should also realize that all matters concerning this world are so trivial and inconsequential that it is simply not worthwhile to take revenge for them. (Rambam, Hilchos Daios 7:9)


F.  “VeAhavta LeReiacha KaMocha--love your fellow man as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18 )


1.  The commandment of loving our fellow man can be fulfilled at all times, every single second of the day.  Any favor or kindness that you do for someone is a fulfillment of this commandment.  But the commandment can also be fulfilled through thought.  When you are happy about the good fortune of someone else, it constitutes an act of loving your fellow man.  For instance, if you hear that someone just gave birth to a child and you feel happy, you fulfill this commandment.  The same applies when someone suffers misfortune.  If you feel sad because of his suffering, you fulfill this commandment. These thoughts are permissible at all times, even in places where it is forbidden to think thoughts of Torah.  . (Yesod Veshoresh Ha’avodah 1: 7, 8)


2.  The Baal Shem Tov used to say: “Love your fellow man as yourself.”  You know that you have many faults, nevertheless, you still love yourself. That is how you should feel toward your friend.  Despite his faults, love him.” (Likutai Avraham, p. 221)


4.  You fulfill this commandment when you give someone change for a larger coin. (Machaneh Yisroel 2: 2)


Once when Rabbi Eliyahu Dov Lazerovitz walking with one of his students, a poor person approached him and asked for alms.  Rabbi Lazerovitz took out a large coin and asked for change.  The pauper replied that he hadn’t any.  Upon hearing this, Rabbi Lazerovitz asked his student to give him change for his large coin and handed the entire amount in small coins to the poor man.  The student didn’t understand why his teacher needed change if he was going to give the entire amount anyway.  “It’s very likely that this person will meet someone else who will have only large coins.  If the pauper won’t have change, he might not receive charity from him.  When he told me that he didn’t have any small coins, I decided to give him some, so that he’d be able to give change,” was Rabbi Lazerovitz’s reply. (Tnuas Hamussar, vol. 5, p. 318) 17)


3.  You fulfill this commandment when you run to tell someone good news. (Shnai Luchos Habris, Vol. 1, Shaar Haosiyos, p. 100)


4.  This commandment obligates you to warn others about possible loss or damage. (Yesod Veshoresh Ha’Avodah 1: 8)


5.  This commandment obligates you to pick up someone’s garment if you see it laying on the floor. (ibid.)


6.  This commandment obligates you to give others helpful advice whenever possible. (Michtevai Chofetz Chayim, no. 20)


7.  This commandment obligates you to cheer someone up when you see that he is sad or lonely. (Ahavas Chesed 3:5)


8.  A person who fulfills this commandment will do all he can to give others pleasure.  As the Vilna Gaon wrote:  “A great part of the Torah is concerned with a person’s bringing happiness to others.” (Iggeres HaGra)



QUESTION OF THE DAY :  The Navi teaches regarding our final redemption that “Ki MeiTzeisecha MeiEretz Mitzrayim Erenu Niflaos--as in the days when I took you out of Egypt I will show you wonders.”  The Question:  Will there by a Kriyas Yam Suf or its equivalent at the time of our final Geulah, may it come speedily and in our days?



Special Note One:  Non-Gebrokts Advisory.  There are still many cake and cookie products (many ‘on sale’) left from Pesach.  Please remember that many of these products are non-Gebrokts, and the appropriate bracha is Shehakol and Borei Nefashos.  Even if you know it--you may be used to making a Mezonos on the cake and Shehakol on the coffee--so extra special care is required.  This will provide you with a special opportunity to focus and concentrate on you Brachos--one great way to practice your Emunah in this post-Pesach period.



Special Note Two:  Having just left Pesach, we recall the powerful words of the Rambam (Hilchos Brachos 10:26 ):


“The primary rule is that a person should always call out to Hashem for the future and ask for His mercy; and give thanks for the past and praise Hashem, each person according to his strength.  And the more one thanks Hashem and constantly praises Him, the more praiseworthy he himself is.”


Rav Chaim Friedlander Z’TL deduces from this, and notes that, the Rambam does NOT write that the more one calls out to Hashem and asks for His mercy, the more praiseworthy he is.  Rather, the Rambam writes the more one thanks and praises Hashem, the greater he is.  Indeed, Chazal teach us that in the future, the Korban Todah--the Thanks Offering--will be the Korban that continues on and remains with us after the world becomes filled with the knowledge of Hashem.  The Sin Offerings and the Guilt Offerings will no longer have a place in our lives, but thanks always will.


It is amazing to note that the level of thanks and praise to Hashem on Pesach is so high that no Korban Todah can be brought because they must be brought with chometz loaves of bread--which is impossible on Pesach!  This is obviously no coincidence, as the Torah could have either excluded the chometz loaves from the offering on Pesach, or permitted them for the sake of the offering only.  The message is clear--on Pesach, we have grown even above this Korban.


Let us start the Spring/Summer season with our right foot forward, by keeping our Pesach spirit of Thanks and Hallel, so that as we begin to once again recite Mizmor L’Sodah daily, we will merge and blend our joy over the redemption of the past into an everlasting thanks continuing into the future.



Additional Note:  On the Pasuk that we recite daily in Pesukei DeZimra “Romemos Kail BiGronam VeCherev Piphios BeYadam”--the lofty praises of Hashem are in their throats and a double-edged sword is in their hands” (Tehillim 149:6), Rashi says it all by writing that the lofty praises of Hashem in their throats are the double-edged sword in their hands.  Do we get the message?  This is how we can continue the Geulah in our day!



PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  As you go through davening (especially Pesukei D’Zimrah) focus on and feel the words of thanks--especially considering your being born close to the time of the Final Redemption and your having the tremendous opportunity to contribute to the last stages of Zechusim, putting up those last few bricks on the wall, to bring Moshiach, Bimhera B’yameinu.



Special Note Three:  In the Shira Al HaYam, Moshe Rabbeinu and the Bnei Yisroel exclaimed “Zeh Keili VeAnveiyhu--this is my G-d and I will glorify Him.”  Chazal (Shabbos 133B) note that we glorify Hashem through our beautification of the Mitzvos that we perform.  We typically understand this to mean that we are to purchase a beautiful Esrog, build a beautiful Sukkah and wear beautiful Tefillin, and that our glorification of these Mitzvos brings glory to Hashem.  HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, adds that the same principle of glorifying Hashem through beautifying Mitzvos applies in the Bain Adam LeChaveiro sphere as well.  When writing to someone, HaRav Chaim teaches that one should use nice paper, nice ink, and write neatly and pleasantly, not demonstrating that you are in a rush or just communicating to be ‘yotzei’.  Similarly, when talking to a person, the more respect and regard he is given, the more beautiful the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeReiacha becomes--and the greater glory there is to Hashem.  Let us keep in mind that a warm word or specially designed compliment goes far beyond the private conversation with that person, and in fact travels into the Heavenly realms to glorify Hashem Himself.  The maidservant at the sea was able to point and call out “Zeh Keili VeAnveiyhu! Although you may not be able to point as she did--you can most certainly exclaim “Zeh Keili VeAnveiyhu!” it with the right thought, the special word, or the timely deed--which may seem small or even trivial to the uneducated--but reverberates in the Heavens and brings glory to Hashem each and every time!



Special Note One:  In the incredible Sefer HaTodaah (translated as The Book of Our Heritage [Feldheim Publishers]), Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov writes as follows:


“Shir HaShirim is unique among all of the Kisvei Kodesh, all of the works of Scripture, for Hashem’s name is not mentioned even circumspectly (although Hashem’s name is also not recorded in Megilas Esther, it is clearly alluded to, as Chazal point out).  Shir HaShirim is written entirely in the form of a parable of the exalted love between Hashem and Bnei Yisroel…  Through this metaphor, Shlomo HaMelech teaches us that all earthly desires are merely a method to enable us to understand the love that we should have for Hashem.  When man immerses himself solely in the parable--in the material world--he is not able to understand the higher message that the parable conveys.  On Pesach, the spiritual essence that exists in the material world is revealed before us.  Paroh and his army, all creatures, the sea and its tempest, the earth and the sky, are all subordinate to our relationship--yes, our relationship with Hashem.  On Pesach, we are all freed from the slavery of Mitzraim and from the slavery to our evil inclination.  At this time, we are most apt to understand the song of love between Hashem and His People.”


Hakhel Note:  As we all know Shir HaShirim is the holiest of all things holy (Shir HaShirim Rabba 1).  Obviously, then, once we better appreciate the meaning of Shir HaShirim for us, we must be sure not to pack away this teaching with our Pesach supplies until next year.  Instead, we must make the effort on a daily basis to “sing” the Song of Songs--if not by physically reciting its sacred words, then by constantly remembering what is the parable--and what is the reality.  It is no coincidence (as it never is), that this week’s Parsha, Kedoshim, reminds us to continue in the path of finding the reality of holiness in the parable of a material world.  Try to see how many times you can catch yourself during the day, whether you are on the phone, in the store, walking, or even while studying or davening, and remind yourself that you live in a world, in a reality, in which its spiritual essence is so clear that Hashem’s name need not even be mentioned.  So why let the Yetzer Hora muddy the waters with his earthy parable when you can sing the Song of all Songs--each and every day!



Special Note Two:  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 world.


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 clear lessons we all undoubtedly learned over Pesach, and some practical way to implement each one in our daily lives:


1.  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.


2.  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!


3.  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.


4.  Reward 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 and beautiful!!


5.  TEVA (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!



QUESTION OF THE DAY :  When is it that on Erev Pesach we blow Tekiah Teruah Tekiah three separate times i.e., nine Kolos all together, as on Rosh HaShana!?  Hint: See Mesechta Pesachim, Perek 5, Mishna 5.



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  We will soon be reciting the Hallel many times over Yom Tov.  One of the last pesukim of Hallel (Tehillim 118:25) is “Ana Hashem Hoshia Na, Ana Hashem Hatzlicha Na--Please Hashem Save Us Now, Please Hashem Bring Us Success Now”.  Although this is one complete Pasuk, when reciting Hallel, we take the first half and repeat it twice (being led to do so, many times mellifluously, by the Shaliach Tzibbur), and then take the second half of the Pasuk and repeat it twice.  Since there is a principle in Halacha which generally disallows taking parts of Pesukim (Kol Pasuk Delo Posak Moshe Anan Lo Paskinan), why do both the Shatz and the Tzibbur publicly do so--when a simple and effective alternative would be for the Shaliach Tzibbur to recite the entire Pasuk twice and for us to repeat it either after each recitation or twice after both recitations?  Why do we break up the “Hoshia Na” aspect of the Pasuk from the seemingly very-much-related “Hatzlicha Na” which succeeds it in the second half of the Pasuk?   We look forward to your thoughts.



Special Note One:  There are only a few more opportunities for us to recite “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGeshem” and “V’Sein Tal U’Matar L’Vracha” in 5771.  Please remember to make them really count!



Special Note Two:  Click here for a special Tefillah to be recited before commencing the Seder from the Siddur Ha’Arizal, which is not found in many Haggados.  May this Tefillah make its way directly to the Kisey HaKavod, and may it inspire our entire Seder.



Special Note Three: The following is a famous observation of HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl:  Young non-Jewish farmer boys were drafted into the Russian Army for 20 years.  Prior to their induction, they were care-free, not orderly and not particularly concerned with their cleanliness.  During their stay in the Army, they were drilled with discipline, hygiene and orderliness.  Nevertheless, on their return home many years later, they almost immediately reverted to their old habits.  After 20 years of constant, professionally supervised drilling and training--how could this happen so easily?  He said that the answer was very simple:  The farmer boys had no interest in internalizing what they were taught--even though they lived it for 20 years.  There had to be a yearning, a sincere desire, to change, to improve their way of life.  This was absent.  What they accomplished was only a temporary, external habit.


There is a great lesson here.  When we perform the Mitzvos on the Leil HaSeder we must overcome our satisfaction with only external performance of the Mitzvos, and be Me’orer (arouse) ourselves internally to appreciate that when performing these Mitzvos, we rise to the heights of human existence in this world.  Moshe Rabbeinu (who David HaMelech in Tehillim teaches us was one step away from being an angel--Tehillim 8:6) was called an “Eved Hashem” (See Bamidbar 12:7 and Devarim 34:5).  And on the Leil HaSeder we, too, have stepped away from being servants of this world--Avdei Paro--and have instead became Avdei Hashem!  Your appreciation and utter exuberance over this new-found incredible, boundless and eternal gain should run over and flow through to those around you.  For additional elaboration, see Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzva 16.



Special Note Four:  One important point to remember as we talk about the astounding Makkos is that they did not occur in one neighborhood or in one city--but across an entire country, and exactly within the boundaries of that country.  If we consider a flood or Tsunami affecting one city, or the recent earthquakes in a particular city or area and the devastation they wreaked in seconds--consider a Makka lasting seven days (168 hours, or 604,800 seconds!)  Multiply that by numerous Makkos and the fact that the Bnei Yisroel living in and among the people of Mitzrayim were unaffected--and we can begin to fathom the enormity of the miracles--and the great Emunah we are to imbibe on the Seder night!



Special Note Five:   What can we think about while we are dedicatedly eating our Matzoh at the Seder, and we cannot talk?  Of course, we should reflect that we are doing the Mitzvah as Hashem commanded.  To further “taste” the Matzoh, you may also reflect upon the following teaching of Rav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (Sifsei Chaim 2:342):  Chometz represents a process by which “naturally” (i.e., without the assistance of outside forces) fermentation will occur--hiding Hashem’s hand in the dough.  To the contrary, the quick preparation of the Matzoh--its sudden production and completion--shows that Hashem’s hand overrides “nature.”  We therefore do not eat Chometz on Pesach in order to distill any notion of “mother nature,” “the laws of nature,” and the concepts of “coincidental,” “by chance,” “as luck would have it” and the like, and in order to enrich us with the appreciation that it is the Yad Hashem, and the Yad Hashem only, that is conducting and directing--as the Master of all masters--all of our affairs, every minute of the day--notwithstanding the “chometz” of nature apparently occurring every day by itself anyway.  In turn, Matzoh is referred to by the Zohar as the food of healing, for it cures us of all of these false notions which are harmful to our existence in this world, and which then perforce harm our existence in the eternal World-to-Come.



Special Note Six:  The Ritva in his Hagaddah (on the words “Vayehi Shum L’Goi), writes that our pe’rud, our lack of unity and friendship, is the “ikar gezeiras hagalus--the main reason that Galus is decreed” upon us(!).  Today and every day, even with and in spite of with the possible tension and pressure that one may feel, let us do what we can to abrogate this decree by keeping our focus on helping our “reyim: in any reasonable way that we can--whether it be with an offer to get an item for someone else during a shopping trip or “How can I help you, I know that….?”--you can fill in the rest, depending on the status and situation of your neighbors and friends.  Hashem wants people who think, and certainly those who think about others.



Special Note Seven:  Chazal teach that we needed the Mitzvos of Dam Pesach and Dam Milah--the blood of the Korban Pesach and the blood of Bris Milah in order to be redeemed.


HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt’l (brought in the Hagaddas Arzei Halevanon) asks why it was that these two Mitzvos were chosen specifically by Hashem to give us that final Zechus that we needed for redemption.  He answers that we know that the entire creation is dependent upon our kiyum hamitzvos, our fulfillment of mitzvos.  If we fulfill a mitzvah in a natural way, such as walking to Shul, eating kosher food, or lighting candles for Shabbos, then we keep the world going in an otherwise natural way.  However, if we fulfill a mitzvah by going against our nature, then Hashem in turn will conduct the world in a manner which is beyond its nature as well.


Since we needed something beyond nature, something miraculous, for us to leave Egypt, Hashem gave us two mitzvos which were extremely difficult to perform:  The mitzvah of Milah which involved making a wound in one’s own body, or in the body of a small child or infant, and the Mitzvah of Korban Pesach which involved taking the Egyptian god in front of them (at that time, our masters and tormentors) and slaughtering it, both certainly defy human instinct and reason.  The Torah even records that the Bnei Yisroel wondered, “How can we take their god from in front of them [for the purpose of slaughtering it] without their stoning us?!” (Shemos, 8:22 ).


Thus, through these two mitzvos which we performed with dedication and perseverance, the miracles that we so desperately needed for Geulah occurred.


There is a great lesson to be derived here.  We are all looking for Geulah.  There is a time that it will come naturally, by itself, no matter what.  However, if we want to change that nature and bring it closer, we have to try to perform mitzvos at a time or in a manner which may be considered against our nature.  Hashem’s message here is yet another one in the manner of middah k’neged middah--if you break your nature, I will break the nature of My World!


Each one of us can try to do his part in overcoming his teva--natural inclination--and producing that Dam Milah or Dam Pesach, those very specially-performed Mitzvos--to bring nachas and Simcha to Hashem, to us all, and to the world, with that so-yearned after Geulah.  Please, please pick that special Mitzvah right now--and may we be truly zoche to the Geulah!!



Special Note Eight:  The Otzar Miforshei Hagaddah presents the following insights regarding the “Shefoch Chamosecha” Tefillah which we recite after Birchas HaMazon at the Seder:

a.       When opening the door for Eliyahu HaNavi, some have the custom of reciting “Baruch HaBa!”

b.      There are four Pesukim which comprise this Tefillah, three of which are from Tehillim, and the last is from Eicha.  These four Pesukim represent the “Four Cups of Punishment” that will be meted out against the Four Nations which subjugated us in the Four Galios.

c.       The opening of the door signifies that unlike the redemption from Egypt in which we could not leave our houses during Makas Bechoros, and which was only immediately realized in its entirety by Bnei Yisroel and not by the other nations of the World, at the time of our final Geulah we will witness the punishment of the wicked, and all the nations of the world will openly and immediately appreciate our Redemption.  Additionally, our opening of the door reminds us of the opening of the gate of the Bais HaMikdash exactly at Chatzos on the Seder night.  Even when we open doors, it has great significance!








Below are some practical Hagadah notes, which we have culled from Ba’alei Mussar and Magidei Shiur:


1.  Since it is of the essence of the Seder to feel that YOU PERSONALLY left Mitzrayim, you and those around you should consider closing your eyes, putting yourself there,


  • and thinking about/describing the “Avodas Perech” and the pain of enslavement--YOU ARE THERE


  • and thinking about/describing the Makkos, and its effect on the Mitzri’im and on B’nei Yisroel--YOU ARE THERE


  • and talking about the miracles, other than the Makkos, that YOU witnessed in Egypt --YOU ARE THERE


  • As you prepare for the Geulah--describe what you took (would take), how you reacted (would react) to the news that the time had come (as you would for Moshiach) and picture and discuss the events of the night and day of the Geulah.  How could three million people gather together so quickly?  What was the scene like?


2.  The night should be emotional.  Everyone can provide their own personal reflections of miracles and/or Hashgacha Pratis stories that happened to them or that they personally know about.


3.  Our focus should be on the salvations commencing with “Arami Oved Avi” through “Rabban Gamliel Haya Omer”--rather than getting caught up in nuances.  We should focus on the order of the Makkos and the Middah K’Neged Middah--How all was according to Hashem’s complete design and control.  Remember, we are becoming Avdei Hashem tonight and we should spend time on recognizing the opportunity of “Cheirus Olam”--the eternal, incredibly incredible position we have claimed tonight.


4.  It is important not be critical or short-tempered.  Remember, the Yetzer Hora is working overtime (past midnight !) to put a wrench into our precious Mitzvos D’Orasaya, Mitzvos D’Rabbanim and Minhagim of the Night.


5.  You may also want to prepare some discussion questions and answers.  Examples include:

  • Why were the Mitzriim told we would only be leaving for three days?

  • Why were items only “borrowed” from the Egyptian homes?

  • Why did we not leave when Paroh told us to--why did the process of redemption start at night and continue on through the day?

  • Why does the first of the Aseres Hadibros say that I am Hashem Who took you out of Egypt , and not I am Hashem Who created the world?


6.  Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’TL, in the Sefer Kol Ram explains “Pesach, Matzah and Maror” in a unique way.  The Korban Pesach represents how we--in Goshen , many miles away from the Makkas Bechoros in Mitzrayim Proper--still appreciated how it was the Hand of Hashem watching over us, notwithstanding that the danger did not appear to be imminently upon us.  In all situations, we realize that it is Hashem who is watching and protecting us, even if we sense no immediate danger or concern.  Further, explains Rav Feinstein, Matzah, symbolizes how things can suddenly change.  Hashem needs no preparation time.  Therefore, though a person might be in the depths of despair, his situation can suddenly change, and he can go from the forty-ninth level of impurity to complete redemption.  The reverse may also be true, and therefore, a person cannot rely on the good by which he is surrounded and expect that it will be there tomorrow.  We must always pray to, and rely upon, Hashem to be our “Ozer, Moshea and U’Magen”--to come to our aid, save us and shield us--at all times.  Finally, Maror teaches us that we cannot rely upon any government, notwithstanding that the current situation may be sweet and good.  The Mitzriim turned upon us, as did the Germans and many others of their predecessors (the Spanish, the English, and the French to name a few).  Once again, we see a great lesson of Leil HaSeder is that we are now privileged to look to, and pray to, Hashem for all of our salvations in every step of our lives.





Chol HaMoed are days designated--set aside--for holiness.  We can therefore understand why someone who disgraces these days “has no share” in the World to Come (Avos 3:15 ).  According to the Bartenura (ibid.), disgracing the Moados means doing unnecessary work on them, and eating and drinking in the same manner as one would on a regular weekday.


The following highlights are from a recent Hakhel Shiur, given by HaRav Dovid Zucker, Shlita, author of the Sefer Chol HaMoed (Artscroll 2005), and Rosh Kollel of the Chicago Community Kollel.  This Shiur was broadcast via satellite to 13 locations in the United States and Canada by the Torah Conferencing Network.


1.                  The Avnei Nezer teaches (based upon the Zohar) that the Kedusha of Chol HaMoed may be likened to the light of the Moon--reflecting the Kedusha of Yom Tov itself.  Chol HaMoed is indeed enveloped by the Kedusha of the First Days and the Last Days of Yom Tov.


2.                  One should wear nicer clothes on Chol HaMoed than on a regular weekday.  The mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov applies to Chol HaMoed as well.


3.                  Rabbi Zucker stated that he felt that just as Kedushas Shabbos was the nisayon (the test) of 75 to 100 years ago, Kedushas Chol HaMoed is the nisayon of Galus Jewry today.


4.                  The laws of working on Chol HaMoed for a salaried employee depend upon whether the employee: (a) has vacation coming to him; (b) has no vacation coming to him, but can take time off without pay; (c) asking for time off will cause him to lose his job; or (d) asking for time off will not cause him to lose his job, but will have undesired effects.  Our notes here are intended to highlight these distinctions, but not provide the halachic parameters, which are detailed and often require consultation with a Rav.  For further information, you may study the Sefer itself, or obtain a copy of the Shiur on cassette tape or CD by calling (718) 252-5274.


5.                  Self-employed individuals and employers must consult with their Rav as to how/when to remain open on Chol HaMoed.  One should not rely on “everybody does it” or “ignorance is bliss”--remember, we are talking about the World to Come, and that is true bliss--and infinity.  The story is told of a factory owner who refused, despite the Chofetz Chaim’s pleadings, to close his factory on Shabbos--he told the Chofetz Chaim, “Rebbe, you don’t make money from a posuk in the Torah.”  When the Bolsheviks confiscated all of his property a few years later, he wrote a letter of contrition and apology to the Chofetz Chaim.


6.                  Unskilled work is permitted for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Therefore, if necessary, one may sew a button on in an unskilled manner.


7.                  A non-Jew cannot do work for you that you yourself cannot perform.  For example, your lawn cannot be mowed or landscaped--and your gardener must be sent away if he comes to perform work for you.


8.                  Skilled work is generally prohibited--even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.  Once again, anything prohibited for a Jew to do is prohibited for a non-Jew to do for you.  There are certain exceptions in which skilled labor is permitted, which relate to “Tzorchei HaGuf,” such as a serious roof leak or a necessary oven or air conditioner repair. With respect to car repairs, it would depend on the type of repair necessary, the need for the repair, and other factors, and a Rav must be consulted.


9.                  Laundering clothing can only be done for young children who have soiled their clothing and have nothing else to wear.  You cannot add other clothing into the washing machine once their clothes are being washed.  Once again, a non-Jewish housekeeper cannot do for you what you yourself cannot do.  Spot cleaning, if necessary, is permitted.  Drying clothing is permitted.


10.              Going shopping is only permissible (even if you otherwise enjoy shopping) if needed for Chol HaMoed or the Last Days of Yom Tov, or if it would constitute a “davar ha’avad” (See paragraph 13 below).  One cannot “trick” the Halacha (and yourself) by “wearing it on Chol HaMoed too.  Similarly, one should not push off buying a pair of shoes to Chol HaMoed if he can do so before Yom Tov (unless he simply ran out of time).  Rav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL once told a Yeshiva bochur to come back to Yeshiva a day later in order to go shopping for clothing after Yom Tov, rather than shop on Chol HaMoed.


11.              One cannot schedule a “routine” medical or dental checkup or exam for Chol HaMoed.


12.              One cannot put off to Chol HaMoed filling up the car with gas, going to the bank, etc., when he has time or an opportunity to do so before Chol HaMoed.


13.              In specific “davar ha’avad” situations where an actual loss will occur, if work (even if skilled) is not performed on Chol HaMoed, it may very well be permissible, and your Rav should be consulted.


14.              Cutting nails/manicure is permitted for Sefardim (if needed), and prohibited to Ashkenazim (unless needed, and one had previously cut nails on Erev Yom Tov as well).


15.              Rav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL ruled that setting/cutting a sheitel is considered skilled work and therefore is prohibited even for the sake of the Moed or the Last Days of Yom Tov.


16.              Standard writing (not calligraphy) is considered unskilled work and is permitted for the sake of the Moed.  One can type, send e-mails, e-faxes and text messages, but not print them out (unless permitted as a “davar ha’avad”).  Similarly, one can utilize a digital camera as long as the pictures are not printed out, and a standard camera, as long as the pictures are not developed.


The above, obviously, only briefly highlights some common Halachos.  In fact, Hilchos Chol HaMoed encompasses 20 chapters in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 530-549).  We additionally refer you to Rabbi Zucker’s wonderful sefer.  You may want to ask your Rav to give a Shiur this Yom Tov on the Halachos and Hashkafos of Chol HaMoed for everyone’s benefit.  Remember, with any question, or difficult or special situation, please consult your Rav--and have Simchas HaMoed!



Special Note One:  We provide by clicking here the wonderful Chosen Words publication for Pesach. 


Special Note Two:  Today’s Chapter in Nach Yomi is Tehillim, Chapter 140. In twelve days, on the last day of Pesach, Nach Yomi will begin Mishlei.  What a great opportunity to gain Torah wisdom!


Special Note Three:  Please remember that many cake-like products are non-Gebrokts, and that the appropriate bracha is Shehakol and Borei Nefashos. Even if you know it--you may be used to making a Mezonos on the cake and Shehakol on the coffee--so extra special care is required. Pesach is a time for enriching our Emunah--a wonderful place to begin is with enriched and carefully-made brachos.



Special Note Four:  The Sefer Darchei Mussar likens falling prey to the Chometz of the Yetzer Hora to a thoughtless individual who elects to warm himself up on a cold day by rolling in freshly laid hot tar.  He certainly will warm himself up and feel good for the moment--but will most certainly be left with an awful lot of sticky and smelly tar to contend with, which will require much time and effort to remove.  He also likens a person’s relationship with his Yetzer Hora to the relationship between a Cossack and his horse--the Cossack must feed, bathe, and properly take care of his horse--but, has absolutely no ownership rights over it.  That being the case, who is really in control--the Cossack or the horse?  So, too, if we “feed and support” our Yetzer Hora--Who, then, is really in control of our lives?


This is the unique purpose of the time we are in--not only to finish up the macaroni, and carefully eliminate the challah crumbs from underneath the radiator--but to ALSO rid ourselves of the wretched Cossack’s plight--and to ensure that we do not act like the careless fool who jumped into the tar!  Let us complete the cleaning--without--and within!



Special Note Five:  In Nishmas, we state that there are “rivevei revavos-- tens of thousands” of things to thank Hashem for. We then begin with a short and poignant list. What is the first one listed there....from this we see how foundational and fundamental Pesach is to our lives!



Special Note Six:  A Chinuch Note:  The Mitzvah of Chinuch on the Leil HaSeder is perhaps at its peak for the entire year.  For those who have children below the age of Bar/Bas Mitzvah, one should be careful to review his responsibility and his child’s responsibility, as to the different aspects of the Seder--eating of the Matzoh, the drinking of each one of the Four Cups, Heseiba (reclining), Hallel, Marror, and the other Mitzvos, minhagim and halachos of the Night.  See The Halachos of Pesach (by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Z’tl) and Children in Halacha (by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita) for further elaboration in these areas.



Special Note Seven:  A “heads up” for Monday morning:  For special reasons, Erev Pesach afternoon is unique--we are generally not permitted to perform any melacha that we would not do on Chol HaMoed.  We must, therefore, cut our nails, shave and take haircuts before Chatzos (midday) on Erev Pesach.  If however, one forgot to do so, he may cut his nails in the afternoon.  If one was not able to take a haircut before Chatzos, the Halacha permits it to be given by a non-Jew only.  It does not help to be “already waiting” in the Jewish barber shop as Chatzos arrives.  Please plan your morning accordingly!



Special Note Eight:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:


1.      On Shabbos HaGadol in Mitzrayim (which fell out on the tenth day of Nissan), the Bnei Yisroel took the Egyptian gods--the sheep--and tied them to their bedposts.  The Pri Chadash (to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 230) writes that the reason it is known as Shabbos HaGadol, it because it is when we began to perform Mitzvos-with the first Mitzvah being the taking of the Korban Pesach.


2.      The Mabit teaches that after this Shabbos, Bnei Yisroel no longer returned to work for the Mitzriyim.


3.      The Sefer HaToda’a writes that it is referred to as Shabbos HaGadol because it is on this day that the Shabbos which is an odd number day that has no partner finally obtained its partner--Bnei Yisroel!


4.      The Bnei Yissaschar writes that the reason the Rav gives a special Drasha on Shabbos HaGadol is because Moshe Rabbeinu also gave a Drasha on Hilchos Pesach to Bnei Yisroel on the Shabbos before their leaving Egypt.


5.      Similarly, the Levush writes that the reason we read the Haftorah of “VeArva” at the end of Sefer Malachi on Shabbos HaGadol is because it relates to the future Geulah, just as Moshe Rabbeinu advised the Bnei Yisroel of their imminent Geulah.  May this year’s Shabbos HaGadol Drasha lead directly to our Geulah Shleima as well!


6.     One beautiful thought from Rabban Gamliel in his Sefer on the Haggadah:  The Shabbos before Pesach is not just another day before Pesach--it is still Shabbos.  It should not be put into a inferior position merely because it comes a few days before Pesach.  In fact--this may be one reason that it is called Shabbos HaGadol--to remind us that notwithstanding its position in the year, it must be given the great respect that it deserves, and we should not take away from its kavod or oneg with any inferior meals or zemiros, by missing usual Shabbos guests, or in any way be lacking Divrei Torah relating to the Parsha.



Special Note Nine:  As Pesach approaches, we provide the following important notes:


1.         We once again recall the story of the man who looked around for “Kulos”, for leniencies, his whole life.  After 120 years, the Heavenly Court reviewed his records, noted that he followed the laws, and advised him that he would be going to “Gan Eden.”  The angels escorted him to his final place, which turned out to be a dark, dingy and rather damp cell. “This is Gan Eden?!” “Yes,” they replied, “according to some opinions.”


2.         Pesach is a time when we are machmir, where we follow stringencies because of the force the Torah puts into Pesach itself, with 8 Mitzvos D’Oraisa in our time (and 24 in the times of the Bais Hamikdash--may it be rebuilt for this Pesach).  Its tremendous significance is underscored by Yetzias Mitzraim being referred to 50 times in the Torah.  For further elaboration on its relevance to our daily lives, please review the famous last Ramban in Parshas Bo.


3.         As noted above, Bedikas Chometz is truly an activity of the body and soul--as we are to simultaneously rid ourselves of the leavened products in our homes, and the “Yetzer Hora B’libeinu”--the leaven that exists within us.  The pre-Pesach toil, sweat, fatigue and enormous costs and expenses indicate our sincerity and dedication to both of these tasks.  At Bedikas Chometz, we are nearing the epitome of our achievement--can we let it go with a perfunctory search of our homes because everything “has already been cleaned ten times anyway?”  How could a serious bedika take less than half hour or an hour--depending on the size of your home?  Indeed, if you merely go around to collect the 10 pieces, your bracha is considered a bracha l’vatala (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:8).  Picture yourself waiting on line for two hours to get to the observation deck in the Empire State Building --as soon as you got up, would you ask the attendant where the line was for the down elevators?


4.        The word “Mah” is traditionally translated simply as “what.”  However, Rabbi Meir Schuck, Z’tl, offers a more penetrating and insightful definition of the word.  Rabbi Schuck cites three well-known uses of the word “Mah.”  Yaakov Avinu, upon reaching the place of the future Beis Hamikdash  exclaimed:  ”Mah Nora Hamakom Hazeh--What an awesome place this is!”  Similarly, on the night of the Seder the young child calls out “Mah Nishtana Halayla Hazeh--what is so different about this night?”  Indeed, Bila’am himself, who initially recited the Pasuk of “Mah Tovu,” also did so because he was stunned by the difference between the homes of the Bnei Yisroel and those of the world at large.  The word “Mah,” then, indicates something strikingly new--a remarkable realization, an awareness and appreciation of a place or event that did not previously exist.  There are other moments at the Seder where you will use the word “Mah”--make a mental note to try and find them and see how wonderfully this new definition of the word can be applied in each instance.


Additional Note:  The word “Mah” itself is indicative of how refreshed we should be, no matter how tired we are, when we participate in the Seder.  Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, at a Hakhel Shiur, mentioned the story of the man whose torn Haggadah was repaired on Erev Pesach by someone who could not read Hebrew.  Regrettably, he mixed in pages from a Machzor as well, and finished his job right before Pesach. As the newly-bound Haggadah was read that night, without reflection and with hunger, the head of the household hurriedly read “Dam, Tzefardeiah, Kinnim, Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Gazalnu…”  For no reason or at any time should one lose his appreciation of the heightened sense of the evening--and of the great importance of every word of the Haggadah.


5.        There is one positive commandment that pervades and invigorates every day of Yom Tov--the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov.  Every day--including each day of Chol HaMoed--is a separate Mitzvas Aseh!  Let us *now* consider how to actually best fulfill this daily Mitzvah for ourselves and for others--and act upon it.  Pesach is a Chag in which the preparation far surpasses the length of the Chag itself--providing a great lesson for us in the importance of aforethought and planning--the need for “hachana” in Mitzvah observance.  It may be a pair of shoes, mango ices, different kinds of wine or a silver brooch...but please remember that we should take the lesson from the Nesi’im and not wait until the last moment--diving into Tom Tov with cherry ices because the mango was sold out!


6.        Sunday will undoubtedly be a major day of Preparedness for Pesach, some of us doing more physical than mental tasks, during which time our minds are free.  Of course, this is great time for reflection.  This is also a great time to prepare for Yom Tov or to otherwise learn by calling into Kol Halashon, which has thousands upon thousands of Shiurim to choose from.  Kol Halashon’s general Shiurim number is 718-906-6400.  For Women’s  Shiurim--of which there are over 50 shiurim of all kinds to choose from alone,  after dialing the number, press  1 and then 5.


7.        It could never, ever hurt--and may help in ways we will never know about--to sincerely daven over the next few days that we have a “Chag Kasher V’Sameach”.  Each one of these requests--Kasher and Sameach--is a mouthful (once again, pun intended).  People have reported, for instance, that they have found non-Kosher L’Pesach items on Kosher L’Pesach shelves in supermarkets.  Others may be fooled by a lot of Hebrew lettering on a label which is not meaningful, or perhaps, not even true.  The word “Sameach” is also loaded, as it is such an essential element of the Yom Tov, and may be challenged at any moment by any number of situations or events.  In addition to our earnest prayers for ourselves in this regard, when extending this wish to someone else over the next several days, we should likewise express it with sincerity and feeling.


8.        At the Seder, we will be reciting the word “Dayenu” fifteen times, multiplied by the number of times we sing the word.  Dayenu means “it would be enough for us”.  What “would be enough” for us?  Let us look at the first passage of Dayenu:  “If Hashem had taken us out of Mitzrayim…it would have been enough…”  Clearly, just leaving Egypt , in and of itself, would not have been enough. We would not have received the Torah, we would not have entered Eretz Yisroel and we would not have had the Bais HaMikdash, for starters so what would “have been enough?”  The Siach Yitzchak therefore explains that it would have been enough in and of itself to thank Hashem from the bottom of our hearts for that one thing he had done for us.  We then go through an additional fourteen items and realize that it would have been enough to thank Hashem for each and every one of them because he gave us such great gifts, and we did not deserve that which we received.  Thus, the springboard of all the Dayenus--of all of the realization of the enormous and eternal thanks that we owe Hashem is His taking us out of Egypt --the first of the Dayenus.  This is then the blastoff on the Seder night for us to express and discuss the great and unlimited thanks and gratitude that we owe to Hashem for each and every item that he provides us with.  Now, sing along--Day- Dayenu, Day-, Dayenu, Day-Dayenu, Day-Dayenu.  This is what we ought to be talking--and singing--about!


9.        Finally, on the matter of speech, it is important to note that after having thanked Hashem, and recited Hallel with true sentiment and emotion, we conclude the Hallel with the words “Ana Hashem Hoshea Nah--please Hashem save us.”  The Haggadas Seder HaAruch points out that after thanking Hashem, which demonstrates our recognition for what He has done, we must, as a matter of faith, immediately thereafter plead with Hashem to do more, which demonstrates our continuing faith in Him.  Thus, as conclude the Hagaddah, we verbally affirm that our Emunah is complete.



QUESTION OF THE DAY :  After Bedikas Chametz and Biur Chametz, we will recite the words Kol Chamira.  As we refer to Chametz, why don’t we refer to Lechem, bread directly--but only indirectly with the term “Chamira”?!  Hint: See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 434 Ba’air Haitaiv, seif katan 5.




Special Note One:  More on men and boys properly performing Heseibah at the Seder. The following is excerpted from Guidelines to Pesach, part of the outstanding Guidelines Halacha Series, by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita, and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita.


“Question 323:  How should a person recline?  Answer:  Ideally, he should sit on an armchair or on a chair with armrests, and lean to the left side.  Preferably, a pillow or a cushion shall also be placed on the left side of the chair to support the body while reclining.  This adds to the feeling of comfort and freedom.

Question 324:  What if the has only a regular chair?  Answer:  He should recline on the table or on a second chair placed to his left.  Alternatively, he may sit sideways and recline on the back of the chair.  If possible, he should use a pillow or a cushion to create a comfortable position.  A person does not fulfill the mitzva by leaning to the left in midair without supporting his body on anything, since this is not the way of a free man.”



Special Note Two:  Many asked about the details of the ‘Tenai of the Avnei Nezer’.  We ask that you discuss the Tenai, and its possible use by you at the Seder with your Rav.



Special Note Three:  One of the thoughtful suggestions made by Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Shlita, at his recent Hakhel Shiur on Making the Most of Your Seder was not to introduce new Negunnim, so that everyone could appreciate the time-honored Mesorah passed on over the generations.  Hakhel Note:  Some may alternatively suggest that even if a new Niggun is sung, the traditional Niggun is first sung, so that it is carried on from generation to generation.  Hakhel Note:  To obtain a tape, CD, or DVD or Rabbi Krohn’s fascinating Shiur, please contact 718-252-5274.



Special Note Four:   Some other notes on Getting Ready!


a.  At a Hakhel shiur, HaRav Belsky, Shlita, suggested that one search for chometz as if he were searching for a valuable coin or piece of jewelry--would you shrug your shoulder and not look here or there, or not make the extra effort when you realize how much is at stake?  Go for the Gold!


b.  At the same shiur, HaRav Belsky ruled that one could simply  place his stove top grates into the self-cleaning oven to kasher them, rather than subjecting them to intense heat via placement of a blech on top of the stove.


c.  At the Seder, two out of the 15 Simanim (more than 10%) are comprised of washing of the hands--U’Rchatz and Rachtza.  Clearly, this is a meaningful and significant activity, and should be viewed as much more than a ministerial or perfunctory act that we do daily. To get ready for the Seder (if you wash Mayim Achronim you will actually wash a third time), may we suggest that rather than thinking about nothing too important or letting your mind wander when washing over the next five days, that with each pour of water over each hand you think--”Thank you Hashem! Thank You Hashem!” and think of something else you are thankful to Hashem for with each pour!  Having difficulty starting?  You can start as far back as Yetzias Mitzraim, and as close by as having the ability to pick up the cup and pour... and there is much--very much--in between to be thankful for!



Special Note Five:  Today is the tenth day of Nissan, which is marked by at least three great milestones:

  1. It is the day that the Bnei Yisroel took the Egyptian gods--their sheep--away and tied them to bedposts in order to inspect them for blemishes before Shechita four days later.  This was an act of tremendous faith by Bnei Yisroel, not only in taking them for slaughter, but also in holding them this way for four days.  In fact, the Egyptians ended up being powerless to stop Bnei Yisroel or harm them.

  1. Towards the end of our stay in the desert, Miriam HaNevia passed away.  Miriam was so great that even as a young girl, her suggestion to her father Amram, the Gadol HaDor, was accepted and the decree he had made to have the husbands and wives of Bnei Yisroel separate was annulled.

  1. Just one year after Miriam’s passing on this date, Yehoshua Bin Nun and Bnei Yisroel crossed over the Yarden River which had dried up through a miracle.  Some recommend reading from Sefer Yehoshua, Chapters 3 and 4, and reciting Tehillim Chapter 114 in honor of the occasion.



Special Note Six:  The Vilna Gaon and the Maaseh Nissim Haggadah teach that the Geulah from Egypt was called “Chairus Olam--eternal freedom”--because the Geulah of Egypt was the root of, and source for, all future Redemptions.  When one does Teshuva, he must always look back to the source, to the beginnings, of the avaira in order to uproot and destroy his connection to it.  Similarly, when yearning for our own final Geulah, we must study and review how our initial Geulah came about and what happened--in order to properly connect to it.  This being the case, one can never learn enough of the Haggadah, its discussions and its teachings.  While intellectually one may know the ten Makkos by heart (including details from the Medrashim), shoot off the four reasons that we were redeemed, or list in perfect chronological order the Mitzvos we have on the Seder night, this is simply not enough.  Even if we “know it all”, we must come back year after year to the same concepts, the same lessons, and even to the same words, so that we continue to emotionally internalize Geulah through continuously developing a greater spirit of faith and belief in Hashem within us (See Michtav M’Eliyahu, Volume 4, Page 249).  The night of the Seder, with the uplifting four kosos, the Matzoh, the paradoxical Korech, the amazing Haggadah, and the unrestrained Hallel, is given to us by Hashem to continuously expand this spirit of Cheirus Olam within us.


As we move closer towards the Seder, our heightened feelings and awareness of Geulah should move us towards a greater appreciation of Cheirus Olam.  As we study the Haggadah and its various interpretations, we should literally feel energized, elevated and uplifted.  One should be ever on the real alert to apply the Haggadah’s teachings to our current Golus, and to our anxiously anticipated and awaited Geulah--may it come speedily and in our days.  Remember this key phrase as we steadily rise to the occasion of Pesach--it is Cheirus Olam!!



Special Note One:  By popular request, we provide our Checklist for Erev Pesach 5771--a bit in advance--so you don’t have to wait for everything until the last moment.



[    ]    Thanks to Hashem
[    ]    Shalom Bayis (throughout everything on list)

   Simanim for the Seder:
[    ]    Charoses
[    ]    Zeroah
[    ]    Maror
[    ]    Roasted Baitzah
[    ]    Radishes or other Karpas
[    ]    Salt Water


[    ]    Make sure that your Chometz has been sold through a Rav.
[    ]    Burning of the Chometz
[    ]    Haircut
[    ]    Cut nails
[    ]    Mikvah

[    ]    Toveling of newly acquired utensils

[    ]    Open wine and grape juice bottles
[    ]    Cut Paper Towels
[    ]    Open Tissues
[    ]    Open soda bottles (for those who do not do so on Yom Tov)
[    ]    Open diapers (for those who do not do so on Yom Tov)
[    ]    Open boxes and plastic bags

[    ]    The right size Becher for every person

[    ]    String or rubberbands around Chometz Doors—Mark as “Sold”

[    ]    Clean Kittel
[    ]    Heseyba Pillow(s) at the seats
[    ]    Seder Candles for both days

[    ]    48 hour candle
[    ]    Everybody has Hagaddah that is right for them
[    ]    Knowing where everybody sits (Seating cards are beautiful)

[    ]    Brush teeth thoroughly
[    ]    Make sure Chometz broom is available for Erev Pesach morning
[    ]    Pesach toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash
[    ]    Nothing left in the car

[    ]    Fill car up with gas and take money out of bank so won't have to do so on Chol HaMoed
[    ]    Ensure that everything is Non-Shatnez

[    ]     Call three people who would really appreciate it to wish them a Good Yom Tov:__________________,___________________, ___________________.

[    ]      Remove all tags from new clothing and from clothes back from cleaners
[    ]      Open Matzah boxes and check for Kefulos and Nefuchos [see http://star-k.org/kashrus/kk-passover-matzoh.htm]
[    ]      If appropriate, Matzah and/or Maror measured out and put into Ziploc bags in order to save valuable time at the Seder.

[    ]      Empty (or throw out) vacuum cleaner bag.
[    ]      Eruv Chatzeiros.
[    ]      Close all lights in the refrigerator and freezer
[    ]      Set Shabbos clocks to go off very late on Seder night

[    ]      Try to sleep in the afternoon
[    ]      Make sure you have a Pesachdik Blech
[    ]      If you have and use the “Sabbath” mode on your oven for Yom Tov (acceptable to your Posek), set it

[    ]    Review with your wife when and how she will be making the Bracha on Hadlakas Neiros           

(before or after actually lighting the Ner)  
[    ]    Make up with your wife whether she will be making Shehechiyanu at candle lighting or

will be Yotzei or recite Shehechiyanu at Kiddush (but not twice)

[    ]     Ask Rav any Shailos
[    ]     Make sure that you know (or have available) the Tenai of the Avnei Nezer

[    ]     Commit (bli neder) not to get angry at the Seder

[    ]     Be Mekabel, bli neder to show special affection to children at the Seder (such as going over to kiss them for a good question or a good answer)

[    ]     Other: _________________________________



Special Note Two:  The essence of Nissan and Pesach is a re-energizing of our Emunah.  May we suggest that one purchase, or put aside, a Sefer on Emunah to study over each and every day of the Yom Tov?  Many Mussar seforim have sections on both Emunah and Bitachon.  The Garden of Emunah, by Rabbi Shalom Arush, Shlita,  and Tiv HaEmunah by Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, (published in Hebrew and English) may be a wonderful way to begin!


Additional Note:  Our eyes face towards Hashem, as Dovid HaMelech teaches ‘Ainei Chol Eilecha Yisabeiru--the eyes of all look to You with hope’ (Tehillim 115:18).  Where do Hashem’s ‘eyes’ look to?  For the timely answer see Yirmiya 5:3!  



Special Note Three:  For those who may have missed our recent Note, we once again provide the Hakhel Tevilas Keilim Guidelines by clicking here.  Tevilas Keilim is such a basic, beautiful and simple Mitzvah to perform--let’s take a moment out to make sure that we, and those around us, are performing it properly!  Please distribute further--and if you can, post these guidelines near your Keilim Mikveh!



Special Note Four:  A word of caution:  A reader reported that he found not Kosher for Pesach Chrain mixed into the “Kosher For Passover” section in his supermarket--this could innocently happen when a product is reshelved by a worker not so familiar with the English language.  Every label should be checked when putting it in your basket--at this time of year it not only has to be Kosher, it has to be....  We also caution about brands that you are not familiar with during the year--that is not to say they are not fine--it is to say that if you want to use an unfamiliar brand, even if it may have an ostensibly good hashgacha for you--just check to make sure that the product is in fact certified by checking with the certifying agency.  “Ushemartem Es Hamatzos---be careful about the Matzos”--and everything else you will bring into your home--and into your body (to sustain your soul) during these uplifting and uplifted days!



Special Note Five:  May we suggest that you take the time as you are davening over the next several days to look for the mention of Yetzias Mitzrayim both in the regular weekday davening, and in the Yom Tov davening (see the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah for further elucidation).



Special Note Six:  Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, provides the following insight into our response to the Rasha in the Haggadah.  We are instructed by the Ba’al Haggadah to “Hakheh Es Shinev.”  This is often misinterpreted/translated as knock out the Rasha’s teeth.  In truth, it means to blunt his teeth.  Hakheh is spelled with a Kuf not a Kaf.  The difference is explained by Rabbi Reisman with the following story:


HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, together with another Gadol went to collect for Chinuch Atzmai--and there was a stingy G’vir who did not contribute.  So they went to his office--without an appointment--and asked his secretary if they could see him.  The secretary said he was not in.  They knew what that meant.  So they said they would wait for him.  So they waited.  And waited.  And waited him out.  Finally, the G’vir burst out of his office and gave it to them.  He was furious.  “You come here without an appointment and you harass me for money.  I have no Menucha.”  He continued his harangue without Derech Eretz to these Gedolim.  After the fury of the G’vir was put to rest, the Gadol accompanying Rav Aharon said to the G’vir, “Now that you gave us what we deserve, could you give Chinuch Atzmai what they deserve?”  Quieted, the G’vir cut them a handsome check.


That is P’shat in blunting the Rasha’s teeth.  Further, Chazal say that in Gematria if you subtract Shinav (teeth) from the word Rasha, you get Tzadik…there lies a Tzadik in every Rasha once his sharp teeth are removed!


Hakhel Note:  If this is a key element in defining a Rasha, we should be especially careful in this regard.  Why only end up being a Tzadik, if we can start out being one?!  Perhaps this is another great lesson of the Haggadah--using our mouths for hours in a positive, beautiful, thankful, and inspiring way!



Special Note Seven:  The first letters of “Yismichu HaShomayim VeSogel Ha’Aretz--the heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice”, a Pasuk that we recite twice in Shacharis every day, actually spells out the name of Hashem (Yud Keh Vov Keh).  Al Pi Kabala, when reciting the name of Hashem on Rosh Chodesh Nissan in the special (fourth) bracha of the mussaf of Rosh Chodesh--we are to have this phrase in mind.  It is no small wonder why.  It is, after all, a month that demonstrates the Yismichu HaShomayim VeSogel Ha’Aretz--spring blossoms everywhere (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyways), our faith is renewed, and the opportunity of Hischadshus is tangibly evident in everything around us.  Let us not squander the message and the opportunity, by actually taking the time to change.  We must really try to get through the next few days in situations where things would have gotten out of hand in the past and instead move through them without anger, without despair, without ona’as devorim, with calmness, and with the sense that all that I am doing--all of the minutiae, the shopping, the hustle and bustle, the hassle and multi-tasking--is all for a great and noble goal and an incomparable, supernal purpose.  The Mitzvah will most certainly be elevated and purified--and Pesach itself will have thereby attained a new level in Avodas Hashem!


Additional Note:  As we have noted in the past, the last Chapter (150) of Tehillim has twelve phrases, corresponding to the twelve months of the year (with the last phrase of Kol HaNeshama being repeated for the thirteenth month of Adar Sheni). The first phrase of the Kepitel is for the month of Nissan as the first month of the year--it is “HalleluKa--Praise Hashem!”  The Artscroll Siddur, in its usual manner, has a wonderful and succinct commentary on this phrase, this time quoting HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl.  “HalleluKa is a contraction of two words.  ‘Hallelu’ denotes crying out in happy excitement, while the unique meaning implied by the name ‘Ka’ means ‘the One who is forever’.  The Psalmist addresses everyone, saying:  Use your energy to be excited over Hashem...[for that is the ultimate purpose of life, and all else pales in significance].


--Yismichu HaShomayim--VeSogel Ha’Aretz--and Halleluka--messages of renewal for the month...which should invigorate us--and be taken with us for the year, as well!



We are excited to advise of a great work, which may already be sold out, the new hard cover and complete Sefer Kovetz Halachos of Pesach, containing the Piskei Halachos of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, as wonderfully compiled (with extensive footnotes) by a close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita.  We provide below a small sampling of the important P’sokim relating to Pesach and the month of Nissan contained in this excellent Sefer.  We note, of course, that with respect to any particular p’sak or circumstance, one should consult with his own Rav for guidance:


1.      Every person is obligated to study the Halachos of Pesach within the thirty day time period before Pesach.  Some even say that it is an obligation Min HaTorah.  It is, in any event, an obligation--and not only a meritorious act.

2.       Being involved in the baking of Matzah is a Mitzvah in and of itself, and not only a Hechsher Mitzvah.  One can appoint a Shaliach to bake Matzos for him, and this is why “Chaburah Matzos” are preferred.

3.      A person who checks to see whether the Matzos are Kefulos fulfills the separate Mitzvah of “U’Shemartem Es HaMatzos”  [Hakhel Note:  We must be sure that our Matzos are checked against being Kefulos or Nefuchos.  Many of the contemporary Pesach Seforim and publications provide clear guidelines as to what to look out for when inspecting your Matzos before Pesach.  If you need a handy and clear reference and guideline, we refer you to Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Shlita’s description in Kashrus Kurrents, Spring, 2010, available at  http://star-k.org/kashrus/kk-passover-matzoh.htm

4.      The correct Nusach in the Bracha over fruit trees is “Sheloh Chisar BaOlamo K’lum” (not Davar).  Women should also make the Bracha.  Rabbi Kleinman brings in his footnote that the Aruch HaShulchan writes that Yirei Hashem are careful to make this Bracha, and that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, was very careful with this Bracha and remarked that from the time he became Bar Mitzvah, he never once missed making the Bracha.

5.      Women’s rings do not require Haga’ala, but they should be cleaned very well, and preferably not be worn for 24 hours prior to the time of Issur Chametz.

6.      One need not kasher braces, but should be careful not to eat hot or sharp Chametz for 24 hours prior to time of Issur Chametz.

7.      If one did not Kasher the expensive utensils in his breakfront, one should cover the glass on the breakfront, rather than leave them exposed to view over Pesach.

8.      When performing Bedikas Chometz, one need not turn off the electric light in the room.

9.      If one will not be able to perform Bedikas Chometz on the night of the fourteenth (this Sunday night), it appears to be better to check on the night of the thirteenth than the fourteenth by day.

10.  If one must take care of his bodily needs during the Bedika, he should make an Asher Yatzar immediately.  Similarly, if he heard a Bracha from someone else, he should answer Amen.

11.  Pockets of clothing need not be checked by candle light; it is enough if they are shaken out.  One may check his pockets at any time, and one need not necessarily check them the night of the fourteenth.  However, even if one did check his pockets on the night of the fourteenth, one should shake out the pockets of the clothing he is wearing when burning the Chametz on Erev Pesach in the morning.  When checking clothing, one should also check cuffs.

12.  One need not check suitcases, as one does not typically put food in them, and even if one does, he usually empties out a suitcase upon arriving home.  Accordingly, it has a Chazaka of being checked.

13.  One is obligated to check Seforim that he brought to the table while eating during the year, if he will use them on Pesach, for even if the Seforim contain only crumbs, the crumbs could get stuck to his hands, and he can inadvertently touch Pesach food with them.  When checking Seforim, it need not be by candle light, and one need not check every page, but only shake out the Sefer and its pages.  Even after checking, it is still best not to bring back any Sefer to the table, as there still may be crumbs stuck in the Sefer.

14.  On the night of the Bedika, one should check areas even though he will still be eating Chametz there in the morning--and he should then check the area again in the morning.

15.  If one has already put his Pesach items into the refrigerator and cabinets, he need not check them on the night of the Bedika, as they are no longer considered a place in which Chametz would enter.

16.  When searching for Chametz, one need not move any item which is difficult to move [such as underneath a refrigerator]; however, if it has wheels, one should move it and check underneath it and in back of it.

17.  One must check an open porch or patio, and cannot rely on the fact that birds or squirrels would eat any leftover Chametz.

18.  In an apartment building or multi-family dwelling, all of the residents have a joint obligation to check the stairwell and the laundry room.

19.  One should check his car on the night of the Bedika with a flashlight.

20.  A garbage can belongs to its owner, and one is not permitted to put Chametz directly into a garbage can, as it will remain it his possession.  One should put any leftover Chametz into a bag and leave it in the street.

21.  If one finds Chametz in his home after the Bedika--even if he knows that this Chametz was not there at the time of the Bedika--he need not check his whole dwelling again based upon the notion that Chametz was brought into other areas, as well.

22.  If one will be selling an area of his home to a non-Jew on the day of the fourteenth, one should still check it on the night of the fourteenth, as the area is still in his possession at the time of the Bedika.  One may enter the area that was sold on Pesach even though it has been sold, for a purchaser would not be Makpid if one did so.

23.  Even if one’s custom is not to sell Chametz Gamur to a non-Jew, one may LeChatchila purchase Chametz after Pesach from a grocery or supermarket which properly sold its Chametz Gamur to a non-Jew before Pesach.

24.  One need not burn the Chametz on his own property, but it is best that one burn his Chametz on his own, and not give it to someone else to burn for him.

25.  It is permissible to pass by a non-Jewish bakery on Pesach even though a smell emanates from the store.  However, it is forbidden to intentionally inhale the smell of the Chametz.

26.  The prohibition to do work on Erev Pesach after Chatzos is less stringent than to do work          on Chol HaMoed, and therefore any work that can be done on Chol HaMoed (such as a Dovor Ha’Aved) is permissible on Erev Pesach after Chatzos.

27.   If it is one’s custom not to recite Hallel in shul on the Leil Seder and he is davening at a Shul which is reciting Hallel, he should not recite Hallel with them (even without a Bracha) but rather leave the Shul in a manner which is not evident that he is being poresh from the rest of the Tzibbur.

28.  One should strive to set the table for the Leil HaSeder with nice utensils.  Even though one could fulfill the 4 Kosos with a plastic cup, one should nevertheless use a nice cup.  It is preferable to use a silver becher over a glass [the Sefer Kaf HaChaim writes that silver alludes to the Middah of Chessed.]

29.  When one makes the Shehechiyanu at Kiddush, he should have in mind all of the Mitzvos of the evening.

30.  If someone is strict to eat only hand Shemurah Matzah, he may nevertheless LeChatchila be Yotzei with Machine Shemura if there is a reason for it, and he does not need to be Matir Neder.

31.  LeChatchila guests who are using their host’s Matzah should have Kavanna to be zoche to the Matzah (or the Ba’al HaBayis should have Kavanna to give the Matzah to them)--so there is no issue of it not belonging to them (‘Lachem’).

32.  The Ke’ara does not have to remain complete until the end of the Seder; rather, one can take all of the Karpas at the time of Karpas without leaving anything in the Ke’ara...and the same is true for Maror and the other items on the Ke’ara.

33.  One is permitted to eat the roasted egg at the Seudah, but one should not eat the roasted zro’ah at night.  One should also be careful not to throw the zro’ah into the garbage in a derech bizayon (as this is bizuy Mitzvah).  Instead, it is a Mitzvah to eat the zero’ah at the seudah during the day.

34.  If one uses a large Kos which holds more than Revi’is, one is only required to drink a Rov Revi’is.  Some, however, rule that one must drink a Rov Kos, a majority of the cup--whatever its size.  Therefore, if one only wants to drink a Rov Revi’is, it is best that he use a cup which only holds a Revi’is.

35.  The Ba’al HaBayis should not pour the Kosos for himself.  Instead, another should pour for him as this is Derech Cheirus.

36.  The age at which a child is “Hig’ia LeChinuch” for the Daled Kosos is when he understands the concept of servitude and freedom.  There is no set age, as it depends on each child’s understanding and awareness.   

37.  Although males must eat Matzah and drink the Kosos BeHeseiba, one need not make the Bracha on it BeHeseiba.

38.  The Mitzvah of Heseiba is to move one’s body to the left; it is not enough that one tilt his head to the left.  It is likewise not Heseiba if one is merely leaning into the air, rather than leaning on something.  One can, for instance, move his chair so that the back of the chair is to his left and lean on that.  [Hakhel Note:  If one has questions as to how to properly perform Heseiba--especially if he does not have an armchair--he should consult with his Rav or Posek.]  Boys who have reached the age of Chinuch for eating Matzah or drinking the Kosos should also be taught to eat and drink BeHeseiba.

39.  With respect to Karpas, one should wash his hands with all the stringencies he uses for washing his hands for Matzah, without making the bracha.  One should dip the Karpas into the salt water with his hands and not with a fork, because if one dips the Karpas with a fork, he does not really require Netilas Yadayim.

40.  LeChatchila a woman should read or listen to the entire Haggada and recite the  entire Hallel at the Seder.  If, however, she is busy with her children or other matters, she should at least read or listen to ‘Avadim Hayinu’ and ‘Rabban Gamliel Haya Omer’ through the drinking of the second cup.

41.  It is a Mitzva to tell over the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim to children who can understand the exodus.  The Mitzva does not only apply to boys and girls who are Ketanim, but also to children who are gedolim--even if they are married.

42. Children who have reached the age of Chinuch should be taught to recite the Haggadah as well.

43. When asking the Ma Nishtana, the youngest child should ask the questions first.

44. If one forgot to remind everyone to have Kavanna to fulfill the Mitzvah of Achilas Matzah before washing--then bedieved he may do so even after making the bracha of Al Netilas Yodaim, and it is not considered a hefsek.

45. With respect to placing Charoses on Maror, the minhag is not to dip the entire piece of Maror into Charoses, but only a small portion of Maror into the Charoses, and then to shake it off so that the taste of the Maror is not lost.

46. After eating the Afikoman and for the rest of the evening, one should not rinse his mouth out with mouthwash so as not to lose the Ta’am Matzah.

47. If there is a mezuman at the Seder, then at the first Seder the Ba’al Habayis should lead the mezuman, and on the second night, he may invite a guest to do so.

48. One should recite Parshas Shema and Birchas Hamapil before going to sleep, but need not recite the other Pesukim of Kriyas Shema Al Hamittah, as it is a Leil Shimurim.

49. Shir HaShirim is recited BeSimcha at the conclusion of the Seder, until sleep overcomes him. This does not mean that one must fall asleep at the table--but that one is at the point of tiredness that would otherwise cause him to go to sleep.

50.  For the 50th level--May we all be zoche to Chasal Siddur Pesach Kehilchaso!



Special Note One:  At a recent dinner that the President of the United States attended, the couvert to attend was $30,000.00 per plate.  Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman, Shlita, points out that this was the cover charge for just attending--and that it did not even guarantee you a conversation with the President, and certainly provided no guarantee that any statement that you wanted to make would be heard.  Imagine, then, continues Rabbi Finkelman, the astounding worth of each Shemone Esrei, in which you HAVE A PERSONAL AUDIENCE with Hashem, AT WHICH YOU CAN MAKE AS MANY REQUESTS AS YOU WANT, AND AT WHICH YOU HAVE AS MUCH TIME AS YOU WANT.  Indeed, THE MORE TIME YOU WOULD LIKE--THE BETTER!!  You are not limited to a 30-second submission--but instead are invited to stay at the PERSONAL MEETING for AS LONG AS YOU WOULD LIKE--and it is with THE ONE AND ONLY ONE WHO CAN GRANT EACH REQUEST--LARGE AND SMALL!!  What a True Treasure--let us make sure to focus on THE GREAT OPPORTUNITY WE HAVE each and every time we daven!



Special Note Two:   As the pre-Pesach Toiveling season comes into full force, we provide by clicking here Hakhel's Toiveling Guidelines.  Please read and spread the word to ensure that proper Toiveling is done!



Special Note Three:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, (in the name of HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita) brought an EXTREMELY POWERFUL Kedushas Levi relating to this time of year. The heilige Kedushas Levi studied Jews scurrying about with so many Mitzvos before Pesach, and wondered to himself HOW IT COULD REALLY BE that the Moshiach did not arrive.  He was left with one conclusion--it must be due to our Ungetzoigenkeit--our being too on-edge, too tense, too irritable, too obviously sleep deprived, too reaction-filled, too short-fused, make the Millions of Mitzvos performed at this time of year as pure and pristine as they needed to be to turn the tide and bring us the Geulah Sheleima.  This week, as our To-Do list gets longer and our time to accomplish it gets shorter, as their is legitimate basis for concern that there is so much to get done with the clock ticking, as not everyone around seems to be ‘pulling their weight’ the way they should, as the food prices seem to match the gas prices--let us remember that--at least according to the Kedushas Levi, we can do our part in finally BRINGING US HOME by not losing ourselves, by keeping a perspective, by the judicious uses of a Kepitel Tehillim before doing this errand and a Kepitel Tehillim before speaking to that person, by maintaining a soft tone and sharing thoughtful and kind words or compliments, by not responding to a shout or a sarcasm with something in kind, by helping to calm another, all of which will serve to project our Mitzvos on the very special, direct and precise course to Geulah.  Let’s try to keep a record (or at least a mental note) over the next week of all our Geulah-bringing actions and reactions that would make the Kedushas Levi so proud.  The time is not next week or the following one--the Time is Now!


Additional Note:  Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, points out that Tosfos reconciles the fact that according to Rebbe Eliezer the world was created in Tishrei, and according to Rebbe Yehoshua the world was created in Nissan as follows:  In fact, there is no disagreement, Hashem’s ‘Machshava’, His thought to create the world originated in Tishrei--but the Ma’aseh, the Creation itself, was actualized in Nissan.. Based upon the teaching of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, Rabbi Schneider explains that in Tishrei we follow the lead of Hashem and work upon our Machshavos--our thoughts.  We are busy with Hirhurei Teshuva, with thoughts of self-improvement, and intent to change over the coming year.  Nissan, on the other hand, is the time that the world was actually created--it is the time of Ma’aseh, of deed, of action.  All of the Chometz removal, all of the pre-Yom Tov preparation--the Matzah, the shopping, kitchen, the Seder preparation , the Yom Tov foods--this is exactly the Avodah of this time of year!  We are fulfilling the map and direction established by Hashem at the time of creation itself.  So as you toil, as you work, as you prepare and perform the Mitzvos--recognize and appreciate--be glad of heart and regale--in your fulfilling the LeMa’aseh of Creation--exactly at the right time of year!



Special Note One:  Birchas HaIlanos Reminder!  For those in Chutz LaAretz, Sunday seems to be an easier time--especially to join with family or others to make this uplifting Annual Bracha.  If you have not already made the bracha--Don’t Delay--and be MeZakeh others with a warm reminder!



Special Note Two:  To bring home the previous Note, one of the hallmarks of Chodesh Nissan and Pesach is its call for Zerizus.  Making sure that one’s home is free of Chometz well in advance of the holiday and making sure that one’s Matzah does not rise well in advance of the time that it could--are key aspects of our Pesach preparations.  Indeed, and almost symbolically, it is fascinating that the Korban Pesach is brought during the day--even though it can only be eaten later that night--and once the time actually comes that we can consume it at nightfall, the short Mitzvah window is only until dawn or even only Chatzos.  It is no small wonder then that the Halachic principle of Zerizin Makdimin LeMitzvos--those who are Zerizim, those who view Mitzvos with energy and enthusiasm, make sure to perform Mitzvos early is actually taught in Mesechta Pesachim (4A)!  Similarly, Chazal teach (in Pesachim 5:7) that although the Torah mandates that the Korban Pesach is to be brought in the Bais Hamikdash in Three Groups--during which time the Group recited the Hallel and repeated it if need be until the entire Group had completed bringing their Karbanos, the last of the Three Groups was always so small that they would never even get up to ‘Ahavti’ (near the beginning of Hallel) and all of the Karbanos were already completed!  Yes, there were supposed to be Three Groups--but the Torah was certainly not requiring YOU to be part of that Third Group.  We may additionally suggest that Chazal especially point out that the Third Group ‘never reached Ahavti’--perhaps symbolizing that their love to HaKadosh Baruch Hu may have been somewhat lacking as demonstrated by their dilatory ways.  We must try to use this Month to act with a true Zerizus standard and yardstick--measuring our Mitzvos by the zeal and dedication by which they are performed.  We note that even though we are permitted to eat Chometz on all other days of the year besides Pesach--there is one Chometz Prohibition that does stay with us the Entire Year.  It is--Mitzvah Haba Leyodecha Al Tachmitzenah--A Mitzvah that Hashem avails you of --don’t let it sit there--don’t let it wait--don’t let it rise--perform it and immediately enjoy its everlasting mark!  Let us begin now with a rededication to prompt and timely Mitzvah Performance--and taste the fresh, tasty and crisp Matzah all year round!



Special Note Three:  Similarly, Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman, Shlita, recently explained (based upon a teaching of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl) why the Kohen Gadol brought a Korban Minchas Chavittin every day--while all other Kohanim brought this Korban Mincha only once in their lifetime--on the day that they were inaugurated into the Avodas Bais HaMikdash.  The Kohen Gadol’s bringing it every day--one half in the morning and one half on the afternoon especially symbolized the need for a person of spirit and aspiration to be constantly renewing his energies, being aware and alert that each new morning and each new afternoon was OPPORTUNITY, NEW OPPORTUNITY that was presenting itself especially to him, and would not be available again on the morrow.  Each one of us, without actually having to bring the Minchas Chavittin, can alert ourselves to the invaluable and irreplaceable treasures that await us each morning and each afternoon in Torah, Tefillah, Chesed, and Middos Development.  Every day, we have our own OPPORTUNBITIES, NEW OPPORTUNITIES--and we too can come before Hashem as a Kohen Gadol in his loyal, sincere and elevated service!



Special Note Four :  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (brought in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim) brings a meaningful Tefillah to be recited before entering the streets around us which do not honor or at least follow the same principles that we have been taught.  This very same Tefillah can in fact be recited when it is necessary for us to turn to the Internet--which in many cases is essentially bringing the streets into your office or home office.  This is the concise and potent Tefillah that he brings:  Hineni Holech Begai Tzalmovess Bemakom Mesukan.  Hoshieini MiYetzerHora U’MaiChatoim U’MaiAvonos, U’Bifrat [specify here any Chait that may be an issue based upon the circumstances]. HaRav Friedlander then suggests that the following Pasuk from Tehillim (119:37) be added:  Ha’avair Einai Mair’os Shav--Bidrachecha Chayeini--Avert my eyes from seeing futility; in Your ways give me life!  Hakhel Note:  Although we have not yet found anyone who has composed a Tefillah Before Internet Use, our solution above based upon HaRav Friedlander may be a good start.  One thing is certain--for one who must use the Internet, Tefillos are definitely in order.  There is no better time to add on this ‘prayer before a search’ than the month of Nissan--in which Tefillah played such a vital role not only in the salvation of an individual--but in the salvation of our entire nation!



Special Note Five:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:  The following Halachos are excerpted from The 39 Melachos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita (Feldheim).


1.  Tehillim and Tefillos for an ill person are not said on Shabbos (unless the patient is dangerously ill that day) because this is likely to induce weeping and thereby disrupt the tranquility and peaceful spirit of Shabbos.  Also see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 288:10 and Mishna Berurah seif katan 28.


2.  It is a great Mitzvah to visit and care for a sick person.  One may also visit a sick person on Shabbos if the patient will truly appreciate the visit (even though one may become distressed to see one’s friend in an unwell state). However, it is improper to schedule one’s visits exclusively for Shabbos for the sake of convenience. On Shabbos, rather than giving the sick person the traditional blessing of ‘HaMakom Yerachem Alecha Besoch She’ar Cholei Yisroel’, one instead specifically invokes the bracha of Shabbos with the words “Shabbos Hi MiLizok U’Refuah Kerovah Lavo--It is Shabbos, so we do not cry [and in the merit of Shabbos] your complete recovery will be swift and forthcoming’


3.  Because it is forbidden to cause oneself distress on Shabbos, it is not permitted, for instance, to play chess (even with a special Shabbos chess set to avoid Uvdin DeChol issues) if losing the match will cause the loser hurt or distress.



Special Note Six:  .As this week’s Parsha is Metzora, we provide the following notes:


a.  Metzora can be viewed as a contraction of two words--Motzi Ra--in which we are enjoined to rid ourselves of the evil within us--or face the consequences.  As we are busy these days removing so many things from inside our homes--the Torah in our Parsha reminds us to ALSO MOST DEFINITELY REMOVE the evil within ourselves.  We need to clean not only our homes--but ourselves as well!  Remember it’s the time of Motzi Ra!


b. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita brings the Zohar to explain why it is that in this week’s Haftarah the Sholish (the official who denied the Navi’s words that the starving B’nai Yisroel would be filled with food by the next day) was punished with being trampled to death at the gate of the city (Melachim II 3:20).  The Zohar writes that it was because the Sholish opined that the Bnai Yisroel simply did not have the zechusim to be saved.  He was mekatreg on them--rather than coming to their defense with kind words--he spoke ill against them--prosecuting them, if you will, and was accordingly punished with not being able to see their salvation.  What a lesson for us to look at and find the zechusim of everyone--each and every person.  With this kind of attitude-one may be zoche to see not only their salvation--but his salvation as well!


c. We can not leave the topic of proper speech without mentioning how to obtain guidance in the right thing to say and the right way to say it.  The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline-- a free and anonymous  service in which expert Poskim answer your real life shailos in Shidduchim, business, and friend and neighbor settings and situations.  The Hotline’s Number is 718-951-3696, and it is available 9 PM-10:30 PM New York time. 



Special Note Seven:  We provide by the following links wonderful Pesach Handbooks for your distribution --as made available by Ohr Someach and Partners in Torah--Mi KeAmcha Yisroel!!


Ohr Sameach--  http://ohr.edu/pesachbook/org.php

Partners In Torah--  http://www.partnersintorah.org/jewish-holidays/passover




Special Note One:  We received the following comment from a reader:  “You had written that ‘we will be there again celebrating Pesach--visualizing the Seder [including yours] on the rooftops.  However, Rav Brevda, Shlita says the Seder must be on the ground floor, but Hallel could be (and was) recited on the rooftops.”  Hakhel Note:  Thank you for the important correction--may we experience each and every part of the Leil HaSeder in Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh speedily and in our days!



Special Note Two:  We had asked to what the term ‘Bracha Sheleima’ that we ask for in Birchas HaMazon refers.  The Kuntres Birchas HaMazon by Rabbi Meyer Birnbaum, Shlita, writes that it is a request for ‘Ribui Tovah, VeHatzlacha Mushlemes (as our Avos were blessed)’.  In other words, we are pleading for a complete bracha--a bracha related to the BaKol MiKol Kol of the Avos.  It is no small wonder than that we immediately continue in Birchas HaMazon with VeNomar Amein--please everyone answer Amein to this Bracha so that it is fulfilled!  Hakhel Note: It would certainly appear meaningful for one person to bless another with the bracha of a ‘Bracha Sheleima’ as used in Birchas HaMazon, but one may want to first consult with his Rav or Posek as to whether this is the most appropriate all-encompassing sincere bracha to give to a family member or friend!


Special Note Three:  Yesterday, we pointed out that the Parah Aduma was burned on the second day of Nissan under the auspices of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohein.  Today, the third day of Nissan, is the first day that the unparalleled and purifying Parah Aduma waters were first sprinkled on anyone ever!  Accordingly, it is a day that holds special Tahara capability, individually and for our nation, and we should be sure to use that capability by purifying ourselves in some way.  Is there anything that you can think of that could use some tahara--or do you not even need the Mai Parah?  Perhaps you can rethink it, because the time is auspicious, and the opportunity is great.  For some on-point ideas, we refer you to Chapters 16 and 17 of the Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim (which is on the topic of Tahara).  You may think that if so few know about this, can it really be that effective?  When there are fewer customers purchasing, there will be much greater selection, and much better pricing!



Special Note Four:  Which Makka was going on today--the third day of Nissan in Mitzrayim--and accordingly, which Makka were we--the Bnai Yisroel--saved from today?  As Rav Dessler, Z’tl, points out, we go through cycles in time which recur--perhaps we can think about today--and thank Hashem--for saving us from this devastating Makka we were miraculously saved from...!  One of the key aspects of Emunah we touch upon (actually grab hold of) during Pesach is Sechar Ve’Onesh.  As we prepare for the Seder we should develop an appreciation and awareness of this in our everyday life.  It is no secret to anyone that the second Parsha of Shema focuses on Reward and Punishment.  This concept teaches us that Hashem cares about what we do, and that, our OWN actions determine our OWN outcome.  We are wholly and utterly powerless compared to Hashem--yet Hashem allows *us* to determine our own destiny.  What an important and far-reaching lesson!  If only the Mitzri’im had not done this, perpetrated that, or gone this far or that far.  We can well imagine that there would be much more left of them than some chariot spokes at the bottom of the Red Sea and some other ancient artifacts.  Take their devastating punishment, and multiply it by the converse--the eternity of spiritual reward, and we can begin to understand the teaching of the Ba’alei Mussar who plead with us to rid ourselves of the Yetzer Hora in every which way that we can as we rid ourselves of the Chometz.  Cleaning closets, scrubbing walls and emptying refrigerators are not perfunctory acts for the sleepy and overworked--but are lessons in cleansing and purification--as we thoughtfully work on our Emunah in Sechar Ve’Onesh--ridding ourselves of the causes of Onesh, and bringing ourselves to eternal and everlasting reward.



Special Note Five:  We have already reached the third Nasi today--the Nasi of Zevulun, Eliav ben Chailon.  Although Zevulun was the tenth son of Yaakov Avinu, he merited to bring the third Korban as Nasi.  Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:17) teach that the “tenth” became “third”--a 300% plus improvement--for one reason alone.  It was because “Shechibav Es HaTorahVeHirchiv Yodov Lefazer Es Momono LeYissocher--his cherishing of Torah caused him to open his hand wide and support his brother Yissocher in his Torah studies.”  With this wise and generous act, he fulfilled the words of the wisest of all men, Shlomo Hamelech, who teaches in Mishlei (18:16), “Matan Odom Yarchiv Lo, Velifnei Gedolim Yanchenu--A man’s gift will make room for him, and it will lead him before the great.”  This very act moved Eliav ahead to be together with the two Gedolim ahead of him.  In fact, Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah, ibid.) even conclude with respect to Zevulun that “Godol Hame’Aseh Yoser Min Ha’Oseh--he was greater than Yissocher because, but for him, Yissocher would not have been able to study, and would not have produced 200 leaders of the Sanhedrin.  It would appear auspicious to write a check to a Kollel member or to a Kollel today.  Additional Note:  The Navi teaches that ‘VeShaveha B’Tzedaka--those who return will be redeemed with the giving of Tzedaka.  In this season of Geulah we should try to give whatever we can!



Special Note Six:  We most definitely should not let these Emunah-filled days go by without some Bli Neder attempt, commitment, or improvement in our daily Tefillah or Brachos recitation.  Even if one would take just one Bracha in Shemone Esrei (such as Re’ai VeAnyeinu or Tekah BeShofar Gadol LeCheiruseinu) with attention to the specific meaning of each word, or stop and think for one moment before making a bracha on a food item about the nourishing and meaningful gift Hashem is about to bestow upon him, he will have demonstrated an elevated and TIMELY level of Emunah.  It is important to note that just as a caring woman cannot afford to wait until the last moment to rid her home of Chometz and begin her Pesach preparations, so too must we all--men and women alike--move meaningfully and powerfully in the direction of true faith, belief and trust.  We note that the Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 429, seif katan 7) explains that the reason we do not recite Tachanun at all this month is that because most of the month--the first twelve days (because of the Nesi’im Dedications) and then Yom Tov itself--have kedusha associated with them, the entire month is made ‘KULO KODESH’(Note that these are the words of the Mishna Berurah--not ours!).  Let us utilize this Kedusha, which infuses even a weekday like today to its fullest--by truly enhancing our lives with Emunah-filled days!



Special Note One:  The Malbim to Doniel 4:24 writes that the mere act of giving Tzedaka can effect forgiveness for a sin committed B’Shogeg, and that giving with a feeling of compassion can effect forgiveness even for an intentional sin!  Hakhel is now at the final stage of our collection efforts for the Melamdim, Almanos, and Yesomim in Eretz Yisroel who need our help so desperately to enjoy Simchas Yom Tov.  Let us give with mercy, with compassion, and with Ahavas Yisroel.  Please call Mrs. Tropper at 718-258-1580 with your generous [to be doubled!] contribution, or please go to www.yadeliezer.org to donate to the Pesach campaign and please add “Hakhel Pesach Matching Funds” in the Comments section.  Hakhel Note:  We are still short of our goal--please bring up our final contribution to a wonderful number--to be doubled!  We intend to publish our final joint contribution on Thursday--so please contribute today!



Special Note Two:  It has arrived!  The Public Announcement issued by our Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel and America is now available in English for distribution and posting in each and every Shul, and in each and every place where people congregate to Daven.  It is truly a Zechus for anyone to be instrumental in promulgating its powerful and timely message.  Click here for the poster.  One reader advised us as follows:  “I used to keep my cell phone on vibrate.  Because of the Gedolim’s Directive, I now either leave it in my coat outside of Shul, or put it on silent.  This has caused my Davening to be much calmer and peaceful.  I also know that I am doing the right thing.”  Let each and every one of us spread the word--and in the Zechus of more properly fulfilling ‘U’Mikdashi Tirahu’ may we be Zoche to fulfill this very Mitzvah in the Third Bais HaMikdash speedily and in our days!



Special Note Three:  For those who live in Five Boroughs, we are pleased to provide by clicking here the most up-to-date Water Filters Guide as published by the Vaad Hamayim (Nissan 5771).  The Vaad may be reached at 718-301-9032.



Special Note Four:  According to the Luach Davar B’Ito, today is the anniversary of the first Sereifas Parah Adumah under the auspices of Moshe Rabbeinu and Elazar HaKohein for the purpose of being Metaher Klal Yisroel.  The power of Tahara that emanates from this day continues to resonate more than 3,320 years later.  As we continue to proceed through this month of Geulah, we should aspire to the Tahara that it will bring along with it.  We too can look forward to the tenth Parah Adumah in our very own day!  


Hakhel Note:  In perhaps one of the most well known Chapter of Tehillim, Chapter 130 (Shir HaMa’alos Mima’amakim) Dovid HaMelech exclaims:  ‘Kivisi Hashem Kivsa Nafshi--I hope to Hashem my soul hopes’, and then Dovid continues ‘Nafshi LaShem, Mishomrim LaBoker Shomrim LaBoker--I yearn for Hashem more than those watchmen longing for the dawn, longing for the dawn’.  Rashi (ibid.) explains that one must wait for the Geulah and wait again, just as the watchman looks for the morning once and then anxiously and excitedly looks for the morning again a little while later.  This is how we are to be Metzapeh--anticipate and yearn for the Geulah.  Especially in Chodesh Nissan, the month in which Chazal tell us that we are ‘Assidin LiGael’, we must be on a heightened level of awareness and anticipation for our Geulah.  Perhaps even reciting this powerful Chapter daily until Pesach will remind us of our timely task.  Additional Note:  If you will be reciting this Chapter, there will be three occasions in which the name of Hashem is written “Aleph Daled Nun Yud,” which has a different meaning than the more commonly appearing Name of “Yud Key Vuv Key” (which Name also appears in the same Chapter).  For the difference in meaning see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 5:1. 


Postscript: Today’s Nach Yomi Chapter is actually Tehillim Chapter 131--so if one begins today he will study the last twenty Chapter of Tehillim, including the last Shir HaMa’alos Chapters, Hallel HaGadol, and the Hallelukas--a beautiful accomplishment by the end of Pesach!



Special Note Five:  From a reader:  “A lesson that I learned from the plight of the metzora is not only how bad it is to speak Loshon Hora--but how good it is not to speak Loshon Hora.  Chazal say that the middah tova from Hashem is five hundred times greater than Hashem’s punishment.  If this is what Loshon Hora can cause--imagine the Sechar and Brocha that my not speaking Loshon Hora can bring…” 


Additional Note:  Thank you for this extremely valuable insight.  In fact, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation (845-352-3505) has published the following moving thought very much related to our reader’s comment: “Did you know that by defending somebody from Loshon Hora you are actually helping to defend yourself in Bais Din Shel Maaleh.  That’s the Torah’s promise.  By defending someone else when your inclination whispers ‘he’s guilty,’ the Malochim will rush to your defense when you’re guilty.  It’s that simple.  So the next time you hear a piece of Loshon Hora, don’t join in or listen with an amused ear.  Find an excuse for the person being defamed.  Tell the speaker that maybe they misunderstood the action, or that the person in question had the purest motivation, or he just didn’t realize what he was doing.  Come up with anything.  But come up with something.  Something that will make you think the person is innocent.  Remember:  It is the way the World works--Midah k’negged Middah.  ‘If someone speaks well of his fellow man, the Angels speak well of him before Hashem’ (Midrash Mishlei).  Hakhel Note:  What a wonderful concept to train oneself in during this special period between the Parshios of Tazriah and Metzora--we can cleanse ourselves of Tzora’as and its causes--even in our day!



OUR ANI MA’AMIN PROJECT:  Today, and through the month of Nissan, as we recite the Ani Ma’amins daily, we put special focus on the eighth (yes--we are already up to 8!) of the Ani Ma’amins, with the striving and the awareness that we hope to conclude our project with the thirteenth Ani Ma’amin in this year’s thirteenth month of Elul! The eighth Ani Ma’amin teaches that every single portion, every Pasuk, every word, every letter, every Kotzo shel Yud in the Torah was given to Moshe Rabbeinu and is Kadosh with unfathomable Kedusha--no matter what the topic, the phrase or the word in the Torah we are referring to.  This awareness serves both to strengthen our Emunah, and the immeasurable value of our Torah Study!


Special Note One:  Now that Nissan is upon us, we must be smart enough to use the Month of Geulah--for that purpose.  Not only is Nissan proven from the-past, Chazal even teach that “U’BeNissan Asidin LiGa’el--in Nissan we will be redeemed.”  Indeed, the Yotzros for Parshas HaChodesh make it perfectly clear “Rusham BeChol Dor Shomur Hu LeRochev Al HaChamor--It is reserved **in every generation** for the one who will come riding on the donkey.”  Far be it from us to allow the Yetzer Hora to razzle and dazzle us over the next few weeks--when IN FACT we can accomplish so much towards our own Geulah!  Perhaps, if you have not already done so, you can start daily with the Tefilah Al HaGeulah from now until Pesach--which we once again provide by clicking here the Tefilah in Hebrew  and by clicking here the Tefilah in English  May we also suggest that when reciting VeLirushalayim Ircha in Shemone Esrei that you picture Yerushalayim well--with the millions of people that were there in the past and will be there again celebrating Pesach--visualizing the Seder [including yours] on the rooftops, the palpable Ruach Hakodesh of the Tzaddikim, the Kohanim working in beautiful harmony, and the incredible Miracles of the Mikdash.  Think about the unadulterated Simchas Yom Tov (not needing Great Adventures to make it happen), and of the harmony, health and purity of spirit that will abound.  All of this may be only a prayer--your prayer--away!



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, provides a touching insight from the Chiddushei HaRim (the Gerrer Rebbe, Z’tl).  Geulah need not take place only on a communal level, but on an individual level, as well.  The Yotzros that some may have recited last Shabbos teach that Nissan is “HaChodesh Asher Yeshuos Bo Makifos--the month in which salvations follow quickly one upon another” (translation of Artscroll Siddur).  The Chiddushei HaRim, however, teaches that the word “Makifos” is also very much related to the word “hakafa”--an extension of credit (see, for example, Avos 3:20 , “Vehachenvani Makif--and the Merchant [Hashem] extends credit).”  The month of Nissan is an auspicious time during which we can ask Hashem for personal Yeshuos--on credit.  Even if we have not gotten there yet--we can express our beginning intention to do better and ask Hashem for the “merchandise” we need now.  It is market day, if you will, and the Merchant is unbelievably making it available on credit!  We have ahead a month that is infused with so much potential and good for us.  Let us begin with the beginnings of an act of Teshuva--whether it be coming to Shul on time, being more careful with Brachos, refraining from Ona’as Devorim to family and “close” friends, or anything else that you know you have to get better at--and then ask Hashem for His unparalleled and incomparable credit on your continued future actions.  May you be zoche to a marvelous credit rating in this very special month--and may you speedily receive the Yeshua that you seek.  Most certainly you have the Chiddushei HaRim to back you up!

 Additional Note One:  In the Hagadda, we recite “Yachol Mai’Rosh Chodesh…--I might think [that the Mitzvah of relating the story of our Exodus from Egypt could be performed] from Rosh Chodesh Nissan and on.”  Why would I think this way?  After all did not the Exodus actually take place on the fifteenth day of Nissan, which is exactly the first day of Pesach--why would I think the Mitzvah could be performed earlier?  The Netziv (in the Chumash Ha’Amek Dovor, Shemos 34:18) writes, in fact, that the entire month is mesugal, is especially opportune, to instill within us true principles of Emuna and Avodas Hashem.  If this is the month which is mesugal --let’s not lose out on today!

Additional Note Two:  Tosfos writes that according to Rebbe Yehoshua, today is the ‘Birthday’ (really Creation Day) of Adam and Chava!  What an opportunity we have to rectify the Mistake that they made then!  Let us really make sure that this is a day of Increased Awareness, Increased Avodas Hashem, and Increased Dedication to Improvement with a Real Idea for Going Forward This Month.  Each and Every One of Us Can Do His Part to Change History--And Today is Precisely The Day To Do It!  Whatever you do--think about it well--and Start Today!



Special Note Three:  The Mazel for the month of Nissan is a ram.  The Egyptians, who were the most professional of astrologers, worshipped this particular Mazel, because it is the first, the b’chor, of all of the Mazelos.  Accordingly, they believed they could draw the strength and power from this Mazel which was necessary for them to rule the world.


Hashem therefore specifically took B’nei Yisroel out of Egypt during the height of this Mazel’s governance--on the 15th day--in the middle of Nissan.  Moreover, the lamb (ram) which was the earthly symbol of this Mazel, was restrained by being tied to bedposts--and then even shechted during the Mazel’s very governance.  Had B’nei Yisroel been taken out in any other month, the Mitzri’im could have claimed that its Mazel was simply not ruling that month, but had it been…


What is Mazel?  Rov Chaim Friedlander Z’TL (Sifsei Chaim 2:268) explains that it is the method of controlling the creation from heaven to earth, which is wholly independent of man’s conduct (Mazel is connected with the word “Nozel”--to flow from heaven to earth).  The Egyptians were right--Mazelos were effective--until Rosh Chodesh Nissan--the day upon which Hashem taught us that WE, B’nei Yisroel, would now supersede and govern over all creation by our actions.  As the Posuk states: “This month is TO YOU the first month.”  Hashem, in the first mitzvah given to K’lal Yisroel as a people, teaches them that their actions will simply override all Mazelos.  As Rav Friedlander explains, the term “Ain Mazel L’Yisroel” (Shabbos 156A) means that the Mazelos have no power over us--just the opposite, our actions now control the creation.


This obviously puts us in a very responsible position.  On that first day of Nissan in the year 2448, we lost the status of commoners, and, in effect, became ranking high officers, because all of our actions, even the smaller ones, impact the world in its entirety.  In fact, our actions are so profound, that we can bring the Shechina into this world by building a Mishkan, and we can, Chas V’Shalom, drive the Shechina away with seemingly something as trivial as the Sinas Chinam--the senseless hatred--shown in the Kamtza-Bar Kamtza incident.


So what are we to do--is this simply teaching us about “Jewish guilt”?  No, quite to the contrary.  Does a King’s son look to make life simpler and say, “Forget this, I would rather carry water”??  Or does a Colonel say, “I’m giving this up to the easier life of guard duty??”  No, or at least, they should not.  Instead, they will recognize the importance of their position and learn how to help themselves--and the many others whose lives they now affect.  How?  By taking instruction from the King, and by learning from the Generals, what to do and how to do it.  Indeed, Rav Chaim Voloziner Z’TL in the Nefesh HaChaim (Sha’ar 1, Chapter 4) teaches that the acts of sacrilege of Titus HaRasha in the Holy of Holies were less than meaningless trifle and had no bearing on this world--but our smallest deeds shake the cosmos. 


As we begin our Pesach preparations, where we spend our valuable time searching for even crumbs of Chometz, scrubbing walls and turning pockets inside out, when some men become homemakers--kneading dough, baking matzos, or perhaps grinding morror, where world class athletes would envy women’s adrenaline levels, when we spend so much money on potatoes and eggs and figuring out different ways to prepare them, we should keep in mind--or least when the going gets rough, remind ourselves--when performing any and all of our actions that we are the star colonels, we are sons of the King--whatever we do is truly very, very important and how we do it impacts not only on our family, friends or neighbors, but actually governs the world and all of its hosts.



Special Note Four:  Today is one of the most renowned days in the Torah, as, once again, we read last week, Hashem taught Moshe Rabbeinu on this day-- “HaChodesh HaZeh Lochem Rosh Chadoshim--This month is the first month to you of the year…” (Shemos 12:2).


The Gemara (Shabbos 87B) teaches that Rosh Chodesh Nissan took “Eser Ataros”--ten separate and distinct crowns--for ten unique events that happened on this day, which include the first day of the Avodah--the complete service in the Mishkan, with Aharon and his descendents to serve everlastingly as Kohanim Gedolim and Kohanim.  It was also the first day ever of the Shechina descending into the Mishkan, and of fire coming from Heaven to consume the Karbanos.


Additionally, not one or two, but eight different Parshios of the Torah were taught to K’lal Yisroel on this specific day (See Gittin 60A).


The Navi in Yechezkel (45:18) teaches that on THIS DAY the “Miluim”--the consecration of the THIRD BAIS HAMIKDASH will commence.  Accordingly, the Siddur Bais Yaakov writes that all who are “Mitzapim L’Yeshua”--await the Redemption--should recite the Pesukim related to the dedication of the Third Beis HaMikdash in Yechezkel, 43:18-27 and 45:18-20.


Indeed, the first 12 days of Nissan, the days of the dedication offerings of the Nesi’im (the princes of the tribes) in the Mishkan, are so powerful that Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov taught that in each of these days are inherent an entire month of the year.  With true clarity of vision, on each of these 12 days, one can understand what the entire corresponding month will be like.  The first day of Nissan provides the clarity for the entire month of Nissan, the time of Redemption.


Today’s Nasi, i.e., the first one to bring Karbonos in the Mishkan, was Nachshon ben Aminadov, who was the same Nasi who jumped into the stormy sea for Geulah.  Perhaps the lesson for today is not to be ashamed or hesitant--but to jump in--to give it all that we have, to prepare for--and to bring--the Geulah!


Today is also the first day we can recite the Birchas Ha’Ilanos (list of locations  supplied yesterday), upon seeing a blossoming fruit tree (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 226 for further details on the proper performance of this Mitzvah).  One can show his/her zerizus and chavivus--alacrity and dearness--for this once-a-year Brocha by reciting it as early in the month as possible.


Finally, Rosh Chodesh Nissan is the Rosh Hashana for Shekalim (Rosh Hashana 7A)--the day ** NEW ** contributions were **REQUIRED** to be used to purchase the daily sacrifices for the Bais Hamikdash (no matter how full the Temple treasury already was).  This teaches us that today is the day to start again, with a fresh and new commitment, to utilize the coming days to personally spring and blossom.  Let us feel the Special Time in the AIR --and improve and elevate our actions accordingly.  The opportunity is oh so blatant--grab on and enjoy!



PESACH FOOD PURCHASING ALERT 5771:  As the saying goes, a fool learns from his own mistakes--a wise person learns from the mistakes of others!  Last year, some may have fallen prey to the Cocoa Powder ordeal in which their were three Hashgachos on the label of one Cocoa Powder (Heimishe) product, but only one of the Hashgachos was actually certifying its use for Pesach, the other two meaning only to indicate that it was Kosher for during the year.  The consumer was supposed to realize that the “Kosher LePesach” symbol next to only one of the Hashgachos was meant to indicate that only that Hashgacha was certifying it for Pesach use.  You may recall that the product was made in China , and that the agency that certified it as Kosher for Pesach apparently did not undertake any special run, but assumed that since the regular ingredients were not “Chometzdik”, the product was OK, and that any possible Kitniyos issue was batel.  The other Hashgachos felt that a more careful study or review was necessary, and accordingly would not certify the product for Pesach.  THIS YEAR:  When you notice two or three hashgachos on a product--look to make sure that the Hashgacha that you know or are relying upon is actually certifying it for Pesach near its insignia.  An extra moment of purchasing caution--can save hours of kashering issues (or at least moments of consternation or concern) later!  As Chazal teach “Aizehu Chacham HaRo’eh Es HaNolad--the wise person looks into his actions and understands their ramifications.”  We will be reading about the Chacham on the Leil HaSeder--let’s start practicing now!


QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Towards the conclusion of our Birchas HaMazon we ask that Hashem “Yevarech Osnanu Kulanu Yachad BiVracha Sheleima VeNomar Amein.”  What is this important Bracha Sheleima to which we are referring?



Special Note One: Wonderful thought from a Reader: “I wonder how many men realize that they are saying a Shehechiyanu twice a day in their davening!  In the “Modim d’Rabbonon” we say ‘Al Shehecheyisonu v’kiyamtonu” - followed by “Kayn t’Chayainu u’Sekayemainu!  Hakhel Note:  What a beautiful and close reading of Tefillah--We must appreciate the gift twice a day every day!



Special Note Two: We must follow the reader’s care-filled words with the following essential reminder:  The new cycle of Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Artscroll, 2005) begins tomorrow. The Torah teaches that our redemption from Mitzraim began with our outcries (Shemos 2:23 -24).  We can demonstrate our recognition of the power of Tefillah, and how important improving our Tefilla really is, by beginning the incredibly successful 5-minute a day program in this powerful Sefer.  Hakhel Note:  As the earthquakes moved from the seemingly distant New Zealand and Japan over the previous weeks to the coast of Eretz Yisroel last week--we must emphasize and reemphasize that Tefillah is our powerful and required resource--let us march firmly into Nissan with determination to improve our Tefillah. The sefer Praying With Fire is an amazing way to do so, as thousands have testified.  For those who have already studied the Sefer one or more times--more Chazara always produces results!



Special Note Three:  The Mishna Berurah (Orach Chayim 436, seif katan 32) provides the following ruling to us for these days before Pesach:  Kol Shloshim Yom Tzorich LeAyein Bechol Davar She’Oseh She’lo Yishar Bo Chometz Be’ofen She’lo Yuchal Lehasiro BeKal--during the thirty days before Pesach one must be sure in everything that he does not to leave Chometz over in a way which in which it will be difficult to remove or dispose of--the Housewife’s Vigilance is rooted deeply and firmly in the words of the Mishna Berurah!



Special Note Four: As we are now planted in between the Parshios of Tazria and Metzora, we should take note that Chazal (Erchin 16A) list Lashon Hora as the first cause for this dreaded affliction.  May we suggest doing something--making your contribution--in the fight against Lashon Hora.  How about memorizing the Seven Prerequisites that must be fulfilled in order to be able to speak (what may otherwise be considered Lashon Hora) for a constructive purpose?  How about putting to memory some of the Asehs or Lo Sa’asehs that a person could violate if he speaks Lashon Hora?  How about challenging oneself to a Lashon Hora free day--or to making sure that you compliment at least three people a day.  Let us LIVE the Parshios--Day after Day after Day!



BRACHOS ALERT!  From the OU:  Shibolim Multi-Grain Chips, under Badatz Yerushalayim and the OU are Mezonos.  However, because of their composition, one must eat more than three (3) Kezaysim of them Toch Achilas Pras (just a few minutes--ask your Rav for the parameters) in order to make an Al Hamichya.  Otherwise, the after Bracha is a Borei Nefashos.


Special Note One:  We received the following important comment from a reader:  “Relating to your Note yesterday on valuing our Mitzvah opportunities daily, I was at a Shiur where the Rav quoted the Iggeres Chazon Ish that: ‘Ikar Mitzvah Hu Simchaseinu SheZachinu Lechach--the essence of a Mitzvah is our joy that we have merited to perform it!’  The Rav suggested that one thoughtfully smile before performing a Mitzvah to put himself into the proper frame of mind.”

Hakhel Note:  As we bridge from Adar to Nissan--it would be a beautiful Avodah to work on enduring Simcha.  Others have to “Say Cheese” to smile--our inner happiness can shine outward throughout the day when we are gifted with Mitzvos!



Special Note Two:  As Pesach approaches, one thing many of us maybe getting somewhat less of is sleep.   When going to sleep, you may not even get the chance or be aware enough to take our shoes off.  The Gemora (Yoma 78B) teaches that if a person sleeps with his shoes on, he has tasted the taste of death.  In fact, the sefer Shmiras Haguf V’Hanefesh (Vol. I, page 344) brings from HaRav Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld, Z’tl (Salmas Chayim 2:122) that if one has been cursed in some way with death, he should fulfill and eliminate the curse by sleeping with his shoes on!  HaRav Sonnenfeld also writes that one should be makpid to take off children’s shoes when they go to sleep, as well.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, also concurs with this, but based on the premise that sleeping with shoes is considered kashe l’shichacha (causes one to forget one’s Torah learning).  HaRav Kanievsky writes that this would be true even for a child who has not yet learned, because it will instill in him a teva (predisposition) of forgetfulness within him which would, r’l, hurt the child.



Special Note Three:  As we continue in the Parshios of Vayikra, we learn more and more of the Karbanos that are brought by different types of people.  Of course, we hope and pray that we will never have to bring the Karbanos of the Metzora listed in this week’s Parsha (see Special Note 5 below), but perhaps one of the ways we can protect ourselves in this regard is by otherwise properly bringing the ‘Karbanos’ that we can--even in our times.  Let us review what the Shulchan Aruch itself (Orach Chayim 98:4) writes about our daily Shemone Esrei, L’Halacha L’Ma’aseh:


“Tefilla is in place of a Korbon and therefore one must be careful that it is like a Korbon:

· In Kavannah, because improper thought invalidates a Korbon;

· By standing when it is recited, as the Avodah was done standing;

· In a certain place, as each Korbon had a specific place for shechita and Matan Dam;

· with nothing interrupting between him and the wall, as with a Korbon where a Chatzizah could be Posul [Hakhel Note:  one may speak to his Rav regarding this point, if his seat in Shul is not near the wall]; and

· It is befitting that a person has nice, special clothes, just as there were special Bigdei Kehunah for the Avodah.”  Note : At the very least, one should not enter to daven in the same attire as if he were about to repair something around the house!


Additional Note:  It is well known that deep knee bends are a recommended method to improve one’s physical flexibility.  Chazal, however, never prescribed this exercise, especially during davening.  When we bend our knees and bow our heads in Shemone Esrei, it is not intended as a physical exercise, but as a mental exercise.  As we bow, the sefer Shaarei Orah (p. 39) writes, we should feel a pure and complete submission or servitude to HaKodosh Boruch Hu.  This feeling of submission can be assisted by thinking about a specific benefit which HaKodosh Boruch Hu has bestowed upon you, which no one else can provide.



Special Note Four:  It is interesting to note that we concluded last week’s Parsha with the ‘Toras HaBeHeimah,’ and begin this Parsha with the ‘Toras HaAdam’--seemingly placing our study of Beheimos before our study of man himself.  Similarly, the Chofetz Chaim (Shem Olam, Chapter 18) notes the apparently strange order of creation.  First, Malochim were created, then animals, and only afterwards, man.  Why this order?  The Chofetz Chaim explains with a mashal.  A townsman hired a wagon driver to take h im to a large city by driving through the night.  Both the driver and the passenger had eaten dinner just before departing, and both fell asleep shortly after the ride began.  The horse was left to navigate its own course, and all ended up in a muddy ditch, overturned and injured, by the side of the road.  Man is taught to aspire to the spiritual state of an angel during his trip through life, which is why angels were first created.  However, if he gets comfortable and lets the animal within him, that secondary creation, steer his course for the trip, he will inevitably (some earlier than others) end up bruised, overturned and muddied in a deep ditch. 



Special Note Five:  As one of the focal topics of this week’s Parsha is Tzora’as, and Chazal explain that a primary cause for Tzora’as is Lashon Hara, we provide the following insights.  We must also remember that if we are studying the Parsha now, that there are no coincidences, and that there is great reason for its study AT THIS TIME.  We must accordingly be sure to apply the lessons to our daily life:


A.  How can it be that two people study the same Mesechta thoroughly, put in the same effort and hours and remember it equally well, yet, in Olam Haba, one is cheerfully greeted by the Bais Din Shel Ma’alah, and the second is frighteningly frowned upon?  The Chofetz Chaim (Chovos HaShemira, Chapter 7) writes that the disparity may be based solely upon the Loshon Hora occasionally spoken by the latter person.  The Torah of the one who is careful with his speech, the Chofetz Chaim writes, shines from afar, while the Loshon Hora speaker smothers the light of his Torah with the Tumah which leaves his lips.  In addition to the profound impact Loshon Hora will have on one’s Olam Haba, the Chofetz Chaim (Kovod Shomayim 1:20) adds that Loshon Hora also severely impacts upon one’s actual Torah learning in this world.  He likens the Torah learned by a speaker of Loshon Hora to one who presents the King with a unique and beautiful gift (the words of Torah), which is poorly wrapped in a dirty gift box (the foul mouth).  Obviously, the more Loshon Hora ones speaks, the more repulsive the box--and gift itself--becomes.  On the other hand, a beautiful wrapping can truly enhance the gift….


B.  Tumah of the lips also includes Nivul Peh (profane language) of any kind (Shaarei Teshuva 3:229), notwithstanding its “social acceptability” by the ‘average person’ in the ordinary course of conversation, and its use by persons who might otherwise consider themselves successful, professional, sophisticated, or religious.


C.  The Chofetz Chaim brings the following remarkable statement from the  Zohar Hakodosh (Parshas Pekeudei 264):  “When a person has a hisorerous to speak loshon hora, a ruach ra’ah (evil spirit) by the name of ‘Sichsucha’ is thereby aroused and actually rests upon this hisorerous of loshon hora, causing it to rise heavenward and bring death and destruction down to the world.  Woe to those who arouse themselves to do evil, and do not guard their mouth and tongue, and are thus not worried about this terrible result!  They do not know the tragic effect of their actions.”  Hakhel Note:  Remember Sichsucha --and say no to it! 


D.  Contrary to popular thinking, Tzora’as as a punishment for Loshon Hora, among other sins, has not left us.  The Chofetz Chaim (Kovod Shomayim 2:15) brings from the Sefer HaKoneh that anyone who deserves this particular punishment will receive it in the future, r’l.  Observation:  The shame and embarrassment in the future may be that much greater, as others bask in unfathomable light and he is instead outside of the camp, isolated in quarantine, alone and ashamed. 


E.  Furthermore, the Chofetz Chaim (Kovod Shomayim 1:17) brings from Chazal that the

ultimate punishment for the Ba’al Loshon Hora is that he will be speechless for eternity.  Can we at all appreciate the pain and shame one will feel if he stands mute as all around rejoice in the incomprehensible bliss of Olam Habah?  The Chofetz Chaim explains that we are forewarned of this Midah K’neged Midah punishment by the posuk “Yachres Hashem Kol Sifse Chalakos Loshon Medaberes Gedolos (Tehillim 12:4).”  The posuk means that Hashem will forever cut off (kares) the tongue that speaks gedolos (a euphemism for Loshon Hora).


F.  Let us always focus upon the great Bracha and bounty that results from our positive words.  The more we focus on speaking in an optimistic, constructive, and encouraging manner, the more detestable the thought of Lashon Hara (and the non-coincidental detestable Tzora’as that accompanies it) will be to us.  We will also bring spirit, good will, and cheer to those around us.  Just as the one with Tzora’as is isolated from people, the one who speaks well will be surrounded with people--and with Bracha!



Special Note Six:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series:


A.  In local neighborhoods, many posters, placards and signs are displayed prominently on lamp poles, walls, Shul bulletin boards, etc.  We caution against reading any of these advertisements on Shabbos, as some of these may constitute shtarey hedyotos or business materials (Orach Chayim, 307:13).  Lest one think this is a “small matter”, we refer you to Orach Chayim 307:12 which prohibits a Ba’al Simcha to even refer to a guest list for his Simcha on Shabbos, for fear that he too may come to record business items.


B.  With respect to Hadlokus Neiros, we note that the sefer Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso (43:3) writes that if a women wants to reduce the size of the neiros she regularly lights (e.g., from a four-hour candle to a three-hour candle), she would require Hatoras Nedorim prior to doing so.  Additionally, if a woman is required to light an extra candle because she neglected to light one week, she would be required to light the third candle even as a guest in someone else’s home, although as a guest, she is not lighting any of the other additional neiros she would otherwise light in her own home (ibid., note 31).


C. According to the Sefer The 39 Melachos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, (Vol. III ; p 872), removing a Post-It (“stickem”) on Shabbos, or placing a Post-It to your place, especially if it is being placed or removed for an undetermined amount of time, is ossur.  Removing it from the Post-It pad involves additional prohibitions (ibid.)  Accordingly, care should be taken using this popular glue-based product on Shabbos, and a Posek should be consulted in particular circumstances.


Note:  It would similarly not be permitted to separate two or more papers stapled or bound together, as this action may involve the prohibition of korea (See Piskei Teshuvos, Hilchos Shabbos, 340:20).


D.  The sefer Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso (20:84) writes that a notebook is not Muktza as a bosis on Shabbos if it contains paper which is written upon and which may be read on Shabbos, even if it also contains paper that is blank.  However one should avoid turning the pages of the blank paper, as they may be muktza.  Similarly, HaRav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 4:72) writes that blank writing paper is, in fact, muktza on Shabbos and Yom Tov.


E.  The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 299; seif katan 40) brings that the Maharil (one of the main sources of Minhagei Ashkenaz) would fold his Tallis after Havdalah in order to be involved immediately after Shabbos in a mitzvah.  The sefer Piskei Teshuvos (Hilchos Shabbos, 299:8) additionally brings that one should fold his Tallis immediately after Shabbos for reasons al pi Kabbala, and also for halachic reasons--in order to demonstrate that the folding of his Talis on Shabbos was not an ordinary folding (which would be prohibited), but rather a temporary measure until after Shabbos.


F.  After making the brocha on B’somim at Havdalah, one should be careful to smell the B’somim itself, and not merely the B’somim holder which has absorbed the fragrance of the B’somim.  The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 297, Mishne Berurah seif katan 10) brings from the Tur that Rabbeinu Ephraim had a special glass container for his B’somim.  The Shevet HaLevi (5:35) writes that Rabbeinu Ephraim used glass and not wood or metal because glass does not absorb the B’somim fragrance, as do wood and metal.


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