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8 Iyar 5772

QUOTE OF THE DAY :  Once again, from the remarkable, must-go-through Sefer, The Power of Teshuvah, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita (Artscroll, p. 168-169):  Kabbalos are effective because they impart new levels of strength to a person.  When one makes a definite commitment, Hashem eases his path to assist him. These resolutions should, however, be employed carefully - only for flaws we are truly motivated to repair - and wisely, with realistic resolutions that we have the capacity to keep.”




Special Note One:  Some comments from readers regarding prior Notes:


A. A reader noted how she had used the term “My pleasure!” in place of “No problem”--and felt very accomplished in doing so.  The person whom she used the term with turned out to be a reader, as well--and appreciated the fact that she took a practical lesson for use into her daily life! 

Hakhel Note:  In the Iggeres HaRamban, the Ramban concludes the letter to his son with the thought that after one has studied, he should try to practically apply that which he has studied, so that it has a ongoing affect on him.  The Ramban, was, of course, referring to Torah--but we are sure he would be quite pleased with someone learning how to better themselves and their Bein Adam L’Chaveiro in the above way--which is part of Torah(!) as well.  It is reported that HaRav Elchonon Wasserman, Z’tl, related about his Rebbi, the Chofetz Chaim as follows:  “As soon as the Chofetz Chaim’s mind began to develop, he practiced what he learned. This was his greatness: whatever he learned, he translated into practice.” (Reb Elchonon, Artscroll, p. 56; The Power of Teshuvah, ibid., p. 169)


B.  “I had done research on the term “Oh my gosh!”, and my research shows that ‘gosh’ was the name of an Avodah Zara. One should refrain from using it for that reason.” 


C.  “Some say that the word ‘abrakadabra’ has its origins in Avodah Zara and in invoking spirits of tumah.”


Hakhel Note:  The lesson from the last two items is that if a person does not know the source of a strange word or term, it may be a good idea to learn its meaning and whether it is a word that should be uttered.  It is interesting to note that some commentaries explain that the reason that the Kohen was the only person who could declare a Metzorah Tamei or Tahor was because ‘Ki Sifsei Kohen Yeshmiru Da’as…the lips of the Kohen guard knowledge’, in which the Navi alludes to the fact that the Kohanim were especially circumspect in their speech--and therefore were especially designated to determine whether a person needed tikun in this area as well.



Special Note Two: We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #43


Last week’s Parshios taught us the Simanim of Tzora’as.  Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz, Shlita (Bais Chinuch Publications, Lakewood, NJ) teaches that a Siman is not an extrinsic item which helps guide us or refers us back to something--but rather is an actual manifestation or symptom which demonstrates the item in question.  Tzora’as is thus the body’s actual outward manifestation of the evil that was spoken in the past.  Not only one’s soul, but one’s body--which together constitute his Tzelem Elokim is adversely affected and hurt by the Lashon Hara he has spoken.  The hurtful words do not dissipate into thin air, but remain with the speaker like the junk food or the food that the doctor has told him not to eat.  For the health (and life) conscious person--stay away from the Viennese table--and all the more so from Lashon Hara!



Special Note Three:  As we prepare for Matan Torah, one must review his Torah study, and determine how he can improve.  One important qualitative way is by identifying the ‘rough edges’ in one’s study and making them a bit softer.  For example, at times one may remember having learned something such as a Halacha or Gemara, and then realize that the detail, and perhaps most importantly, the conclusion has been forgotten.  A significant technique to practice in order to remember more of one’s learning is to go back and look up (even research if necessary) that which one has forgotten at the time that this realization occurs--without delay.  Even if one cannot do it at that moment, he should write it down, and make it a priority over the next several hours or day.  As the learning has become a separate, stand-alone item to which one has dedicated a few special moments, it should now stay with him for a much longer period of time--and the Ameilius and Ahavas HaTorah that he has demonstrated will stay with him forever!



Special Note Four:  Some final points and pointers on last week’s Parshios of Tazria and Metzora:


A.  A Rav remarkably pointed out that once the Metzora has begun the purification process (at the beginning of Parshas Metzora)--he is no longer referred to in the Parsha as a Metzora--but as the Mitaher.  Once a person is on the track of purity--he must look forward to all that he can accomplish--and not backward to the rut that he had previously placed himself in. 


B.  The Pasuk teaches us that if one’s entire body was afflicted by Tzora’as, then it was not Tzor’as at all--but something else.  However, as HaRav Zelig Reuven Bengis, Z’tl (brought in the Sefer MeShulchan Gavo’ah) points out based upon the Mishna in Negaim (Chapter 8), this was only true if his whole body became affected with Tzora’as after he had gone to the Kohen.  If, however, his whole body had what looked like Tzora’as, and only then did he come to the Kohen, then the Kohen could, in fact, declare him Tamei.  Why was this so--after all, in both cases, the entire body was affected?!  What is the difference when he came if the body was entirely afflicted?  HaRav Bengis explains that if he had waited for his whole body to be affected before coming to the Kohen, the procrastination itself was indicative of fault, and the procrastination in doing Teshuvah, was the reason for his whole body’s affliction.  On the other hand, if the person had come quickly to the Kohen, and his body only later became fully impacted, this was a sign of Taharah.


Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah notes at the outset that it is a terrible aveirah to delay Teshuvah (see there for the significant reasons given).  The lesson of the spread of the Tzora’as to the entire body can be a lesson to us, as we see the Yetzer Hara take one finger, then the other, then the hand, then the other…as he vies for the entire body.  If we fight him back when he gets to the finger--then we will be--and remain--Tahor!


C.  It is fascinating to note that the situation described in the Haftarah we read really involved two distinct and seemingly insurmountable problems:  First, the great famine in Shomron, with people starving for food (as we see from the Pasuk, many of the horses had already died and food for the people was at a great premium), and upon the starvation came the besiegement by the king of Aram who had actually gathered together ‘Kol Machaneihu--his entire camp’ to conquer the city.  The siege certainly appeared as if it would take the already starving people down to a very imminent defeat and destruction.  Instead, B’Hashgacha, the entire army of Aram literally turned overnight into the people’s salvation--as they left all of their food and all of their wealth to us in flight of the apparitions Hashem caused them to see.  We, too, can look to the distressing and dangerous situations that abound around us in the world today--and recognize that our very salvation can and may come from this very intended hurt, devastation or destruction.  In the Haftarah’s time, it was Elisha the Navi who relayed the D’var Hashem.  In our time, we have no Nevi’im--so it is up to us through our Tefillos, our Torah, our Chessed--our D’veikus B’Hashem to achieve the very same--hopefully overnight--Yeshuah!  May we see it--B’Rachamim--speedily and in our day!



5 Iyar 5772

Special Note One: From Readers:


1.  “The word kid’shanu has a dagesh chazak in the dalet so it should be pronounced doubled. (like the “n” in the word “unnecessary”) this is because the word is in binyan piel.  In truth, whenever a short vowel is followed by a letter with a dagesh in it, it will be this way, except at the end of a word.  I have included a one double sided page which summarizes most of the rules of grammar etc. feel free to distribute.”


Hakhel Note:  We are providing our reader’s with the ‘double sided page’ by clicking here.    We, of course, cannot make any representations or warranties--but we are very appreciative to our reader for his efforts!


2.  Relating to our note yesterday on Kedushas HaPeh a reader wrote: “Rabbi Eisenman of Passaic once pointed out that use of the term “Gee whiz,” was instead of saying the name of a certain false deity whose name begins with the same syllable.  Another addition to the list of words that may not Ona’as Devarim but still might be hurtful to the person himself is the term ‘Whatever!’.”



Special Note Two: We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #42


The following is excerpted from the excellent work Sefer Chofetz Chaim--With The Commentary Yad Dovid, by Rabbi Dovid Marchant:  “The story is retold by R’ Shalom Schwadron, Z’tl, about one Purim when the home of the Chofetz Chaim was filled with people.  A certain young scholar insisted that the Chofetz Chaim promise him that he could sit next to him in the world to come.  The Chofetz Chaim replied: “I don’t know how big a share I have in Gan Eden, but one thing I do know-- I will probably have some share in Gan Eden, because from the day I was old enough to reason and understand, I have not listened to nor spoken Loshon Hora. If you promise me that from now on you will do the same, I can assure you a place next to me in Gan Eden.” Let us stop and think about this reply. Even if we have not personally been promised by the Chofetz Chaim that we may sit next to him in Gan Eden, we see that he made a clear assumption that probably, for keeping away from listening to or speaking Loshon Hora, he had some share in Gan Eden. In other words, a share in Gan Eden is assured to any Jew who observes the laws of Loshon Hora. What a tremendous revelation this is for us.”


Hakhel Note:  We may all be familiar with this famous story--but its lesson from Rabbi Marchant to us all--should really hit home in a great and powerful way!  As Rabbi Marchant himself puts it:  “Any thoughtful joy, upon learning about this, should immediately repent of having previously listened to or spoken Lashon Hara, thus wiping his/her slate clean of this sin and embarking upon a new life of learning and observing these Halachos!”


Additional Note: What an auspicious time to begin a new period of special dedication to Shemiras HaLashon in one’s life--taking a great lesson from this week’s Parshios of Tazriah and Metzorah!



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


A.  There is a wonderful allusion derived by the Midrash on the Pasuk (Shemos 13:22 ) “Lo Yamish Amud Ha’anan Yomam Veamud HaAish Layla Lif’nei Ha’am--He did not remove the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night from before the people.”  From this fact, that the clouds and fire co-existed, we learn that we should accept Shabbos (represented by the fire of night), while it is still day (the pillar of clouds still being out).  In this vein, we present the following Halachos (from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch), relating to Erev Shabbos:


1.  A person should not do regularly scheduled work on Friday afternoon after Mincha Ketana (after 9 ½ Halachic hours of the day have passed).  One may do so, however, if it is an out of the ordinary occurrence, for the sake of Shabbos itself, or if a poor man must work in order to earn money for his Shabbos necessities.  Stores should close [at least] one hour before the commencement of Shabbos. 


2.  From a half hour before Mincha Ketana [to be clear, on a day which begins at 6:00 AM and ends at 6:00 PM, one half hour before Mincha Ketana would be 3:00 PM.  The Halachic hours are adjusted on this basis], it is proper to withhold from eating a meal even if one is accustomed to eat such a meal regularly during the week.  Furthermore, throughout the entire day, even during the morning, it is forbidden to partake of a meal that one is unaccustomed to eat during the week [although a Seudah relating to a Mitzvah such as a bris has different parameters]. 


3.  A person should review his deeds on Friday, evoking feelings of Teshuva to correct all his errors of the previous week.  Friday includes all the days of the week, in the same manner as Erev Rosh Chodesh includes all the days of the month. 


B.  Many have the custom of reciting Shir HaShirim after lighting candles.  The Siddur Tefillah L’Moshe writes that this is a Takanas HaKadmonim, and brings from the Sefer Ma’aseh Rokeach that one who recites it with ‘Kavannah Shleimah’ is saved from judgment in Gehenoim. 


C.  The Midrash (Bereishis Rabba 22:12) writes that Adam HaRishon composed Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos (Tehillim 93) in thanks to Hashem for giving Him [and us] the opportunity to do Teshuvah.  This is why the Kepitel essentially begins with the words ‘Tov LeHodos LaHashem’.  The Siddur Tefillah LeMoshe brings from the Midrash Tanchuma (Parshas Tzav, 6) that there is no greater Teshuva to Hashem than giving thanks to him! Hakhel Note:  Let us practice this kind of Teshuvah throughout the Shabbos day--with Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos recited three times, and through all of our Tefillos and Zemiros!


D.  We know that there is a basic prohibition against utilizing a tree on Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 336:13, and Mishna Berurah seif katan 63).  If one notices that his shoelace is untied, could he lean up against a tree, in order to tie his shoe?  If one would cause the tree to shake, the answer is obviously not.  If one is healthy and does not lean with his full force against the tree (and additionally the tree does not otherwise shake), then he can lean gently on the tree to tie his shoes.  One may also touch a tree, as long as it will not move.



Special Note Four:  As we are in the midst of the Sefirah period in which we are careful to practice important Minhagim relating to the period, we remember that the students of Rebbi Akiva were Niftar during this period for not according the proper respect to each other.  Accordingly, in order to work on improvement in this area in this especially propitious period, we provide the second and final part below of notes as excerpted from the outstanding and highly recommended resource Guide To Derech Eretz by Rabbi Shaul Wagschal, Shlita (Targum/Feldheim).  Even if one knows many or most of the points below, and even feels that he is ‘pretty good’ with them, it is essential that we not only know them or study them--but conscientiously work on them  as well:




11. Benefits of speaking gently:


A) Most individuals value the privilege of making choices and thereby determine their course of action. For this reason, it is inherently difficult for people to follow orders. A person who gives orders to others must remember this fact and act accordingly.  By speaking gently and treating others with respect, one can rest assured that his directions will be more closely cared for.


B) The need to speak to people in a kind and gentle manner is absolutely essential when instructing an individual on how to perform a task with which he is unfamiliar.  When confronted with a new experience, most people adopt a defensive attitude in a feeble attempt to hide their ignorance.  If the instructor’s tone of voice or manner of behavior makes the individual feel threatened, the lesson has in effect come to a close--the capacity to internalize information is seriously impaired by the individual’s need to protect his self-image.


C) It is self-evident that an employee who is satisfied with his working conditions is more productive than one who is dissatisfied. The employer-worker relationship is one of the essential components of a positive working environment. In light of these facts, an employer should recognize the benefits of treating his employees with respect!


12.  One must avoid causing embarrassment to others at all times, even when learning Torah.  The Midrash asks, “Why was his name ‘Doeg HaAdomi’?  Because he reddened Dovid Hamelech’s face during the study of Halachah” (Midrash Tehillim 52:4).  For this reason, the Talmud warns against asking a rabbi a question if there is reason to suspect he will not know how to answer.  Similarly, the Talmud (Shabbos 3b) says, “When Rebbi is studying this tractate, do not ask him a question regarding a different tractate.” The posuk says, “...one who makes his way will see the salvation of Hashem.” (Tehillim 50:23), that is, one who plans his ways, and knows when to ask and when not to ask his questions will prosper (Moed Katan 5b).  The Talmud (Tosefta Sanhedrin, ch. 7) also warns against asking a Sage a question immediately upon his entering the beis midrash; one must allow him time to settle his thoughts.’


13.  Chazal (Niddah 16b) bring the following teaching: “I hate three [types of] individuals, and one of them is a person who enters his friend’s house unexpectedly”. R. Yochanan’s opinion is that this law even applies to a person who enters his own house unexpectedly.


14.  “A man should not instill a feeling of excessive fear in his home” (Gittin 7a).  The Talmud explains that instilling fear in one’s home may eventually result in the transgression of a Torah precept (see ch. 12).  For this reason, a father should never frighten a child by saying, “I will punish you by doing so and so to you.”


15.  Concerning the Mishnah, “Ayin ra’ah ...removes a person from the world” (Avos 2:1b), Rabbeinu Yonah writes “There exists [the trait of] ayin ra and [the trait of] ayin ra’ah. Ayin ra’ah refers to a miserly person, while ayin ra refers to one who envies other people’s possessions.  His wish to own others’ possessions may harm them, for the vision of the eye is capable of causing damage.  Beyond this, he also hurts himself-- his unfulfilled wishes cause him to burn with envy.” Avos deRabbi Nasan (ch. 16) expands on this theme: As a man looks at his own house and wishes that it remain standing, so too should he look at his friend’s house!


16.  The Talmud dictates, “One who enters [another’s] house must follow his host’s instructions(Pesachim 86b).  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 170:5) also decrees that a guest must follow the host’s instructions without any objections.  For example, one must sit wherever the host decides.  One must not object even if the host wishes to honor him.  Most halachic authorities agree, however, that a guest who feels satiated is entitled to refuse to eat additional food even if the host insists, if this will endanger his health.  One may infer from this rule that if additional eating does not pose a danger to the guest’s health, it would be correct to comply with the host’s wish.


17.  Rules Concerning Eating in a Host’s Home:


A.  Upon entering the host’s home, the guest should not request food or drink; instead, he should wait until the host offers him food (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 170:13).


B.  The most distinguished guest should be invited to wash his hands first (Berachos 46, Orach Chaim 165:2).


C.  The guest should wait until the host serves himself the first portion of food before reaching for food.


4) If two guests sit at the same table and the host is not present, the more distinguished of the two should serve himself first.  A person who reaches for food before a person greater than himself is considered a glutton. (Orach Chaim 170: 12, Mishnah Berurah 28)


18.  The Talmud (Kiddushin 40b) says that a person who eats in the street, i.e., in a place where people would not normally eat, resembles a dog-- an animal which lacks the quality of humility more than other animals.  So, too, a person who eats in public demonstrates his lack of humility. The Talmud rules that a person who eats in public is disqualified from giving testimony.  Since he lacks the trait of self-effacement, he will not hesitate to give false testimony and thereby risk public ridicule.


19.  Entering and Exiting:.


A.  When two people enter a beis kenesses or beis midrash together, the person of greater importance should go in first. When leaving the beis kenesses, however, the person of least importance may leave first, since there is no mitzvah to leave a beis kenesses. The Birkei Yosef quotes the opinion of the gaonim who contend that the person of greater importance should also exit first when leaving a beis kenesses.


B.  When entering a house, the baal habais should enter first.  When leaving the house, the guest should exit first (Masseches Derech Eretz, ch. 4).  When leaving a house owned by someone else, the person of greater importance should leave first.


20.  Additional Rules of Derech Eretz:


A.   Rabbeinu Asher writes in Orchos Chaim, “A person should avoid involving himself in another’s dispute.  Eventually, they will reach accommodation and you will still be involved in the argument.” Furthermore, by becoming involved one will invariably make enemies.  


B.  When a person shares his misfortune with others, he should first say, “It should never happen to you”. (Sanhedrin 104b, Based on Eichah 1:12).


C.  One should not praise a person excessively, since this may be misinterpreted as empty flattery (Rashi, Eruvin 18b and Rashi, Bereishis 7:1).


D.  A person who is received with undue honor is obligated to inform those honoring him of their mistake.  (Makkos 12b)


E.  The Talmud (Sanhedrin 38b) rules that it is prohibited to respond to a Jewish apostate under any circumstances. Similarly, one should not answer a fool unless he asks a Torah-related question.


F.  One should not enter someone’s house while the person is eating, since people find it embarrassing to eat in the presence of others. (Tov Yehoshua 3:2)


G.  A wealthy person should not be miserly. This is inferred from the verse, “Purchase food from them with silver...for Hashem your God has blessed you with your handiwork” (Devarim 2:6). Rashi explains that in order to acknowledge Hashem’s blessing, this verse instructs the Jewish people to behave as wealthy people and not as poor people.


H.  A man of average wealth should eat food of lesser quality than he is capable of purchasing, clothe himself with garments in accordance with his financial status, and honor his wife and children beyond his financial capability (Chulin 94b).


Hakhel Note:  In this week’s Haftarah, we learn that the official in Shomron who exclaimed:  “If Hashem were to make windows in the sky…[could the famine be remedied by tomorrow]?!”, was trampled by the people at the gates of the city and died.  With this, the words of Elisha “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat from it!” were fulfilled. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that the sin of the official was that he was not Melamed Zechus on Klal Yisroel.  He should have realized that they could be capable and deserving of such a great Nes even is such a short period of time.  Our Derech Eretz to others must include our respect for the Zechusim of each and every person that we encounter--and the fact that Hashem can and will provide for miracles in light of these Zechusim alone!



4 Iyar 5772

Special Note One:  A reader inquired as to the proper pronunciation of the word Kideshanu when making a bracha with the words “Asher Kideshanu B’Mitzvosav?  The daled in Kideshanu has a dagesh in it, and the shvah underneath it is a shvah nah--which means we pronounce the shvah.  In order to be especially sure--we confirmed this with a Dikduk expert.



Special Note Two:  In connection with our Kashrus thought:  “I recall learning the words of the Mesilas Yesharim when I was younger.  The Mesilas Yesharim teaches that one should view the prospect of eating a questionable Kashrus item equivalent to the prospect of consuming questionable poison.  Who in their right mind would think of doing so?!  In fact, it is worse--because it is not merely a physical poison, but a spiritual (i.e., eternal) one.  This has helped me when I am in a doubtful or tempting situation....”



Special Note Three:  “To inspire myself before davening, I sometimes think of the words of Tehilem which so strongly state how our Tefillos are answered:  Hashem Elokai Shivati Eilecha Vatirpa’eini--Hashem, my G-d, I cried out to You and You healed me (Tehillim 30:3) …Tza’aku VeHashem Shome’ah U’Mekol Tzarosam Hitzilam--they cried out and Hashem heard, and saved them from all of their troubles.(Tehillim 34:18).  We have to know that are Tefillos are really listened to!”



Special Note Four:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #41


HaRav Nachman M’Breslov is said to have taught:  Children learn how to speak, while the elderly learn how to remain silent.  Who should we better learn from--the children or the elderly?!


There are certain terms and phrases which may not constitute Ona’as Devarim against others, but could be hurtful to the individual himself, simply by virtue of uttering the very words.  It is well known( as we have previously published) that HaRav Pam, Z’tl, objected to use of ‘whatchamacallit’, because it indicated that a person was not thinking before he spoke.  There are other terms as well which simply do not take into account the Kedushas HaPeh that we all possess.  Here are just a very few.  Please feel free to add on to the list (and send to us, if you would like):


            “Oh my Gosh!”--Meaning to indicate that the person cannot say Hashem’s Name, but is still saying it in some type of slurred fashion.


            “I have done this a thousand trillion times.”--Although exaggeration may be permitted in general, the notion of a gross untruth could have a significantly negative impact on the person as a whole--especially if it becomes a habit.


            In order to express frustration or difficulty, uttering a word which has the first syllable which is identical to that of a curse word. 


            “I don’t care”--Even when not uttered to hurt another person, it can, once again, have an impact on a person’s attitude, goals or approach. 


HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, (brought in the Sefer Sha’ari Orah) teaches that one should practice silence for a few minutes every day--the result is getting a better handle on one’s speech, and improving Yiras Shomayim-- through one’s awareness that one’s words are listened to--and do really mean something and count!  



Special Note Five:  As we are in the midst of the Sefira period in which we are careful to practice important Minhagim relating to the period, we remember that the students of Rebbi Akiva were Niftar during this period for not according the proper respect to each other.  Accordingly, in order to work on improvement in this area in this especially propitious period, we provide the notes below excerpted from the outstanding and highly recommended resource Guide To Derech Eretz by Rabbi Shaul Wagschal, Shlita (Targum/Feldheim).  Even if one knows many or most of the points below, and even feels that he is “pretty good” with them, it is essential that we not only know them or study them--but conscientiously work on them  as well:




1.  Derech Eretz can be defined as a type of behavior that will be acceptable by one’s society and which is geared towards making people happy, as the Mishnah [in this week’s Perek] states: “Which is the proper path one should choose?  One that is pleasing to the one who performs it and is pleasing to others” (Avos 2:1)


2.  The Maharal writes that one must offer greetings even to a willful transgressor of sins--otherwise the sinner will wrongly conclude that the Torah advocates scorning ignorant

people. This in effect profanes the name of Hashem.


3.  Mesechta Derech Eretz describes the degree of humility one should strive to achieve: ‘‘One should be as the threshold upon which everyone treads, and as the peg which people use for hanging objects” (Derech Eretz Zuta, ch. 1).This means that one is obligated to tolerate others-- even if they do not consider him worthy of respect. The Midrash adds, “Be lowly before everyone, especially before members of your household.... Be as the threshold upon which everyone treads, for eventually the house will collapse, but the threshold will remain untouched” (ibid. ch. 3).


4.  Tolerance leads to peace and to new friendships, and precludes anger.  “A pious man was once asked, ‘To what do you attribute people’s affection for you?’  He answered, ‘Because I always consider other people to be better than I.” (Orchos Tzaddikim, Shaar Haanavah).


5.  It is told that one of R. Yisrael Salanter’s disciples once complained to him that his efforts to do chessed for his wife were not appreciated by her. R’ Yisrael responded, “Know that performing an act that you think is beneficial for your wife, or giving her something that you think she is lacking, is not yet considered chessed; rather, chessed is the performance of an act that she considers beneficial, and the giving of something that she feels she is lacking.”


6.  One is obligated to do chessed for a person he dislikes before doing so for a person he loves. It is questionable whether a person whom one dislikes takes precedence over one’s relative (Ahavas Chessed, sec. 1,ch. 4).


7.  It is stated in Mesechta Derech Eretz Zuta (ch. 5): A person should not be awake amongst those who are sleeping, nor sleeping amongst those who are awake; cry amongst those who laugh, nor laugh amongst those who cry; sit amongst those who stand, nor stand amongst those who sit.  In general, a person’s behavior should not be at variance with other people’s behavior.” This idea is derived from Moshe Rabbeinu’ s example, as R. Tanchum Ben Chanilai said: ‘A person should not deviate from the custom--Moshe ascended to the Heavens and he did not eat bread; the angels descended [to visit Avraham Avinu] and they did eat bread’ (Bava Metzia 86b). This concept has halachic ramifications. The Mishnah states: “In a city where the custom is to work on Erev Pesach until noon , work may be performed. In a city where the custom is not to work, work may not be performed....But one should not deviate from the local custom if this will lead to dispute” (Pesachim 50a).  The reason for this ruling, that a visitor is obligated to preclude dispute by conforming to local custom, is that people are not able to tolerate ideas and customs different from their own, and such differences can lead to dispute.


8.  The Sages said, Love your friend as yourself’ is a general rule throughout Torah”(Yerushalmi Nedarim 9:4). Through his love for others one will refrain from causing them physical or emotional pain; in fact he will work for their benefit and behave towards them with derech eretz. Orchos Tzaddikim writes that it is possible to train oneself to feel love for people.  This can be achieved by fulfilling these codes of behavior:


A) Speak gently. If someone embarrasses or misleads you, do not reciprocate.


B) Share other people’s burdens and refrain from increasing their suffering. Never conduct heated arguments with others.  Welcome everyone joyously and with a friendly facial expression, since a friendly expression strengthens bonds of love.


C) Soothe people who feel worried or angry.


D) Honor others, both verbally and through your actions.  Never act in a haughty manner with anyone; instead, yield to the will of others.


E) Refrain from passing judgment on others; instead, look for the merit in other people’s actions.


F) Conduct all transactions honestly.


G) Strive to benefit others, not to benefit from others.


H) Extend help to others, both physically and monetarily. Refrain from miserliness.


I) Avoid speaking in a derogatory manner about others, and refrain from listening to others speak negatively about people.


Hakhel Note:  Perhaps one can consider reviewing the above nine pointers (A-I) at the beginning or end of his day--to motivate him or see how he fared.


9.  Although the obligation to carry on friendly relations with one’s neighbor is great, one must not visit a neighbor too often, since overly frequent visits will eventually cause the neighbor to hate the visitor.  Concerning this idea, the verse says, “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he will be weary of you and hate you” (Mishlei 25:17).  Rashi explains that just as eating an overabundance of honey makes one feel like vomiting, so, too, frequent visits cause the host to hate the visitor. Metzudos David writes that love between people increases when they are absent from each other, whereas overly frequent visits have the opposite effect.


10.  From Moshe Rabbeinu, we learn how far Derech Eretz extends.  Before accepting upon himself the commandment to go to Mitzrayim and redeem the Jewish people, Moshe Rabbeinu said to Hashem, “Master of the Universe! I cannot fulfill Your commandment, since Yisro welcomed me and opened his door to me, and I am as a son to him.  A person who is shown hospitality is eternally indebted to his host.” Thus, Moshe refused to embark on his journey without first receiving Yisro’s permission. From this we learn that one act of derech eretz takes precedence over the redemption of the entire Jewish People!




3 Iyar 5772

Special Note One:  From a reader:  “You missed a wonderful opportunity to correct people’s davening when you wrote about Elokai Neshama [yesterday].  The words Elokai and Neshama must be separated by a pause.  Additionally, Meshamerah, Litlah, U’lehachazirah are three of six words in this tefillah that end with a mapik heh which has its own pronunciation and implies feminine possessive.”



Special Note Two:  We appreciate this reader’s careful and concerned thoughts regarding the crucial bracha of Elokai Neshama.  It is certainly not a bracha which one should recite in a bleary-eyed manner!  We continue with some additional thoughts on our Tefillos as well:


A.  HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl (Sefer Ruach Chaim 1:2), writes:  “From the day the world was created, it has never happened that two Tefillos would make the same roshem, would leave the same impression or mark, in the Heavens, or rise to the same madreiga there.  One’s personal Tefillah of today is different from one’s Tefillah of yesterday, and one should view everything as being dependent on the words of Tefillah in front of him at the time!


B.  HaRav Chaim (ibid. 1:1), also teaches that when we recite the words at the beginning of Kedusha ‘Nekadeish Es Shimcha BaOlam Kesheim Shemakdishim Oso…’ that it does not mean that we will say Kedusah and sanctify Hashem’s Name below in the same manner as the Malachim do above.  Rather, the actual reality is that the Malochim do not act--but react to our Tefillos, and when we say that we will sanctify Hashem’s Name with Kedusha below as they do above--what this really means is that because we say Kedusah below, they are empowered to say Kedusah together with us!  An astounding reality--we empower the heavens!


C.  After a month long interval, we once again are privileged with the Tachanun prayer.  Just as after a physical vacation, we should be invigorated upon our return, our new-found recitation of Nefilas Apayim should be instilled with appreciation, and a determination for improved Kavannah.  One should not, Heaven forbid, view Tachanun as simply an intermediate Tefillah between Shemone Esrei and Ashrei.  Rather, as the Levush (Orach Chaim 131:1) writes, our supplications are most accepted immediately after Shemone Esrei--and Shemone Esrei and Tachanun are together considered to be like a Tefillah Arichta--one long prayer.  In the Sefer Rumo Shel Olam, Rabbi Mordechai Potash, Shlita, adds that Tachanun demonstrates our great humility before Hashem, which has the special ability to appease the Middas HaDin and to arouse Heavenly Compassion.  We have this incredible opportunity handed to us twice daily--and we should make sure to utilize it.  Hakhel Note:  It may be known by some that one of the foremost Rabbanim in America had undergone an illness, and as a Kabbalah of Teshuvah resolved to recite Tachanun with Kavannah [which may also have included reciting each word from a Siddur].  Some will recall that it was a minhag of the Geonim to recite Tachanun on Purim--as it is a day of Tefillah and the powerful nature of Tachanun could draw a great response!


D.  One Kepitel of Tehillim which probably all of us are reciting daily for our Gedolim and others who are ill, is Shir HaMa’alos Mima’amakim (Tehillim 130).  Since the chapter is so short, it is easier for us to focus upon the meaning of the words.  In the Kepitel, Dovid HaMelech exclaims:  Ki Imcha HaSelicha LeMa’an Tivarei--for with You is forgiveness that You may be feared.’  HaRav Moshe Cordovero (Sefer Tomer Devorah, Chapter 1) explains that Hashem’s ‘forgiveness’ of us means that He is, in effect, washing away our sins.  He continues that this Pasuk is teaching us what we are to emulate--that we too should wash away the iniquities of others against us.  Hakhel Note:  When reciting this Pasuk, if we can have a hirhur of forgiveness of our own against somebody, we may be empowering a Middah K’Neged Middah from Hashem relating to what we ourselves are davening for.  We add that in last week’s Pirkei Avos ( 1:12 ), we learned that Aharon HaKohein was an Ohev Shalom V’Rodef Shalom.  The commentaries there explain that the Middah of a Rodef Shalom is not waiting for someone to come to you to make amends, but taking the affirmative step of making the peace--even when wronged by the other.  We praise Hashem with the words ‘Ki Imcha HaSelicha’--we must strive to reach this attribute as well--with all the blessings that it can bring!  


E.  Harav Chaim Kanievsky was asked why only in Birkas HaTorah do we ask ‘VHaarev Nah--that Hashem sweeten the words of Torah in our mouths and the mouths of Bnei Yisroel’--and why it is that in Birkas HaTorah in the morning we do not ask for Binah and Sechel--understanding and intellect--which are so essential to the study of Torah?  HaRav Kanievsky provides the following two insights: 


(1) His father, the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl (Sefer Kehillos Yaakov 22) writes that this Birkas HaTorah is a Birkas HaNehenin--a Jew is to taste the sweetness of Torah, as a person tastes food!


(2) If somebody tastes the sweetness while learning, Hashem will have mercy upon him and grant him the wisdom, understanding, knowledge and intellect--so one need not specifically ask for them further! (See Tana D’vei Eliyahu Rabbah, Chapter 18)



Special Note Three:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #40


In this week’s Parsha, we learn of the terrible affliction of Tzora’as.  Chazal (Arachin 15B) teach that if one speaks Lashon Hara, he will be punished with this dreaded ailment.  The Sefer Me’am Loez asks why it is that in our times we see people speak Lashon Hara--and yet they appear whole and healthy?  He provides the following shocking response:  “You should know that the Tzora’as referred to in the Torah could either afflict a person’s body or soul, and if it does not afflict his body, it will afflict his soul.  Indeed, the Tzora’as of the soul is worse than the Tzora’as of the body, as the Zohar writes that in the Heavens there is a special place called ‘Negah Tzara’as’, where the Neshamos who spoke Lashon Hara are punished.”


Hakhel Note:  With all that we know about Lashon Hara, its effects, and its after-effects, we suggest that our bechira, our free will, against this Aveirah should be deemed close to have been taken away from us--as we strive only for Lashon HaTov, and the fulfillment in our personal lives of the Pasuk “Me HaIsh HeChafetz Chaim Ohev Yamim Liros Tov”!



Special Note Four:  Before taking leave of the Parsha of Kashrus in last week’s Parsha, we provide the following insights: 


A.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that if one was nichshal in some way in the aveirah of Ma’achalos Asuros, then he should study the Halachos of Ma’achalos Asuros as part of his Teshuva process. 


B.  Especially in the Kashrus area, we find the claim made that:  “I do it because everybody does it”, “everybody eats there”, “everybody relies on it”.  The Power of Teshuvah (Day 32) decries this kind of notion as a method of personal absolvement of responsibility--and a true impediment to the Teshuvah process.  Everybody is responsible for his own actions--and accordingly, must act responsibly!  Hakhel Note:  It is one’s own soul--and one’s own eternity--not ‘everybody’s’!


C.  Chazal (Yoma 39A) teach Adam Metamei Atsmo Me’at, Meta’amin Oso HarbeiAdam Mekadesih Atsmo Me’at, Mekadeshin Oso Harbei.  The Sefer Talilei Oros brings the Ritva’s explanation of these words:  When one defiles himself in this world, then aside from the sin itself, he accumulates enemies in the heavens above who prosecute and argue against him.  Conversly, when one sanctifies himself in this world, the Malochim are able to draw upon him a Ruach Kedosha which enables him to further his Kedusha in this world and the next!  We must keep this in mind--as we face a test of questionable Kashrus or of an unknown Hashgacha.  Is the momentary and fleeting pleasure, or even the temporal satiation of hunger or thirst--worth possibly bringing along with it sad and ugly after-effects--or instead can the same situation be uplifted and elevated into an act of Kedusah--bringing the Malochim to one’s side, together with further Kedusah-- now and for eternity!


D.  As we have noted in the past, the Sefer Talilei Oros also brings from the following “Eitzah Ne’emana” (Trustworthy Advice) taught by the HaRav Leib Chasman, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ohr Yahel:  “If one finds himself, Chas VeShalom, in a tzarah, he should take a neder to not satiate his desire in a particular manner which is otherwise permissible to him, and with this he will be assured of a having obtained a ‘Zechus Gadol with this to be saved...”  Note:  Rav Chasman is not requiring unrelenting abstinence.  Rather, he is advising to select something permissible and simply not satiate oneself with it--because he--and not his Yetzer Hora--is in charge of his life!



2 Iyar 5772


FROM A READER:  Regarding Ona’as Devarim, sometimes siblings (especially sisters in their teens and early 20s) can be the cruelest of all, with statements like: “Is that how you went out?”  ”You wore that?” “Your hair looks terrible!”  ”Uch! You look like a mess!”  ”Did anyone see you dressed like that?”




Special Note One:  We have now begun the eighth month of the year 5772.  In last week’s Parsha, we marked the mid-way point of the Torah both in words and in letters (which was noted in many Chumashim).  Although more than half the year is gone--we still have much to accomplish this year--and still have some time to do it! 



Special Note Two:  In our quest for personal improvement, and even significant personal improvement, we make the following notes:


A.  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, brings the following fantastic lesson from HaRav Mordechai Gifter, Z’tl:  At about the time when foreign investors were discovering the value of the South-African diamond mines, a group of investors traveled to South Africa to gain a better appreciation of the true situation.  They came upon a village of natives who lived in huts made of mud and grasses.  Stunned, they decided to enter one of the huts, with permission of its occupant.  As they glanced at the walls, they noticed a glistening effect.  Moving closer, they realized that there were hundreds of diamond chips in the mud walls!  Much is to be learned from this, HaRav Gifter commented--there are those who take diamonds and turn them into mud, and there are those who take mud and turn it into diamonds!  HaRav Gifter’s comment was obviously not directed to the physical world and to Olam HaZeh--but to our proper attitude and outlook at the opportunities, the challenges, and the circumstances that we encounter daily.  As we encounter each situation, we should visualize --what will we be doing with it--turning the diamond into mud, or the mud into a diamond?!


B.  At the outset of last week’s Parsha, we learned that a different Kappara was necessary for Aharon than that which was needed for Klal Yisroel--as evidenced by the differing Karbanos that were brought for them, respectively.  No two people’s Teshuva is the same.  The G’ra (Oros HaGra, Gilgulim U’Mishpateihem) asks: “How does a person know what he ruined in his previous Gilgul that caused him to return to this world again?”  He explains that there are two identifying signs:  (a) a sin which has recurred many times in this lifetime; and (b) a sin which a person has a real desire to perform, for he has gotten used to performing it.  It is for this reason that a person has a predilection for a particular aveirah over another aveirah. 


Hakhel Note:  Reflecting upon these two points, a person should come up with a plan of action--to cleanse and purify himself for eternity!


C.  One item that is a constant test to all is impulse versus reason.  Taking the immediate reaction, rather than thinking the matter through momentarily, can mean the difference between an ugly aveirah and a grand Mitzvah.  Resolving not to fall prey to one’s ‘immediate reaction’ at least once a day (to start with), is an important step in overall improvement. 



Special Note Three:  In the stirring Elokai Neshama Tefillah that we recite every morning, we recite the words:  VaAtta Meshamera Bekirbi, VeAtta Asid Litlah Mimemni, U’Lehachazira Bi Leassid Lavo…and You safeguard [my Neshama] within me and You will take it from me in the future, and restore it to me in the future that will come.”  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked--how can we utter the words:  ‘and You will take it from me’.  How does this not fall into the category of being ‘Poseiach Peh LaSatan’ (see Kesuvos 8B), using one’s mouth indiscriminately in a way which, r’l, could hurt him?  HaRav Kanievsky responded that what we are referring to here is that one hour before Techiyas HaMeisim, at which point, everyone will need to pass away--in order to be brought back to life for eternity! 



Special Note Four:  What is a good friend?  Everyone could have an opinion on the subject, and undoubtedly much ink has been spilled on the topic as well.  We importantly turn to the words of Rabbeinu Yonah on last week’s Perek in Pirkei Avos (1: 6), who writes, on the term ‘K’nei Lecha Chaver--acquire for yourself a friend’--that there are three reasons why a person needs a good friend: 


A.  Torah. Chazal teach that although one learns much Torah from his Rabbis and teachers, he can learn more from his friends (Ta’anis, 7A).


B.  Mitzvos. Even if a person’s friend may not be more of a chasid than him and may also act improperly from time to time--a real friend will deliver rebuke at a time that you perceive that you are getting benefit from an Aveirah, and he sees the true other side from an outsider’s point of view.  You, in turn, will do the same for him, with the wonderful result of mutual Teshuvah through a true friend’s guidance and assistance!


C.  Aitzos.  When one shares personal secrets with a friend, the friend may be able to help him best with the proper advice.  One should understand the importance and impact of a good friend on one’s life--as Chazal teach ‘O’ Chavrusah O’ Meisusah--either a Chavrusah or death’.  To Americans--it is ‘death or liberty!’--to us--a real friend is even more important! 


Hakhel Note:  With these great guidelines of the Rabbeinu Yonah, we can help select and determine when it is important for us to turn an erstwhile ‘acquaintance’ into a life-fulfilling friend!



Special Note Five:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #39


In this week’s Parsha, Metzora, we learn that the purification process of the Metzora involves the shechita of one bird, and the sending away of its counterpart alive.  The birds, of course, symbolize inappropriate chattering which was the source of the tzora’as affliction.  HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Zt’l, asks, however--if the bird symbolizes chattering, why was one bird sent away alive--why were both birds not shechted, in order to symbolize the Metzora’s total cessation of needless speech as part of his Teshuva process?


HaRav Yerucham answers that, indeed, much speech needs to be corrected.  Sharp, biting and sarcastic remarks, words of hurt and derision, Loshon Hora in all its forms, must all come to a complete halt.  However, this does not mean that one should stop talking completely.  Friendly words, words of encouragement, good advice, compliments and even properly worded constructive criticism, all have an important, and, indeed, essential place in an individual’s life.  We note that before the live bird is sent away, it is dipped in the shechted bird’s blood, as if to remind it to always remember to avoid the wrong messages, the inappropriate comments and the wrong expressions.  Then, and only then can the positive words take charge.  They are set free upon the open field--to use life to its absolute utmost!



1 Iyar 5772


QUESTION OF THE DAY :  Very few dates are mentioned in the Torah--but today is one of them!  Where is today’s date mentioned in the Torah?  Why is the date specifically mentioned in that Parsha and what it the context?




Special Note One:  Notes from readers:


A. On our note about favorite Gematrios from Pesach, a reader advised us of a great one he originated:  “In Mah Nishtanah we recite: “Shebichol Haleilos…on all the other night of the year.  The Gematria of Shebichol--on all the other-- is 352, exactly corresponding to the 352 of the 354 nights of the year, other than the nights of the Seder, in which we act differently!”  Hakhel Note:  Next year we will be B’EH have only one Seder in Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh so the Gematria will have to be amended to include the word Shebichol itself--meaning that 353 nights of the year we act differently--except for the night of the Seder!


B.  In response to our request for words which people feel are hurtful (which other may not realize), a reader wrote:  “Often when one does a favor and the recipient says “Thank you”, the person who did the favor says “No problem”.   It is much more pleasant to hear, in response, “My pleasure!”



Special Note Two:  Rosh Chodesh Iyar is very much related to the Binyan Bais Hamikdash.  The Luach Dovor B’Ito brings that Shlomo HaMelech began the building of the First Bais HaMikdash today, and that construction of the foundation of the Second Bais HaMikdash also began today as well (See Ezra 3:8-13).  Let us now daven that today also prove to serve a role in the building of the Third and Lasting Bais HaMikdash.  Even if we see nothing immediately around us or in front of us, and even if we hear no shofar blast at this moment, let our acts of Teshuva today serve as a cornerstone for its Building.  Why leave the building to someone else when each and every one of us is so eminently capable?!  Let’s also begin building Today--it’s for Eternity!



Special Note Three:  One of the actions that we will take in the Bais HaMikdash that we are not very used to doing now is Hishtachava’ah--prostrating oneself to the ground.  Undoubtedly, this Hishtachava’ah will come in direct response to the intense Kedushah and Ruchniyus experienced upon entering and viewing the Kohanim and the Avodah.  Yet, in the Tefillah of Nishmas we do recite in the here and now--VeChol Koma Lefonecha Sishtachaveh--and every person standing up shall prostrate himself before you.  How can/do we fulfill this statement?  The Chassidic masters teach the following:  Even when one is ostensibly standing straight, he should feel inwardly as if he is bowed before Hashem--in recognition of Hashem’s greatness and mastery and one’s own humility--something that every person should recognize and appreciate--even without a Bais HaMikdash.  We may add that even when reciting the words VaAnachnu Koriim U’Mishtachavim in Aleinu three times daily [which is a Tefillah we are working on in any event this week, with the fall of Yericho just last week on 28 Nissan], we should experience the moment--envisioning ourselves in an aura of submission and sanctity--so that we properly reflect the words that we are expressing.  In this merit--may we live to experience the ultimate Hishtachava’ah speedily and in our days!



Special Note Four: The Sefer Ta’amei HaMinhagim (page 251) writes that our new month of Iyar is tried and tested as a time for refuah, healing, from the ailments and pains that may affect a person.  Why is this so?  He brings the B’nai Yisaschar, who teaches that most weakness and illness come from foods which do not comport with the person’s nature or composition.  The Rambam (Hilchos De’os 4:15 ) writes likewise.  See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Chapter 32.


Since the Mon began to fall in this month (on the 16th day of Iyar 2448)--and it was a perfect food from which resulted no sickness, pain or even waste matter (as Dovid HaMelech refers to it in Sefer Tehillim--”lechem abirim”) and even cured those who were ill--Hashem left the curative nature of the month in effect even through today.  Accordingly, Iyar is a time of “segulah l’refuah”.  In fact, the Ta’amei HaMinhagim notes and as many know, the name “Iyar” is an acronym for Ani Hashem Rofecha--I am Hashem, Your Healer.


What can we do to help promote the curative effects of this special time as initiated by the heavenly Mon?  Let us reflect upon the following.  The Baalei Mussar note that one afflicted with Tzora’as does not ask others directly to pray for him--rather, as we will learn in this week’s Parsha, “VeTameh Tameh Yikra”--he only exclaims that he is “Tameh”, and those who hear him are expected to pray sincerely for him even without his direct request--and notwithstanding that he has sinned to such a great extent that Hashem has actually made him a Metzora.  What a great lesson we can learn at this time of year--which is so special for healing, and, moreover, the Omer period, in which our “Bein Odom L’Chavero” is to be seriously improved upon.  We should not wait to be asked, or merely be responsive to the request of others, when we hear that someone is not well.  Instead, we should “hear the cry” and go out of our way during this auspicious time to daven for those we may not even know, but whom we have heard are in need of a Refuah.  An ounce of Tefillah may mean a kilogram of cure.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  During this special month, recite a daily special, sincere Kepitel (chapter) of Tehillim for your list of cholim--recognizing that this is a special time for the potency--and importance--of your heartfelt Tefillah!


Additional Note: A reader wrote the following to us:   Rabbi  Nachman of Breslov writes that the word IYAR is Roshei Taivos of the words  ”Oyvai Yoshuvu Yaivoshu Roga,” thus indicating that the month of IYAR is  conducive to see a Mapala for the enemies of K’lal Yisroel!” Hakhel Note: When reciting Tachanun during this month we should have especial Kavannah when reciting these words--that they come to immediate reality!



Special Note Five:  As we begin the Summer Season which we looked so forward to during the Winter, we begin to reap some of Summer’s special spiritual benefits.  One of them is the greater opportunity to recite Brachos over the wonderful world of fragrances around us.  As in the past, we provide our readers below with a “shmek”, a brief “fragrance,” from the wonderful Sefer Rei’ach Hasadeh-The Fragrant Field (by Rabbi Hanoch Slatin, Shlita; Feldheim Publishers, 2003):


  1. Appreciating Our Sense of Smell. One of the first times the Torah refers to the sense of smell is when Yitzchok Avinu appreciates the fragrance of his son Yaakov: “Look, the fragrance of my son, is like the fragrance of the field which Hashem blessed.” (Bereishis 27:27)  The Midrash explains that Yitzchok smelled Gan Eden--his sense of smell connected him with a world in another dimension!


  1. The Brachos. There are five possible Brachos over fragrances.  Their sequence, in order of priority, is as follows:

  1. Borei shemen arev — only on apharsemon oil

  2. Hanosein re’iach tov bapeiros — only for fruits

  3. Borei atzei v’samim — for all tree aromas

  4. Borei isvei v’samim — for all grass aromas

  5. Borei minei v’samim---for all other aromas over which a bracha is recited.


Hakhel Footnote: In a sense, Borei minei v’samim is an omnibus bracha similar to shehakol neheya b’dvaro.


  1. Priority in Brachos Recitation.  When one picks up a pleasant-smelling fruit with the intention to both smell it and eat it, which bracha should come first?  There is reason to assume that one should begin with the fragrance.  As the person picks up the fruit, the smell will reach his nose before he has a chance to eat the fruit, and if he does not say the bracha on the aroma first, he will be guilty of deriving pleasure from this world without first saying a bracha.  Many authorities follow this line of reasoning and instruct us to say the bracha on the smell first.


  1. Aromatherapy:  Alternative medicine is a rapidly expanding area. Some people use various scents in order to improve their health.  People may smell a fragrance, or add them to massage oils or to their bath.  This practice is called aromatherapy.  If a person smells fragrances with no intention to enjoy their pleasant aroma, only to relieve himself of some illness, he should not make a bracha.  In practice, however, most people who employ aromatherapy also enjoy its fragrance on its own, and therefore they should recite the appropriate bracha.


Hakhel Footnote: As a matter of caution, one should first ask his Rav or Posek whether it is permissible to engage in aromatherapy per se, as different forms of alternative medicine have been linked to aspects of Avoda Zora.  It is a person’s absolute duty to determine that the source of his proposed form of therapy does not arise from the worshipping of other gods--something so foreign to individuals in the West that we may not initially consider it.


  1. Black Pepper and Ginger: There is a difference of opinion among the authorities whether black pepper and ginger are to be considered b’samim.  Therefore, the rule is that one should not make a bracha.  In order to avoid the transgression of enjoying this world without making a bracha, one should either refrain from smelling black pepper and ginger, or make a bracha on another fragrance and intend to include the pepper or ginger, as well.


  1. Bread:  A similar question exists regarding picking up (or bending over) and smelling a fresh, warm loaf of bread.  There are authorities who maintain that bread is neither a pleasant-smelling fruit nor a bosem, and no bracha should be said on its smell.  Others rule that a bracha should be said on the smell of bread.  Even according to this view, there is a difference of opinion as to which bracha should be said.  Some say that the bracha hanosein rei’ach tov bapeiros is applicable, others insist that only the bracha borei minei v’samim applies, whereas still others require the recital of a special bracha hanosein rei’ach tov b’pas--Who puts a pleasant smell in bread.  Again, since a bracha  may or may not be required, one should not say a bracha and should refrain from picking up(or bending over) warm bread to smell it.  This refers only to warm bread; the smell of cold bread is not strong and pleasurable enough to require a bracha.  Also, unless the bread is picked up or set aside for the purpose of smelling it, no bracha is required, even on fresh, warm bread. (Like any aromatic fruit, no bracha is said unless one takes the fruit with intention to enjoy its smell.)


  1. Weak Appreciation: One who by nature has a weak sense of smell, or whose sense of smell has been temporarily weakened due to a cold and the like, should not say a bracha on a scent which he does not sense keenly.  The same applies to one with a healthy sense of smell who does not enjoy a particular aroma.  He does not say a bracha on that particular smell, even if most people do derive pleasure from it.


  1. Weak Aroma:  Some flowers and fruits may have a very weak smell.  A person may find that one orange does not have a noticeable fragrance, but that a bowlful of oranges does.  Unless there is an appreciable fragrance coming from the item in question, do not make a bracha.


  1. Testing a Fragrance:  If one is in doubt as to how strong a smell a fragrance has, or whether or not the smell is pleasant, or whether or not his sense of smell is keen enough to be able to smell the fragrance properly, he may first smell it without a bracha as a trial.  If he finds the smell sufficiently strong and enjoyable, he should say the bracha and smell it a second time.


  1. Shabbos:  On Shabbos one of the forbidden activities is to harvest produce.  We are afraid that if one were to smell a fragrant fruit on a tree, he might want to eat that fruit and accidentally come to pick it.  Chazal therefore forbade one from smelling fruit on a tree on Shabbos.  There is no such concern about smelling a flower, as full enjoyment is derived from the flower without needing to pick it.  Therefore, one may smell growing flowers on Shabbos.  One must still be very careful to handle the plant gently.  If the plant is as soft as grass there is essentially no possibility of breaking it, so one may touch it.  If the branch of a tree is somewhat brittle, one should refrain from holding it. 


  1. In Havdala, one may use only those fragrances that normally require a bracha.  Hand soaps or bathroom deodorants never require a bracha, so they may not be used.  Many have the custom to use hadassim (myrtle leaves) which were already used to fulfill the mitzvah of Lulav.  This is in keeping with the principle that an object used for one mitzvah is preferred over other objects to perform yet another mitzvah.  Myrtle branches usually require the bracha of borei atzei v’samim.  For Ashkenazim the text of Havdalah always uses the bracha of borei minei v’samim.  Therefore, it is advisable to also include some fragrance which normally requires a borei minei v’samim, such as cloves.  This is not true for Sephardim, as their custom at Havdala is to say whichever bracha is correct for the particular fragrance being used.  Since myrtle leaves dry out and lose their scent with time, one should be careful to replenish the spice box regularly.


  1. True Appreciation. The author of the sefer Y’sod V’Shoresh Ha’Avodah, in his Last Will, urged his children to acknowledge Hashem in their thoughts before partaking of any pleasure of the world, even with such pleasures as snuff, which requires no bracha.  Ideally, any benefit we derive from the world should be accompanied by some form of praise and gratitude to the One Who created so many varied pleasures for us.  Therefore, even when we are not permitted to make a formal bracha, our thoughts should be directed toward Hashem.


We hope you once again enjoyed this timely whiff from the Sefer Rei’ach Hasadeh.  It is, of course, available in your local Jewish Book Store, with more detail on how a Torah Jew uses his sense of smell in serving Hashem!



 Special Note Six:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #38

The following is excerpted from the outstanding English translation of the Sefer Aleinu L’Shabei’ach on Sefer Vayikra (Artscroll p.113-114), by Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita:


“R’ Moshe Vaye related that a great talmid chacham who learned in the Chofetz Chaim’s yeshivah in Radin told him this story:  “I used to visit the Chofetz Chaim often.  Once, when I was in his house, the Chofetz Chaim was feeling quite weak, but was in very good spirits nonetheless.  He was 83 years old at the time.  The Chofetz Chaim was lying in bed, and he suddenly motioned to me to come closer to him.  When I came over to his bed, he asked that I open his mouth.  I was taken aback, even frightened, for I did not understand what the Chofetz Chaim’s intention was, and I did not dare to go ahead and open his mouth.  How could I open the mouth of the holy Chofetz Chaim?  Who dares to enter the lion’s den?  The Chofetz Chaim then repeated his instruction.  Having no choice, I obeyed.  Looking into the Chofetz Chaim’s mouth, I saw two snow-white rows of teeth, each tooth perfectly healthy and in the correct place.  It was as though I were looking into the mouth of a young child whose teeth were still sparkling and pristine.  “Count the number of teeth I have in my mouth,” the Chofetz Chaim then instructed me.  I thought I was going to faint.  In order to count the Chofetz Chaim’s teeth, I would have to peer deep inside his mouth.  But the Chofetz Chaim urged me to count his teeth.  Hesitatingly, I counted 32 teeth.  The Chofetz Chaim was still in possession of a full, perfect set of teeth.  Not one tooth was missing or decayed; everyone was strong, healthy, and as good as new.  How many people have a full set of healthy teeth at age 83, I marveled.  After I counted the Chofetz Chaim’s teeth, he took my hand, and said, with a smile that I will never forget, ‘I guarded the mouth that Hashem gave me, so Hashem took care of my mouth.’”


Hakhel Note:  Let us strive to make our teeth as white as we can!


28 Nissan 5772


Special Note One:  Today, the 28th day of Nissan, marks the day that Yericho fell to the Hakafos and Shofar blasts (and not to the military prowess) of B’nei Yisroel.  It was none other than Yehoshua Bin Nun who composed Aleinu at that time in recognition of Hashem’s Omnipotence--and the thanks that we owe Him for our position in this world!  According to the Sefer Chareidim, as brought in the Siddur Rashban, Aleinu was actually recited forwards and then backwards by Yehoshua and Bnei Yisroel, and this was the final blow that caused the walls to fall in.   The second paragraph of Aleinu—”Al Kain Nekave” was composed by Achan after he did Teshuva from taking booty out of Yericho today—violating the Cherem to do so. (He then received Sekila to complete his Kapara).   Most certainly then, for the next week--we should be most careful to recite Aleinu from a Siddur, and with sincere reflections of thanks.


Hakhel Note:  There is an amazing teaching from the Malbim in Sefer Yehoshua (1:8) that a reader pointed out to us.  Hashem tells Yehoshua that in the event he fulfills the words “VeHagisa Bo Yomam VaLayla”, then “Az Tatzliach…VeAz Taskil.”  The Malbim explains the difference between Hatzlacha and Haskalah.  One who is successful because his ‘mazel’ appears to be in the right place, at the right time, is one who is Matzliach.  On the other hand, a Maskil is someone who uses his sechel to constantly make the right choices which lead him to success.  In the Pasuk, Hashem tells Yehoshua that through his fulfillment of VeHagisa Bo Yomam VaLayla--his mazel will change (‘Tatzliach’)--and on top of that he will be even more successful because of the proper use of his sechel (Taskil).  Moreover, he will be Matzliach in matters of this world and a Maskil in matters of the Next World.  The incredible lesson then of the Malbim is that through proper, diligent, Limud HaTorah, one can not only change his mazel--but do so on a consistent basis and establish himself as a Maskil--for eternity!



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


A.  We are advised that this Shabbos, which is the day that Shlissel Challahs are served, is the day that some Chassidic masters waited until before they consumed Chometz after Pesach.  The Shlissel Challah would be their first Chometz!  What is the concept of Shlissel Challah?  In The Book of Our Heritage (the excellent English translation of the Sefer HaToda’ah), Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, writes as follows:  “In some communities, it is customary for the Shabbos on which we announce the approaching month of Iyar that sesame seeds are sprinkled on the top of Challahs in the shape of a key.  This serves as a reminder of the Mon that began to fall from heaven in Iyar, as well as reminder that the key to our sustenance is in Hashem’s Hand.”  The Sefer Ta’amei Dinim U’Minhagim (p.249) writes about the Shlissel Challah:  U’Minhag Avoseinu BeVadai Torah Hu”. The Sefer then explains that the key is symbolic of the Ma’amar Chazal:  Pischu Lee…open up for me an opening like the point of a needle and I will open up for you an opening the size of the Ulam.”  Additionally, the Sefer continues, our closeness to Hashem on Pesach opened up heavenly gates which became closed after Pesach.  With the key, we symbolize that we want to open them again--and that we begin to succeed with the Mitzvah of Shabbos! 


B.  In the Siddur Tefillah L’Moshe, the following comments are brought from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, relating to Shabbos:


1.  In Lecha Dodi, Shabbos is referred to as the “Mekor HaBracha” because through proper honor to Shabbos, one is zoche to wealth (Shabbos 119A) and as the Zohar (Parshas Yisro) teaches:  “From this day the other six days receive their bracha.” 


2.  The reason that we do not recite Atta Vechartanu in the Shabbos Shemone Esrei, as we do in the Shemone Esrei of the Mo’adim, is because the bechira to which we refer relates to our privilege to establish the days of the Mo’adim--while Shabbos is established by Hashem Himself! 


3.  The term “Retzei BeMenuchaseinu” in each Shabbos Shemone Esrei expresses our desire that our Shabbos Menucha be L’Sheim Shomayim, and our Tefillah that our Shabbos observance is at all times in accordance with Halacha--without any falls or faults. 


4.  The reason Shabbos is called a Nachala throughout the day (VeShabbos Kodesh Hinchilanu, Velo Hinchalto Malkeinu Le’ovdei Phisilim…), is so that we recognize that Shabbos is a Yerusha specifically to us.  In fact, even  if a non-Jew does not worship idols and is already a Mahul, it is still forbidden for him to observe Shabbos unless he is both Mal VeTaval L’Sheim Geirus. 


5.  In Tefillas Mussaf, we refer to “V’Es Mussaf Yom HaShabbos Hazeh--how could we bring the Korban Mussaf for this Shabbos if the Bais HaMikdash is not rebuilt?”  HaRav Kanievsky brings the Sefer HaManhig who writes that all of this Korbanos that we did not bring while in Galus will ‘made-up’ when the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt, and even though the HaManhig writes that the Korbanos Chova will not be ‘made-up’, perhaps he does not refer to the Korbanos Olah (which are the Korbanos of Shabbos).  In any event, Rav Sa’adya Gaon writes that even the Korbanos Chova will be made up as well!  This Shabbos, let’s look forward to, or better yet observe--the Karbanos of Yom HaShabbos Hazeh!


C.  An interesting bracha Shailah that may come up on any given Shabbos:  If one eats fruits of the Shiva Minim both from Eretz Yisroel and from Chutz La’aretz--how would the bracha end--Al Ha’aretz VeAl HaPeiros (the bracha on fruits from Chutz La’aretz) or Al Ha’aertz VeAl Perioseha (the bracha on fruits from Eretz Yisroel)?  HaRav Kanievsky (brought in his Haggadah Shel Pesach) teaches that although he would have originally thought that one ends the bracha Al Ha’aretz VeAl Peiroseha, because of the chashivus of the fruits he has consumed from Eretz Yisroel--he asked this Shailah to his father in-law HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, may he have a Refuah Shleimah Bekarov.  HaRav Elyashiv ruled that one ends the bracha Al Ha’aretz VeAl HaPeiros, as this includes all the fruits that were consumed.



Special Note Three:  We conclude (Part V) with teachings and lessons that we can take with us from the Pesach we have just experienced into the coming weeks and months ahead:


A.  The Midrash brings the story of a visiting princess who was thrown into a pit by bandits.  The king was on a royal trip and heard the shouts.  The royal army saved her and she was nursed back to health.  The king was impressed by the princess and wanted to marry her, but she would hear nothing of it.  The king devised a plan.  When the princess was well enough to go out traveling again, he hired bandits to once again throw her into a pit, at which point he could once again come to her rescue.  He saved her and nursed her back to health once again.  This time when he asked her to marry him she wholeheartedly agreed.  That is the Mashal.  The Nimshal:  Hashem seeks our closeness, but we are difficult and unresponsive.  He therefore creates situations in order to induce us to come close to Him.  What began the Yeshua process in Mitzrayim was our calling out to Him.  What began our saving at the sea was our calling out to Him.  If we can follow the Midrash through, we have to learn, that the tumah around us, the bombs that have fallen and the bombs that are threatened, the worldwide terrorist presence, the weak governments and a shaky economy the world over all lead to one conclusion--let’s cry out together--and this time accept Hashem’s proposal!


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  There are many places in each one of our daily Tefillos where we ask for Yeshuos and Geulah--at each Tefillah, make it a point to cry out--at least once!


B.  The crying out is extremely important.  There is however, an additional second, sublime step.  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.”


HaRav 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, Bimheira B’yameinu.


C.  One more important Mashal:  The king’s army was traveling through a desert when one of the leading officers became faint for water.  As the water supply had recently run out, the lead general sent some of his fastest soldiers to race out of the desert and bring back water.  In the meantime, the dehydrated officer’s situation became more serious.  The king ordered all his men to begin digging at that spot until after a couple of hours they found water.  With the water, the officer was revived.  An hour later, the swift soldiers returned with a carriage full of water which thankfully was no longer necessary at that time.  It was taken along as the army continued on its path.  One week later, a wayfarer traveling thought the desert fell faint at exactly the same spot.  Because the well was already dug, he was able to immediately revive himself and go on.  Had the well not been dug the week before, he would have been left helpless and stranded in the desert. The Nimshal:  Hashem gives us the wellspring of Pesach every year with which to revive ourselves.  It faithfully fulfills its task.  We need only drink the water to survive--and to thrive.  It is now one week since Pesach, and we have attempted to provide some post-Pesach “survive and thrive thoughts”.  We urge and recommend that everyone recognize the wellspring that Hashem has dug for us and that we proceed away from the well with new abilities and new strength.  If one cannot take at least one or two lessons or practical improvement with him (whether from those which we have provided or any of the many he may have gleaned on his own or from other sources)--there is still hope--as Nissan continues through Sunday!  Over Shabbos let us dedicate ourselves to consider, review, contemplate--and improve! 



Special Note Three:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #37


At the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Shemini, we find that Moshe Rabbeinu first “Called to Aharon...” and only afterwards “Spoke to Aharon.”  HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, Z’tl, notes that when one wants to speak with a person, he should call him specifically by his name, and only then continue with a conversation.  Mentioning someone’s name can create a special level of endearment and closeness, a human bond.  Moshe Rabbeinu may very well have learned this very beautiful Middah from Hashem Himself, Who at the outset of Sefer VaYikra (1:1) first “calls to Moshe”, and only afterwards begins “speaking to him.”


May we suggest that over Shabbos (i.e. the week-end) and Sunday (i.e., the week-beginning), you take the lead of Hashem--and of Moshe Rabbeinu--and call to a person by name before starting a conversation.  May this serve as a source of Brocha in enhancing all of our personal relationships!



27 Nissan 5772


QUESTION AND ANSWER OF THE DAY :  We recently changed reciting the words “V’Sein Tal U’Matar Levracha” to the words “V’sein Bracha”.  What Kavannah are we to have in mind when saying the words “V’sein Bracha?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains that we are asking for Ribui Tova V’Hatzlacha--for Hashem to shower goodness and success upon us.  Although we are no longer asking for the rain--we are still asking for the shower!  Picture it as you recite these words.  Remember, it is not just lip service or even simply an element of belief--Hashem’s bracha in all areas is tangible and real!




Special Note One:  In response to our request for additional phrases that readers feel are Ona’as Devarim, we received the following thoughts from readers to watch out for:


A.  “A remark that offends me is:  “What’s the big deal?!”  (If you feel that it is not a big deal, then do it yourself).”


B.  “Onaas Devarim heard often and always painfully: “YOU DON ’T GET IT!!!!’”



Special Note Two:  We continue to present below (Part IV) several teachings and lessons that we can take with us from the Pesach we have just experienced into the coming weeks and months ahead:


A.  Chazal teach that one of the main major causes of our redemption was that Shelo Shinu Es Malbusham--that they did not change their clothing.  Especially in our generation, we have been besieged by clothing which, by name, represents a direct attachment to western society.  In order for the article to be ‘chashuv’ to adolescents and young adults (and some adults), it is preferred that the names Aeropostale, Juicy, Hilfiger, Gap, Brooks Brothers, and the like, be emblazed somewhere in, on or about a shirt, sweater, jacket or other article of apparel.  This is but another example of what may be the last throes of the Yetzer Hara as he attempts us to associate--rather than disassociate--from the society we live in.  We must remember that the 80% or more of the Bnei Yisroel who did not leave Mitzrayim did not leave because they were so attached to their Galus that they actually preferred it to leaving.  On the other hand, even the Eirev Rav, as wicked as they were, merited to leave because they wanted to get out.  When one spots a Yeshiva Bochur playing basketball with the facial image of an obviously non-Jewish NBA star pictured on his shirt, it should cause us consternation, and should inspire us to respond by doing something in the other direction.  Let us remember that our last step before leaving Mitzrayim was the Avodah of the Korban Pesach--doing away with any connection that we had to what the Mitzriyim idolized--and actually tying it to our bed posts (thereby actually mocking the wholly misguided value that it represented) and shechting it in the process of our Avodas Hashem!  Let us bring this opportune lesson home--as hopefully one of the last steps in our current Galus as well!


B.  It is interesting to note that while the Korban Pesach in Mitzrayim was eaten Bechipazon, in haste, the Navi (Yeshaya 52:12) teaches us that our final Geulah will not be in haste:  Ki Lo VeChipazon Teitseiu U’Vemnusa Lo Seileichu…you will not leave in chaos, nor will you go in flight; for Hashem will go before you….”  With this, we may understand why Bechipazon is one of the key differences between the Seder in Mitzrayim and the Seder of all future generations after Yetzias Mitzrayim--as the Mishna (Pesachim 9:4) teaches us, the Korban Pesach in Mitzrayim was eaten in haste (in a ‘ready-to-go’ mode), while the Pesach of all future generations did not have this requirement.  The explanation may be that all future Pesachim are also attached to the final Geulah which, as the Navi teaches will not be Bechipazon.  Remember--even if we don’t sense any particular Chipazon now, we don’t have to--Pisom Yavo, our Geulah can come at any time!


C.  Many of the Mitzvos on the Leil HaSeder come in pairs.  For instance, one of the answers given to the question as to “Why do we drink four cups tonight” not being part of the Mah Neshtana, is because each one of the four Kosos is simply associated with another Mitzvah of the evening.  Similarly, the bracha of Borei Pri Ha’adama over Karpas is also (possibly) the bracha over the Maror.  At Yachatz we break the Matzah, with the two parts symbolizing that Matzah is both the symbol of Galus and symbol of Geulah.  When we recite Maggid, the Matzah and Maror must also be before us.  Motzi Matzah is a stage in which we fulfill both the Mitzvah of Lechem Mishna and that of Achilas Matzah.  If we carefully focus, we will realize that Hashem, in His Great Graciousness to us packages and bundles Mitzvos to us together in order to give us more and more zechusim and more and more opportunities to develop our relationship with Him within a finite life span in this world.  All we have to do is be careful to recognize and appreciate each and every one of them--just as the Jews in Mitzrayim were to appreciate that they were blessed with six babies at once--and not only one.  The ideal is to think through the Mitzvos as we perform them--and if we do, we will realize that what appears to be one Mitzvah may not be just one large treasure chest--but really a number of individual, perfectly minted gold coins and shining rubies!


D.  The Chasam Sofer (Drashos Chasam Sofer II, p. 536) notes that every Song, every Shir, that has significance is composed in response to a particular event.  The Shiras HaYam was, of course, composed in reaction to the miracles at the sea.  Likewise, the Shira at the Be’air (Bamidbar 21:17) was sung in appreciation of the well spring that the Bnei Yisroel were graced with in the Midbar.  This being the case, why did Shlomo HaMelech compose Shir HaShirim?  The Chasam Sofer answers that this Song is an outpouring of expression to Hashem for choosing us as His nation.  Rebbi Akiva describes it is Kodesh Kodashim--holy of holies, and this may be  because it is the ‘anthem’ of the holiest of nations.  When we recite it, it should accordingly be with the greatest of joy!  Hakhel Note:  We can now possibly understand why there is a Segulah associated with reciting Shir HaShirim 40 days in a row--What greater sign can there be of our appreciating that HaKadosh Baruch Hu has chosen us as His nation--than bursting out in song in response!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #36


In Hallel (Tehillim 118:27) on Pesach, we recited the Pasuk “Baruch Haba BeSheim Hashem.”



The following is a comment on this Pasuk excerpted from the inspirational and informative Sefer Growth Through Tehillim, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


Interacting with people who are new to mitzvah observance has given me many opportunities to see how greetings and the lack of greetings affect newcomers.  This is what one person told me: ‘I went to a synagogue before I was mitzvah-observant.  I felt uncomfortable. This was new to me and I felt out of place.  I was thinking that I would like to live a more spiritual life and I wanted to see what it was like to pray to God with others, in an organized way. Unfortunately, my experience was distasteful.  I felt like a stranger in a strange land, no one greeted me, and I felt judgmental stares. In general, disapproval and criticism were distressful for me, and here, not only did I not feel any holiness, but I considered the way I was treated the opposite of what I expected in a house of God.’ A few years later, I met someone who agreed to study Torah with me, once a week. After a while, he invited me to attend prayers with him. Based on my past experiences, I was reluctant to go with him, and I shared my fears with him.  ‘Don’t let one bad experience prevent you from trying again,’ he said to me. The place where I pray might be.  different’.   He was persistent and I agreed to try it out.  It made sense to me that just because my last experience was negative did not prove that I could not have a positive experience in the future.  He was right.  The regular attendees of the Shul could tell that I was new to it all, and they went out of their way to greet me and make me feel comfortable.  One greeting especially stayed with me.  Welcome to our house of prayer. Our Heavenly Father appreciates when His children unite, to pray to him. I look forward to seeing you again.  If there is anything at all that I can do to help you in any way, please feel free to contact me.  Here is my telephone number. If you need assistance becoming familiar with what

is going on, you can sit near me.’  I felt that I was coming home and was eager to follow up on his invitation.


Remember to practice our motto which means so much--Baruch Haba BeSheim Hashem!



26 Nissan 5772


QUESTION OF THE DAY :  Why is Sefiras HaOmer recited in Ma’ariv between Shemone Esrei and Aleinu (in most communities)?  After all, what does the counting of Sefira have to do with our structure of Tefillas Ma’ariv?




Special Note One:  We continue to present below (Part III ) several teachings and lessons that we can take with us from the Pesach we have just experienced into the coming weeks and months ahead:


A.  We are familiar with the bracha we give another of “Gefen”--Gezunt, Parnassah and Nachas.  The Chasam Sofer finds another acronym in the term “Gefen”--it is Geulaseinu u’Pedus Nafsheinu--our physical and spiritual redemption.  Have this in mind as well when giving the bracha of “Gefen”.


B.  In the Haggadah we read that Hashem was “Chisheiv Es HaKeitz”--which some meforshim teach means that we were released 190 (the Gematria of Keitz) years early because of the difficulty of the Galus we were experiencing and/or because of the depths of the tumah we had reached.  Let us think for a moment.  The Navi (Micah 7:15 ) teaches us that Kimei Tzeisecha MeiEretz Mitzrayim Erenu Niflaos--as in the days when you left Egypt , I will show wonders.”  We are now in the year 5772--if we add on the 190 years in which Hashem was Chishev Es HaKeitz in Mitzrayim (and it is definitely at least a theoretical possibility that this will happen again--based on the Pasuk and due to our difficulties in Galus and all of the tumah around us)--that brings us up to the year 5962, which is just 38 years short of the year 6000 (and we know what that means).  This should provide some additional inspiration for us to do Teshuvah as soon as possible!


C.  At Kriyas Yam Suf, the Pasuk (Shemos 14:14) states:  Hashem Yilacheim Lachem VeAtem Tacharishun.  The Midrash (Mechilta to Beshalach 2:14) teaches that even when we stand and remain silent Hashem fights for us, then, Kal V’Chomer--all the more so, will He fight on our behalf when we call out and praise Him.  The lesson is there for all to see--it is better to communicate with Hashem than to remain silent.  Hakhel Note:  Let us look for a moment at the Nusach of the Musaf Shemone Esrei that we recite everyday of Yom Tov:  Yehi Ratzon Milfanecha…Melech Rachaman Shetashuv U’Seracheim Aleinu…B’Rachamecha HaRabbim.”  Then a little later we once again recite:  Melech Rachaman Racheim AleinuBaHamon Rachamecha.”  We plead time and time again for Hashem to bring His Rachamim upon us.  We must recognize the value of our not remaining silent and the importance of connecting to Hashem with Kavannah!  


D.  Also at Kriyas Yam Suf, the Pasuk ( 14:17 ) states:  VeIkabda BePharoh U’Vechol Cheilo.”  The Midrash teaches us that the reason Paroh is mentioned first is because since he began to sin against Klal Yisroel and the Mitzriyim followed, so too, was he punished first, and then the Mitzriyim followed in receiving their punishment.  The Midrash then goes a step further:  “If in the case of punishment he who sinned first is punished first, then Kal V’Chomer--all the more so will one who acted meritoriously and led others in that direction receive his reward at the outset as well!


E.  The Pasuk that follows at Kriyas Yam Suf ( 14:18 ) states:  VeYadu Mitzrayim Ki Ani Hashem…and the Mitzriyim will know that I am Hashem.”  The question becomes--why at all does it make a difference as to whether the Mitzriyim will know who Hashem is--they will no longer be alive in seconds, minutes, or at most a few hours.  HaRav Shach, Z’tl, explains that the Pasuk is teaching us how precious and important even a few seconds, minutes or hours of recognizing and appreciating Hashem truly are.  We should not be spoiled by the manifold opportunities that we have--but instead should appreciate and savor each and every bracha opportunity, every Tefillah opportunity…and each and every realization and actualization of a Teshuvah opportunity!


F.  Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (115:14, as recited in Hallel each day of Pesach), “Yevareich Yirei Hashem Haketanim Im HaGedolim--He will bless those who fear Hashem, the small as well as the great.”  This Pasuk should give us all encouragement--for it teaches us that Hashem blesses us all in accordance with our level.  We need not be the Rav, the Rosh Yeshiva, or the one giving the Mussar lecture--we can be a katan and receive Hashem’s blessing--as long as we try to be Yirei Hashem--sensing Hashem’s presence throughout the day!


F.  Do not be fooled by its loftiness and sublimity--Shir Hashirim has many practical lessons for us as well.  Chazal (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 8:12) teach us, based on the Posuk of “Haelef Lecha Shlomo U’mosayim L’notrim Es Piryo--One thousand for Shlomo and two hundred to those who watch his fruit”--that the reward for one who learns while traveling (“Lecha”) is five times (1000 vs. 200) greater than for one who simply learns in the Beis Medrash (“Notrim Es Piryo”).  It is interesting that the numbers the Posuk uses for a ratio of 5:1 is 1000:200.  A possible explanation may be based upon the Chofetz Chayim (quoted in Item 30 of an archived Bulletin available at http://tinyurl.com/2neafe ) who states that one can learn 200 words of Torah, which is equivalent to 200 separate Mitzvos, in one minute.  If one learns while traveling, Hashem considers it as if he is learning five times as much, or 1,000 words per minute.  While traveling, one should await and treasure the incredible opportunity to perform the equivalent of 1,000 Mitzvos per minute.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #35


May we suggest that, to battle Ona’as Devarim, one work on appropriate phrases that become part and parcel of his/her every day lexicon.  Here is a small sampling--please feel free to liberally add to the list!


  1. It’s a privilege to know you.

  2. You have a knack for doing the right thing.

  3. I need your advice.

  4. You really bought this at a good price.

  5. Smart!

  6. I’m impressed.

  7. It looks so good on you.

  8. You remind me of your father/mother.

  9. I really appreciate your effort.

  10. You do so many good things.

  11. You are truly the right person to be around.

  12. How do you find time to do all of this?

  13. This is delicious.

  14. Can I give you a bracha?

  15. Can you give me a bracha?

  16. What a wonderful idea.

  17. You probably know the answer to this.

  18. I know you’re someone I can count on.

  19. Beautiful!

  20. My compliments to the chef.

  21. You look like a million dollars.

  22. Your parents did something right.

  23. Some people really have their head on straight.

  24. You did a great job.

  25. What a chesed!

  26. You have amazing taste.

  27. You are so special.

  28. You did this all by yourself?

  29. I know that your word is your bond.

  30. You’re great!


Is our list beyond anyone—**anyone**?  Let us leave “anyone” aside and focus on you.  The Torah (and your Maker) knows that **you** can do it…and your life will surely be much enhanced if--no, when--you do!



25 Nissan 5772


Special Note One:  As we continue to daven for the Gedolei Rabbanim who are ill, we note the important words taught by Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, at the recent Hakhel Kinus.  Rabbi Lieff pointed out that there is only one place in Shemone Esrei where we state “VeHaser Mimenu Yagon VeAnacha--and remove from us sorrow and groan”.  This is after Hasheeva Shofteinu Kivareshona--when our judges and our counselors are restored to their original positions in K’lal Yisroel.  The lesson is clear--it is only when we have our Torah guides leading us, that we are all sounder, safer and happier!  Thus, truth be told, when we daven for them we are davening for ourselves as well!



Special Note Two:  We continue to present below (Part II) several teachings and lessons that we can take with us from the Pesach we have just experienced into the coming months:


A.  Regarding the Korban Pesach, the Torah teaches (Shemos 12:9) that it is to be roasted “Rosho Al Kera’av VeAl Kirbo--with its head over its legs and its innards.”  The Chasam Sofer explains that there is a beautiful Mussar lesson here--if we want to succeed in freeing ourselves from our Yetzer Hara--we must place our heads over our desires and the places that the Yetzer Hara would otherwise take us.  Remember--our head is at the top of our body--for a reason!


B.  What is your favorite Pesach Seder Gematria?  How about the fact that in the phrase Avdei Paroh the word Avdei has a Gematria of 86--representing the 86 years of harsh servitude?  We would like to share with you the Chasam Sofer’s calculation of the Gematrios of Chametz and Matzah.  The Chasam Sofer writes that the Gematriah of Chometz (138) is equal to that of Chelek or divisiveness, while the Gematria of Matzah (135) is equal to that of Kahal, or unity.  It is divisiveness that leads to Galus (and keeps us here), and it is Matzah--our unity--that is the food of Geulah.  Additionally, the Chasam Sofer notes that the difference between the Gematria of Chametz and Matzah is three, with Chometz having a numerical value of three more than Matzah.  This is symbolic of the three negative Middos of Kinnah (jealousy), Ta’avoh (desire) and Kavod (honor seeking), which take a person from the status of Matzah and bring him to Chometz.  In this regard, we must strive to keep to our Matzah the whole year!


C.  According to many opinions, the Shiras HaYam ends with the four word Pasuk (Shemos 15:18 ) of “Hashem Yimloch LeOlam VaEd--Hashem shall reign forever.”  In fact, this Pasuk is repeated at the end of Pesukei DeZimra in apparent demonstration of the fact that it is the end of the Shira.  The obvious question is--why is this the last Pasuk?  The Ramban explains that Moshe and Bnei Yisroel at the sea exclaimed that Hashem demonstrated that He is King and Ruler over all, as He saved His servants and destroyed those who rebelled against Him--but that is not all, for they exclaimed that not only in the present tense is Hashem the King, but in the future tense as well (Hashem Yimloch)--per se including a prayer that it be Hashem’s will to do the same in all generations, and that Hashem reward the Tzaddikim and punish the Reshaim.  Let us keep this in mind as we recite these words!


D.  On the very same phrase of Hashem Yimloch LeOlam VaEd, the Sefer Meshech Chochma amazingly comments as follows:  “In Aleinu, we state “Veykablu Chulam Es Ol Malchusecha Vesimloch Aleihem Meheirah…and all will take upon themselves Your Kingship, and You will rule over them quickly….”  This means, writes the Meshech Chochma, that every person has a Spiritual Electricity (“Electra’ee Eloki”) that runs within him.  When a thought comes to mind it travels through the heart to the other limbs of the body, and the limbs will abide by the thought if it involves Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim--the service of Hashem.  However, if a limb realizes that it could get hurt from a foreign kind of thought, the thought will not obtain the limb’s immediate acquiescence and agreement.  This is why only with respect to Hashem’s Malchus do we say “VeSimloch Aleihem Meheirah--that Hashem rules over us quickly! 


E.  The Rambam in Hilchos Chametz U’Matzah writes that on the night of the Seder we are to speak of the Nissim V’Nifla’os that Hashem performed for us in Mitzrayim.  What is the difference between Nissim and Niflaos?  In the regular context, the Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains that Niflaos refers to wondrous “acts of nature” that Hashem provides us with, while Nissim are not necessarily within the bounds of Tevah.  In actuality, every day in Modim (three times a day!), we thank Hashem for: “VeAl Nisecha Shebichol Yom Imanu VeAl Niflaosecha…”--for the hidden miracles that Hashem performs on our behalf every day and for the Niflaos HaBorei which we experience at all parts of the day as well.  Thus, while we thank Hashem at the Leil HaSeder for the specific Nissim VeNiflaos that occurred to our forefathers in Egypt--we have a daily opportunity--morning, afternoon and night, to thank Hashem for the Nissim and Niflaos that He has just graced us with over the last few hours!


F.  Supplementing the previous point, in which we note that we have the opportunity to show special and sincere recognition of the Nissim VeNiflaos we experience daily, may we suggest that something to take away with us from Pesach is a special resolve to recite the second half of Modim beginning with VeAl Kulam with Kavannah.  It may happen that in our resolve to complete Shemone Esrei, the precious words of VeAl Kulam through the end of the bracha are glossed over.  In these several words we uniquely mention the word  and concept of Selah two times--emphasizing that we will thank Hashem forever for He saves and will save, helps and will help us forever.  What a special way to recognize what Hashem does and will do for us--and thank Him for it!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #34


As we continue through the Sefira period, we know that the grave sin committed by our ancestors during this time was that they did not show proper respect for each other.  Accordingly, we once again present below a listing of statements constituting Ona’as Devarim, as culled from The Power of Words, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita.  It would most certainly pay to review this listing from time-to-time, to keep one’s mind and tongue in check.  Please feel free to share it with your friends and help turn the period between Pesach and Shavuous into a true Chol HaMoed--as the Ramban refers to it!  Careful--don’t say: 


  1.  “How many times do I have to tell you?”

  2. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 1,000 times.”

  3. “I told you so.”

  4. “Didn’t I tell you not to…”

  5. “You forgot again?”

  6. “I think that it runs in your family.”

  7. “You look like I feel.”

  8. “This time you’ve outdone yourself.”

  9. “Who appointed you king?”

  10. “You’re off your rocker.”

  11. “Klutz!”

  12. “You make no sense.”

  13. “Who cares what you think?”

  14. “You don’t match.”

  15. “You’re impossible.”

  16. “You forgot to make supper again?”

  17. “How can you live in this mess?”

  18. “You keep on making the same mistake.”

  19. “Leave me alone!”

  20. “You never…/You… always”

  21. “Can’t you take a joke?”

  22. “I don’t believe you.”

  23. “You blew it!”

  24. “What’s wrong with you?”

  25. “What do you think you are doing?”

  26. “Where are your brains?”

  27. “What a nerd!”

  28. “You really overpaid for this thing.”

  29. “Let me show you the right way to do it.”

  30. “I know that this is hard for someone like you, but…”


We are collecting statements, quips, and remarks which constitute Ona’as Devarim which you have experienced (and felt!) in your own life.  Please send them to us.  Our goal upon compilation of the list is to have it available for everyone to print out and review, in order to help us say that we truly are Noheig Kavod Zeh BaZeh! 



24 Nissan 5772


Special Note One:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #33


Pesach is said to be a contraction of two words, “Peh” and “Sach”--the mouth speaks.  Indeed, the Seder revolves around the Mitzvah of Maggid.  In contrast, the letters of Paroh juxtaposed are “Peh Rah”--a bad, foul or evil mouth.  It is clear that the Peh plays a pivotal role in determining whether a person experiences Puraniyos--like Paroh and the people who joined him at the sea, or a Yeshuah--that we talk about each year! Let us choose the Peh Sach!



Special Note Two:    As we all know, Chazal teach “Ra’asah Shifcha Al Hayam Mah Shelo Ra’ah…the maidservant at the sea saw what the greatest of the Nevi’im were not able to see in their most sublime of prophesies.  The Ba’alei Mussar point out that even after everything that the maidservants saw in the heavens, on the earth, and on the sea--the next day they still remained maidservants.  How could this be?!  The explanation is that over time the supernally uplifting experience that the maidservants had, dissipated because after the experience they left it and did not seek to remain on the high level they had attained.  It is perhaps for this reason that the phrase Isru Chag is based upon the term in Hallel “Isru Chag Ba’avosim--tie the Chag with thick rope (Tehillim 118:27, Metzudas Tzion).”  The attachment must be a strong one in order for it to last.  Similarly, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Shir HaShirim:  Ve’im Teoriru Es HaAhavah Ad Shetechbatz.”  Rav Dessler, Z’tl, that this means that we must be able to concretely relate that which we have learned to our everyday life.  Accordingly, we present below (Part I) several teachings and lessons that we can take with us from the Pesach we have just experienced into the coming months:


A.  Every morning we make the bracha of Shelo Asani Aved.  This bracha should now come to life for us daily--for we truly could have been lowly, petrified, servile, decadent slaves with no independent bearing or existence of our own.  Moreover, since we achieved Cheirus Olam when we left Mitzrayim--the nations of the world have never been able to destroy us or even enslave us as a people again.  Remember--Shelo Asani Aved--say it with appreciation!


B.  Every morning we make the bracha of Shelo Asani Goy.  The Maharal explains that just as the Six Days of Creation reached their pinnacle with the creation of man, so too, did mankind reach its pinnacle with the creation of Bnei Yisroel from the Kur HaBarzel of Mitzrayim.  Our exodus thus enabled mankind to reach its potential, rather than be destroyed for lack of fulfillment.  If the Bnei Yisroel would have remained just another Goy, not only would we have taken the path of so many other nations which fell away and disappeared, but the world itself could not have survived.  Thus, the fact that Hashem has not made us like the other nations is, quite literally, keeping everyone going.  Remember--Shelo Asani Goy--not only being personally privileged--but having creation reach its intent--and allowing each sunrise to keep coming! 


C.  Dovid HaMelech exclaims (Tehillim118:24) “…Zeh Hayom…Nagilah VeNesmicha Vo--this is the day…let us rejoice and be glad in Him.”  The Malbim provides us here with an extremely fundamental lesson.  He writes that Dovid HaMelech is teaching us that the Ikar Simcha is not in the Yeshua itself, but in the awareness that Hashem is with us.  The miracles we experience are given to us not as an end, but as a means for us to recognize Hashem’s closeness to us.  Remember--Nagilah VeNesmicha Vo--we can rejoice that Hashem is with us--each and every day!  This is the Ikar Simcha! 


D.  Before performing many of our mitzvos, we recite the bracha “Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav Vetzivanu--Who sanctified us with His Mitzvos (plural), and commanded us to perform [the particular Mitzvah of…eating of Matzah, the taking of the Lulav, enwrapping in Tzitzis].  The Chasam Sofer asks--should not the Nusach HaBracha on a Mitzvah be Asher Kideshana BeMitzvaso Vetzivanu (singular and not plural)--Who sanctified us in the Mitzvah, i.e., the Mitzvah I am about to perform [the eating of Matzah, the taking of the Lulav, the enwrapping in Tzitzis]?  Why not be specific and talk about our sanctification with the Mitzvah at hand?  The Chasam Sofer answers that, as the Zohar explains, the 248 Mitzvas Asei and the 365 Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei are the counterparts of our Eivarim and Giddim respectively.  We cannot sanctify one Eiver or Gid at a time, for as we know, a Karbon that is missing a limb is Pasul.  It is likewise inappropriate for us to recite that we are being sanctified only by the one Mitzvah that we are about to perform.  Rather, we declare our Kedusha through our acceptance of the Mitzvos in general, and that we are now going to perform this Mitzvah in particular.  We thus unabashedly, unequivocally and rejoicingly declare that with every Mitzvah that we perform, we are accepting upon ourselves the privilege, obligation, wholesomeness and Kedusah of all of the Mitzvos!



14 Nissan 5772


As in the past, we provide our Erev Pesach Special Notes:


Special Note One:  LET’S TALK HAGGADAH


Below are some practical Haggadah notes, which we have culled from Ba’alei Mussar and Maggidei 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’Oraysa, 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.



Special Note Two: 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 Three:    We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #32


At the Seder, we will be reciting the word “Dayeinu” fifteen times, multiplied by the number of times we sing the word.  Dayeinu means “it would be enough for us”.  What “would be enough” for us?  Let us look at the first passage of Dayeinu:  “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 Dayeinus--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- Dayeinu, Day-, Dayeinu, Day-Dayeinu, Day-Dayeinu.  This is what we ought to be talking--and singing--about!



Special Note Four:  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 Five:  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 Six:   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 and to give Him Nachas Ruach.  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 Seven:  The Ritva in his Haggadah (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 Eight:  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 Haggadas 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 Nine:  The Otzar Meforshei Haggadah 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!



Special Note Ten:  Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended now by approximately 150 women.  Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the questions to the first 94 questions, and  Baruch Hashem we have now reach our goal of completing all 100 questions!


95. What is the definition Irui M’Kli Sheini ? 
 Pouring from a Kli Sheni does not have the same guidelines as a Kli Sheni but falls under the guidelines of a Kli Shelishi.


96. Is one permitted to put noodles [including Kosher LePesach noodles!] into a bowl and than pour from the soup onto the noodles?
 Dry cooked noodles may be put into a Keli Rishon that has been removed from the fire. (Of course it may be placed in a Keli Sheni or placed in a bowl, with soup then added with a ladle.) If the noodles are wet to the touch, it may not be placed in a Keli Rishon. However, it may be placed in a Keli Sheni or placed in a bowl, with soup then added with a ladle.


97. Is one permitted to put challah/matzah, or  baked croutons into a Keli Sheini ?
 See #82--that it is permitted in a Kli Shelishi


98. Is one permitted to put seasoning onto a hot piece of meat ?
 Precooked seasoning (e.g. salt, sugar) is permitted to be put onto dry meat even in a kli rishon. However, uncooked seasoning may never be used on solid food as long as the food is hot to a degree of Yad Soledes Bo.


99. If one has no metal belch what can one use, and how?
 Hagoan Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, permitted one to you use a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil.


100.  Is one permitted to place food into a warming drawer on Shabbos?
 There is a dispute among the poskim as to the din of a warming drawer--i.e., whether it is like an oven or not.


 Besides the prohibition against cooking on Shabbos there is a prohibition against initiating a fire or causing increased burning. In the case of thermostatically controlled ovens and warming drawers, opening the oven or warming drawer will cause the mechanism to call for increased burning to make up for the heat lost by opening the door or drawer. The resulting effect is a grama of havarah, which is not permissible on Shabbos. However, where one does not want or intend for an action to take place, and has no need for its result, the initial action is prohibited only by Rabbinic law. When coupled with the fact that the ensuing melacha is a reaction that was brought about indirectly, but was initiated through a grama, there is room for leniency and the initial action is permitted. Therefore food left in the oven or warming drawer from before Shabbos may be removed on Shabbos (all the food should be taken out at one time) despite the fact that this will eventually cause the oven to burn. This is because with the removal of the food the resulting additional burning is not wanted or intended. However this can be said only where all of the food is removed at one time. If some food remains in the oven to be heated, then the additional burning caused by the door opening is viewed as intentional and therefore prohibited. Most warming drawers and ovens are thermostatically controlled and would fall into the above category.

 If a warming drawer is not controlled by a thermostat one must check with the manufacturer to be sure that by opening the drawer he is not turning off the heating element. If there are multiple temperature settings, these controls must be covered. Even where the warming drawer is not controlled by a thermostat and the opening of the drawer will not affect the flow of power to the heating element, one cannot place food into the warming drawer on Shabbos if its operating temperature is higher than yad soledes, 120 degrees, as this is prohibited under the laws of chazarah.


Some warming drawers have a delayed start timer feature. If one has such a drawer one may not set it to go on Shabbos morning and place the food to be heated there on Shabbos before the pre-determined time.






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!





13 Nissan 5772


Special Note One:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #31


At the recent Hakhel gathering, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, provided an important lesson that “he learned from his painter.”  The painter noted that typically a noun comes before a verb, and that accordingly on awakening in the morning, one would be expected to say “Ani Modeh Lefanecha--I admit/thank You Hashem….”  However, we instead begin with the verb, ‘Modeh’, so that in effect, we are saying “Admit to I, before You, Hashem”.  Why?  Perhaps, because it is the wrong message for a person to begin his day with the word ‘I’--focusing on himself.  Rather, the first word uttered should be ‘Modeh’--in which a person articulates at the outset that it is Hashem and one’s service to Him that is truly at the core of our life.  Perhaps we can catch the times we use the word ‘I’ and the times that we use the term ‘Im Yirtzeh Hashem’--and make sure that they are in the right order--and the right proportions!



Special Note Two:  Several additional points made by Rabbi Lieff, which relate to the Seder: 


A.  The tone of the Seder must be emotional, inspirational, ‘geshmake’, and one of celebration.  One’s language should be the language of the heart, and one should personalize the evening and connect everyone at the Seder to Hashem. 


B.  Ke’ilu Yatzah MiMitzrayim’ means that one must project to others that he himself has left Egypt .


C.  According to the Rosh, the Matzos are Lachmei Todah, intended to express our thanks for our freedom, our family, our friends, our possessions.  With this, we can understand why we do not make a bracha before we start the Seder--after all, how can we say ‘VeTzivanu--and He commanded us’--on sincere feelings of pure thanks?!


D.  The Shulchan Orech part of the Seder is like a Seudas Hoda’ah (see Rambam, Hilchos Chometz U’Matzah 7:8).  The ultimate way to serve Hashem in all events is through Hakaras HaTov and Hoda’ah!


E.  The Birchas HaMazon on  the Leil HaSeder is very important--do not ‘gulp it down’ because you may feel momentarily weary or fatigued.  Wake up, meet the challenge, and regale in the experience!


F.  The family’s minhagim should be kept, and the traditional niggunim--even if there may be nicer or ‘up-to-date’ tunes. 


G.  One should be sure to practice savlanus--to be extremely patient, and not be angered--during the course of testy moments at the Seder.  Fascinatingly, Rabbi Lieff related that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, used Halperin Machine Matzos, which he felt were the best choice, while each of his sons and sons in-law, had their own different kind of Matzohs next to him at the Seder. 


H.  Tzafun teaches us that a lot of good things are hidden away for us--we just have to put the Matzah away…until it is revealed!



Special Note Three:  At a recent Shiur on the Halachos of Pesach, Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, taught:


A.  It is a Mitzvah to eat Shalosh Seudos this Shabbos--even though the Leil Seder Sheini will begin a few hours later.  It is best if one davens Mincha on Shabbos early, goes home, washes and eats Shalosh Seudos with Matzah.  Indeed, the Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 291:12) writes “Chalila LeHakel Shelo Le’echol Pas LeSeudas Shelishis…” [If one cannot find an early minyan for Mincha, and in his Shul they will be davening Ma’ariv soon after Mincha, then one can also eat Shalosh Seudos before Mincha].


B.  There are different Minhagim as to which brachos are recited by all participants in the Seder.  The Minhag Sefarad is generally that the Ba’al HaBayis makes all brachos (even over the four Kosos) and is Motzi everyone in order to fulfill the Hiddur of Berov Am Hadras Melech.  Others have a Minhag to the contrary, based upon the ruling of the Magein Avraham, and everyone recites his/her own Kiddush, Al Achilas Matzah and Al Achilas Marror, etc..  A third opinion attributed to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, is that the Ba’al HaBayis makes Kiddush and HaMotzi, and everyone makes all of the other brachos on their own.  Everyone should, of course, follow their own Minhag.  However, for those whose Minhag it is for the women to recite their own Kiddush on the Leil HaSeder--will they also recite Havdalah immediately following Kiddush on the second Seder Night?  The Debriztiner Rav, Z’tl, held that they would; as to whether women recite the bracha of Borei Meorei HaEish--this is a matter of further discussion (see Bi’ur Halacha 296, d’h Lo Yavdilu). 



Special Note Four:  One must come into the Seder stocked with stories and Mesholim, which hopefully will help to enhance and in-trance.  To help along, we provide the following Mashal of the Dubno Maggid as presented in The Maggid of Dubno and his Parables by Benno Heinemann (Feldheim): 


“Hashem had given Avraham Avinu a glimpse of the future of the nation which would be descended from him.  He told Avraham that Bnei Yisroel would be enslaved and know great suffering, but that, in the end, they would “go forth with great abundance” as free men.  Now what was this great abundance?  Chazal tell us that it was the Torah that the Bnei Yisroel received in the wilderness on Har Sinai.  But, if this is indeed true, why were we, before leaving Mitzrayim, actually commanded to ask the Mitzriyim for money and goods?  The Maggid of Dubno would reconcile this contradiction with one of his famous Mesholim:  A young man had hired himself out to a wealthy merchant to serve him for six years, for which he would be paid with a bag of silver coins.  When the six years were over and the time came for the servant to leave, it occurred to the master that a bag of silver was much too small a reward for the splendid services the boy had rendered him.  He therefore put the silver aside and instead wrote out a check in an amount many times that of the total value of the silver coins.  But the servant, instead of thanking his master for his generosity, sullenly stuffed the piece of paper into his pocket and went home weeping.  The next day his father called at the merchant’s house and said to the wealthy man, “You have been most generous to my son and I want to thank you.  But the boy is still a child and does not comprehend the value of a check. All he knew was that he expected to receive a bag filled with shiny new coins and that instead he got a plain sheet of paper.  I should be most grateful, therefore, if you would let him have at least part of his wages in solid silver.”


In the same manner did Avraham Avinu come to Hashem, saying, “You have been generous indeed in promising the Torah to my descendants.  But the nation will be young and not mature enough to understand the value of the Torah, and if they will have to leave the slavery of Mitzrayim with empty hands they will say ‘Indeed, Hashem has fulfilled part of His promise.  We did become slaves.  But what about the great abundance which we were to receive at the hour of our deliverance?’ “ It is for this reason, that Bnei Yisroel were clearly commanded to take gold and silver vessels from the Mitzriyim.  This would be tangible wealth which they could appreciate at that time.  In this manner, the Bnei Yisroel would see immediately that the promise given by Hashem to their righteous forbearer had retained its validity.  It was only as Bnei Yisroel grew in wisdom that it came to understand that its true wealth lay not in the coins and trinkets gathered in Mitzrayim but in the Divine gift of the Torah, which has stood by our side to this very day.”


Hakhel Note:  In addition to this outstanding work on the Dubno Maggid, there is also a Haggadah which is comprised entirely of Mesholim related by different Gedolim (including the Dubno Maggid), entitled The Palace Gates Haggadah (translated from the Hebrew--Feldheim).



Special Note Five:  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 Six:  In preparation for Bedikas Chometz this evening, we remind our readers of the Halachos of Bedikas Chometz that we provided yesterday by link.  We now provide three additional points:


A.  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!


B.  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.


C.  At a Hakhel shiur, HaRav Belsky, Shlita, may he have a Refuah Sheleima Bekarov, 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!



12 Nissan 5772


Special Note One:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #30


As the days move closer to Pesach, an important teaching of the Sefer Tomer Devorah, becomes more and more evident.  In the Tomer Devorah, HaRav Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, teaches that when one is yelled at or screamed at, then rather than responding in kind, one should make it a point to respond quietly and respectfully (Mashkit Es HaMeriva) in order to quash a dispute before it begins--or at least early on in its tracks, when one realizes what the situation might lead to or where it might go.  In these next few days, when sleep may be at a low and perceived pressures at a high--one’s calm, understanding, and humble response may be a great help and salvation not only to him--but to the other party and all those in ‘shouting’ distance!



Special Note Two:  As a zechus for a Refuah Shleimah for HaRav Chaim Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, we present the following rulings of HaRav Belsky, relating to Hilchos Pesach, as presented in Piskei Halacha of Rav Belsky, as compiled by Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, Shlita (this excellent Sefer is divided into 54 chapters, so that one chapter a week can be studied every Shabbos at a Seudah).  The Sefer is available in Seforim stores or by emailing piskeihvol1@gmail.com or by calling:  1-718-744-4360:


SIYUM BECHORIM--One  must eat some food at the siyum in order to be able to eat later.


DEODORANT--Some say that liquid deodorant is nifsal me'achilas kelev and may be kept in one's house on Pesach.  Thus far no one has demonstrated that this is so; no test as to whether this substance is potable has been conducted.  Others argue that this is similar to kufas se'or l’yeshiva (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 452:9), meaning that once it is permanently designated for a non-food use it is considered to be batel, and is no longer a Chametz item.  This opinion has appeared in some recent halachic works and it is a total misconception.  Kufas se'or loses its status as Chametz because the Chametz does not contribute to its functionality.  In the case of the deodorant, the alcohol contributes to its functionality.  Whether it's designated as a food or non-food is irrelevant.


SHAMPOO--The alcohol that shampoo in America contains is almost certainly not chametz since most of the alcohol in the United States is derived from corn.  Wheat extract in the shampoo is batel in more than 1/60.  However, it is still better not to use any products on Pesach without checking to see whether it's permitted.


STARCHED SHIRTS--According to the basic premise of the law, one may wear starched shirts on Pesach as long as the starch was applied before Pesach.  It is customary to refrain from wearing them in case the starch might fall into the food during meals.


LICKING ENVELOPES--Glue which is on the back of envelopes should not be licked on Pesach because the glue might contain wheat starch which would be Chametz.


TUMS--When there are no Turns available, the best remedy for treating heartburn is to consume a combination of baking soda and water.  The baking soda eliminates the heartburn immediately.



Special Note Three:  The following is excerpted from the Laws of the Seder by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Shlita (Artscroll), and its relates directly to those who wish to drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee after Kiddush on the Leil HaSeder:  “It is permitted to drink anything, including wine, between the first two cups (Rashbam, based on Pesachim 10:7, Orach Chaim 473:3).  To do so, however, one must be sure to have had these additional drinks in mind when he recited the bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen over wine during Kiddush [which would then include these additional drinks as well, without the need to make a further bracha].  Otherwise, one would have to recite another bracha before drinking, and this would create the problem of ‘apparently adding onto the number of cups’, a prohibition mentioned by Rema (472:7), although we are not aware of a Talmudic source for this stricture…Nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch [because of the opinion of the Kol Bo] rules that one should refrain from drinking between the first two cups.”  Hakhel Note:  Accordingly, it would appear that whether one could drink between the first two cups may be a matter of difference between Ashkenazim and Sefardim, and accordingly, one should consult with his Rav or Posek for a final ruling in one’s particular situation. 



Special Note Four:  By the following link--  http://tinyurl.com/7tljavl  we provide practical guidance from Rav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, on the Mitzvah of Bedikas Chometz.  Do it Right--not only on Pesach Night--but on the Night Before, as well !


Hakhel Note:  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?



Special Note Five:  In the past, we have made reference to the Tenai of the Avnei Nezer for one who realizes that he may be unable to complete the Achilas Afikoman before Chatzos.  Readers have asked for background and information relating to this Tenai.  Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, provides this for us as well: 


Chazal (Pesachim 119B) teach that "Ain Maftirin Acher Hapesach Afikomon" which loosely translated means "don't eat anything after the Karbon Pesach".  The same Halacha is mentioned regarding the Matzah we eat at the end of the Seder.

The question is--What the reason is for this Halacha?


Shittas Rashbam/Rosh

You have to eat the Karbon Pesach when you are full.  If we allow you to eat after the Karbon Pesach there is a concern that you will eat the Karbon Pesach on an empty stomach and eat the rest of the meal afterwards.  Therefore, a Takanah was made that you can't eat after the Karban Pesach and this will ensure you are full when you eat the Karbon.   BiZman HaZeh, we eat the Afikoman Matzah as a Zecher to what they did when they had a Karbon Pesach.

There is one difference between the Rosh and the Rashbam. The Rashbam holds that BiZman HaZeh the Matzah we eat is a Zecher to the Matzah that was eaten with the Karbon and the Rosh holds it is a Zecher to the Karbon that was eaten. (The difference is whether the Afikoman Matzah is the ikkar mitzvah of Matzah, or is only representative of the Karbon Pesach).

Shittas Tosfos/Rambam

Tosfos and the Rambam seem to understand the reason is so that the taste of the Matzah/Karbon will last. The Rambam seems to learn that it is a din in the Achilas HaMatza. Since eating the Matzah is a mitzvah we want the taste of the Matzah to last the night.
The Brisker Rav held that this Yesod should apply to all Mitzvas Achila.

Nafka Mina

1) If one eats after the Afikoman does one need to eat the Afikoman again?

Rashbam/Rosh: No. It is only an Issur/Gezeirah in the first place so if you were oveir the Gezeirah what can you do?

Rambam/Tosfos: Yes. You need to have Ta’am Matzah in your mouth.

2) Can one eat just one piece of Matzah the whole night by Motzi Matzah and nothing else or do you need to eat a piece at the end of the Seder also.

Rashbam/Rosh: No. Since the Gezeirah is so you eat the Karbon when full, you would need to be full when you eat the Afikoman. When you eat the first piece of Matzah you ate it on an empty stomach so you would have to eat again.

Rambam/Tosfos: Yes. As long as you have Ta’am Matzah in your mouth it is sufficient

3) Tenai of the Avnei Nezer: If one has not eaten the Afikoman by Chatzos, the Avnei Nezer says eat the Afikoman with a Tenai, finish your meal and eat another piece of Matzah. The Tenai is if the Halacha is like R' Eliezer Ben Azaria and the Mitzva is until Chatzos so this piece is the Afikoman and then you can eat after Chatzos--for the time period for eating the Afikoman has passed. If we Pasken that you have until Alos HaShachar--then this piece is not the Afikoman and the last piece you eat after the meal is the Afikoman.


Hakhel Note:  One should consult with his Rav or Posek at to utilizing this Tenai LeChatchila, BeDieved, or at all.



Special Note Six:  The following is a sampling of questions which should perhaps be addressed as the Seder progresses. Please feel free to add to the list, and to share your thoughts with us on additional points as well!


A.     Why were we exiled?

B.     If we had to be exiled, why couldn’t it be to Lavan’s area?

C.     What does it mean to be a slave?

D.     Why were we taken out of Mitzrayim--and what can we do today to achieve a similar result?

E.      How many time is Moshe Rabbeinu’s name mentioned in the Haggadah?

F.      Lehavdil, how many times is Paroh’s name mentioned in the Haggadah?

G.     What is the Middah K’Neged Middah of each Makkah?

H.     Why did Hashem let the Chartumim mimic the first two Makkos?

I.        You are a witness of Makkas _____________--describe it!

J.       What Nissim happened in Mitzrayim besides for the Makkos?

K.    Give three reasons why Matzah is called Lechem Oni.

L.      Why is the Seder not in the daytime, if we left in the daytime?

M.   What Pasuk is recited three times in a row in the Haggadah, and why?

N.     Can [each participant] give five things that he has Hakaras Hatov to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for?


Hakhel Note:  Remember--if you were told that you had won the $640 million lottery, oh what inspiration and excitement you would feel!  You are gaining a lot more on the Seder Night!



Special Note Seven:  Several additional points and pointers, as Pesach approaches: 


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.  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.


4.  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 Haggadah, we verbally affirm that our Emunah is complete!






11 Nissan 5772


Special Note One:  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 Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #29


All are in agreement that a major theme of the Seder is Hakaras Hatov.  Indeed, we uniquely and especially read from the Parsha of Bikurim at the Seder--in which a person specifically expresses his thanks to Hashem for enabling him to fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikurim.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, points to the language of the Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel on the key words “Higadeti HaYom LaHashem Elokecha”, contained in the Parsha of Bikurim.  The Targum explains that the word Higadeti (related to Haggadah) means to thank and praise Hashem.  In our Haggadah too, then, this must be a main focus.  Over the next several days, in order to properly prepare, we should especially emphasize words of Hakaras HaTov--expressing sincere thanks for the hard work and important thoughts of others, as well as words of praise and compliment wherever there is even the slightest doubt as to whether they should be given!



Special Note Three:  An additional, essential theme of the Leil HaSeder is, of course, Emunah, and its transmission from generation to generation.  One should seek out stories of Emunah, and should now think about and jot down situations and events personally and globally over the past year, which clearly evidenced the Yad Hashem.  The relating of these stories on the Leil HaSeder should be especially mesugal to strengthen the Emunah of all those present. 



Special Note Four:  With the riddance of Chometz, we should also be striving to do away with our spiritual Chometz-baggage as well.  It is fascinating to note that the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim in the Sha’ar Nekiyus (coming clean!) provides the four major Middos for one to work on--as all other Middos Ra’os stem from them.  Here is the important List of Four to remove from our lives:  (i) Ga’avah, (ii) Ka’as, (iii) Kinna, and (iv) Ta’avah.  Especially at this time of year, one may theoretically be more jealous than at other times of the year--as others have money to buy new clothes, better foods, “go-away”, take far-away Chol HaMoed trips, or because they have a large family or extended family for the Seder or over Yom Tov.  However, the Pasuk goes out of its way to teach us:  Rekev Atzamos Kinna”--what will cause the bones to rot (after 120 years) is jealousy.  The Maharal explains that this is so, Middah K’Negged Middah, because if a person feels that he is lacking, then his body in fact is or will be lacking as well.  Each of us must recognize that we have our own role on Pesach (and otherwise!)--whether it be in Eretz Yisroel, in a hotel, with friends, with children….  Pesach is a time to enjoy all of the Mitzvos, to regale in the fact that Hashem molded us into His Chosen Nation, and to individually inspire ourselves for the entire year.  Putting ourselves in the proper (true) state of mind is an essential preparation for a wonderfully successful Pesach!



Special Note Five:  We asked Rabbi Yisroel Pinchas Bodner, Shlita, if he could provide us with some guidance on checking Matzos (as he is an expert in this area as well).  He provided the following two basic rules: 


1.  With regard to bugs, if the Matzah has been saved from a previous year, one should check it for bugs by holding the Matzah and observing if there are any webbing strings hanging from the Matzah.  If not, then the Matzah is fine.


2.  With regard to Kefulos, examine the Matzah to see if there are any folds, i.e., there is a part which folded and two layers are stuck together.  Also check for a bubble where the inside of the bubble remained not fully baked.  Break off the piece in question and discard.  When in doubt, one should throw it out.


Hakhel Note:  For more detail, one can study of the specially written Pesach books, and can also see  http://star-k.org/kashrus/kk-passover-matzoh.htm



Special Note Six:  If one had not already begun, it should be a time to go through the Haggadah--especially noting those words and terms which are a bit more difficult.  For instance, the word ‘Misboseses’ or the term ‘Ba’adi Adayim’, may not be familiar--and there may be important meanings, translations and explanations which are lost because one skips over the word.  In fact, this year, perhaps one should make a special effort to explain those precious words of the Haggadah, which he may have glossed over in the past.  As an example, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, explains that even though the blood we are referring to with the word Misboseses is the blood of the Karbon Pesach and the blood of Milah--really not too much blood--the word Misboseses would seem to indicate a great amount of blood that is flowing.  Why, then, would we use this word here?  Rabbi Lieff explains that if a king or a prince cuts his finger, the people in the palace rush around, the royal physician is called and there is much more commotion than there would otherwise be if this was ‘only’ the cut finger of a commoner.  On the night of the Seder, we must appreciate that for us--our blood is Misboseses--every drop is royal blood!



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


1.  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, rainbow 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 black cherry soda because the cola was sold out!


2.  Over the next several days, 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 66 shiurim of all kinds to choose from alone,  after dialing the number, press  1and then 5.


3.  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).  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.



10 Nissan 5772


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

 a.                   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.

 b.                  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.


c.                   Just one year after Miriam’s passing on this date, Yehoshua Bin Nun and Bnei Yisroel crossed over the YardenRiver 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 Two: We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”. Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.

A Word on Words

Lesson #28

 One of the highlights of the Seder is relating the Zechusim we had to leave Mitzrayim. A central reason provided by Chazal is that Shimru Es Leshonom--we as a people did not speak Loshon Hora (see Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer 48, Otsar Meforshei Hagaddah). As many of us know, the Ramban teaches that the Geulas Mitzrayim was the predecessor for the Geulah we hopefully will soon experience. As we approach the Seder night(s), let us come clean now--this week--with an especial diligence and vigilance in Shemiras Halashon--so that we can reflect at the Seder and think--with this zechus--I am ready!

 Additional Note: 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!


Special Note Three: It is fascinating to note that the Terumas HaDeshen that we are taught about at the outset of last week’s Parsha begins with an act that apparently not many were anticipated as wanting to do--removing the Deshen, i.e., a small amount (a fistful size placed on a shovel, as it was too hot to hold onto) of the ashes or ‘waste product’ from the Mizbe’ach. In fact, the Kohen who performs this act is urged to change his clothing after he does this, as it is unbefitting to do other parts of the Avodas Beis Hamikdash in the same clothing as he does the Deshen removal. Yet, Chazal teach that the Deshen which was removed, after being placed on the southeastern area outside the Mizbe’ach, would then be miraculously swallowed in the ground--it being one of the fewmiracles which those in the Bais Hamikdash at the time could observe with their own eyes! Why was a blatant miracle associated with an Avodah which ostensibly was not on the same level as the other Avodos? We may suggest that the Terumas HaDeshen every morning symbolizes our need at the beginning of the day to remove the ashes that we had previously generated--and begin the day anew--with a fresh start. Indeed, the Deshen removal was the first act of the dayin the Bais HaMikdash, in the ‘wee hours’ of the morning. Significantly, however, although the Kohen began the process, it required Hashem to complete the task, by having it miraculously removed from the floor of the Mikdash. We too must begin the process of our Deshen removal with a positive step in that direction in the morning--and we then look to Hashem to help us complete the task. As Chazal teach, “Open up an opening the eye of a needle...and I [Hashem] will provide us with an opening the size of the Ulam’sdoors”! What Incredible Opportunity --each and every morning...what are we waiting for?!


Special Note Four: Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman, Shlita, explains (based upon a teaching of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl) why last week’s Parsha taught us that 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, even in these days of hurry and rush, we have our own OPPORTUNITIES, NEW OPPORTUNITIES--and we too can come before Hashem as a Kohen Gadol in his loyal, sincere and elevated service!

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