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Kashrus Reminder:  As far as we are given to understand, the Red Cabbage insect infestation alert continues until further notice, except in the brands previously noted.



Special Note One:  As we travel deeper and deeper into Elul, we become more strongly sensitized to the words of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim--“V’Ani Kirvas Elokim Li Tov--as for me, I realize that being close to Hashem is good.”  There is an incredibly penetrating Chapter of Tehillim--Chapter 139--which also very much relates to the time period that we are in.  We urge each and every one of our readers to slowly read this Kepitel in the Hebrew, and study it in the English, as well.  If you are moved, you are certainly heading in the right direction!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Chaim Freidlander, Z’tl, in Sifsei Chaim (Moadim 1), writes that Noach lived through three different periods in his life--first in the world before the flood, then in the Teiva, and finally in the postdiluvian New World.  In a remarkable sense, each and every one of us is like Noach. We experience three different times each and every year. During the year we may have committed misdeeds which must be rectified (like the world before the flood), followed by the period of Elul and the Aseres Yemei Teshuva--being the time in the “Teiva” to rectify them, and the new post-Teshuva world open for us to utilize to its utmost.  It is our role now to use our time in the ‘Teiva’ to its utmost!


We would like to remind everyone that non-coincidently, this week’s Parsha, Parshas Nitzavim, contains the “Parshas HaTeshuva” (Devorim 30:1-10).  Many Siddurim contain the Parshas HaTeshuva together with a short Tefillah afterwards, and it is usually found immediately after the Shacahris prayers.  It would most certainly be appropriate to recite the Parshas HaTeshuva and the subsequent Tefillah over the next four days…leading into Shabbos…and then into Rosh Hashana.


We especially note that much of Teshuva has to do with thought and speech.  By reciting the Parsha relating to Teshuva contained in the Torah itself, and then davening to Hashem for help in this regard, you have certainly taking important strides.



Special Note Three:  At this awesome and awe-inspiring time, we must remind ourselves of the essential teaching of Chazal: “Mitzvos SheOdom Dush B’Akeivov Misavivin Lo B’Shaas HaDin--the mitzvos that a person ‘steps upon’ surround him when he is being judged.”  Let us think about what “being surrounded” at the time of judgment means.


Picture a city in siege, a prisoner surrounded by guards, a cowboy surrounded by Indians.  There is simply nowhere to go, no room to escape.  It is a very, very difficult situation.  It is our job to make some holes--preferably gaping holes--in the encirclement, in the siege, in those mitzvos that we “step upon” in our daily life by curing them, healing them, fixing them.  What “stepping upon” a mitzvah could entail may be treating the mitzvah either lightly, not carefully enough, or not with the degree of respect that it deserves.


The Mesilas Yesharim (in the Trait of Nekius--Cleanliness) puts middos into the same category as mitzvos regarding our need to improve and refine them in our lives in this World.  In order to help along in our personal audit of mitzvos and middos for which we may not be taking adequate care, we provide the following running list, with very limited commentary.  We leave the detail, expansion and addition up to you, and your particular situation.


Remember, as Rabbi Frand, Shlita, teaches, Elul is Jewish Tax Season.  Indeed, it may very well be that Tax Season was invented so that we could more properly appreciate and experience Elul.


1.      Coming to Shul on time for davening without having to skip.

2.      Coming to Shiur on time.

3.      Wearing truly appropriate clothing while davening.

4.      Making Brachos properly--slowly, with Kavannah, bentching from a Siddur, making sure to make the right brocha on the food; especially being careful with the brachos of Shehakol and Borei Nefashos which are recited so many times a day, and can really serve in someone’s stead when recited properly!

5.      Reciting at least the first paragraph of Shema and the first brocha of Shemone Esrei with Kavannah; spending the time now to properly have the necessary “quick” Kavannah ready when reciting Shema and Shemone Esrei.

6.      Reciting Modim and Aleinu L’Shabeach with Kavannah.

7.   Making a personal request at the end of each Shemone Esrei.

8.   Making sure to privately thank Hashem during the course of the day for something specific that you just realized or were made aware of, or that just occurred--by thinking or voicing the words “Thank You, Hashem.”

9.      Making sure that the Hashgacha you are eating from is truly a good one.

10.   Not wasting time in frivolous chatter or nonsensical discussions.

11.  Not making sarcastic comments, and not using biting words.

12.  Having Kavannah for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the coming of Moshiach three times a day in Shemone Esrei.

13.  Sticking to the Truth.

14.  Avoiding a response based on laziness.

15.  Curbing a particular desire in some way every day; certainly not overeating or overindulging.

16.  Avoiding inane or impure thoughts which hurt the Neshama.

17.  Making proper use of the eyes and ears.

18.  Having a plan in place to use if you feel you are getting angry or if you realize you are already angry.

19.  When being stubborn, stopping to think whether it is for the correct reasons.

20.  Showing respect for elders (actually standing up when they come within four amos of you); smiling at them and praising them.

21.  Showing the proper respect for Seforim (studying from, straightening out, cleaning and kissing them).

22.  Not being overly frugal when it comes to Mitzvos and to the needs of others.

23.  Not turning the desire for money (Chemdas HaMamon) into an Avoda Zora.

24.  Not doing something which is disgusting, or at least would not be viewed kindly by other people--whether or not they see you do it.

25.  Not doing something else in front of someone who is talking to you; showing them a pleasant countenance, appearance and smile.

26.  Looking up/asking the Halacha when you need to know it or are unsure; or, if it is too late, at least looking it up now for next time.

27.  Making sure that your Mezuzos are checked every three and a half years; if you are not sure of the last time you had them checked, but know that it was quite a while ago--then checking them now--before Rosh Hashana.

28, 29 30--These numbers are reserved for you to add your own personalized reflections.  If you cannot come up with three of your own, then your introspection needs introspection!


May we each make great and gaping holes in the above encirclements, so that we are far from surrounded by sin on the upcoming Days of Din--and instead are surrounded by walls of overflowing Mercy, Love and Kindness!



Special Note One:  In the Parsha of Bikurim while recounting our servitude in Mitzraim, records “VaNitzak El Hashem--and we cried out to Hashem,” the G-d of our Fathers, and Hashem heard our voices.  The Chofetz Chaim notes that the Pasuk does **not** state that Hashem heard our prayers, but that Hashem heard **our voices**.  This is to teach us that we must cry out with our voices in times of trouble (obviously not in a manner which will disturb others).  The Chofetz Chaim adds that when crying out, one should plead for the “Klal Kulo--for the entire tzibur,” and one should make his request after having performed a mitzvah.  It is for this reason, he writes, that all of the “Horachaman” requests are made after Birkas HaMazon. 


Special Note Two:   In the Tochacha, we learn that one of the punishments we will receive for not properly observing the Torah is “Timhon Laivuv” (this term is, non-coincidently, the last of the Al Chaits).  Rashi interprets “Timhon Laivuv” as “Itum HaLev--having a stuffed heart.”  It is essential for us--especially at this time of year--to open our stuffed hearts--so that we do not suffer from a self-imposed Timhon Laivuv.  In order to provide some help in this regard, we provide the following Teshuva pointers from Gedolei Yisroel:


1.      On the teaching of Chazal “Tichleh Shana U’Kililoseha--let the year and its curses end,” and let the new year and its brachos begin, HaRav Gedalya Schorr, Zt’l, teaches that we must treat our foibles and faults of the previous year as a seed.  We must plant them in the ground out of sight and touch, and nurture our past experiences into a beautiful and blossoming new fruit during the coming year.  We should most definitely not let the sins of the past, and despair over them, obstruct the beautiful potential from growth that we have in the coming year.  We must realize that much brocha lies ahead--if we follow the path of blessing.


2.      The Pele Yoetz, in a beautiful discussion of Teshuva, makes the following essential points for all to know, among others.  If you have the time and capability, they are found near the end of the Sefer Pele Yoetz.


A.  The most important portal to Teshuva is the Study of Torah--to learn the Halachos that one needs to know, and to study works of Mussar and Yiras Hashem.  Anyone who learns on his own or attends Shiurim is per se closer to Hashem.  In fact, this is why the brocha of Teshuva in Shemone Esrei first begins with Torah--HaSheveynu Avinu L’Sorosecha (Bring us back to Torah)--for the study of Torah is a prerequisite to Teshuva.  Hakhel Note:  In this regard, we provide one incredible point for your Kabbalah consideration.  If a person takes just seven(7) minutes a day and turns it into a new learning Seder--a time for learning anything that he wants to, or always intended to but never got around to it, this will aggregate into 210 minutes of additional learning a month.  Not a lot?  According to the G’ra and the Chofetz Chaim, because every word of Talmud Torah is a mitzvah, and one can say 200 words a minute, one is performing 200 mitzvos a minute when he studies Torah.  Let us do the simple Halachic math: 210 minutes a month times 200 mitzvos a minute equals 42,000 mitzvos a month, or an additional 511,000 mitzvos for a 365 day year--and these are mitzvos of the literally incomparable quality of Talmud Torah, regarding which Chazal teach “VeTalmud Torah KeNeged Kulam.”  How would you like to dedicate 7 minutes a day (i.e., more than half a million mitzvos a year) to Teshuva in Talmud Torah in the coming year?!  Hashem certainly provides us with unbeatable opportunities!


  1. The Yetzer Hora attempts to minimize avairos.  It is “only this” or “only that”…”but this” or “but that”.  When you see yourself thinking or using these kinds of phrases, be on the lookout for sin.


  1. Chazal teach how severe the penalty of taking or withholding another’s money is.  [Chazal actually teach that “Someone who takes from his friend even something worth only a  peruta, is viewed as if he took his life and the life of his descendants.”]  The Pele Yoetz succinctly states, “and someone who has his friend’s possessions in his hands will not have his Tefillos heard…and if his Tefilos are not heard on the Yomim Noraim--does he have any hope?!”


  1. The way one can tell whether his soul is pure is by the Kavanah--which includes the fear, love and great joy--that he places into his Tefillah.  Everyone should try and work on purifying his soul!


3.      The Sifsei Chaim (HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Zt’l), in Moadim I teaches:


A.     After Adam HaRishon sinned and his Teshuva was accepted (all on Rosh Hashana!), the Torah records that Hashem placed the Lahat HaCherev HaMishapeches (the flame of the ever-turning sword) to prevent him from re-entering Gan Eden at that time.  With this, the Torah provides an essential lesson in Teshuva.  It is not enough just to “decide” not to fall prey to the sin again.  One has to actually create some type of fence or system to prevent  the possibility of falling again.  One out of thousands of examples one can think of would be for a person who comes late to shul, almost as a matter of course.  His true Teshuva may be to start a learning Seder with someone before davening even if only for 10 or 15 minutes (thereby ensuring that he will be on time), or to “penalize himself” in some way for having been not as respectful as he could have been for his audience with the King


B.     As we see in this coming week’s Parsha, a person can delude himself into thinking “Shalom Yihiye Li--and walk in the way his heart sees fit” (Devorim 29:18).  Yet, no one has any contracts with Hashem--every action has ramifications.  If a person acts or reacts “as his heart sees fit,” or “as his heart says,” by whim or fancy, he should be sure to give the matter some second thought.


C.     “Derech *Chaim* Tochachos Mussar--the road to life is words of reproof”--with these words of Mishlei, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, is teaching us that the road to *life* is paved not by shunning the reproof and constructive criticism of others, but, quite to the contrary, by allowing it to enter and penetrate your heart.


D.      We should make sure that, at least at this time of year, we fulfill the following words of Rabbeinu Yonah in the Yesod HaTeshuva, “One should not fill all of his desires in food or drink, and so said the Ra’avad…the great and wonderful pathway to Teshuva is by curbing one’s desire while eating….”


4.      Finally, we suggest once again the importance of a cell phone takana.  To some, the takana will be a special restraint while in the car, to others--it will be self-control while walking on the street or in a store, and yet to others it will be personal discipline in the hallway of a shul.  We are not even suggesting total 'perishus' in any one of these areas--but perhaps at least beginning with thinking twice before taking it out and making it into another appendage of your body at these points of your day.  A person can really get to know himself or develop a thought, for example, while walking--is that phone call, text or email so absolutely necessary, so really urgent for the moment?!


We are soon reaching the climax of our Teshuva season.  Our hopes, our wishes are soon to converge into moments of destiny for ourselves, our family, and the world.  This year, Be'Ezras Hashem, can be a great one for us and all of K'lal Yisroel--let's try our very best to make sure we are a part of it!



Special Note One:  The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva writes that Teshuva applies not only to correction of aveiros, but to improvement in middos as well.  Clearly, one of the most insidious of middos ra’os is Ka’as or anger. Even the sound of the word “Ka’as” is foreboding.  The following very powerful and very practical lesson on controlling anger is excerpted from yesterday’s daily lesson in the monumental work Positive Word Power (Artscroll/Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation):  “When we lose ourselves in anger, we immediately forget one salient fact:  It’s another human being on the receiving end of the diatribe.  It’s a person with a heart, with feelings, hopes, and struggles.  It’s a person like ourselves.  Finding the moment to connect to this reality is one of the most effective means available to curtail Ona’as Devarim in our lives.  Effective as it is, this strategy is difficult to enact when one’s temper has been lost and he is in the middle of an angry tirade.  It helps to plan the strategy now, when one is not being pulled by the undertow of powerful emotions.  What will you do the next time you feel the urge to launch a verbal attack?  Look into the person’s eyes as you speak to him.  See that there is a person there, with his own thoughts, his own problems.  Will your words disturb his sleep?  Will they arouse anger in him that he will take out on someone else?  Cause him to lost confidence in himself?  We don’t have to inflict pain on each other.  If we can feel the other person’s suffering, rather than blocking it out of our consciousness, we will be motivated to find another way: a gentler, more sensitive and respectful way.  The way we, ourselves, would like to be treated”.


Hakhel Note:  The next cycle of Positive Word Power will begin on Rosh Hashana.  Learning the practical and effective lessons from this Sefer in its beautifully written and easy-to-read daily format would truly be a meaningful and worthwhile project for the coming year!



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


1.  As we continue our acts of introspection into Shabbos, we may want to think about those Erev Shabbos activities we undertake that may have an effect upon others on Shabbos itself.  For instance, if one living in America sends an email on Erev Shabbos to an uneducated Jew who lives or is vacationing in Europe where it may already be Shabbos--what are the potential issurim that he may be machshil the uneducated Jew in when he reads that email, and then responds by taking action such as making a phone call to a third party--or even simply by answering the email--typing something in response and exacerbating his conduct clicking “Reply All” (remembering that an uneducated Jew is still obligated to perform all Mitzvos--whether D’Oraysa or DeRabbanan)?  Similarly, if one sends a CC or a BCC of an email to someone “local” before Shabbos, but that local person might take action because of the email on Shabbos, one may want to think twice about sending such an email close to Shabbos, before “closing up shop for the day”.  Who would want the chillul Shabbos (perhaps even multiple chilul Shabbos) of another Jew on his head--even if the uneducated Jew would quite likely be mechallel Shabbos in some other way during the very same time period, and even if one could perhaps assert in his defense that he wasn’t the direct cause, etc.?  Perhaps to rectify any prior misdeeds or borderline types of activities in this area relating to the great and holy Shabbos, one can talk about and explain Shabbos to not-yet-religious Jews, and be decidedly cautious in sending out emails on Erev Shabbos (and ErevYom Tov)--especially in the afternoon.  Remember, we are to be so careful with Hilchos Shabbos that we are proscribed from blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana which falls out on Shabbos--as a gezeira that someone *may* come to repair musical instruments. We certainly should be careful to avoid any culpability, responsibilty or horrible feeling engendered by a non-thinking electronic communication with someone who does not yet know enough to fathom the transgressions he is committing with that seemingly innocent, cc’d email!


2.  With the slower Shabbos davening, or at least with the greater ability to start Shacharis a few minutes early if you need more time--may we suggest a special focus on such words as”Melech”, ‘Chasdecha” and “Rachamim” this Shabbos.  As we have pointed out in the past, the Sefer Mateh Ephraim, the great halachic handbook on the Yomim Noraim, refers to Elul as Yomim HaKedoshim.  By connecting to the Yomim HaKedoshim of Elul on Shabbos Kodesh, we will have added a new and wonderful dimension of Kedusha to our lives.  It is all there for the taking!


3.  We asked a Posek and Mechaber of Seforim on Hilchos Shabbos about the use of Purell (or other hand sanitizers) on Shabbos.  His response was as follows:  “There are two issues to consider: refuah and memacheik.  With regard to refuah, the use of hand lotion to prevent chapped hands may be prohibited.  However, I surmise that most people using Purell do not intend to use it in place of a hand cream lotion (rather, the moisturizing agents are there to mitigate the harsh effects of the alcohol).  The more serious problem is memacheik. I do not believe that the gel flows freely like a liquid. As such, I would be machmir not to use it on Shabbos.  If one wanted to use it on Shabbos, he should dilute it before Shabbos with enough water until it pours freely, to avoid the chashash of memachaik.”



Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parsha, we are taught that the punishments found in the Tochacha come as a result of not serving Hashem “B’simcha U’VeTuv Levav--in joy and with a good heart.”  There is a fascinating account brought in the Sefer Chayim Shel...about HaRav Boruch Ber Lebowitz, Z’tl.  Once while on a visit to the United States to raise funds for his Yeshiva, some ba’alei batim honored him by renting for him a private apartment in which he could quietly learn and rest when not raising funds.  The ba’alei batim did not realize, however, that the windows of the apartment faced directly towards a statue/idol outside of a church.  This caused HaRav Boruch Ber much consternation, but he would never think of reporting his displeasure to the ba’alei batim who were kind enough to supply him with the dwelling.  He then came upon the following story with HaRav Nosson Adler, Z’tl, which changed HaRav Boruch Ber’s outlook forever.  HaRav Adler was asked by emergency messenger to try to help the Jewish community in another area of Germany , which was being threatened by the local poritz with expulsion and everything that goes with it.  The community felt that the great stature of HaRav Adler could reverse the designs of the lord, and they begged HaRav Adler to come hurriedly and save them.  Although it was the middle of winter, and snow and ice blanketed the ground, HaRav Adler agreed, and was accompanied by his great talmid, the Chasam Sofer. They hired a non-Jewish wagon driver, Johann, to get them there as soon as possible.  The night was frigid and the snow was deep. Suddenly, the wagon got stuck in a ditch of ice, and the two horses drawing it were powerless to extricate the wagon.  HaRav Adler gave Johann a considerable sum, and convinced him to go to ride one of the horses to the closest possible city--and to hire another two horses, with the hope that the four horses together could extricate the wagon.  Three hours later, with the great Rabbonim sitting in the frigid wagon, Johann returned with one horse--and one powerfully-looking big ox.  “This should really do it”, he exclaimed--”we should have enough power now to get us out of the ditch”.  HaRav Nosson, upon seeing the huge ox, jumped out of the wagon and began to dance in the snow in exuberance.  “Rebbe--why are you reacting like this?!” the Chasam Sofer asked.  HaRav Nosson responded:  “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever be able to fulfill the Mitzvah of “LoSachrosh Beshor U’VaChamor Yachdov --of not coupling two species of animals together to work”.  Now, because I have been moser nefesh to help save my poor brothers from expulsion, Hashem has been mezakeh me with a special gift--a special Mitzvah!”  “Is this not a great cause for joy!”  The Chasam Sofer had certainly learned a life-long lesson.  He approached Johann, gave him even more money and told him that Jewish law did not allow the ox to work with the horse.  Johann would have to take back the ox to its owner--and bring another horse instead.  The startled Johann, after yelling that they would have to spend another three hours in the freezing cold while he searched for a horse, took the money and agreed.


HaRav Boruch Ber reflected upon  the joy that HaRav Nosson Adler felt from just one Mitzvah--and thought to himself as follows:  In Kamenitz, I face no problems whatsoever such as this. Hashem has graced me here in America with the powerful Mitzvah of “Lo Sosuru Acharei Levavchem V’acharei Einiechem--not to follow after my heart or my eyes --and he has given it to me*every single day* during my stay!  How overjoyed should I be!  With this, and from then on, he celebrated his situation--and served Hashem--with that “getchka” outside-- with joy and gladness of heart.


Each and every one of us must take the lesson of the Parsha (it is certainly no coincidence, as it never ever is, that the Parsha teaches us this lesson at this time of year).  We must take the lesson of HaRav Nosson Adler and HaRav Boruch Ber Lebowitz--we must celebrate that we, too, are blessed with Mitzvos which Hashem sends directly to us and for us in our own unique way.  Let us take our Mitzvos and rejoice in them.  Let our hearts be full of gladness and our minds full of thanks--as we take each and everyone of the Mitzvos of Hashem not for granted--but as a Heavenly Grant!



Special Note One:  We are excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter14.pdf  the fourteenth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, with the issue focused on Birchas HaTorah Part II produced by The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this especially useful and inspirational publication to others!



Special Note Two:  The following precious gems were provided by Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, at a recent Shiur:


1.  Every day of Elul is filled with Gevaldike Rachamim.  Indeed, as we get more deeply into the month, every day has greater Rachamim than the day before [perhaps because there is a ‘buildup’ of Rachamim in the world as Elul moves along!]


2.  Elul is, of course, an acronym for “Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li.”  The word “Dodi” means not only “My Beloved,” but also “My Uncle.”  There is a difference between a Father and an Uncle--for a Father must provide for his child, whereas an uncle who gives something to his nephew is doing so out of voluntary benevolence and warmth.  Receiving a piece of chocolate from an Uncle is a more special and treasured experience--and Hashem as our “Dodi”--is extending that “chocolate” to us now. 


3.  Rabban Gamliel noted the particular Chessed of Hashem in letting us know that the Yom HaDin is coming.  Looking at the rest of the world around us, they appear clueless to, and certainly unprepared for, their impending judgment.  He related the very famous Mashal, which cannot be repeated enough, of the merchants who were trying to smuggle contraband over the border by putting it into a coffin, and asking the border guard to let the coffin through so that the deceased could be buried with respect in his hometown.  The guard, who was otherwise very busy and should have been easily distracted, insisted upon prying open the coffin notwithstanding the claims of its bearers that he would be disgracing the deceased by doing so.  He got a few guards together to open the box--and found not a body, but an incredible amount of merchandise packed into a small area.  Upon their arrest, the terrified merchants began to sob uncontrollably, and asked the border guard why he had especially insisted on making sure that the box was opened.  He replied that it was very simple--he saw no one crying over the deceased, and realized that something was awry.  “Frankly, he said, I would really rather not have done this--if you would have cried before, you would not be crying now.”  Hakhel Note:  Unlike the merchants who even failed to cry at all, our tears before the Yom HaDin:

Should be heartfelt, real and sincere

For who can fathom the value of each and every tear

Before the Kisei HaKavod at this very special time of year?!


4.  The Arizal teaches how each part of Tefillah brings special Hashpa’os--special influences--to the different worlds--Asiyah, Yetzirah, Beriah, and Atzilus.  Where, then, does Tefillah bring a Hashpa’ah Tova--a positive influence, upon ourselves?  Rabban Gamliel answered that it is at the conclusion of Tefillah, in Aleinu LeShabeiach, that the Hashpa’ah of Tefillah come to rest upon us.  It is therefore essential for us to have Kavannah in Aleinu--for after helping all of the worlds, we must also help ourselves.  He emphasized that Tefillah is the major source of Hashpa’os Tovos--of Hashem’s Goodness coming upon us, and that it is for this reason that most of the day on the Yemei HaDin of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are spent in prayer, so that we have the greatest opportunity for the Hashpa’os Tovos to move and settle upon us.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, once saw someone walking out of Shul at Aleinu.  He turned to him and said:  “Aleinu is not Tefillas HaDerech.”  We should instead appreciate very well the words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch who writes (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 132:2) “VeYezaher BeOmro BeKavannah”--and one should be careful to recite Aleinu with Kavannah.  The Mishne Berurah (ibid. seif katan 8) adds that we should recite Aleinu “BeAimah U’Veyirah--with awe and fear,” because all of the Heavenly Hosts stand together with Hashem and together they all exclaim:  “Ashrei HaAm Shekacho Lo….”  How powerful our Aleinu really is!


5.  In a related vein, Rabban Gamliel pointed out that while the Sefaradim begin Selichos on the second day of Elul, the only additional public Tefillah of the Ashkenazim at this time is Chapter 27 of Tehillim--“LeDovid Hashem Ori.”  Accordingly, he concluded that it would be very befitting (especially for Ashkenazim!) to have Kavannah in “LeDovid Hashem,” for it is in a sense the replacement for Selichos at this time.  We remind everyone that Hashem’s name of especial Rachamim--Yud Key Vuv Key--appears 13 times in this Chapter.  Perhaps a manner in which one can improve his Kavannah for the next five weeks as we recite this inspiring Kepitel is to try to focus upon Hashem’s Name as it is recited, thinking that Hashem, as Master of the World, Was, Is, and Will Be…and is All-Merciful.  A little bit of effort can make all the difference!


6.  Rabban Gamliel provided a remarkable recommendation for Teshuvah in the coming year.  He noted that the source of many Aveiros is simply not knowing what to do in a given situation.  All kinds of havoc can be wreaked on a person because of his sheer ignorance on how a Torah Jew must act in or under the circumstances.  Ignorance is not bliss, because it creates prosecuting angels against a person, against his family, and against his people.  Even any lowly officer will tell you that ignorance of the law is no excuse, and that it indicates a disregard and disinterest in doing that which is right.  One’s failure to study Halacha may be viewed in a similar light--this is not serving the King, but dishonoring him.  How can one rectify all of this?  By studying the proper Halachos for the situations in which one finds himself.  Rabban Gamliel specifically recommended the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch because it covers so many facets of our lives clearly and concisely.  Several English versions are available, including Metzudah and Artscroll.  Rabban Gamliel further emphasized that many, many of these laws are appropriate for women as well as men, and that women should study the many apposite sections that apply to them.  Undertaking this study is a demonstration of Kabbolas Ol Malchus Shomayim--because by doing so one demonstrates that he wants to live your life the way the King teaches it is best for him to do so.  The study of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch--an excellent source of Teshuvah!

Hakhel Note:  We provide by clicking here a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi calendar, in which you can complete the entire Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi calendar in one year.  What an undertaking and what an accomplishment! 


7.  Finally, Rabban Gamliel explained part of the symbolism of honey on Rosh Hashana.  Why do we need honey--after all, everything that Hashem gives to us is sweet, for no one cares about us and knows what is best for us in all circumstances more than Hashem.  The truth however is that we do not always recognize, we do not always “taste,” this sweetness.  With our honey, honey cake, tzimmes, and other honey products during the Yemei HaDin, we ask Hashem to shower us with those kinds of sweet things during the coming year in which we ourselves can actually taste, and savor the incredibly powerful and delectably delicious sweetness!



Special Note One:  Another Incredible Opportunity--Parenting Tips Via Email by the world-renowned mechanech, Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita are now available!  To subscribe, you need only send an email to tips@kavey.org.  To join live Project Kavey parenting lines, or to consult privately with Rabbi Brezak, we provide the following additional contact information:  415-639-3002 (US), 0207-043-5619 ( UK ), 082-441-2713 (SA), 052-769-7588 (IL).



Special Note Two:  Two Weeks from today will be Erev Rosh Hashana.  It is reality check time--real reality check.


It is reported that many Gedolim would shake and tremble during this time, to the point that their knees would knock (as the phrase is actually used in Sefer Doniel--”Dah LeDah Nakshan”--with the English word ‘knock’ quite possibly having this Torah source).  Even if one may not be at this level of trepidation, one can most certainly privately shed tears to the Ribono Shel Olam in fear and shame--as the Pasuk states “Bamistarim Tivkeh Nafshi-- my soul weeps in private”.  By this suggestion, we do not mean to express negative fear.  What we mean to convey is that the judgment we are to face is not tilted or stilted, perverted or fiasco-filled as we might have otherwise seen in the Rubashkin trial or elsewhere.  Our judgment will be true and just, and there is much that we need to make amends for.  Having come to the realization, having faced the facts--that one’s life and the lives of others really and truly hanging in the balance--we can then begin to fully value and appreciate that we are incredibly gifted with the instructions--just exactly what we need to do in order to emerge successfully and even gainfully on the Day of Judgment!  Does it make any sense at all to not make the sincere effort, or at least demonstrate the willingness, to be guided by these life-bearing and fulfilling instructions?  The instructions are direct and to the point:  “Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedakah Remove the r’l Evil Decree Against Us”--of course we all know the words--but when we get up to reciting or even crying out these words on the Yemei HaDin we must have already begun to demonstrate that they are more than just poignant words in a Machzor or even terror-filled lip service.  Lehavdil, even the best recipes in a recipe book that one already owns are not worth more than the paper they are written on until such time as someone actually puts together the ingredients and properly follows through; after having worked hard and carefully in the kitchen, however, not only will the cook or baker benefit, but all those around will share in the wonderful success as well.


Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 14:2) summarizes this all in one Pasuk: “Hashem MiShomayim Hishkif Ahl Bnei Odom Liros HaYeish Maskil Doresh es Elokim--Hashem looks down from the Heavens to see if there is a wise person who seeks Him.  What does Dovid HaMelech mean?  How does one seek Hashem--we all know that He cannot be seen and has no body, shape or form?!  Moreover, Hashem is omnipresent --He is everywhere-- so what is there to seek--He is right here and right there and there and there and there?!   We suggest that we seek Hashem through our clear and concise guide and formula--Through Teshuva, Through Tefilah, and Through Tzedakah.  Through ‘Teshuva’, we seek Hashem by searching through for stains and washing as best we can our middos, our thoughts, our words and our actions.  Through ‘Tefillah’, we seek d’veikus with Hashem--if we make the effort, we will be, and feel, in direct contact with the Omnipresent through prayer.  As we daven Shemone Esrei, can we not try to picture Hashem’s Presence in front of us, listening to us (yes--us!) talking with Him, pleading with Him, thanking Him?!  Because children daven four minute Shemone Esrei’s does it mean that we must follow suit--and, moreover, should we daven in the same way as we did twenty or ten or five or even one year ago?  Every year, our seeking through Tefillah--our d’veikus--our connection to Hashem must mature and grow.  Finally, we seek through ‘Tzedakah’--by seeking Hashem through kindness to his creatures--through extending our hand and giving while seemingly receiving nothing in return.  In this regard, we must unfortunately advise you that the Yad Eliezer Matching Funds Program--for chickens for families for Yom Tov, and for Yesomim and Almanos for Yom Tov-- still have a ways to go before reaching the Matching Funds limit.  You have the opportunity to double the merit of your Tzedakah, hopefully thereby doubling the level and quality of your seeking by going to yadeliezer.org  (or calling 718-258-1580  to donate directly), and by telling others about the opportunity as well. 


We must be especially warmed and encouraged by the words of Dovid Hamelech--that Hashem looks to those who seek him--for it means that we are all in the running, we all have the chance, we all are capable and we all can succeed.  We are now certainly close enough to Yom Tov to begin writing things down--events of the past year, middos to be changed, items to be taken care of, before Rosh Hashanah ...in order to make the words we shall soon cry out “Teshuva Tefillah U’Tzedaka” all the more meaningful and all the more successful on the upcoming Yom Tov.


Additional Note One:  Some in the western world criticize and mock us--claiming that we are made to feel ‘Jewish Guilt’ for our actions.  This myopic view looks at Olam Hazeh and can see no further.  We know that our actions have far reaching effects now--and will stay with us for eternity.  The story is related of a dibbuk who spoke nivul peh--unbecoming language.  When asked how he could  do so--after all wasn’t he already in the next world--he responded that a person in the next world is only what he makes of himself here in this world.  His nivul peh stays with him there too--and serves as an eternal source of shame and discomfort (to say the least).  Having noted this--just begin to imagine what Teshuva, Tefilah and Tzedakah will look like and feel like--for eternity!


Additional Note Two:  Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita provides remarkable solace and encouragement in the name of the Chasam Sofer.  In the ordinary course, we are taught that Teshuva performed out of Ahava (love of Hashem) converts Aveiros which were performed even intentionally into actual Zechuyos, while Teshuva performed out of Yirah (Fear) turns Aveiros performed intentionally into Shegagos--unintentional sins--which Hashem will obviously treat much differently on the Yom HaDin, but which are still sin.  The Chasam Sofer, however, adds that if the other two key “seeking”components besides Teshuva--i.e., Tefillah and Tzedakah--are present, than even Teshuva performed out of Yirah will be able to convert those intentional Aveiros into Zechuyos!!  What a bonus! What an opportunity!  What a gift!!  Let us take the next two weeks to make our search a very, very successful one...and may we blessed with an outpouring and overflowing of Zechuyos for ourselves... and for our people!



Special Note One:  We recently referred to the lessons of Rav Wolbe, Z’tl, in Hislamdus.  A reader provided the following description of Hislamdus in general: 


“What is Hislamdus?  A proper translation would probably be training or observing.  If I do something great and holy, if I am working on a particular area of serving Hashem, then I can begin to feel conceited and arrogant.  But if I admit to myself that I am not really so holy, I’m not really greater than my friends who are not doing what I’m doing, I’m not truly doing anything, I’m simply in training to do something, then I can avoid feeling conceit.


With Hislamdus, the focus becomes not how far I have come, but how I can continue my training program in order to do better.  Because I am only an observer and still being trained, I can more easily see my faults and weaknesses. I can realize my imperfections even within the particular area that I have begun to improve, and I dwell on my ability to do more and to do better, not on my ‘amazing accomplishments.”



Special Note Two:  We provide the following essential points made in Praying With Fire II by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, relating to the “Eis Ratzon Period (Time of Favor) that we are in from Elul through Yom Kippur--40 days of Paradise for the Neshama!:


a.  R’ Itzele (Blazer) Peterburger, Z’tl, in Sefer Kochvei Ohr examines this seemingly illogical order of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  He asserts that logically, Yom Kippur should have come first, allowing the Jewish people to begin by confessing and cleansing themselves of their sins.  After that process, they could arrive at the Day of Judgment, Rosh Hashanah, deserving of a good year.  However, Rav Blazer explains that a person’s first priority must be to recognize that Hashem is the benevolent King Who likewise renders judgment.  Only then can one truly comprehend the magnitude of the forgiveness one must seek on Yom Kippur.


b.  Our plea for a renewed lease on life is not limited to simply keeping our heartbeat and breathing going for another year.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, writes (Sefer Ohr Yechezkel, 109):  “Zachreinu LeChaim is not just a request for life itself; it encompasses everything.  That which is connected to life is also called life--health, sustenance, removing obstacles and hardships are all included in our request for life.”  With so much at stake, we cannot afford to “stand in the shade” during this crucial eis ratzon, when Hashem’s radiance is at its peak.


c.  To better appreciate the role of Elul, Rabbi Kleinman provides the following allegory:  There was once a king who occasionally set out among the general populace to stay in touch with the realities of his subjects’ lives.  Prior to his arrival, he would send out letters to a random selection of families, announcing his visit.  On one such occasion, a poor couple living on the edge of town received a letter announcing that the king would be visiting them. The couple, who lived in abject poverty, began to discuss what to do.  “We have to repair the front stairs and weed the lawn and paint the walls and borrow at least one good chair for him to sit on,” the husband insisted.  “Who are you trying to fool?” the wife contested.  “We don’t have money for all that.  And besides, the king knows he’s visiting paupers.  We should just be ourselves.”  “No,” the husband countered.  “We have to put in our best effort.”  We have to show him that we prepared for his visit in the best way we can.  He has to see that we’re his loyal subjects and that we are proud that he is our king.”  It is for this reason that we undertake extra efforts, and are more meticulous and punctilious, in the learning of Torah and the performance of Mitzvos.  We must remember that, during this very 40-Day Period, Moshe Rabbeinu worked very hard in Shomayim pleading our case for eternal survival--and was successful.  The grace of the Period renews itself annually for each and every one of us.  However, it is not easy.  There are no “push-button” solutions.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us (Mishlei 24:16) “Ki Sheva Yipol Tzaddik VeKam…for a righteous man can fall seven times and rise, but the wicked shall stumble upon evil.”  It is the Tzaddik who realizes that even though he has fallen in the past he can nevertheless rise and become great.  It is actually a Rasha, a wicked person, who believes that because he has stumbled once, he has hopelessly fallen forever.  We have to take the time and make the effort to get up, as Hashem is *now* extending His hand to help us in an extraordinarily merciful, compassionate, and forgiving way, in a way which is beyond our wildest dreams or imagination.  In what ways can we help ourselves “up”?  Spending more time in Tefillah, true care in Shemiras HaLashon, opening the hand a bit wider to give Tzedakah, and in bleaching our Middos.  A sincere and tangible plan to avoid anger, jealousy (including looking at another person in the wrong way) and the need to gratify every last desire, will go a long way towards pulling you from last year’s fall to standing up ably and with pride on your own two feet.  Let us try to get up all together--for if not now, then when?!



Special Note One:  Dovid HaMelech teaches “Dorashti Es Hashem V’Anani U’Mikol Migurosai Hitzilani--I sought out Hashem and He answered me, and from all my terror He delivered me (Tehillim 34:5).”  To what does “my” terror refer?  We may suggest that this Pasuk takes on special meaning in our time, when everyone seems to be subjected to terror here and terror there--at sea in the air, on the streets.  How do we save ourselves from all of this?  The preventive medicine, Dovid HaMelech teaches, is “Dorashti Es Hashem--seek out Hashem for He and only He can and will thwart the terror here and the terror there.  Before we set out to the streets, before we ready ourselves to travel, before we start our day--let us first be Doresh Es Hashem--engage Hashem in meaningful, personal prayer to be saved from the dangers and evil of the world--the remedy given to the Jewish People by Dovid HaMelech himself well over 2,500 years ago!


Hakhel Note:  May we add that, if possible, one should give a heartfelt bracha to someone about to ‘go out into the world’ by wishing him/her “LeChaim U’LeShalom” or “Hashem should give you hatzlacha in your way” etc.--one can never sufficiently appreciate the effect of a bracha.  Of course, in situations where levi’a, escorting out a short distance, is appropriate--this also serves as an unfathomable source of Shemira.



Special Note Two:  There is a related Pasuk in Tehillem (13:6) which serves as the climactic conclusion of the many Pesukim together that constitute the prayer and song of Hodu LaShem Kiru ViSh’mo recited in Shacharis every morning.  The Pasuk reads:  “V’Ani BeChasdecha Votachti, Yogail Libi Bi’Shuasecha, Ashira LaShem Ki Gomal Alai--As for me, I trust in Your kindness; my heart will rejoice in Your salvation, I will sing to Hashem, for He dealt kindly with me.”  The G’RA explains that this Pasuk consists of three parts--representing three different stages or circumstances in a person’s experience. Firstly, there is the complete and absolute recognition and awareness that “V’Ani BeChasdecha Votachti”--I know and affirm that whatever circumstance, event, predicament or situation I am in (including the seeking of continued life in Elul and over the Yomim Noraim)--You can save me with Your loving chesed.  Next, when I actually experience the salvation--such as on Yom Kippur, or upon realization that I have lived through the past year --then” Yogail Libi BiShuasecha--my heart rejoices over the Yeshua--with the recognition that it is You that have brought it about, that You have saved me.  Thirdly, and we have now reached the *crucial* conclusion--”Ashira LaShem Ki Gomal Alai--even after the Yeshua is complete, the Simcha is over, the medicine worked, the money came in to pay the bills, I have been granted another year of life... I will *not forget* the Yeshuos that You have graced me with, that which You have wrought on my behalf.  Accordingly, my davening--when I recite Modim, Nishmas, Nodeh Lecha (in Birkas HaMazon) is Kavannah-filled with my tribute and thanks for my health, my life, my possessions,...and all of the Yeshuos around and in between that I have experienced.  As if to get us started (in Nusach Ashkenaz)--the very next portion of Tefillah that we recite is the epitome of our thanks over the past--Mizmor LeSodah--which the Shulchan Aruch itself uniquely rules (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 51:9) should be recited “BeNegina--with melody”.  Let us focus on this essential Pasuk and remember daily these fundamental three stages in Avodas Hashem--and succeed at each one of them!



Special Note Three:  The Sefas Emes provides two great lessons from last week’s Parsha for us to always take with us:


a.  Some of the most famous Mitzvos in the Parsha relate to returning lost objects to others.  Since, the Sefas Emes notes, we are duty bound to love others as ourselves--and not more --then we must most certainly endeavor to return lost objects to ourselves as well.  With respect to physical possessions , we must be aware that Hashem has entrusted us with objects--and be sure to get them back if borrowed or taken (unless tzedaka or chesed is involved), and certainly not squander them.  Spiritually--we must ‘return’ to be the person we are supposed to be.  Dovid Hamelech writes in Tehillem (the concluding Pasuk of the longest chapter--Chapter 119):  “To’isi KeSeh Oveid-- I have strayed like a lost sheep”.  Elul is a time when we can return to ourselves that which so much belongs to us--our strengths, talents, energy and goals in Avodas Hashem.  This Parsha, always read in Elul, serves a stark reminder to us to bring as much as we can back home.  Additional Note:  Whenever you help return a lost object to someone else--let it serve as a Hashgacha Pratis reminder to you that you should also be returning something lost to yourself!


b.  The Pasuk teaches that it is a Mitzvah to help its owner when an animal or the burden upon it has fallen.  The Torah specifically says “Hakeim Tokim Imo--You shall surely stand them up with him.”  The Sefas Emes notes that the Torah does not simply use the word “Oso”-help him, but “Imo”--*with him*, because when you are helping another, when you display Rachmanus, compassion and care for the difficulty of someone else, than you are really not only helping him, but helping yourself.  In fact, while you are helping him only once, you are helping yourself for a lifetime and beyond.  How remarkable!  You are not merely picking up a package--you are raising up yourself!



Special Note One:  We are excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter13.pdf  the thirteenth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, with the issue focused on Birchas HaTorah produced by The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this especially useful and inspirational publication to others!



Special Note Two:  We received the following important information from aishdas.org:  “In a recent bulletin on Adon Olam, you mentioned HaRav Shlomo Wolbe's ve'adim on Hislamdus.  AishDas is currently running two conference-call based ve'adim, both of which are currently (at different places) in that series of ve'adim.  It is much easier to go through the series with others than trying it alone.  Membership is (currently) free, and only open to men; although we are working on getting sufficient membership for a women's va'ad.  The relevent segment of Alei Shur is available at <http://www.aishdas.org/as/translations/as_mp05.pdf> and my translation is at
<http://www.aishdas.org/as/translations/as.shtml#mp05>.  For further information, please feel free to contact micha@aishdas.org



Special Note Three:  In many Yeshivos, it has been and is the custom to recite and study the Sefer Orchos Chaim of the great Rishon and one of the greatest Poskim of all time, Rabbeinu Asher (popularly known as the Rosh), during the month of Elul.  This Sefer contains clear and concise directions from the Rosh as to how one is to conduct his life.  So great and fundamental are the teachings of this Sefer, that many Gedolim have commented on its contents.  In fact, the Tosfos Yom Tov wrote his own explanation of the Rosh’s words.  Here, we provide a sample of only three of the Rosh’s teachings to think about and apply in our daily lives:


A.  #81:  Do not look to somebody who is smaller than you in his Avodas Hashem or in his Yiras Hashem, but rather to one who is greater than you.


B.  #90:  Do not minimize the significance of even one enemy.


C.  #100: [Perhaps the Sefer’s most famous teaching] “Al Tevahel Ma’asecha”--do not act in a behala--with panic and consternation, without clear thinking, and without calmness.  What important words to remember at this time of year, which some may refer to as the 'Jewish tax season'. As feelings and situations appear like that they are about to spin out of control, let us remember what a Rishon and one of the greatest Halachic Decisors of all time--taught as to how we should react.  Our first thought must be to remember the three words “Al Tevahel Ma’asecha.”  Indeed, in Kelm, they had a special Nigun--for these three words alone when reciting the Orchos Chaim.  If you don't know the Nigun-compose your own…and if  you are not a composer--than just say the words and mean them!



Special Note Four:  We continue through the second week of Elul with additional points and pointers relating to the Mercy-Filled period we are in:


1.  “Ashrei Yoshvei Veysecha--praiseworthy are those who dwell in your house.”  The Sefer Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah explains that the ‘House’ we are referring to is the House of the King.  How fortunate, how happy we should feel for the privilege that we have of dwelling in the King’s house.  As we move further through Ashrei, we refer to Hashem’s Malchus several more times.  Chazal teach the importance of an appreciation of Ashrei when they say that one who is careful to [properly] recite Ashrei three times a day is Zoche to Olam Haba.  Perhaps we could take a great lesson from Ashrei with us throughout the day by singing the words, or humming the tune to, “Malchuscha Malchus Kol Olamin, U’Memshaltecha Bechol Dor VeDor--your kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternities, and Your dominion is throughout every generation.”  More about the special joy of Malchus on Shabbos can be found in Special Note Five below.


2.  An extremely important Middah to emphasize and develop over the coming month (today is exactly 30 days to Yom Kippur!) is the Middah of HaKaras HaTov.  Chazal (recently studied in the Daf Yomi, Avodah Zara 5A) teach that both Adam HaRishon, and the Bnei Yisroel at the Chiet HaEigel, were Kofui Tov--deniers of good.  One would expect that HaKaras HaTov and Kofui Tov are exact opposites…with one recognizing the good done to him and affirmatively expressing that recognition, and the second person expressly rejecting and even complaining about the act or deed done for him or on his behalf.  However, Rashi (ibid.) teaches us otherwise.  Rashi writes that one who simply does not recognize and appreciate the good that was done to him or on his behalf is *already* a Kafui Tov.  He doesn’t have to actually express his disdain of, or rejection, of the deed--he simply can be silent or unthinking about it, and already thereby falls into the terrible abyss of being a Kafui Tov.  If we want to begin to truly appreciate everything that Hashem does for us, we have to begin to appreciate what everyone else does for us as well, and not act as a Kofui Tov--someone who does not think or care about what others do for him and from which he benefits.  At the end of each day, one can look back and think about whether he was a thinking and thanking “Makir Tov” at work and at home, or an unthinking and unthanking “Kafui Tov”.  There does not seem to be much middle ground.  The choice is yours!


3.  Chazal teach:  “Al Tehi Rasha Lefnei Atzmecha--do not view yourself as a Rasha.”  This means that a person should not get down upon himself, or put himself down, and decide that “this is the way it is” or “this is the way I am.”  Quite the contrary, when a person realizes his thoughts, words, or actions are deficient in a particular area, he should view this realization or awareness as unique and personalized “Hashgacha Pratis”--a message from Hashem to take action and do something about that particular item or matter.  Hashem cares about you and wants you to succeed in all aspects of your life…you should care no less for yourself! 


4.  In fact and in deed, There are others who care about you as well.  One of the other teachings of the Rosh (not mentioned above) is that “one should be happy when hearing words of Mussar, as if having found a great treasure.”  HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, explains this passage with the following analogy:  A young soldier is suddenly surrounded by the enemy.  Out of nowhere, a senior officer appears and shows the soldier exactly how he can extricate himself from the situation--and even defeat the enemy.  Our Rabbanim, our Maggidei Shiur, our teachers are our senior officers who are extending a life-line to us with their guidance and teachings.  Should we not rejoice with, and should we not implement, their heartfelt words of direction and assistance!  Listen carefully and closely--and seriously ponder and think about-- how to thrive and grow from their words.


5.  Finally, as this week’s Parsha contains at least one Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh and one Mitzvas Aseh relating to Shemiras HaLashon, we are happy to advise that the Chofetz Chaim, in his Sefer Chovas HaShemirah (Chapter 8) writes that if one is careful with Shemiras HaLashon, then “bevadai--with certainty”--in this zechus, in this special merit, Hashem will forgive even his Avos for their sins.  One should pay real and practical attention to these words as he rededicates himself to Shemiras HaLashon, in order to bring merit not only to himself, but to his Avos as well!


Hakhel Note:  We remind our readers of an extremely important point that we have referenced in the past.  That is, if one realizes that he has accepted Lashon Hara, the Chofetz Chaim advises that he immediately void this acceptance, and find a Limud Zechus for the person who was spoken about.  In this way, he will have saved himself (and the person who related the Lashon Hara to him) of the Bein Adam LeChaveiro violation of Lashon Hara--for the Lashon Hara was not ultimately accepted, and , in fact, a zechus was found for the person spoken against.  The Teshuva process would then only be on a Bein Adom LaMakom Level:  1. Charata--being sorry over having originally accepted the words.  2.  Kabbalah--accepting not to let this happen again.  3. Viduy--expressing to Hashem that what you had originally done was improper.  Most certainly the more one learns about the Halachos and Hashkofos of Lashon Hara, the more it will serve as a zechus for him--and his ancestors!



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


1.  As we continue to focus upon Hashem’s Malchus, and the re-coronation on Rosh Hashana, we note that *every Shabbos* we recite the words:  “Yesmichu BeMalchuscha Shomrei Shabbos VeKorei Oneg--those who observe Shabbos and call it a delight, rejoice in Your Kingship.”  Although there is no special Halacha of physical Simcha on Shabbos as there is on Yom Tov, there is a more sublime and supernal feeling of joy in Hashem’s Malchus…each and every Shabbos. 


2.  In tomorrow’s laining we are privileged to have two of the Sheish Zechiros, which many of us recite daily after Shacharis.  The Luach Davar Beito brings the Magein Avraham (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 60, seif katan 2) who writes that one should have Kavannah to fulfill the Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa of remembering what happened to Miriam when the words “Zachar Eis Asher Asa Hashem Elokecha LeMiriam…” are read in the sixth aliyah (Devarim 24:9).  The Luach recommends that an announcement be made before Shishi to this effect!


3.  Rashi (Sotah 49A) writes that when all the people gather together on Shabbos to hear the Rav’s Drasha, they fulfill not only the Mitzvah D’Oraysa of Talmud Torah, but also the Mitzvah D’Oraysa of Kiddush Hashem.  It is for this reason that the Gemara (ibid.) teaches that one of the bases for the world’s continuing existence is the answering of “Yehei Shemei Rabba…” to Kaddish at the conclusion of the Rav’s Drasha. The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 290, seif katan 6) writes that the Ikar at the Drasha is to teach Halachos Shabbos--that which is permitted and that which is forbidden--and to bring the people to Yiras Shamayim.  Let us put the importance of Hilchos Shabbos into the time frame that we are in.  Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, teaches that the ‘Aleph-Bais’ of Teshuvah is learning the Halachos of the topic or item for which Teshuvah is required.  How many can look back at the previous year and affirm that there was no slippage, mistake, or ignorance, with respect to his Shabbos observance?  One reader recently advised us that he put  a pitcher of water into the freezer on Leil Shabbos before going to sleep, and took it out on Shabbos morning before going to Shul, so that he would have very cold water without ice at his Shabbos Seudah.  On the way to Shul that morning, he realized that he had two issues--1. Was he allowed to place the water into the freezer to freeze in the first place? and 2. Was he then permitted to take the frozen water out of the freezer to defrost into ice cold water in the  pitcher--or was he intentionally creating water from ice ('molid').  He looked up the Shailah on his own (without consulting a Rav), determined that he actions were permissible, and drank the water.  Whether or not his conclusions were ultimately correct, what he reported to us determines the need to think before you act, and the need to study the Halachos of Shabbos (certainly on Shabbos itself!).


A Jew who observes Shabbos is known as a “Shomer Shabbos.”  A Shomer is one who guards against intruders and casualties that may befall or attack that which he is guarding.  One can do his job as a Shomer if he establishes a new or special Seder in the Halachos of Shabbos--and especially studies those Halachos in which he knows he is weak, or in which he has made mistakes in the past.  In fact, he can ask his Rav to give the Rav’s Drasha on these topics on Shabbos!  Remember, as the Mishna Berurah points out, Shabbos is mentioned no less than 12 times in the Torah.  If even the point of the Yud in the Torah demands respect and interpretation, imagine the reverence and attention we must give to the Halachos of Shabbos…when the Torah emphasizes its extraordinary importance to us so many times and in so many places!



Special Note One:  OUR RENEWED PLEA--THE NEEDED MONIES HAVE NOT YET BEEN RAISED--PLEASE JOIN TOGETHER! Once again, we received the following from Mrs. Sori Tropper, who heads Yad Eliezer in the United States .  Yad Eliezer is an affiliate of Hakhel, and is a phenomenal organization of Tzedaka and Chessed whose stellar reputation is confirmed by all.  We urge you to read Mrs. Tropper’s words, and do your utmost--with purity of thought and feeling:


“As the Yamim Noraim approach, we begin to worry once again how we are going to manage to feed those who need us the most for Yom Tov.  Yad Eliezer gives out chickens to the neediest families in Eretz Yisrael and we have a huge list of families who desperately need help.

We have a donor who offered us two donations if we can get them matched.  He will give as much as we get matched.  The first donation, for chickens, is up to $100,000.  The second donation is specifically for almanos for Yom Tov and it is for $50,000.  If you’d like to participate in this incredible way to double your Tzedaka dollars, please call Yad Eliezer at 718 258 1580, or donate by check or online.  The address is 1102 E. 26th St. , Brooklyn , NY 11210 .  The web address is www.yadeliezer.org  In either case, please specify that this if for the matching funds and which of the two matches you would prefer.  May you be blessed with a Kesiva V’Chasima Tova, a year of health, happiness and bracha!”  Hakhel Note:  Please, please don't delay--please make the phone call or connect in writing asap so that you make others happy at the beginning of the New Year! 


Special Note Two:  We provide the following points and pointers, as we have just begun the second week of Elul:


a.  During this month we are preparing for judgment--and for mercy.  While this may seem paradoxical, it is really quite necessary.  If a person prepares only for judgment, he will tend to view all of his activities in a favorable light, explaining this away and that away, and actually lead himself to believe that he is much better than he really is.  Think about the way a lawyer may prepare a court case--viewing the facts in the most favorable light to his client.  Thus, in thinking about why one needs mercy over the coming days, in focusing on the word 'rachamim' in our tefillos, we will  take a better look at our actions and inactions--and resolve to do better--which, in turn, makes us much more qualified to receive the very mercy we seek!


b. Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z'tl, suggested that many people fail to do proper Teshuva because they do not realize how important and honored they really are; yes, they realize Hashem's greatness, but view themselves as too far below and too far beyond.  It is really quite the opposite.  We start out in the Royal Palace .  If we then move out or move ourselves away --does it mean that our Royal blood has been replaced, and that our ancestry and bearing have been expunged?   No, it means that we must take the first step of recognizing our Royalty--and then take the time and make the effort to move back into the Royal Palace .  The King wants us back--He has told us so.  We must put back on the Royal garments, and head back to the Palace --with longing and with dignity.  Appreciate who you are and do something about it!


c.  As we continue to focus on Malchus, we note an extremely valuable insight from Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sha'arei Teshuva.  Rabbeinu Yonah writes that if one brings others closer to service of the King--if he brings the King more devoted subjects--he is truly proving his loyalty to the King, and demonstrating how important the King is in his life.  If one helps others--especially this month--in their Torah studies, in their Mitzvah performance, by teaching them a Halacha that they do not seem to know, by teaching an as yet uneducated Jew something about Yiddishkeit in general or Rosh Hashanah in particular, he will be showing how important it is to him to bring honor to the King.


d.  Yesterday, we noted that Yiras Shomayim has true life-sustaining qualities (Tehillem 33:15, et. al).  The reasoning is actually quite simple--if you demonstrate a better understanding of life, then you deserve more of it.  The Chofetz Chaim, almost at the outset of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 1, seif katan 4) provides great advice in the name of the Arizal on a 'to'eles gadol--a great help' to attain Yirah.  One should envision in front of him the four letter name of Hashem (Yud Keh Vov Keh), with the nekudos of Yirah (chirik, sheva, komatz) under the first three letters.  One should certainly try this at a time or in a place where his Yirah is being challenged by his Yetzer Hora from within or his Yetzer Hora from without.  Nothing, of course, can replace a meaningful Mussar Seder, but effective emergency therapy or treatment, or a needed boost at a down point of the day, can sometimes be life-bearing as well.


e.  HaRav Shneuer Kotler, Z'tl, brings clear proof from the Rambam in Hilchos Edus as to how proper Teshuva must be performed. The Rambam writes that if one is pasul le'edus(disqualified from serving as a witness in bais din) because, for example, he lent money with ribbis, or because he was a mesachek bekuvia or a mafrichei yonim--he engaged in 'professions' which were tainted with ill-gotten gains-- then the only way he could get his credibility back and once again be a Kosher witness-- would be if he not only denounced his previous line of work, but also ridded himself of the paraphernalia of the job.  The contracts, the devices, the instruments, the tools that enabled his aveiros had to be removed from his home and from his reach.  Teshuva means more than saying that you are not going to do it again--even if you mean what you say.  It means ridding yourself of the objects, habits, and connections that brought you, and can bring you again, to where you shouldn't have been--and certainly shouldn't be going.  Look around the house, the office, the briefcase, the computer, the electronic gadgetry.  Is there something that shouldn't be here, something which can bring someone down or hurt someone, something that will make it harder for me or others around to do the Teshuva that I or they want to do?  Now is the time to take the Rambam's lesson--and demonstrate that you too want to be a Kosher Jew.


Hakhel Note:  On a related note, may we suggest that everyone make his own personal takana relating to cell phone use.  Should it be the first thing that I take out when leaving Shul?  Is it right to be looking to see who is calling when already talking with someone in person?  Is texting without limit (sometimes referred to as 'unlimited texting') a healthy activity for my soul?  For those with email access, should I be sending or reading emails when crossing the street, when eating, at red lights, or when spending quality time with a family member?  What did I do at all these times before cell phones were invented?  Certainly, Hashem has given us many tools and gifts with which to improve our lives and serve him--let us then use them together with the gift of sechel granted to us that accompany these gifts.  Elul is the time to re-focus.  Let us make a move to bring back a bit of our own kavod--which will bring with it Kavod Shomayim as well!



Special Note One:  In a remarkable study entitled “Hislamdus,” HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl (in his Sefer Alei Shor), suggests that a person can learn about himself through the study of his own actions.  Rav Wolbe presents a series of stages for one to engage in this self-study.  He begins by asking us to study how we recite the short Piyut of Adon Olam at the beginning of our day.  Before reciting Adon Olam, we may have only mentioned Hashem’s Malchus once before that morning, while still in bed, with the words “Modeh Ani Lefanecha Melech….”  Now here we are, actually about to engage Hashem in prayer.  It is as if the palace doors have swung open and the awe-inspiring time of meeting with the King of kings is about to begin.  What are our first words--will they be uttered in a sleepy-headed perhaps mumbling fashion--or will they proclaim your acknowledgement of the grandeur of the moment, and your appreciation of the great opportunity that lies before you?!  Will “Adon Olam Asher Malach and its succeeding phrases be recited proudly, meaningfully and with joy--or will it be skipped all together because you came late or otherwise do not have the time for it today?  After this wonderful Piyut describes Hashem’s eternal Malchus and your closeness to Him, it concludes with the declaration “Hashem Li VeLo Ira--Hashem is with me, I will not fear.”  Can one possibly recite these words, especially in these turbulent times, by rote without real belief, conviction, and thanks to Hashem for standing at your side?!


Three weeks from this evening, Rosh Hashana 5771 will begin.  May we suggest that we engage in HaRav Wolbe’s “Hislamdus” in the recitation of Adon Olam every morning--especially inspiring us as we begin our incomparable encounter of daily Tefillah, and bringing Hashem’s Malchus upon us in a beautiful and meaningful way.   



Special Note Two:  The Mishna in Rosh Hashanah (1:2) teaches us how Rosh Hashanah is different than the other three times of the year (Pesach, Shavuous, and Sukkos) during which we are also judged.  Rosh Hashanah, the Mishna teaches, is different because“Kol Baei Olam Ovrin Lefanav--all who come into the world pass are judged individually, as they pass before Hashem as if they are walking in a single file.”  The Mishna brings a Pasuk in Tehillim (33:15) to explain how Hashem could judge the billions mixed together all over the world as unique, individual creatures.  The Pasuk says:  “HaYotzeir Yachad Lebam HaMeivin El Kol Ma’aseihem--because Hashem formed every aspect of every being, he can fully comprehend every single individual’s actions, words, and thoughts.  In fact, the tenth Ani Ma’amin also quotes this very same Pasuk and reads as follows: (Artscroll translation)  “I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His Name, know all the deeds of human beings and their thoughts, as it says, “HaYotzeir Yachad Lebam….”  This is the only Pasuk quoted in any of the Ani Ma’amins.


We now would like to share with you a stunning thought, which can provide a tremendous source of guidance, and special zechuyos, for the time period that we are in.  Let us go to Tehillim Chapter 33, and review the Pesukim which immediately follow this telling Pasuk quoted both in the Mishna in Rosh Hashanah and in the tenth Ani Ma’amins.  After this Pasuk, Dovid HaMelech continues by teaching us what the upshot, what the consequence, is of Hashem’s having created us and comprehending all of our deeds.  Once again, we provide the Artscroll translation (may they be blessed for all they have done for K’lal Yisroel):  “A king is not saved by a great army, nor is a hero rescued by great strength; sham is the horse for salvation; despite its great strength it provides no escape.  Behold the eyes of Hashem are on those *who fear Him*, upon those *who await His kindness*, to rescue their soul from death, and to sustain them in famine.  Our soul longed for Hashem--our hope and our shield is He.  For in Him will our hearts be glad, for in His Holy Name we trusted.  May Your kindness Hashem be upon us, just as we awaited you.”


With these revealing words, Dovid Hamelech paves a pathway for us to follow in our Avodas Hashem.  Now that we know that Hashem knows every single thing about us--What is it that Hashem really would like to see?  As highlighted above, Hashem looks to those who fear Him, who are awed by His all-knowing, all-encompassing, and infinite greatness and who look to Hashem for His closeness, for His kindness.  Surely, if we would fear a lion, a bear, a terrorist, a car that is out-of-control, we should be in absolute and unfettered awe of the Creator of all creatures and all circumstances and events!  When we realize Hashem’s omnipotence, we also realize that everything we have is wholly the result of His kindness, as we partake of the Royal Table in various ways throughout the day.  Throughout the day we should express our needs to Hashem, and thank Him for what we realize he has given us and continues to give us.  As we look at our hopes for the coming year, we must look back at the highlighted Pasuk, and realize how powerful its teaching really is, and how crucial it is in our life.  If we can remind ourselves of this Pasuk daily, we can go far in avoiding the strictness of Din, and bring Hashem’s kindness upon us…just as we awaited it!



Special Note Three:  In last week’s Parsha, we are taught the Mitzvos of the King:  He cannot have many horses, “so that he does not bring the people back to Mitzrayim”; he cannot have many wives, lest “they lead his heart astray”;and he shall write for himself two copies of the Torah, “so that he learns to fear Hashem and observe the Torah”.  These three Mitzvos of the king each have an explanation provided in the Torah, as we have quoted.  There is, in fact, a fourth Mitzvah as well: “He shall not have much silver and gold.”  Here, strikingly, the Torah does not give a direct explanation.  What is different about wealth--that it needs no explanation?!


 Chazal teach that the *first* of six questions that a person will be asked when brought for judgment is “Did you conduct your activities with Emunah--was your give and take with integrity and honesty?”  Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, points out that we are so fortunate to be given the questions we will be asked after 120 years--Hashem gives us the test and tells us to prepare the right answers!  We must certainly be sure to get the first answer on the test right!  Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim teaches that the last thing we Daven for in the Ne’ilah of Yom Kippur is to be saved from any aspect of Gezel, of misappropriation of monies, which could r’l seal a person’s fate in a way he would not want.  We can now look back to the King, whose conduct is to exemplify to the entire people how they are to behave.  The money part needs no explanation, because the lesson is beyond doubt.  Our actions in the financial area must be highly guarded; our goal is not the accumulation of wealth, but the integrity that we have in dealing with that which we do have.  In a little bit more than a month we hope to honestly and sincerely recite those very special words on Yom Kippur, affirming our honesty, our “NeKi Kapayim--our clean hands” in the money that we bring home, the money that we spend, and the money and possessions of others that passes through our hands.  Let us begin now to reflect upon where amends is necessary in this area, focusing on Kosher Money, at work, shopping, and in the home.  The Rav HaMachshir here is Hashem--who is also the Eid and the Dayan--the Witness and the Judge.  If we take the time now to put everything in order, our Din for the coming year will most certainly be a much easier, cleaner, and brighter one!



Special Note One:  Bracha Question of the Week:  As we continue to work on bringing Hashem’s malchus more upon us in the month of Elul (rather than waiting for a last-ditch effort in the final moments of the year), we note that there is a great Bracha that we recite daily which begins “Baruch Ata Hashem,” but does not continue with the words “Melech HaOlam, yet the word Melech is still found twice in the Bracha before the Bracha concludes.  Can you identify the Bracha, and once identified can you have special Kavanna in it for the rest of the month?



Special Note Two:  We received the following from Mrs. Sori Tropper, who heads Yad Eliezer in the United States .  Yad Eliezer is an affiliate of Hakhel, and is a phenomenal organization of Tzedaka and Chessed whose stellar reputation is confirmed by all.  We urge you to read Mrs. Tropper’s words, and do your utmost--with purity of thought and feeling:


“As the Yamim Noraim approach, we begin to worry once again how we are going to manage to feed those who need us the most for Yom Tov.  Yad Eliezer gives out chickens to the neediest families in Eretz Yisrael and we have a huge list of families who desperately need help.

We have a donor who offered us two donations if we can get them matched.  He will give as much as we get matched.  The first donation, for chickens, is up to $100,000.  The second donation is specifically for almanos for Yom Tov and it is for $50,000.  If you’d like to participate in this incredible way to double your Tzedaka dollars, please call Yad Eliezer at 718 258 1580, or donate by check or online.  The address is 1102 E. 26th St. , Brooklyn , NY 11210 .  The web address is www.yadeliezer.org.  In either case, please specify that this if for the matching funds and which of the two matches you would prefer.

May you be blessed with a Kesiva V’Chasima Tova, a year of health, happiness and bracha!”


Hakhel Note:  Please, please don't delay--please make the phone call or connect in writing asap so that you make others happy for Yom Tov.  Since Hashem established the world Middah Keneged Middah--we hope that the HAPPIER you make them, the HAPPIER Hashem will make you and yours in the coming year!



Special Note Three:  The following lessons are excerpted from Elul: Inspirational Words and Tefillos for the Most Important Part of the Year by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Shlita:


1.  "It is told that when the Chofetz Chaim heard thunder and saw lightning, he was overheard asking himself: 'Vus Vil Der Tatta? Vus Vil Der Tatta?'--What does Father want, What does Father want--since our Chachomim have said that the only reason thunder was created was to straighten the crookedness of the heart, what crookedness did the Borei Olam wish to straighten out this time?  Likewise, Rabbi Goldwasser teaches, the days of Elul can not simply slip by without absorbing its real and important message.  There is a great Avodah to be done during this time--introspection, reflection, and Teshuvah.  We are compelled to do some deeper thinking as to our purpose in this world.  Every day we should focus in on the question: 'Vus Vil Der Tatta'?”


2.  "The way to increase the utilization of our Kochos in Avodas Hashem is in increments: Another five minutes of learning per day, an additional bracha with kavannah , an extra call each week for Kibud Av VaEim, an additional commitment to Shemira HaLashon every day...."


3.  "The Mashgiach of Yeshivas Bais Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, New Jersey, HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, teaches that the main goal of the Yetzer Hora is to try to make a person forget his special quality--that he is a ben melech--the son of the King.  As a result of this degradation and resulting misperception, the person sinks to a low level and does things which are not fitting for his roya1 status.  Yosef HaTzaddik. at the time of the greatest test in his life, argued with the wife of Potifar”  “I have a connection to my father and therefore, I cannot connect to what you are saying.”  Consequently, he emerged from the test unscathed.  This is the way that a person should conduct himself during Elul--raising himself to come close to the truth of “Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li.”  One must be aware of his inherent aristocracy, and his actions should reflect that awareness.  A chossid once asked the great tzaddik, Reb Shlomo of Karlin, Z'tl, ‘What is the greatest aveirah that a person could commit in his life?’  Reb Shlomo put his face into his hands, thought for a moment and then said, “The greatest aveirah a person could commit is to forget that he is the son if the King'!”


4.  Rabbi Goldwasser presents seven (7) moving Tefillos on Teshuva (in Hebrew) from various important sources--to help move you, and put you into a frame of mind for Teshuva.


5.  "The Gematria of Elul (67) is the same as the Gematria of binah, understanding--for when acquires sufficient understanding, he will be moved to do Teshuva."


Hakhel Note:  With this awareness, we can perhaps suggest the answer to a question which may initially trouble many women.  Why is it that men have the benefit of the Shofar being blown every weekday morning in Elul to awaken them to the special times-while women davening at home have no such fearful reminder?  We may propose that the Shofar is intended to instill the 'binah'-the understanding in a person to recognize his position and situation and do Teshuvah. Women, on the other hand, are blessed with a 'binah yeseira'-a special level of binah, which jump starts them without the actual need of the Tekias Shofar every morning.  Indeed, Binah's sharing of the same gematria as Elul, may indicate to us that women are on a heightened level of awareness the entire year!  In a similar vein, the Yarmulke which men must wear to remind themselves to subjugate themselves to their Creator is not worn by women--because though their added level of binah--they are already Yarei Malka--they are a step ahead in the fear of their Creator.  The Shofar, then, is the great equalizer--we all have a little over three weeks to get the job done--let's really succeed this year!



Special Note One:  Several days ago, we had posed the question as to the meaning of the word "Selah".  Perhaps the most meaningful response that we received was presented from a footnote in the outstanding Artscroll Interlinear Tehillim, which provides the following teaching of HaRav Shimshon Refael Hirsch, Z'tl:  "The word Selah is a notation at the close of a thought, directing one to reflect upon its enduring significance."


Hakhel Note:  One can now refer to those passages in our daily tefillos which end with the word Selah--and understand that it is a call for our attention.  We note that in every Shemone Esrei that we recite this special term can be found three times--especially instructing you to pause and think!  Let us now take a moment to identify the three points at which 'Selah' is used


a In the third bracha of Kedusha--"U'Kedoshim Bechol Yom Yehalellucha Selah"--and the Kedoshim (which could either refer to Malochim or K'lal Yisroel) praise you daily-Selah.


b.  In the eighteenth bracha of Hodaa'ah--*two* times--"V'chol HaChaim Yoducha Selah", and "HoKel Yeshuaseinu Ve'Ezraseinu Selah"--both phrases relating to thanking Hashem, who is our only salvation and help.


The message is powerfully clear.  We must really reflect upon the praise and thanks we owe to Hashem. The word Selah stops us for a brief moment and urges us to think.  Are any of the following items, for example, 'coming to me'? A hot shower; a satiating meal; the ability to breath or walk or remove poisons and waste from the body, or how about the ability to get up and get dressed, read, write, learn, daven, help others....The list is truly endless--because even our finite bodies house infinite souls!  The term 'Selah' is pivotal, for it helps us to renew our feelings of warmth and closeness to Hashem by simply causing us to remember the goodness he bestows upon us--ranging from making us into a holy people (U'Kedoshim Yehalelucha of the third bracha) to helping us out of a difficult situation or encounter ("Ve'Ezraseinu of the eighteenth bracha).  Here are just a few more examples of how important Hoda'ah really is in our life:


a.  The very first words we utter every morning--365 days a year--from Tisha B'Av to Purim-- are Modeh Ani Lefanecha.


b.  The only time in Shemone Esrei that the Tzibbur recites its own prayer as the Shatz recites his is-- in Modim--where the Tzibbur recites its own special thanks known as Modim DeRabbanan.  One explanation given for this is that a person cannot have a 'shaliach', a messenger, express thanks for him--it must come from within-- and be expressed personally and with feeling.


c.  It is said that HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z'tl was asked for a segula for the Yemei HaDin.  He responded that every morning we recite the following words in Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis:  "Hayodecha Afar HaYagid Amitecha --Will the dust thank you, will it speak of your truthfulness...?"  If one thanks Hashem properly, he concluded--he can very literally keep himself alive--for this is very much part of being alive!


d.  Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita once said that he knew of an extended family which, when getting together, would always begin with Tehillem Chapter 111-as an expression of thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for enabling them to join together for a Simcha or for a Yom Tov meal.  Rabbi Wachsman added that the word Shevach means praise, and that the closely related word Sh'vach means to improve--for we improve ourselves and our lot when we express the proper Shevach to Hashem.



Special Note Two:  We provide the following points and pointers relating to the elevated period we are in:


a.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z'tl, explains that in Elul is a "Yam Shel Rachamim--a Sea of Mercy ".  There are great opportunities to accumulate merit during this month--if we only appreciate and act upon them. The Mishna in Ediyos records that before the great Tanna, Akavia ben Mehalalel, was niftar, his son asked that Akavia put in words of recommendation on his behalf to the other Talmidei Chachomim of the generation.  Akavia taught his son perhaps one of the greatest lessons of his life with the following four-word response:  "Ma'asecha Yikarvucha U'Ma'asecha Yirchakucha--notwithstanding the approbations or pleasantries I can offer--after all is said and done--it is your own deeds that will bring you close-- or move you away.  We can not look to the right or to the left--but only inwardly at ourselves, and recognize that it is our very own deeds that determine our very own destiny.  The special, perhaps extraordinary, deeds that we undertake this Elul--Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka--will serve as the Ma'asecha Yikarvucha for ourselves and our families for the coming year.


b.  There is a stunning lesson provided for each and every one of us by Rashi in last week’s Parsha.  The Parsha teaches us that before Bnai Yisroel were to go to war, the Kohen Moshuach Milchama was to teach them that it was a Mitzvah not to be scared of the enemy, and to provide words of encouragement.  He would begin his address to the soldiers with the words “Shema Yisroel Atem Kereivim Hayom...--Hear, O’ Yisroel, you are coming close to battle...let your heart not be faint, do not be afraid (Devorim 20:3).”  Rashi (ibid.) brings the words of Chazal:  The reason the Kohen begins his words with Shema Yisroel is to tell the warriors that even if they had only the zechus of Krias Shema, they would be worthy of being redeemed.  The war itself--life and death for the masses, as well as the security of all the people back home--could be decided by the proper recitation of Shema alone!  What a lesson for us at this time of year--life for the individual, life for the people could be gained by properly reciting Krias Shema!!  Let us take a moment before reciting the Shema to reflect upon the magnitude of the event--Kabalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim, Ahavas Hashem, Kabalas Ohl Mitzvos, the allusions to all of the Aseres HaDibros, and the many Mitzvos mentioned in Shema, and at least try to say the words with the proper pronunciation and with the understanding of each word.  If you do so, you can not only plainly emerge victorious in your own battle--you can literally also do your part in winning the whole war!


c.  In Praying With Fire II, Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita brings the powerful teaching of the Rashba (Shailos U'Teshuvos HaRashba 5:1):  Just as the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is the Eis Ratzon ( most auspicious period for Heavenly Grace) of each year, so too is our daily davening of tefillas Mincha the Eis Ratzon of each day.  Eliyahu HaNavi actually waited until Mincha time to pleadfully exclaim "Aneini Hahem Aneini--O' answer me Hashem, O' answer me!"  Chazal therefore teach that we should be ever-so-careful with Mincha--for although we are in the middle of the day's activities, and people, places and events swerve around us--a kavannah-laden Tefillah can soar to unparalleled heights at this most efficacious time of the day.  Let us focus--for we have an Aseres Yemei Teshuva-like opportunity every day-and do not have to wait another 24 days to get there!  Remember that Sea of Rachamim --let us make the most of its incredibly curative waters!



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


This month is a period of important preparation.  We are reminded of the Chazal “Mi SheTarach BeErev Shabbos Yochal BeShabbos--one who prepared on Erev Shabbos will be able to partake of his preparations on Shabbos.”  This is true both literally-- and as a Mashal to prepare for the future--for all who do so will surely reap the benefits of all of that preparation.  Accordingly, we provide below several notes relating to our preparations--on Erev Shabbos for Shabbos:


1.  In the first instance, LeChatchila, if one has a Seudas Mitzvah on Erev Shabbos (Bris or Pidyon Haben) it should be made in the morning, so that the Seudas Shabbos can be eaten “Leteiavon--with enjoyment” which is a fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Oneg Shabbos.


2.  Although one should not have a Seudah on the afternoon of Erev Shabbos, one is permitted to partake of fruits, candies, cooked items, and even Mezonos or bread which is less than the Shiur of a Kebeiah (the size of an egg).  According to the Sefer LeHalacha by Rabbi Aharon Reichman, Shlita, if one is very hungry he can even eat more than a Kebeiah as long as it is only to quiet his hunger, and it is not the usual amount that he would eat. 


3.  It is a Mitzvah to taste of every food being prepared for Shabbos, in order to determine that it has been properly prepared, as we recite in Zemiros “To'ameha Chaim Zachu--those who taste it merit life” (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 250, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 2).  The Machzor Vitri brings in the name of the Yerushalmi that one who tastes the food being prepared on Erev Shabbos is zoche to the Bracha of “Ma’arichin Lo Yamav U’Shenosov--his days and years are lengthened.”  This Yerushalmi is brought lehalacha by the Mateh Moshe and the Sheloh HaKadosh.  The Piskei Teshuvos (III, p. 11) writes that the Minhag today is not to taste of every food cooked for Shabbos on Erev Shabbos, but to taste only one item, because we rely on the expertise of our woman preparing the foods.  Moreover, the Zohar writes that the concept of “Te’imah”--tasting all of the foods-- means doing so on Leil Shabbos and not Erev Shabbos.


4.  According to most Poskim it is a Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa to be Mekabel Shabbos (and Yom Tov) earlier than its actual Zeman.  In the first instance, LeChatchila, one should verbalize this acceptance of Tosefes Shabbos upon himself (women who light candles do so with the recital of the Bracha itself).  BeDieved, even if one did not express his intent to accept the Kedusha of Shabbos upon himself, but decided in his heart to do so ('Gamar BeLibo'), he should no longer do any work (some rule that he can be matir neder if necessary).  The minimum Shiur of Tosefes Shabbos, according to the various opinions presented in the Piskei Teshuvos, is 2 to 12 minutes.



Special Note Two:  Some additional points and pointers relating to the great and auspicious period we are in:


1.  Rebbe Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, teaches that the Avodah of the month of Elul is that of “Gilu BeRe'ada--to rejoice with trembling.”  He explains that neither the Gilu, the rejoicing, nor the Re'ada, the trembling, is to be at the expense of the other.  Gilu, rejoicing, is a manifestation of love, and Re'ada, of course, signifies fear.  This Avodah of Elul, Gilu BeReada, is evidenced by the juxtaposition of every morning of Tekias Shofar with the recital of “LeDovid Hashem Ori.”  The Navi Amos teaches us what Shofar is to accomplish: “will a Shofar be blown in the city and the people not tremble….”  The Kepitel of “LeDovid Hashem Ori,” on the other hand contains the Name of Hashem symbolizing His mercy (Yud Keh Vuv Keh) thirteen 13 times, representing Hashem’s love for us.  The love is further symbolized in the Kepitel with the terms “Ori, Yishi, Maoz Chayaiy, and Yetzpeneini BeSukko, among others.”  In this vein, it is reported that the Terumas HaDeshen would spend extra time in his recital of Pesukei DeZimra in Elul, for the Pesukim demonstrate Hashem’s love for us, which in turn engenders our love for Hashem.  Indeed, it is said in the name of Rebbe Akiva Eiger, Z’tl, that the reason that the bracha immediately preceding Shema concludes with the words of “HaBocher BeAmo Yisroel *BeAhava*” is so that we can feel a reciprocity of this love, this Ahava when we recite the words of “*VeAhavta* Es Hashem Elokecha….” 


Additional Note:  The Sefer Kadosh Elul brings that HaRav Zaidel Epstein, Z’tl, was heard singing “Ata Vechartanu” during the days of Teshuva.  When he noticed the surprise of some around him, he advised them: “One should not act in a cold and dry manner during this time.  He should understand the great chesed, and the light of closeness to Hashem, that we benefit from, and bask-in during these days.”


Additional Note Two:  The Ba’alei Mussar relate that when studying Mussar, one should not simply read it as important philosophy, or serious thought, but rather with “Hispa’alus--with emotion and application to oneself.”  It is not only with intellect, but with emotion--VeGilu BeRe'ada--the fear and joy that we must approach these days with.


2.  The Brisker Rav, Z’tl, once related that there were merchants during World War I who would cross the border illegally, smuggling goods in for a huge profit.  The penalty if one was caught, however, was death.  There was one merchant who wanted to smuggle valuable goods over the border and hired a wagon driver to do so in the middle of the night.  As they moved towards to the border, the merchant became more and more frightened, and as they got extremely close to the border, even the wagon driver became fearful, for he too would be penalized, and probably even imprisoned, if caught.  However, the driver's apprehension could not be compared to the fear and trepidation of the merchant, who would probably be shot on the spot.  Only the horses were unafraid, for they did not care where they were, as long as they were fed.  One thing us for sure, the Brisker Rav concluded, is that we are not animals, and not even ministerial wagon drivers, but human beings with much to accomplish, and with much at risk.  Accordingly, we should take the necessary action to save and elevate ourselves.


3.  At a recent Teshuva Shiur, among his very many important words of advice, Rabbi Yechiel Spero, Shlita, noted the following:


a.  Forgiving Others.  If we are seeking the forgiveness of Hashem, we should endeavor to forgive others, even if it is difficult, and even if they have not asked us to do so.  Hashem, of course, runs the world based upon Midda K’Neged Midda--so this 'enables' Him to forgive us-- if we forgive others.


b.  List Them.  Make a list of happy events and unhappy events that occurred in 5770.  Put this list in your Rosh Hashana Machzor--and look at it from time-to-time during davening... so that you realize what you are davening for in 5771. 


4.  Contemporary Teshuva Suggestions:  The following are two brief thoughts on how one can demonstrate Teshuva--his resolve and ability to change--with his cell phone:


When receiving a beep, buzz, or ring on your phone while talking to someone or doing something important, controlling yourself and not looking to see who the party is.


Sending three less text messages a day from now until Yom Kippur.


Hakhel Note:  May we suggest that you personalize your own Teshuva for your own foibles and weaknesses with your phone or other electronic communication device.  We would very much be interested in your additional suggestions.


5.  Rabbi Eliyahu Roman, Shlita, recalled a remarkable and penetrating thought that he had heard from HaRav Shneuer Kotler, Z’tl.  Reb Shneuer brought the teaching of the Arizal regarding the 40-day period between Rosh Chodesh Elul and Yom Kippur.  The Arizal compares this 40-day period to the 40-day period in which a new embryo is formed, for during this time one must recreate himself.  Reb Shneuer added that just as each day of the 40 day period is absolutely essential to the embryo’s growth and development, so is each day of the 40-day period until Yom Kippur a vital link in our rebuilding.  Imagine, says Reb Shneuer, if the embryo would take a day off during this crucial period--what havoc it would wreak on the whole system--so, too, the Arizal teaches us, that we must view a day without plan, without goals, without development, without change during this period in the very same light!  Something to remember--every single day during this very special period.


6.  We have begun wishing each other a “Kesiva Vechasima Tova.”  When we wish this blessing upon someone else and when we receive it, we must appreciate its true import.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (brought in Sefer Derech Sicha) teaches that the most important part of a Bracha from a Tzadik is our Bitachon and Emunah that Hashem will help in the merit of the Bracha.  Thus, if one does not truly believe that the Bracha will help, it will generally not help.  We therefore remind everyone to give Brachos--especially at this time of year--with sincerity (See Praying With Fire, Volume 2, Days 50-56), and to receive Brachos with the belief that Hashem will fulfill them.  A Bracha such as “Kesiva Vechasima Tova” is especially powerful because it is not specific or limited, but a general Bracha--for all good.  Indeed, at the end of the four Brachos of Bentching, after making many specific requests, we finally conclude with the words “Umekol Tuv Leolom Al Yechasereinu--and of all good things may He never deprive us.”  The all-encompassing conclusion assures us that we have covered our needs in totality.  We can now understand the popularity--and the necessity--of the meaningful Bracha--“Kol Tuv!”


7.  HaRav Eliyahu Dessler, Z’tl, writes that he believes that the reason Teshuva is a difficult concept for many is that people find it too difficult to change, and, being honest with themselves, basically give up on the idea.  When they recite Selichos, say Viduy, or otherwise hear the Shofar or daven the special prayers of the Yomim Noraim, they are indicating that they would change if they could, but do not really feel that it can happen overnight--or even in the present or near future.


The Torah teaches that this seemingly realistic--but negative--attitude is misplaced and, in fact, incorrect.  If one would only recognize that each Mitzvah accomplished, each improvement in conduct or middos, every nice brocha recited, every victory against the Yetzer Hara, actually positively impacts upon and truly completes creation as a whole, he would have a much more constructive approach to the process of self-improvement and Teshuva.  One would view himself as extremely successful if he became a partner at Goldman Sachs or a senior executive at Sony.  Here, with every Mitzvah, one is actually being given the opportunity to be a partner with G-d in Creation itself.  The importance of every act of improvement between man and Hashem, man and man, and man and himself, is detailed in the Nefesh HaChaim ( 2:13 ).  There is truly an air of holiness which not only pervades, but surrounds, each Mitzvah and Mitzvah-doer.  It is quite possible that for this reason we are required to stand in the presence of one who performs a Mitzvah (see Mishna Bikurim 3:3, and Bartenura there).


By rejoicing in the prospect of Teshuva, by being happy over the opportunity to improve, by feeling good when giving nachas to Hashem and coming closer to Him, we can benefit from the upcoming unique and special days to their wonderful fullest.



Special Note One:  We received the following two thoughts from a reader:

“Don't let the sound of the shofar go in one ear and out the other.”

“Every Jew can be a tzaddik -- you just have to want it badly enough.”


Special Note Two:  *Huge Zechus For Elul* When You Sign Up Now:  Partners in Torah has a unique 14-week program geared for day school parents (mostly from Solomon Schechter schools) called Kohelet Institute. The program, which has the endorsement of Partners in Torah’s Vaad Roshei Yeshiva, begins after Sukkos and offers a prepared curriculum which provide a format for open-ended discussions.  297 parents participated last year, and approximately 1,000 are expected this year.  Unlike the standard one-to-one Partners in Torah format, this program is one-to-two, one mentor learning with two people, usually a husband and wife. Large numbers of volunteer mentors (mostly men, ideally working professionals) are needed.  If you are able to volunteer or can post a flyer in your Shul, please call Mrs. Bilek at 732-917-6385 or via e-mail at cbilek@partnersintorah.org. We urge you to see the flyer at the following attached link-- http://bit.ly/9EEnwb



Special Note Three:  Elul is a time when we are to do real soul searching.  We are accordingly excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter12.pdf  the twelfth issue of the Praying with Passion Series, with the issue focused on Elokai Neshama produced by The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this especially useful and inspirational publication to others!



Special Note Four:  Some additional points and pointers relating to the great and auspicious period we are in:


1.  If you have not yet begun, we remind you about both the study of Sefer Mesilas Yesharim over the next month (broken down by you, either by pages or chapters) for completion on or by Rosh Hashanah, and also about the Three Mishnayos a Day Program--by learning three Mishnayos a day beginning with Mesechta Rosh Hashana, followed by Mesechta Yoma, and then Mesechta Sukkah--you will complete Mesechta Rosh Hashana before Rosh Hashana, Mesechta Yoma before Yom Kippur, and Mesechta Sukkah before the end of Sukkos.  Imagine what you will have accomplished in just about 50 days--and during the important time in which you will have accomplished it!


2.  Some have the custom of reciting 10 Chapters of Tehillim daily during the month of Elul, so that the entire Sefer Tehillim is finished twice (150 x 2 =300) before Rosh Hashanah.  If this task seems too formidable, may we suggest as a possible alternative reciting one Chapter slowly and with Kavannah for the words (using, for example, a Metzudah Tehillim or an interlinear Artscroll). 


3.  Chazal teach that 30 days is a complete time period--for instance a standard (i.e., unless otherwise specified) vow of Nezirus is for 30 days, a standard loan is for 30 days, and the Yefas To’ar must stay in her abhorred state for a period of 30 days.  In fact, Chazal teach that 30 days is such a whole time frame that it may even be treated for some purposes as a complete year.  Thus, with Elul, we have a complete period in which to prepare for Rosh Hashana.  The days of Elul are not only “Yemei HaRachamim VeHaselichos--days of mercy and forgiveness”, but are also referred to by the Sefer Mateh Ephraim (the classic Sefer on the *Halachos* of the Yomim Noraim) as “Hayamim HaKedoshim--the holy days.”  Even the English word for the secular calendar month of August denotes the majesty and eminence of the month!  The world around may have us believe otherwise--but each day of Elul we are not simply progressing one further day into the hot, vacation-laden summer (or cold, working days of winter, for those below the equator)--but, much more importantly, we are advancing one further day into holiness. We should be sensing, or taking some action, to help us sense this daily advancement.  Perhaps a few written notes daily of the Teshuva thoughts you had, and of some practical ideas for accomplishment (better yet if building on yesterday's), would take you further into the real world--the Elul world of which your body and soul are so much a part.  It is fascinating to note that in the bracha of Teshuva in Shemone Esrei, we conclude that Hashem is "HaRotzeh BiS'Shuva--The One Who wants or desires our Teshuva.  HaRotzeh is certainly a very strong term--is there anything else in all of davening that you know of about which we say that Hashem is a "Rotzeh" for.  Oh, what a great opportunity is --to give to Hashem what he is a 'Rotzeh' for!  ...and what a great kavannah to have while doing Teshuva--to fulfill the wishes of the "Rotzeh BiS'Shuva!"  Additional Note:  If one realizes that he has sinned in some way during the day--he should attempt to do immediate Teshuva--not letting it cool off until it becomes just another of the day's events.  The three key elements to Teshuva are: (a) Charata--having genuine remorse for having done the misdeed; (b) Kabala Al HaAsid--resolving not to do it again; and (c) Vidui--confessing in words.  If the sin was Bain Odom Lechaveiro-than the affected or hurt party must be asked (and grant) forgiveness to effect a complete Teshuva.  The Mitzvah of immediate Teshuva is not limited to one time of the year or one time of the day--but should be undertaken without delay, and most certainly during the days of Elul!.


4.  A reader suggested that many are involved in Tefillah and Teshuva daily in the month of Elul--but that people may not focus on giving at least some special Tzedaka daily in honor of the fact that "Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka remove the evil decree."  We pass along the important thought.


5.  Another reader made the following two comments regarding avoiding acts which others may find unacceptable.  First, one must appreciate the particular sensitivities of the person or people he is with--the standard is not an objective one--but a subjective one--just as chesed to one person may in no means be a chesed to another.  Secondly, it is not only something ma'us that should be avoided--but also annoying behavior --nudging, pacing back and forth, staring, and making the wrong comment at the wrong time, among other annoying mannerisms or actions. 


6.  We had previously noted that we should be focusing on the words "Melech HaOlam" when making a bracha--after all, if we are readying ourselves for the King of the Universe's coronation, we dare not come unprepared.  One can also in the course of his Tefillos (especially Shacharis) focus on the word Melech--King--and be astonished at how often we use the term in our daily davening.  Indeed, if we would appreciate how we stand before the King as we pray every day, when we proclaim Hashem's Malchus over the world on Rosh Hashanah--it will be more like someone already housed in the royal palace doing so--rather than like a commoner coming into the palace for the first time and looking around in bewilderment.


7.  At a special Teshuva Shiur this week, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita made many important points, including the following two special highlights:


a.  Tznius.  A person simply does not realize the effects of his non-Tznius behavior.  What will be the effect on the person he/she didn't even see or know about?  It is for this reason that chas veshalom the punishment can be so severe.  Tznius applies not only to women and older girls, but to men, boys and younger girls as well.  Family members and friends (and especially the heads of households) are responsible and duty bound to guide their relatives and friends in these areas which so distinguish and set apart the Jewish way of life.


b.  The Value of a Smile.  Rabbi Cohen suggested the following analogy.  If an employer has to choose between the continued employ of only one of two employees of equal capability, he would choose the one who greeted potential customers pleasantly and with a smile.  This employee is a much better representative of the employer and what he represents.  Hashem wants us to project a Saiver Ponim Yafos to all--it is a chesed to all around us who benefit from the goodness--and may be the ultimate chesed to ourselves--as we remain in the employ of the greatest Boss of all!



Boruch Hashem we have reached this momentous occasion--the first day of Elul!  We provide below some important points and pointers relating to the month:


1.  The first thing to consider is that our biggest Yetzer Hara may be complacency.  Being relatively satisfied with a spiritual status-quo, in fact, serves only to lower one’s ruchniyus, as the Torah relates (Bereishis 28:12): “And behold Angels of G-d were ascending and descending on [the ladder]”.  This Pasuk teaches that angels, as spiritual beings, must be ascending or descending.  There is no in-between.  Likewise the Sforno, in his commentary at the beginning of last week’s Parsha (Devorim 11:26 -28), teaches that what is placed before us is a blessing and a curse.  We are to choose the blessing. There is no in-between, such as half a blessing or half a curse.


One may rightfully argue that his achievements and daily accomplishments far surpass the great majority the achievements of those around him.  While this may be true, the question really is--do those achievements and daily accomplishments really and truly reflect my potential and purpose--my ‘Tachlis HaChaim’?  This is truly the challenge of everyone’s life, and cannot be resolved in one sitting.  However, as in the past, we present two types of simple programs to consider for the thirty days of Elul--as a demonstration to Hashem and to yourself that you are making headway in the right direction, and are not just hanging firmly onto the ladder at that same rung.  Here are our two suggestions, which you may accept, adapt, or use to spur you on to a program more relative to your immediate needs:


A.  If you begin today, to learn just three (3) Mishnayos a day of Mesechtos Rosh Hashana, Yoma, and Sukkah, **starting with** Mesechta Rosh Hashana, continuing on to Mesechta Yoma, then on to Sukkah, you will have completed all three Mesechtos by the middle of Sukkos.  A wonderful demonstration!!


B.  The Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim is actually not a very long sefer.  If you take your edition, and divide it into 30 segments over the month of Elul, you will find that you need to study only a few pages a day to complete the sefer before Rosh Hashana.  Reviewing the Mesilas Yeshorim over the month of Elul is a fine accomplishment, and a remarkable complacency shredder.


2. Today, we have begun to blow the Shofar, which means and symbolizes so much.  Some have the custom of keeping a Shofar on their table to remind them of the time period they are in.  Take a look at the Shofar now and then--and remind yourself of all that it is supposed to remind you about!


3.  If we feel a little bit differently now, it is for good reason.  HaRav Dovid Povarsky, Z’tl, in his Hesped for his Mechuten HaRav Yisroel Chaim Kaplan, Z’tl, reported that his doctor said that he could tell by HaRav Kaplan’s heartbeat whether it was Chodesh Elul or not.  If you can’t tell by your heartbeat…you should be able to tell by your actions.


4.  On fast days, the Ba’alei Mussar warn against getting angry, which is more apt to occur when one is hungry--as anger could ruin so much of the benefit derived from the Ta'anis.  Most certainly, we must attempt to the greatest extent possible to dispel anger (no matter how justified) from our midst, because of the serious and deleterious effect it can have on our growth during this month.  During a time in which we are to be Ma'avir Ahl HaMiddos, anger stands at the top of the list.  It is interesting to note that some do not pursue the collection of ‘chovos’--debts due to them during this period--because they don't want Hashem to pursue the debts they owe him.  It would most certainly follow that we should not get angry at others--so Hashem will not be angry with us!


5.  Another practical point we should try to be especially careful about now is exercising caution or refraining from acts which may be unpleasant, or ma’us, to others.  If you have seen people **including your closest family members**cringe at a particular activity, or say “Uch” or "How could you do that?" or "Say Excuse Me", or "That was uncalled for/not right", or "I have never seen or heard anybody do/say that before!" you can be sure that you have exceeded your bounds.  Common sense also plays a role--showing the proper respect for yourself and for others in the way that you eat, the way you dress (even at night), the way that you shop, even what you do when stopped at a red light or the way that you pass others on the street, contributes to a more complete character.  The Pasuk teaches that when Eliyahu HaNavi went to battle with the Neve'ai HaBa'al, he challenged them to bring offerings and see whether fire miraculously would consume their offerings.  After they failed, he then took his turn for all to see whether the offering on his Mizbeach would be miraculously consumed.  The Pasuk records that he did *not* build a new Mizbe'ach to Hashem--but REB UIL T the Mizbea'ch of Hashem that laid in ruins.  What a great lesson--if we are not working right, if we are in need of some repair--we don't give up and start from scratch (with a new gilgul or the like)--no, we repair what needs to be repaired.  Eliyahu Hanavi was so successful that, in fact, the miracle he prayed for happened--and all the people exclaimed in unison "Hashem Hu HaElokim"--it is no coincidence (as it never is) that we too will exclaim this very phrase...as our concluding words on Yom Kippur!  In the meantime we have that very same task--to repair any damage, any spoilage, any ruin that we have in our very own and personal Mizbe'ach Hashem.


6.  Set forth below are teachings from a shiur given by Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita (distributed by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation), which exactly relate to the time of year that we are in:


  1. Imagine you were at a wedding, and the band leader announced “Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs…..”, and nobody even bothered looking up.  Instead, everyone continued talking and eating their soup.  How profoundly absurd the scene would be!  How ridiculous!  How insulting!  We are now about to hear a similar kind of announcement.  Let us not continue to sit there just eating our soup!

  2. In a similar vein, Rabbi Wachsman suggested that one should envision receiving a phone call from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, asking you to do him a favor and buy something for him in America and get it to him in Eretz Yisroel.  Imagine the time, effort and alacrity you would exercise in accomplishing your task, and the “money is no object” feeling you would have.  Putting things into perspective, how much more dedication, sincerity, zehirus and zerizus is required, as Hashem Himself asks us to “do Him (and ourselves!) a favor”--and straighten our ways at this time of year.


Indeed, Rabbi Wachsman likens someone who passes through Elul without some new and solid commitment(s) to someone who takes an old car in real need of repair, and merely sprays it inside with some hastily purchased “Fresh Car Spray”.


7.  In taking heed of Rabbi Wachsman’s powerful words for Elul, we once again provide our suggestion of practicing a few forms of simple Chesed every day starting today until Rosh Hashana, as follows:


1.  A private chesed that no one knows about (we had in the past suggested picking up something off the floor, cleaning up a room, or for the more advanced--trying to ‘redd’ a Shidduch without being asked, or calling or providing assistance to an elderly or homebound person).


  2.  A chesed within your family--to a spouse, sibling , parent or child that you have not typically undertaken in the past.


3.  A chesed to an unknown party--davening for someone on a cholim list or for the people close to a border in Eretz Yisroel, learning Mishnayos for someone who you didn’t know, giving money to a general and noteworthy Hachnosas Kallah fund, or contributing to a Yeshiva fund which buys suits for its poorer talmidim for Yom Tov.


One of the stellar Middos of K’lal Yisroel is that we are Gomlei Chasodim--what better time to attach ourselves to this very K’lal then in the coming days!


8.  On Rosh Chodesh Elul 5695 (1935), Rav Dessler Z’TL wrote the following advice in a letter to his son:

“…My dear son, please remember what is before you, the Day of Judgment, which requires great preparation.  You must daven from the depths of the heart to arouse Rachmei Shomayim (Mercy from Heaven) that we merit Heavenly Assistance, and that Hashem gives us success in attaining Teshuvah from the depths of the heart, for this is the ikar (essence) through which we can emerge innocent in justice B’ezras Hashem. (Michtav M’Eliyahu Volume 4, page 313).”


Remember, there are no limits to what we can accomplish with Siyata D’Shmaya, and just one sincere tefillah can get us there!



Special Note One:  Points and pointers in preparation for the month of Elul, excerpted from the Sefer Kadosh Elul:


1.  Rebbe Yisroel Salanter was known to say that “Truly the entire year you should feel like it is Elul--but in least in Elul you should feel like it is Elul!”


2.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, reported that Rebbe Itzele Petteberger, Z’tl, once spoke in Shul at the beginning of Chodesh Elul.  He opened up the Aron Kodesh and said “Modeh Ani Lifanecha Hashem Elokai Shenasata Lanu Es Chodesh Elul HaZeh.  Ribbono Shel Olam Anu Mekablim Es HaElul BeAhava U’VeSimcha--I thank You Hashem, for giving us this Chodesh Elul.  We hereby accept it upon ourselves with love and joy.”  The entire Kehillah then burst out crying (Ohr Yechezkel p. 297).


3.  The Gerrer Rebbe (the Sefas Emes) wrote that it is 'bli safek, without doubt that Min HaShamayim a special hisorerus is placed within people to do Teshuva in this month.  It is our job to find the openings, and give ourselves the Eitzos, to arouse ourselves as well. 


4.  Rebbe Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, taught that the basis of these days are Rachamim, from which comes Mechilas Avonos, forgiveness of sin.  Although we are blessed with Hashem’s mercy every day of the year, we need special gates of mercy to be forgiven of sin--and they are open in Elul! How important it is to put in the effort this month...for one to help save himself and his people!


5.  The Seder HaYom writes that for all of the Moados we become involved 30 days before the Yom Tov (searching for Chametz, building Sukkos).  So too, must one be involved in a spiritual investigation for a 30-day period commencing on Rosh Chodesh Elul.  In fact, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl (Halichos Shlomo, Moadim 1:1) teaches that the word Elul means “to search” in Aramaic (see, for example, Bamidbar 13:2--the Targum for the word VeYasuru).  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen added that a Ben Torah should show special care during this month, as others will follow his improved conduct.


6.  HaRav Velvel Eidelman, Z’tl, would say that the phrase “Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li” (whose first letters form the acronym Elul) specifically indicate the Avodah of the month--“Kirvas Hashem--getting close to Hashem!


7. An undertaking for Elul that so many Gedolim suggest is to especially dedicate time every day to study a Mussar Sefer, with emotion and feeling, applying the words to yourself directly.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl once told his talmidim that he had studied the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva more than 1,000 times, and that every time he studied the Sefer, he found a chiddush or a new application of its words.  HaRav Moshe Schwab, Z’tl, the Mashgiach of the Gateshead Yeshiva would give a Sichas Mussar, which would be immediately followed by Ma’ariv--so that the hisorerus would immediately take effect in the next Tefillah.  It is for this very reason that some have the custom of reciting a Kepital of Tehillim after studying Mussar--in order for the hisorerus to take hold in the person.



Special Note Two:  We provide below four straightforward suggestions for the upcoming month (and hopefully beyond!), also based upon the Sefer Kadosh Elul:


1.  When reciting the words “Melech HaOlam” in the Brachos that one makes, one should make sure that the two words are separated and not slurred together, and take a moment to think about the entire, yes entire, universe that Hashem is King over (recommendation of HaRav Zaidel Epstein, Z’tl).


2.  Besides reciting the Pesukim relevant to Elul such as “Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li”, “Umal Hashem Elokecha Es Livavecha…” from time to time during the day, one should be especially careful in reciting his “Me'ah Brachos --the one hundred brachos" one (in any event) recites throughout the day with an elevated level of Kavannah and feeling.


3.  The Terumas HaDeshen would have special Kavannah in the Tefillah of Boruch She’Amar during the month of Elul.  If one focuses on the words ( which were established by the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah based upon a note that fell from heaven--Mishna Berurah, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 51, seif katan 1), one can truly inspire himself to come closer to his Creator in this inspirational month.


4.  One should especially try to have Kavannah in the fifth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--“HaShiveinu Avinu Lesorasecha, which is the bracha of Teshuva,  One should think not only of himself--but also of his family, friends, those not yet religious...and all of K'lal Yisroel!



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, the Torah teaches us that, once we come to the Bais Hamikdash, we will no longer be allowed to behave like the other nations who build altars and sacrifice wherever they may be.  Rather, we will have only the Mizbeach in the Bais HaMikdash with which to offer Karbonos to Hashem (Devorim 12:13 , 14).  At first blush, this is difficult to understand.  After all, “Meloh Kol Ha’aretz Kevodo--Hashem’s glory and presence is everywhere.”  Indeed, another way we refer to Hashem is HaMakom--because He is everywhere.  If so, why can’t we come close to Him with a korbon anywhere?  Moreover, what does the Jew in Bavel, in Finland , in Manitoba , in Buenos Aires or even in Tel Aviv do--he can’t be in the Bais Hamikdash in an instant.  Why can’t he grow spiritually with a spiritual tool in his own backyard?  It would seem that for all that would be gained with your own local connection to Hashem, the Torah is teaching us that more would be lost.  As Tosfos (Bava Basra 21A) teaches on the pasuk “Ki MiTzion Taizeh Torah...”--it is only in the hub of the universe--in Yerushalayim and the Bais HaMikdash--that we could achieve the Yiras Shomayim that we needed to reach our true spiritual potential.  The daily open miracles, the tzidkus and chochma of the Kohanim, the Neviim who lived there, the union of thousands and tens of thousands daily who had come for one purpose--to elevate themselves, was simply incomparable.  Getting used to anything less would simply fool the person into complacency and into not reaching his potential.  There is at least a dual lesson here:  First, we must appreciate our Mikdash Me’at--our Shuls--for providing us with at least a reflection of this--the Rav, the Maggidei Shiur, the place where we come together to daven, learn, and join together in chesed activities.  Second, we must recognize how far we are from reaching the potential that lies dormant within us simply because we have no Bais HaMikdash.  LeHavdil, imagine a champion swimmer who has only a small pool in the backyard of his attached house to swim in; consider how the educated lament over the overwhelming number of brain cells that are not utilized in a person’s lifetime.  Then think about what your life would be like--how it would be changed--with just a few visits to Yerushalayim.  Isn’t it worth some serious davening over?  The Parsha is reminding us!


Additional Note 1:  Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, reminded us of the following lesson-for-us-all (originally presented in Reb Shraga Feivel, by Yonasan Rosenblum (Artscroll p.110)):


“One day Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz was teaching Tehillim, whose subject is the Jew’s eternal pining for return to Jerusalem and the Temple that once stood there, “Nichsefa V’Gam Kalsa Nafshi--My soul yearns, indeed it pines for the courtyards of Hashem (Tehillim 84:3).”  When he reached the next Pasuk, “Gam Tzippor Matza Vayis…--even the bird finds a home, and the free bird its nest,” the tears ran down his cheeks, as he lamented, “Everything has its place--except for the Shechina (the Divine Presence), which remains in exile.”


When we recite the many brachos in Shemone Esrei three times a day relating to Galus and Geulah, when we recite the words “Ki LiShuasecha Kivinu Kol HaYom,” we should at least be moved to think about what we really need--and how desperately we need it!  Are we no less Jews than HaRav Shraga Feivel?  Let us move ourselves in the same way he did--by simply taking a moment of reflection to think about it!  As the Mesillas Yeshorim (end of Chapter 19) teaches, our thoughts, our feelings, our prayers and our yearnings, mean very much in Shomayim, and it is our great obligation and privilege to bring ourselves, K’lal Yisroel, and the World--to where we are supposed to be!


Additional Note 2: May we suggest that you make a list of twenty things that would change for the better if Moshiach came and the Bais Hamikdosh was rebuilt?  Remember, when we fervently daven for the binyan Bais Hamikdosh, we are not just davening for the return of one holy and glorious building. After studying our list, we will recognize that the kavana we have when we daven for binyan Beis Hamikdosh should be enormous…and hopefully it will be!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, makes a remarkable point about Tzedaka by simply translating a Pasuk for us.  The Pasuk in last week’s Parsha of Tzedaka states “Lo Se’Ametz Es Levovevca V’Lo Sikpotz Es Yodecha Mai’Achicha HaEvyon (Devorim 15:7)...do not harden your heart and do not close your hand to your destitute brother.”  HaRav Moshe notes that there are *two* Mitzvos here--the first is to be sensitive, to train your heart to feel for your brethren--not only when they stand before you, but also to be ready for them in the right frame of mind and with the right attitude when they do come.  Then, there is a second Mitzvah when you physically encounter a destitute person to not close your hand--to open it and give, as you not only visualize yourself as a giver-but actually give.


With this in mind, we can appreciate a serious question and answer of the Alter of Kelm, Z’tl.  The Alter was very bothered by the Ma’aseh of Nachum Ish GamZu--who told the poor person to wait a moment while he disembarked from the donkey so that he could unload and provide food for him.  In the interim, before Nachum Ish GamZu was able to feed him, the poor person died, and Nachum was so troubled and distressed that he took an incomparable Kapara upon himself.  Based on these facts and circumstances, what, in actuality, did Nachum do wrong at all?  Undoubtedly, as a great Tzadik (he was a teacher of Rebbe Akiva), he proceeded with great alacrity off the donkey, and surely intended to give the destitute person the best of what he had to offer.  What more could he have done?!  The Alter answers that Nachum realized that he should have been prepared--and had something ready--in the eventuality of noticing a famished poor person on the road.  This, perhaps, is the aspect of Lo Se’Ametz Es Levavecha--the preparedness and readiness--to which HaRav Moshe Feinstein refers.  If we have a checkbook ready, dollars or quarters available at a Chasuna or in Shul, a cold drink on a hot day for someone who knocks  at the door, if we give to a poor person before he approaches us, rather than waiting to be approached, if we think about how we can help the poor or those who need help in our neighborhood, if we can join or start Gemachs which turn leftovers from large or small Simchas into food for those who would appreciate it in our neighborhood--then we will not only be giving--but thinking about giving and how to give--which is what  the Torah truly (and, indeed, expressly) seeks of us!



Special Note One:  Readers had inquired further about the Steipler’s Segulah of reading Nishmas to be saved from a Tzarah.  We provide the text from the Sefer Kaf HaChaim (Orach Chaim 281, seif katan 8):  “It is a Kabbalah in our hands from Rebbe Yehudah HaChassid that it is Mesugal “Al Kol Tzara Shelo Savo” for a person to accept upon himself that when he is saved from the Tzara, he will recite Nishmas “Besodah Vekol Zimra” (with thanks and song) before ten people--and with this Kabbalah many have been saved.”



Special Note Two:  We are privileged to make available to our readers by the following link   http://bit.ly/cVXNHi  a Shiur (in MP3 format) given by Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita.  The Shiur is in easily understandable Yiddish, and is approximately 38 minutes in length.  It is a beautiful Shiur to listen to in preparation of Chodesh Elul. 



Special Note Three:  We are excited to provide by the following link http://www.prayingwithfire.org/images/Newsletter11.pdf  the eleventh issue of the Praying with Passion Series, with the issue focused on the incredible bracha of Asher Yatzar, produced by The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  Please spread this especially useful and inspirational publication to others!



Special Note Four: We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series.  The following Halachos are excerpted from the Sefer Mishna Berurah LeMa’aseh by Rabbi Yehoshua Horowitz, Shlita, (in Lashon HaKodesh):


1.  Q:  If an elderly person employs a non-Jewish live-in and she boils water on Shabbos in order to make a tea for herself, could the elderly person utilize the hot water for himself as well?  A:  No, for we are concerned that the next time the employee will boil more hot water on Shabbos for the sake of her employer.  Even if this was the first Shabbos of her employment, and the first time she made the hot water, it is still forbidden because of the next time.


2.  Q: If a person sees from his porch that an elderly person falls down on the street, should he hurry and be Mechalel Shabbos by calling for help--or should he rely on the fact that someone closer by will take care of everything that is necessary including calling for help?  A:  The rule is that if one may be in Sakana on Shabbos “Hazaris Harei Zeh Meshubach--the faster one acts, the better”--even if others may be Mechalel Shabbos for the very same reason, not knowing that you had done so (see also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 328 and also Mishna Berurah, seif katan 142).


3.  Q:  In the middle of Davening on Shabbos morning, someone fainted, and when he was awakened he appeared pale and weak.  Someone in Shul said that he should be taken to the hospital.  However, a Hatzalah man was present, and based on his assessment of the facts and circumstances, said that is was not necessary to take him to the hospital, and that he should just drink and rest.  Who do we listen to?  A:  We listen to the expert.  [Note that the halacha here is referring to a difference of opinion between an expert and non-expert but well meaning bystander--if the non-expert is the patient himself, other Halachic factors will be involved such as Lev Yodea Moras Nafsho on the one hand and Al Tehi Chosid Shoteh on the other.


4.  Q:  If a person ate a food that was spoiled and is suffering from stomach cramps, can he take a medicine which will induce him to vomit?  A:  No, he is not allowed to take medicine in this instance.  He can, however, put something warm on his stomach to alleviate the pain.


5.  Q:  If there is one Halacha on Hilchos Pikuach Nefesh on Shabbos that one should tell others, what would it be?  A:  That it is a Mitzvah to be Mechalel Shabbos any time that there is a Chashash of Pikuach Nefesh, and that one should not waste precious moments by going around asking as to whether he should do so.



Special Note Five:  A reader pointed us to Rav Schwab on Prayer (p. 340), in which Rav Schwab points out that the Rambam writes in Hilchos Mezuzah that when he encounters a Mezuzah he should be “Ye’or Meishenaso--he should awaken from his sleep.”  The only other place where the Rambam uses the expression ‘Ye’or Meishenaso’ is in connection with the mention of Tekias Shofar.  Thus, until the Tekias Shofar arrives (and even after Tekias Shofar arrives)…we can always look to our Mezuzas to reawaken ourselves!



Special Note Six:  The following additional points and pointers on Shabbos Mevorchim of Chodesh Elul are excerpted from the Sefer Kodesh Elul:


1.  It is said that after the Rosh Chodesh bentching of Rosh Chodesh Elul, one could already notice that the Tefillas Mussaf of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter was different than the rest of the year, although his Tefillah every day of the year was Kodesh (Kisvei HaGaon Rebbe Yisroel Salanter p.89). 


2.  It is reported that Rebbe Chaim Eluzer Schapiro of Munkatch would add to the requests in YeChadesheihu at the end of Birchas HaChodesh--“U’LeTeshuva Shleimah”.


3.  It is reported in the Sefer Toldos Chofetz Chaim (p.108) that when the words “Rosh Chodesh Elul YeHeyeh Beyom…” were uttered, the Chofetz Chaim started to shake, and an awe filled the entire Kehillah.


4.  According to the Sefer Ev’en Sapir there is a custom in Yemen for the Rav and Beis Din to go to the shuls in the city this Shabbos morning and read a Letter of Hisorirus for the upcoming Yomim Noraim.


5.  HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, Shlita, writes that Elul is already the time of harvest, and that one has to prepare in advance in order to be able to harvest. 


6.  HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, Z’tl, wrote in his Kabbolos for Yom Kippur:  “I will remind myself the whole year about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  I will remind myself about Rosh Hashana in my daily Aleinu, and I will remind myself of Yom Kippur when reciting “LeOlam Yehei Adam Yerei Shamayim (which is recited in the Tefillah Ne’ilah and in the Karbonos of Shacharis every morning.” 


7.  In the Kisvei HaAri it is brought that beginning on Tu BeAv---the fifteenth of Av--preparation for the Yomim Noraim commence and the  Avodah of Teshuvah begins.  This is one of the  reasons that the fifteenth of Av is a joyous day--for the ‘Yemei Ratzon’ which are Mesugal for forgiveness of sin are now beginning!



Special Note Seven:  This week’s Parsha contains several Mitzvos relating to Tzedaka, the proper giving of charity.  As we have now arrived at Bentching Rosh Chodesh Elul, the Days of Mercy, it is important for us to know how we best can demonstrate mercy to others, and actually put this mercy into actual practice.  It is not by 'sheer coincidence ' that the Torah reminds us of the Tzedakah imperative at this time.  As Chazal teach--even a poor person must give tzedaka (Gittin 7B).  We provide below several important points relating to the mitzvah of Tzedaka from the Sefer Mi'el Tzedakah and the Sefer Pele Yoetz, among others:


1.  According to the greatness of the Mitzvah is the Yetzer Hora which fights it.  Chazal (Eruvin 65B) teach that “Adam Nikar BeKiso”--one can tell much about  a person by what he does with his money.


2.  There is  a special accomplishment in giving Tzedaka to those who are “Amalei Torah”--to those who toil in Torah study. Chazal (Shabbos 105B) remind us that “Talmid Chochom Hakol KeKrovov"--all are like his relatives.  Accordingly, he should be given preference in Tzedaka treatment, much as one gives a relative such preference.  When one gives Tzedaka to a Talmid Chochom, he is also supporting Torah study quantitatively and qualitatively (for removing even a portion of his financial burden will give him greater peace of mind to learn),  he is honoring the study of Torah, and is considered as if he brought Bikkurim to the Kohen in the Bais HaMikdash (Kesubos 105B), and increases peace in the  entire world( for Talmidei Chachomim increase peace in the world).  From a  spiritual rewards perspective, Chazal (Pesachim 53A) teach that one who supports a Talmid Chochom will be zoche to sit in the Yeshiva Shel Ma'aleh, and that the  currently unfathomable rewards of the future that the Neviim describe relate to one who supports a Talmid Chochom in business and to one who marries his daughter to a Talmid Chochom (Brachos 34B).


3.  One should give more to those who obviously qualify as true aniyim, but one must always remember that “VeRachamov Al Kol Ma'asov--Hashem's mercy extends to all of his creations--and so should ours.  If we recite this Pasuk three times a day in Ashrei, we must realize that Chazal are reminding and reinforcing this concept within us, day-in and day out.  As we have previously related, once HaRav Schach, z’tl  was walking to the Kosel and saw a blind Arab begging on the road.  HaRav Shach, to the surprise of his accompaniment, gave the Arab (who could not even see that he was Jewish) something, and commented these very words--VeRachamav Al Kol Ma'asav.  It is important to put matters in a Torah-true perspective, as the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 2) writes:  “One should say in his heart, if this poor fellow were very rich, how much would I delight in his company as I delight in the company of So-and-So.  If he was dressed in handsome garments like So-and-So, there would be no difference in my eyes between them.  If so, why should he lack honor in my eyes, being that in Hashem’s eyes he is more important than me, since he is plagued or crushed with poverty and suffering, and is therefore being cleansed of sin....”


4.  The value of the Tzedaka is in accordance with the need and suffering of the poor person, and so giving before YomTov, or to help make a Chasuna, or if a child is born, is giving at especially fitting moments.


5.  One of the highest levels of Tzedaka is giving without the recipient realizing that he is receiving--such as buying items from him, or using his  services  at a higher than usual price, or selling things to him or providing him with services at a discounted price.


6.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (34:1) writes that what will walk ahead of a person  after 120 years are his acts of Tzedaka, as the Pasuk (Yeshaya 58:8) states--“VeHalach Lefanecha Tzidkecha Kevod Hashem Ya'asfecha...your acts of tzedaka will precede you and the glory of Hashem will gather you in.”


7.  One should commiserate with the poor person (Iyov 30:25), and then give BeSever Panim Yafos--with a pleasant countenance.  If one has no money to give, one should at least give tzedaka with his words of appeasement and caring.


8.  In addition to the Torah’s Mitzvas Aseh to give tzedaka in this week’'s Parsha, the Torah also warns us with a Lo Sa’Aseh  in the Parsha--Lo SeAmetz Es Yodicha VeLo Sikpotz Es Yodicha Mai'Achicha HaEvyon....do not harden your heart and do not shut your hand against your needy brother.  The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 478) movingly writes: "...but rather train your heart, under all circumstances, in the quality of generosity and compassion, and do not reckon that the matter will result in any lacking for you---because the Torah openly states “Ki Biglal Hadavar Hazeh Yevarechicha Hashem Elokecha (Devorim 15:10 )--because for the sake of this thing, Hashem will bless you.”  The Chinuch concludes--“His bracha for you for a brief instant is better for you than any number of treasures of gold and silver!”



Special Note Eight: The following are some questions and answers from Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, relating to Tzedaka from the Sefer Derech Sicha (Vol. I):


1.  Q:  Should one give people who appear to be healthy and strong, but nevertheless go around collecting Tzedakah--after all if you don’t give them maybe they will go to work?  A:  The Chofetz Chaim would say that if Hashem decreed poverty upon a person, then He will also make him incapable, or instill within him the Middah of Atzlus, which will prevent him from going to work. 


2.  Q:  Is there a Mitzvah of VeKedashto to give to a Kohen who is indigent, before giving to another?  A:  Yes.


3.  Q:  If one intended to give Tzedakah to someone and did not, can he give it to someone else instead?  A:  HaRav Kanievsky said that he once went on a bus and a poor person asked for Tzedakah on the street below.  When he turned to give the poor person money the door suddenly closed.  The Chazon Ish told me to give the money to another poor person, as he had definitely decided to give it to Tzedakah.


4.  Q:  Should one stand in the presence of a Gabbai Tzedakah based upon the rule that one stands in the presence of a person performing a Mitzvah (Yerushalmi Bikurim 3:3)?  A:  If the Gabbai Tzedakah is doing so Lishma (not taking money for it), yes, one should stand before him (see Pischei Teshuva to Yoreh Deiah 256:1). 


5.  Q:  If one gives a check in Elul which is post-dated for after Yom Kippur, will he have the Zechus of Tzedakah to be “Ma’avir Es Ro’ah HaGezeirah?”  A:  Yes, when one does this, it is as if the Tzedakah has already been given.


6.  Q:  If one gives money on a credit or bank card which deducts fees before giving the balance to Tzedakah, or if the collector himself takes off a percentage, is it considered that the donor  gave the full amount to Tzedakah, or only the amount after the fees are deducted?  A:  The full amount, because the Yeshiva needed the donor to give the full amount in order to get the amount it ultimately receives.


7.  Q:  If one gives a monthly donation by automatic bank withdrawal (Hora’at Keva), is it still considered to be a “Ma’aseh Tzedakah” since he is not involved in the process every month?  A:  Since he could cancel the bank withdrawal at any time, it is considered to be a “Ma’aseh Tzedakah.”


8.  Q:  If a poor person asks you for Tzedakah several times a day, are you obligated to give him?  A:  The poor person should not do so, but the person should give.


9.  Q:  Individuals in America asked HaRav Chaim Kanievsky why if they had given a tremendous amount in Tzedakah, that they had lost so much of their wealth in the falling economy?  A:  If a person is not wealthy, the fact that he is not wealthy is not considered to be a punishment.  However, one who was wealthy and loses some of his wealth is detracting from his punishment in Olam Haba by receiving punishment in this world.  This can be compared to a prince who handed out presents on the day that he became king.  There was one person there who owed the newly appointed king a large sum of money.  The king told him that his gift would be the forgiveness of his debt.  Isn’t this a great gift?!


10.  Q:  If one has a Safeik in “Ma’aser Kesafim”, should he go LeKulah (as it may be a Din DeRabbanan), or should he go LeChumrah?  A:  HaRav Chaim asked this question to his father, the Steipler Gaon, Z’tl.  The Steipler responded that one should always be Machmir, because when it comes to giving Ma’aser one will never lose, and will only gain!  



Question of the Week:  Where do you say the word ‘Selah’ in davening--and what does it mean?  Why does the Artscroll Siddur translate it the way that it does?


Special Note One:  This morning, do you have the mumps, the H1N1 flu symptoms, Lyme Disease from a tick bite, West Nile Virus from a mosquito bite, the shingles, or any other similar threatened disease or condition?  If your answer is no to all of the above, you can thank Hashem during your Shemone Esrei at Mincha (in Modim) not only for all that you do have-- but for all that you don’t have as well.  You can, of course, feel free to add to the list, as you so choose....


Special Note Two:  HaRav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Z’tl, points out that, for most words in Lashon Kodesh the singular becomes the plural by adding a simple suffix to the already existing word (such as Yad-Yadaim, Sefer-Seforim, etc.).  This is not true, however, for the word “Ish”--man---for which the word changes from Ish to Anoshim [the same is true for Isha-women, whose plural changes to Nashim].  HaRav Yaakov explains that there is good reason for this. A tzibbur, a group of men, is not several individuals joined together.  Rather, it is something new and different--equal to much more than the sum of its parts.  We should always appreciate the presence of others with us when davening, when learning, when making decisions, because there is added benefit, added succor, added Tzelem Elokim and even added kedusha that goes way beyond the six times one of six, or the ten times one of ten.  In fact, Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky recently pointed out that the Torah teaches us how we will be rewarded if we properly observe and perform the Mitzvos: “VeRodfu Mikem Chamisha Me’ah...Five of you will pursue one hundred [of the enemy], and one hundred of you will pursue ten thousand” (Vayikra 26:8).  Rashi there demonstrates that the arithmetic in the Pasuk, at first blush, does not appear to work--for if five chase one hundred (twenty times as many), then one hundred should chase two thousand (twenty times as many)--so why does the Pasuk say that one hundred will chase *ten* thousand (one hundred times as many)?!  Rashi himself answers the difficulty with the following reality:  “We conclude that one cannot compare a few who perform the Torah to the many that perform the Torah.”  The effect of additional Yidden together performing Mitzvos is not geometric--but exponential!  Rabbi Orlofsky adds that when one helps be mikarev another--when he brings someone else closer to Torah and Mitzvos--he is not just helping the less educated onto the right track--he is actually helping himself, his family and K’lal Yisroel as well--for now together we are no longer the five who will chase one hundred--but adding another towards the larger number which will chase the ten thousand---producing far, far greater results.  Each one of us must be an Ish or an Isha--but we must become part of a group, and bring others into the group to make it grow ever larger--so that we also benefit greatly from being Anoshim or Nashim as well!



Special Note Three:  As we gear up for Elul, seeking ways to find chesed from Hashem, may we suggest practicing a few forms of simple Chesed every day starting today until Rosh Hashana:


1.  A private chesed that no one knows about (we had in the past suggested picking up something off the floor, cleaning up a room, or for the more advanced--trying to ‘redd’ a Shidduch without being asked, or calling or providing assistance to an elderly or homebound person).


  2.  A chesed within your family--to a spouse, sibling , parent or child that you have not typically undertaken in the past.


3.  A chesed to an unknown party--davening for someone on a cholim list or for the people close to a border in Eretz Yisroel, learning Mishnayos for someone who you didn’t know, giving money to a general and noteworthy Hachnosas Kallah fund, or contributing to a Yeshiva fund which buys suits for its poorer talmidim for Yom Tov.


One of the stellar Middos of K’lal Yisroel is that we are Gomlei Chasodim--what better time to attach ourselves to this very K’lal then in the coming days!



Special Note Four:  We may sometimes hear a person say--“I don’t want to make myself fleishiks now”, or “It’s not worth it to make myself fleishiks just for that!”  Interestingly, is said of HaRav Baruch Ber Lebowitz, Z’tl that he would eat even of a little bit of meat--in order to make himself fleishiks.  He explained that by making himself fleishiks he was planning ahead--for he would have to be careful not to eat or drink dairy products for the next six hours, and in this way he would remember that there is a Hashem in the world--his Yiras Shomayim would have a simple and practical concern to latch on to.  Oh how important it is to view what we are contemplating in the right way--the burden may very well be  a benefit, and the restriction a GPS--specifically guiding us in the proper direction.  The children’s goal of selecting their meal based upon “not having to bentsch” likewise, when properly considered turns into the opportunity and privilege of fulfilling a Mitzvas Aseh from the Torah--reciting three brachos which are D’Oraysa and even a fourth DeRabbanan.  There is also, of course, the attendant Mitzvah DeRabbanan of Netilas Yodaim--together with its additional bracha-- in which we recite the thankful words of “Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav...”  All of this--from the original clear and directed outlook on the act under consideration.


We can most definitely can take these considerations into other areas as well.  If we *start out *davening in the morning with some oomph and vigor, if we attempt to clear our middle-of-the-day thoughts *before* beginning Mincha, if we *commence* a Torah learning session with drive and desire to learn something new or with the intent of keeping those you are learning with active, if we are charged, thankful and happy with the gift of Torah--then despite the time of day, the difficulty of the topic, the issues on your mind, and all of the other tricks in  the Yetzer Hora’s bag ( a fully charged cell phone, free texting, etc.)--your learning will be refreshed and invigorated.  You will be much better off for the next half-hour, hour, or whatever your learning time may be--because you had the sense to consider what you were about to do--and so you made the very wise move...you made yourself fleishiks!



Special Note One:  One final thought on the mitzvah of Mezuzah for now:  Not only is the Mitzvah of Mezuzah mentioned two Parshios in a row--but it is even mentioned utilizing the identical words in both Pesukim--and even with the identical trop (cantillation)!  We suggest that the double emphasis is to indicate how chaviv, how precious, this Mitzvah is to Hashem--just as when a name is repeated in the Torah such as "Avrohom, Avrohom" (Bereishis 22:11 and Rashi there), "Yaakov, Yaakov (Bereishis 46:2, and Rashi there) or "Moshe, Moshe (Shemos 3:4), it demonstrates the chavivus of the person being called.  When looking at or touching a Mezuzah--we should think of how precious this adornment is to Hashem.  Others may consider the greatest beauty of their home to be the brick or stucco, the Italian tile, the stunning wall covering, the imported lighting fixtures, or the coordinated interior finishings.  We know what truly marks the essence of our dwelling.  Indeed, the Rambam (in Hilchos Mezuzah itself ) writes that the Mezuzah reminds us of the ultimate truth--that "Ain Dovor Omeid LeOlmei Olamim, Elah Yedias Tzur Olamim--nothing stands forever, nothing lasts forever--except for the knowledge of Hashem"  We don't build houses for their own posterity--we use them as a tool to fulfill our everlasting goals in life.  If we look around and realize that we are doing the right things in our home, that the contents of our home below the lighting fixtures and above the floor coverings are beyond reproach, that the four walls have heard the sweet and sincere voice of Torah and brachos, Lashon Tov and calmness, that the mirrors have seen Mitzvos and Maasim Tovim among family and guests--then we will have demonstrated how precious the mitzvah of Mezuzah is to us as well--and we will be kissing the Mezuzah--even when we are not standing next to it!


 Special Note Two:  An employee works very hard on a project and knows it has been done very well, a housewife looks back and realizes that she has accomplished the myriad of tasks that she had planned for the day, a professional lands a growing public company as a client, a businessman closes on a deal and makes a few hundred thousand dollars, a teacher is well liked by his class who actually purchase a surprise present for him--all moments of accomplishment in life--and all moments of Nisayon as well.  If we believe that Hashem set the world into motion this morning, and then left it all to our prowess and skills, our expertise and our proficiency --for us to complete the day--then we have forgotten the Torah's directive in last week's Parsha that we never, ever say "Kochi Ve"Otzem Yodi Assa Li Es Hachayil Hazeh--it is my personal strength and ability that have brought about my achievement."  We must fight the Yetzer Hora who tries to draw Hashem out of our lives and instead horrifically replace Him with a human being --even if that human being is yourself.  But how do we, how can we, fight the Yetzer Hora--after all isn't it *my* skill set, *my* talent that made me succeed and attain?  Yes, Hashem gave you these abilities--but it is with these that you are to serve Hashem--rather than gloat and wallow in self-pride.  One should daven to Hashem at the outset that the closing succeeds, that the tasks are accomplished, that the work product not be flawed (how did that typo get there--I did a spell-check?!) and be well received.  A kepitel of Tehillem before sending the pivotal email or making that important call for which you have so prepared--is sending a message to Hashem and to yourself that it is Hashem who truly gives you everything that you have.  One hiccup at the closing, one misplaced word on the phone call, one flat tire in the midst of all of the errands, will despoil even the most brilliant and powerful personage. Then, if and when what you set out to do, what you hoped for, was accomplished--oh what a shevach ve'hoda'ah that deserves.  "Thank you Hashem for my energies, my capabilities, for what happened today--for it is you who have blessed me with the success that I have.  Here is my kepitel Tehillem of thanks....."  As Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches  "Kabed Es Hashem Meihonecha--Honor Hashem with your wealth, with your talents, with what he has bestowed you--and by doing so you will demonstrate that you are sharing in the greatest of all wisdom!


Special Note Three:  On a related note, in a Shiur on Simcha given by Rabbi Jonathan Rietti for the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, Rabbi Rietti made the following outstanding points, among others:

a.  The Pasuk that appears most often in Sefer Tehillim is actually the Pasuk of 'Hodu Lashem Ki Tov--Ki Le'Olam Chasdo'.  With this, Dovid Hamelech gives us a message of focus and direction--look at what you have, not at what you don't.  If there is one black dot on a white background which actually contains 5,999 white dots--one must overcome the natural tendency to look at the black dot, and instead realize that there are 5,999 more white dots on the page.

b.  Very much related to this concept is that the letters of the word "BeSimcha", if unscrambled or rearranged, actually spell "Machshava"--thought, because if one thinks properly, he will be able to put himself into the proper frame of mind. 

c.  The reason that Chazal criticize the person who "wants 200 when he has 100" is not because the 200 is inherently wrong--but because he is looking for the 200 without appreciating the 100.  If you are always looking beyond, to the next step--you will never be happy where you are.  So, when you get that 200--you will have accomplished nothing--for you will be looking at the 400.  If you appreciate the 100, and Hashem then gives you an extra 100--you will appreciate the 200!

d.  The Torah records that when Leah had her fourth son, Yehudah, she exclaimed "HaPa'am Odeh Es Hashem--this time I will thank Hashem(Bereishis 29:35).  Many explain that her expression of thanks was because she was blessed with a fourth son--although each of Yaakov's wives were expected to have three sons--and she was thus given a larger share.  Rabbi Rietti, however, explained that there was another incredible explanation.  Leah realized with her fourth son that just as the *fourth* son was a special gift--so too was the first one!  Nothing is to be expected--nothing is to be taken for granted--count your blessings--starting not at number 4, or 400, or 4,000, or 4,000,000--but at number one!


Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, whose righteousness and Ahavas Yisroel were already legendary in his own time. The Luach Dovor BeIto brings that he would advise people to daven Yom Kippur Koton to be saved from sickness and negative events or occurrences.  The Steipeler would also recommend (based on the Sefer Kaf Hachaim, Orach Chaim 181) that people in need of a yeshua undertake as a kabbala to recite Nishmas Kol Chai with joy in the presence of a minyan--when the yeshua would be received.  This undertaking, in turn, would serve as a great zechus for the needed yeshua.



Special Note Two:  We continue our series in lessons to apply from Pirkei Avos for the week. At the outset of last week’s Perek (Avos 5:2), Chazal teach that there were ten generations between Adom HaRishon and Noach in order for us to understand the degree of Hashem’s Erech Apayim, Hashem’s patience--for *ten* generations acted wickedly before Hashem brought the Mabul to the world.  The very next Mishna (5:3) then continues that there were *ten* generations from Noach to Avrohom Avinu--so that we could, once again, see the degree of Hashem’s patience, in forestalling taking a Mabul-kind of action against the people until Avrohom Avinu came and single-handedly saved the world.  There are at least two profound lessons to be derived from the juxtaposition of these two Mishnayos.  First, if we see Hashem’s great patience--in forbearing punishment for ten generations before bringing the flood--why do we need to hear about His forestalling for the same number of generations the second time as well? What does it add for us? The answer provides us with a significant instruction for daily life.  Even if one has worked very hard at controlling himself, at building his patience, at being calm and not angered, there may come a time with respect to a particular person or event in which he fails to restrain himself, and lets out his frustration on a particular person or the people around him. Once this has occurred, one can well rationalize that his Middah of Erech Apayim can (and perhaps even should!) in the future be compromised as to that person or those people-for, after all, he has already tried to be complacent and accepting, tolerant and calm with them, and his attempt at composure and equanimity had failed because the conduct or the situation could simply be tolerated no longer.  Such could be the rationale of an employer vis-à-vis a particular employee, a husband regarding his wife (or vice versa), a parent with his child, a customer with her cleaning help or her customer service representative, or between two students, two neighbors or two friends.  The Mishna in Avos, however, has us appreciate how Hashem Himself dealt with a very similar situation.  After ten generations of waiting, Hashem had to bring a flood on the world to allow the world to start again rather than self-destruct forever.  If, after the flood, the people reverted to evil again --one would think they would have only a generation’s chance or two--but ten generations again?!  They had already proven themselves to be undeserving, ungracious and intolerable.  There was no need to exhibit patience and control to the same degree the second time as the first time! After all, this was a repeat offender!  No, says Hashem, whose Middos it is our life’s goal to emulate, one’s patience is not peeled away and worn thin because of a past history, frustration, exasperating annoyance, an irritating personality or irksome manner.  Rather, the same *ten* generation wait the first time must be true the second time as well.  The prize for the Erech Apayim--for the unrelenting perseverance, for not succumbing to all the evil perpetrated by him or her--them or they--was Avrohom Avinu who saved not only his generation but the world and world history forever. It is no coincidence (as it never is) that this lesson appears and reverberates particularly at this time of year, when we must bone-up on our ability to be Ma’avir on our Middos--to overcome the situations and events, personalities and people who or which have proven themselves to be difficult, thorny, trying , exasperating and even infuriating.  Even if the Mabul did come--Hashem teaches us that we must start again at generation one the next time around as well--impatience does not gets accelerated, and composure must reign--just as it did the first time!  Hakhel Note:  Perhaps the *ten* generations are the source for the advice to *count to ten* before saying something that you may regret, taking action that is usually not part of your personality or otherwise losing your mental processes, poise or self-control.  Try starting by giving everyone a second chance this week (if you have to start somewhere--start with family)--for by having done so, you will have given yourself a second chance as well!


We mentioned that there is a second important lesson in these Mishnayos as well.  It is the significance of one singular individual--twenty generations had passed, with thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people-and all of this was worth it for Avrohom Avinu to result.  Indeed, as the second Mishna we referred to above concludes “...and Avrohom Avinu came and received the reward of them all.”  Yes, Avrohom Avinu and his deeds were truly remarkable, extraordinary and outstanding. But what, really, does that have to do with us--he was Avrohom --one of the greatest personages to have ever lived?!  Chazal, however, dispel this mistaken notion by teaching us that each person is ‘obligated’ to say when will my deeds reach the deeds of my forefathers, specifically enumerating Avrohom, Yitzchak and Yaakov (i.e., not just your forefathers of two or three hundred years ago).  Moreover, we are taught that our Avos went through what they did to provide us with the spiritual DNA to survive.  It is thus the sacrifice of Avrohom and Yitzchak at the Akeida that spurred our Mesirus Nefesh throughout the generations, and the tribulations and Galus of Yaakov with Lavan, Esav and Paroh which has fortified us for the onslaught of the nations to this very day.  We are, and must continue to be, the Avos in later-on-in-history form.  By this, we do not mean at all to be theoretical and lofty.  Rav Eliyahu Roman, Shlita  points out from his Rebbe, HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, that what made the Avos who they were was there constant striving for growth and improvement.  Others around them could actually have been decent as well--but may have looked at the people that were to their right or left, and felt self-satisfied and complacent with their actions, with their speech, and with their deeds.  Avrohom Avinu, however, taught that if you learn two Halachos a day in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, perhaps you can also grow by doing a comparable amount in the Sefer Shmiras Halashon, or in another sefer relating to Ona’as Devorim or other Bain Odom Lechaveiro. He taught that if you have improved your bracha recitation you should encourage others to do so as well, and that if you learned something you had not heard of before, you should think about how to best apply that knowledge, rather than close the book, satisfied that the knowledge had once entered your mind.  He taught that all of the dirt that was being sifted through was in reality all gold dust--but that it took the person who really wanted the gold to realize it. He taught us to appreciate life--by getting better and better at it as we got older.  That is why the Torah describes that Avrohom was “Ba Bayomim--coming with days”--for this day was better than the day before, which was better than the day before.


Let us take the lessons that our Avos teach us in Pirkei Avos--and we too can be like the progenitor of all of our Avos--Avrohom Avinu--as we are Ba Bayomim-- with the new, different and wonderful accomplishments of each and every day!



Special Note One: The Torah in last week’s Parsha states “V’Haya Eikev Tishma’un-- This shall be the reward when you listen to these laws,” and you observe and perform them…. 


The Ramban provides an extremely important explanation here.  He writes that the laws the Torah is referring to include the laws which many might otherwise not properly regard or even disgrace--including the Torah’s laws relating to money.  The Torah is especially adjuring us here to follow Hashem’s will with monetary matters.  It is no coincidence (as it never is), that the Torah reminds us of this now--immediately before Elul--as if to remind us that we must make sure that our integrity and honesty in all business and shopping affairs is whole; that all of our dealings with hired workers is above board and beyond reproach; in short, that we are not ashamed to have money in our pockets when we begin to daven!




Special Note Two:  A reader asked us to remind everyone that Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, taught in a Shiur that within Kriyas Shema itself, there are four (4) other words, in addition to VeAhavta, in which the emphasis must be on the last syllable of the word, and that if one places the emphasis on the middle of the word, he changes the word’s meaning.  These four words are: in the first Parsha, “VeDibar*ta* Bam;” in the second Parsha, “VeAsaf*ta* Deganecha,” and “Leevhemtecha VeAchal*ta*;” and in the third Parsha, “VeAmar*ta* Aleihem Veasu....”


Kriyas Shema is such a great Mitzvah--let’s use our best efforts to recite it properly.  If it will help, perhaps you can place a mark, highlight or notation in your siddur to assist you in this great endeavor.



Special Note Three:  We have now been instructed in two Parshios in a row (VaEschanan and Eikev) to observe the Mitzvah of Mezuzah-with the exact same words of instruction: U"Chesavtom Ahl Mezuzos Baisecha U'Visharecha.  Chazal present the notion that perhaps women would be exempt from this Mitzvah--but reject the notion as out of hand--after all, the words LeMa'an Yirbu Yemeichem (So that your days and the days of your children are prolonged...) immediately succeed the mitzvah of Mezuzah in Parsha Eikev.  We understand from this juxtaposition that Mezuzah is life giving!  And so, the Gemara says--how can one say that women could be exempt from Mezuzah--men have to live--and women don't have to live?! Rather, the Mitzvah applies to men and women equally. We review several basic reminders regarding this great Mitzvah. 

1..  The Shulchan Aruch (and Aruch HaShulchan) Yorah Deah 291:1) rules that Mezuzos in homes should be checked once every 3 1/2 years.  We note that the rule is not twice in seven years as may be understood by some--but once in 3 1/2 years--so one should not wait beyond that point

2.  The Rema (Yorah Deah 285:2) brings the now famous Maharil that “one who leaves his home should place his hand on the Mezuza and say the posuk of Hashem Yishmor Tzeisi U’voee Meatah V’ad Olam, and when one enters, he should place his hand on the Mezuza.”  In fact, according to the Arizal, the middle finger should be placed on the Mezuza, then kissed and the person should pray to Hashem , as the Al-mighty, to protect him (Birkei Yosef 285).  For further beautiful hanhagos relating to what to do when approaching the Mezuzah, see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:23,24, Chayei Odom 15:1 and Aruch HaShulchan Yorah Deah 285.  Hakhel Note:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that he observed that the Chazon Ish (at least in his older years) would look at the Mezuzah, rather than touch it, as he entered and exited, because by looking at it, his mind was also directed to the Mezuzah, its content and its meaning.  

3.  If one is taking down his Mezuzos to check, and they will be down overnight, one is required to make a bracha when putting back up the Mezuzos (Aruch Hashulchan 289:4)[1].  One should endeavor not to leave his house overnight without the shemira of Mezuza.  There is a Mezuza Gemach in Boro Park which can be reached at 718-376-5714 and one in Flatbush which can be reached at 718-853-4743, and yet another Gemach at 917-847-1025.  You may want to start one in your community.  In the absence of a Gemach, find a qualified sofer who makes “house calls,” or urge your sofer to provide “same-day service.”

[1]  Some say that no bracha is made in the case where there is only one mezuzah which is to be removed overnight and checked.


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