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3 Elul

THE THREE DAGEISH TEST: With so many recent tragic events and with an enigmatic ceasefire in place, we must look back, recognize and declare that all of our Tefillos were NOT IN VAIN--but had unfathomable and everlasting meaning, which we will discover in the Yemos HaMoshiach, may it be speedily and in our day. It may be that Aharon Ben Chulda, Z’l, will himself show us what all of the Tefillos on his behalf accomplished. What we can most certainly do now, in the remaining days of 5774, is to look to the Geulah Sheleimah with intense yearning and sincere hope for its truly imminent arrival. If we could make the special effort to recite Velirushalayim Irecha in each Shemone Esrei with feeling--and with the belief and knowledge that it really can happen this month, we will be affirming our belief in the last Pasuk of L’Dovid Ori that we are now reciting every day: “Kavei Ehl Hashem Chazal V’Ya’ameitz Libecha V’Kavei Ehl Hashem” (Tehillim 27: 14). A practical way one can double check himself on reciting this bracha with Kavannah is by making sure that he has recited the three mapik heis in the bracha properly (Besochah, Osah, Lesochah). May it be our Tefillos here that bring K’lal Yisrael home!









LAST CALL: 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!




Special Note One:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series, culled from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah:


A. The Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa rules that a light switch that has a dimmer on it should preferably be covered before Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 275, Dirshu Note 9).


B. If a cheireish, shoteh or koton do a melacha for another Jew on Shabbos, the Bi’ur Halacha rules that it is forbidden to derive benefit from their act (ibid. 276, Note 1).


C. There is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether one can open a refrigerator or a freezer door if it has Muktzah items in it, and would accordingly be deemed a bosis l’davar ha’assur. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that the door is batel to the refrigerator or freezer itself. HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that bedi’eved one can open it even if the permissible items in the door are not as important as the Muktzah, because we can consider the refrigerator large enough to be deemed an ohel, which has the Halacha of a house. The door, then, would be batel to the house, and not to the Muktzah. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, however, rules that the permissible items in the door must be more chashuv than the Muktzah--otherwise the door would in fact have the Halacha of a bosis l’davar ha’assur (ibid. 277, Note 18).


D. The Shulchan Aruch itself rules that one must have Kavannah to answer “Amen” to each one of the brachos made before and after the Torah reading, as well as to the brachos over the Haftara, and by virtue of his answering “Amen” these brachos will then count towards the 100 brachos that a person should make every day--for when one answers “Amen”, it is as if he made the bracha himself (ibid. 284:3, Mishna Berurah seif katan 6). As to whether one may answer “Baruch Hu U’varuch Shemo” over the brachos of the Haftara if he intends for the brachos to count towards his 100 brachos--the Elef HaMagein rules that he may, but HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that he should not (ibid., Note 11).


E. The one who is called to Maftir recites seven brachos all together--two on the Torah, one before the Haftara, and four after the Haftara--which correspond to the seven people who were called to the Torah(!) (ibid. 284 Mishna Berurah seif katan 2). 


F. The reason that we wait until Gelilah is concluded to begin the Haftara is because it is an obligation on everyone to listen to the words of the Haftara in the same way as to the reading of the Torah. Accordingly, we rightfully delay beginning in order to give one person--the Golel--the opportunity to complete his task and be able to listen to the words of the Haftara(!) (ibid. Mishna Berurah seif katan 12).



Special Note Two: Points and pointers on this week’s Parasha:


A. In this week’s Parasha, 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 so different about the excess wealth prohibition--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 are 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!


B. As noted above, in this week’s Parasha we find many Mitzvos relating to a king.  This should also serve to remind us that one of the primary Avodos of the month of Elul is preparing for the annual celebration on Rosh Hashana of the Malchus of Hashem.  In this regard, we provide the following notes of HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, based upon our awareness of the Malchus of Hashem:


1.  Many people live their lives with the goal of finding favor in the eyes of others--speaking, behaving and even dressing in a certain way in order for others to praise them and to associate with them.  One should instead primarily focus on finding favor in the eyes of Hashem--for what Hashem wants and expects of us is for us to reach our true potential and to lead eternal lives.  The essential question one should ask himself when making any decision or when deciding what to say or how to act--or even what to wear--is:  “Will this give Nachas Ruach to Hashem?”


2.  The Pasuk in Tehillim (14:2) teaches:  Hashem MiShomayim Hishkif Ahl Bnei Adam--Hashem closely looks from the heavens upon man.”  Although we may consider our deeds to be small and insignificant--’minor’ or ‘really not important at all’, Hashem does not look at what we do in that way.  He looks at everything--everything--that we do from the heavens--from the higher perspective that it truly deserves.  We too, therefore, must consider our actions with the level of importance they deserve-- the level that they are regarded upon in the heavens.  Nothing is trivial, nothing is insignificant, nothing ‘takes only a few seconds’--it is all important, it is all elevated, and it all has heavenly implications! 


3.  One need not take much effort to see Hashem in everything around us, despite the thin gashmiyus veil that may be spread to separate the spiritual from the physical.  Here is a simple example:  When one sees a fly, he notices the Niflaos HaBorei--in this tiny creature there are so many parts which work together in beautiful harmony (even to the extent that the sophisticated human being can become frustrated in trying to catch it!).  Likewise, even a mosquito bite should be viewed from a deeper perspective.  With the bite, one should recognize not only the Niflaos HaBorei--that little creature is not only able to hurt me(!), but it is also doing Hashem’s will in causing me to feel that pain or go through the particular trial.  Everything is the work of Hashem! 


4.  Dovid HaMelech exclaims: “Achas Sha’alti Mei’eis Hashem--the one thing I ask from Hashem is to dwell in the house of Hashem….”  We learn in Mishlei that this desire should not only be an aspiration of Dovid HaMelech, but should be the design of each and every one of us--as the Pasuk (Mishlei 8:34) teaches:  Ashrei Adam Shomei’ah Li Lishkod Al Dalsosai Yom Yom--fortunate is the man who listens to Me to be by My doors day by day.”  From this, we learn that the fortunate person is one who constantly views himself at Hashem’s doors--always in Hashem’s presence.  If one does so, he attaches himself to life itself--for the very next Pasuk (ibid 8:35 ) is:  Ki Motzi Motzah Chaim--for he who has found Me has found life.”  The more one brings himself closer to Hashem, the more Hashem comes closer to him--with life to its fullest--in Hashem’s sense of the word!



Special Note Three:  Additional notes on the Yemei Rachamim of Elul:


A. Teshuvah in the area of Torah is absolutely essential, because, as the Chayei Adam writes, Bittul Torah K’neged Kulam.  We should be coming up with ideas as to how we can refine and enhance our Torah study (i.e., that we already study) over the course of this month.  Perhaps we can be careful not to look up when we hear a routine noise as we are learning, or when we simply sense that someone enters the Shul or the room.  Perhaps we can make sure that there is enough light in the room, so that one does not easily get distracted or fall asleep.  Another suggestion would be to make sure to come on time to a Shiur or Chavrusah (which does not mean coming even a few minutes late).  If you have any suggestions, they would be most welcome.  It is fascinating to note that the Chofetz Chaim brings that if one studies two Halachos in the morning and two Halachos in the evening, he has fulfilled the Mitzvah of VeHagisa Bo Yomam V’Layla.  If one in any event learns in the morning and evening--this may be a very doable suggestion of fulfilling what may otherwise have appeared to be a very high and tall order! 


Hakhel Note: Every night, in Ma’ariv, we recite the words:  Ki Heim Chayeinu V’Orech Yameinu--for they [the Torah and Mitzvos] are our life and the length of our days….”  At this time of year--as we search for life and length of days--let us demonstrate that we know what life is all about! 


B. Dovid HaMelech teaches in one of the key Kepitlach (Chapter 24) recited on the Yomin Noraim:  “Mi Ya’aleh BeHar Hashem…Neki Kapayim U’Var Leivav.”  We know that Neki Kapayim refers to hands that are clean of theft or pilferage.  What is a ‘Var Leivav’?  The Chofetz Chaim writes that is refers to someone whose heart is focused on important matters, without truly trivial items becoming part of the admixture of his thoughts.  It is indeed for this reason that we ask Hashem every day immediately before Shema: “VeYacheid Levaveinu Le’Ahava U’LeYira Es Shemecha VeLo Neivosh LeOlam Va’ed--may our heart be united in our love and fear of You and [then] we will not be shamed for eternity.”  If our hearts are filled with the proper thoughts, it will have no room for irrelevancies, irreverencies and waste.  As the Chofetz Chaim continues, we affirmatively declare in the Zichronos portion of our Tefillah on Rosh Hashana “Ki Zecher Kol HaYetzur Lefanecha Bah…Machshevos Adam VeSachbulosav--for everything appears before You, Hashem… the thoughts of man and his designs.”  To what can this be compared?  To a merchant who leaves on a trip taking along with him his treasure chest, and who asks one of his relatives accompanying him on the trip to watch after the treasures.  The relative agrees, but asks whether he can look inside the chest.  The merchant allows him to, and the relative opens the chest--only to find it half-filled with precious gems and rubies--but that the other half is filled with dirt and grime.  The relative thinks to himself ‘what a fool this wealthy man is--how did he place the precious jewels side-by-side with the soil and muck?!’  The dirt is, of course, a Nimshal to the whims and desires that a person occupies his mind with--all of which will after 120 years turn to afar--the earth below.  When the person then sees that which he has done, he will wonder and lament: how could I have had this dual and contradictory love--loving the Torah and the Mitzvos and the Hevlei Olam Hazeh.  How could I have filled up my treasure chest with so much dirt--when there was so much room for more priceless riches?!  Therefore it behooves everyone, concludes the Chofetz Chaim, to drive away those Machshavos of Hevel which lead a person to fulfill his desires, cravings, and temporal wants--and instead pursue Yichud HaLev--the unification of one’s heart in the love, fear and service of Hashem.  Every day, one fills the treasure chest of his mind--it is up to him to determine whether he does so with something which will be eternally worthless--or everlastingly priceless!


C.  The Chofetz Chaim makes an amazing point on the distinction between the phrases HehChofetz Chaim and Ohev Yamim Liros Tov (Tehillim 34:13).  The Chofetz Chaim explains that the term HehChofetz Chaim refers to reward in Olam Haba for one’s Mitzvah performance, whereas the phrase Ohev Yomim Liros Tov refers to reward even in this Olam Hazeh.  If someone excels in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro--if he fulfills the words Netzor Leshonecha Mai’rah U’Sefasecha MiDabeir Mirmah--(keeping his tongue from evil and his lips from guile)--he will see the fruits of his efforts not only in the next world--but in this world as well!  Hakhel Note:  How has our Shemiras HaLashon been to date this month--and how will we be improving it?  It is not only about Olam Haba--but about Olam Hazeh as well!


D.  Perhaps more circumspection in the acceptability of the Kashrus of products is in order.  If you are unsure about a product--why not ask your Rav whether he would eat it?  No matter how large the K or unknown Kashrus symbol is on the box--it does not mean that the standard is an acceptable one.  Cereals and candies that were eaten by the previous generation may no longer be even minimally acceptable without reliable Kashrus standards. There are so many ingredients on products today that we are not familiar with--better safe than sorry!


E.  We remind our readers that the Sefer Orchos Chaim LaRosh is especially recited in Yeshivos today during the month of Elul, after Shacharis, as it was in Kelm.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl testified that there was a special nigun in Kelm when the three word paragraph of this Sefer--”Al Tevahel Ma’asecha --do not act in a hurried and perturbed manner--were recited.  Calmness and orderliness are essential to success!


F. At a special Teshuva Shiur, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita asked us to focus on the following:


1.  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 c’v 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.


2.  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 Sever 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!


G. From the Sefer Yearning with Fire:  One of the lesser-known Mitzvos,” “V’halachta Bidrachav” teaches that as Hashem is merciful, we are required to be merciful; as He is compassionate, righteous, and holy, so must we be. Our potential to act in Godly ways arises, according to the Nefesh HaChaim is from our status as a Tzelem Elokim-- a being created in Hashem’s image.  Invested with this spark of Godliness, man possesses what no other living being possesses - a capacity for giving and compassion.”  Because this capacity for giving is embedded in man’s soul, giving should come naturally. However, until we apply that capacity, it remains nothing more than potential.  V’halachta Bidrachav” goes far beyond a spontaneous impetus to do someone a favor.  It is the policy that governs all of one’s interpersonal relationships, even when one feels overwhelmed, slighted, or wronged.”  Hakhel Note:  In our Bein Adam L’Chaveiro this month, let us establish a policy--V’halachta Bidrachav--as the guiding light in all our interpersonal dealings and relationships!




2 Elul

AN AMAZING POINT! At the Tehillim Kinus on behalf of the dire Matzav in Eretz Yisrael and for a zechus for Aharon Ben Chulda, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, explained that the most important part about davening or reciting Tehillim, for something--is to believe sincerely and whole-heartedly that Hashem can accomplish that which you are asking Him for, and that your prayers can be the catalyst for Him to do so. Let us not tire AT ALL from reciting Tehillim for Aharon Ben Chulda, and, yes, reciting the same Kepitelech that we have recited so often over the last two months--for their power, import and meaning to Hashem goes infinitely beyond what we can fathom in this world!





“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 enough.”






REMEMBER--PESHARA AND LIFNIM MESHURAS HADIN! What a special zechus for Acheinu Bnei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael--and all of K’lal Yisrael!



ASK FOR A BRACHA:  When one asks for the bracha of another--he also makes that person feel special and important.  A bracha, then, serves manifold purposes--benefitting the recipient, the giver--and giving Nachas to Hashem as He sees how His children love each other!




Special Note One: We provide the following points and pointers relating to the lofty month of Elul:


1.  HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, teaches that the precise 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 BeRe’ada, is evidenced by the juxtaposition of every morning of Tekias Shofar with the recital of “LeDovid Hashem Ori.”  The Navi Amos teaches us the fear and awe that 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 times, representing Hashem’s love for us.  The love is additionally symbolized in the Kepitel with the terms “Ori, Yishi, Maoz Chayai, and Yitzpeneini 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 Rebbi Akiva Eiger, Z’tl, that the reason that the bracha immediately preceding Shema concludes with the words of “HaBocher BeAmo Yisrael 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.”


2. Cell Phone Teshuva Suggestions: 


A. Getting the filter completely right.


B. 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.


C. When almost impulsively reaching for your cell phone, stopping yourself and doing a Mitzvah instead.


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.


3.  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 somewhere near 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 we owe him.  It would most certainly follow that we should not get angry at others--so Hashem will not be angry with us!


4.  Another practical item we should try to be especially careful about now is doing 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 or his.  after they failed, the Pasuk records that he did not build a new Mizbe’ach to Hashem--but REBUILT 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.


5.  HaRav 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 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 financially 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 Hashem 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 Two: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





Is it true that R’ Moshe Feinstein Zt”l held that one’s “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin must be even more mehudar than one’s “Rashi” tefillin?



Answer While R’ Moshe did maintain that “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin (if one chooses to wear them) should be mehudar, he was not of the opinion that they need be more mehudar than “Rashi” tefillin.


After explaining that there is no halachic obligation to wear “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin, R’ Moshe wrote of “...tefillin in accordance with Rabbeinu Tam, which were worn [exclusively] by many large communities [in the times of the Rishonim]: it is good to wear them to accommodate their opinion as well. [However,] since it is not an obligation which stems from an uncertainty in halachah or a stringency, I wore them only when their kashrus and mehudar status was certain. But when there were halachic issues with them, and it was unclear that they were kosher even according to Rabbeinu Tam, it was not my custom to wear them...”


From here, we see that R’ Moshe felt that it is not worthwhile to wear “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin if their kashrus is at all suspect since it is only a minhag. This stands in contrast to “Rashi” tefillin which he explained one is obligated to wear. Even if only non-mehudar or even barely kosher tefillin are available, one is still obligated to wear them.





Why do I see so many “regular” people wearing “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin? I thought only pious people are supposed to wear them!




Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch writes that “a God-fearing person” and “only one who is established and well-known as a chassid (a pious man) should wear “Rabbeinu Tam” Tefillin”. The reason is simply that since the halachah is not like Rabbeinu Tam, an average person who chooses to wear these tefillin as well appears to be showing off. Two explanations are offered by the poskim for the fact that many average people wear “Rabbeinu Tam tefillin:


Some say that the Shulchan Aruch is referring only to one who wears Rashi and “Rabbeinu Tam tefillin at the same time. When they are worn at different times, however, this is not considered prideful behavior.

Others say that only in the time of the Shulchan Aruch was it considered showing off if an average person wore “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin. However, nowadays, when so many thousands of people wear them, it does not cause one to “stand out from the crowd,” and is therefore not considered an expression of ga’avah (pride).




1 Elul

STARTING TODAY! Effective today, we will be 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 Bentsching, 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!”



RICHES! If you begin today to learn just three Mishnayos a day of Mesechta Rosh Hashana, continuing on to Mesechta Yoma, then on to Sukkah, you will have completed all three Mesechtos by Sukkos!  What a wonderful demonstration of your realization of the time period we are in!



INSPIRE YOURSELF! 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 great accomplishment, and a remarkable complacency shredder!



ELUL WORKBOOK: As many prepare this week to go back to school--getting themselves ready with the necessary supplies, may we suggest your own Elul Workbook, with the following sample entries to be completed on a daily basis, every evening:


1. Implementation of Torah Study Improvement Plan (such as 60 straight minutes without interruption a day)


2. Implementation of Tefillah Plan (making sure to privately plead in Elokai Netzor before taking three steps back).


3. Recognition of Ain Lanu Lehisha’ein Elah Ahl Avinu Shebashomayim (such as when hearing the news from Eretz Yisrael)


4. Fulfillment of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha (such as being proactive in trying to help someone)


5. Demonstrating Rachamim (Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, Shlita, teaches that he gives more Tzedaka to the collector that annoys him to practice improvement here)


6. Being Ma’avir Ahl Hamidos (especially with close family members)


7. Fulfillment of Dan L’Chaf Zechus (if someone does not realize that he must do this at least once a day, he is doing something wrong)


8. Establishing a Fallback Thought--what to think about when one realizes that he is not thinking (such as the Six Constant Mitzvos, how to help another, developing a Torah thought that one is working on)




Special Note One:  Points and pointers for Chodesh Elul:


1. 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). 


2.  Chazal teach that 30 days is a complete time period--for instance, unless otherwise specified, a standard 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. 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 it 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!”  Hakhel 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-then 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!.


3. A Practical Thought: Perhaps we can begin today to give Tzedaka, bli neder, every day of Elul--so that we enter Rosh Hashana having given at least some Tzedaka every day for thirty days (we can give for Shabbos on Erev Shabbos or on Motza’ei Shabbos). Remember--Tzedaka Today!



Special Note Two: In a Teshuvah Drasha (provided by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation), Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, made the following essential points:


1. The Yetzer Hara will not work to have you enter a treife restaurant, or willfully be mechalel Shabbos. Rather, he tries to convince you that this aveira is where you fit--is where you are holding. This aveira--it is you. In short, he is trying to hide from you who you really are. You have shaychus to the Kisei HaKavod--and he attempts to convince you that you are more to the animal side of things, or worse.


2. HaRav Yaakov Galinsky, Z’tl, was once asked by a mother to speak to her son, who intended to marry a non-Jew. When HaRav Galinsky met the young man he told him: “ Did you know that the Chofetz Chaim married a shiksa?” The young man responded: “That can’t be--you definitely have it wrong--that is outrageous!” Rabbi Galinsky responded: “If I do have it wrong--then it is just as outrageous for you to marry a shiksa--for in truth your holiness comes from the same Source!” No one, no one can excuse himself with ‘the Chofetz Chaim does this--and I do that’.


3. One of the most unfortunate contemporary terms--which downgrades the ehrlichkeit of pure Jewish boys and girls is the word ‘nebby’. With one word, a person can degrade and disparage another --making them feel pathetic, humiliated and even paranoid. One should educate others (especially children) as to the terrible effects this can have on another’s personal feelings and relationships.


4. The Samach Mem may be an earlier acronym for Social Media.


5. What is Hester Panim? It is Hashem making it feel like He is not looking--when in fact He really still very much is. It is like a Rebbi leaving the room [but looking through the window]…with you knowing that he is in any event going to come back.


6. Why does this Galus seem so endless? It is because our Geulah will be endless--so the Galus takes on the false appearance of it being so, with the Yetzer Hara trying to take us in and have us give up. If one looks back, in 1945, when the atomic bombs were dropped in Japan, was just about the time that the Jews were being freed from concentration camps. It is the Galus that does not have a zechus kiyum--in ten seconds look what happened in Olam Hazeh. We were freed at that very time--to live on forever. Weaponry, technology and the like can all come to an end at any moment--while Netzach Yisrael Lo Yishaker!




30 Menachem Av

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


1.  Rebbi 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 Elul.  It is our job to find the openings, and give ourselves the Eitzos, to arouse ourselves as well. 


4.  Rebbi 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 Kodesh 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 Yisrael!



Special Note Three:  During the month of Elul, we strive to come closer to Hashem in preparation for the Yomim Noraim.  In fact, we add Tehillim Chapter 27 (“L’Dovid Hashem Ori VeYishi”) beginning tonight, on the first day of Elul.  We all know that the word “Ori” refers to Rosh Hashana, which is light, and the word “Yishi” refers to Yom Kippur, which is salvation.  This being said, what word in L’Dovid  refers to the month of Elul itself?!  Some have suggested that its second word, “Hashem,” alludes to Elul, for it is during this time that we are to feel Hashem closer to us. 


Hakhel Note:  In Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 1:1, the Rema states that “Shivisi Hashem Lenegdi Somid”—placing Hashem before me at all times is a ma’ale of tzaddikim. The Vilna Gaon there notes that this is the ma’ale of tzaddikim, meaning that Yiras Hashem is the sole element that differentiates between the tzaddik, the righteous, and those who are not tzaddikim. Perhaps the message of the Rema, by stating this at the outset of the Shulchan Aruch (which is a halacha and not a hashkafa sefer), is to teach us that we all can and must be “tzaddikim,” and that the attainment of that goal is not necessarily as complicated as we think if we keep ourselves focused on Shivisi Hashem, that we are in Hashem’s presence at all times.


Special Note Four:  As we have noted in the past, we need not travel to the great Fair in the late summertime, because Hashem, in His great graciousness, brings the Fair to us.  HaRav Chaim Freidlander, Z’tl, (Sifsei Chaim I, page 38) compares the days of Elul to the days of a once-annually fair, through which an industrious merchant could find and purchase/sell the goods that could support both him and his family for the entire year.  Those individuals, however, who remain at the hotel, to wine and dine and enjoy its various and sundry amenities, walk away temporarily happy--but with empty pockets and warehouses.


The interesting thing about a Fair is that all serious attendees have the same goal--to do business and make profit.  Yet, everyone does so for his own unique business and in his own unique manner. Each and every one of us too has a specific role, a specific time, and a specific place in this world.  What each and every one of us does at the Fair is--and should be--different.  A five-year old is elated with her new bicycle, yet a grown adult simply cannot sit down on it and try to start peddling.  Over the past year, the Yetzer Hara has tried, sometimes successfully, to obliterate or at least blur, for you where you are and what you should be.  He is quite satisfied--and enjoys--seeing you ride that too-small bike, even though it is embarrassing to you while riding, and will make you sore and limp afterwards.  We should make sure that our spiritual lives take a lesson from our physical experiences.  Would we stoop down to pick up five pennies or fifteen matches that have scattered across the ground?  Why then should we stoop down or lower ourselves to accomplish far less, or even far worse, goals?


So here we are at the Fair, and we have our heads on straight.  We are going to learn from the mistakes that we made last year, the things we shouldn’t have bought, the items we shouldn’t have sold, the people we shouldn’t have done business with, and the people we should have looked to build a relationship with.  Each one of us is here to use his/her own knowledge, talents, particular expertise--and special challenges--to make this year the most successful one ever.  We may have to think and work seriously over the next little while, but the time is precious and the gains to be gotten are oh so great.



Special Note Five:  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, one must form himself anew.  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.


Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Mateh Ephraim, the classic Halachic work on the laws of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos, refers to the days of Elul as “Yomim Kedoshim”--Days of Holiness.  Let us picture ourselves developing this holy period, and not lose the precious daily opportunities we have to ensure our complete and optimum development!



Special Note Six:  There is a stunning lesson provided for each and every one of us by Rashi in this coming week’s Parasha.  The Parasha teaches us that before Bnai Yisrael 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 Yisrael Atem Kereivim Hayom...--Hear, O’Yisrael, 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 Yisrael 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 Kriyas Shema!!  Let us take a moment EVERY DAY OF THE COMING 40- DAY PERIOD before reciting the Shema to reflect upon the magnitude of the event--Kabalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim, Ahavas Hashem, 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!




29 Menachem Av

IMPORTANT REMINDER-- DON ’T THROW:  There are not many things that we do 100 times a day.  Many of us do, however, recite 100 brachos a day.  One clear instruction we are given relating to Brachos is that:  “Ahl Yizrok Bracha MiPiv--do not throw a bracha out of your mouth.” To put things in perspective, when one throws a ball, it is almost impossible to retrieve once the throw is made.  However, as long as the ball is still in one’s hand, he has the choice whether to throw it or not.  Lehavdil, once a person has begun a bracha in an unthinking and quick fashion, it is extremely difficult to change the bracha midway.  An incredible way to control and direct the utterance of a bracha--a Mitzvah done 100 times a day is to stop for but a moment before saying the word baruch and thinking:  “Hashem is the Mekor HaBerachos”--the Source of all bracha!  This one moment before each bracha could turn a rote and ‘required’ act into sincere words of appreciation, recognition and thanks! 



THE CHOFETZ CHAIM’S ADVICE: In a very father-like fashion, the Chofetz Chaim writes that once a person realizes that he has not always guarded his tongue in the way he should--it is not all over. Rather, one should strengthen himself, for there is much life still to be lived. The Mashal he gives is to a watchman who has been hired to guard a precious vineyard for the entire summer, but the watchman fails to do so for a while, and a portion of the vineyard is breached, with many bunches of grapes stolen. Should the watchman give up on the rest of the vineyard? Certainly not! To the contrary, the thinking person realizes that he should mend the breaches and be vigilant to guard the vineyard from any further loss. The way a person can begin to mend the breaches and prevent further losses of Lashon Hara, the Chofetz Chaim continues, is by avoiding  groups or individuals who are not really careful with their speech, and by being especially careful not to speak about people unless he is sure that the Halacha so permits. If a person acts to fix his past--it can be said about him, the Chofetz Chaim concludes: “Fortunate are his older years, which bring forgiveness to his younger ones!” (Sukkah 53A)



RACHAMIM B’ DIN : Last week, we pointed out that Hashem gives us the opportunity to exhibit Rachamim, so that He can act B’Rachamim with us. Oh, how we need Rachamim B’Din in these frightening days!! A meaningful and doable undertaking bli neder is to take some kind of action on a daily basis--for someone or something less fortunate than you--and state V’Rachamav Ahl Kol Ma’asav--Hashem’s mercy is on all of His creatures. By doing so, you are demonstrating--on a daily basis--that you too want to emulate the ways of Hashem. This then will bring mercy into the world on a Middah K’neged Middah basis. Whether it be by putting out a bit of food for a cat or dog on the street--to giving Chizuk or monetarily helping someone who you might not otherwise--to helping someone burdened or overburdened become less burdened…. In all of these ways, one can bring more mercy into the world…for us all!




Special Note One: A postscript on the Mitzvos of Tzedaka in last week’s Parasha. Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in the Sefer Love Your Neighbor, brings from the Sefer Yad HaKetana as follows: 


“The word that Chazal used for charity is Tzedaka, which literally means righteousness or justice. This term elucidates the Torah’s concept of charity. It is not merely a charitable act to give to the poor; it is the obligation of every single person.”


Rabbi Pliskin also brings the words of the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 249:5) that the reward for influencing others to give is very great.  “Indeed, Gadol HaMe’aseh Yoser Min Ha’oseh--the reward for influencing others to give Tzedakah is greater than merely giving charity yourself. Why?


HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, gives three reasons: (a) one who gives to Tzedaka does something for himself, one who tries to influence someone does something for others; (b) one who gives Tzedaka receives honor, one who tries to influence others receives humiliation; and (c) one who gives Tzedaka gives money, one who tries to influence someone gives time--and time is life! (Lev Eliyahu I, p. 30).”



Special Note Two: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




Is there any difference in the appearance of “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin?



“Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin should be made in a way that they won’t be confused with “Rashi” tefillin. For this reason, the poskim recommend making them different sizes. The Kabbalists say that the “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin should be the smaller pair, even if only a little smaller as long as the two pairs are distinguishable.


The prevailing custom in most communities, however, is to make both pairs the same size. Labeling is relied on to differentiate between the pairs.




I have heard it said that “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin should be written only by a sofer who wears Rabbeinu Tam himself. Is this really true?



Indeed, there are poskim who rule that a sofer who does not wear “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin may not write them. The reason for this is as follows:


The Gemara teaches us that one who is not obligated to wear tefillin may not write tefillin. For this reason, a child, for instance, who is not obligated to wear tefillin may not write tefillin (or any STA”M item).


In many cases, we extend the Gemara’s teaching and rule that one who chooses not to wear tefillin, even though he is obligated to do so, also may not write them. Accordingly, someone who does not wear “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin may not write such tefillin.


Other poskim disagree and maintain that it is perfectly acceptable for such a person to write “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin.


One who wants to be stringent in this matter should first do his homework regarding the sofer, since there are sofrim who write “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin even though they do not wear them.




26 Menachem Av

A TREMENDOUS INSIGHT: The following insight was provided by Torah Tavlin:  “The Kotzker Rebbe, Zt’l, makes a fascinating point.  He says that the name of the weekly Parasha gives us an insight into what we are meant to accomplish that week.  Thus, the week in which we bentsch Rosh Chodesh Elul is meant for us to “Re’eh--Look.”  Each Jew must stop and look inside himself or herself and see what needs improvement, this is how we know where to start.”




Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. The following has been culled from the Mishna Berurah (Dirshu Edition):


A. HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that if a baby is crying during Kiddush, it does not fall within the problem of trei kolei--two voices which cannot be heard. Rather, because the cry is so different from the words of Kiddush, one can pay attention to the words of Kiddush without being sidetracked by the cry (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 271, Dirshu Note 17).


B. If one listening to Kiddush did not hear the bracha of Borei Pri Hagafen, but otherwise heard the bracha of Kiddush, the Ohr Letzion rules that he has fulfilled the Mitzvah of Kiddush--and simply must make a bracha of Borei Pri Hagafen if he wants to drink wine afterwards (ibid., Dirshu Note 27).


C. The Igros Moshe writes that those who are being Yotzei the Mitzvah of Kiddush through another should not speak until the one making Kiddush has drank at least a melo lugmah from his cup. HaRav Nissim Karelitz rules that if one drinks the entire kos of Kiddush, he demonstrates a Chibuv Mitzvah (ibid., Dirshu Notes 66 and 80).


D. If one making Kiddush has in mind to drink wine during the meal as well, then he need not make a separate Borei Pri Hagafen during the meal. If he did not have this intent, then unless it is one’s common practice to drink wine during the meal, he should recite a separate Borei Pri Hagafen, before he drinks wine during the meal.


E. The Minchas Yitzchak rules that one may use a frozen challah for Lechem Mishneh, for nothing more needs to be done to it than let it defrost, and it could even be warmed in a permissible manner and be ready for eating quickly. HaRav Nissim Karelitz adds that it could possibly be eaten in its frozen state (albeit with difficulty). However, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, writes that in order for it to be used, it must have the ability to defrost during the course of the meal. The Shevet HaLevi writes that he is machmir and does not use frozen challah for Lechem Mishneh, if it is not currently edible as regular challah (ibid., 274, Dirshu Note 1).


F. The Sefer Orchos Rabbeinu (p. 113) writes in the name of the Steipeler Gaon that if a little bit of the crust on top of the Challah came off, as is common to occur in stores, the challah is still considered a shaleim (ibid., Dirshu Note 4).


G. The Mechaber rules that the Seudah on Leil Shabbos and the first Seudah of Shabbos day must be made with bread, ‘because they are the Ikar Kevod HaShabbos’ (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 9). If one could not eat bread at night, he can push off his bread Seudah until the next day, and eat three meals during the day--but should still make Kiddush at night and either eat a kezayis of the five grains, or drink another revi’is of wine besides Kiddush (ibid.).



Special Note Two:  Sunday (28 Menachem Av) is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Avrohom Pam, Z’tl.  HaRav Pam once explained how Hashem can be both a Tzaddik and a Chassid at the same time (as we recite in Ashrei daily “Tzaddik Hashem Bechol…V’Chosid Bechol”), even though ‘Tzaddik’ implies acting in accordance with the letter of the law and ‘Chassid’ implies going beyond the letter of the law.  The solution to this apparent paradox, HaRav Pam explained, is found in the proper understanding of a Pasuk in this week’s Parasha.  After teaching the laws of an Ir HaNidachas (a Wayward City ), which includes meting out the death penalty to its inhabitants, the Torah says that “V’Nosan L’Cha Rachamim V’Richamcha…--and Hashem will give you mercy and will be merciful to you” (Devorim 13:18 ).  Why is there an apparent redundancy in the Torah’s language relating to mercy--’giving you mercy’ and ‘being merciful to you’?  The answer is that when the Torah states ‘Hashem will give you mercy’, it means that Hashem will give you the opportunity to be merciful to others, and if you then act mercifully, Hashem will then be merciful to you.  This means, then, that Hashem is acting both as a chassid and as a tzaddik, because he is acting as a Chassid by giving us the opportunity to do Chesed, and if we do so, he will reward us as a Tzaddik--middah k’negged middah--according to the letter of the law!


As we approach Elul, which are known as the Yemei HaRachamim, we must be extra vigilant for these opportunities.  Chazal (Pesachim 87A) teach that the Navi Hoshea was punished when Hashem approached him and told him that Bnei Yisrael were sinning, to which he responded--so punish them!  Thus, he was punished for saying “punish them.  What should he have said?  Chazal teach that he should have said “Nevertheless Hashem, they are Your children, the children of Your beloved ones, Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov, heap mercy upon them!”  Based upon this teaching of Chazal, if one does not have immediate opportunities for mercy directly in front of him, at the very least he can daven to Hashem to heap mercy upon His people.  Let us make this a priority in the coming weeks!


May HaRav Pam’s zechus stand in our stead, as we properly apply his essential teaching in our daily lives.



Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parasha, we find a special emphasis on the Mitzvah of Tzedakah.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, makes a remarkable point about Tzedaka by simply translating a Pasuk for us.  The Pasuk in the Parasha 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 Tzaddik (he was a teacher of Rebbi 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 Four: 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). Indeed, Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:118) writes that ‘one who closes his hand to his needy brother and turns his eyes from his relatives is guilty of stealing from the poor--for once he is bound to give, it is as if he steals their gifts.” Happily, the converse is also true. As we read in this week’s Parasha ( 15:10 ): “Key B’Glal HaDavar Hazeh Yevarechecha Hashem Elokecha Bechol Ma’asecha U’vechol Mishlach Yadecha--for in return for this, Hashem will bless you in all of your deeds and in your every undertaking.”


We provide below several important points relating to the mitzvah of Tzedaka from the Sefer Me’il Tzedakah and the Sefer Pele Yoetz, among others:


1. 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.


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.


4. The value of the Tzedaka is in accordance with the need and suffering of the poor person, and so Tzedaka before Yom Tov, or to help make a Chasuna, or if a child is born, are 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. According to the greatness of the Mitzvah is the Yetzer Hara 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.


8. In addition to the Torah’s Mitzvas Aseh to give Tzedaka in this week’s Parasha, the Torah also warns us with a Lo Sa’Aseh  in the Parasha--”Lo SeAmetz Es Yodecha VeLo Sikpotz Es Yodecha 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!”


Hakhel Note: If someone handed you a check today for $1 million--how would you spend it? Perhaps you can take out a piece of paper and list your thoughts--the way you spend it and why. Your initial reaction should give you a good sense as to your approach to money and what to do with it!



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


QUESTION:  Is there a Mitzvah of VeKidashto to give to a Kohen who is indigent, before giving to another?



QUESTION:  If one intended to give Tzedakah to someone and did not, can he give it to someone else instead? 

ANSWER:  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.


QUESTION:  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)?

ANSWER:  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). 


QUESTION:  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?” 

ANSWER:  Yes, when one does this, it is as if the Tzedakah has already been given.


QUESTION:  If one gives money on a credit card 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? 

ANSWER: The full amount, because the Yeshiva needed the donor to give the full amount in order to get the amount it ultimately receives.


QUESTION:  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?

ANSWER: Since he could cancel the bank withdrawal at any time, it is considered to be a ‘Ma’aseh Tzedakah’.


QUESTION:  If a poor person asks you for Tzedakah several times a day, are you obligated to give him?

ANSWER:  The poor person should not do so, but the person should give.


QUESTION:  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? 

ANSWER:  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!  



Special Note Six:  We continue with additional notes on Tzedaka, the Mitzvah so deeply rooted in this week’s Parasha.  The following insights are excerpted from the Sefer Chaim Sheyeish Bahem, compiled by HaRav Yitzchak Shraga Gross:


A.  The Alter of Kelm was asked why Hashem created a world in which a person must first give Tzedaka and only then receive a bracha from Hashem, as the Pasuk in this week’s Parasha states “Ki BeGlal HaDavar HaZeh Yivarechica Hashem Elokecha.”  The Alter explains that this is to teach a person that he should not think that he is doing Chessed with the recipient, but that the recipient is doing Chessed with him by bringing blessing into his life.  This helps a person realize and recognize that there is always another perspective in each and every Bein Adam L’Chaveiro situation--and that the other’s perspective may be quite different than one’s original (perhaps tainted) perception.  This is brought to light by a wonderful story:


When the great Rav Hillel Kolemaya, Z’tl, was a bochur eating ‘teig’--(meals in a host’s home, as there was no Yeshivah or dormitory), one host was very strict with meal times.  One time the bochur Hillel was involved in a Sugya and missed the meal time, so he was just going to skip the meal.  However, he was concerned that the Ba’al Habayis was going to be concerned about where he was and what had happened to him.  He decided to arrive late knowing that he “would be in for it.”  After receiving a tongue lashing, Hillel responded earnestly “Everything you said is correct, but only based on the premise that I eat with you. In truth, however, you eat with me.  The Ba’al Habayis well understood what R’ Hillel meant, hugged and kissed him, and shared a beautiful meal with him. 


Hakhel Note:  Fascinatingly, at the Yeshivah of the Nodah B’Yehuda, at which the bochurim also ate ‘teig’ at Ba’al Habatim’s homes, it was the custom of the bochurim to leave over a little of their food, or ‘shirayim’ on their plate.  The Ba’al Habayis then ate from the shirayim as a Segulah for Hatzlacha in all matters!


B.  We must be diligent to exercise our opportunities for Tzedaka at the earliest possible time.  HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky related the following story: 


When HaRav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, Z’tl, was a bochur, he was in dire poverty.  There was even a period when he did not have money to buy shoes for himself, and was accordingly unable to go to the Bais Midrash to learn and learned at home instead.  With pain he turned to another Bochur from a wealthy family who was about to get married with the following request:  “At this moment, I don’t have enough money to buy a pair of shoes.  Since you are getting married, I assume that you are purchasing new clothing.  When you purchase new shoes, can you give me your old ones so that I can go back to the Bais Midrash to learn?”  The wealthy bochur looked at him disparagingly and responded “If you would go to work and earn money you would not have to look for the gifts of others, and instead you could buy your own!”  Years later, when HaRav Yitzchok Elchonon became known as a Posek Hador, he traveled to Vilna so that he could publish one of his Seforim.  He was greeted by 20,000 people--more people than greeted the Czar when he arrived in Vilna!  Among the crowd was the bochur who many years back who had told him to go get a job.  This time, he offered to personally fund the publication of the new Sefer in its entirety.  HaRav Yitzchok Elchonon responded; “You are late.  20 years ago you could have done it--for a pair of shoes!”


Hakhel Note:  Let us take the message--and not kick ourselves 20 years, 20 months, 20 weeks…or 2 days from now!




25 Menachem Av

FROM SUSPICION--TO BRACHA! Chazal (Brachos 31B) teach that if someone suspects another (choshaid b’chaveiro) and the suspicion is untrue--then he must give a bracha to that person. We learn this from the suspicion that Eli Hakohein had that Chana was drunk. Because it turned out that the suspicion was unfounded, he gave her a great blessing “V’Elokei Yisrael Yitein Es She’ailaseich--may Hashem grant your request to have a child.” Hakhel Note: We should not, of course, suspect anyone of anything. However, if the suspicion that ‘You lost this’,‘You spilled that’, ‘You caused this’, ‘You said that’ comes up, we should follow Chazal’s directive and give a heart filled and heartfelt bracha--and may it be fulfilled!



FINISH LINE !: Rebbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, points to runners who, as they reach the finish line, attempt one last heroic and gallant effort to end the race in the most favorable position possible--perhaps even in first place. It appears, continues Rabbi Schneider, that the Yetzer Hara is now in something like his ‘finish line mad-dash’--as he scurries to create unparalleled nisyonos for our generation--nisyonos that even middle-aged people could never have dreamed would exist when they were younger. Rather than falling prey to the great temptations and falling into the trap that the nations of the world have already deeply descended into, we MUST INSTEAD provide our own ‘finish line’ dash--which instead of impeding the Geulah, has the powerful ability to bring it about much, and perhaps much, much, more quickly! Hakhel Note: Who amongst us is willing to bli neder commit for the month of Elul not to look at his cell phone from the time he enters the front door of his Shul to the time he walks out of the same front door? Women can bli neder take a parallel commitment….



TURNABOUT! Chazal (Avos 4:13) teach that one who fulfills a Mitzvah gains himself a praklit--an advocate before the Heavenly Tribunal, whereas one who commits an aveirah acquires for himself a kateigor--an accuser at the very same place. What happens to the accuser that a person acquired--when that person does Teshuvah? The Sefer Tomer Devorah(Chapter 4) writes that when one does Teshuvah--the accusers do not disappear, but rather are invested with Kedusha and become advocates on one’s behalf. Accusers turn to advocates! What gain--let’s get going!



NO MERCY FOR THE MERCILESS! In this week’s Parasha (Devorim 13:18), the Torah advises us that when an Ihr HaNidachas and its inhabitants are destroyed, the ones who do so need not worry that they have committed an act of violence which will make an indelible impact upon their soul. To the contrary, “V’Nossan Lecha Rachamim VeRichamecha V’Hirbecha--Hashem will be merciful to them and they will multiply”. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh (ibid.) remarkably relates that the Yishmaelim [we know who they are] reported to him that when they perform executions on behalf of the king they have a cheishek gadol--a great passion and desire to kill the person, with no feeling of Rachamim whatsoever--they are complete achzorim, wholly unmerciful and invested only with cruelty. The Ohr HaChaim continues that when it comes to K’lal Yisrael--this Pasuk teaches us that even if we need to eliminate and eradicate our enemies, Hashem will shower His mercy upon us--and accordingly even in situations in which we have had to act with violence towards our enemies, Hashem assures us that the Koach HaRachamim will return to us (see Shabbos 151B). We are--and remain--Rachmanin Bnei Rachmanim. What a difference between them--and us! The Parasha’s lesson is clear for all to see in our very day!



A LESSON FOR OUR TIME! In this week’s Haftara, Yeshayahu HaNavi provides us with a powerful timely message from Hashem (Yeshaya 54:16, 17): “VeAnochi Barasi Mashchis LechabelKol Kli Yutzar Alayich Lo Yitzlach.” Rashi (ibid.) explains that the Pasuk is teaching that although Hashem has instigated the enemy against us--Hashem has also set up the very same enemy for downfall and punishment. Any weapons that they have prepared against us will not succeed. The Radak on this Pasuk (brought by the Artscroll Tanach) likewise writes: “You need not fear weapons, for I am the One Who created the producers of those weapons, and I have also created the power to annihilate them.” What do we have to do to make all of this bracha happen? The Navi concludes: “Zos Nachlas Avdei Hashem…this is the heritage of the servants of Hashem.”

Hakhel Note: How do we become Avdei Hashem? Let us consider for a moment that the Mitzvah of Tefillah we found in last week’s Parasha is based on the Torah’s words: “Ule’avedo Bechol Levavechem--and to serve Hashem with all of your heart.” Let us put as much Kavannah as we can in our Tefillos for our brothers in Eretz Yisrael--so that we can witness the Navi’s words--the Haftara of this week’s Parasha--come true in front of our very eyes!




Special Note One: In this week’s Parasha, the Torah teaches us that, once we come to the Beis 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 Mizbe’ach in the Beis 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 indeed everywhere. If so, why can’t we come close to Him with a Karbon anywhere? Moreover, what does the Jew in Bavel, in Amsterdam , in British Columbia , in Buenos Aires or even in Tel Aviv or Be’er Sheva do--he can’t be in the Beis Hamikdash in an instant. Why can’t he grow spiritually with a spiritual tool in his own backyard? It would appear that for all that would be gained with a local connection to Hashem, the Torah is teaching us that more would, in fact, 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 Beis HaMikdash--that we could achieve the Yiras Shomayim that we need to reach our true spiritual potential. The daily open miracles, the tzidkus and chochma of the Kohanim, the spiritually elevated 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 Beis 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 this too worth some serious davening over? The Parasha is reminding us!



Special Note Two: For all that He does for us, it would be only right that we tried to do something to make HaKadosh Baruch Hu happy. The Zohar HaKadosh (brought by the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh in last week’s Parasha) writes that what makes Hashem happiest is when we study Torah. In a Sefer that was written by a grandson of HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl, he writes that his zeide told him that what he should work on most in contemplating Teshuva is the study of Torah, because with improvement in learning, midos and all else would fall into place. Less than a week from today is the first day of Elul. Perhaps an appropriate undertaking might be that prior or even during learning to have Kavannah that you are studying Torah to give Nachas Ruach—happiness--to Hashem, and that you are studying in order to understand the Torah and properly fulfill the Mitzvos!



Special Note Three: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




When attempting to determine whether or not to begin wearing “Rabbeinu Tam” Tefillin a number of factors must be factored into the equation.

First, if one is Chassidishor Sephardic. The widely accepted custom in each of these communities is for married men to wear “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin. Clearly, when one’s community has an established minhag, one should follow it.


If one is a “regular” non-ChassidishAshkenazi, the following factors should be taken into account:

1. The halacha has been firmly established in accordance with Rashis opinion – so much so that there is no community or group which maintains otherwise. And no-one makes a berachah on “Rabbeinu Tam” Tefillin.

2. The Vilna Gaon asserted that it is pointless to put on “Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin since there are sixty-four different possible combinations of how to set up Tefillin in the Rishonim! Therefore, why wear “Rabbeinu Tam” Tefillin, but not all the rest as well? Indeed, the majority of Litvish Gedolim have not worn “Rabbeinu Tam” Tefillin.

3. Nevertheless, many Litvish Gedolim had (and still have) the custom of wearing “Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin in order to fulfill the mitzvah according to Rabbeinu Tam as well. And why not the other sixty-three types? The reason is that “Rabbeinu Tam” Tefillin were actually worn in many communities until the practice gradually disappeared, and “Rashi”Tefillin became the norm.


Therefore, one may suggest that while it may be praiseworthy for an individual to begin wearing “Rabbeinu Tam” Tefillin, it certainly is not required when one does not have the minhag to do so. Indeed, since the halachah has been firmly established like Rashi, to take away from the time of wearing “Rashi” Tefillin (by removing them sometime toward the latter half of davening) in order to wear the Rabbeinu Tam pair may not be advisable. Accordingly, one should consult with his Rav or Posek before taking upon himself to don Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin--and as to how one should do so. The Rav may very well recommend that one put on the Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin only after he completes davening--at the time in which he would take off Rashi Tefillin in any event.

Once again, all this is only for an individual who does not have an established custom in their family or community. Anyone who has been following an established custom should continue to do so.




24 Menachem Av

LET US STRETCH OUT OUR HAND TO HASHEM--FOR ERETZ YISRAEL! The Zohar (to Parashas Balak) brings from Rebbi Abba that there are three types of Tefillos: Tefillah L’Moshe (Tehillim 90), Tefillah L’Dovid (Tehillim 86) and Tefillah L’Ani (Tehillim 102). Of the three Tefillos, which is the most chashuv? It is that of the Ani, of the poor person, for his heart is most broken and Karov Hashem L’Nishbirei Lev--Hashem is close to those who have a broken heart. When the Ani davens, Hashem allows his Tefillos to rise directly to Him. Dovid HaMelech realized that the windows and gates of heaven are open for the Ani, and he accordingly took off his crown and sat on the earth as a poor person and exclaimed (Tehillim 86:1):  Hateh Hashem Aznecha Aneini Key Ani V’Evyon Ahni”. The great lesson for each and every person to learn is to view himself as an Ani before HaKadosh Baruch Hu in Tefillah--knowing that each and every thing is a gift from Hashem, nothing is to be taken for granted--and that Hashem, and Hashem only is the Source of all--from the smallest speck of salt to Dovid HaMelech’s palace in Yerushalayim. If one does so, his Tefillos can pass through all ostensible barriers, and arrive at the heavenly throne!



BE VERY CAREFUL! Rabbeinu Yonah (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:109) [perhaps surprisingly] teaches that one who violates the Lo Sa’aseh of Kol Almanah V’Yasom Lo Sa’anu--do not oppress a widow or an orphan, subjects himself r’l to the punishment of Misah B’dei Shomayim--death at the hands of heaven. In fact, the Rabbeinu Yonah importantly adds that Chazal teach that it makes no difference in this regard whether the almanah or yasom cry out or not--it is just that Hashem will punish more swiftly when the widow or orphan cries out to Hashem. One must simply be exceedingly, exceedingly, careful.



THE HERE AND NOW !  In last week’s Parasha (Devarim 10:12 ), the Torah writes “Ve’Atta Yisrael Mah Hashem Elokecha Sho’el Mai’imach--and now what does Hashem ask of you...?”  The Chofetz Chaim provides an essential insight here:  The Torah emphasizes the word Ve’Atta--and now--to teach that a person must realize that what is expected of him changes, and that a person must ask himself from time to time--What Is My Avodah Now?  We note that the word for now--Ve’Atta is (at least in current Ashkenaz practice) pronounced the same as Ve’Atta--meaning ‘and You’ (the only difference being that the former word has an Ayin, and the latter, an Aleph).  Thus, a person must recognize that he has his own set of circumstances, his own obligations, his own potential and his own path--and it is in the here and now!



COMPLETING THE MITZVAH: Also in last week’s Parasha, based upon the words “Kol HaMitzvah--the entire Mitzvah”, Chazal teach that a Mitzvah is credited to the one who completed it.” The Maharsha incredibly explains that the last two letters of the word Mitzvah are the last two letters of the four-letter name of Hashem--Vuv and Heh. Accordingly, one who completes a Mitzvah is accomplishing something that is so great--that it is like he is completing the name of Hashem!




Special Note One:  We provide by the following link Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein’s truly outstanding Hakhel Tisha B’Av Shiur -- http://tinyurl.com/l48wyua   which is also extremely important for one's year-round Avodas Hashem.  We thank JRoot radio ( jrouteradio.com, whose programs are available by phone at  712-432-4217) for production of this link.



Special Note Two: As we noted, yesterday was the Steipeler’s Yahrzeit. A reader had pointed us to one (of the thousands) of the profound lessons from the Steipeler, with the following story found in the sefer The Rosh Yeshivah Remembers (Artscroll, p.307):  “One time, when an additional volume of Kehilas Yaakov was published, the printer (who was anonymous) neglected to put the Steipeler’s address in one of the first pages of the Sefer. The Steipeler lamented: ‘I am so disappointed--How will the public know where I live so that they can buy a copy (it was not sold in Seforim Stores)?’  Someone who heard tried to console him--’Everyone knows where the Rav lives--don’t worry!’  The Steipeler remained disturbed: ‘The printing of the entire sefer is not worth it for me if it causes even one person to have to trouble himself to search for my address!’”  Hakhel Note:  Causing another person some excess effort or ‘trouble’ was ‘not worth’ even a wonderful Sefer such as the Kehilas Yaakov--this was the Steipeler’s P’sak.  How we can learn from this to value the time, patience and efforts of another--and not cause them any undue stress or distress.  Can we act like the Steipeler --at least one conscious time a day?!



Special Note Three: The following teachings are excerpted from the Sefer Chofetz Chaim: Middos U’Mitzvos (Hebrew):


A. Stay Sin Free!  The Chofetz Chaim writes that when a Machshava which is not Tahora enters a person’s mind, or when one is about to angry--it is very good to look at one’s Tzitzis--V’az Yifka HaYetzer--and then the Yetzer Hara will be blown away!


B.  In his Introduction to the Mishna Berurah, the Chofetz Chaim brings from the Midrash Shochar Tov that by learning two Halachos in the Morning and Two Halachos in the Evening--he has fulfilled the words of ‘U’veSoroso Yehege Yomam Valaila!  What a beautiful program to enter into Elul with--your daily, dedicated fulfillment of the Pasuk!


C.  BeRov Am Hadras Melech applies not only to davening, but to learning as well.  Although one fulfills the Mitzvas Aseh of Talmud Torah learning by himself, lechatchila one should be mehader to learn together with others--for by doing so one is Mekadesh Shem Shomayim to a greater extent--as a group gets together in Avodas Hashem!


D. Talmidei Chachomim who study the Halachos of the Avodah and Karbanos are like Kohanei Hashem who are standing in the Bais Hamikdash.  The Yisraelim who support them in their studies are considered as if they are actually bringing a korban.  Hakhel Note:  Without a Bais Hamikdash, one could have the idea that he is ‘saving’ hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars a year in karbanos that he is not bringing.  Let us demonstrate that we realize that this is not saving at all.  The Chofetz Chaim gives us the opportunity!



Special Note Four: With the renewed warfare in Artzeinu HaKedosha, and the extreme danger facing Eretz Yisrael and K’lal Yisrael, let us take a brief moment to review the three stalwarts of our existence--Torah, Tefillah, and Gemilas Chesed. 


Torah--the Navi (Yeshaya 26:20) teaches us “Leich Ami Bo Vachadarech Chavi... Chimat Rega Ad Ya’avor Za’am--Go My people enter your room…hide for a brief moment until the danger passes.”  Chazal explain this to mean that we should “hide in the Batei Midrashim” and “Batei K’nessios”--in places of Torah study and Tefillah until the dangers pass.  We simply have to learn more.  Each and every one of us can still improve a bit in some way, either in our Daf Yomi or other study that constitutes our major study of the day. Even coming on time or early, reviewing for five minutes at the end, or learning one additional Mishna or commentary--is worth a tremendous amount.  Remember, there is no doubt about it--the world perceives the situation as a serious, extremely serious one--and we must take its lesson. Important Mashal: Google, let us say, charges $5.00 per year per email account for unlimited storage. How could it do so?  Because if it has 400 million accounts paying $5.00--it has made $2 billion! Lehavdil--each Mishna, each added minute of study, each search for an answer to a question--leads to a cheshbon gadol--to a great account, for all of K’lal Yisrael!


Tefillah--There is certainly a place for us to daven for Hashem to do the following to the evildoers:  Se’aker, Seshaber, Semager V’Sachinah --to uproot, smash, throw down, and humble the Zeidim.  If we will not have Kavannah now--then when?


Gemilas Chesed--Chazal teach that to be saved from the Chevlei Moshiach, one must be osek in Torah and Gemilas Chassadim.  The term osek refers to an act of involvement, just as one is osek in business to earn a living.  It does not mean to do Chesed as it comes, but to make it a constant and consistent part of daily life.  The Chofetz Chaim dedicated an entire Sefer to Chesed alone, the Sefer Ahavas Chesed (translated into English and published by Feldheim)--with remarkable need-to-know Halachos and Hashkafos.  The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has published the Sefer Loving Kindness, with daily short and practical lessons, which is based in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim.  What greater way to improve in Chesed than to learn how to do it from the Chofetz Chaim himself.  The daily study of the Sefer truly demonstrates a dedication to true improvement.  Even for those who feel that Chesed is their hallmark--an important role and goal in life is to improve further and further, attaining higher and higher floors in the ‘building’ of achievement. 


Hakhel Note: It is essential that we remember that the missiles are not aimed at Yerushalayim, Be’er Sheva, Netivot or Ashkelon --they are aimed at each and every one of us--we must take the action that we can to save ourselves--to save K’lal Yisrael!



23 Menachem Av

THE POWER OF TESHUVAH --An Effective Day By day Guide!  This is an outstanding absolutely must read Artscroll work by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, author of the Praying with Fire Series.  In 40 excellent lessons, Rabbi Kleinman provides practical strategies to start and succeed at the Teshuvah process all in a practical, positive and uplifting way.  A special foreword to the book is provided by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, and it also includes important Halachos of Teshuvah. If you start in the next week--you will finish this Sefer on Teshuvah--in the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah! What a demonstration of your sincere, reasoned dedication to Teshuvah!



TOMID EINEI HASHEM ELOKECHA BAH: In last week’s Parasha, the Torah states the following about Eretz Yisrael (Devorim 11:12 ): “Eretz Asher Hashem Elokecha Doresh Osa Tomid Einei Hashem Elokecha Bah--a land that Hashem seeks out, the eyes of Hashem are always upon it….” We know from the Mitzvah of V’Halachta Bidrachav that we are duty bound to follow the Middos of Hashem. We suggest that the Torah is teaching us that if Hashem always seeks out and places a special emphasis and focus on Eretz Yisrael--so too must we. This is Hashem’s will, this is Hashem’s instruction to, and expectation of us. With a ‘so-called’ lull in the bombs flying upon our brothers and upon Artzeinu HaKedosha, let us not allow ourselves a Hesech Hada’as--a mental lapse--in our focus upon Eretz Yisrael and our brothers who live there. After all, Hashem is always focused on Eretz Yisrael--so the Torah testifies--and so we are reminded, B’Hashgacha, in last week’s Parasha. In addition to our continued Tehillim recitation with Kavannah, we provide the following two suggestions below:


CEASEFIRE I: With a temporary ceasefire in place--with the hope thereafter only for a tenuous ceasefire--we add a Kabbalah suggestion, which could truly result in superlative results:  It is, in a sense, one’s own kind of ceasefire.  When a thought, deed, or word to be expressed is of questionable legitimacy or is impulsive or reactive in nature, then ceasefire and do not continue the thought, take the action or say the word.  There is a positive corollary to this as well.  When a Torah study or Mitzvah opportunity presents itself, do not, to the extent possible, delay it at all, so that nothing gets in the way--and it truly comes to fruition as soon as possible.  May your dedicated atzlus in aveiros and zerizus in Mitzvos bring nachas to Hashem, to the people of Eretz Yisrael--and to yourself!  Hakhel Note:  We learn from this week’s Parasha how if we act properly, all of the eitzos, all of the tachbulos of our enemies--all of which appear to be insurmountable and even impossible to overcome--are handily taken care of by Hashem for us.  All we have to do is our part--which we can, and which we must! 


CEASEFIRE II:  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Koheles (3:15) VeHaElokim Yivakeish Es Nirdaf--Hashem seeks those who are pursued.  The Midrash Rabba teaches that we can see this clearly from the kinds of Karbanos that Hashem accepts in the Bais HaMikdash:  An ox is chased by a lion, a goat is pursued by a leopard, and a sheep is hunted by a wolf.  Hashem is not at all interested in the pursuers--but only in the pursued.  Based upon this, the Chofetz Chaim writes, one should learn and appreciate how far he should stay from even associating with those who pursue Machlokes--for Hashem rejects them outright.  In the end, they will be called to task and punished.  However, one who ceases fire--one who avoids any tinge of Machlokes in the end will be honored before all--as the very same Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches Kavod LaIsh Sheves MeiRiv--abstention from quarrel is a man’s honor  (Mishlei 20:3).  Hakhel Note:  A quarrel does not have to mean a battle between two sects or large groups--the Hatfields and the McCoys and their like.  It can also mean a disagreement among friends, among family, and yes, even among siblings or spouses.  Why should we be among the pursuers--when we can be counted among the pursued--and enjoy all the true honor of being human--guaranteed to us by the wisest of all men?!




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 following points and pointers are excerpted from the Leket Hanhagos L’Ben Torah, containing excerpts from the teachings of the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl:


A.  When one feels burdened or even overburdened by Nisyonos and Tirdos, he must recognize that it is a time to daven to Hashem that he be saved from his tzaros.  The place to do this is by a short Tefillah in Elokai Neztor after Yiheyu LeRatzon.  Hakhel Note:  The Steipeler adds that the same is true for one who feels overcome by his Yetzer Hara, and that the person should sincerely ask Hashem:  HaRachaman Hu Yatzileini MiYetzer Hara”, “Mimidos Ra’os” or “Mimachshavos Ra’os”--everyone according to his situation.  The key, writes the Steipeler, is that one feel humility and submission--as a Mevakeish mammash, and not as one merely reciting words.  Final Note:  The Steipeler also adds that one should daven for other matters of Ruchniyus: that he attain Mesikus HaTorah, that he obtain a Chaver Tov VeHagun, and/or that he be zoche to Siyata DeShemaya.  Any Tefillah made from the depths of the heart, he concludes, will not be returned empty handed.


B.  The Ikar Shoresh of all aveiros is Ga’avah--for through arrogance one distances himself from the light of Kedusha and the light of the Shechina.  One should learn mussar to thwart Ga’avah.  When one recognizes that all of his wisdom and abilities are Hashem’s, and that they have only been granted to him on a long-term loan, a person will be blessed with a Ruach Taharah and true Emunah.


C.  The Ikar HaDerech to attain Ahavas Hashem is through Hakaras HaTov. 


D.  Yissurim which come upon a person because of his Torah study or because of his involvement in Mitzvos, are not only a Mizbe’ach Kapparah (as are all other Yissurim)--but are also in and of themselves a Zechus Norah VeAyom--and are considered it is as if one offered his soul to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.


E.  Added Hishtadlus will not help at all for one to attain more than was already decreed for him on Rosh Hashana.  This is part of the basic Emunah of HaKol Bidei Shomyaim.


F.  In Olam Haba the key is not “Mi Sheyada Harbeh in Olam Hazeh” but “Mi Sheyaga in Olam Hazeh”--it is the latter who will attain Sheleimus HaTorah in Olam Haba.



Special Note Two: Before taking leave of Parashas Eikev we provide the following outstanding insights, based upon the Sefer Talelei Oros, an unmatched collection by HaRav Yissocher Dov Rubin, Z’tl:


A.  On the Pasuk “LeMa’an Anosecha U’Lema’an Nasosecha” (Devarim 8:16 ), the Chofetz Chaim writes that when Hashem wants to raise a person to a higher Madreiga in life, He first tests him with a Nisayon.  If the person is able to succeed at the Nisayon, then he is raised up to the higher Madreiga in life.  Hakhel Note:  Perhaps you now understand why this or that happened.


B.  The Torah warns against a person who is successful--contemplating that it is because “ Kochi V’Otzem Yadi Asah Li Es HeChayil HaZeh--it is my power and capabilities that have brought me to where I am today.”  The Sefer Meilitz Yosher notes that one of the reasons that we wash Netilas Yadayim upon rising in the morning is because the tumah that comes upon us while sleeping takes its last hold on the hands, which we must then wash in order to remove the tumah’s vestiges.  It is the hands that are the last to forego the tumah, he continues, because a person tends to attribute his success to “the work of his hands”--and there is no greater tumah than to believe that in a person’s own prowess and power which is the antithesis of Ain Od Milevado.  Thus, by washing our hands in the morning--we declare that we want to rid ourselves of the tumah of Kochi V’Otzem Yadi and instead proclaim Ain Od MilevadoHakhel Note:  Why not think about this every morning!


C.  The Imrei Emes was asked how a person could be Zoche to Yiras Shomayim.  He answered that from the Pasuk of “Mah Hashem Elokecha Sho’el MeiImcha Ki Im L’Yirah--what does Hashem ask of you but to fear Him” (Devarim 10:12 ) Chazal also learn that a person should make 100 Brachos a Day.  The Imrei Emes therefore concludes that if a person is careful in his 100 Brachos a Day and has Kavannah when making them, he will be filled with Yiras Shomayim.  On this same topic of how one can attain Yiras Shomayim, HaRav Itzele Peterburger, Z’tl, has an additional insight.  He was once advised that there were Yeshiva Bachurim who were sleeping in the Bais Midrash and not in people’s homes (who had agreed to house them, as was a common practice in many European communities).  He was told that the reason they were so doing was in order to avoid going into a home and finding newspapers and other potentially harmful reading material for them.  HaRav Itzele responded that while their idea may be a good one, the Ikar is to study Mussar--for without one studying Mussar Seforim--even if one would be locked in the Aron Kodesh--he would light a candle there and read what his heart desired.  Hakhel Note:  Have we chosen our Mussar Sefer for Elul yet?


D.  The Sefas Emes notes that the first word of the second Parasha of Shema is VeHaya.  The Midrash explains that VeHaya is a Lashon Simcha.  This emphasizes to us that our Kiyum HaMitzvos should be B’Simcha, and that the more Simcha that we have in the performance of Mitzvos-- Tishme’u--the more we will be zoche to attain Sheleimus in our Mitzvah performance.  In a related vein, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, writes that we have a separate Parasha for Kabbalas Ohl Mitzvos --the second Parasha of Shema--after the first Parasha of Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shamayim.  The Torah is teaching us that it is not sufficient to perform the Mitzvos just based upon Ohl Malchus Shomayim alone--for we also need VeHaya-- the Simcha and longing of the Neshama to do so.  Hakhel Note:  Perhaps we should say the word VeHaya with a special feeling and gladness as we begin to recite the second Parasha of Shema daily!


E.  Both the first and second Parasha of Shema, have the identical Pasuk for the Mitzvah of Mezuzah--U’Kesavtam Al Mezuzos Beisecha U’Visharecha.  The Mesech Chochma notes that the word U’Kesavtam is in the singular in both Parashiyos-- even though the primary focus of the Second Parasha is in lashon rabbim or on the Tzibbur.  Why, then, when it comes to Mezuzah is the singular form maintained?  He answers based upon Chazal who teach that if there was only one Mezuzah in what would otherwise be an Ir Hanidachas, the whole city would be saved so that the Mezuzah would not have to be burned.  Incredibly, he continues, not only does the one Mezuzah save the entire city and its inhabitants from immediate destruction, but that it also saves the city B’Dinei Shomayim--and that the inhabitants even have a Cheilek in Olam Habbah as well!  How important an individual’s Mitzvah performance is--one person who puts a Kosher Mezuzah on his door and it can save his entire city--in this world--and the next! Oh how we should treasure every Mitzvah that we perform!




22 Menachem Av

AN ADDITIONAL BEAUTIFUL INSIGHT ON BIRKAS HAMAZON!   Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, asks if Birkas Hamazon is only one mitzvah, why is it that there are three brochos required by the Torah (the fourth brocha, according to most, is Rabbinic in origin), one brocha thanking Hashem for feeding everyone, a second brocha thanking Hashem for many other important benefits that Hashem has bestowed upon us (as we have previously noted, HaRav Pam, Z’tl, used to count them on his fingers while reciting them), and a third brocha asking for the return of Yerushalayim and the Bais HaMikdash?


Rabbi Goldberger answers that if we would have stopped after one brocha, we may have thought that the food is actually an end in and of itself.  By the two additional brochos which the Torah requires, we are to remind ourselves that we are nourished in order to properly serve Hashem in all areas, and to reach our greatest potential.  With that, we ask for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash, so that we can rise to the highest spiritual heights.





Special Note One:  We provide the following additional important notes on Parashas Eikev: 


A.  The Torah begins with the teaching “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!



B. The Torah writes that Hashem wants us “L’Dovko Bo--to cling to Him.”  The Sefer HaChinuch counts this as a Mitzvas Aseh, and cautions that this Mitzvah applies to both men and women alike. The Chofetz Chaim teaches that the reason Hashem asks this of us now in this world is because a person can get only as close to Hashem in the everlasting next world as he gets to Hashem in this world.  It is up to each and every one of us to get as close as we can. This can be compared to the owner of an inn who is falsely accused of a crime against the government and who realizes that his only hope is to plead for mercy before the King.  He plans to make a trip to the palace before sentencing, but realizes that the task is an almost impossible one, because of the King’s schedule, all of the palace guards, his status, etc. One day, he is astonished to hear that just the day before the King had made a trip through his city dressed as a commoner.  He is understandably even more shocked when he is advised that he had actually had the King as a guest in his inn, and that he had even served him dinner.  What an incomparable opportunity he had to plead for clemency, for mercy--what an irreplaceable event.  Oh and it was all lost! We must make sure that we recognize the King with us here in our inn, and make the most out of our audience with Him, getting as close as possible to Him as we can.  We can do so--each and every one of us--through our sincere Tefillos, through our enthusiastic Torah study and through our demonstrably special dedication to Mitzvos and Maasim Tovim--each person in accordance with his own inn!


 C.  The Pasuk (Devorim 8:3) reads: “Ki Lo Al HaLechem Levado Yichye HaAdam...--not by bread alone does man live, rather from that which emanates from the mouth of Hashem does man live.”  HaRav Aharon Kotler, Z’tl, sheds the following elucidating light on this Pasuk.  Man believes that he puts something (hopefully) tasty into his mouth, digests it through a series of miraculous processes, and is re-energized as a result.  The Pasuk, however, teaches that it is not simply the lechem, the food that has the power to nourish and satiate--it is, rather the actual “Motza Pi Hashem”--the force put into the food by Hashem that does so.  We may be physically eating the food--but it is its actual infusion by Hashem that makes it work. 

 Hakhel Note One: What an incredible point to remember while eating!  Hakhel Note Two: Why would anyone overeat again--what a waste of time, on top of all else....!


D.  In the second Parasha of Shema, we read “Hishameru Lachem, Pen Yifte Levavchem V’Sartem--beware for yourselves lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others.”  Rashi, in explaining the word “V’Sartem--and you turn astray”--writes that this means that you turn away from the study of Torah; and once you turn from Torah you are close to worshipping Avoda Zara.  Upon only a moment’s reflection, the Torah seems to be taking a very big leap--once one does not study Torah, he is but a step away from idol worship.  However, as we all know, the Yetzer Hora doesn’t seem to work this way.  He works on you slowly and deliberately, nibbling away daily and weekly to make sure that his negative influence grows steadily, so that the changes worked upon you actually stick.  So how here does the Torah describe the jump from lack of Torah study to idol worship (and its contemporary equivalents) so swiftly and conclusively?


The Chofetz Chaim provides a remarkable insight to explain.  Imagine two countries at war.  One day, one country wins a battle, the next day the other country wins a battle, and the battles go back and forth as the war continues.  These back-and-forth victories can only be true and continue if one side grabs a certain stronghold, the other captures some soldiers, the first wins an air battle, the second wins a tank battle, etc.  However, if on day one, one side captures all the ammunition of the other side, then the war, for all intents and purposes, is over.  The second side has nothing with which to do battle.


The Chofetz Chaim says that our Pasuk teaches us the same lesson in a powerful, spiritual way.  If a person forsakes the study of Torah (each man and woman, elder and child, in accordance with his /her own position), he has lost all of his ammunition to the Yetzer Hora.  He has lost the war, because he has nothing to fight back with.  Thus, he immediately leaps to complete defeat--to the opposite extreme of Avoda Zara.


HaRav Elchonon Wasserman, Z’tl, H’yd, takes the Chofetz Chaim’s (his Rebbe’s) words a step further.  Chazal (Yerushalmi Chagiga 1:7) teach that even if Hashem would forgo the sins of murder, avoda zara, and gilui arayos, he will not forgo the sin of bitul Torah, of wasting time from Torah study.  Why is this stark statement so?  After all, are these not the three cardinal sins that Hashem would be forgoing versus that of bitul Torah which does not appear to be anywhere near as heinous a misdeed?  The answer, HaRav Elchonon teaches, is that, incredibly, the cardinal sins all are capable of Teshuva.  One can overcome these great failings through the Koach HaTorah, through the study of Torah.  However, if the Torah study itself, a Jew’s weaponry in this World, is taken away, then he has nothing left with which to fight.


There is a tremendous lesson here for each and every one of us, as we rapidly approach the days of reflection and introspection.  Do we want to enter Elul as a soldier without arms?  Don’t we want to equip ourselves as much as we can?  Where can we improve in our daily study (even for just a couple of minutes) after Shacharis?  After Mincha?  After Maariv?  On the bus or train?  Before going to sleep?


Also, what should we be studying?  What area of Torah study have we pushed off that we really need to know or in which we need improvement?  What Sefer have we never studied before that we really have been meaning to?  What Mussar Sefer will we be preparing for Elul?  What Halachos should we learn daily (especially that apply to us?).  How can we improve in our study of the Parasha?  There are so many new Hebrew and English Parasha Seforim.  Have we acquired any of them?  After we have made a mistake in Halacha, or we are not sure whether we said or did the right thing, do we learn what the proper Halacha or Hashkafa is in order to make sure that it will not happen again (i.e., Teshuva!).


As we all know, “Talmud Torah K’Neged Kulam--the study of Torah is equivalent to them all” (Shabbos 127A).  Let us take heed of the words of Shema that we recite daily--so that we succeed not only in our daily battle--but in our life’s purpose and goal!



Special Note Two : We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




How can there be a disagreement between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam? What type of tefillin did Jews wear from the time of Moshe Rabbeinu until Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam?





There are two answers to this question, one more surprising than the other. First, the more surprising answer:


The Ben Ish Chai (R’ Yosef Chaim of Bagdad, 18321909) writes that from the time of Moshe Rabbeinu until the Gaonic period (from circa 650), all Jews wore two pairs of tefillin‼ This is in line with the opinion of the Mekubalim that both Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam are correct, and that one must wear both pairs in order to fulfill the mitzvah in its entirety. [Interestingly, amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, both Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam tefillin were found--and The Dead Sea Scrolls are supposed to date back to the times of the first Beis Hamikdash.]


Poskim, however, generally understand that only one type of tefillin can be kosher. If so, Moshe Rabbeinu certainly knew which was correct, and the uncertainty arose at a later date. This is similar to many other halachos in which people from different parts of Galus (i.e., Germans, Yemenites, Litvish, Chassidim, Sephardim, etc.) have different approaches. Examples would include: which parts of a slaughtered animal they eat, which types of shofar they blow on Rosh HaShanah, and which varieties of esrog they use on Sukkos. Often, Jews of one background would consider another’s approach invalid.




19 Menachem Av

VESAVATA: In this week’s Parasha, we encounter the word Vesavata--and you will be satiated, twice--once in the Mitzvah of bentsching, Ve’achalta Vesavata, and another in the second Parasha of Kriyas Shema--VeNasati Eisev BeSadecha…VeAchalta Vesavata--in both instances the proper pronunciation of the word Vesavata is by emphasis on the middle of the word--vesaVAta. We suggest that this teaches us that to the Torah Jew, one does not eat to the end--to his fill, but is satiated well before then!




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


A. Although we are welcoming Shabbos in earlier every week in the Northern Hemisphere, we should recall the great zechus of Tosefes Shabbos--for ourselves and for all of Acheinu Bnei Yisrael world-over. Ten minutes of one person’s or one family’s Tosefes Kedusha can move the heavens and have world-effecting results!


B. One should recite VaYechulu after Shemone Esrei on Leil Shabbos aloud, for he is testifying and exclaiming to the world that Hashem created the heavens and the earth in six days. Although one must stand if at all possible when doing so, he may lean against a table. If one is towards the end of Shemone Esrei, having recited Yeheyu L’Ratzon Imrei Phi and started Elokai Netzor, when the Tzibbur has started VaYechulu, he can recite VaYechulu with the Tzibbur even though he has not taken three steps back (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 268, 7 and Dirshu Notes 21, 22 and 23). Note: The Mishna Berurah brings a Tur in the name of the Sefer Chassidim as follows: There was one chossid to whom another chossid appeared in a dream after his death. The deceased’s face was green. When the chossid who saw this asked the deceased why his countenance appeared so, he replied: “Because I talked when the Tzibbur was reciting VaYechulu, Magein Avos and Kaddish.”


C. We do not recite Mizmor Lesodah (Tehillim 100) at Shacharis on Shabbos because we do not bring a Korban Todah on Shabbos. However, if one mistakenly began Mizmor Lesodah, he can finish the Chapter, because the only place where the Korban Todah is actually mentioned is the second word of the Kepitel, which he has already recited. Moreover, one is reciting the Kepitel in order to praise Hashem (SA OC 281, Dirshu Note 3).


D. The Levush writes that we recite Nishmas on Shabbos because of the neshama yeseira we have, and the Eliyahu Rabba there adds that when we recite Nishmas, we attain a chochma yeseirah (SA OC ibid. Note 5).


E. The Chayei Adam rules that one cannot skip the pizmonim that we add in Birkos Kriyas Shema on Shabbos of LaKeil Asher Shavas or HaKol Yoducha in order to be able to recite the Shemone Esrei together with the Tzibbur. This is because they are part of the Nusach HaBracha (ibid. Mishna Berurah seif katan 3). It would appear that the same would be true for Keil Adon--one could not skip it in order to recite the Shemone Esrei together with the Tzibbur (SA OC ibid., Dirshu Note 3).


F.  On Shabbos we are blessed with more Aliyos than any other day of the year. What would happen if one called up to the Torah mistakenly first recited the after bracha of “Asher Nosan Lanu Toras Emes” and finished the bracha before he could be stopped.  Is it a bracha levatala and does he have to re-start with the bracha of “Asher Bachar Banu”, which is the appropriate first bracha before laining?  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 139, seif katan 15) rules that the bracha of Asher Nosan Lanu will be valid bedieved--and that the order of the brachos should then be reversed--with Asher Bachar Banu then being recited after the laining of the aliyah is completed. 


G. The Steipeler, Z’tl, whose Yahrzeit is this coming week (Kryana D’Igarta I, Letter 304), provides the following fundamental insight:  If one would know for certain that if he violated this Issur D’Oraysa on Shabbos he would be punished with this kind of infection or that kind of  severe headache, and if he knew that if he sullied that Issur DeRabannan, he would be punished with that kind of virus or that kind of writhing backache, he would be careful to stay away from this Kula or that Kula, and would distance himself from even the possibility of getting close to the Aveira. If, the Steipeler says, we are scared of one of these illnesses--a temporary illness in this passing world --all the more so should we be concerned of a punishment with much more long lasting and devastating results. Shabbos is the “Ohs”--the sign of our special, eternal relationship with Hashem--and if we abuse it, or do not treat it with the respect that it deserves, we are sadly and regretfully abusing this  relationship-- a relationship which is intended to infuse us not with laxity and superficiality --but with holiness and depth --as the Torah testifies(Shemos 31:13) the purpose of Shabbos is “Loda’as Ki Ani Hashem Mikadishchem--to know that Hashem sanctifies us!”



Special Note Two: As the Mitzvah of Tefillah is found in this week’s Parasha, with the words Ul’Avdo BeChol Levavechem”, we continue to provide below important words of direction and instruction on Tefillah provided by HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, the first Mashgiach of the Lakewood Yeshiva, as recorded in the Sefer Leket Reshimos B’Inyanei Tefillah.




A. HaRav Wachtfogel was once asked how one can work on Emunah. He responded--by speaking to Hashem as one speaks to his father. He continued: “One does not have to delve into books about it--one has to find its expression in one’s heart.” Additionally, just as one gives Tzedakah or does Chesed on a daily basis, and the more the one does so, the more the Tzedakah and Chesed is ingrained within him, so too, it is with the Middah of Emunah--one must work on it and practice it every day.


B. One year, after concluding the first day’s Selichos before Rosh Hashana on Motza’ei Shabbos at about 2:00AM , HaRav Wachtfogel urged people to stay in order to recite Tehillim for someone who was ill. Someone advised him that the person’s conditioned had improved a bit. HaRav Wachtfogel replied--all the more so to say Tehillim now--for we see that the Tefillos are helping!


C. HaRav Wachtfogel once visited the Chofetz Chaim, at which time the Chofetz Chaim emphasized to him the words “Alein, Alein”--by oneself, by oneself. HaRav Wachtfogel understood the Chofetz Chaim’s lesson to him is that one should not copy or parrot others, and not get lost in the crowd. Instead--each person as an individual should daven to Hashem, expressing his own Neshama’s yearnings and feelings. HaRav Wachtfogel would point to Yaakov Avinu--whom Hashem did not stop from traveling--when he passed the Makom HaMikdash on the way to Charan. Instead, Hashem wanted Yaakov Avinu to realize it himself--and return to the Makom HaMikdash on his own (see Bereishis 28:17 and Rashi there). Every person must realize who he is and what he must do--and act accordingly!


D. One must keep the teaching of HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl (on the Rambam Hilchos Tefillah 4:1) in mind before beginning his Shemone Esrei. HaRav Chaim writes that when one begins to daven, he must literally view himself as standing before the Shechina--and this is part of the Ikar Mitzvah of Tefillah. If a person’s mind is taken up, and he cannot focus on the fact that he is standing before Hashem--then he is not standing before Hashem, and his Tefillah cannot therefore be a Tefillah--with the result that his bracha is r’l a bracha levatalah. Great privileges come with great responsibilities.


E. HaRav Wachtfogel would say that Gedolei Olam placed their ikar Kavannah in the first bracha of Shemone Esrei.


F. Before leaving the Beis HaMidrash, HaRav Wachtfogel would stop by the door and take out a Tehillim and recite a Perek or some Pesukim, and then only take leave of the Beis Midrash.


G. Once, HaRav Wachtfogel met someone and asked him where he had davened Shacharis. He responded that he had davened with the Mashgiach--but that he had arrived a ‘few minutes’ late. HaRav Wachtfogel responded that all of Tefillah is those ‘few minutes’.


H. Particular Tefillos:


1. Someone asked HaRav Wachtfogel whether there is importance to a birthday. He answered that there is--in terms of Tefillah. A person should recite several Kepitelech of Tehillim, daven for an upcoming good year, and daven for Hatlzacha in Ruchniyus and Kol Tuv. The Mashgiach suggested (at a minimum) Kepitelech 13 and 103.


2. When asked what one should pray for in respect of an unborn child, he responded that one should daven that he become an Adam Gadol. This prayer is true for a girl as well, he said --look at Devorah HaNevi’ah for example. Moreover--think of the Chofetz Chaim’s mother!


3. HaRav Wachtfogel would urge those who had to interrupt their studies for a Mitzvah to daven that they ask for the Shechina who was with them while learning not to depart--just as Avraham Avinu asked Hashem before going to serve the Malochim: “Im Nah Matzasi Chein B’Einecha Ahl Nah Sa’avor Mei’al Avadecha--Hashem, please have mercy on me and do not leave, although I am leaving my Torah studies for now.”


I. Someone related his Chidush in Tefillah to HaRav Wachtfogel--which he apparently very much appreciated: In Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis (Tehillim 30), which we recite every day, Dovid HaMelech exclaims: “Histarta Fanecha Hayisi Nivhal--when You conceal Your face, I am bewildered” (ibid. 30:8).  Realizing he is perturbed, what does Dovid HaMelech do next? “Eilecha Hashem Ekra Ve’el Hashem Eschanan--to you Hashem I call out--to you Hashem do I plead.” Dovid HaMelech is teaching us that if we are disturbed, confused and/or don’t know what to do, we must daven!


J. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, brings in Shir HaShirim ( 2:14 ) that Hashem tells us: “Hashme’ini Es Koleich Ki Koleich Areivlet Me hear your supplicating voice, for your voice is sweet!” Daven to Hashem with your voice, with your strength, with your being!



Special Note Three:  Because this week’s Parasha provides the great Mitzvah of Birkas HaMazon, we review important Halachos and Hashkafos relating to it:


A. The following points and pointers are culled from the Dirshu Mishna Berurah:


1.  If one finished his meal and washed Mayim Achronim, or picked up a Kos in order to lead bentsching, he can no longer eat and drink, and should not even speak (even Divrei Torah) until he has bentsched.  If the Ba’al HaBayis said “Let’s bentsch” and then someone wants to drink, he must make a new bracha on the drink.  If one wants to eat, it is a Machlokes Rishonim as to whether he must make a new bracha or not.  Accordingly, the Mishna Berurah rules that lechatchila one should be careful not to eat after the Ba’al HaBayis has said “Let’s bentsch”.  If, however, the Ba’al HaBayis has merely said “Let’s wash our hands”, the Ben Ish Chai rules that one may continue to eat and drink--as this is not the equivalent of “Let’s bentsch”. Similarly, the reciting of Shir HaMa’alos or Al Naharos Bavel do not in and of themselves end the Seudah, and one can continue to eat afterwards (unless, of course, one had determined that he no longer intended to eat). 


2.  One should leave over a piece of bread on the table while bentsching in order to demonstrate how Hashem provides for everyone’s needs, and so that the bracha of bentsching has something to rest upon (like the oil of Elisha). HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules, however, that leaving something on the table is only necessary for bentsching, and need not be done for Al HaMichya.  Related point from a reader: “The Mishna Berurah to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 180 seif katan 4 (from G’ra) rules that one should only not bring a whole loaf if there are crumbs, but if there are no crumbs, it might even be better to bring a whole loaf (Zohar).”


3.  If there are crumbs left over at the end of a meal, HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl, rules that it is better to give them to an animal than to dispose of them. 


4.  Although we are required to take knives off the table for bentsching (because the table is like a Mizbe’ach and items similar to items of war do not belong on a Mizbe’ach, and in order to avoid a person stabbing himself with the knife when thinking about the current status of Yerushalayim as he recites U’Vnei Yerushalayim), HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, rules that this is not true of a spreading knife, such as a butter knife.  There is a disagreement as to whether the knife must be taken off the table or can simply be covered.  The Kaf HaChaim (al pi kabbalah) writes that the knife must be taken off the table, while the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, and HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl, both rule that the knife can be covered--and even then only the sharp part of the knife need be covered, and not the handle.  There is also a disagreement among the Poskim as to whether a knife which is not made of metal such as a plastic knife need be covered. The Shevet HaLevi, Shlita, rules that it must be covered, while the Tehillah L’Dovid rules that only metal knives need be covered.  On Shabbos and Yom Tov, the Shulchan Aruch writes that it is the Minhag not to remove or cover knives on the table during bentsching. 


5.  Even though we do not have Melech Sedomis, which is the physical reason given for which Mayim Achronim is required, the Sefer Peleh Yoetz writes that we must nevertheless fulfill the Halachos of Mayim Achronim--for even if the physical salt which blinds the eye no longer exists and need not be washed away--we must still follow the words of the Chachomim, so that our Einei Sechel V’Nefesh--the eyes of our intellect and soul remain intact, for “the words of the Chachomim reach the Heavens--and their essence is uplifted and exalted!”


6.  It is Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar for a zimun of three to bentsch over a cup of wine/grape juice--and if this is not available--even chamar medina will do.  There is a difference of opinion as to what chamar medina is. It is reported, for instance, that HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, allowed pure orange juice as chamar medina, but that the Chazon Ish did not.  Accordingly, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to what is deemed chamar medina should he wish to use anything other than wine or grape juice for bentsching (or Havdalah).  It is the opinion of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, and HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl, that coffee and tea would be considered chamar medina. 


7.  Although a Kos Shel Bracha must be cleaned inside and outside before use, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that if the becher was cleaned on the previous Motza’ei Shabbos, it need not be cleaned again for Kiddush on Friday night.  Similarly, if the becher was cleaned prior to being put away last and is now intended to be used for bentsching, one need not re-wash the cup. 


8.  The kos being used for bentsching should be lifted a tefach (3-4 inches above the table), in order to fulfill the Pasuk of “Kos Yeshuos Esah”.  If the kos has a long stem, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that one can hold the kos a tefach from where the kos is attached to the stem, and not a tefach from the bottom of the stem (its base).  Although the Minhag HaOlam appears to be to hold the cup only until LeOlam Al Yechasereinu, the Chacham Tzvi, the Kaf HaChaim, and the Shevet HaLevi rule that the kos should be held until one makes a Borei Pri HaGafen over it. 


9.  The person leading the zimun should say at least the entire first bracha out loud, and one should follow along with him in an undertone, in order to properly fulfill the Mitzvah of zimun.  He should only go ahead a bit at the end, so that all can answer Amen to his bracha. 


10.  One must appreciate how important it is not to disturb his bentsching.  As we have noted in the past, the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah brings in his tzava’ah to his children that he would daven before he bentsched that nobody would knock on his door, which would disturb his concentration.  In any event, one is not allowed to talk or to greet someone, and the Kaf HaChaim writes that one must treat bentsching as Shemone Esrei--and not even answer to Kaddish, Kedusha, or Barchu, but just listen and be a ‘Shome’ah K’Oneh’.  It follows then HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach rules, that one would not answer Amen to the brachos of another person bentsching together with him--except for the person leading the zimun.  The Ben Ish Chai rules that once one begins the HaRachamans at the end of bentsching he can answer Amen, but he cannot speak generally. 


Note:  As far as what one can answer in the bracha HaTov V’HaMaitiv, see the Orach HaShulchan 183:8.


11.  If a child has eaten to satiation and is unsure whether he bentsched or not, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach rules that he should bentsch again so that the child learns that when he reaches of age he should bentsch again.  Similarly, if a child has eaten less the a kezayis, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach rules that if he is satiated he should bentsch--for he must learn that when one is satiated he will have a Mitzvah D’Oryasah to bentsch when he comes of age.  There is a difference of opinion among authorities as to whether a child should learn and recite only one bracha of bentsching at a time, or whether the child should say a little bit from each bracha.  HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, for instance, rules that the child should learn one bracha at a time.  HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that the child can say a portion of every bracha, and this apparently appears to be the ruling of the Mishna Berurah as well (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 186, Mishna Berurah seif katan 4). 


12.  There is a difference of opinion among authorities as to whether a woman who ate to satiation and is unsure whether she bentsched, should nevertheless bentsch.  Although the Mishna Berurah rules that the woman can bentsch, the Kaf HaChaim writes that another eitzah for her would be to make HaMotzi, eat another kezayis, and bentsch --having in mind her previous eating as well. 


13.  When one says Amen after U’Vnei Yerushalayim, it is in order to distinguish the first three brachos of bentsching from the last bracha--as the first three is MiD’oraysa--and the last is MiD’rabanan.  However, one should not wait more than 2-3 seconds between the word Yerushalayim and Amen.


14.  The Aruch HaShulchan (189:2) writes that the bracha of HaTov V’HaMaitiv, which was instituted over the fallen of Beitar being taken to burial in their complete state years later, is intended to teach us that even when Hashem is upset with us he does not leave us and still performs miracles and wonders on our behalf. 


15.  The Mishna Berurah writes that one should study the Sefer Eliyahu Rabbah, Siman 187, for additional Halachos relating to Birkas HaMazon. 


B. The following points and pointers are culled from the Sefer VeZos HaBracha by HaRav Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita:


1.  The Pasuk which sets forth the Mitzvah is actually recited in the second bracha of Birkas HaMazon: “VeAchalTA VeSaVAta U’VairachTA...” Hakhel Note: Just as in Kriyas Shema where the emphasis on the word ‘VeAhavTA’ is on the last syllable--the ‘ta’, and not on the middle syllable of ‘hav’(which incorrect pronunciation would change the meaning of the word to past tense), so too the emphasis on the word VeAchalTA is placed  on the ‘ta’ and not on the ‘achal’  (which mispronunciation would likewise alter the meaning of the word to the past tense).


2.   Before commencing Birkas HaMazon, one should have in mind or recite that he is about to fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh of Birkas HaMazon--with awe and love. From a reader: “The Sefer Shem Olam by the Chofetz Chaim reminds us that in the second bracha of Nodeh, we must remember to have Kavannah and to give thanks to Hashem for Eretz Yisrael, for Food, for our Bris with Hashem and for the Torah.  The Chofetz Chaim even writes “Ba’Avonoseinu HaRabbim” when we say Nodeh--we give thanks without Kavannah.  One’s Kavannah should be SHTARK--especially in the second bracha!” There is a well-known story that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, ZT’L, once repeated the paragraph of “Nodeh Lecha”(We thank You, Hashem), in which we list many important things that we thank Hashem for.  When he was asked why he repeated it, he responded that he experienced a momentary lapse of Kavanna, and that saying “Thank you” without meaning it is not true thanks.  In a related way, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches in the name of HaRav Pam, ZT’L, that one may put out a finger and count each one of the things that you are thanking Hashem for every time you recite “Nodeh Lecha”.  Example: “Al Yisrael Amecha-one, V’Al Yerushalayim Irecha-two etc.”  If you try this, you will see that it is a great method of focusing your appreciation, and rejoicing in what Hashem has given you.


3.  While bentsching, one should feel ‘Simcha Yeseira’--an extra measure of joy, just as one would feel after having received a beautiful gift from another.


4.  Lechatchila, in the first instance, one should Bentsch from a Siddur or Bentscher, and bentsch out loud, or at least loud enough to hear the words one is saying.


5.  One should be sure to be respectably dressed.


6.  One should bentsch while sitting, to increase Kavannah.


7.  If one is thirsty, he should be sure to drink before ending the meal, for some poskim require drinking if thirsty in order to fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa to Bentsch.


8.  One should eat a kezayis of bread within a three (3) minute span at some point during the course of the meal, so that he will have eaten the minimum shiur required for Birkas HaMazon bichdei achilas peras. If one does not do so, than according to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, z’tl, he should not bentsch. It is for this reason that many are careful to eat a kezayis of bread bichdei achilas peras ( once again, three minutes according to HaRav Feinstein) at the beginning of the meal, rather than nibbling on bread or challah in between courses of a meal.


9.  One must bentsch in the place that he ate. If one left that place, and it is possible to return within 72 minutes after his meal was completed, he should return, unless there is real reason that he cannot return, in which event, a sheas hadechak or bedieved, he is Yotzeh bentsching elsewhere.


10.  Each guest should bless his host with the Birchas HaOreyach. If the siddur or bentscher given to him does not have it, he should ask his host for a siddur that does have it.  It should be recited immediately after the conclusion of the fourth bracha (‘LeOlam Ahl Yechaserainu’), and before all of the other HaRachamans, as its nusach is found in the Gemara itself (Brachos 46A). (Sefardim may recite it before Migdol Yeshuos).


11.  One should avoid motioning or signaling with his eyes, hands, and the like while bentsching, unless it is to stop something that is disturbing Kavanna. Similarly, one should avoid moving crumbs, adjusting his clothing, or conducting any other activity while bentsching.


12.  The Pele Yoetz writes that, according to Kabbalah, the four Brachos of bentsching correspond to the four letters of Hashem’s ineffable name.  One should especially try to have Kavanna in the words--and most certainly when reciting the opening and closing words of the bracha.


13.  If we would simply focus on the powerful words of bentsching, and would take the extra minute or two necessary to recite bentsching in the manner described above, we would gain a greater appreciation of its hallowed words.  For instance, just look at the paragraph of “BaMorom Yelamdu Aleyhem V’Oleinu Zechus, Shetehey Lemishmeres Shalom--in Heaven may a merit be pleaded for them and for us for a safeguard of peace….”  If one properly appreciates bentsching, one will not try to avoid bentsching like little children do, but rather value it for the great Mitzvah D’Oraysa--the incredible privilege and opportunity--that it truly is.


14.  Finally, the extreme importance of Birkas HaMazon is demonstrated by the great emphasis that is placed upon it in the Chinuch of children.  It is one of the first subjects taught to children--and in a joyful and singing manner.  We had asked HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Z’tl, whether it would be better for a newcomer to Torah Judaism to recite the bentsching in English or to listen word-for-word to the bentsching of another in Hebrew.  He responded that the newcomer should recite the bentsching in English.  While a major reason for this may be the difficulty encountered by a newcomer in following the entire Birkas HaMazon in Hebrew, an ancillary reason for this P’sak may be so that the person who has just eaten can truly appreciate the import and meaning of Birkas HaMazon.


May our recitation of Birkas HaMazon be a time that we look forward to and anticipate--to express our appreciation with joy--and fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh D’Oryasah on top of it!



Special Note Four: We provide the following very brief additional points and pointers on this week’s Parasha:


A. The Parasha begins with the words “Vehaya Eikev Tishmiun”. Chazal teach that the Mitzvos that a person treads upon with his Eikev--with his heel, i.e., the Mitzvos that a person deems ‘relatively unimportant’ will surround him after 120 years at the time of judgment. It may be these Mitzvos that surround him that ultimately determine his fate--and his level in Gan Eden (or c’v elsewhere).  In honor of the Parasha, perhaps we can select one of these Mitzvos in our daily routine--remove it from under our heal, and elevate to a high position in our head!


B. The  Parasha contains the famous phrase “VeLo Savi So’eiva El Baisecha--do not bring something abominable into your home” (Devorim 7:26 ).  The Torah is of course referring to avodah zara related matters.  We can take the hint, though, as to other related various and sundry to’eivos which confront us. If some of those magazines or circulars that are dropped at your doorstep never make it into the house--you may literally be fulfilling the sacred words “do not bring them into the house”.  You may have some other ideas as to what to purge from your home (even if it is only for ‘the news and sports’).  Perhaps the litmus test in one’s home is to walk around as if his Rav or Rebbi was going to visit--and remove anything that one would be embarrassed about! Additional Note: The Sefer HaChinuch adds on this very Mitzvah of VeLo Savi So’eiva (Mitzvah 429), that money gained improperly or inappropriately falls within the definition of to’eiva as well.  We should take a good look around the house--does everything here really belong to me--and even if it does belong to me --does it really belong here with me?


C.  We are also blessed with the second Parasha of Kriyas Shema, within which we accept the Ohl HaMitzvos, and in which we recognize Hashem’s perfect reward and punishment.  In the first Pasuk we reiterate the Mitzvah (mentioned in the first Parasha of Shema ) of Ahavas Hashem --Leahava Es Hashem Elokeichem.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that this Mitzvah is especially significant because it is always done Lishma--for there can be no ulterior motive to loving Hashem!


Hakhel Note One: Before reciting the Parasha daily, one should understand that after having been Mekabel Ohl Malchus Shomayim in the first Parasha of Shema, he is now ready to be Mekabel Ohl Mitzvos.  One does not perform Mitzvos because they are nice, practical or logical--but because of Malchus Shomayim--Hashem has guided you and directed you to do so.


Hakhel Note Two: Sechar V’Onesh teaches us that what we do right and what we do wrong is not of a fleeting or temporary nature --its effects are everlasting, for the good and for the bad.  Food is an easy Olam Hazeh reminder of this--a portion of satiating food can keep you going for many hours, while a portion of spoiled food can make you feel really sick for the same amount of time.


D. The second Parasha of Shema also teaches us that we must first feed our animals before we eat ourselves, based on the Pasuk--”VeNosati Esev...Levhemtecha VeAchalta VeSovata...”-first the Beheimos eat--and then you eat. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, likewise rules that fish have to be fed first as well, so that if breakfast or dinner is around your aquarium’s feeding time, the fish must be fed first. By analogy, anyone who is dependent on you should be taken care of first as well--after all isn’t Hashem taking care of you!


E.  The second Parasha of Shema once again instructs us in the mitzvah of Tefillin.  HaRav Shmelke of Nikolsburg, Z’tl , notes that if even the nartik, the outside case holding the Tefillin, falls to the ground, it is our natural, sincere and almost inborn reaction to quickly pick it up and  to kiss it in many places in order to show our affection for the Tefillin.  If we show our affection in this way to casing, he teaches, then all the more so should we naturally and sincerely show our unbounding love to the Tefillin’s wearer!


F.  In his commentary to Mesechta Brachos, Rabbeinu Yonah refers to the mitzvah of Mezuzah, reinforced at the end of the second Parasha of Shema.  He teaches that through the Mitzvah of Mezuzah one demonstrates that the possessions (in this house, in this room) are dedicated to the service of Hashem.  The Mitzvah serves not just as a protection from harm--but as a statement-in-deed that you have a deeper understanding of what your worldly possessions mean and to what purpose they should be dedicated.  One thereby is actually Mekabel Ohl Malchus Shomayim through his earthly possessions --with the proper intent of the Mezuzah on his doors. 


Hakhel Note:  When looking at or kissing a Mezuzah upon entering or leaving the room, one can momentarily reflect upon the great and famous words of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim--LaShem Ha’aretz U’Meloah--to Hashem is the earth and its fullness!”




18 Menachem Av

PARASHAS HAYIRAH: This week’s Parasha contains within it what is known by many as the Parashas HaYirah. The Parashas HaYirah, together with a short and powerful Tefillah, is found in many Siddurim after daily Shacharis. Even if we may not have enough time after Shacharis to recite the Parashas HaYirah every day, it would certainly behoove us to do so today, as it constitutes the aliyah of Chamishi this Shabbos.  We add that if the Parashas HaYirah is in THIS WEEK’S PARASHA we should view it, BeHashgacha Pratis, as a wake-up call for us to elevate ourselves in our personal Yiras Shomayim.  In this regard, we note that the Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah at the outset of Mesechta Brachos teach that the Ikar HaYirah--the Essence of Yiras Shomayim is Lizaheir MaiHasefeikos  Vesheloh La’asos HaMitzvos Ahl Derech Hahergel--to stay clear of doubtful actions and not to do Mitzvos out of habit.”  One can apply this definition whenever he can--and see how he climbs the ladder of Yiras Shomayim!




Special Note One: The Mitzvah of Tefillah is found in this week’s Parasha--in the second Parasha of Shema--with the words “Ul’Avdo BeChol Levavechem”. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita was asked the following question by friends of a young man who was seriously ill: They have gotten together several times to recite Tehillim and daven for him. He is unfortunately still ill. Is there something else they should do--perhaps take upon themselves a special Mitzvah together...? If so, what should they do? HaRav Kanievsky answered that Chazal teach: “Im Ro’eh Adam SheHispallel Velo Ne’eneh, Yachzor VeYispallel (Brachos 32A)...if a person sees that he prayed and that his prayers were not seemingly answered, he should pray again.” He thus advised the friends that, ahead of all else, to make another Kinus of Tefillah on their friend’s behalf. From this P’sak we should grow in our appreciation of the utter potency of Tefillah.


One may study the important words of the Sefer HaChinuch on the Mitzvah of Tefillah (Mitzvah 433). We provide below important words of direction and instruction on Tefillah provided by HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, the first Mashgiach of the Lakewood Yeshiva, as recorded in the Sefer Leket Reshimos B’Inyanei Tefillah. To get an appreciation of who the Mashgiach was, here is just one story: “A bachur was coming back from a date in New York , and two thugs entered his car when he was stopped at a light. They demanded his money. He told them that he did not have any, but that he had a piece of jewelry in Lakewood where he lived and that if they came back along with him, he would give it to them. One of the thugs continued with him. In the meantime, the Mashgiach, who slept in the dormitory during the week, suddenly woke up a group of bachurim and advised them that someone in the Yeshiva was in danger and that they should recite Tehillim. They continued reciting Tehillim until the bachur arrived in Yeshiva accompanied by the thug. Someone immediately called the police. The Mashgiach asked that the matter be kept quiet. Twenty years later someone asked the Mashgiach how he knew that a bachur was in danger. He responded: “Maybe I had a dream….”




A. The Sefer HaChinuch (ibid.) writes that this Mitzvah is a Mitzvah Koleles--a broad and inclusive one: “Because the service of Hashem includes all of the Mitzvos.” HaRav Wachtfogel explains that the Chinuch means that the Mitzvah of Tefillah subsumes the entire Torah within it, for in the end all of the Mitzvos are Avodas Hashem--and Tefillah is the source of all Avodas Hashem!


B. One who owns a store, and knows that this is his Parnassah, is very careful in guarding it. If he leaves it open and takes a stroll without proper safeguards--he will most certainly go bankrupt. To the contrary, one who is careful exercises his hishtadlus by making sure that the store opens and closes on time, and that he properly services his customers. What is our ‘store’ in Ruchniyus? The Pasuk records (Shemos 14:10 ): “Vayitzaku Bnei Yisrael Ehl Hashem”--and Bnei Yisrael cried out to Hashem. Chazal teach that the reason that they did so is because they held onto the umanus, to the profession of their forefathers--Tefillah! Our store--the umanus of K’lal Yisrael--is Tefillah.


C. One should remember the words of the Chazon Ish (Kovetz Igros, Igeres Bais): “HaTefillah Hi Mateh Oz Beyad Kol Adam Vechol Sheyasim Ha’adam Mivtacho Bo Yisborach Kein Ya’aleh Ve’chein Yatzliach…Chavivin Yisrael She’ein Tzrichin Shaliach Vechol Bar Nash Bechocho Limtzo Tov Ahl Yedei Tefillah--Tefillah is a mighty tool in the hand of every person, and one who places his trust in Hashem will succeed…we are cherished by Hashem for we do not need any intermediary--each and every one of us can attain all goodness through Tefillah!


D. The Ikar of Tefillah is not the in-depth Kavannos or yichudim--rather, it is one’s attitude in Tefillah. One must show humility and great respect while davening. Likewise, one should not treat the Shul with disrespect in any manner--hanging up a coat on a window, not coming dressed properly, or the like.


E. When davening, one should speak to Hashem as a poor person who is at the door--pleading for his needs before One Who is concerned for him and can grant all of his requests--and more!


F. Chazal (Brachos 6B) teach that Tefillah is so important and so lofty that it stands “BeRumo Shel Olam--at the height of the world.” It is for this reason that the Yetzer Hara attempts from so many angles to thwart the efficacy of one’s Tefillos. Know, then, that when you succeed to coming to Shul on time, recite Pesukei D’Zimra with meaning, and stand Shemone Esrei knowing that you are standing before Hashem--each and every success is a separate and distinct victory against the Yetzer Hara.


G. If one feels that he is being disturbed by others davening loudly, he should realize that whatever other place he moves to, he will probably find a similar result. Instead, one should focus on his own davening--with Kavannah, with hislahavus, with simcha--so that he is so involved in his own Tefillah--he will not be disturbed by another’s Tefillah!


H. After 120 years, a person will be asked: “What did you do about the Churban Beis HaMikdash and the Galus HaShechina?” “What did you do for the Jews in Russia and in other lands?” “What did you do for Eretz Yisrael?” If a person responds: “Who am I? What am I?”, the Beis Din Shel Ma’alah will reject the claim, and reply: “HaKadosh Baruch Hu listens to the Tefillos of everyone, and in Tefillah one can ask for anything and achieve anything--you had the ability to use the greatest power available to anyone!


I. Dovid HaMelech refers to himself as “Va’ani Sefillah--and I am prayer” (Tehillim 109:4). HaRav Wachtfogel once quoted this Pasuk in a shmuz and began to cry, exclaiming: “Dovid does not call himself a king, a navi, a chochom--rather he defines his essence as Tefillah--and so can we!”


J. Yaakov Avinu describes his Tefillos as Becharbi U’vekashti--my sword and my bow (Bereishis 48:22 and Targum Unkelus there). HaRav Wachtfogel explains that this is not a Mashal at all--for in the Olam HaRuchni in which he lived--the sword and the bow is Tefillah--for it breaks and destroys our enemies and antagonists from without and from within!


K. Moshe Rabbeinu led us out of Mitzrayim, received the Torah and with unimaginable self-sacrifice led millions of people in the desert. Yet, these unfathomable zechusim were insufficient for him--as Chazal (Brachos 32A) teach that Moshe was only answered in the zechus of his Tefillos.


L. Although withstanding a Nisayon is a great accomplishment--there is an even greater madreiga, and that is to sincerely plead before Hashem: “Ve’al Tevieini Liyedei Nisayon--and do not bring me to a Nisayon!”


M. We should appreciate the roles of Shacharis, Mincha and Ma’ariv. Shacharis gives us the spiritual strength to continue until Mincha, and Mincha until Ma’ariv. As the Sefer Kuzari (Ma’amar Gimel) puts it: Shacharis gives us the fortitude for the day just as the morning meal does--until we ‘eat again’ in the evening. Tefillah is spiritual sustenance.


N. HaRav Wachtfogel would very much object to those whose strength and intensity in davening or reciting Tehillim for a particular situation would wane because he heard the person felt better, or the situation had improved. Our hallmark, he said is that we are a nation which is “Kelavi Yakum Vecha’ari Yisna’asah--which gets up like a lion cub and raises itself up like a lion.” We are to daven with strength, sincerity, devotion and feeling at all times--and in all situations. [Hakhel Note: Temporary ceasefire--or not!]



Special Note Two: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.



“Rabbeinu Tam” Tefillin



What exactly is the difference between “Rashi” tefillin and “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin?



As we have discussed, there are four compartments in the tefillin shel rosh. There are also four parashiyos in the tefillin shel rosh – each one written on a separate piece of klaf and inserted into one of the four compartments.


There is disagreement between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam concerning the order of the parashiyos in the battim (compartments). Their dispute is based on their respective interpretations of the Gemara’s directives.


Rashi is of the opinion that the parashiyos are placed in the battim in the order in which they appear in the Torah: 1) Kadesh; 2) Vehayah Ki Yeviacha; 3) Shema; 4) Vehayah Im Shamoa (from the standpoint of someone looking at the shel rosh).


Rabbeinu Tam maintains that the correct order is: 1) Kadesh; 2) Vehayah Ki Yeviacha; 3) Vehayah Im Shamoa; 4) Shema. However, he agrees with Rashi that the four parashiyos must be written in the order in which they appear in the Torah.


According to most Rishonim, the disagreement between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam also applies to the shel yad (which is written on one long piece of klaf). Here, too, the parashiyos are written in the order in which they appear in the Torah. According to Rabbeinu Tam, though, the slot for Vehayah Im Shamoa is left blank while Shema is written to its left, and the sofer subsequently returns to the third slot to write Vehayah.




17 Menachem Av

CHEERIOS PROTEIN ALERT: The OU advises that although Cheerios Protein Oats & Honey is OU, pareve, Cheerios Protein Cinnamon Almond is dairy and is accordingly marked as OUD.  To many consumers the box may be highlighted by the words Cheerios Protein and look very much alike. Accordingly, for those who are makpid on Cholov Yisrael--beware!


KAROV HASHEM LECHOL KORE’AV: Every day, three times a day in Ashrei we recite the Pasuk “Karov Hashem Lechol Kore’av Lechol Asher Yikre’uhu B’emes--Hashem is close to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Tehillim 145:18). Yet, in last week’s Parasha, the Torah records “Ki Me Goy Gadol…KaShem Elokeinu Bechol Kore’einu Eilav--for which is a great nation that has G-d Who is close to it, as Hashem is whenever we call to Him?” (Devorim 4:7). The Pasuk in Devorim appears not to require the ‘calling out in truth’ that the Pasuk in Ashrei requires. How can we reconcile these Pesukim? The Eitz Yosef on the Siddur suggests that ‘calling in truth’ simply means that as a prerequisite to legitimately calling out, our mouths must be truthful. If we want Hashem to be attentive to our call to Him, we must excel in the Middah of Emes. He would seem to learn that the Pasuk in Devorim assumes the Middah of Emes as well. The Radak (on the Pasuk in Ashrei) writes that ‘calling out in truth’ means that one’s mouth and heart are equal--Hashem will listen to one cries out with Kavannah. We can assume that the Pasuk in Devorim also implies this requirement--after all, why would anyone [certainly, Hashem, as the One Who Knows all thoughts] pay attention to a creation who is not being sincere in his pleading to Him. The Malbim (on the Pasuk in Ashrei) writes that, in fact, there are two different kinds of callers--one calling out of yirah, and the other out of Ahava, and they receive qualitatively different responses as well (see there). Truth, Kavannah, and Ahavas Hashem--to be sure to have Hashem as close as possible to us and our prayers--let us excel in all three!



REMINDER--TZION BAMISHPAT TIPADEH: Yeshayahu HaNavi ( 1:27 ) reveals to us:  Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh VeShaveha B’Tzedakah--we will be redeemed through justice and through Tzedakah.” We are all familiar with the importance of giving Tzedakah for the sake of Geulah. But how does the first part of the Pasuk relating to ‘judging’ apply to us on a daily basis as well? Every day, we are engaged in the process of judging other people. Let us be sure at the outset to judge them favorably. Imagine the Moshiach telling you that you fulfilled your part--in both parts of the Pasuk!   






ADVICE FROM THE CHOFETZ CHAIM: The Chofetz Chaim writes that once one realizes that he has done something wrong, he should immediately have charatah and do Teshuvah for it. Through this, the Chofetz Chaim continues, one will not fall into yeiush--despair, for he recognizes that his misdeeds can be corrected. One must always remember that Hashem is not looking to ‘catch’ a person--rather, Hashem is an “Oheiv Chesed V’Rotzeh L’Zakos L’Briyosav”. Yes, Hashem is All-Knowing. Nevertheless--He wants us find our Zechusim and perform Chesed on our behalf!



DAM KADOSH: In a special short Shiur given on this past Erev Shabbos Nachamu, HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, explains that in this last Galus of Galus Yishmael, the Arabs seek nothing else but Jewish blood. He teaches that the way to prevent the Arabs from any future success in this area is by making our blood holy (‘Dam Kadosh’), so that they can have no shelita, no power, over it. How can we make our blood Kadosh? HaRav Rabanovitch explains that there are two primary ways to do so:


1. We should be as careful as possible with the Kashrus level of the food and drink we consume--looking for Mehadrin products, and not settling for ‘bedi’eved’ Kashrus situations. The Kedusha of what we eat will be carried through our blood stream.


2. One should be careful to recite brachos over food and drink with Kavannah--thereby further instilling Kedusha invested in the food and drink into the blood stream of our bodies.


For those who could understand his powerful original words in Yiddish (less than two minutes), we provide a recording of them by the following link --  http://tinyurl.com/lzh7qwh



WHAT’S NEWS? With the respite of a ceasefire, one who was looking at the news every hour, should make it a point of ‘detoxifying’ himself, and perhaps only looking at the news once or twice day---at the beginning and end of the day, to reassure himself that the ceasefire is still in effect. In truth, even then--one is likely to get an email or call if there is some kind of news in the making. One can use the few minutes each time he was going to take to look at the news to recite a Kepitel Tehillim out loud, learn a Mishna on behalf of a fallen Chayal (www.lilmod.org.il), or some other, much more practical, constructive and real purpose.



Special Note One:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, recently related the story of a Rav who was caught in a concentration camp wearing Tzitzis under his uniform. The Nazi asked him what he was wearing--and he responded a ‘Gutz Klaid’--a garment of G-d. The Nazi began to beat him mercilessly, and then told him that he will only let him live if he can provide him with a reasoned explanation as to how he could have the belief and the audacity, to have worn this religious garment in the camp. Although already severely beaten, the Rav silently davened to Hashem, and provided an answer with the following Mashal: “There was once a senior professor, a highly experienced surgeon, who was called into perform only the most serious of operations. Once, in the midst of an operation in which he was carefully and methodically performing delicate incisions to reach a vital organ, a shoemaker in attendance began to loudly question the professor’s actions: ‘You are cutting in too many directions, your incisions are too small, you will never get to your goal…!’ The professor, undaunted by the questions and accusations of the shoemaker, continued and completed the operation, successfully saving the person’s life.” The Rabbi continued: “Imagine what would have happened had the professor stopped because of the shoemaker’s questions. You and I may likewise be experienced shoemakers--but the professor--Who has instructed me to wear this Gutz Klaid--will certainly successfully complete that which He has sought out to accomplish!” Stunned and moved, the Nazi sent him back to his barracks.


Hakhel Note: In the bracha we are working on this week, Ahl HaTzaddikim, we plead with Hashem to give a “Sachar Tov L’chol HaBotchim B’Shimecha B’Emes--a good reward for those who truly believe in You.”  The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl notes that every Mitzvah that one performs will be rewarded in Olam Habah--why would the Mitzvah of Bitachon be any different?  What are we asking for here?  He answers that we are not actually requesting reward in Olam Habah with these words.  Rather, as Dovid Hamelech teaches us in Tehillim (32:10), “Habote’ach BaShem Chesed Yesovevenu--one who trusts in Hashem is surrounded by kindness.”  Likewise, as the Navi (Yirmiyahu 17:7) writes, “Boruch Hagever…Vehaya Hashem Mevtacho--blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem, then Hashem will be his security.”  In these Pesukim, both Dovid Hamelech and Yirmiyahu Hanavi are teaching us the greatness of Bitachon--even if we do not merit, even if we are not otherwise worthy of, Hashem’s Chesed or security, He may in any event save us in the zechus of our true Bitachon in Him! Let us appreciate the power of Bitachon--and the importance of our plea!



Special Note Two: Chazal (Ta’anis 31A) teach that with the advent of the Fifteenth of Av, where the nights begin to get longer as we reach the other side of summer, we are duty-bound to increase our Torah study. This is codified by the Rema in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 246. In this regard, we especially remind ourselves that, as Chazal teach, while the Beis HaMikdash is not standing what remains for Hashem is the Daled Amos Shel Halacha--our study as to how to properly live by and perform the words of the Torah.  It is essential that with whatever we study--whether it be Daf Yomi, Amud Yomi, Parashas HaShavuah, or any Sefer Mussar, we walk away in some way knowing better what to do in a practical situation or in a meaningful way.  As the Ramban writes to his son in the Igeres HaRamban:  “Techapeis BaAsher Lamadeta, Im Yeish Bo Davar Asher Tuchal LeKayemo--when you are about to get up from your Torah study--look into it to see if you can fulfill something that you did not know or properly understand before.”  Before closing our Gemara, our Chumash, or other Sefer, spend a few moments thinking about (or even writing down) something that one has learned during the study session that you can apply or improve upon in your daily life!




16 Menachem Av

FROM A READER:  “As you have reminded us in the past, please remind readers that when reciting Shema, one should be careful to pronounce the word as “v’ahavTA” (and you shall love), rather than “v’aHAVta” (and you did love).”



DON ’T FORGET THE EREV SHABBOS BULLETIN:  As Rashi and the Ramban taught in last week’s Parasha--we can and will break our enemies! How so? By peshara and lifnim meshuras hadin--by acting with compromise and going beyond the letter of the law with others. We have the answer--let us use it on a daily basis…by acting the special way we should with the family and friends around us!



INSTEAD OF TALKING POLITICS:  Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:54) writes: “VeChayav Adam Lachshov Machashavos LeHa’alos Eitzos Hagunos U’Mesukanos L’Chaveiro--a man is obligated to think about how he can give befitting and appropriate counsel and advice to his friend.  Rabbeinu Yonah continues that this is one of the “Ikarei Darchei Gemilus Chasodim--this is one of the essentials of Chesed”.  Let us not squander these essential opportunities to do Chesed with discussions that are not meaningful, and by spending time giving advice and opinions regarding social order, politics, the economy and the world--which really don’t count or matter.



THE NOVOMINSKER REBBE, SHLITA, URGES: At the Kinus Hisorerus sponsored by Agudath Israel of America last week, the Novominsker Rebbe reminded everyone of the Chazal in Brachos (54A) who teach that when one who is traveling enters a city safely, he should give thanks to Hashem for having done so, and then also daven that he be saved in his future travels. He pointed out that with the thousands of rockets that flew into Eretz Yisrael over the last several weeks, we owe tremendous Shevach V’Hoda’ah to Hashem that, although there were fatally injured and wounded and much property damage, thousands of lives were saved and much tragedy was miraculously averted. We should not skimp in our thanks to Hashem in this regard. He pointed out that just as we recite Kepitelech 121 and 130 (Shir LaMa’alos and Shir Hama’alos) we can also recite Kepitelech 106 and 107 (Halelukah Hodu Lashem Ki Tov Ki LeOlam Chasdo and Hodu Lashem Ki Tov Ki LeOlam Chasdo)!



QUESTION OF THE DAY : Rashi in last week’s Parasha (Devarim 4:25), based on the word Venoshantem, teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed 850 years after our entry into Eretz Yisrael rather than 852 years after our entry into Eretz Yisrael. For, if Hashem would have waited the additional two years, all of K’lal Yisrael would have been destroyed. Why did Hashem not allow us an extra year--the 851st year in Eretz Yisrael as well. After all--did not Hashem wait until the last possible moment in Mitzrayim--before reaching the 50th level of tumah, and only then took us out. Certainly, then, for the good, couldn’t we have stayed in Eretz Yisrael one year longer? Imagine--one extra year in Eretz Yisrael!




Special Note One:  More gems from Rabbeinu Yonah:


A. In last week’s Pirkei Avos (4:1), Ben Zomah teaches that the true hero is not one who conquers cities, but one who conquers his own Yetzer Hara. The Rabbeinu Yonah explains that this Mishna is teaching us that just as the body’s strength and prowess is its greatest and most important attribute, so too, is the ability to vanquish one’s Yetzer Hara the quintessence of one’s neshama.


B. A king once asked a loyal subject to give him one request--and he would grant it. The subject thought it through--if I ask for money, he will give it to me; if I ask for real estate, he will give it to me--but these are so finite, and so limited. I know--I will ask to marry his daughter--this will include everything from the king on a going forward basis! When Hashem asked Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, what he wanted--Shlomo responded that he wanted Chochma--wisdom--for all else is included in that!


C. Although there is a Beis Dovid--the kingdom of Dovid, and a Beis HaLevi--the Kehuna, there is no similar one house for those who are Yirei Hashem--for Yiras Shomayim is open to all those who seek it!


D. The Avodah of one’ ears is to listen to tochacha--to the instruction and reproof of others, as the Pasuk teaches (Mishlei 15:31 ):  Ozen Shoma’as Tocha’achas Chaim MeKerev Chachomim Talin--the ear that listens to the reproof of life resides among the wise”. Likewise, Yeshaya HaNavi teaches (59:3): “Hatu Aznechem U’Lechu Eilai Shemu U’Sechi Nafshecham”.



Special Note Two:  It is now a full week since Tisha B’Av.  We provide some closing thoughts regarding our transition from a downtrodden Galus mode of existence to one of inspired and everlasting Geulah.


1.  The Sefer Chaim Sheyeish Bahem brings the words of HaRav Baruch Ber Lebowitz, z’tl.  “After 120 years I will be asked what I accomplished in this world. I will say that I learned Torah.  But what if they say --you call that Torah?  Then I will say that I had some I had some Yiras Shomayim.  But what if they say--you call that Yiras Shomayim?  I will still be able to say that I had some Ahavas Yisrael--for when another Yid would be near me on the street I would say--”Brachos Ahl Rosho--may brachos come upon his head!” This will certainly serve as  some kind of limud zechus for me....  Hakhel Note:  At least in this regard--we too can be like Reb Baruch Ber!


2.  At the outset of Kinah 24 over the Churban Bais HaMikdash, we recite that ‘Espod Bechol Shona VeShona Misped Chadash’--we lament with a new elegy every year.  If this year’s Tisha B’Av is different than last year’s, than this year’s post-Tisha B’Av has to be different as well.  This year, being one step closer to Geulah puts us in a different position, and we must be up to the task.


3.  The Kinos refer to Chavetzeles HaSharon--the rose of Sharon.  Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, Shlita, points out that a rose must be attached to the ground to live--in water it eventually wilts and dies.  So too, our life is our connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and we must strive to keep the connection vibrant and lasting.  One way to do this is by not faltering in Kavannah in your daily Shemone Esrei--no matter how tired, harried, frazzled, or side-tracked you really think you are.


4.  The damage, death and destruction perpetrated to us over the years as reflected in the various Kinos demonstrate how unfulfilling the pursuit of Gashmius, in the long run, really is.  When people’s lives were at stake or even sacrificed, the earthly possessions turned out to be inconsequential.  If an anti-semitic tyrant would take power in any country even today, our first reaction would be to flee for our lives to a safer haven.  Now take a look at the so-called great and powerful King Nevuchadnezzar.  His temporal grandiose palace is another old ruin in Iraq, and there is not even a surviving likeness that we are sure is him.  When you feel too involved in gashmius, look at the world around and realize that life has much more to offer.  When stretching to look for the next bus, or for your luggage on the baggage carousel, think about the other, more needed and more permanent things we search for as well.  As the Navi in Eicha bemoans--Betzipisiyaseinu Tzipinu--we longed for the aid of the Egyptians-when we should have been stretching out our necks--and longing for the Shechina!


5. Rabbi Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, points out that the shortest Sefer of Navi and the longest Sefer of Navi each begin with the same word--Chazon (the vision).  The shortest Sefer is Ovadia which is one perek and relates to the destruction of Edom (from whom Ovadia had originally descended), and the largest Sefer is Yeshayahu (whose close relatives were the Kings of Yehudah at the time) which has 66 Perakim, and which contains many nevuos of consolation.  Everyone has a task and a role in making K’lal Yisrael succeed--and one should spend the time to determine what it is.  Hakhel Note:  It is said that HaRav Zundel Salanter, z’tl, was once seen practicing how he bowed during Shemone Esrei in the middle of the day.  When asked why he was doing so, he responded that he couldn’t wait until Shemone Esrei--when he was already standing before the King of kings--to figure out what to do and how to do it.  In the aftermath of Tisha B’Av and in anticipation of redemption, we too should not wait very much longer in order to figure out what exactly it is that we have to do!


6. The Geulah from Mitzrayim happened miraculously.  The Geulah from Galus Bavel happened in the so-called ‘ordinary course’ as part of the apparent plan of King Koresh to re-unite us with our homeland.  Which will the final Geulah be?  It is said that the Chofetz Chaim did not rejoice at all when he heard of the Balfour Declaration--for the third and final Geulah could come either way--and the miraculous route is much preferred.  Perhaps with this we can appreciate the special, double entendre in our daily Shemone  Esrei as we recite the words “VeSa Nes LeKabetz Goluyoseinu--and lift up a banner [a miracle] to gather together our exiles.  If the Chofetz Chaim preferred a miracle--certainly so should we!  Let us remember at these words to daven with sincerity that Hashem lift the Nes--high up for all of us to see--Bekarov Bimeheira Veyameinu!




15 Menachem Av

V’AHAVTA! In last week’s Parasha, we learned of the fundamental requirement of V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha (Devorim 6:5) set forth at the outset of Shema. The Seforno (ibid.) provides a most beautiful and instructive insight as to how we can demonstrate this love: “Tismach La’asos Davar Sheyitav B’Einav, Ka’asher Tavin She’ein Tachlis Nichbad Kazeh--rejoice in doing that which is good in the eyes of Hashem, with the understanding that there is no more honorable pursuit.” Let us review this very practical and meaningful explanation of V’Ahavta--and try to implement it on a daily basis!


Hakhel Note:  On the same word of V’Ahavta, the Ba’al Haturim (ibid.) writes that if we transpose the letters--V’Ahavta spells--HaAvos--our forefathers! The Ba’al Haturim then goes on to show that: (i) Avraham Avinu demonstrably fulfilled Bechol Levavecha, as the Pasuk (Nechemia 9:8) teaches: “U’Matzasa Es Levavo Ne’eman Lefanecha”; (ii) Yitzchak Avinu demonstrably fulfilled U’Vechol Nafshecha by being Moser Nefesh at the Akeida; and (iii) Yaakov Avinu fulfilled U’vechol Me’odecha by declaring (Bereishis 28:22): “Vechol Asher Titein Li Aser A’asrehnu Lach”. According to the Ba’al Haturim, then--we unite with the Middos of the Avos--as we recite the Pasuk of V’Ahavta!




Special Note One:  Just a few final lessons from Tisha B’Av:


A.  The Mishna Berurah rules that, at a Chasunah, one can use a whole (unbroken) cup to break under the Chupah, and that there is no prohibition of ba’al taschis associated with its breakage, for it is for a real purpose--”L’Rameiz Mussar L’Ma’an Yitnu Lev--so that all in attendance take the lesson to heart, and realize the importance of Yerushalayim in our lives.”  For those in attendance at a Chasunah, please make sure that the cup’s shattering is meaningful to you!


B.  In Eicha, Yirmiyahu HaNavi laments “Lamah LaNetzach Tishkacheinu--which ostensibly means why will You forget us forever?”  However, we all know that Hashem will not forget us forever, and that He will bring Moshiach and a everlasting Beis Hamikdash back for us.  So what does the word “LaNetzach” mean here?  HaRav Yitzchak Ezrachi, Shlita, suggests that it refers to every minute before the Moshiach comes in which we lose the nitzchiyus--the true and full potential of that moment.  When will we finally be remembered--we lament every lost minute of potential until the final Geulah takes place!


C.  In several places, Chazal give reasons for why we were sent into exile.  However, Chazal (Nedarim 81A) also bring one reason brought by Yirmiyahu HaNavi in the Name of Hashem—“Al Asher Azvam Es Torasi--for they forsook my Torah”, which the Meforshim there explain refers to a lack of proper honor and respect for the Torah…even though it was studied.  How could Chazal have given alternate reasons if the Pasuk itself--in the name of Hashem--explains why we were exiled.  Many explain that Chazal pinpoint various sins that we were truly guilty of.  However, had we shown proper reverence for the Torah, studying it lishma and honoring it properly, then the Torah would have protected us from exile even in the wake of all of the egregious sins, as the Torah is a Magnoh U’Matzlei--a source of true and ultimate protection.  It thus very much behooves us to take a great lesson away from Tisha B’Av--learning to accord an extra level of respect and reverence to the Torah and those that study it.  This includes standing for Rabbanim, addressing them with a high level of respect, and learning Torah with the knowledge that it is Hashem’s gift to us, and that he wants us to utilize His gift!



Special Note Two:  Today, joyously, is the 15th day of Av, Tu B’Av.  We are all too familiar with the five major tragedies that occurred on Tisha B’Av through the fall of Beitar and the plowing over of Zion (succeeded by other later tragedies as well).  We may be equally as familiar with the five corresponding great events of Tu B’Av:  Very briefly, 1.  It was finally determined that the final group of men aged 20-60 (previously part of the decree to pass away in the Midbar) were allowed the privilege of entering Eretz Yisrael.  2.  The shevet of Binyamin was saved from extinction by the shevatim being permitted to marry their daughters to the few hundred men left---so that there would be a kiyum of the shevet forever.  3.  The guards posted by the Kings of the Aseres Hashevatim for hundreds of years, which prevented the ten tribes from freely traveling to the Beis Hamikdash, were removed--and all were allowed to make their way to the Mikdash.  4.  The people of Beitar who were murdered by the Roman legions, and whose bodies miraculously did not decompose for years, were finally allowed by the Romans to be buried (and as a result the bracha of HaTov U’Maitiv was composed).  5.  The people would no longer cut firewood for the Bais HaMikdash commencing on this date, because the sun’s rays had begun to weaken, and the people celebrated the completion of the Mitzvah (which also allowed for more time for the study of Torah, as explained by the commentaries).


There is, however, an additional significant point about this day mentioned in the Mishna in Ta’anis (4:5).  There were nine days during the year in which families donated necessary wood to the Bais HaMikdash and celebrated the privilege by bringing a special sacrifice--a Korban Eitzim along with it.  One of these special nine days of the year was Tu B’Av.  However, there was something more special about the wood brought on Tu B’Av than on the other eight days--for on the other eight days the wood brought was limited to one particular family’s gift--but on Tu B’Av, as the Mishna specifically records it was a particular family --”the children of Zeitu ben Yehuda”--but together with Kohanim and Leviim; and together with anyone who no longer knew which shevet he was from, and together with other families who had demonstrated mesirus nefesh to reach the Beis Hamikdash in the past (see Bartenura there for details). In other words, there was a unique achdus on this day which went well beyond the singular family donation, and extended it to a united gift from various groups together.  It was almost as if the events of Tu B’Av were to be a blatant demonstration as to how the issues of Tisha B’Av have to be resolved--with togetherness and selflessness.  Indeed, the Bnai Yissoschar explains that it is no coincidence (did you really think that it was?!) that all of this happened on the fifteenth of AV--and that the fifteenth letter of the Aleph Vais is a Samech.  The Samech has no top and no bottom, no beginning and no end--indicating unity, harmony and accord.  It is for this reason, as the Mishna teaches, that the unwed girls would go out on this day in shared clothing (so that there was equality among rich and poor as well)--and dance in a circle --demonstrating that although one may be a Kohen, another a Levi, a third not know which shevet he was from, another rich, another poor--we are all joined as one, and will always be one.


The last Mishna in Ta’anis teaches that there were no greater Yomim Tovim for K’lal Yisrael than Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur.  On the surface, we could explain that this is because on Yom Kippur we united with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and on Tu B’Av we united with each other.  The Kopshitzer Rebbe, z’tl teaches, however, that when we dance with each other on Tu B’Av--holding on to the next one’s hand and going around in that undefined circle joined together B’Achdus as one--then HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s hand is very much holding on to ours as well. 


Most certainly, when we dance together at any simcha, we should feel the spiritual elevation--the unity and oneness with everyone in our circle, and with HaKadosh Baruch Hu who joins with us as well.  On this very special day, Tu B’Av, let us consciously demonstrate that we appreciate and understand  the very special juxtaposition of Tisha B’Av and Tu B’Av.  Let us practice extra-special acts of love and caring for our brothers--holding on tight and joyously dancing in that broad and meaningful circle with everyone--whether or not we may actually be on any one plywood floor together! 



Special Note Three: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





The paint near the end of my retzuah shel yad has faded badly, and I find myself painting it quite regularly. May I simply cut off that part, since the retzuah wraps around my hand a few times anyway?



In this situation, most poskim do permit one to cut off the end of the retzuah. The cut-off piece must be placed in Genizah.




I recently purchased new retzuos, but both the shel yad and the shel rosh are far too long. Would it be permitted for me to cut them down to size?




If they have not yet been used, all poskim agree that they certainly may be cut, and the cut piece need not be placed in Genizah.


Even in a situation where the retzuah has been used to fulfill the mitzvah (and acquired the level of kedushas Tefillin), many poskim permit one to cut off the extra length. In this case as well, the cut-off piece must be placed in Genizah.




On the back of my retzuah, I see what appears to be the remnants of a stamp. Is this a problem?



If the ink of the stamp has become absorbed into the retzuah, there is no cause for alarm. If, however, a layer of dye is resting on the retzuah – without having become absorbed – it should be removed. (This principle applies to all such issues like blood stains pen marks etc.)




12 Menachem Av

UNBELIEVABLE OPPORTUNITY ! At the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Tisha B’Av event a small (post card size) and handy hardcover pamphlet was distributed which contains Kriyas Shema broken down into clear and easy-to-read powerful segments. This remarkable work can most certainly enhance everyone’s daily recitation of Kriyas Shema. For those who did not obtain it, or who wish to obtain it for others, the Chofetz Chaim invites you to call to order free booklets for your shul or school. This is a true zikui for yourself and for the rabbim! The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation can be reached at 845-352-3505 (Extension 101).



QUESTION OF THE DAY : Yoshiyahu HaMelech believed that everything was perfect in Eretz Yisrael--yet he hid the Aron and the Mahn because of the impending Churban, how do we reconcile the two?



QUESTION FOR SHABBOS: The Rambam (at the beginning of Hilchos Talmud Torah) and Rashi (Kiddushin 29B) both bring a Pasuk from this week’s Parasha which is not in Shema as the source of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. What is the Pasuk?



AIN OD MILEVADO! This week’s Parasha (Devorim 4:35 ) contains these three words--a true essence of Yiddishkeit. By the following link http://tinyurl.com/5a6qmy we once again provide the excerpt from the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim on Ain Od Milevado. This should certainly be an essential topic at this week’s Shabbos table!



THE ANSWER IS IN THE PARASHA! How can we break our enemy? The Pesukim in the Parasha (Devorim 6:18 , 19) provide a direct response: “Ve’asisa HaYashar VeHatov B’Einei Hashem LeHadof Es Kol Oyevecha MePanecha”. What is HaYashar VeHatov? The Ramban (ibid.) explains that it is Peshara U’lifnim Mishuras Hadin--being compromising and acting in a manner which is beyond what the law requires. Rabbosai, this is certainly our Avodas Hayom-- Peshara and Lifnim Mishuras Hadin!




Special Note One:  In this week’s Parasha, we find that the Beis HaMikdash is referred to as HaLevanon. Rashi explains that it is referred to in this way because it is “Melabein Es Ha’adam Min Ha’aveiros--it directly cleanses and purifies a person from the aveiros he had committed”. Oh, how we should pine for the Beis HaMikdash to cleanse us again!


Hakhel Note:  Although Tisha B’Av 5774 is over, let us resolve this year to truly keep the Beis HaMikdash and Yerushalayim close to us every day of the year. Our lives are not regular; and we once again emphasize the crucial point that we are not now ‘back to normal’. A normal, regular life for us is a life with a Yerushalayim as the spiritual, focal point of the world, and with the Shechina in all of its glory on earth resting in the Beis HaMikdash. Accordingly, it is not enough to say that we believe in Moshiach. We must anxiously await Moshiach. The phrase in Ani Maamin of ‘Achake Lo’ is not a figurative expression but a literal one. Thus, once again, when we recite the words “Velirushalayim Irecha”--we are pleading that Hashem finally get back to His Home in His City; when we recite the words “VeSechezena Einainu” we are davening that our very eyes actually see the Shechina’s return; when we say the words “Vesain Chelkainu BeSorosecha” we are imploring that the Torah  finally return to its former glory by our reaching levels in Torah Study that we cannot achieve in Galus. These special times in Shemone Esrei when we daven for our lives ‘to really return to normal’ should not be brushed over, c’v. Instead, truth be told, they should be one of the main areas of our life’s focus, one of the highlights of our day. Especially after recent events, when our Rabbonim are teaching us that our Shemone Esrei should be and remain much improved from what it once was--let us certainly focus on the areas of Geulah in our prayers!



Special Note Two:  We now approach Shabbos Nachamu, after having just attempted to appreciate the enormity of the devastation of our Galus.  Shabbos Nachamu is intended to enlighten us as to how great the consolation will be.  There is no Pasuk that says “Eichah, Eichah.”  There is, however, a Pasuk which repeats “Nachamu, Nachamu--be consoled, be consoled...!”


Chazal teach us that “Kol Hamesabel Ahl Yerushalayim--anyone who mourns over Yerushalayim,” is “Zoche V’roeh--merits and sees”--its rejoicing.  HaRav Meir Schuck, Zt’l (whose Yahrzeit was on Tisha B’Av), notes that Chazal do not teach that the person who mourns over Yerushalayim will merit and see its rejoicing, but rather, in the present, now merits and sees its rejoicing.  How is this so?  After all, do not Arabs still occupy the Temple Mount ?  Is not the Beis HaMikdash still in ruins?  HaRav Schuck explains that if someone truly appreciates the loss of a rebuilt Yerushalayim, he takes action, practical and meaningful steps, towards its rebuilding, just as someone with a tattered roof on his home, or a car in his driveway that doesn’t start, will do in order to fix things--to bring them back to normal.  How does one ‘fix’ the situation in this instance?  He davens hard when he reaches the places in Shemone Esrei asking for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, as noted earlier, and he undertakes special Mitzvos for the sake of the redemption.  His participation in the rebuilding brings him joy, much in the same way as someone still building a house envisions all of the room and conveniences it will provide when completed, or as a woman repairs the hem of a dress hums, realizing that she will be wearing it to a chasunah in just a few hours.


Let us begin to rejoice in the ‘building’ now--for there will be much more to rejoice about when our ultimate House is done, and when our great chasunah arrives.



Special Note Three:  In a related vein, Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, brings an amazing teaching of the Ritva to Ta’anis 30B.  The Ritva explains that there will be a unique Techiyas HaMeisim that occurs at the time of the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash which will especially occur for those who passed away in Galus but who were Mechakim LeYeshua--who awaited the redemption.  The general Techiyas HaMeisim for everyone else comes only later at the time of Final Judgment.  The Middah KeNeged Middah is as clear as it is remarkable.  Since you anticipated, you yearned, you pursued, the yeshua--you attain it far ahead of anyone else.  It’s almost like the person who knows to go quickly through the side streets to avoid the massive traffic jams at the bridge--turning a one-hour delay into a five minute ride--because he knew and understood enough to anticipate and plan ahead---he knew how valuable the outcome really was, and succeeded to get there much faster!   



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


1.  Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, Shlita, points out that this Shabbos is not called Shabbos Nachamu because it is a time of relaxation or comedy--but because it is a time to appreciate your closeness to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  The notion of laxity associated with this Shabbos, and its related Motza’ei Shabbos, is immediately dispelled by the words of the Aseres HaDibros (coincidentally?--never!) in this week’s Parasha!


2.  There are some special points of interest this Shabbos:


·        One should study and sing the words of Lecha Dodi in order to better appreciate and recognize the nexus between the Beis HaMikdash and Shabbos.  One reader advised us that he heard from an Adam Gadol that the Seven Weeks of Nechama are all alluded to in the Lecha Dodi! 

·        When reciting Av HaRachamim on Shabbos morning, let us remember that we are apparently given the permission to do so because we profoundly combine the Kedusha of the Kedoshim described, together with the Kedusha of Shabbos. 

·        In each Birkas HaMazon we will recall Yerushalayim, Malchus Beis Dovid, and the Beis HaMikdash--and ask for Hashem’s mercy in restoring them.  Remarkably, we then inextricably bind the Kedusha of Shabbos to the Kedusha of the Beis HaMikdash with a special Retzeih recited for Shabbos placed into this Bracha of Boneh Yerushalayim!


3.  In this week’s Parasha, the Aseres HaDibros teaches us: “Shamor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadesho--guard the Shabbos Day to keep it holy”. We should especially be diligent this Shabbos with our deeds and actions in guarding the Shabbos--especially in the areas of borer and muktzah to which people seem to fall especially prey. We additionally note that a reader asked us to warn people that he has seen children tie knots in filled plastic garbage bags in the same way that they do during the week--and one should advise his children to be careful against doing so. Hakhel Note:  Every action on Shabbos requires care from the epitome of Kiddush and the Shabbos Tefillos to…lehavdil how one takes care of the waste from the Shabbos table!


4.  The Chofetz Chaim also brings from HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl, that when making a bracha on a Mitzvah, we recite Asher Kideshanu B’Mitzvosav--but that the time itself during the performance of the Mitzvah is not necessarily Kadosh.  However, through our Kiyum HaShabbos, the Kedusha of Shabbos stretches and lasts through our other work days, so that all the time that a person lives on this earth becomes Kadosh--all because of Shabbos!  Savor the Kedusha!


5. Reality check--seven weeks from Shabbos…is Shabbos Shuva! Let us most certainly begin putting our treatment and feelings towards Kedushas Shabbos in good working order!



Special Note Five:  Tomorrow, we will read in the Torah the first Parasha of Shema, the cornerstone of our faith.  It is certainly an extremely auspicious time now to review and renew our connection to the Shema, both as to its proper recitation, and the Halachos and Hashkofos which are associated with, and emanate from, its holy words. [We once again urge you to obtain the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation hardcover pamphlet!] Yeshaya HaNavi (29:13) exhorts us not to perform Mitzvos in a manner which is “Mitzvas Anashim Melumada--by habit or rote.” Because we recite Shema so often we could, c’v, fall into this trap--and especially in light of the Kedusha of Shema we must make special efforts to invigorate our Shema daily. Indeed, Rashi in this week’s Parasha (Devarim 6:6) writes that it should be viewed as a new proclamation from the King each and every day. One can visualize the King’s messenger or royal crier unrolling the King’s message on parchment each and every time that he reads the Shema. Helpful Reminder: One way to maintain appropriate Kavannah while reciting Shema is to find the allusions to each one of the Aseres HaDibros in the Shema every time that one recites it (they are brought by the Mishna Berurah from the Talmud Yerushalmi, in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 61 seif katan 2).


As in the past, we provide below several points regarding Shema, which we hope is only a brief starting point and motivator to improve one’s daily Shema (remember these words that we are privileged to recite daily are the very same words with which we conclude Neilah--the Final Service--on the Holiest Day of the Year!).


1.  Before reciting Shema, we should have in mind that we are fulfilling the Mitzvah of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shomayim, and the separate Mitzvah of Kriyas Shema.


2. “Shema” means listen, understand and accept.


3.  ”Yisrael” means to include you.  Rebbi Yisrael Salanter, Z’tl, used to say that while reciting the word “Echad,” we are to think about how Hashem, by Himself rules over the seven heavens and the earth, and all four directions of the world (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 61:4).  However, when thinking about this vast and limitless expanse--we must never forget that Hashem rules over us, as well, and we should sincerely subjugate our entire being, including all of our will and desires to Him.


4.  When reciting Hashem’s names--especially in the first two pesukim--we should understand what each name--i.e., “Hashem” and “Elokeinu,” mean and represent.  This can be accomplished quickly once you know the meanings well. See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 5 and/or ask your Rav.


5.  When saying “VeAhavta (careful--emphasis on last syllable when pronouncing),” one should feel love for Hashem in his heart--at least for all the kindness that He bestows upon us!  See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 25, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 14.


6.  One should recite Shema from a Siddur which aids in the essential understanding of the words and in their proper pronunciation (the various Artscroll Siddurim, for instance, provide lines between words which could be slurred together if a small break is not made, and indicate through horizontal lines on the top of letters which Shevas are Sheva Na’s and which are Sheva Nach’s).


7.  One should not motion with his eyes or hands, even for the sake of a Mitzvah, during the first Parasha of Shema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 63:6).


8.  Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, teaches that there are seven (!) Mitzvos alone referred to in the first Parasha of Shema.


9.  The Chofetz Chaim brings Chazal (Sotah 42A) that the words Shema Yisrael are written in the Torah relating to our gathering before we go to war, in order to teach that if we properly recite Shema in the morning and evening, and that is the only Mitzvah that we do--it would be sufficient to be victorious in war.  Moreover, the Chofetz Chaim brings the Midrash that the entire creation is worthwhile just for the sake of this Mitzvah!


10. HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin, Z’tl, asks why the first Pasuk of Shema must begin with the words “Shema Yisrael”--Hear [and understand and accept] Yisrael. After all, the essence of the Pasuk is Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim-accepting upon oneself Heavenly Kingship--wouldn’t it have been sufficient to succinctly convey this very primary message with only the four words of “Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad”? What do the  words ‘Shema Yisrael’ add?  HaRav Sorotzkin answers that if we are to properly accept upon ourselves Ohl Malchus Shomayim, we must be sure to advise and proclaim it to others as well; it is insufficient for us to maintain this unwavering belief without joining in others. After all, if a person knew the secret of life--would he keep it to himself?!  If a soldier knew how to save himself when surrounded by the enemy--would he not save his comrades as well? If a person knew the difference between right and wrong--would he smile smugly as others faltered?! No--we must remember that as a prerequisite to our own Ohl Malchus Shomayim--we must first begin with Shema Yisrael --  a real quest  for others to know, learn, study, and appreciate as well!


 Once again, the above are just a few thoughts to help you get started.  May this week’s Parasha bring with it a reinvigoration of our recitation of Shema--so that we properly fulfill the words of the Navi--”Yisrael Asher Becha Espoer--the People of Israel--in Whom I Glory!”



Special Note Six: The last Pasuk of Shema contains the Mitzvah of Mezuzah.   The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 285) writes that when a person enters and leaves his home, he should place his hand on the Mezuzah, to remind what is written in the Mezuzah, and that Hashem is watching over him at all times. 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. 


Hakhel Note: As we enter a room or leave it, Let us remember to touch (or at least look at) the Mezuzah that we are blessed with on our doors--so that the two Parshios of Shema contained within it are with us not only at Shacharis and Ma’ariv but through the entire day!



Special Note Seven: We provide the following fundamental insights from the Sefer Hachinuch (English translation from the five volume masterpiece Sefer HaChinuch, Feldheim Publishers):


A. On the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh contained in the last of the Aseres HaDibros of ‘Lo Sisaveh’--do not desire what belongs to someone else, the Sefer Hachinuch writes as follows: “For it is indeed in each man’s power to restrain himself, his thoughts and his longing desires, from whatever he wishes. It lies in his free choice and in his decision to repel his desire--or to draw it near-- in all matters, as he wishes; and his heart is given over to his control; however he pleases he may move it. Hashem, before Whom all secrets are revealed ‘searches all the chambers of the innards’ (Mishlei 20:27 ), seeing the organs of understanding and the heart. Not one, large or small, good or bad, out of all the thoughts of a man is hidden from Him, or concealed from the range of His sight. For there is nothing so good for a man as a good, pure thought, since that is the beginning of all the good deeds and their end....”


Hakhel Note: If you can, please read this again!


B. On the Mitzvas Aseh of Ahavas Hashem, the Sefer HaChinuch writes as follows: “It applies in every place, at every time, for both men and women. If a person transgresses this and fixes his thoughts on the material interests and vapid vanities of the world, not for the sake of Heaven but only to pleasure himself in them, or to attain esteem in this [lowly] world, to make his name great, not with any intention to do good for good people and to strengthen the hands of the honest--he disobeys this positive precept, and his punishment will be great. This is one of the constant precepts for a man [i.e., one of the Shesh Mitzvos Temidios--the six constant Mitzvos], forever placed upon him to observe.”


Hakhel Note: Once again, if you can, please read this again (and again)!




11 Menachem Av

CHADASHIM LABEKARIM RABA EMUNASECHA (EICHA 3:23): This Pasuk in Eicha which we read just two days ago, is the basis for Modeh Ani which we recite every morning as  we open our eyes. Yes, the Pasuk is in Eicha. For even in this bitter Galus, there is oh so much to thank Hashem for. As the Targum on this Pasuk explains: “New miracles occur every morning….” If we open our eyes and can see, move our legs to get out of bed and can do so, stand up and then walk…the miracles of the day are just beginning! Let us appreciate this as we exclaim Modeh Ani each and every morning!



THE HAKHEL CHALLENGE: It is now less than 60 days until Yom Kippur. Can we recite slowly, and have special Kavannah in, the bracha of Velirushalayim Irecha in at least one Shemone Esrei a day--until Yom Kippur? Keep a written record of it!




Special Note One: Although Tisha B’Av is a sad and mournful time, it does not mean that we should quickly move away and shut the door on its meaning and import in our daily lives.  Indeed, it is interesting to note that immediately after teaching us the Halachos of Tisha B’Av, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 560) provides us with the Halachos of what we must do Zecher L’Churban, in remembrance of the Churban--every day.


Accordingly, we provide below only a few additional lessons one could glean from Tisha B’Av:


1.  Dovid HaMelech, in perhaps the most renowned chapter of Tehillim (Chapter 130) begins “Shir HaMa’alos Mima’amakim--a Song of Ascents.  From the depths I called You…”  HaRav Klonymous Kalman Shapiro, Zt’l, H’yd, (the Rebbe of Piazeczna) taught the following about the word “Mima’amakim” to the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto with him:  Sometimes a person is in a situation from which he cannot extricate himself barring an absolute miracle.  For example, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, especially after the uprising.  Dovid HaMelech, by using the word “Mima’amakim,” refers to this kind of situation, for he does not refer to only one singular depth (which would be Emek), but to the depth of the depths (Mima’amakim, in the plural).  The Piazeczner concluded that Dovid HaMelech was teaching us that we cry out to Hashem whether or not we can reasonably be saved--for there are two kinds of prayer.  The first, basic type of prayer is to make requests of Hashem, the Omnipotent One.  The second, more sublime prayer is one in which one prays not to achieve a personal request, but only to connect and cleave to Hashem.  This is the “Mima’amakim” in which we cry out to Hashem--not only because we realize that He is the only source of our salvation, but also to demonstrate to Him that, when all is said and done, what we ultimately seek is dveikus with Him.


2.  Kinah 29 states “Siman Tov L’Adam…--it is a good sign for a person if he is not eulogized or buried properly…. let him not fear the day of wrath.”  The Artscroll commentary explains that death in this way serves to fully purge a person of any stain on his soul caused by sin, and that such a person will be spared the punishments of the next world (Sanhedrin 46B; 47A).  This should serve as a great consolation for all of us who had relatives that perished in the Holocaust in so many diverse and cruel ways, and for some of the recent Kiddush Hashem in Gaza


3.  The Telzer Rav Zt’l, H’yd, before being murdered, was beaten by a ruthless Nazi with a hammer.  “Herr Rabbiner! Where is your G-d now?” he mocked.  The Telzer Rav responded, “He is your G-d too--and you will find that out later!”  Whenever we recite Av HaRachamim (on Shabbos or after Yizkor), we should take the few moments necessary to recite it slowly and thoughtfully (some actually stand, as a symbol of respect, but this is not required by Halacha).  Remember, we are praying not only for the Kedoshim, but also for the honor of Hashem and His People.


4.  The Pasuk in Eichah (1:2) states “Bocho Tivkeh Ba’Layla V’Dimasah…--cry, cry at night, and its tears….”  The Midrash teaches that there are three words for crying at the outset of Eicha to teach us that there are three tears--one for the first Beis HaMikdash, a second for the second Beis HaMikdash, and a third either for the Bitul Torah that the Churban has caused to this very day (we cannot attain our full potential without a Beis HaMikdash), or for the Kavod Yisrael, the honor of our People, which has been disgraced and defiled even by the nations which are friendly to us.  Thus, the last tear referred to in Eichah is being shed for us!


5.  What is left of the great Roman Empire are the many ruins in the ancient city of Rome together with the Arch of Titus, which remains standing, as if to remind us that although Rome and all those like it in history are gone, we are still in Galus, and that we should not forget it.  If we don’t picture the Arch of Titus in front of us to remind us of our plight, then every person can find his own simple method to help put things in perspective daily.  We may suggest: (i) Reciting Tehillim Chapter 79 daily with feeling; and (ii) Thinking about what a small percentage of World Jewry are Torah Jews, and how many Jews are being lost to Judaism daily through intermarriage and attrition--for no other reason than the churban we find ourselves in--and davening especially for them every day.  


6.  It is important to note that Chazal teach that both Nevuzradan (the Chief General of the Babylonians), and Nero (the first Chief General of the Romans to besiege Yerushalayim at the time of the Churban) realized that the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash that they were involved in was only by the Hand of Hashem.  They each fled and converted to Judaism.  Perhaps this is to teach us that, ultimately, all the nations of the world will have the proper perspective on life.  It is up to us now to live each and every precious day of our life--a day in which we are a step ahead of the rest of the entire world (!)--staying as close to Hashem as possible in everything that we do--so that by next year, when Tisha B’Av arrives, we will experience the greatest joy possible, with the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash and the World in all of its Glory!



Special Note Two:  This week, we should continue our extra effort for Chizuk and care in Shemiras Halashon.  The Chofetz Chaim (Hilchos Lashon Hara, Chapter 9) provides us with seven statements or expressions of Avak Lashon Hara.  It is said that Sefer Devorim begins with the word Aileh--Aleph Lamed Heh---which is an acronym for the words Avak Lashon Hara--especially warning us to be careful with speech of this kind.  Below are the Chofetz Chaim’s examples of Avak Lashon Hara from which to beware (see Guard Your Tongue by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita):


1.  “Who would have thought that Ploni (Mr. X) would be where he is today…”  The implication to be gleaned is clear.


2.  “Don’t talk about Ploni--I don’t want to discuss what happened or what will be with him”. Or saying, “I don’t want to speak about Ploni because I don’t want to speak Lashon Hara.”


3.   Praising Ploni in front of those who dislike him (this includes his business competitors)--for we all know where this will go.


4.  Praising anyone excessively (for you will end up saying--”except for this” or “besides that…” or because the listeners will respond--”why do you praise him so highly? What about….”)


5.  Praising anyone in public unless: (a) he is known as a Tzaddik, for anyone who tries to attack him will not succeed because of the Tzaddik’s reputation; or (b) you are sure that the listeners will not disparage him, for they do not know him.


6. A praise that implies a deficiency--”when he actually does something, he does it properly.”


7.  Praise that will result in harm or loss to (or ill will by) the individual spoken about.  For instance, “Ploni likes to cook a lot”--and, as a result, riffraff come knocking on his door, looking for meals.


 Interestingly, the Chofetz Chaim adds that it is also Avak Lashon Hara to speak about someone in a manner which appears to be Lashon Hara (even though it really is not)--so that others suspect him of speaking Lashon Hara.  Thus, when speaking in a deprecatory manner about someone, one should explain to them why it is not Lashon Hara.



Special Note Three: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.






Why do some people have a string pulling the kesher of the tefillin shel yad close to the bayis?



The Shulchan Aruch clearly states that one should take care to ensure that the kesher of the shel yad not become separated from the bayis. The Mishnah Berurah mentions an opinion which insists that they must be touching even when not in use.


For this reason, there are those who have a string tied around the kesher to ensure that it is always in contact with the bayis.


Care should be taken to thread the string through the ma’avarta (“tunnel” through which the retzuah runs) as opposed to wrapping it under the actual bayis.




In shul, I noticed that some people wrap the retzuos of their shel yad inward, (i.e. toward the body) while others wrap outward (i.e. away from the body). On the shel rosh, I noticed that some people have a square kesher while others have a dalet-shaped kesher.


I am newly religious and have no family custom. Which custom should I follow?




All of the minhagim (customs) you mentioned have legitimate halachic sources. Therefore, if someone has an established family minhag, he certainly should keep the minhag.


However, for an individual of Ashkenazi heritage who has no family minhag, it would seem that in regard to the shel yad, one should follow Minhag Ashkenaz of wrapping inward, while the kesher on the shel rosh should be made as a square.


It should be noted that if you live in a community that generally follows a particular custom, you should follow it as well.




10 Menachem Av

HOW TO WAIT FOR MOSHIACH: HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, (Or Yechezkel, Emunah p. 292) states that he remembers the Chofetz Chaim’s mashal as to how we should wait for Moshiach:  Imagine a person who is very unwell and who is waiting for the expert doctor who will give him the medication needed to cure him of his illness.  When will he arrive?  Every knock at the door…Is it the doctor?…And every delay in his coming causes a greater longing for him.




Special Note One: We provide below several points relating to the day after our fasting on Tisha B’Av:


A.  When we envision Yerushalayim, we should always picture it as a pe’eir--with a special glory.  As the Pasuk in Yeshaya (60:13) teaches:  Lefa’er M’kom Mikdashi”--to glorify the place of my Mikdash.  Every day, perhaps, as we recite Velirushalayim Ircha, we can picture the sight of a glorified Yerushalayim--and pine for it. 


B.  As many may know, the concept of the recitation of Tikun Chatzos is mentioned in the very first Siman of Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (1:2,3).  Even one who sincerely believes that he ‘is not holding’ at the level of those who actually sit on the floor and recite several Kepitelech of Tehillim (which basically constitutes Tikun Chatzos), should nevertheless know that if he is up for some reason at Chatzos anyways (currently approximately 1:00 A.M. Eastern Time), there is certainly nothing wrong with your occasionally attempting to recite Tikun Chatzos in the few minutes that it takes. Imagine sitting by the doorway on the floor (by the Mezuzah)--and meaningfully reciting a few chapters of Tehillim for the Shechina and K’lal Yisrael to come home.  The Shulchan Aruch itself (ibid.) teaches us that Chatzos is a unique and outstanding time for this--why not exercise it, at least when you are up for it?!  We note that Tikun Chatzos can be found in many standard Siddurim, without having to purchase a separate Sefer for it. 


C.  A Rav had once asked us to convey that we can bring the Geulah even if we are not deserving. How so?  In every Shemone Esrei, in the first bracha of Avos, we state that Hashem will bring the Go’el  to the descendants of the Avos--LeMa’an Shemo b’Ahava--for the sake of His Name with love. This is our OPPORTUNITY to daven to Hashem to bring the Geulah even if we are undeserving--so that the Chilul Hashem of Galus stops and is replaced with the Kiddush Hashem of Geulah--and all of this with love!


D.   We recited the term Tzion many times in the Kinos, perhaps not understanding the context so well when reciting it then.  Every day in our Tefillos we refer to Tzion as well--perhaps the most famous occasion being Hamachazir Shechinaso LeTzion--who restores the Shechina to Zion .  The Navi laments:  Tzion He Doresh Ain La--She is Zion , no one cares about her (Yirmiyahu 30:17).  Chazal explain that the Navi is teaching us with these words that we must care about her.  Let us try--at least--to focus upon the word Tzion in our davening-and show that we care about her!


E.  After a Tisha B’Av experience, we should try--at least for the rest of Menachem Av--to recite the 13 Ani Maamin principles with fortitude and sincerity....I believe in Mashiach...I believe in Techias HaMeisim...Allot an extra minute or two for the Ani Ma’amin recitation--which is the standard difference--between failure and success!


F.   We should use the Tisha B’Av period as a breaking point.  The sour relationships, the negative quips, the daily disconnects between husband and wife and parent and child, between co-workers and employers and employees, now have a place to come to an end. Many Bain Adam LeChaveiro issues are the products of bad habits renewed daily--for no good reason other than ‘this is the way we behaved to each other yesterday’.  The sorrow-filled day of tragedy and grief of the ages has sobered us to the realities of the past, and the ‘day after’ teaches us that there is hope for the future--the Geulah will come, and it is up to each and every one of us  as to whether he will be a part of it.  So too with any past, sad history we may have in our inter-personal relationships--they too can leave us yesterday as we begin the day with a view towards personal Geulah as well.  Sinas Chinam and its ilk destroyed the Bais HaMikdash--bringing back  Ahavas Yisrael in a real and meaningful way will rebuild it--for each individual and for all of K’lal Yisrael.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 156; seif katan 4) brings that the Mitzvah of VeAhavta Lerei’acha Kamocha requires one to respect his friend as one himself would want to be respected.  What a simple but meaningful yardstick--before making the gesture, motioning, uttering that word or two, or taking that action, THINK--’Would I like this  done to me?’  If the answer is no--remember that you have turned a new leaf, and stop.  If the answer is yes--a very special thank you from us all--for helping us move an IMPORTANT STEP CLOSER towards next year’s Tisha B’Av--being a day of celebration in the Bais Hamikdash. May we all live to see it!


G.  Based on the calculation that it has been 1,944 years since the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, this amounts to more than 709,000 days and over 17,000,000 hours.  This is an extremely, extremely long time.  As we heard in the Haftara read on Tisha B’Av morning (Yirmiyahu 8:13 ): “Ein Anavim BaGefen V’ein Te’einim BaTe’einah--there are no grapes on the grape vine and no figs on the fig tree.”  What we live in is an illusory world--not the world in the state that it is supposed to be, and K’lal Yisrael in an unnatural habitat wherever its people may be scattered in the world.  Even in a time such as this, in which people can enjoy special comforts including Glatt Kosher international cuisine, the latest model cars and conveniences, and all kinds of medicines and therapies which help us feel better, we truthfully live in a stormy calm. The fear of terrorism and crazed human beings horrifies us in a way that mankind has never before known.  So, with all the comforts and conveniences, our times are nevertheless fraught with unrest, turbulence and confusion. Rabbi Yoni Zakutinsky, Shlita, explains our situation with the following Mashal:  One is in attendance at a huge Chasunah at a prestigious hall, with prominent rabbinic and lay leaders, an outstanding Chosson, the finest delicacies, a large band--there is just one thing missing--the Kallah.  Without the Kallah, all of the above simply does not get us to a true wedding.  In fact, all of this without a Kallah--could end in disaster.  We really have to recognize that we once and for all need the Geulah, and take steps to achieve it.  Whatever daily act (or two, etc.) it may be, we should try to do it for thirty days in a row, so that it ‘sticks’. We have to take the Galus out of us--daily--so that we can attain the Geulah! 


H.  Chazal (Brachos 6B) teach that “Igra D’Ta’anisa Tzidkasa--the reward of a Ta’anis is the Tzedaka that one gives (at least giving to Tzedakah the money he and his family saved from not eating).”  This fact should be no different regarding the fast of Tisha B’Av.  We especially note that the Haftarah of Shabbos Chazon ended with the words quoted so often, by so many (Yeshayahu 1:27 ):  Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh V’Shaveha BeTzedakah”.  The final word--even before we get to Tisha B’Av is--give Tzedakah!  We add one essential point to giving Tzedakah as made in the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah ( 3:35 ).  There, Rabbeinu Yonah explains that an essential part of giving is taught to us by the Pasuk (Devarim 15:10 ): “Nason Titein Lo VeLo Yeirah Levavecha Besitcha Lo--give to him and your heart should not feel bad as you give to him.”  It is not enough to give with the hand--for the Pasuk continues that one must not feel bad about giving, but rather feel a Midas Nedivus--good and happy about being generous.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, in his explanation of the Rabbeinu Yonah, actually teaches that if a person feels bad when he gives Tzedakah, then he violates the Lo Sa’aseh listed in this Pasuk of Lo Yeirah Levavecha Besitcha Lo(!).  We must feel happy and privileged over the opportunity to give at all times.  As a matter of fact, the ability to give should be included in our thoughts of thanks to Hashem when we recite the words in Modim of VeHamerachem Ki Lo Samu Chasadecha.  Give every day in the right frame of mind--so that we may all see V’Shaveha BeTzedakah! 



Special Note Two:  Yirmiyahu HaNavi (Yirmiyahu 2:5), in the Haftarah we recently read teaches us that the people severely erred because “VaYelchu Acharei Hahevel Va’Yehbalu--and they went after nothingness and turned into nothingness.” There is a great, yet simple and practical lesson here--you are that which you pursue.  For example, if a person pursues Torah, he becomes a “Ben Torah.”  If, on the other hand, he pursues Lashon Hara, he becomes a “Baal Lashon Hara.”  Everybody has to take a good look at what they really are pursuing.  There is an old quip about an uneducated Jew who came to Shul, and was asked by the Gabbai whether he was a Kohen, Levi or Yisroel.  He responded: “I am none of those.  I am a businessman!”  We, as educated Jews, have to make sure that it is clear to us--and to others--who we really are, and where our primary focus is. It is interesting to note that HaRav Dovid Kviat, Z’tl, (the “Sukkas Dovid,” who was one of the senior Rabbonim in America) when asked to make a remark to children (on Torah Umesorah’s “Shanghai Miracle” audio-visual presentation) asked them one thing only--to “Learn with Cheshek”--with enthusiasm.  Are we any different than children in this regard?  May we suggest that at the end of the day, one thinks to oneself--what did I pursue today--what did I do with enthusiasm? It is up to us whether we pursue nothing and become nothing, or whether we pursue a life of Torah fulfillment--and literally become models for the entire world!



Special Note Three:  As we have noted in the past, in the unparalleled Artscroll Kinos, by Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer, Shlita, Rabbi Feuer writes the following in the course of his introduction:


“The tears of Kinos are a never-ending stream.  When I began to translate and elucidate the Kinnos on the day after Succos, I called my Rebbi, HaRav Mordechai Gifter, [Z’tl], and asked, ‘How can I get into the mood of writing about Kinnos just a day after Simchas Torah, while all the happy tunes of joy still resonate in my ears and Tisha B’Av is still so far off in the future?  Who can think of Kinos now?’


He replied, ‘You are mistaken. Kinos are not only for Tisha B’Av, they are for the entire year, except that throughout the year we recite Kinos in a whisper, while on Tisha B’Av we shout them out loud!  Whoever neglects Kinos all year long and attempts to start reciting them on Tisha B’Av will not succeed in saying them even then, because he will recite the verses without any feeling and he will become bored.  We must cry and mourn over the Churban all year long, in every season, and then our Kinnos will reach their climax of pain on Tisha B’Av.’


This concept of regular mourning over the Churban is codified in the very first chapter of Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 1:3).  It is proper for every G-d-fearing person to feel pain and anguish over the destruction of the Holy Temple.


The Sefas Emes was once asked, ‘And what should someone do if he feels no anguish over the Churban of the Temple ?’  The Rebbe replied, ‘Then he should be consumed with pain and anguish over his own personal Churban.  If a Jew doesn’t feel real pain over the Churban, it shows that his soul is in a wretched, abysmal state!’


True, Kinos are for all year round--but when does one begin to develop a feeling for them?  On Tisha B’Av.  If one truly comprehends and feels the Kinos he recites on this day, he will be inspired to refer back to them throughout the year….”


Hakhel Note:  On a daily basis, we must remind ourselves of our status of Churban, of Yerushalayim physically and spiritually not rebuilt in the way it should be. Our lives are not normal, and we must not forget it. We need the Geulah--so that Ruchniyus can come back to the world, and the world will finally be as it should be. Both HaKadosh Baruch Hu and we will cherish the moment of Moshiach’s arrival, for we will then be--and forever remain--oh, so close. We must keep our yearning, our striving, our goal with us and make it a part of us--each and every day.






8 Menachem Av

AN APPRECIATION: The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 554 seif katan 21) rules that on Tisha B’Av it is permissible for one to wash his hands [until his knuckles] before Mincha “Dehavi Kemekabeil Pnei HaShechina U’cheTevilas Mitzvah Shehitiru--for washing one’s hands before davening Mincha is performed in order to greet the Shechina--and can be compared to tevila in a mikva for the sake of a Mitzvah”. Oh, how we should appreciate Tefillas Mincha--and most certainly wash our hands prior to davening--each and every day of the year!



OUR ACTIONS ON TISHA B’AV: The physical actions that we do perform prior to Tisha B’Av and on Tisha B’Av are by no means meant to be Mitzvos Anashim Melumadah--physical acts without one’s thoughts and feelings behind them.  The Halachos of what we can do and what we cannot do should be Me’orer or arouse us--as the Sefer HaChinuch teaches:  Hachitzoniyus Misoreres Es HaPenimiyus--our outward actions inspire us within”.  Accordingly, one should not sigh, groan or complain about what he must do--for each and every act is intended for the individual to grow and reach his potential in Avodas Hashem!



IKAR AVODAH: One of our readers once met with HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita, and at our request asked him what the Ikar Avodah of Tisha B’Av is. He responded: “LeHagid Kinos”. This is HaRav Kanievsky’s instruction--the sincerity, feeling and meaning that is put into our Kinos is up to each and every one of us....



QUESTION:  A person should reduce the hana’ah (pleasure) he experiences on Tisha B’Av as much as possible, true or false?

ANSWER:  The Ramo (Orach Chaim 555:2) states that this is true.



QUESTION:  If the Moshiach comes on Tisha B’Av after Chatzos ( midday ) will we continue to fast for the balance of the day?

ANSWER:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, in Sefer Derech Sicha, rules that we will continue to fast if the Moshiach comes after midday because Teshuvah is an element of the mourning that we are to feel and experience on Tisha B’Av. Hakhel Note: Let us not forget to do Teshuvah on Tisha B’Av--wouldn’t it be so remarkable and special if the Moshiach actually came while you were doing Teshuvah?


Hakhel Note: The Mishna Berurah (Dirshu Edition) brings from the Brisker Rav, Z’tl, that there are two aspects to Tisha B’Av--that of Ta’anis--and that of Aveilus. The Shelah HaKadosh explains that the Aveilus over Churban Yerushalayim is not to cry and bemoan the past as an end in and of itself--but rather for us to be misbonein--to seriously reflect upon the fact that the Churban resulted from our sins, and to be me’orer ourselves to look carefully into our deeds, and to do Teshuvah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 549: Dirshu Note 1)



NOW , A QUESTION FOR YOU TO ANSWER: How many different names or titles is the Beis Hamikdash given in Megillas Eichah alone?  What does that teach us?




Special Note One:  We provide the following Pesakim from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Pesakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, by Rabbi Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita) and from the Sefer Kovetz Halachos (Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita) relating to Tisha B’Av:


From the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh:


1. There are various degrees as to the extent one should clean/wash his hands after having touched a covered part of the body, his shoes, or dirtied part of his hand but not the whole hand.  Hakhel Note:  One should consult with his Rav or Posek as to the specific rules.


2.  One who rides on a bus on the night of Tisha B’Av or before Chatzos can sit on the regular seat (without having to remain standing), as this is not considered a special act of pleasure or comfort.  Of course, the same would be true for a car or cab ride, and one would not have to [go out of his way to] make himself uncomfortable in some way.


3.  One should not fly on Tisha B’Av, as it constitutes a Hesech HaDa’as from the Ta’anis.


4.  Although one should not say Shalom or Good Morning in the morning, wishing someone Mazel Tov is permissible.


5.  If someone has taken upon himself to go to the Kosel for 40 days in a row and recite Shir HaShirim as a segulah for a shidduch, he should go to the Kosel at the same time on Tisha B’Av but not recite Shir HaShirim (as it is Tisha B’Av), and then go back later after Tisha B’Av and recite Shir HaShirim.  With this, he should not lose the segulah.


6.  HaRav Elyashiv rules that although the area adjacent to the Kosel has the din of a Bais Tefillah, and although one should of course honor the makom and keep it clean, we should not clean the stones of the Kosel from the dirt that has accumulated since the Churban, for the darkened stones and any growing vegetation bring us to the realization of Churban--and serve as a constant reminder to us  to continue to beg and plead with Hashem for His mercy to restore the stones to their pristine state--it may be that because of these prayers the time will come when Hashem will replace the old black and uneven green with the glow and shine, with the wondrous splendor of everlastingly new and brilliant stones!


From the Sefer Kovetz Halachos:


1.  The requirement to sit on the ground begins immediately at Bain Hashemashos on Leil Tisha B’Av. If one is sitting on the ground itself (as opposed to a low chair), he does not have to put something like an article of clothing or towel between his body and the ground. While on or close to the ground (until Chatzos), one does not have to stand up for a zaken or talmid chochom who passes by, just as an avel is patur from this Mitzvah.


2. Although one cannot greet another, one can say Lehitraot, or Refuah Sheleimah, because these do not involve She’ailas Shalom.  One should in any event not engage in unnecessary conversation, because it removes one’s mind from what it should be thinking about. Similarly, one should not take a baby unto his lap when not necessary, for he may come to laughter.


3. Although in Shul the lights are dimmed, they need not be dimmed in the home.


4. Whenever one sleeps on Tisha B’Av (day or night) he should take away something from his usual custom, so that he is ‘mitzta’er ketzas’--a little pained or put out (such as one less pillow or the like).


5. One can complete reciting Kinos after Chatzos, if necessary.


6. It is permissible to say Tehillim for one who is ill at any time on Tisha B’Av; one who usually recites a certain number of Kepitelach every day can recite them after Chatzos.


7. On Tisha B’Av there is an absolute requirement of Talmud Torah--but only of the sefarim that one is permissible to learn.


8. It is best for men to daven Mincha early on Tisha B’Av, so that they can put on Tefillin at the earliest possible time.  Hakhel Note: As we have noted in the past, the mother of Rabbi Mordechai Zuckerman, a noted Talmud Chochom in Yerushalayim, davened Mincha close to sunset (which is usually preferred, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 233:1) every day of the year, except Tisha B’Av, when she would daven Mincha as early in the day as was possible.  Rabbi Zuckerman asked his mother why her practice on Tisha B’Av was different than the other days of the year.  She responded that the Mincha of Tisha B’Av is the one time during the year where we add a special Tefillah, asking Hashem to “Nachem”, to console, the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.  She simply could not wait to daven Mincha until later, as this would mean an extra few hours of delay in begging Hashem to console us.



Special Note Two: Important reflections for Tisha B’Av:


 1.  On Yom Kippur the Sefer Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah teaches us that whenever one feels pangs of hunger or thirst, he should promptly react with:  “I am fulfilling the Mitzvas Asei of Inuy with this pang!”  So too, we suggest, one can have a related thought on Tisha B’Av.  It is said in the name of Gedolim that “Uff Yom Kippur Ver Ken Essen , un Uff Tisha B’Av Vir Vill Essen --on Yom Kippur who can eat, and on Tisha B’Av who wants to eat?”  If one feels the pangs of hunger or thirst--he should look back, look at the present, and look to the future--and think of what he is fasting for. 


2.  On Sinas Chinam.  The following is excerpted from the outstanding Sefer Yearning with Fire--a Sefer which we highly recommend for every Torah home:  “For many years, Yeshivah Middos Tovos prided itself on turning out graduates who were honest, helpful, and kind-hearted.  The boys developed these traits through their sincere Torah learning and the example of their rosh yeshivah, Rabbi Goodman.  Gradually, however; the students became less receptive.  Each new class was slightly more selfish and abrasive than the class that had preceded it.  The harder the yeshivah tried to revitalize the spirit of its earlier years, the more the students scoffed.  Finally, Rabbi Goodman decided to close the doors of the institution.  If, ten years later, a group of parents were to approach Rabbi Goodman and ask him to reopen his school, his first step would be to ascertain who their sons were.  If they were no different from the classes enrolled a decade earlier, he would undoubtedly decline to reopen.  That reasoning helps to explain the Chofetz Chaim’s teaching that if Hashem destroyed the Beis HaMikdash because of Sinas Chinam (baseless hatred) [and Lashon Hara, evil gossip], He won’t permit it to be rebuilt if we have not cured ourselves of these spiritual maladies.” 


The goal, then, is to rid ourselves of Sinas Chinam as quickly and as completely as possible.  What is Sinas Chinam?  The Sefer Yearning with Fire continues:  “Surprisingly, the Torah does not regard a string of hateful insults, nor even a punch in the nose, as a transgression of the commandment of ‘Lo Sisnah Es Achicha Bilevavecha’!” Rather, when a person acts or speaks against his fellow Jew, his transgression is defined by his act, such as hitting, insulting, cursing, bearing a grudge, or taking revenge, rather than by the hatred motivating his act.  It is hateful thoughts that are prohibited by Lo Sisnah.  In the secular legal system, one cannot be prosecuted solely for his inner feelings, but only for his express actions.  Yet the Torah seems to teach that there is a special toxicity to unexpressed hatred.  The Rambam explains why:  When a person expresses negative feelings to his adversary, there is a potential for reconciliation. Hiding one’s hatred leaves no possibility to improve the relationship and foster unity.  Besides the damage hatred causes on its own, many other transgressions sprout from its toxic soil.  That is why Rabbeinu Yonah advises ridding oneself of hatred as a vital part of Teshuvah.  Without attacking this root cause, says Rashi, a person will inevitably speak Lashon Hara about the subject of his hatred.  Baseless hatred is the tiny splinter of negative feeling that gets under our skin and makes another person an irritation to us.  Getting rid of these sharp shards of strife and smoothing out the edges of our relationships with our fellow Jews is a paramount objective for making our world ready for redemption. As the clock moves forward, minute by minute, day by day, and the struggles and anguish of the exile continue unabated, it becomes all the more urgent to dig in and complete this essential task that has eluded us for nearly 2,000 years.” 


3.  Tisha B’Av is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Meir Schuck, Z’tl, who was Rav in Temesvar , Romania before the war.  As we have noted in the past, immediately after the war ended, a train arrived in Temesvar with merchandise for sale.  Across the one of the train cars was written in German:  “Soap--Pure Jewish Fat”.  The community of Temesvar gathered together their monetary resources and purchased the train load of ‘pure Jewish fat’.  They unloaded the fat, and buried it in the most proper Jewish burial that they could have.  HaRav Schuck giving a moving eulogy at the cemetery.  At the time, he was a man in his late 30’s with a flaming red beard.  His family relates that, almost overnight after the eulogy, his beard turned completely white.  We should learn from HaRav Schuck.  We should take the tragedies of our Galus into the deep recesses of our heart--to the point that it moves us, really moves us. 


4. Chazal (Baba Metziah 30B) teach that another primary cause of the destruction of Yerushalayim was that people did not conduct themselves Lifnim Mishuras HaDin--going beyond the exact letter of the law:  “I only have to do this”; “I don’t have to do that”; “I do what I am supposed to”; “I don’t owe him a dime”; “I am one hundred percent right and he is one hundred percent wrong”; “I do exactly what it says”--all may be technically correct, but Chazal teach that we must do better than the letter of the law.  In business, there is a saying that a good businessman ‘leaves a little bit of money on the table’--not taking the last penny for himself at the closing of a deal.  Nobody wants strict justice--why should we impose ours on others?!  Think about how you can improve in acting Lifnim Mishuras HaDin with at least one person or in at least one way. 


5. Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, importantly explains the term She’eiris Yisrael or She’eiris Hapleitah--i.e., the remnants of K’lal Yisrael, and most recently the remnants of those that survived the horrors of World War Two.  The term Nishar, according to the Malbim, is different than the term Nosar, in that Nishar indicates something that was left over deliberately and with a plan, while Nosar refers to something left over incidentally or unintentionally.  For instance, the Shirayim of a Rebbe is intentionally left for his Chassidim, while the meat of a Karbon that is left over past its time and must be burnt is called Nosar--nobody wanted that to happen.  The Malbim brings many proofs for this distinction from Chumash and Tanach.  What we have to realize is that we are not Nosarim but Nisharim--the intentional remnants of K’lal Yisrael--not having been left here incidentally, without a plan, because of unforeseen circumstances or by mistake.  We have a purpose and we must live with that purpose every day.  Rabbi Reisman teaches that one who is a Nishar must know and understand that he must exert the extra effort to rise above his weaknesses (and perhaps laziness) and undertake the actions that a survivor would undertake.  One should not necessarily quit on a Shiur, or on doing a Chesed because he has a headache, feels weak, is in despair or feels like he is ‘falling apart’.  Instead, he must rise above the situation to survive and further survive--for there is a plan and he has a purpose.  Each and every one of us is a part of the She’eiris--let us not only wear the badge with honor--but with action!



Special Note Three:  The Gemara (Megilla 21A) teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu would learn the more difficult laws and concepts of the Torah sitting down.


As we sadly noted last year, if we have to sit down this Tisha B’Av, we should take the time out to go over in our mind some of the difficult concepts that we tend to ignore, or at least avoid, during the rest of the year—the churbonos and the tzaros that have accompanied us through the ages and into our day.


Can we not shed a tear over:


·                                 The pain of the Shechina over the chillul Hashem of the Galus (the Father’s pain is greater than the child’s)

·                                 The void left by the Beis Hamikdash that is not with us and the concomitant void of sanctity within us (we could be closer to angels, and not closer to animals)

·                                 The honor of K’lal Yisrael that has been cast to the ground and trampled upon

·                                 The Cohens and Levys of the world who are not Jewish

·                                 The Crusades

·                                 The Pogroms

·                                 The 1648-1649 Massacres

·                                 The Holocaust

·                                 The Yom Kippur War

·                                 The Lebanon War

·                                 The ongoing horrors of the Gaza War, terrorism of a kind that the world has never faced before

·                                 The kidnapping and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, the Bulgaria murders, the Toulouse murders of Rabbi Sandler and the three little children, the Fogel massacre, the Mumbai atrocity, the Sbarros bombing, the bombing of Bus Number 2, the Leil HaSeder attack, the drive-by murders, the tractor terror, the Merkaz HaRav murders, the hundreds of other terrorist attacks, the murders and maimings, the mortars and bombs, the soldiers and the children all under attack

·                                 All of the unnecessary sickness and suffering for 2,000 years (multiplied by each second of pain)

·                                 The desolation and ruination of the Har Habayis, Har Hazeisim, Chevron, Teveria…

·                                 Sinas Chinam—smiling at the mishap of another, failing to properly rejoice at another’s simcha, and finding it hard to accept another’s honor and success

·                                 The Jews who do not even know that Tisha B’Av exists

·                                 The Jews who know that Tisha B’Av exists and do not grow in their resolve to do something to end this Churban as soon as possible


The Navi (Yeshaya 1:3, which we read as part of last week’s Haftara) teaches “Ami Lo Hisbonan--My nation did not consider.”  Rashi adds that the people knew they were acting improperly but “tread with their heels” on this knowledge, and simply “did not take it to heart.” 

We all know too well the desperate straits we are in at this time, in which we deal with the Churban of Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim--the defiling of a land and of a people on the one hand; and the turmoil in Eretz Yisrael today--upon which the nations of the world have heaped additional disgrace and scorn, on the other. 


Haven’t we yet reached a point where we will, as the Navi asks, at least ‘consider’? It is not, it cannot, and should not, be beyond us to go off into a room--our bedroom, dining room, study, or even the floor somewhere, to sit down and cry: “Oh, what has befallen us! A nation in ruins, the holiest people on Earth berated by the lowest nations on Earth. What makes us better today than the captives of Judea taken by the Romans more than 1940 years ago? We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by the amenities, luxuries, or even just the relative comfort in which we live. We have been in exile far too long, and the longer we are here, the worse off we are.

L’Maaseh, living with reality and practically speaking, we are walking about badly wounded in this bitter exile.


Yirmiyahu HaNavi cries out (Eicha 2:19 ) “Shifchi Kamayim Libeich--pour out your heart [to Hashem] like water.” 


At least today, on the eve of Tisha B’Av, and no less certainly tomorrow itself, on the day of pain and mourning over the Chilul Hashem that exists in the world today, over Hashem’s pain which is infinitely greater than ours, over a world that has been lowered to the bottom of the bottom-most depths, over all the individual and communal pain and anguish, over these and much more, we must cry real, very real, tears. 


Yirmiyahu HaNavi further teaches (31:14), “A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rochel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children, for they are not.” On this Pasuk, the Mahari Kara (in the Mikraos Gedolos) writes that Rochel Imeinu represents K’lal Yisrael, and that our weeping in exile is heard by Hashem’s ears. 

So, as much as we would not like to, we must cry--really cry. We must realize that we are in the nadir of our exile. The Tay-Sachs test, when originally developed, required a person to shed a tear, which was then tested. One had to think of something sad to shed that tear. Is it such a great challenge to cry unabashedly over an unfulfilled world, over the world’s most precious possessions disgraced and derided, over all the unnecessary anguish, unnecessary suffering, destruction, and death that we are currently experiencing?


If, for some reason you cannot cry--at least cry out--as our forefathers did in Mitzrayim. Remember, the gates of tears--and the gates of ruchniyus--are never closed. If we have to sit on the floor in a few hours, it should do more than cause us some temporary physical pain. Plead to Hashem as Dovid HaMelech does: “El Dimosi Al Techerash--do not be silent to my tears!” (Tehillim 39:13) Hashem, I will not find comfort with the few pleasures I have when the Heavens and the Earth writhe in pain! Please join with your brothers this Tisha B’Av, as our sincere tears and cries reach the Heavens. May these tears and cries turn into overflowing sounds of salvation for each and every one of us, as we join together to witness the comforting of our people and the ultimate final and glee-filled redemption--speedily and in our days.



Special Note Four:  ONE FINAL, VERY IMPORTANT POINT: The experience of Tisha B’Av should not be one of Yei’ush--despair, combined with a feeling of hypocrisy--knowing that one will eat on Tuesday night and have Shabbos Nachamu in a week.  No, Tisha B’Av is quite to the contrary a time for us to revitalize our Achakeh Lo--our anticipation, our outstretched hope, our true yearning that the Moshiach really finally does come, and mankind reaches its final goal.  It is one of the most basic tenets of Torah belief, as told and retold by our Nevi’im, that the Geulah will come.  As to why the Moshiach did not come in the times of Rav and Shmuel, in the times of Ravina and Rav Ashi, or those of Rashi, the Rambam, the Ramban, the Bais Yosef, the G’ra, Rebbi Akiva Eiger, the Belzer Rebbe, the Ben Ish Chai or any of the outstandingly great Gedolei HaDor we have had in the past, it is simply not something we can understand at this moment.  Furthermore, for all of those who thought that it would be the Chofetz Chaim, the Chazon Ish, the Baba Sali, the Steipeler, HaRav Shach, or HaRav Elyashiv that would lead us to Moshiach, this is also, devastatingly, not the reality now.  Nevertheless, we must intensely believe, and intensely demonstrate, that we know that the Geulah will come.  We must bring home to ourselves that it is not another Tisha B’Av because it was so last year, the year before, or a hundred years before.  It is another Tisha B’Av because in the stretch between Tisha B’Av 5773 and 5774, we simply did not put enough bricks on the wall. The absolute truth is that it may literally be his one extra hour of Torah study, or her one act of Chesed that brings us over the top. The Alter of Kelm teaches that one of the greatest lessons of Tisha B’Av is rooted in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim:  The stabbing of the Paroches by Titus after he and his soldiers had come into the Beis HaMikdash and defiled it in any way they thought possible was, in fact, deemed by Hashem to be a meaningless act, with no effect in the Heavens whatsoever.  Indeed, as Chazal teach, the Heavens cried out at the time of the destruction:  “[What have you done--nothing!] You have burned a burnt building.”  Each one of us, on the other hand, can make the Heavens shake with a deed of kindness, an act of goodness, a sincere prayer, and meaningful Teshuvah.  It is up to us, each and every day until the Geulah arrives.  There is hope, there is a future, there is an end.  All of the sad Tisha B’Avs will vanish into past history, hopefully sooner than later.  We all chant together at the end of Megillas Eicha (5:21):  Hashiveinu Hashem Eilecha VeNashuva Chadeish Yameinu KiKedem--bring us back to You Hashem, and we shall return, renew our days as of old.”  When we can achieve this point--not only will Eicha be at an end--but so will this bitter Galus, and the sweet Geulah will begin! 





5 Menachem Av

BLUEBERRIES: The KCL (Kashrus Council of Lakewood) recently concluded a thorough testing of blueberries in local grocery stores. 100% of the containers contained scale insects. Between 10% and 20% of the berries had scales on them. We are advised that this number is consistent with weekly agricultural blueberry reports issued be Rutgers University. One of the Bodkim reported that 50% of the scales are males, which contain a whole insect. A Bedikas Tolaim expert advised us that based on these findings, he would not recommend buying blueberries--as the scale insects cannot be readily washed off. In his words: “If you want to check them, be very careful and very thorough. If you think that you found and removed the infested ones then soak the remaining ones in soap and rinse very thoroughly.”



KINUS SHIURIM LINK : By the following link, we provide access to the outstanding and inspiring words delivered by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg, and Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff before reciting Tehillim on Wednesday evening: https://app.box.com/s/lwrdss2bty749ctkhr6q Even those who heard the brief messages, may very well want to hear them again--but if you did not hear the moving words--we urge you to! The combined length is approximately 36 minutes.  


Hakhel Note One: Among the great ideas provided by the Rabbonim, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, urged that every person--before beginning to recite Tehillim--visualize himself alongside the Chayalim on the frontlines, such as going through the tunnels alongside them, walking in between narrow buildings and dodging gunfire and mortar fire. You are there with them reciting Tehillim on their behalf--and you are really very much involved in the process of saving lives. It is truly a great responsibility. This week’s Divrei Siach reports that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, said: “Yeish Tehillim Neged HaTilim”--there is Tehillim to combat the missiles!


Hakhel Note Two: We suggest that a common theme among the Rabbonim is that we are at a point where we have to CHANGE OUR MINDSET. The facts and circumstances of this war are so absurd and so bizarre, so unfathomable and so surreal, that we must fully appreciate that the world has changed, and that we are living in different times than the world has known until this point [perhaps the real turning point of history?]. We must go beyond that which we thought our limits are in taking personal action. We are, of course, closer to the Geulah each and every day--and now we may be closer than we even think. Let us change for the better--seriously change for the better--as soon as we can.



RACHAMIM BEN ALIZA CHANA: We must daven for the Refuah Sheleimah of each and every one of the injured Chayalim and residents of Eretz Yisrael. The family of Rachamim Ben Aliza Chana asks for Tehillim to be recited on his behalf--he had jumped on a grenade near the Gaza border in order to save his friends.  He is badly injured, sedated and on a respirator.  Let us daven that he be showered with Rachamei Shomayim, as his name very much portends.





1. The Pasuk (Devorim 1:8) teaches: “Ba’u U’reshu Es Ha’aretz--come and possess the land that Hashem swore to your forefathers….” Rashi (ibid.) explains that war would not even have been necessary--we would have simply entered and possesed--had the Meraglim not spoken Lashon Hara.  Thereafter, we would have remained in the land without the need or use of any kelei zayin--any weaponry forever!  Let us stop Lashon Hara now--so that we can rid ourselves of ugly weaponry once and for all!


2. In a very much related vein, Rashi (ibid. 2:5) teaches that in the reward of Lot remaining silent and simply not revealing Sarah Imeinu’s identity as Avraham Avinu’s wife, he was zoche to become the forefather of two (Amon and Moav) of the ten nations that would inhabit Eretz Yisrael and the environs around it. Imagine--for remaining silent, but once!


3. The Pasuk (2:23) states: “Veha’Avim Hayoshvim Bachatzeirim Ahd Azza--as for the Avim who dwell in open cities until Gaza…the Kaftorim destroyed them and dwelled in their place.” Rashi (ibid.) concludes that the Kaftorim’s previous act of conquest permitted K’lal Yisrael to inherit this area, and this is why the border of Eretz Yisrael, in fact, includes Gaza [and extends into the Mediterranean Sea ]. May the Pasuk’s reference to the conquering of Gaza --and Rashi’s reference to our inheritance of it--stand in our good stead in these very days! 


4. Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu (Devarim 2:31 ): “Re’eih Hachilosi Teis Lifanecha Es Sichon V’Es Artzo--see I have begun to deliver before you Sichon and his land.” Hashem clarifies to all that it was not a human battle with Sichon--it was simply Hashem causing this great power and his people to melt before K’lal Yisrael. How is this accomplished? Rashi (ibid.) teaches that Hashem placed the Sar (the angel) of the Emorim under the legs of Moshe, so that Moshe could trample over the Sar. Although battles and conquests are fought physically in the world below--they are simply the actualization of the heavenly decree. We must constantly remind ourselves of how wars are truly won--as we engage in Talmud Torah, Tefillah, Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim on behalf of all of our brethren in Eretz Yisrael.



EVEN IN OUR GENERATION! In a Shiur related to Tisha B’Av, Rabbi Zev Leff, Shlita, explained that in the Haggada Shel Pesach there are two times the phrase “Bechol Dor V’Dor” appears: (1) Bechol Dor V’Dor Chayav Adam Liros Es Atzmo--in every generation a person is obligated to view himself as having been redeemed from Egypt; and (2) Bechol Dor V’Dor Omdim Aleinu Lechaloseinu-- in every generation our enemies attempt to destroy us (whether blatantly or not). Chazal, by putting both phrases of Bechol Dor V’Dor into the Haggada are teaching us that just as each generation in Galus deserves to be in Galus--each and every generation--including ours--has the potential for redemption.  It is up to us not to look this way or that way, backwards, frontwards or sideways--but into ourselves--so that we can experience the very much preferred Bechol Dor V’Dor!





1.  In this week’s Parasha (always read before Tisha B’Av), Rashi teaches us an incredible fact.  On the words “Ba’eir Es HaTorah--explaining the Torah” (Devorim 1:5), Rashi brings the Midrash that Moshe Rabbeinu explained the Torah to the Bnei Yisroel in 70 languages.  Why?  After all, the people in the desert knew Lashon Hakodesh and maybe a little Egyptian, but why teach them in 70 languages?!


2.  If you were given a 10 minute notice that Eliyahu HaNavi was about to arrive-- or even a one-minute notice--how would you prepare?




Special Note One: As many may know, today is the Yahrzeit of the Arizal.  It is particularly noteworthy during this time of year that the Arizal is known for instructing us to be mekabel the Mitzvas Aseh of VeAhavta LeRayacha Kamocha before davening.  What greater Mitzvah can we be involved in on his Yahrzeit--knowing that our lack of brotherhood (Sinas Chinam) drove us away from meriting the Bais Hamikdash--and how its repair--through VeAhavta LeRayacha Kamocha--can bring us back home.  There is a fascinating Maharal at the outset of Sefer Gevuras Hashem, in which the Maharal explains that the word for exile (Golah--Gimel, Lamed, Heh), and the word for redemption (Goel--Gimel, Aleph, Heh) are different in that the word for exile contains a Heh, and the word for redemption contains an Aleph.  He explains as follows:  A Heh has the numerical equivalent of five--and this symbolizes the four corners of an object (such as the earth), together with its fifth point-- its center.  The letter Aleph has a numerical equivalent of one--symbolizing the center point which unites all else around.  In the Galus we are in, we are spread to the four corners of the world--but we have not lost the center--the power of unity that brings us all together.  We must always remember that our Galus is not marked by a Daled--with only four corners--but instead is made up of a Heh -- a fifth point at the center at which the four points can unite.  We have not lost this bond in thousands of years--as Jews from such diverse Galus-countries as Afghanistan, Argentina, Russia, France and the United States will all get together in camaraderie and to help each other.  This link has never been, and will never be, broken. Our role in Galus is to bring the four corners closer and closer towards the middle point--bonding closer and closer to achieve an Aleph.  When we have made sufficient gains with each other--we will be zoche to bond with Hashem in the Bais HaMikdash again. When this happens and the Geulah Sheleimah comes--the Aleph will be permanent--and our bonds with Hashem will be unshakable, unbreakable, eternal and everlasting.



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


1. The following important rulings are excerpted from the Kuntres Lev Ita, by Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita.  Of course, one should obtain a final ruling on all personal matters from his Rav or Posek: 


A.  BATHING.  According to many Poskim, one is not allowed to shower or bathe even with cold water for Shabbos. However, one is permitted to wash one’s face, hands and feet with hot water and soap if one is accustomed to do so every Erev Shabbos.  According to some Poskim, since in today’s time we shower or bathe frequently and many people are sensitive and cannot go into Shabbos without a clean feeling, one may be lenient Erev Shabbos Chazon for those that shower/bathe themselves every Erev Shabbos. Therefore, according to these Poskim one may shower or bathe with hot water, soap and shampoo.  According to all Poskim, one is permitted to bathe children under bar mitzvah.  If one bathes the children Thursday evening during the year, one may do so this week. 


B.  MIKVAH.  It is permitted for a person to immerse himself in a cold/lukewarm mikvah Erev Shabbos Chazon if he is accustomed to do so every Shabbos.  However, if one omits immersing in the mikvah occasionally either because he is too busy or due to cold weather then one should not immerse himself this week. Whenever one is permitted to immerse in a mikvah, one may not remain in the water longer than he needs to. Furthermore, one may not immerse oneself in a hot mikvah. One is permitted to immerse oneself Shabbos morning in a cold mikvah.


C.  CUTTING NAILS.  One is permitted to cut one’s nails in honor of Shabbos on Erev Shabbos.


D.  CHANGING INTO SHABBOS CLOTHING FOR SHABBOS.  There is a dispute among the Poskim as to whether one may change from his weekday garments into Shabbos garments for Shabbos Chazon. The Minhag is to follow the ruling of the G’ra and permit changing to Shabbos clothing. However, there are some who do follow the Minhag of the Rema and do not change into Shabbos clothing except for a clean shirt.  Some are stringent and do not permit putting on their Shabbos clothing until after Plag HaMincha. Others are lenient and permit one to change into Shabbos clothing after midday.  Note:  One is permitted to change the hand towels and tablecloths in honor of Shabbos.


E.  WASHING THE FLOOR.  One is permitted to wash the kitchen floor in honor of Shabbos.


F.  POLISHING SHOES, POLISHING SILVER.  One is permitted to polish or shine one’s shoes and/or polish silver in honor of Shabbos. However, one is not permitted to get a shoe shine.


G.  EATING OR TASTING MEAT ITEMS EREV SHABBOS.  One is permitted to give meat to small children after midday Erev Shabbos.  Some Poskim are of the opinion that it is permitted only one to two hours before Shabbos and only if one normally gives the children to eat at this time.  One is permitted to make Shabbos early and eat meat at the Shabbos meal even though it is not dark yet.


H.  NIGGUNIM.  One is not allowed to show public mourning on Shabbos Chazon; therefore the Minhag of changing the niggun for some of the tefillos on Shabbos is a matter of discussion among the Poskim. Some Poskim are of the opinion that one should sing all the nigunim that are sung in the davening with their regular tunes and not of those of Eicha etc. (e.g. Lecha Dodi, Kail Adon, Haftarah).  However, other Poskim permit one to change the niggun for these Piyutim. Hakhel Note: In all events, it would be very worthwhile for one to study the words of Lecha Dodi this Shabbos--as he recites them--especially as they relate to Churban and Binyan Yerushalayim. We add, however, that one is not generally permitted to engage in stressful or sorrowful thoughts on Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 306:8).


2. This Shabbos, Shabbos Chazon (as we eat meat and drink wine during the Nine Days), we should be especially aware of the Kedushas Shabbos, with the knowledge that as great as the Binyan Bais HaMikdash is--and what it would accomplish for the whole world--it is still not doche, does not push aside, the Shabbos…and must wait until after Shabbos has concluded!  Indeed, even if Tisha B’Av would occur on Shabbos, we still celebrate Shabbos--with the gefilte fish, the cholent…the Oneg Shabbos in its honor!  Indeed, this Shabbos, we should try to be a bit more careful with the greatness of Shabbos.  If we feel that somehow we end up in some way moving Muktzah, inadvertently doing Borer, or not knowing what to do in a particular situation and ‘gambling’ with our own Shabbos P’sak, then this is the Shabbos for us to set out to rectify this kind of act or that kind of thing.  If one is used to playing with his hair and often then finds hairs pulled out in front of him, or if one is used to biting his nails or peeling at his skin, then this Shabbos should be the dividing line.  The Kedusha of Shabbos is so great, as is evidenced by its special observance in the face of the Nine Days and Tisha B’Av--let us make sure that we inject Kedusha into our personal situations and circumstances as well! Our dear readers, Mekadesh HaShabbos…Kol Mekadesh Shevii...let us especially feel and appreciate it tomorrow!


3. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that the Havdala wine on Motza’ei Shabbos Chazon should preferably be given to a child--even if he is of age to understand about the aveilus of Yerushalayim--rather than one drinking it himself. However, if one does have to drink the cup one does not have to be makpid about drinking exactly a revi’is--and can drink the whole cup.



Special Note Three: The following are Piskei Halacha from HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita, as published in the Divrei Si’ach relating to Tisha B’Av, and the Churban:


A. At the Seuda HaMafsekes on Erev Tisha B’Av, before bentsching, one recites Ahl Naharos Bavel and not Shir HaMa’alos, even though it is a time when Tachanun is not recited. This is because Ahl Naharos Bavel describes the Churban HaMikdash.


B. For Kriyas Shema Ahl HaMita on Leil Tisha B’Av, HaRav Kanievsky recites only the Parasha of Shema, the Pasuk of BeYadecha Afkid Ruchi, and the bracha of HaMapil.


C. The Minhag to stand when reciting Ali Tzion is out of respect for the Kinah, and is not a chiyuv.


D. When putting on Tefillin in the afternoon, one may recite the Pesukim which he normally says when putting on Tefillin.


E. HaRav Kanievsky reports that the Chazon Ish permitted women to recite Tehillim on Tisha B’Av.


F. Anything that is prohibited in the Nine Days is prohibited on the Tenth of Av until Chatzos.


G. Halachos which are Zecher LeChurban:


1. A Simcha Hall which is owned by an individual requires an amah by an amah which is unfinished.


2. When traveling to the Kosel, the Steipeler would close his eyes upon entering the Old City until the Kosel, so that he would not have to tear his clothing twice--once for the walls of Yerushalayim--and the other for the Kosel.


3. One cannot be mafkir his clothing in order to avoid tearing it when seeing the Kosel. After tearing, one need not continue to wear it and one can replace it immediately.



Special Note Four: Important reflections for the days before Tisha B’Av:


1.  What does the lack of a Bais Hamikdash mean?  We are taught (see for example Divrei HaYamim 1:25 and Rashi there) that the Chapters of Tehillim were so inspirational that their recitation by the Levi’im in the Bais Hamikdash brought them to Ruach HaKodesh.  What do we feel like after reciting a very same chapter of Tehillim?!  How can we live with such a stark void?  How can we live without Nevi’im to guide us and Kohanim to teach us?  How can we live without Korbanos which by its very meaning teaches us that our bringing them is a guaranteed means of coming closer to Hashem?  The holiest place in the world is the Kodesh HaKedashim--how can we allow the world to continue to exist--without its holiest place? 


2.  How deadened have my senses become in Galus?  How can I be content with what my eyes see around me?  How can I be used to the words that my ears hear?  What parts of Western civilization are emblazoned in my home, on my clothing (even glasses and sneakers!), and worse yet--in my heart?!  What fads and styles are a part of my daily life and living just as Torah and Tefillah are? 


3.  The Shechina is out of its home.  It is in Galus!  Dovid HaMelech cried out to Hashem that he could not live like that--without the Shechina in its resting place.  How could we then be complacent, and look away at the Tza’ar HaShechina?  Shouldn’t we at least feel the Tza’ar three times a day, every day when reciting the bracha of V’Lirushalayim Ircha BeRachamim Tashuv? 


4.  Do I realize what the world will be like when the Geulah finally comes?  As we have noted in the past, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, taught that there will even be four brachos that are recited when the Moshiach comes.  The Mishna (Brachos 9:2) itself teaches that when we see Avodah Zara uprooted from Eretz Yisrael we will be able to recite the bracha of:  Baruch She’akar Avodah Zara MeiArtzeinu”!  Oh, how we must await the Geulah!  Chazal teach that the Ananei Kavod--the cloud of glory will even return to transport us, that the sick will be healed, that the agony and groans of this world will be no more--and that we will live in eternal happiness.  Moreover, if one truly mourns the destruction of the Mikdash, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, adds that he will be zoche to a Techiyas HaMeisim which precedes the general Techiyas HaMeisim--so that he can truly see the Bais Hamikdash being rebuilt with his own eyes!


5.  With all of the problems of Galus, we must see the Yad Hashem leading us from place to place, from trial and tribulation to respite, and from another trial and tribulation to another respite.  HaRav Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches that the Kinus are presented in a seeming disorder or disarray in order for us to understand that the trial and tribulation in the 1500’s is not different than the trial and tribulation of the 1800’s, and the respite in the 1700’s is not different than the respite in the 2000’s.  It is all Yad Hashem walking with us, staying with us, leading us in a Derech Hanistar until that time that we are zoche for His glory to be revealed to us in all its splendor--and this time to the entire world!


6.  We must read the last few paragraphs of Chapter 19 of the Mesilas Yesharim, in which the Ramchal teaches us how each and every one of us is personally important and responsible to bring the Geulah.  We must teach this lesson to our friends, to our neighbors and to our children.  When pleading to Hashem for the Geulah, can we not be contrite enough to stick out our hand as a pauper does as we say:  Yehi Ratzon…Sheyibaneh Bais Hamikdash BeMiheirah V’Yameinu Visein Chelkeinu BiSorasecha…”?


7.  We should take upon ourselves certain simple daily practices (everything, bli neder, of course), which indicate our discomfort or displeasure with our remaining in Galus.  Every person knows what he can do--skipping one’s first choice for dinner, not eating a particular food (ketchup, mustard, popcorn--you choose it), not speaking one time a day when you could--all in order to remember where you are and where you have to go. 


8.  The Arizal teaches that in order to be zoche to Ruach HaKodesh, one should recite Birkas HaNehenin properly.  We provide by the following link  -  http://tinyurl.com/cdtm2j9  a simple translation of Al HaMichya and Borei Nefashos in Hebrew.  By using these translations (at least once a day), one may demonstrate that he aspires to the days when Ruach HaKodesh will once again be prevalent among us, and that he too aspires to that very same Ruach HaKodesh. 


9.  Lashon Hara--we need say nothing more than these two words, which the Chofetz Chaim teaches is the Sinas Chinam which brought about the destruction of the Second Bais Hamikdash.  We have to know that a slip even one time a day has horrific results.  Picture five packs of cigarettes in front of you ready to be smoked--five words of Lashon Hara are infinitely worse than smoking all five packs!  Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Yearning with Fire points out that the current Golus is now more than 27 times longer than Galus Bavel.  Think about it--27 times longer--and the Galus Bavel was a result of the three major sins of Gilui Arayos, Shefichas Damim and Avodah Zara!  We have to get the message--and stop once and for all!


10.  As this week’s Haftarah concludes, Yeshayahu HaNavi ( 1:27 ) reveals to us:  Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh ViShaveha B’Tzedakah--we will be redeemed through justice and through Tzedakah.”  This does not apply only to judges and to the wealthy.  It applies to each and every Jew.  If we judge others favorably, and we give Tzedakah daily--especially when doing so for the sake of the Geulah--we demonstrate that we are personally trying to fulfill the Navi’s words! 


11.  We know that being Dan L’Chaf Zechus is part of Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh.  What are the ways that one can be Dan L’Chaf Zechus?  The Chofetz Chaim suggests several, which include one’s thinking that the person does not realize that what he is doing is wrong, or realizing that he does not understand the full context of the event (which is almost always the case), and yet another is that even if one feels that he understands the context and knows the person to be culpable, it may be that the person must act in this manner or in order to save someone else.  If one does not consciously realize, at least once a day, that he is judging another L’Chaf Zechus--then perhaps he is not being Dan L’Chaf Zechus often enough! 



12.  Tzefanayah HaNavi ( 3:13 ) teaches us that “She’eiris Yisrael Lo Ya’asu Avlah VeLo Yedabru Chazav VeLo YeMatzei BiPhihem Leshon Tarmis--those who remain at the time of the Moshiach…will be those that did not speak falsely or deceitfully.”  How important is honesty in one’s life!  It is literally the difference as to whether one will be present at the end of days, says the Navi.  What an important ambition in life! 


13.  Finally, let us remember that, as HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, teaches, the greatest Chilul Hashem ever is that we are still in Galus--and the greatest Kiddush Hashem will occur when the whole world is rectified with the Bi’as HaMoshiach--and those who merit it are blessed with a life of spiritual eternity.  Not only the Kohen Gadol--but each and every one of us, we are taught, will be on a level where we will be able to recite the four letter ineffable Name of Hashem--”VeHaya Hashem L’Melech Al Kol Ha’aretz BaYom HaHu Yehiyeh Hashem Echad”!  We must live daily with the thoughts, words and actions that will bring us (including oneself) to the culmination of all of mankind!  Sacrifice may be required--but, oh--how important it is and how worth it--it will be!


14.  It is brought in Halacha that one should not hit his students during this time, as it is a time of danger, and even a mild hitting could have, r’l, more dire consequences.  We may add that there is another lesson here.  Chazal teach that “Shafach Hashem Es Chamaso Al Eitzim VeAvanim--Hashem let out His wrath against us on the trees and stones of the Bais HaMikdash--He destroyed His own home--rather than destroy us.  We must take the lesson from Hashem’s actions--redirecting or reducing our anger to a point or place where it will do no harm.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, points out that one of the most effective means of battling anger is by diffusing it temporarily--i.e., telling yourself (and your Yetzer Hara) that you will revisit the topic in an hour or so.  Eventually, HaRav Friedlander, teaches, one’s own internal anger will become weaker and weaker to the point that it will not even register as a possible initial reaction.  Tisha B’Av reminds us to take Hashem’s lead in this essential rebuilding of character. 


15.  Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, points out that the oldest Kinah we find in Kinos is the Kinah that Yirmiyahu recited over the murder of Yoshiyahu HaMelech--a Kinah which preceded the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash by over 20 years.  In fact, Rabbi Reisman teaches, that if one can only recite one Kinah it should be this one--as this was composed by Yirmiyahu HaNavi himself.  There is a great lesson here.  We must look to a root cause of an issue and resolve it.  If Yoshiyahu HaMelech had not been suddenly killed, Bnei Yisrael would have continued advancing in their Teshuvah and Avodas Hashem as they had been during his reign.  He was only 39 years old when he was murdered.  He could have easily still been king at the time that the Bais HaMikdash was otherwise destroyed--and it would then never have happened.  The Hashgacha was otherwise--but the lesson remains.  One searching for gold will not readily find it on the surface of the ground--he will have to mine to get there.  Tisha B’Av is a time to mine the soul--reaching to the depths in order to accomplish. 


16.  Shemor Raglecha Ka’asher Teleich El Bais HaElokim (Koheles 4:17)--Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us that before we reach Bais HaElokim we should prepare ourselves, and not merely walk in and act as if “I am here!”  How does one prepare himself?  One thing a person can do is have Hirhurei Teshuva prior to entering, and think about how much he has to thank Hashem for prior to entering.  A second extremely important consideration is a feeling of reverence for the Mikdash Me’at.  Our Shul or our Bais HaMidrash, is our current replacement for the ultimate Mikdash Hashem.  We must think and rethink how we can further improve our treatment of our Mikdash Me’at with greater reverence and honor--so that we will be able to build ourselves up to show the proper reverence for the Bais HaMikdash as well.  We really don’t know how much time we have to prepare--so let’s start our extra efforts today!


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