Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
DECEMBER 2019 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE
As we have noted in the past, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, teaches
that we eat donuts on Chanukah so that we can daven for the Mizbei’ach in
Ahl HaMichya with the words Racheim Nah…V’Ahl Mizbechecha, as
bentsching does not reference the Mizbei’ach. We may add that it is not only
on Chanukah that we should yearn to have the Mizbei’ach back—and make the
conscious effort to sincerely daven for return of the Mizbei’ach each and
every time we recite Ahl HaMichya. What new and special meaning every Ahl
HaMichya will have!
LEAVE THE WICKS!
If one does not display his Menorah in his living room or dining room during
the year, so that he can be constantly reminded about the Yeshuos that
HaKadosh Baruch Hu brings, then perhaps he can leave a small bag of his
unused wicks in a conspicuous place (such as with his bentschers)--so that
he can be constantly reminded of Yeshuas Hashem! Hakhel Note: Rabbi Fischel
Schachter, Shlita, points out that there is no such thing as a “good dreidel
player”. Clearly, the letter that the dreidel will land on is clearly
B’Yad Hashem. We may fool ourselves in other areas--but dreidel is far
more than a toy or a game--it is a lesson for life!
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
HaRav Tzadok HaKohen teaches that the month of Teves is a very special
one--for as the tenth month of the year it symbolizes Shevet Dan which was
the tenth Shevet to travel in formation in the desert. What was so unique
about Shevet Dan?
CONTINUE TO PRAY WITH FIRE!
is now a very important part of our recent past and an eternal part of our
fiber and being. As we have referenced over the past two weeks, Tefillah is
such an important part of Chanukah’s lesson: We can continue to demonstrate
the effect of Chanukah upon us.
Here is a practical idea as to how you can truly further this goal of
Improved Tefillah--Improved Life. The book Praying With Fire began a
brand new cycle on 1 Teves--just two days ago. Thousands upon thousands
have literally become inspired to daven better (“with fire”) by this classic
work, using the Five-Minute a Day Lessons in the book. This is a great new
opportunity to start improving your Tefillah. It is important to note that
there are about 150 simanim (chapters) in Shulchan Aruch relating to
Tefillah, which is approximately the same number of chapters relating to all
of Hilchos Shabbos, including the laws of Eruvin on Shabbos.
urge those who have not already done so in 5780, to begin the new cycle of
Praying With Fire over the next three-month period. Your personal
growth in Tefillah--and in your relationship with Hashem--will be extremely
IMMEDIATE ATTACHMENT TO CHANUKAH:
What are the last words about Chanukah that we recited yesterday at Mincha--perhaps
this is the parting message that we should take with us. In practical
furtherance of this message, we provide the following two helpful hints:
Modim, when reciting the words Ve’Ahl Kulam, realize that Kulam
is a broad, general term (in Chazal’s language, a ribui)--intending
to include more than what was previously stated. Accordingly, one can think
about something else that he should thank Hashem for not previously thought
of until that point.
last words of the bracha of Modim are: “U’Lecha Na’eh L’Hodos--and to
You it is nice to give thanks.” When reciting these words--appreciate how
pleasant it is to thank Hashem!
Note: We can continue to demonstrate the effect of Chanukah upon us.
Improving our Kavanna daily in pleading for “Rachamecha HaRabbim”--a
major theme of Ahl HaNissim of both Chanukah and Purim, focusing
properly in Shemone Esrei during the bracha of Gevuros Hashem (the second
bracha of Shemone Esrei relating to Hashem’s omnipotence), and the bracha of
Re’eh Veanyeinu (the seventh bracha relating to individual and community
IMPORTANT POST-CHANUKAH CONSIDERATIONS:
do Chazal ask only about Chanukah--and not about any other Yom Tov--Mai
Chanukah--what is Chanukah about? A Rav explains that this is to
teach us that we must stop to reflect upon what Chanukah is and what it
means to us.
reader thought about why we don’t light the Neiros all day on Chanukah--or
at least relight them in the morning (as we do in Shul). He came to the
conclusion that this is to teach us that although Chanukah will be over, we
must realize that the lessons of Chanukah are to last even after the Neiros
Another comment we received was that there is a difference between lighting
Chanukah candles--and Neiros Chanukah. Think about it!
V’Ahl Hamilchamos is mentioned last in the series of Ahl HaNissim
V’Ahl Hapurkan. Weren’t the wars chronologically the first thing to have
happened? Some explain that the Milchamos refer to the ongoing
Milchamos of galus that we continue to wage (including against
terrorism)--for which we must look solely to Hashem to bring us the miracles
today--as He did then!
HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, emphasizes that Yavan is described as Choshech.
We know that the Makka of Choshech in Mitzrayim was tangible. So, too, was
the Choshech of the influence of Yavan physical, as it disaffected so many
in K’lal Yisrael. As we look at the emphasis placed on the physical and
material in the world around us, we should realize that it is Choshech--and
when we see it we should picture ourselves staring at the Neiros Chanukah
and the light of Ruchniyus that they--and K’lal Yisrael--represent!
CHANUKAH CONNECTION: From a Reader:
Sefer Nissim V’Niflaos, makes the point that the time of year between
Chanukah and Purim entails an emphasis on communal Achdus--in contrast to
the beginning of the year where the emphasis is on Teshuvah that usually
involves personal introspection. The initial Teshuvah period ends on Zos
Chanukah, and simultaneously we expand our focus beyond ourselves to begin
preparing for the nation’s birth on Pesach, and Matan Torah on Shavuos, both
of which have Achdus as prerequisites.
Chanukah the focus is on the Bayis, as we begin at home to repair any rifts
in the family. [Hakhel Note: Readers please take immediate note of this
Chanukah Avodah!] Then, on Purim the effort gets expanded to the community
at large, where the Mitzvos of Seudah, Mishloach Manos and Matanos
Le’evyonim create a social ingathering that brings together all K’lal
Chanukah, the Mitzvah of Neiros is directed to the Bayis, and we also have
family Seudos as part of the Simcha of the festival. Amazingly, the Brachos
(including She’assah Nissim) are also directed to the family unit,
which is the only time of the year that they are not directed to
individuals. Thus, if someone forgot to make a Shehechiyanu the first
night, he is to recite it when he lights on the next night. But, if he was
Yotzeh the first night through someone else in the Bayis, he is exempt from
Shehechiyanu thereafter, even though he was not present when the Bracha was
made and didn’t say Amen. This is unlike any other Bracha where one cannot
be Yotzeh unless one actually heard the Bracha being recited.
She’Assah Nissim which is only recited on Chanukah and Purim
appropriately has thirteen words (the gematria of ‘Echad’) because this time
of year emphasizes Achdus, as we join together in recognizing our life’s
purposes and goals--which will bring Yeshua and Geulah as well--as it did
for us on Chanukah and Purim!”
TESHUVAH MOMENT: “Ki
Ner Mitzvah V’Torah Ohr”—today
is the day to make the commitment bli neder to continue the light of
Chanukah with a particular small, additional Torah study or Mitzvah
performance—to demonstrate that you intend to take the light with you!
seventh and eighth
Nesi’im, corresponding to the seventh and eighth days, are the Nesi’im of
Ephraim and Menashe. Chazal (Bereishis Rabba 73:7) teach that Eisav will
fall into the hands of the children of Yosef--Menashe and Ephraim! The
reason for this is that Yosef represents Gevurah DeKedusha, which is exactly
what will defeat Amalek. With this ultimate victory, Ohr and Kedusha will
be Mosif VeHoleich--will grow and grow forever! (From the Sefer
FROM A READER:
“...what would the world be like, if we sat paralyzed by cold and darkness?
That darkness is reminiscent of the darkness of ignorance, the cold of
disconnection from Hashem and Torah….On Chanukah, we think of the joy of the
power of Torah to bring true illumination and wisdom!”
THE CHANUKAH ‘STORY’:
HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, in his Sefer Ma’amarim emphasizes
that the actual ‘story’ of Chanukah is not interesting to us from a
historical perspective, as history could simply be viewed in a social,
political and a particular historian’s context. In fact, whatever has
occurred throughout the world’s existence has happened only because it was
Hashem’s express and explicit will. When Chazal (Shabbos 21b) ask Mai
Chanukah--what is Chanukah?--they respond not by going into lengthy
details of the various strategies and battles, but rather with our
relationship with Hashem and the miracles He performs on our behalf. Our
view of ‘history’ is replete with r’l our falling prey to sin,
suffering the consequences and then returning to Hashem--Who brings about
our salvation, sometimes in a clearly miraculous way, and other times hidden
in the guise of politics, movements and the like. History’s message of
Chanukah to us in this protracted galus is to once and for all not fail and
fall--so that we have the ultimate salvation that only Hashem can bring.
HaRav Salomon points out that this is inherent in the term ‘Macabi’--Mi
Chamocha Ba’eilim Hashem--we realize that it is only Yeshuas Hashem that
we need--and that will come about only through our own thoughts, words and
actions. Let us take the lessons of Chanukah with us--committing to rid
ourselves of the tzaros, of the pain and suffering, that we find ourselves
in, through our own Teshuvah--so that we can witness that final and ultimate
Yeshuas Hashem! Hakhel Note: Perhaps we can begin with what you might
perceive as a Hellenistic influence upon you--and try to curb and eliminate
of us may be familiar with the famous question of the P’nei Yehoshua--if the
Halacha is that “tuma hutra b’tzibur”--impure objects are permitted
to be used by the tzibur--then what was the problem using all of the oil
rendered impure by the Greeks? The Menorah had to be lit for all of K’lal
Yisrael and, accordingly, the impure oil was perfectly permissible for use
by the tzibur--in a word, the miracle of the oil was simply not
necessary--according to Halacha! There is a beautiful answer to this
question given by HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl. HaRav Shmuelevitz asks why
we place such a great emphasis on the miracle of finding the oil--even over
and above the previously unimaginable victories in the wars against the
Greeks themselves. After all, it is much easier to find an item one would
not expect to find-- than for a handful of chaloshim--people who were
physically weak to defeat the mightiest army in the world! Furthermore,
with the finding of the small jug of oil, a miracle happened for only an
additional seven days. Yet, because of the successful wars, the Jewish
people retained the Bais HaMikdash for more than 200 years--and their
fulfillment of the Torah was saved forever.
answer this question, HaRav Shmuelevitz notes that the Torah goes out of its
way to teach us that when Yosef was brought down to Egypt by the merchants,
they were carrying all kinds of fine-smelling spices, rather than the
malodorous items that they usually carried (See Bereishis 37:25, and Rashi
there). At first glance, it is difficult to understand why what they were
carrying mattered at all. Yosef is at the nadir of his life. A few days
ago, he had been learning Torah with his father, the Gadol HaDor, and now he
was surrounded by idol worshippers who are going to sell him into slavery in
a morally bereft country. In a time of darkness such as this, would it make
any difference at all what the odors were around him?
answer is a most definitive “Yes!” The sweet smell of the spices and
fragrances were intended to be a sign to Yosef that even in his darkest hour
Hashem was with him, and that he was not lost or forgotten. Yosef now
understood that there was purpose and plan to what was going on around him.
Every miracle, large or small, indicates a “Haoras Panim”--a light from
Hashem which shines upon the person and reminds him that he is at all times
in Hashem’s embrace.
here, the miracle of finding a jug of pure oil does, in fact, pale in
significance to the miracles that took place during the incredible wars, and
the glorious result for the Torah and the Jewish people. Nonetheless, we
celebrate the small jug because it demonstrates Hashem’s “Haoras Panim”--His
singular love, His unique care, His special concern for us as His children
at all times and in all circumstances.
parent who does not appreciate his child will only provide him with the
absolute essentials that he really needs. On the other hand, a parent who
truly loves his child will go beyond what the child absolutely requires, and
will go overboard and indulge the child. If the miracle of Chanukah had
only been to give the “mighty into the hands of the weak” or the “many into
the hands of the few,” this would have exemplified Hashem providing for our
absolute needs only, for He had assured our forefathers that we would
continue to exist as a Torah people, and His word must be kept. But the
miracle of Chanukah went well beyond that--it reached to the jug of oil. It
is this Haoras Panim that we celebrate--that Hashem’s affection for us is so
great that it extended to that little jug.
tuma may be hutra b’tzibur--but His love for us goes so much
beyond that, and we can and should reciprocate this feeling.
POINTS AND POINTERS ON ZOS CHANUKAH:
Zos Chanukah, is the last day of our celebration of “Chanu-Kah”--our
resting from war on the 25th day of Kislev. While other nations
may celebrate victories in war, we celebrate our rest from the war--the
result of the victory--which is for us to return to our Avodas Hashem!
The Sefer Taamei Dinim U’Minhagim brings that Zos Chanukah is
the last Day of Judgment from the Din that began on Rosh Hashana more than
three months ago (the gematria of Matisyahu is the same as that of Rosh
Hashana--861). Hashem is a very gracious Father and allows us tremendous
opportunities to return to Him--as alluded to in the Pasuk BeZos
Yechupar Avon Yaakov (Yeshaya 23:9). We should spend some time
contemplating how we can complete this process of judgment on a positive
note--how we, too, can celebrate this period in which we rejoice in the
result of the victory--with a renewed vitality and vigor. Some
introspection and renewed commitment is certainly within the order of the
once again excerpt the following greater detail relating to Zos Chanukah
from the unique English Sefer The Book of Our Heritage, by Rabbi
Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl (Feldheim Publishers): “The
last day of Chanukah
of the altar.”
to that which
of the week--while
eight alludes to
Day of Chanukah
of Shemini Atzeres
days of the
Awe and the
thanksgiving of the previous
to observe three festivals:
these three festivals
in the written
Torah, Chazal were given
as the moon reflects
by Hashem, their
for the establishment
is a reflection
of the light
of Sukkos and Shemini
Bnei Yisrael’s having
who sought to
in Heaven, she
in the shelter
the essence of whose rejoicing
to Torah and its mitzvos. The light of
in turn, is a reflection
of Shavuos --the ‘time of the giving of
Bnei Yisrael declared:
foot of Har
established a covenant
with Hashem, a covenant
that was renewed
Even when she
who set out
the Jews, she
her acceptance of the original
of “we shall
do and we
of a new
it come speedily
days--a new light
Bnei Yisrael, a
of the light of the redemption
new festival! It
merit of the fact that she did not
despair of being
she expected it daily
even in the
Regarding this future
day, our Nevi’im taught
the land of Egypt I shall show
the Bnei Yisrael up out
as Hashem lives,
land of the north and from all
And I shall
Chazal said: Even
of Purim and
can this be compared?
was given money
to invest in a
He did so and
come and take back that
will not be taken
which the Torah ordained.
to earn them on
and Chanukah, however, they
own deeds-- through their willingness
covenant of the Torah
was further enhanced
by virtue of
these things despite being in a state
Because Chanukah and Purim were achieved by Israel
the merit of
by all Jews wherever
is the reason that
outside the Land
day on which
suggested for celebrating
extra day outside
When we are in the
sanctity of the
one day alone.
the sanctity of
of the festival.
Jews earned with
their own merit.
‘s inner soul and we therefore
- even outside
require an extra day!”
What outstanding and beautiful thoughts. The Book of Our Heritage is
filled with these thoughts, and of course we highly recommend purchasing
this Sefer and studying its wonderful words.
“Although previously, some of the Gedolei Yisrael were opposed to the Mussar
movement because of bittul Torah, in our generation learning mussar is
considered pikuach nefesh [as without it one cannot withstand the evil
inclination which fills every street corner], and there is a rule that
pikuach nefesh takes precedence over the entire Torah.” (In the name of Rav
Aharon Kotler z’l, quoted in Sefer Yisroel V’Oraysa, ch. 8).
CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
provide points and pointers relating to Shabbos Chanukah:
the extent possible, one should prepare his Menorah and wicks on Erev
Shabbos, so that he can light on Motza’ei Shabbos as quickly as possible.
Additional Note One: In order to perform Hadlakas Neiros Chanukah as close
to the end of Shabbos as possible, the Chazon Ish, Z’tl, and HaRav Shlomo
Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, recited Veyitein Lecha after Hadlakas Neiros.
Additional Note Two: Likewise, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, in order not to
delay Hadlakas Neiros on Motza’ei Shabbos would not even recite the zemer of
Hamavdil Bein Kodesh L’Chol, typically recited immediately after
following Shailahs and Teshuvahs were provided to us by Rabbi Yisroel
Pinchos Bodner, Shlita:
Erev Shabbos my Chanukah menorah was set up next to my neighbor’s menorah.
He lit my menorah by mistake, and rushed off to shul. There was no time
before Shabbos to run and ask him permission to light his menorah. So I just
lit his. Was I correct?
similar items are mistakenly switched, such as switched galoshes in shul, it
is customary for people not to mind if the other person uses theirs.
Therefore you were correct. (Based on Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. V 9, 7,
see Halachos of Other People’s Money p. 199).
This Shabbos Chanukah we are staying in a hotel. The hotel provides our
group with a ballroom where we daven and have our kosher catered meals. The
ballroom does not have windows to the outside. The hotel does not allow
candle lighting in the bedrooms. Should we light in the bedrooms anyway,
since only the bedrooms have windows to the outside, and hopefully they will
not go so far as asking us to put it out, or should we just light in the
Since the hotel specifically does not allow placement of the Chanukah
menorah in the bedrooms, doing so would be considered “gezel”. (See
Halachos of Other People’s Money p. 55, note 132). The Shulchan Aruch
rules that gezel of an akum is totally asur. (S Aruch C”M 348, Halachos of
Other People’s Money pg 32). Therefore doing the mitzvah of lighting in the
bedroom would be considered ‘mitzvah haboah b’avairah’. Thus you
should light in the ballroom, where there is ample parsumei nissa for
your family/group. There are now specific types of Menorohs which do not
actually have flames upon which a bracha can be recited--consult with your
Rav as to which Menorohs are acceptable.
Fascinatingly, the last Halacha in Hilchos Chanukah of the Rambam teaches
that if one is capable of purchasing either Shabbos licht or Chanukah licht--then
he should purchase Shabbos licht because of the Shalom Bayis that they bring
along with them. With this Halacha, placed at the climax of Hilchos
Chanukah, the Rambam is at the very least pointing out to us that although
we treasure the yearly opportunity to bask in the warm and astounding glow
of the Chanukah candles, the wonderful privilege of the weekly Shabbos
candles should be perhaps even more enjoyed and appreciated! In the
outstanding Sefer on Shabbos for children (and the entire family), Can’t
Wait for Shabbos!, Rabbi Yehuda Winzelberg, Shlita, teaches the
following (p.95): “The Mitzvah of lighting the Shabbos candles is extremely
precious. Rabbeinu Bachya in Parashas Yisro teaches that when a woman
lights the candles with Simcha--genuine happiness, she has the power to have
all of her Tefillos answered by Hashem!”
is reported that in the Beis HaMidrash of Reb Moshe of Kabrin, Z’tl, there
were many Chasidim who would nearly faint (or even faint) from the great
Hislahavus and Hishtapchus Hanefesh they experienced in giving Shevach
V’Hoda’ah to Hashem while reciting Nishmas. In fact, there were actually
people appointed to revive them. Certainly this Shabbos, in which the very
atmosphere is especially infused with the Hoda’ah to Hashem inherent
in Chanukah, should our Nishmas be inspiring and inspired.
Reminder! The Ahl HaNissim and what it describes is so pivotal to
Chanukah, that the Siddur Rashban actually writes that Ahl HaNissim
takes the place of a Karbon Todah offering in gratitude for the Nes! Hakhel
Note: This kind of ‘Karbon Todah’ can even be brought on Shabbos!
POINTS AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA, PARASHAS MIKEITZ:
Parashas Mikeitz is usually read on Shabbos Chanukah. There are many
are a few suggestions from the Sefer Baruch She’Amar (p.143):
Just as in Paroh’s dream, the seven gaunt cows consumed the seven
healthy ones, and the seven ears of wind-beaten grain swallowed the seven
full ears, so too did the few Chashmonaim defeat the mighty Greek
army--there is and can only be one explanation--for this is Hashem’s will!
The Parasha begins with the word VaYehi--seemingly (from its
sound) a word of tza’ar, expressing the anguish of the times. Yet, this
event ended with the reuniting of Yosef and his brothers. So, too, with the
Chashmonaim, they suffered immensely at the hands of the Greeks, but emerged
victorious spiritually and physically.
Most Chumashim, at the end of laining Shabbos morning, list the
number of Pesukim just read. At the end of Parashas Mikeitz, however, most
Chumashim also list the number of words in the Parasha--2,025. This total
number of words alludes to the gematria of Ner (50 plus 200=250)--eight
times for the eight days of Chanukah--totaling 2000--all of which started on
the 25th of Kislev--for 2,025!
In what merit was Yosef referred to as “Ain Navon V’Chacham Kamocha”--there
is no one wiser in the world than you? The Pasuk answers that it is because
“Hashem revealed the dream and its interpretation to you” (Bereishis 41:39,
40). The next logical question is then, what merit did Yosef have that
allowed Hashem to reveal the dream and its meaning to him and be considered
the wisest man in the world? The Alter of Slabodka, Z’tl, explains with
Chazal’s words (Midrash Rabbah 23): “Machshava SheLo Chashva Ba’Aveira
Tavoh VeTikra Chachma--a mind which did not think of sin--let it come
and take wisdom”. According to this Chazal, the key to Yosef’s success was
that he did not let the temptation even enter his mind. He cleared his
thinking of the Yetzer Hara’s influence and did not let the otherwise
obvious sinful thought in at all. Because he had made his mind open and
free--there was an equal measure of great wisdom that could enter in its
place and stead. We may not always have the same great temptation and the
concomitant great wisdom that can flow from overcoming it, but we must
realize the very practical lesson from this Chazal--the more you prevent
ta’avah and sin from entering your thought process in the first
place--the wiser, very literally, you can and will become! Your own measure
of wisdom is up to--you!
A reader pointed out to us the following: How
possible statistically was it to appoint as the Viceroy of Egypt an
individual who only the day before was (a) totally unknown to Paroh, (b) a
young, unmarried and unsettled man, (c) a non-citizen who was even an Ivri
(per se despised, as seen from Rashi on the words of the Sar
HaMashkim to Paroh in this week’s Parasha), (d) an eved, and as if to
add insult to injury (e) a convicted criminal who was still in prison?!?
Because Hashem runs the world and all parts of it, there is not even the
smallest element of shock or surprise to us... or even to any Mitzri
recorded in this week’s Parasha! Hakhel Note: As we strengthen ourselves
in Bitachon on Chanukah--may we suggest especially focusing on the Second
Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Gevuros--in which we attest to Hashem’s
limitless and unfettered power in all areas of our existence.
ONCE AGAIN PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS RELATING TO CHANUKAH,
WHICH ARE KOSHER FOR SHABBOS TABLE AND CHANUKAH MESIBA USE. AMONG THE
SOURCES FOR THESE SHAILOS AND TESHUVOS ARE THE SEFER PARDES CHANUKAH
BY RABBI AVROHOM ROSENWASSER, SHLITA, AND THE ESSENCE OF CHANUKAH BY
RABBI DOVID MEISELS, SHLITA:
Question: How many questions and answers do you think we will have?
44--representing the 36 Neiros of Chanukah, and the eight Shamashim!
Question: Why do we light 36 Neiros over Chanukah
(excluding the Shamash)?
(a) According to the Sefer Rokeach it is because Adam HaRishon used
the Ohr HaGanuz for 36 hours before it was hidden away. In fact, the Bnai
Yissoschar in the name of R’ Pinchas of Karitz writes that although we may
not see it when lighting, the Ohr HaGanuz itself is revealed at the time of
the Hadlakas Neiros! (b) The Neiros symbolize Torah SheBe’al Peh, and there
are 36 Revealed Mesechtos in Shas (Sefer Taamei Dinim U’Minhagim).
Hakhel Note: The Pasuk in Bereishis describing the creation of light reads:
“Vayar Elokim Es Ha’ohr Ki Tov” (Bereishis 1:4). There are four tagim
on top of the Tes (9) in Tov--4 times 9 is 36--an illuminating allusion to
the 36 Neiros Chanukah.
3. Question: What does the word Chanukah mean?
We all must know several answers to this question. The Ben Yehoyadah
(Shabbos 21B) provides a unique teaching. He writes that it is a combination
of Chinuch and Heh. The term Chinuch refers to the
rededication of the Beis HaMikdash including the Mizbe’ach and of the
Hadlakas HaMenorah and the Heh indicates ribui--demonstrating
that the light that was originally revealed on the first `Chanukah is
revealed yearly in each and every generation. Hakhel Note: The Chasam
Sofer (in the Siddur Chasam Sofer) provides several marvelous acronyms for
which Chanukah stands.
4. Question: Who was the Kohen Gadol at the time of
Chanukah--Mattisyahu--or his father Yochanan?
Answer: The Sefer Shalal Rav (p. 147-148)
presents a Machlokes Rishonim on this very point.
Question: If the Kohanim themselves were temeiyim--did
they not defile the oil when lighting the Menorah?
Answer: Rebbi Tzvi Hersh Charif, Z’tl, presents one
explanation: The Kohanim lit with long wooden sticks which were not keilim
and which were accordingly not mekabel tumah. Apparently then,
when lighting the Menorah they did not enter the Heichal, so as not to bring
their tumah there, and stood outside--in the Azara, reaching in with
the long wooden sticks to light the Menorah standing in the Heichal. This
would uniquely explain the words of the Ahl HaNissim: “Vehidliku
Neiros B’Chatzros Kadshecha” (while standing in the Azara)!
6. Question: How many words are there in the Bracha of
V’lirushlayim Irecha? What is the next bracha? Similarly, how many
letters are there in Baruch Sheim Kevod Malchuso LeOlam Voed? What
is the next word in Shema?
There are 24 words in the bracha of V’lirushlayim Irecha, and 24
letters in Baruch Shem, which correspond to the 24 days of Kislev before
Chanukah. The next bracha in Shemone Esrei is Es Tzemach, alluding
to the Yeshua of the Chanukah period (which, of course, we, too, can be
zoche to during this time), and the 24 letters of Baruch Shem are followed
by V’Ahavta, demonstrating the love of Hashem that was felt at that time.
(Which we, too, should practice during Chanukah, as well!)
7. Question: According to many Poskim, the first bracha
every evening is LeHadlik Ner Chanukah, with the word “Shel” omitted
in order to indicate that the Neiros may only be used for viewing and not
for personal purposes. Based upon this Nusach, how many words are there in
this bracha, in the next bracha of Al HaNissim, and in the two brachos
together? What do each of these three numbers teach us?
As we have noted in the past, each of these brachos has 13 words,
representing, of course, the 13 Middos of Hashem’s Mercy, as well as being
the Gematria of Echad. Together they equal 26, representing Hashem’s
Name of Mercy: Yud-Key-Vuv-Key. Hakhel Note: The Mishna teaches that the
Greeks made exactly 13 holes in the outer wall of the Beis HaMikdash--this
was by no means a happenstance number on their part. Chazal, in turn, teach
that after these pirtzos were repaired, we bow down at those 13
locations--in thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for His miracles on our behalf!
8. Question: Why does the Navi compare K’lal Yisrael to a
Zayis--to an olive?
The Midrash explains that other liquids mix together, but oil will not mix
with them. We too must not mix with the other nations of the world and
their ideologies--as beautifully demonstrated in the olive oil of Chanukah.
9. Question: Where is Chanukah alluded to in the Torah?
Towards the end of Parashas Emor, the Torah describes Chag HaSukkos.
Incredibly, the next Parasha immediately following the Parasha of Sukkos--is
the Parasha of lighting the Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash! (Vayikrah
Question: Where is Chanukah alluded to in Hallel?
is it not alluded to?...Veylokeinu BaShomayim Kol Asher Chofetz Asah;
Atsabeihem Kesef V’Zahav…Beis Aharon Bitchu BaHashem Ezram U’Maginam Hu…BeChatzros
Beis Hashem Besocheichi Yerushalayim..Yomru Nah Beis Aharon Ki LeOlam Chasdo…Hashem
Li BeOzerai VeAni Er’eh BeSonai…Yemin Hashem Romeimah, Yemin Hashem Osah
Chayil…Kel Hashem VaYa’er Lanu.
11. Question: Why is the major sugya in Shas about Chanukah in
Ikar Avodah relating to Shabbos and Chanukah is Hadlakas
Neiros--for Ner Hashem Nishmas Adam. We also refer you to the last
Halacha of the Rambam in Hilchos Chanukah, and to the Sefer Pri
Tzaddik by HaRav Tzadok HaKohen Z’tl, on Chanukah, Os Aleph.
12. Question: Why is there no Mesechta in Shas called
“Mesechta Chanukah”--like “Mesechta Megillah”?
are several answers to this question, perhaps the most well-known being that
of the Chasam Sofer. The Ba’al Shem Tov explains because it is still
incomplete, and will be completed at the time of Moshiach! Hakhel Note: When
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked this question, he immediately
responded that there are at least seven Mishnayos in Shas that do, in fact,
mention Chanukah, and proceeded to list them [if you would like the sites,
please contact us].
Question: What else in the Beis HaMikdash had the number eight
associated with it?
were eight begadim of the Kohein Gadol, eight instruments which accompanied
the songs of the Leviim, and eight items which had a good smell that were
used in the Shemen HaMishcha and the Ketores, and an animal can only be
brought as a Korban when it is eight days old (Sefer Kad HaKemach).
14. Question: The flask of oil was sealed so it could not
contract Tumas Mais by touch or carrying, but why could it not contract
Tumas Heseit by it just being moved by the Greeks?
Orach HaShulchan explains that it must have been deep in the ground, and so
it was clear to all that it had not been moved.
15. Question: Please fill in the blank: The Rambam in Hilchos
Chanukah (3:3) writes that Hadlakas Neiros on Chanukah is a Mitzvah Midivrei
Sofrim like ____________ _____________.
HaMegillah. Hakhel Note: We may add that by lighting the Menorah the
miracles that occurred to the Maccabim should unfold before us and be
experienced with joy in the same way as we enjoy and appreciate the Megillah
16. Question: Why is it forbidden to get benefit from the
lights of the Menorah?
Kol Bo says that it would be a Bizui Mitzvah. The Bnei Yissaschar
writes that the Ner Chanukah alludes to the light of Torah that the Yevanim
wanted to dim. We, in turn, show our Kavod HaTorah, and demonstrate that we
don’t want to use Torah for our own personal gain.
17. Question: Why do we give out Chanukah Gelt?
said in the name of the Belzer Rebbe that we really must give Tzedakah to
the poor in order for them to have money to light the Menorah, to further
Pirsumei Nissa. In order not to embarrass the poor, we freely give to
18. Question: Can you give a Gematria relating to the dreidel?
have noted in the past, the four letters--Gimmel, Shin, Nun, Hey add
up to 358--which is, of course, the Gematria of Moshiach! HaRav Fischel
Schachter, Shlita, explains that the Gematria of Satan is 359--which would
at first glance indicate that he would have the upper hand. However--by our
taking the Dreidel into our hand--by our taking action--we add on
five for our five fingers to the Gematria of Moshiach--overcoming the Satan
and bring the Yeshuah!
19. Question: Other than “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham”, what do
the four letters on the dreidel stand for?
Pinchas MiKoritz writes that the Nun Shin stands for Neiros Shemoneh,
and the Hey Gimmel stands for Hallel Gamur-- two precious
Mitzvos of these days. Rebbi Pinchas adds, however, that just as there are
Shivim Panim LaTorah--there are also Shivim Panim to the Minhagim of K’lal
20. Question: How are the three Amudim of the
world--Torah, Avodah, and Gemilas Chassadim represented on Chanukah?
is represented by the Ohr of the Ner--as Torah Ohr, Avodah is represented by
Hallel V’Hoda’ah, and Gemilas Chassadim is represented by the extra Tzedaka
given in merciful amounts on Chanukah (Sefer Ziv HaMinhagim).
21. Question: Why don’t we make a Shehechiyanu every
night of Chanukah--if every night was a new miracle?
Sefer Mateh Moshe writes that the miracle occurred with the same oil
that we made the Shehechiyanu on the first night--it was just that
the miracle kept on recurring!
22. Question: What are three answers the Beis Yosef himself
gives to his question as to why Chanukah is eight days and not seven?
Initially, the oil was divided up into eight parts, because they knew it
would take eight days to obtain new oil, each day they would put in only
that one-eighth portion and this small amount kept the Menorah burning until
morning. (ii) Alternatively, after they poured all of the contents of the
oil into the Menorah each evening the jug remained full. (iii)
Alternatively, they poured all the oil into the Menorah and in the morning
the cups were full, as they had poured them. In any one of these
circumstances the miracle happened even on the first day, and so the miracle
actually happened for eight days!
23. Question: What Pasuk in Mishlei teaches you that you must
learn Torah after you have completed Hadlakas Neiros?
Answer: Ki Ner Mitzvah VeTorah Ohr (Mishlei 6:23
24. Question: There is a Minhag to eat cheese because Yehudis
gave the Greek Hegmon cheese, he became thirsty, she gave him
wine…and the rest is history. Since it is the wine that put him to sleep,
why is it not the Minhag to drink wine--after all wasn’t that the more
direct cause for her success?
Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, answers that we learn from here that one must plan
ahead and carefully weigh his actions in order to achieve success. Without
the cheese, she would never have gotten to the wine--and we may not have
been celebrating Chanukah today!
25. Question: What was the original source of the container of
oil that was found by the Kohanim?
Shach Al HaTorah writes that this was the oil that was revealed
to Yaakov Avinu, which he used to pour on the stone on which he had slept.
Because it came down from Shomayim, it really should have been unable to be
consumed by a physical fire. A Nes occurred and the Kohanim were able to
light the oil as a tangible physical oil in the Menorah.
26. Question: How many Menoros were there in the Beis
(Menachos 29A) teach that Shlomo HaMelech made 10 Menoros for the Beis
HaMikdash. In fact, Rebbi Eliezer b’Rebbi Shimon holds that all ten Menoros
were lit, in addition to the original Menorah made by Moshe Rabbeinu.
27. Question: What is the Mazal of the month of Kislev?
Mazal is a Keshes, or a bow, serving as a harbinger of the wars of the
Chashmonaim. The Sochotchover Rebbe, Z’tl, asks “but we have no mazal, so
why do we need the sign of the Keshes?” He answers that to us the bow is
our Tefillos, and brings from the Sefer Chashmonaim that before they went to
war against the Greeks they would go to the Beis HaMikdash to daven and blow
the Chatzosros before doing battle.
28. Question: Chazal teach that “LeShana Acheres”, the
following year, the days of Chanukah were established forever as a time to
give thanks and praise Hashem. Why did they have to wait a year--after all
weren’t the miracles immediately self-evident?
Beis Yisrael answers that this is meant to teach us that the act of Mesiras
Nefesh of the Chashmonaim was not at a fixed point in history--but rather
that the time of Chanukah is Mesugal for Mesiras Nefesh in all future
generations as well.
29. Question: Was there ever a time or will there ever be a
time when we will keep Chanukah for nine days?
Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 301) writes that when the Beis HaMikdash will
be rebuilt and we will once again sanctify the moon based upon the testimony
of witnesses, those far away from Yerushalayim will keep nine days!
30. Question: Why was a special Yom Tov established over the
Neis of Chanukah and not, for example, for the Neis of the wars against
Siserah or Sancheirev?
Anshei Knesses HaGedolah foresaw that the Neis of Chanukah would light up
every generation in every year as at the time they had occurred--because of
this special Koach of Ruchniyus, a Yom Tov was established on these days for
all time! (based upon the Kedushas Levi).
31. Question: In Maoz Tzur, we describe our enemies as
Tzor Hamenabeiach--what does this mean?
Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that they act towards us like dogs--not
only intending to bite us--but barking at us as well!
Question: In Maoz Tzur we say of Haman’s sons--Rov Banav--most
of his sons--were hanged. Do not Chazal teach us that Haman had 208 (or
perhaps 214) sons--yet we only know from the Megillah of 10 who were hanged.
What then does Rov Banav mean?
Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, answers that the 10 sons that were hanged were the
greatest ones--and that the language of Rov is related to Rav--or
33. Question: In Maoz Tzur we sing Bnei Vinah Yemei
Shemonah Kavu Shir U’Renanim. What is the difference between Shir
Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that the Shir refers to Hallel, and
the Renanim to Ahl HaNissim which we recite joyfully on
34. Question: Why does the Mishna Berurah say that we should
begin VeAl HaNissim--not just Al HaNissim?
answer because on Chanukah we are to thank Hashem not only for the Nissim of
Bayamim HaHeim--but also for the Nissim that we each experience in our own
35. Question: Why do we call the righteous Jews ‘weak’ in Al
Hanisim if they were actually strong--actually killing thousands upon
thousands of mighty Greek warriors?
Siddur HaGra explains that in their minds they realized that without
Hashem’s help, we are always weak! Similarly, Yosef Hatzadik exclaims in
this week’s Parasha, ‘Biladai--it’s not my power.’ (Rabbi Moshe
36. Question: In Ahl HaNissim we recite LeHashkicham
Torasecha U’LeHa’aviram MeiChukei Retzonecha--isn’t this redundant?
Gerrer Rebbe explains that only a person whose mind is devoid of wisdom will
engage in sin. Therefore, the Greeks wanted us to forget the Torah--which
would cause us to do Aveiros--U’LeHa’aviram MeiChukei Retzonecha. It
is for this reason that we make extra efforts in Torah study on Chanukah--to
fill our hearts with wisdom--with the result that we will stay free of
37. Question: In Ahl HaNissim, we have been reciting
the words “U’Leamcha Yisrael Assisa Teshua Gedola U’furkan K’Hayom Hazeh…--and
for Your people You worked a great victory and salvation as this day.” What
does “KeHayom Hazeh--as this day” really mean? What is the day that
we are referring to?
Sefer Baruch She’Amar (written by the Torah Temimah) suggests it
means to express that although we experienced great salvation then, it was
not an eternal one--which is yet to come--for just as this thing called day
gets light (as it did at the time of the Chashmonaim), and then turns dark,
so, too, will it get to be light once again--and it is that daylight (this
time an eternal one) that we await!
38. Question: We conclude the words of Ahl HaNissim not
only with the words VeKavu Shemonas Yemei Chanukah Eilu LeHodos Ul’Hallel,
but with the additional words LeShimcha HaGadol--to Your Great
Name. What does LeShimcha HaGadol mean?
When we refer to Hashem’s “Name”, we are referring to how
Hashem reveals Himself to us in this world. Moreover, the word Gadol,
explains HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, refers to Hashem’s revealing to us
of His Middah of Chessed. This Middah is especially referred to as “Gadol”
because it is the Ikar HaGedulah Shel Hashem Yisborach Shemegaleh Lanu--i.e.,
the Chesed that Hashem bestows upon us in this world is the greatest way
He reveals Himself to us. Accordingly, it very much behooves us to
recognize and appreciate that Hashem is revealing Himself to us in
this world through the kindness upon which we are making a bracha (or
the kindness which we are requesting). In the Zechus of our appropriate
expression of recognition and thanks, HaRav Friedlander concludes, Hashem
will increase the measure by which He shows us this “Shimcha HaGadol.”
As we continue through Chanukah let us use it as a springboard of
appreciation of the Shimcha HaGadol for the rest of the year by
measurably improving in some way the manner in which we make our Brachos.
Just briefly rethinking this thought of HaRav Friedlander before making a
bracha could go a long way!
39. Question: When did the Chashmonaim win the war--on the 24th
or the 25th of Kislev--if on the 25th--should not we begin to light on the
is a major dispute on this point. The Meiri (Shabbos 21B) writes that the
victory occurred on the 24th, and the Neiros were lit on the 25th. The Pri
Chadash brings that it is the opinion of the Rambam that the victory
occurred on the 25th, and that we begin lighting on the night of the 25th
(rather than on the night of the 26th after the victory) because Chazal
established the night of the 25th for future generations to specifically
remember the miracle of the victory in war which had occurred on that day.
The Har Tzvi (by HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Zt’l) has a fuller discussion of
this disagreement in his Sefer on Chanukah, Chapter 2. The Har Tzvi
actually brings one authority who used a new Menorah on the second night so
that he could make a Shehechiyanu on the second night, as
well--making a Shehechiyanu on the first night (the 25th) for the miracle of
the war, and the Shehechiyanu on the new Menorah on the second night (the
26th)--to also include the miracle of the oil on that night.
40. Question: To what Yom Tov does the Gematria of Mattisyahu
match and why?
Rosh Hashana--with the numerical equivalent of 861. Rosh Hashanah is the
beginning of the judgment period, and Chanukah concludes the judgment
period, as is alluded to in the Pasuk (Yeshaya 27:9) “BeZos Yechupar Avon
Yaakov”--with Zos (i.e., Zos Chanukah, the last day of Chanukah), will
our sins be forgiven.
41. Question: On the fifth day of Chanukah, if one does not
have enough oil, is it better to light one cup of oil or light five wax
better to light five wax candles, to be among the “Mehadrin” who light the
number of Neiros which correspond to the night of Chanukah. (Chayei Adam
42. Question: Is it considered a Hiddur Mitzvah if you put more
oil in the cup than you need?
Chayei Adam (154:21) writes that, when using wax candles, there is a hiddur
to use longer ones. This is because longer wax candles appear nicer, not
because they will stay lit after the zeman. See Magen Avraham to Shulchan
Aruch, Orach Chaim 672, seif katan 3. Based upon this Magen Avraham, it
would appear that the same hiddur does not apply to oil. One can discuss
this with his Posek. Hakhel Note: There may be an additional basis for
distinction between Hiddur and Pirsumei Nissah--and the oil
staying lit longer may constitute Pirsumei Nissah, even if it is not
43. Question: If one did not light at night, does he light in
the day without a bracha?
there is no Tashlumin, as a candle in daylight is ineffective (Chayei Adam
44. Question: Why do we eat Sufganiyo(s)(t) on Chanukah?
have a common answer on the tip of their tongue (or is it lips?). However,
HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, has a different insight. HaRav Auerbach
teaches that after ousting the Greek forces from the Beis HaMikdash, the
Chashmonaim were able to be me’taher--to purify--everything--except for
stones of the Mizbe’ach which the Greeks had ruined and which accordingly
had to be put away into genizah, and replaced with new stones. In order for
us to remember what happened to the Mizbe’ach, the custom was to eat
something which required an after-bracha of Me’Ein Shalosh, such as Al
HaMichya, for this is the only bracha which specifically asks Hashem to have
Rachamim “Al Mizbaichecha”--on Your Mizbe’ach. Indeed, even Birkas
HaMazon (in the third bracha), when asking Hashem to have Rachamim upon
Yisrael, Yerushalayim, Zion and the Beis HaMikdash does not specifically
request His Mercy for the Mizbe’ach as we do in Al HaMichya. It is for this
reason that we eat those wonderful doughnuts--so that we can remember what
happened to the Mizbe’ach--and ask for Hashem’s Mercy in bringing the Geulah
Shleimah--BeKarov Bimheira V’Yameinu!
By the following audio link, we provide Rabbi Eliya Brudny, Shlita’s recent
Va’ad on Chanukah:
PLEASE JOIN US!!
We provide by the following link -
a calendar for the study of Sefer Mesilas Yesharim now over
the two-month period of Teves and Shevat 5780. Please feel free to
print out, make your own postcard, and spread the word! This Program is
for men and women--there are outstanding English translations of the Mesilas
Yesharim available both through Artscroll and Feldheim. This bli neder
two-month undertaking will most certainly demonstrate your real desire for
continued improvement during 5780!
A TESHUVAH MOMENT:
The initial language of Ahl Hanisim: “V’Ahl Hanisim V’Ahl HaPurkan
V’Ahl Hagevuros V’Ahl Hateshuos [Nusach Sefard: V’Ahl Haniflaos V’Ahl
Hanechamos] V’Ahl Hamilchamos She’asisah…” should inspire us to
think about how many different kinds of kindness Hashem does for us, and how
broad and diverse our thanks to Him should be expressed—by word of mouth
and/or in writing!”
Giving Tzedakah on Chanukah, especially to support Torah and Torah scholars,
affords a person Tikunei Nefesh--fixing of the soul--as cited in
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (A Halacha Sefer!). So--write that extra check or two
One of the hallmarks of the Maccabim that is consistently emphasized is
their mesiras nefesh for Avodas Hashem. Rabbi Naftali Kaplan, Shlita,
emphasizes that every time we recite the first Pasuk of Shema, when we
conclude with the word Echad, we are to have Kavannah that we too are
willing to give our very lives in dedication to our minds we should think
that we are ‘Tzugegreit’--ready and prepared--to sacrifice our lives. If
possible, one can envision for a moment the scene of being moser nefesh
Ahl Kiddush Hashem. If one does this, concludes Rabbi Kaplan--it will
strengthen his Emunah--and his resolve--to do what is right. In the zechus
of our sincere and dedicated feelings--may we be zoche to perform Kiddush
Hashem throughout our long lives, and to the Bi’as HaMoshiach Bimheira
FROM THE GARDEN OF GRATITUDE: “The son who comes before his
father in tears inspires his father’s mercy and receives whatever it is that
he requests. Yet the son who is constantly praising his father and
thanking him joyfully inspires his father’s attribute of love.
Consequently, the father will always give to such a son generously. Crying
may arouse the attribute of mercy and result in receiving the specific thing
for one is crying. At the same time, joy and thankfulness arouse love and
desire, attributes much more powerful than mercy. Joy and gratitude
invoke Divine abundance!”
LOOK AT THE NEIROS!
Chanukah, if one would light the Menorah in the same place and at the same
time, the light of the Neiros would simply not be the same. We
suggest that just as Rebbi advised Antoninus that Shabbos food does not
taste the same because on Shabbos it has the ‘Shabbos spice’ in it--so too
is the Ruchniyus that one can imbibe from the Neiros Chanukah on
Chanukah incomparable to the light of the other 346 days of the year. Look,
study and grow--tonight!
Note: Although Chanukah appears to be moving on-do not get down! The Taz
writes from the Rambam in Hilchos Chanukah, it appears that the days of
Chanukah are “Yemei Simcha”. In fact, the Seder HaYom
specifically writes: “On the days of Chanukah, one should not be down or
sad. Rather, one should express Sasson and Simcha for all of the good that
Hashem did for us during these days, and on the coming days of Rosh
Chodesh Teves on Shabbos and Sunday--Yosif Simcha Al Simchaso--one
should add Simcha on top of the Simcha that he is already experiencing!”
THE CHANUKAH BREAK:
Would you ever have expected the news to announce “A few tzaddikim defeat
Hannibal’s elephants”! Yet, this is exactly what happened. The mightiest
army of its time fell prey to a small band of “Orthodox Jews”. How did this
happen? In what z’chus?
Rav Chaim Friedlander Z’TL teaches that the equation was straightforward and
simple--since the Maccabim were moser nefesh--they broke their own will and
were ready to give up their own lives to defeat the Greek influence, Hashem
responded in kind, by breaking the rules of creation and nature, i.e.,
bringing us the miracles of Chanukah. The Vilna Gaon in Mishlei ( 4:13 )
writes that a person should especially focus his life on becoming a better
person-that is, breaking his bad habits and bad character traits.
In a similar vein, Rabbeinu Yonah, in the classic Yesod HaTeshuva,
states that the Ra’avad recommended that a person with a great desire for
something should attempt to in some way break the desire, by either not
fulfilling it at all or at least curtailing it or alleviating it in some
Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim (121:5) teaches us that in truth, Hashem “is your
shadow”--meaning, that if we can improve ourselves by ridding ourselves of,
or weakening, our jealously, anger, hatred or another bad midah or middos we
possess, Hashem will also break the bad decree or remove or alleviate in
some way the difficult situation in which a person might find himself.
Let us take the lesson of the Maccabim. Try overcoming something that would
otherwise seem impossible during the remainder of Chanukah, such as a great
desire or a midah which you have particular trouble with, and have almost
given up on. With even one victory, you may receive a miracle of your very
SHELOH ASANI GOY:
On Chanukah, we celebrate not only the defeat of the Greeks, but also our
staunch dedication against the Greek influence. It is interesting to note
that the Chofetz Chaim, in his explanation of the Siddur, writes that the
bracha of “Sheloh Asani Goy” is intended to cover not only that we
were not born into the ‘70 nations’, but also that we do not have the same
conduct and thoughts as may be common among them.
Chanukah is an auspicious time for us to evaluate our conduct--have we
allowed into our mind or home something that would taint this bracha? Some
nice inner reflection may be in order. In any event, a nice avodah over
Chanukah would be to recite this bracha with a special thanks, and with a
silent prayer, that we not be influenced in a negative way by the world
around us, so that each and every one of us can fulfill our important
special mission in life.
CHANUKAH LESSONS FROM HARAV
SHIMSHON PINCUS, Z’TL:
We provide the following essential Chanukah lessons and insights from HaRav
Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, excerpted from the Sefer Sichos Moreinu:
1. We can learn from the Nissim of Chanukah that if one acts with all of his
willpower, he can chase away all of the Choshech--all of the darkness and
blight. Choshech takes on various forms in this world. HaRav Pincus teaches
that in his opinion the Choshech of a person viewing himself and his life as
a ‘katan’--insignificant and minor--is perhaps the greatest Choshech of all,
because he believes that he will not be able to reach higher levels in life.
The Chashmonaim demonstrated to us all that a small band of ‘chalashim
and mu’atim’--a few unequipped foot soldiers could defeat the
mightiest ‘tank battalions’ of the day. This is because they opted to start
driving away the Choshech on their own--and so Hashem took care of the rest
for them. This is the how and the why for a ‘small’ light that should have
lasted one night (or less) to actually last for eight nights. We too should
recognize that with the proper attitude and effort we can and will exceed
our expectations, and defy any so-called natural order! We must always
remember that Chanukah remained a Yom Tov for a reason--even though the
Chashmonaim dynasty of Kings failed. Additional Note: HaRav Pincus brings
the famous story of the nursing home owner who succeeded in making an
elderly secular Jewish woman religious so that he would not have to feed her
unkosher food, as she had been continuously requesting. When asked how he
had succeeded--after all, hadn’t she spent eighty plus years in an
unreligious environment--the nursing home owner responded: Did I have a
choice?! When one feels the responsibility and acts upon it--he will
2. The Rambam (Hilchos Chanukah 4:12) writes that “Mitzvas Ner Chanukah
Mitzvah Chaviva Hi Ad Me’od--the Mitzvah of Chanukah lights is
extraordinarily precious.” By using the unique word ‘Chaviva’, as opposed to
‘Gedola’--great, the Rambam is emphasizing to us that Chavivus is an
important lesson of Chanukah. We have to take the special feeling we get
from the Neiros, the warmth and the feeling of love and closeness to Hashem
and take it with us beyond these initial Eight Days. Indeed, the source of
the word ‘Chanukah’ is chinuch--because it is a much needed opportunity for
us of Hischadshus--renewal of zeal and effort --which is so vital in our
battle against Mitzvas Anashim Melumadah--mitzvos performed out of
rote and habit and because it was what you did yesterday. In fact, Hashem
creates night once every day so that the next morning one ‘gets up’ to a new
day with freshness. Chanukah is a lengthier period for us to inculcate newly
inspired Torah and Tefillah into our lives.
3. Who really had the true beauty? Chazal teach that ten measures of beauty
came into the world, and Yerushalayim took nine out of the ten, with the
rest of the world having beauty dispersed around. The beauty of Yavan was
and is illusory. Beauty only has meaning and significance if it is ‘Yishkon
BeOholei Shem’-if it is used for the purposes of Ruchniyus and
spirituality, and not as an end in itself.
4. At first blush, Yavan appears strangely similar to us. Both of our
ancestors jointly clothed Noach out of honor and respect for who he was. The
Menorah is a symbol of the Jew, and the symbol of the Greeks is the olive,
whose oil was used to light the Menorah and which is mesugal for chochma
.The Greeks were known to the world as scholars as well--in philosophy and
other disciplines. Even the word Yavan has the same root letters as the word
Yonah-- which symbolizes K’lal Yisrael. Moreover, their beauty is supposed
to find its place in our ‘ohalim’, in our tents. In sum, we appear to be a
true pair--brothers lehavdil--with the Greeks. In reality, however, this is
our greatest danger. The Greek influence of Haskalah and secularism is a
more dangerous enemy because it is the silent one. Take Aristotle for
example. His students once found him fulfilling his animalistic desires in a
horrible way, and he brushed them aside with the answer that ‘it was not
Aristotle’ that had done it. We, on the other hand, even when not actively
involved in chochma--such as when putting on our shoes or in the
lavatory--are still consciously and actively governed by Hashem’s sets of
laws--we are who we are everywhere. Moreover, we recognize Hashem’s Hand as
the source of all of our success and daven to Hashem for everything that we
are and can be. About 100 years ago, a great Talmid Chacham’s granddaughter
ran away from home to university in Europe .She met her grandfather and said
to him: “Why do you sit in the darkness--go out into the world and see the
great light!” He responded: “My granddaughter, you see these planes that fly
now--well, they will eventually get to the moon, they will eventually make
bombs that can destroy the whole world. We make people--we are the true
5. Why do we celebrate the Nes of Chanukah which was for only eight
days--while there were other seemingly greater Nisim that occurred in the
Bais HaMikdash daily--and did so for hundreds of years--for instance, the
Ner Ma’aravi in the Menorah itself stayed lit and unextinguished for years
and not only days?! It must be that with the Nes of Chanukah Hashem is
talking to us--showing us that we must learn its lessons--to see the niflaos
and yeshuos and how the darkness itself is the source from where the Yeshua
arises. All events, natural and unnatural, ‘nissim nistarim and nissim
geluyim’ all merge into one--Hashem’s Will. Let us take this lesson with
us--daily--for the rest of our lives!
“Blessed is he who puts his trust in Hashem and Hashem will be his trust’
At least once a day ask Hashem for success. Before starting the car say a
prayer, ‘Yehi Ratzon that I should have a safe trip.’ Before dealing with a
customer say, ‘please Hashem give me success.’ Before walking in the street,
before taking medication ask for success. Before anything you do ask for
success.” [Excerpted from Ten Steps to Greatness as
heard from Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Z’tl]
QUESTION OF THE DAY ONE:
In Maoz Tzur, we recite: “Az Egmor B’Shir Mizmor Chanukas Hamizbeiach.”
Is not the thrust and focus of Chanukah the Nissim relating to the wars and
the Menorah--why does Maoz Tzur at the outset specifically refer to Chanukah
in terms of the Mizbeiach?
QUESTION OF THE DAY TWO:
Chazal wanted us to place special focus during these days on “LeHodos
U’Lehallel”. We fulfill the minimal Hoda’ah through reciting Ahl HaNisim
in each Shemone Esrei of the day, as well as whenever we bentsch. Yet,
Hallel is recited only once a day--after Shemone Esrei of Shacharis. Why is
it not recited after the Shemone Esrei of Mincha? After all, Chazal (Megillah
17A) teach that one may recite Hallel all day based upon the Pasuk (Tehillim
113:3) “Mimizrach Shemesh Ahd Mevo’oh Mehullal Sheim Hashem--from
when the sun comes out to when the sun goes down, Hashem’s Name is to be
praised”. If we recite Hallel ‘when the sun comes up’ at Shacharis--why not
‘when the sun goes down’ at Mincha as well?!
FROM A READER:
“Chanukah spans two months--Kislev and Teves, the Sefer Avodas P’nim
(a choshuve Slonimer Chossid) writes that the two Nissim of Chanuka were a
manifestation of the kochos of the particular Shevet represented by
these two months. The first month of Kislev in which the Nes of the
victory of the milchomoh occurred is the month of Shevet Gad (using
the count of starting with Reuvein in Nissan). The brachos of Shevet Gad as
we see from both Yaakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu were for military prowess.
Thus Chanukah begins in Kislev. However, it continues into Teves which is a
manifestation of the kochos of Shevet Asher. Again as we see from
both Yaakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu, the brachos of Shevet Asher were for
Shemen Zayis...the rest is history for us to learn from!”
EXCERPT THE FOLLOWING BEAUTIFUL POINTS FROM THE SEFER MACHSHEVES TZADDIK,
A COMPILATION OF THE TEACHINGS OF REBBI TZADOK HAKOHEIN ON CHANUKAH:
When we recite “VeAl Nisecha SheBechol Yom Imanu” in Modim, we are
referring to the fact that Hashem’s help is a Nes for us daily. If we
were left alone to our own bechira, the Yetzer Hara’s fresh daily
attacks would overwhelm us. Hashem’s daily miracle with us is the Divine
Assistance in not leaving us over to the Yetzer’s hands. Hakhel Note: We
should have this Kavannah when reciting these words--daily!
reason that we read the Parasha of the Nesi’im on Chanukah is because
their Korbanos were brought in the Mishkan--a portable place which moved
through the desert in Chutz La’Aretz. This is the ultimate symbol for each
person to make a “Chanukas HaBayis” within himself--rededicating his heart
to life’s purpose--wherever he may be!
Menorah is a k’li, a utensil which serves to hold important oil
within it. Each member of K’lal Yisrael must take the lesson that he too can
serve as a Menorah--to bring and inculcate the Hashpa’ah, the
influence, of our oil--the Torah within him, and serve as a light to all of
those around him. Just as we own a Menorah, we can be Hashem’s Menorah!
Additional Note: Rebbi Tzadok adds that the gold of the Menorah is a symbol
of Yiras Shomayim--and that our Torah (which, once again, the oil
symbolizes) is lit up best by us when we have Yiras Shomayim. We may add
that many of us today have silver Menorahs. Perhaps with this we symbolize
that our Kesef, our money, is dedicated to the study of Torah as well!
CHANUKAH--PESOKIM OF HARAV ELYASHIV, Z’TL:
once again present below several rulings of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating
to Chanukah, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer Ashrei HaIsh
One should attempt to use the nicest Menorah and Neiros possible,
even though the Chashmonaim themselves may have lit with broken earthenware
vessels. The Mitzvah is to be performed based upon “Zeh Keili VeAnveihu”--and
not to replicate that which Chazal did not instruct to replicate.
One may use floating wicks LeChatchila, notwithstanding that at the moment
that one lights the wicks he is actually lighting the flammable wax coating
and not the oil. [Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, at a Hakhel Shiur,
pointed out that, according to other Poskim, it would be best to keep the
lighting flame on the wick for a short while, so that the wax will have
Even if there are many Minyanim in a Shul, the Menorah should be lit with a
bracha only once at the first Minyan, or in the main Shul Minyan only. Of
course, the other Minyanim and/or the other locations should preferably have
the Menorah lit, but without a bracha. [According to HaRav Elyashiv, a katan
should not light in Shul, and if he did, it should be extinguished and relit
with a bracha by a person of age so that there is proper Pirsumei Nisa.]
is appropriate for a katan who has already reached the age of Chinuch to be
Yotzei with his father’s lighting (and for the father to have him in
mind)--even if the katan will light again on his own [HaRav Elyashiv
actually rules that it would be best for the katan who has reached the age
of Chinuch not to light at all because he cannot fulfill the Mitzvah which
is on the Bayis, so it is a Hadlakah Pesulah, MeIkar HaDin]. HaRav Elyashiv
brings that this is also the ruling of the Kli Chemda (to Bamidbar 17:8).
On the other hand, the other household members who are above the age of Bar
Mitzvah should have in mind not to be Yotzei with the Ba’al HaBayis
and be Yotzei the Ikar Mitzvah themselves.
What does one do when looking at the Neiros? In his Divrei Aggadah,
HaRav Elyashiv writes that one should think about how close we had come to
extinguishment of the Menorah--…and how the Chashmonaim did not sit back and
wait as it was extinguishing. Instead, the Chashmonaim worked diligently to
purify the oil so that after the Tekufah of the Chashmonaim came the Tanoim,
the further development of Torah She’Be’al Peh, and ultimately the
Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi. Remember--Chanukah is a time to remind
ourselves to take action on behalf of Torah--and to actually begin taking
one cannot light on time, but either at P’lag HaMincha or later in the
night--he should light at the time when there is greater Pirsumei Nisa.
To a soldier, HaRav Elyashiv ruled that he should light when more Chayalim
would see the Neiros.
When one is on a plane above an area where the time to light has arrived
www.chaitables.com], he too
has a chov of Hadlakah at that time. Of course, one cannot light on
a plane, and if one would do so, it would be a bracha levatalah. If at this
very time they are actually lighting in his home, he can be Yotzei with
their Hadlakah. If the Neiros were already lit in the home, he would
not be Yotzei because “Hadlakah Oseh Mitzvah”--the actual act of
lighting is what counts --and no lighting was done at the time that his
obligation to light occurred.
Lighting must be done in a ‘Bayis’--accordingly one can light in the Bais
Haknesses at the cave of the Kosel, but cannot light at the open area of the
a hotel does not allow a person to light by the doorway (but only in the
lobby on a table), then one is not allowed to light at the doorway without
the hotel’s permission for this is theft, and one is not Yotzei. Instead,
one should make it his business to be elsewhere for Chanukah.
One is not permitted to fast on Chanukah. Accordingly, if one sees that his
breakfast is being delayed, he should eat or drink something before chatzos,
so that he is not fasting.
With respect to the Segulah of giving Tzedaka on Chanukah, it need not
especially be before or after lighting--for it is a segulah any time during
the day. The Segulah also applies to distributing Ma’aser money on
Chanukah. One should try to make sure that the Tzedaka money actually gets
to the poor person on Chanukah, so that he can derive benefit from it.
One should not put the words “HaNeiros Halallu Kodesh Heim” into an
advertisement, because it is a part of a Ma’amar Chazal, and would require
Genizah. Hakhel Note: Let us consider the sanctity of the words
that we are privileged to know so easily and so well!
Chanukah is a time of L’Hodos U’Lehallel. Perhaps on each of the
remaining days of Chanukah, you can think of five additional things that day
to thank Hashem for. It may become a habit!
FROM YAD ELIEZER:
“Chanukah… It’s a holiday of lights, miracles, family and food. It’s a time
to be thankful that we can live our lives free of persecution and despair.
At Yad Eliezer – we’ve been feeding and clothing the neediest and the most
vulnerable for over three decades. We send food to the homes of the poorest
people in Israel. We provide for orphans and widows, and for people who are
totally alone. This Chanukah, as you brighten your home with the beautiful
lights of the menorah, you can also bring light and joy and comfort to those
who need us the most. To donate visit
or a check can be mailed to American Friends of
Yad Eliezer, 410 Glenn Road, Jackson, NJ 08527. Hakhel Note: Please!
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
How many times is the Bais Aharon (from whom the Chashmonaim came)
mentioned in Hallel? Why do you think this is so? [No, it is not eight.] Hakhel
Note: Your insights or discoveries in Al HaNissim and Hallel--the
Lehodos U’LeHallel of Chanukah--are very much welcome!
ONE FORGOT AHL HANISSIM:
should, of course, endeavor greatly not to forget Ahl HaNissim--as it
is a great expression of hoda’ah, and one of the ikarim of
LeHodos U’Lehallel on Chanukah. If one did forget Ahl HaNissim
and remembers while still in the bracha of Modim before saying Hashem’s name
at the end of the bracha, he would go back to where it is recited, and then
continue Ve’ahl Kulam (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 682, Dirshu Note
2). If one remembers after he has said the name of Hashem at the end of the
bracha, then he should recite Ahl HaNissim before Yehiyu L’Ratzon
Imrei Phi is recited at the end of Elokai Netzor. In such event, before
reciting Ahl HaNissim there, he should first recite the
HaRachaman that is typically published in bentsching (HaRachman
Hu Ya’aseh Lanu Nissim V’Nifla’os…) where one recites Ahl HaNissim
if he forgot to do so in the proper place in bentsching and remembers after
reciting the second bracha of bentsching (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 682,
Mishna Berurah seif katan 4).
CHANUKAH--THE MITZVAS ASEI!
once again remind our readers that the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (Volume
6, Chapter 670) brings the following remarkable note from the Chasam Sofer (Yoreh
Deah, Teshuva 233):
establishment of a special day on the day that a miracle has occurred is a
Mitzvah D’Oraysa, and, therefore, the days of Purim and Chanukah are
D’Oraysa…and one who violates this and does not make any remembrance of the
days of Chanukah violates a Mitzvas Asei D’Oraysa…and it is possible that
reciting the Hallel on Chanukah fulfills this Torah obligation.” These
words of the “Heilige Chasam Sofer” have, of course, drawn lively discussion
in the Achronim (see Piskei Teshuvos there).
MORE ON HALLEL:
The Meam Loez (Tehillim, Chapter 113) writes the following important
note regarding Hallel (which consists of Tehillim Chapters 113-118):
Hallel encompasses all the redemptions and everything that happens to the
Jewish people in all generations. It also includes the glorification of
Hashem’s name. In the Hallel, we praise Hashem both for the times of our
ascent and for the times of descent. For we well know that everything
happens under His Supervision. This is the meaning of the figurative words
near the beginning of Hallel--’MiMizrach Shemesh--from the rising of
the Sun--to its setting is the Name of Hashem praised’ (ibid 113:3). Hallel
[and everything within it] extends from the time of our Exodus from Egypt
until the end of all the generations.”
Rambam (Hilchos Chanukah 3:5) writes that the full Hallel is to be recited “b’chol
yom v’yom--on each and every day” of Chanukah. This is, of course,
codified in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 683:1). The Mishna Berurah
there explains that the reason full Hallel is to be recited “on each and
every day” is because a new miracle occurred daily with every lighting of
the Menorah. (This would also explain the prevalent custom of first
lighting the new Ner Chanukah every night, and only thereafter lighting the
neiros that have previously been lit on earlier nights). Based upon this
Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch, it would be most appropriate to find
something new and moving in the Hallel each and every day of Chanukah
in order to properly celebrate the nes that day. In tomorrow’s
Hallel, may we additionally suggest that you attempt to locate an allusion
to Chanukah in the Hallel itself!
FROM THE SEFER LEKET RESHIMOS:
The following insights are excerpted from the Sefer Leket Reshimos on
Chanukah, from the teachings of HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, the original
Mashgiach of Lakewood:
all generations, Hashem provides us with events to arouse us. Prior to the
Chanukah wars, we were being humiliated in relative silence by the
Hellenists. Mattisyahu was aroused when he saw a pig being brought on the
Mizbe’ach--he could no longer remain silent, he took action, and the rest is
history. We too must allow our hearts to be aroused--and Chanukah is a time
for the arousal to be ‘chal’--to be felt deeply and acted upon.
Rebbi Yeruchem from Mir taught that one can be of the wisest and most
righteous of people--but if he is not a fighter he will fall even in basic
areas. We see from the nations around us that man’s nature is to fight, but
their wars are often misplaced. Even when one country does not battle
another, they compete against each other in sports--and tens of thousands of
spectators go to see (and even pay for) how one side can hurt and defeat
another. Man is truly intended to be a fighter, but it is against his
Yetzer Hara and that which is wrong against which he must exert his
Additional Note: The difference, HaRav Nosson explains, between Tamar and
the wife of Potifar was the Tamar would not give up to the last--and was
ready to be burned with her children for the sake of what was right. The
wife of Potifar, on the other hand, fell and gave up when she encountered
difficulty. The wife of Potifar is recorded for all time as a liar and
cheater. Tamar is recorded for posterity as the mother of Moshiach.
Rebbi Yeruchem also taught that should always remember the moments of
light. If it was light before--it can be light again. One should yearn and
pray to re-achieve those times of light.
The Alter of Kelm taught that at Hadlakas Neiros one should be Misbonen in
Gevuras Hashem and Chasdei Hashem. This, he taught, is the Avodah of
The definition of Mesiras Nefesh is not one’s intent to be burned “Ahl
Kiddush Hashem”. Rather, its definition to go against one’s will and
one’s nature. Mattisyahu was undoubtedly a peaceful person, and like all of
those around him was not interested in fighting at all. He overcame his own
nature and brought his sons to his level of Mesiras Nefesh as well. The
victories and miracles that ensued then became “peshutim”--for the Makkabim
acted against Tevah, so the Tevah itself changed. It was Mattisyahu who
started it all--and that is why we begin with “Bimei Mattisyahu….” We too
should place special emphasis on these days on breaking our desires, bad
habit and nature--for these days are Mesugal for change. In turn, we too
can be zoche to changes on our behalf which are “SheLo KiDerech HaTevah”
FROM THE SEFER PARDES CHANUKAH:
The following points and pointers are excerpted from the Sefer Pardes
Chanukah by Rabbi Avrohom Rosenwasser, Shlita:
The Gematria of Nes Chanukah is the same as Tzedaka. The equation
speaks for itself--we must give on Chanukah!
The Magen Avrohom rules that if one has enough oil for himself for all seven
days in a Mehadrin manner, but his friend does not have any oil at all, it
is better for one to light only one candle each night and fulfill the Ikar
Mitzvah--and give the additional oil to one’s friend, so that he can also be
Yotzei the Mitzvah. Hakhel Note: Although we went to war, we always seek
to increase true brotherhood among ourselves--this is our Hiddur Mitzvah!
one attends a Chanukah party in which there are people in attendance who did
not light, could he make a bracha lighting a Menorah at the party--intending
to be Motzi them? After all, isn’t there Pirsumei Nisa in the
lighting? HaRav Wosner, Z’tl, rules that although we do light in a Shul
with a Bracha, it is because in Shul there are three elements to the
lighting--Hiddur Mitzvah, Pirsumei Nisa and Zecher LeMikdash.
A Shul represents a great Zecher LeMikdash. For instance, the custom is to
light along the southern wall of the Shul, just as the Menorah was lit in
the southern part of the Heichal. Accordingly, our Minhag has been to light
with a bracha in Shul. We cannot extend the Minhag on our own to other
The Chozeh of Lublin was once given a k’vitel that was sent to him by a
Moser Jew who caused much tzaros to his brethren. The Chozeh looked at
the k’vitel and exclaimed: “This person is shining in the upper worlds!”
The Chassidim standing around were astonished and the Chozeh’s son, Rav
Yosef asked him how this could be the case. The Chozeh responded: “When I
read the k’vitel, this Moser had just lit Chanukah licht and his
performance of the Mitzvah lit up the upper worlds for him.” Hakhel Note:
Let us remember that when we light in the world below--we are also
lighting in the Worlds above!
TESHUVOS ON CHANUKAH FROM HARAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, SHLITA:
The following questions relating to Chanukah were asked of HaRav Chaim
Chazal teach that if one is careful with lighting the Neiros, he will have
children who are Talmidei Chachomim. Many people light and do not have
children who are Talmidei Chachomim?
Together with the segulos--you still have to learn Torah!
Is it better to prepare your own wicks as was done until recently, or to use
the ready-made wicks, and save yourself ten minutes of preparation?
If it will involve Bitul Torah for a Talmid Chochom, it is better for him to
use the ready-made wicks. However, for all others, it is better to be
osek in the Mitzvah. Hakhel Note: The preparation of the wicks is a
tradition in many families, and certainty in Chassidic circles, where Rebbes
spend much time and effort preparing for the Mitzvah.
If one arrives at his house at a late hour, and has not yet lit, can he
awaken his parents for them to be present while he lights?
It depends on whether they will be happy about getting up. If one is in
doubt, he should not awaken them.
What is considered a greater hiddur--a silver menorah of great value,
but which is not so pretty, or a beautiful Menorah made of an inferior
Just as with the Se’ir Hamishtoleiach, a fat Se’ir is preferable to a
nice looking one, so too here does the actual value of the Menorah take
precedence over its appearance.
Did the Kohanim light personal Menoros in the Beis HaMikdash, as they ate
and slept in the Lishkos?
It would be forbidden to light in the Azara because of Ba’al Tosif, but in
the places where they ate and slept it would appear that they did light
Menoros on Chanukah.
HaRav Dovid Kviat, Z’tl, in the Sefer Sukkas Dovid writes that the
Chofetz Chaim was asked how Hashem would bring Moshiach if the Jewish people
had been experiencing deterioration in each succeeding generation. The
Chofetz Chaim responded that the Geulah will come based upon the pasuk in
Malachi (3:16 ) “Az Nidbaru Yirei Hashem Ish El Rei’eihu--then they
who fear Hashem will talk among themselves” [to strengthen the Jewish
people]... and then Hashem will send Eliyahu HaNavi. HaRav Kviat
continues: “Similarly, at the time of the miracle of Chanukah, the entire
Jewish people had not yet repented. It was only a small band that fought
the Greeks. The majority of the Jewish people were mired in sin. But
following the victory of the Chashmonaim and the miracle of the jug of oil,
the nation repented. Just as from the one small jug of oil, the Menorah was
able to remain lit for eight days, so, too, did the few Torah-true Jews
miraculously save all of Jewry. We must understand that the miracle of
Chanukah is different from other miracles because it happened at a time when
only a minority was worthy. Therefore, it was established for all
generations. This is alluded to in Al HaNissim, where we say that Hashem
gave over “the many in the hands of the few.” They were few not only in
comparison to the Greeks, but they were also few in the people of Israel.
For this reason, their victory was exceptionally miraculous. So, too, when
Moshiach comes will the small knot of Yirei Hashem bring the entire people
to salvation and repentance.”
Wouldn’t you like to be among this special group? We have the lessons and
the lead of the Macabim to follow!
Chasam Sofer urges us to increase our Torah study both quantitatively and
qualitatively on Chanukah--for it was Torah that illuminated our
victory--and the Torah She’Be’al Peh which continued to shine thereafter for
all of K’lal Yisrael! Now is the time to think about what special Torah
project one will celebrate Chanukah with! Hakhel Note: The Sefer
Me’or Einayim (Parashas Mikeitz) writes that Chanukah is a time to come
close to Hashem through Torah--for the Yevanim defiling all of the oils is
symbolic of their defiling all of the chachmos--all of the wisdoms of the
world--with only one vial of oil--the Torah--remaining pure!
QUESTION THAT DESERVES AT LEAST EIGHT ANSWERS:
you assembling at least 8 answers to the Bais Yosef’s great question as to
why we observe 8 days of Chanukah and not 7 (because there was enough oil
for one day so the oil only miraculously burned for 7 days)?--May we ask if
you can identify: A. The Bais Yosef’s three answers, and a difficulty with
each of the three answers; and B. An answer that is alluded to in the Maoz
Tzur itself (pay attention to what you are singing!)?
Rav has warned that if all are leaving the home after the z’man hadlaka
has been achieved, one should extinguish the neiros, rather than
create a sakanah.
Lighting in Shul is Pirsumei Nisa D’Rabim. Accordingly, it is a
great honor to light the Menorah in Shul, and adults should run after the
opportunity. Moreover, one has the opportunity to make additional brachos
that he would not otherwise have at home (Shailos U’Teshuvos Teshuvos
V’Hanhagos: Volume 1: p. 282; Volume 4:p.163).
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
Each Chag has its own central theme. In Al HaNissim, we learn that with
respect to Chanukah “VeKavu Shemonas Yemei Chanukah Eilu LeHodos
Ul’Hallel Leshimcha HaGadol--and they established these eight days of
Chanukah to express thanks and praise to Your Great Name.” It is
interesting to note that the Al HaNissim does not end with the word “LeHodos
Ul’Hallel” but continues with two other words--Leshimcha HaGadol,
to Your Great Name. Fascinatingly, before the Bracha of Modim, of thanks to
Hashem, then ends we continue to mention “Shimcha--Your Name” another three
times! What do we really mean by Shimcha and Shimcha HaGadol--which appears
to be so essential to our proper understanding and observance of the essence
Al Hanissim and what it describes is so pivotal to Chanukah, that the Siddur
Rashban actually writes that Al HaNissim takes the place of a Korban Todah
offering in gratitude for the Nes! Hakhel Note: This kind of ‘Karbon Todah’
can even be brought on Shabbos!
Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita:
do we call the Righteous Jews “weak” in Al Hanisim if they were actually
Siddur HaGra explains that in their minds they realized that without
Hashem’s help, we are always weak! As when Yosef Hatzadik said, ‘Bilodoi--It’s
not my power.’”
THE RINAS CHAIM ON SHEMONE ESREI, HARAV CHAIM FRIEDLANDER, Z’TL,
MAKES THE FOLLOWING GREAT POINTS:
1. The leader of the Chashmonaim was Matisyahu Ben Yochanan.
Interestingly, and non-coincidentally, the name of both father and son
essentially mean the same thing in Hebrew--a gift from Hashem. Since a
person’s name is indicative of his character (see Yoma 83B), we must surmise
that both Matisyahu, and his father Yochanan, lived by the guiding principle
that everything in this world was, is and always will be, a gift from Hashem.
HaRav Friedlander writes that a person who lives with this feeling--that
everyday life, that even “natural” events and occurrences, are Hashem’s
gifts--is worthy of having extraordinary, or “unnatural” gifts, otherwise
known as nisim or miracles, performed for or on his behalf, as well. It is
for this reason that in the Al HaNisim text Chazal wrote “V’Ata B’Rachamecha
HoRabim--and You, in Your great mercy”--for Matisyahu recognized that the
salvation from the 52-year long Greek oppression would not come by military
strategy or genius, but only come by and through Hashem’s outstretched hand.
Indeed, in the Al HaNisim, Chazal do not glorify or even praise the
Chashmonaim, but instead focus only on thanking Hashem for fighting the
battle in oh so many ways. With this text, Chazal teach us that the essence
of Chanukah is to recognize what the Chashmonaim themselves recognized--the
outstretched and giving hand of Hashem in all aspects of life and at all
times. It is once again, non-coincidental, that the Greeks were of the
completely opposite philosophy. They believed that man himself was the
master of wisdom, and through his own power and prowess he controlled and
governed over his own successes and achievements. It was, therefore, their
ultimate goal “L’Hashkicham Torasecha--to cause Bnei Yisrael to forget” the
divine and infinite nature of the Torah, and “U’LiHa’averum Maychukei
Ritzonecha--to cause them to violate the chukim, the G-d given laws” which
we as mortals do not understand but which we merely practice because they
are “Ritzonecha--the Will of Hashem.” Chanukah, then, is the victory of
man’s eternal recognition of Hashem over man’s fleeting recognition of
himself. Al HaNisim is placed into the regular Modim prayer to reinvigorate
and reestablish our connection and reliance, and our faith and belief that
from Hashem come both our nature and our nurture. Hakhel Note: Now
is the time to begin a “special efforts” program in our Modim Tefilla three
times a day.
2. In the second brocha over the neiros, we thank Hashem for making
miracles for our fathers BaYamim HaHeim--in those days and BaZman HaZeh--at
this time. Similarly, in the Al HaNisim we once again thank Hashem for the
miracles…”BaYamim Haheim BaZman HaZeh”--at this time. What is the
significance of the words “BaZman HaZeh” both in the Brocha and in the Al
HaNisim? The Eitz Yosef explains that every year in these days the neis--the
miracle--is once again revealed, and, accordingly, Hashem instills in these
days the power of salvation and redemption for His people. We still have a
little while left to utilize the power inherent in these days for yeshuos
for ourselves--and for Klal Yisrael! Let us do our utmost to fulfill this
mandate of the bracha and the Al HaNisim which we have recited so many times
over Chanukah--and bring the BaYomim Haheim--those days--into BaZman HaZeh--our
very own lives and times!
We provide the following notes on Hilchos Chanukah, as excerpted from the
Dirshu Edition notes to the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim,
A. The Neiros Chanukah of a child who is higi’a l’chinuch is
certainly considered a Ner Mitzvah, and one is prohibited to benefit from
its light. (ibid. 673, Dirshu Note 12)
B. The issur against having hana’ah from the Neiros extends to
warming oneself (such as one’s hands) from them. If one has violated the
prohibition against having hana’ah, he is still yotzei the Mitzvah,
although he has violated the words of Chazal. (ibid. Dirshu Notes 13, 14)
C. It is a hiddur mitzvah for one using candles to use long and thick
candles. (ibid. Dirshu Note 42)
D. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita writes that the Chazon Ish, Z’tl, used
thick wicks which produced a larger flame. (ibid.)
E. If a glass cup has blackened from the smoke, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky,
Shlita teaches that it should be cleaned prior to re-use. (ibid. Dirshu Note
F. Should one change the wicks every evening? The Kol Bo rules that
one should, for the Nes was a new one every night, and also Zecher
L’Mikdash where the wicks were changed daily. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky,
Shlita, however, reports that the Chazon Ish did not change the wicks or
remove the remaining oil from the previous evening. (ibid. Dirshu Note 44)
G. Once Again: There is a tradition that HaNeiros Hallalu
contains 36 words (the number 36 would correspond to the number of Neiros
Chanukah). Although in most Siddurim there are more than 36 words in
HaNeiros Hallalu, the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, suggests that the ikar
nussach of HaNeiros Hallalu is from after Hallalu and
continues until Bilvad --which is 36 words. (ibid. 676, Dirshu Note
16) The following link contains a version of HaNeiros Hallalu that contains
exactly 36 words--
H. Since one has not recited Ahl HaNissim all year, he should read
it from a Siddur the first time he recites it on Chanukah. Before the
Shemone Esrei of Ma’ariv, one is allowed to remind the tzibur by calling out
“Ahl HaNissim”, although one would not repeat Shemone Esrei if he
forgot to recite it. If one remembers that he did not say Ahl HaNissim
before reciting Baruch Attah Hashem, then he recites Ahl HaNissim
immediately upon remembering, and then continues with V’ahl Kulam
again. If one remembers after reciting the words Baruch Attah Hashem--then
he does not say Lamdeini Chukecha (i.e., he does not act as if he is
reciting the pasuk in Tehillem of Baruch Attah Hashem Lamdeini Chukecha),
and does not go back, but instead recites Ahl HaNissim
before Yihyu L’Ratzon Imrei Fi, preceding it with the words
HaRachaman Hu Ya’aseh Lanu Nissim V’Niflaos Ka’asher ... as he would at the
end of bentsching, if he had forgotten Ahl HaNissim in bentsching
[the full text of this HaRachaman is in most Bentschers where the
special HaRachamans before Magdil/Migdol are listed] . HaRav Chaim
Kanievsky, Shlita rules that this HaRachaman may be recited on Shabbos as
well, since it is not a personal request. (ibid. 682, Dirshu Notes 1, 2, 4
I. If one mistakenly recited ‘Chatzi Hallel’ instead of the full Hallel on
Chanukah, and completed the bracha after Hallel, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl,
rules that he must recite the Hallel again with a bracha. Hakhel Note: A
woman should especially consult with her Rav as to what she should do in
this situation, as there is a difference of opinion as to a woman’s chiyuv
of reciting Hallel on Chanukah. (ibid. 683, Dirshu Note 1)
CHANUKAH QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
order to help move us further towards the tremendous ruchniyus we hope to
experience when Chanukah commences, we prepare with certain important
Questions and Answers, as presented in the Sefer “Guidelines to Chanukah”
(part of the wonderful Guidelines Series by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita and
Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita). The actual Sefer contains more than 200
Questions and Answers on Chanukah, and should be available in all Seforim
stores. Of course, any final Halachic decisions should be rendered by your
own Rav or Posek.
one allowed to fast on Chanukah?
forbidden to fast, even if one has Yahrzeit for a parent. A bride and groom
do not fast on their wedding day.
there other special Mitzvos on Chanukah?
is a special mitzvah to give Tzedaka on Chanukah and in particular to
support needy Torah students. In this way we recall the miraculous fall of
the evil Greeks into the hands of the righteous adherents to the Torah. The
widespread custom to give Chanukah gelt to children may have
developed from this mitzvah. There is also a Mitzvah to devote extra time to
Torah study. This demonstrates the defeat of the Greeks who prevented Torah
study by their evil decrees.
one work on Chanukah?
forms of work are permitted. Women though have a custom to refrain from work
for a short time every evening, since they were instrumental in causing the
should women refrain from work?
the time the Menorah is lit for half-an-hour.
type of work is forbidden?
are different customs about this. The main custom is to refrain from heavy
household chores such as laundering, house cleaning, ironing, and sewing. In
Yerushalayim, some women also refrain from cooking.
far apart should the Menorah’s branches be?
should be sufficiently spaced that a distance of one thumbwidth (2 cm)
separates each light f the next.
one need to toivel the Menorah?
since this item has no direct connection to food.
some lights be lit with oil and some with candles?
one should not mix the two. All the lights should be either oil or candles.
However, one may use oil on one night and candles on another night. This is
particularly relevant to a person who must travel during Chanukah and is
unable to take an oil menorah.
one throw away used wicks?
the wicks were used for a Mitzvah one may not disgrace them by throwing them
away in the garbage. One should burn them or wrap them in a bag before
preferable to use oil but kindle only one light every night or to use
candles but add one each night?
preferable to use candles adding one each night. This is a bigger
enhancement of the Mitzvah than kindling only one oil light each night.
should be done if a person did not kindle enough lights?
lights are still burning, he should correct the situation by kindling the
appropriate number. The Brachos are not repeated.
child light the Menorah is Shul?
this is not respectable for the congregation.
one benefit from the lights of the Shul Menorah?
the wife kindle the Shabbos lights only after all the Chanukah lights have
Ideally yes, but if time is short she may kindle the Shabbos lights as soon
as her husband had kindled one Chanukah light.
other Menorahs are also to be lit (e.g. by children, visitors) should the
wife wait until all have been lit?
she may kindle the Shabbos lights as soon as her husband has lit his
husband is not ready to light the Menorah and time is short, may the wife
kindle the Shabbos lights first?
The husband may still light the Menorah afterwards, provided it is still
before sunset. The same applies if the wife mistakenly kindled the Shabbos
PREPARE WITH TZEDAKAH!
As Tzedakah is also very much
associated with Chanukah--especially giving money to Torah scholars it would
certainly be wonderful for us to commence our special Tzedakah giving on the
days before Chanukah!
CHANUKAH CANDLES REMINDER:
We note that if you or your children (boys or girls) use candles rather than
olive oil for the Menorah, the candles must burn for one-half hour after
tzeis hakochavim. Accordingly, one must make sure that the candles are
large enough to continue burning from the time being lit until one half hour
after tzeis hakochavim.
The Chofetz Chaim
clearly writes that when one realizes after he has begun speaking that his
speech will lead to Lashon Hara or other Dibur Assur in some way, he
must immediately steer his words elsewhere--and that even
if he suffers embarrassment because of his obvious change in the course of
his speech, or simply because he begins to fumble for the right words--this
embarrassment is precious in the eyes of Hashem. Certainly, if one realized
that he was eating something unkosher or milk and meat together--he would
immediately expel the food--no matter how embarrassed he might be. Lashon
Hara or other Dibur Assur might involve many
more prohibitions than consuming a forbidden food--and most certainly, one
must suffer the embarrassment if need be. One thing is for sure--moments of
perceived shame are much better to experience, than other, more infinitely
difficult suffering in this world and the next!
QUESTION OF THE WEEK ONE:
In this week’s Parasha, the Pasuk (Bereishis 37:28) provides detail on how
the brothers sold Yosef. Rashi explains the Pasuk to mean that Yosef was
sold “Pe’amin Harbeh--many times.” Why was this so--why did Yosef
have to be sold many times--what was the Middah K’negged Middah in
these multiple sales until he arrived in Mitzrayim?
QUESTION OF THE WEEK TWO:
Chazal (Sotah 10B) teach that in the zechus of Tamar’s Tzinyus, she was
zoche to have the Malchus Beis Dovid (who come from her son Peretz) as
her descendants. What is the relationship between Tzniyus and Malchus--aren’t
they at first blush the opposite of each other--as the king would appear to
be the most public figure possible?!
CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
The Sefer Besomim Rosh (brought in the Siddur Otzer HaTefillos)
writes that one should be careful not to tarry after Davening in Shul on
Leil Shabbos, and one should certainly be careful not to stop and gather on
the street and speak “Sichas Chulin”--about non-Shabbos matters--for not
only is Sichas Chulin highly inappropriate on Shabbos, but the Malochim that
accompany a person home will take leave of him if he begins to engage in
unnecessary conversation before he gets home.
Birkas HaMazon on Shabbos, we add the Tefillah of Retzei VeHachalitzeinu.
The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains the word Retzei to mean
“May our Mitzvah performance and our Shabbos observance give Nachas Ruach to
You. The Kuntres continues with the meaning of the word VeHachalitzeinu
as Vezarzeinu--please give us the ability and alacrity to properly
perform these Mitzvos. On the phrase “Lishbos Bo VeLanuach Bo,” the
Kuntres explains that these are words of tefillah in which we ask for
Hashem’s assistance in preventing us from performing any melacha or
violating any shevus (Rabbinic prohibition) at all on Shabbos.
The following teachings relating to Shabbos are excerpted from the Sefer
Shenei Luchos Habris (the classic work of the Shelah Hakadosh).
The Ri bar Yuda reported that he heard from Rav Hai Gaon when they were
together in Rome that the reason we arise later on Shabbos to learn or
daven is because unlike the weekdays where the Torah uses the phrase Baboker
(i.e., early in the morning) in offering the Korban Tomid Shel Shachar, the
Torah uses the term U’Veyom HaShabbos (on the day of Shabbos with no special
morning emphasis) when alluding to the Korban Tomid of Shabbos Shacharis
--indicating that they are brought at some other point during the day and
is forbidden to fast past Chatzos on Shabbos--even if one is otherwise
learning. Hakhel Note: We must be especially careful about this in the
winter when Chatzos is early--before 12 noon in the New York area, for
example. One should be sure to make Kiddush prior to that time and be motzi
all those of his family or guests who have not heard Kiddush yet as well--so
that they can all eat or drink something prior to Chatzos.
Even if one is doing Teshuva, he should not cry over his past sins on
Shabbos, as one should try to experience Oneg and not Tza’ar on Shabbos.
The reason we sing Eliyahu HaNavi on Motz’ai Shabbos is because he cannot
come on Erev Shabbos as Chazal teach--so we once again reaffirm our belief
and prayer that he will come soon. Another reason is because the Tosefta
teaches that Eliyahu Hanavi himself sits on Motz’ai Shabbos and writes the
zechusim of the Shomrei Shabbos.
Havdala, one should pour enough wine into the cup at the outset for it to
spill out and over the becher. The Teshuvas Maharil adds that after Havdala
is completed, the mavdil should sit down to drink the cup, and not drink
standing up--as it is not the derech of a Talmid Chochom.
POINTS AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA, PARASHAS VAYEISHEV:
A. The Torah teaches “VaYaveih Yosef Es Dibasam Ra’ah El Avihem (Bereishis
37:2)--and Yosef brought bad reports about them to their father (Bereishis:
37:14).” The Chofetz Chaim at the outset of the Sefer refers to these bad
reports as the “Ikar Sibas Yeridas Yisrael LeMitzrayim LeChatchila--the
original main cause for the entire Galus Mitzrayim!” We must be sure to
apply this poignant and timely lesson from the Parasha in a practical way.
Chazal (Bava Basra 165A) teach that while only some individuals may be
predisposed to arayos (immorality), and more individuals to gezel
(thievery), everyone is prone to “Avak Lashon Hara”--which is defined as
making statements or taking action which lead to, cause, or result in
Lashon Hara. The Maharsha (ibid.) explains that while arayos is a sin which
most directly relates to the body, and gezel is a sin directly involving
money, Avak Lashon Hara is an iniquity impacting most directly upon a
person’s soul. Accordingly, the Yetzer Hara is especially focused on Avak
Lashon Hara and urges everyone to falter here. We accordingly
provide the following Avak Lashon Hara prevention notes (as supplied in the
past)--with the hope and intent that if it was Lashon Hara that started the
Galus process for K’lal Yisrael, it will be our dedicated and special
Shemira from the most predisposed form of Lashon Hara that will once and for
all lead us out of this Galus and into an eternal Geulah Sheleima.
Accordingly, we review the extremely important rules of Avak Lashon Hara.
The Chofetz Chaim (Hilchos Lashon Hara, Chapter 9--recently studied in
Shemiras Halashon Yomi) provides us with seven kinds of statements or
expressions of Avak Lashon Hara:
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 lead.
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 know 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.
May we suggest that each of these seven kinds of statements be reviewed two
or three times, preferably out loud--to help cleanse ourselves of these
deceptive tactics and suggestions of the Yetzer Hara designed to keep us in
1. As we know, many already observe the “Shabbos Machsom L’fi” at their
Shabbos tables. Perhaps, in honor of the Parasha’s fundamental lesson, this
week we can begin an additional Shabbos Avak Lashon Hara Machsom L’fi --for
the entire Shabbos as well!
2. We must especially remember that notwithstanding publicity or news items
which reflect negatively upon any person--we cannot accept the news in any
manner as being true--and Ahl Pi Halacha must be Dan L’Chaf Zechus. No
judge, jury, politician, businessman, psychologist, attorney--or anyone
else--can adversely impact upon our view of another, unless in line with the
Sefer Chofetz Chaim as determined by a Rav or Posek. The news is a
nisayon--and we must overcome and succeed!
B. The Pasuk in this week’s Parasha teaches that Yosef Hatzaddik was thrown
into an empty pit without water. Chazal teach that by the Torah specifying
that there was no water--it meant to also convey that there were
in fact snakes and scorpions in the pit. Rabbi Yonasan Garfinkel,
Shlita provides a unique and beautiful explanation of this Chazal, as
follows: In Perek Shira, we are taught that the snake recites the
comforting Pasuk “Somech Hashem Lechol HaNoflim...--Hashem provides
support to all who have fallen...”. The scorpion, in turn, recites the
assuring Pasuk of “Tov Hashem LaKol VeRachamov Al Kol Ma’asav--Hashem
is good to all, His mercies are on all his works.” Although the snakes and
scorpions may have otherwise been potentially dangerous in that pit--there
was a much more potent message of Hashgacha Pratis and hope that they were
conveying to Yosef through the Shira that they represented. There is a
splendid lesson here for each and every one of us as well. We must try to
rise above the everyday appearances, the physical circumstances, the
material make-up, the ‘first take on things’ to appreciate the spiritual
realm of a person, place or event. There is a whole other world that we may
not be able to see with our eyes--but we must remember that our eyes are
placed in close proximity to our brain for good reason. After having made a
superficial determination or analysis, try re-thinking or evaluating it for
what is really going on--even if a few billion of your neighbors in
this world would not know otherwise. Is it sufficient for us to simply
shudder when we see a snake in the zoo--or is there much more for us to
think about? When we are about to make a conclusory judgment about
someone--can we not give it another minute of thought as to the 20 or 30 or
40 years of other life experiences that brought him to that point in his
life or to the comment he has made or the act he has taken? If we can strip
away the gashmius coatings and attempt to reveal a ruchniyus truth, we can
turn ostensibly venom-filled snakes into the creations that began to give
Yosef the encouragement and drive to survive away and alone for 22 years.
Of course, we should discuss some of our thoughts with others--especially
mentors such as Rabbonim and teachers--but is our initiative that will help
get us ‘out of the pit’ and on the road to being a wise and perceptive asset
for all of K’lal Yisrael!
C. In the Parasha, we learn how Tamar was willing to give up her own life
in order to avoid embarrassing Yehuda in public. Chazal considered shaming
another in public to be a form of murder. Rabbeinu Yonah writes that just
as a person must give up his life, rather than commit murder (unless in self
defense), so too, a person must give up his life rather than shame a
person. Chazal teach that one who shames another in public loses his share
in Olam Habba.
The Chofetz Chaim teaches that the strong Halacha against shaming a person
applies not only in public but in private, as well. Even when giving
tochacha to another, one must not shame him (except in certain very limited
circumstances). HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked what one can do if
he shamed a child, after all, a child is incapable of Mechilla. Rav Chaim
answered, one had no choice, one must wait until the child is bar or bas
mitzvah and then ask for Mechilla. Indeed, it is reported that the Steipeler
Gaon, Z’tl, went to a child’s bar mitzvah in order to ask him mechilah
because he was afraid that he wrongly rebuked the boy when he was young (the
boy was making noise when Rav Chaim was trying to learn). Let us take the
great lessons of the Parasha with us--publicly and privately!
D. We provide the following essential teaching from Love Your
Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita: The Torah records that when
Yosef noticed that Pharaoh’s officials were dejected, he asked them the
cause. Yosef had good reason to keep to himself and concern himself only
with his own welfare. He had been sold into slavery by his brothers, and now
he was in prison due to a false accusation.
Nevertheless, he cared about his fellow man, and when he saw
with a problem he was eager to help.
A disciple of Rebbi Yisroel Salanter once saw him standing on a street
corner, engaged in commonplace chatter and jokes with a stranger. [The
student was surprised that his Rebbi was acting in this way and] later asked
his teacher about his out-of-character levity. Rebbi Yisroel explained to
his student that the man had problems that were weighing very heavily on his
heart, and he wanted to alleviate his depression! (Ohr Yisroel, p. 112)
Rebbi Akiva Eiger would adapt the length of his responses to
halachic questions according to
the nature of his correspondent. He wrote to his sons who were planning to
publish his responsa: “[You may find] that I have digressed into lengthy
discussions of theory, not directly concerned with practical law. Know that
I was motivated by the knowledge that my correspondent was a man who had
undergone many trials and much suffering. I have therefore lengthened my
reply so that he may have greater pleasure and forget his troubles in the
delight of the discussion!” (Introduction to Teshuvos Rebbi Akiva Eiger)
Many people would come to the home of HaRav Chayim Ozer Grodzenski in Vilna
for assistance and guidance. Since HaRav Grodzenski was world-renowned, some
of the people who needed his help were very nervous and apprehensive about
speaking to him. HaRav Grodzenski would therefore jest with them in order to
put them at ease!
Rebbi Simcha Wasserman, HaRav Grodzenski’s nephew)
Chanukah we learn how different our approach is to war than the approach
that many other nations of the world may have. To
many other nations, war may be a means of conquering
another people, taking over another property, or filling coffers with the
spoils of others. To us, war is a means for us to attain spiritual ends. The
Ahl HaNissim Tefillah that we will begin to meaningfully recite
tonight clearly emphasizes this point. Unlike the other rules of war: “Masarta
Giborim BeYad Chalashim…You delivered the strong into the hands of
the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the
impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the
righteous, and the wanton into the hands of the diligent students of Torah”
[Artscroll translation]. Indeed, as the commentaries point out, at the
outset of the Ahl HaNissim, we mention first the Nissim, then
the Purkan, then the Gevuros, then the Teshuos, and
only last, the Milchamos--quite the opposite from the way other
nations would view the nature and chronology of things. We can take an
additional, very significant lesson from this. Any human act--whether it be
eating, sleeping, taking care of one’s bodily functions, working,
communicating with others--can all be done in the framework of a human being
who is closer in thought to the physical nature of this world, and to the
animal creations that are here. These very same acts could, on the other
hand, be done with the view and goal of Torah, Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim--elevating
ourselves spiritually in this world, and forever and ever!
A MINHAG CAN CHANGE!
Some might claim that they have the custom of lighting the Neiros,
singing Maoz Tzur and proceeding to go eat latkes (or supper). As we
will learn over Chanukah, our Chachomim teach us that there
is much to be gained from spending time with the Neiros--after all,
we declare--”HaNeiros HaLalu Kodesh Heim--these lights are holy.” It
is for this reason that many make the point of
staying near the Neiros--observing them, reciting Tehillim, perhaps
repeating Megilas Antiochus or other stories of Nissim V’Nifla’os
while close to the Neiros HaKedoshim. If one’s ‘minhag’ was to light
the candles, sing Ma’oz Tzur, and leave, perhaps he can make the effort to
change this minhag this year!
DREIDEL! This world is not as simple as it might sometimes appear. Dreidel
seems to be a pleasant, fun-filled and seemingly inconsequential game,
reminding us about how the Jews hid in caves to study Torah, playing games
at the mouth of the cave to scout for Greek Army troops, right? Yes, for
sure. The Bnai Yissoschar adds, however, that those four letters on the
Dreidel--Gimel, Shin, Nun and Heh are actually very lofty--for they together
have a gematria, a numerical equivalent, of 358--which is also the gematria
of Moshiach(!), and also of “Hashem Melech Hashem Malach Hashem Yimloch”--Hashem
is, was and will be King. For Torah Jewry, there is
profound depth and meaning infused even into what to
the world is just fun and games!
IMPORTANT POINTS AND POINTERS ON CHANUKAH:
A. As we know, the days of Chanukah are known as the end of our
Teshuvah and Kapara process that began on Rosh Hashana. The Divrei
Chaim of Sanz writes that on Chanukah a person can do Teshuvah and fix
even the most serious of aveiros because of the
closeness to Hashem that we experience during this time. He brings the
Mashal of a king for whom it is more difficult to grant pardons when he
is sitting in his palace surrounded by royalty and royal servants. However,
when he travels the streets of the city, and enters private home,
even the commoners who otherwise could not have
gained access to him are heard. With the Kedusha of the Hadlakas
HaNeiros, the King of Kings makes his presence felt in our homes. Some
write that our lighting of the Menorah at a level of less than 10
tefachim is symbolic of the Shechinah coming so far down to earth, in a
manner which does not ordinarily occur. Based upon this, as alluded to
above, we should take the time to daven in front of the Neiros—both before
and after Hadlakas Neiros (Sichos Ba’avodas Hashem). The
Sefer Kav Hayashar (Chapter 96) writes that “Malachim Kedoshim
VeSarfei Ma’alah” (the Heavenly Host) arrive at a person’s home at the
time of Hadlakas Neiros, surround him and answer Amen to his Brachos. We
can well understand why some have the custom of putting on Bigdei Shabbos in
preparation for lighting!
B. There is a beautiful short Tefillah from
the Pele Yoetz (p. 426) to be recited prior
to Hadlakas Neiros. If you have (or can purchase) this wonderful Sefer, we
highly recommend this meaningful Tefillah.
C. We present by the following link
a Tefillah found in the Siddur Beis Yaakov by HaRav Yaakov Emden,
Z’tl, to be recited prior to
kindling. Its recitation, if possible, could put one in the proper state of
joyous awe, as we bask--and indeed illuminate ourselves--in the Mitzvah over
the last nights of Chanukah. If you cannot recite this Tefillah, do your
best to contemplate the moment!
D. The Yesod VeShoresh Ha’Avodah writes that when one makes
the bracha of She’asah Nissim at Hadlakas Neiros, he should have in mind
great thanks and praise for the miraculous victories in war that
occurred, considering it as if these incredible
Nissim and Yeshuos were performed for him
personally. Moreover, the Kedushas Levi adds that Hashem does in fact
perform Nissim, Niflaos and Yeshuos now (‘Bazman Hazeh”) for all of
us both in ruchniyus and gashmius--each person in accordance with his
individual needs. Now this is real ta’anug!
E. For those who missed it yesterday: The Magen Avraham (Shulchan
Aruch, Orach Chayim 676, seif katan 2) writes that
one recites 36 words in Haneiros Halallu (corresponding to the 36
Neiros, excluding the Shamash, lit on Chanukah). In most editions of
the Siddur that we know of, the Nusach contains more than 36 words. A copy
of the published Nusach of the prayer consisting of exactly 36 words, which
is found in the Siddur Rashban, is available at the following link
F. When one lights a candle, it is used as a source of light and
especially used to search for something. In fact, Chazal at the outset of
Mesechta Pesachim utilize the Pasuk “Achapes Es Yerushalayim B’Neiros--I
will search Yerushalayim with candles” to teach that one uses candles for
bedikas chometz. This being so, what does one search for with the Neiros
Chanukah? The Sefer Zerah Kodesh suggests that it is Yiras
Shomayim that one can find in the Neiros!
G. The Sefer Ta’amei Dinim U’Minhagim brings from the
Tashbatz (Siman 258) that before the Chashmonaim went to war, they recited
the Pasuk of “Vihi Noam Hashem…” (Tehillim 90:17) seven times, and
then the Pasuk “Orech Yamim Asbiayhu…” (91:16) two times, and
were then victorious in war! It is for this (great)
reason that many have the custom of reciting these
two Pesukim these specified number of times after Hadlakas Neiros.
H. The days of Chanukah are days especially dedicated “L’Hodos
U’Lehalel--to thank and praise”, for when all is said and done we
remained and remain separate and distinct as a people--unaffected by the
false ideologies, philosophies, and beliefs of the outside world. Of
course, both thanks and praise involve the spoken word. However, when we
speak, our words are intended to emanate from our hearts. Every day, when
reciting Al HaNissim and Hallel, they should not be viewed as an “extra”
which lengthens the davening in honor of the Holiday, but rather as an
opportunity to demonstrate your “Avoda Shebalev--your service of the
heart” in true thanks and sincere appreciation for our lives--and for the
ordinary and extraordinary miracles that we have,
and B’ezras Hashem will continue to be blessed with.
I. In the Sefer Sichos Ba’Avodas Hashem by HaRav Yaakov
Meisels, Shlita: The Kedushas Levi, Rebbi Levi Yitzchok, Z’tl,
once found a group of his acquaintances talking about the wealth and
pleasures of the Polish magnate Grof Pototsky. ”There
is no ta’anug--no pleasure--that he has not enjoyed,” said one of the
people to the Rebbi. ”Does he light Neiros Chanukah?” asked the
Rebbi. ”Certainly not, I’m sure that he doesn’t even
know how or what it is.” “In that case,” responded the Rebbi, “he has no
clue--no idea whatsoever--of what true ta’anug really is!”
J. The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (Volume 6, Chapter 670) brings
the following remarkable note from the Chasam Sofer (Yoreh Deah,
Teshuva 233): “The establishment of a special day on the day that a miracle
has occurred is a Mitzvah D’Oraysa, and, therefore,
the days of Purim and Chanukah are D’Oraysa…and one who violates this and
does not make any remembrance of the days of Chanukah violates a Mitzvas
Asei D’Oraysa…and it is possible that reciting the Hallel on Chanukah
fulfills this Torah obligation.” These words of the “Heilige Chasam Sofer”
have, of course, drawn lively discussion in the Achronim (see Piskei
K. At a Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, provided
a masterful review of many Halachic Shailos relating
to Chanukah. As an example, he discussed the concept of women not doing
Melacha for one-half hour after candles are lit. Rabbi Webster explained
that according to most Poskim, the Melachos that are prohibited are the
Melachos that cannot be done on Chol HaMoed--laundry, sewing, ironing, etc.
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that even
baking and cooking (the latkes!) should only be done if
there is a need to then do so, and one should not otherwise be
washing the floor, washing the dishes, or the like. Much of Rabbi Webster’s
shiur was devoted to contemporary Shailos and the opinions of our Gedolei
HaDor. For CD’s, please call 718-252-5274.
L. The Alter of Novordok, Z’tl,
was in hisbodedus, by himself in a hut in the forest for a considerable
period of time. One night, his candle burned out, and in complete darkness,
he could not look into his Sefer. He stepped out into the moonlight.
Suddenly, a man appeared, handed him a burning candle, and quickly
disappeared, continuing on into the forest. The Alter could now go back
inside and learn again. Upon returning home, he took what was left of the
candle with him, to remember the great phenomenon that had
occurred--how he had miraculously been given light at that moment of
darkness. Several years later, a fire broke out in his home, and the
precious remnants of his candle were consumed. The
family feared telling him of this calamity. When he learned of it, he
actually expressed joy. “This is a message to me from Hashem. I should not
only place emphasis on the great and obvious miracle that
occurred to me, but on the miracles that
literally occur to me every day. I don’t need anything to remind me of
them, either--I need only look around me, wherever I am and wherever I go!”
Hakhel Note: If one visits a new doctor for the first time, he is asked to
complete pages of questions relating to prior and current illnesses,
operations, conditions, and medications. BE’H, he will be checking the “No”
box to most or all of these questions. However, the fact that the questions
are being asked is reason to believe that these conditions and concerns are,
r’l, more prevalent than we think. Every so often, one can imagine
himself filling out those forms, checking “No” after “No” in each and every
box--and exclaiming, “Thank You, Hashem, Thank You, Hashem for the Nissim
Veniflaos that You bestow upon me--every day of the year!”
VOLBE ON CHANUKAH:
Volbe, Z’tl, (Alei
2, p. 455)
observes that there
constant, even daily,
miracles that occurred in
the Bais HaMikdash. Upon quick reflection,
thousands upon thousands of open miracles must have
occurred there. What, then,
was so unique and special about the miracle of finding that one last
container of oil? Moreover, why is it that we do not observe the Holiday of
Chanukah as a “Zecher LaMikdash”--as a remembrance of the
miracles that occurred while
the holiest place on earth was standing? Indeed, quite to the contrary,
Hadlakas HaNeiros is described as a Mitzvah of the home, and lighting
the Menorah in Shul (as the Mikdash Me’at)--is by minhag, and not the Ikar
In order to understand why the miracle of Chanukah is so special to
us, HaRav Volbe brings the words of the Maharam
M’Rottenberg. The Maharam writes:
“The Hellenistic decrees principally arose because Bnei Yisrael
were weak in the service of Hashem…and when they did
Teshuva and were ready to be moser nefesh--to give
their utmost--to properly serve Hashem; they were
HaRav Volbe continues that this is
essentially the path that we have followed throughout our exile.
There is some weakening in the service of Hashem,
followed by Teshuva--returning to proper service of Hashem with the proper
level of Mesiras Nefesh, which results in salvation. What exactly is the
level of Mesiras Nefesh required? It is putting in the fullest effort that
one can--a demonstration of exertion to the limit in some important way.
Once “teva”, or nature, is taken to the limit, it opens the door for the
“natural” next step--which is miracles. A handful
of Kohanim, of Torah Sages, battling--very literally--with the world’s best
army—and...winning! The lesson is that our Mesiras Nefesh is the key
to our miraculous survival over the last 2,000
But now, at the end of this long exile, we are tired, inundated
with technology, scurrying about with rat race issues, so where does Mesiras
Nefesh fit into our picture? The answer belies the question. Every person
must find some way to rededicate himself to holiness, to purity--especially
if it is something to which he has fallen prey in the past. The Mesiras
Nefesh for purity and holiness--for Kedusha and Tahara--is not a Zecher
LeMikdash, for it is not relegated or limited to the Holy Temple.
Instead, its essence--as the Chanukah light--is to be brought into our
homes, and consequently, into our hearts. As we prepare for and await the
Menorah’s pure light, let us make room for its essence to penetrate within
us, and, bli neder, commit to an aspect of Mesiras Nefesh for holiness in
some way--so that it is not only Bayamim Haheim--but Bezeman Hazeh!
OF HARAV SHMUEL KAMENETSKY ON CHANUKAH:
We provide the following p’sakim of
HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, on Chanukah as excerpted from the Sefer
Koveitz Halachos by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita:
1. Lechatchila, one may use Shemen Zayis which was placed under a
bed that was slept upon.
2. Although one may not use a combination of oil and candles
for his Neiros, one may use different oils on any given night, because they
are considered similar enough to each other.
3. One need not use the candle that was used as the candle to
light the Neiros Chanukah as his Shamash.
4. Even if the glass cups which are
inserted into a Menorah cannot stand on their own because of the narrow
piece of glass that fits snugly into the Menorah, one can consider the cup
to still be a Kli--for it is specifically manufactured to be used in this
5. One need not clean out his glass cup from oil residue of the
previous night, for the residue is considered “shiurei mitzvah”, and
is not ma’us. Similarly, yesterday’s used wicks may light better
than new wicks, and accordingly, one may lechatchila use the previous
night’s wicks to light with.
6. There is no Hiddur Mitzvah in oil
burning for longer than one-half hour after lighting. However,
there is still a ma’alah in putting in more
oil as long as people are still passing by--for there
is greater Pirsumei Nissa. Pirsumei Nissa does not apply to Akum viewing
the Neiros, but it does apply to non-Shomrei Torah U’Mitzvos who can view
the Neiros out of your window. In actuality, there
is no difference between lighting in the dining room or bedroom--one should
light where there is the greatest Pirsumei Nissa.
7. The Halacha that the Neiros Chanukah be lechatchila lit more
than three and less than ten tefachim above the ground applies if one places
his Menorah at the doorway. However, if one places his Menorah on the
window sill, then the flame of the Ner is recognizable even
above ten tefachim, and the neiros may be lit there
lechatchila, even if the flames of the Neiros will
be above ten tefachim from the floor.
8. One should wait for his wife to light if she is not home at the
initial candle lighting time.
9. It is better for the Ba’al HaBayis to designate someone else to
light on time as his Shaliach, rather than push off the lighting until later
so that the Ba’al HaBayis will be able to light by himself. This is true
even if the Ba’al HaBayis is always at work at this
time on weekdays, and will have a Shaliach lighting for him every week
10. It is better to light with wax candles at the earliest time to
light, than to light with oil even a little bit
11. If the Shamash goes out within a half hour of lighting, and no
other electric lights are on, one should relight the Shamash.
12. If the Brachos on Hadlakas Neiros are recited out of order,
one is still Yotzei. However, if after the Brachos one said something
unrelated to the lighting--even HaNeiros Halallu
which should be recited later, then he must recite the Brachos again.
Similarly, if one mistakenly recited Shehechiyanu on the second night after
reciting the first two Brachos, he must recite the first two Brachos again.
13. If somebody is traveling in a car from the time of Hadlakas
Neiros until the morning, and no one is lighting in his home, he should stop
off at the side of the road, and light Neiros Chanukah in the car with a
Bracha. Even if they are lighting at home, but
because of his traveling he will not otherwise see Neiros Chanukah that
night, he should light in the car, having in mind not to be Yotzei with the
lighting in the home so that he can make a Bracha on his lighting.
Similarly, if a guest wants to light on his own, he should not do so with a
Bracha if Neiros are otherwise being lit in his home, unless he has specific
intent not to be Yotzei with the lighting back in his home.
14. One may extinguish the Neiros after they have stayed lit for
the shiur of a half-hour, and one may even benefit
from them after the half-hour period. The Minhag, however, is not to use
the Neiros for one’s personal benefit even after the
half-hour period has passed. If one needs to do so, he should first
extinguish the Neiros and then relight them.
15. A son or son in-law at his parents or in law’s home for
Shabbos Chanukah should light at their home on Motzei Shabbos
even if he intends to return to his own home that
night, and he does not even have to eat Melave Malka
in their home.
All P’Sakim presented in our Bulletins are for
the purposes of Torah study and discussion--but every person must consult
with his own Rav or Posek on any Halachic Shailah
that he may have.
least once a day pose as if you are being photographed. Have a calm and
pleasant face, and also your thoughts are being pictured. Think that Hashem
is looking at you and you are thinking of Hashem. This picture is a model
for us to strive for more often.”
[Excerpted from Ten Steps to Greatness as heard from Rabbi Avigdor Miller,
We received the following precious suggestion from a reader: “Please
invite a not-yet religious person to your home for Chanukah lighting. Not
only will it inspire them, but it will inspire you and your family to
have a Lichtegen Chanukah!”
Hakhel Note: Your very own Project Inspire!
In the first bracha over the Neiros (if one does not recite the word
Shel, as is the custom of many), as well as the second bracha over
the Neiros, there are each thirteen words--corresponding to the
thirteen middos of Rachamim from Hashem. Together, of course, the brachos
combine to 26, the Sheim Havayeh. The Sefer Kav HaYashar accordingly
and emphatically writes that one should recite these brachos in great Simcha
over a Mitzvah that is so chaviv to us!
THE KEPITELECH OF TEHILLIM:
As to which Kepitilech should be recited after kindling the Neiros Chanukah,
there are various Minhagim. Perhaps the most well-known Kepitelach to be
recited (in addition to of course Vehi Noam seven times and
Yosheiv BeSeiser Elyon (Tehillim 91) seven times) are Kepitelech 19, 30,
33, 67, 100 and 133. Some additionally recite all of Kepitel 119, and all of
the Shir HaMa’alos (120-134). When reciting Chapter 67, some recite it as it
is published in the form of a Menorah, ahl pi kabbalah. Finally, some
recite the powerful Shiras Chana (Shmuel I, 2:1-10). Hakhel Note: The great
Rebbi Pinchas Koritzer, Z’tl (the Imrei Pinchas) writes that: “On
Chanukah at the time of Hadlakas Neiros the Ohr HaGanuz descends to
us…!” Oh, how we should stay close to the Neiros after lighting them!
As we have noted annually in the past, HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, points
out that one of the greatest lessons Yaakov Avinu taught us in his encounter
with Eisav was to avoid Eisav and that which he represents to the greatest
extent possible. Yaakov did not seek to be hurt by Eisav, nor did he seek
his friendship. HaRav Erlanger continued that while Chanukah Gelt is
a holy minhag, the concept of Chanukah gifts is one that is taken from Eisav--and
one that we must avoid. A similar misconception taken from Eisav is the
thought of the ‘Macabee’ being a strong and heroic figure--as
inappropriately adapted by Jewish secular teams and events. In fact,
however, as we recite many times over Chanukah: “Masarta Giborim BeYad
Chalashim--Hashem delivered the strong Greeks into the hands of the weak
Macabim.” It is no ‘coincidence’ that Yaakov’s lessons to us in Parashas
Vayishlach always come out…before Chanukah! Hakhel Note: HaRav Erlanger is
not giving a p’sak in Halacha regarding giving gifts on Chanukah. He is
providing a lesson that he derived from the encounter between Yaakov and
Eisav. One should, of course, consult with his Rav or Posek as to whether
giving non-monetary gifts on Chanukah is to be frowned upon, encouraged… or
treated in any other way!
On this point, from a reader:
The Ponovezer Rav, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, Z’tl, said that after the
Greeks forbade the Jewish children from learning Torah, their parents had to
‘bribe’ them with gifts to get them to learn once again. Giving gifts on
Chanukah commemorates that aspect of the Chanukah miracle. Indeed, children
should be told when receiving gifts that it is for this reason and that they
are expected to increase their Torah learning because of the gifts (see
Sifsei Chaim from Rav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl; Moadim Vol. 2 page 134).
See also Shu’t Avnei Yashfeh Vol. 1 Siman 129:2 and Sha’arei Halacha
U’Minhag Vol. 2 page 283.
HAKHEL NOTE: TO BE CLEAR, WE ARE NOT PROVIDING ANY FORM OF A P’SAK ON THE
CONCEPT OF GIFTS ON CHANUKAH, ONCE AGAIN, ONE SHOULD CONSULT WITH HIS OWN
RAV OR POSEK FOR A FINAL RULING IN THIS AREA.
AN ESSENTIAL CHANUKAH ACTIVITY!
The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Hilchos Chanukah, 139:1) writes, “We
increase our Tzedaka during the days of Chanukah, for these days are
especially endowed with the ability to rectify shortcomings of the soul
through Tzedaka--and especially Tzedaka which supports Torah Scholars in
need.” HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that the custom to give
Chanukah Gelt to children comes from this concept of Tzedaka on
Chanukah--putting oneself into a frame of mind to help all those who cannot
subsist on their own. In fact, HaRav Kanievsky notes, his father, the
Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, would give the Chanukah Gelt to children in his family
every year on the fifth day of Chanukah--apparently because it can never
occur on Shabbos!
MORE HACHANOS FOR CHANUKAH:
We continue with our Hachanos for Chanukah. The Sefer ‘Sichos BaAvodas
Hashem’ notes that on other Chagim, we went into the Bais HaMikdash to bring
karbanos and become inspired. On Chanukah, however, we bring the Kedushas
HaChag primarily into our own home with the lighting of the Menorah. Just
as Chassidim may wear Streimals on Chanukah, it is reported that HaRav Moshe
Feinstein, Z’tl, wore his Shabbos shoes--to indicate the importance of this
very special time.
There is a fascinating ma’aseh with the Bnei Yissoschar (R’Zvi Elimelech
MiDinov). He had always felt a higher level of kedusha, of ruchniyus on
Chanukah. His state was elevated in an unusual way over the eight days. He
decided to ask his rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin why this was so--after all,
he was not a Kohen and thus in all likelihood was not the descendant (or
gilgul) of a kohen back then, and was not a descendant of the
Chashmonaim...so what was this heightened feeling about? The Chozeh
answered that at the time of the Chashmonaim he had been on the Sanhedrin
--who came from Shevet Yissochar (the B’nai Vinah, referred to in Ma’oz
Tzur). R’ Zvi Elimelech therefore called his great work the “Bnai
Yissoschar” in commemoration. We too should ready ourselves to be inspired
by the uplifting kedusha of the Hadlakas Neiros, the Hallel and the hoda’ah
of Al Hanissim. We may not have a Chozeh of Lublin to tell us who we are or
where we came from, but we most certainly recognize and appreciate this
unique and powerful period that families and communities have utilized to
raise themselves closer to Hashem for more than 2,000 years--and we should
take special care to nurture the momentous occasion of Hadlakas Neiros not
in the Bais Hamikdash but in our very home...and all of those other precious
moments with Torah, Tefillah, Hallel and Hoda’ah.
We provide the following Pre-Chanukah Notes from the Luach Davar BeIto:
1. One should prepare Menorah and wicks in the morning or during the day so
that they are ready in the evening without undue delay.
2. It is related that Hungarian Jewry preferred to use olive oil from
3. The Gerrer Rebbe stated that Chanukah gives koach to the day
before as well--and the proof of this is from Tehillim. What did he mean?
The Rebbe’s mechuten explained the words of the Rebbe as follows: If one
divides Tehillim by the month, the Chapters of Tehillim that we recite on
the 24th day of Kislev are those of Hallel--Tehillim 113-118!
4. No matter how early one lights (some in New York light 15 minutes after
shekiyah)--the neiros should remain lit until at least a half-hour after
5. When lighting each Ner with the Shamash, one should not
move the Shamash away from the wick until most of the wick has been
6. The Sefer Mekor Chaim writes about the Hadlakah: “Ikar
HaMitzvah Lirosam Lismoach Bahem Zecher LeSimchas HaHadlaka Achar HaNeis--it
is essential after lighting to look at the candles and rejoice in
them--which serves as a remembrance to the simcha that was experienced after
the miracle occurred.”
Hakhel Note: It is interesting to note that the epitome of the Greek
culture, the Olympics, are symbolized by the burning torch. Compare our
neiros, lehavdil, to their torch--it is the illumination of ruchniyus,
of closeness to Hashem, to the illusory illumination of corporality and
self-satisfaction. Additional Note: In a shiur he gave after the Mumbai
massacre, HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, said that he had recalled that a
terrorist attack in Eretz Yisrael, rachmana litzlan, had
occurred immediately prior to Chanukah. It is the custom in his family to
dance after lighting the Chanukah Licht. One of his grandchildren asked
whether they would dance that year after what had just happened. His
response to his grandchild was “Of course, all the more so, because this is
just exactly what they are trying to stop us from doing!” Let us use the
time after the Hadlakas Neiros--in front of the Neiros--to thank Hashem for
the nissim and yeshuos He has granted us in the past, and to pray for
further nissim and yeshuos in the near future--the very near future!
We provide the following notes on Hilchos Chanukah, as excerpted from the
Dirshu Edition notes to the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim,
When we have a Seudah to give Shevach or for Pirsumei Nisah, it is a Seudas
Mitzvah (ibid. 670; Mishna Berurah seif katan 9). The same would be true for
anyone who made a Seudas Hoda’ah over a miracle that occurred to him
personally--for any Seudah that one makes to remember the Nifla’os Hashem
is a Seudas Mitzvah (ibid. 671, Dirshu Note 25).
Just as there is a requirement to study the Halachos of each chag on the
chag itself, so too, it is appropriate for one to study Hilchos Chanukah on
Chanukah (ibid. Dirshu Note 26).
With respect to lighting the Menorah at gatherings in public places, HaRav
Elyashiv, Z’tl, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, and the Minchas Yitzchak
all rule that no bracha should be recited. Even if Ma’ariv will be davened
there, such as at a simcha hall, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that
it is not considered a Makom Hameyuchad L’Tefillah and that
accordingly reciting a bracha over Hadlakas Neiros there would be a
bracha l’vatalah (ibid. Dirshu Note 70).
There is a great Machlokes Haposkim as to whether a katan can light the
Menorah in Shul. Some Poskim are of the opinion that since no one is really
fulfilling his obligation there, a katan may light. Others rule that a katan
should not light, as, among other matters, it is not Kavod Hatzibbur. HaRav
Elyashiv rules that if a katan lit in Shul, the tzibbur is obligated to
extinguish the neiros, and relight with a bracha (ibid. Dirshu Note 75).
Hakhel Note: Of course, every Shul will follow the p’sak of its own Rav.
There is also a difference of opinion as to whether one who lit in his home
and recited Shehechiyanu can recite Shehechiyanu again when he lights the
Menorah in Shul. In fact, some Poskim rule that if everyone present in Shul
had lit the Menorah prior to coming to daven Ma’ariv in Shul, the bracha of
Shehechiyanu would simply then not be recited in Shul (ibid. Dirshu Note
75). Hakhel Note: Of course, once again, every Shul will follow the p’sak of
its own Rav.
F. When Chazal teach that one who is ‘Ragil B’Ner’ will have children
who are Talmidei Chachomim, they refer to one who goes beyond the letter of
the law, and is careful to light the Menorah in a clean and beautiful
manner, and with olive oil. Others say that they refer to one who fulfills
the mitzvah of Neiros Chanukah b’chol perateha v’dikdukeha--taking
care as to the details of the mitzvah! (ibid. Dirshu Note 1)
is a powerful Pasuk that we recite every day in Pesukei D’Zimra: “Ahl
Tivtechu Vindivim Bevehn Adam She’ein Lo Seshu’ah…do not rely on nobles,
nor on a human being, for he holds no salvation.” The Radak on this Pasuk
provides an astounding comment. He writes that just as Galus Bavel drew to a
close by Koresh giving permission for the Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael,
so too, the final Geulah will come through the nations voluntarily sending
us back to Eretz Yisrael. This will only happen, however, the Radak
continues--if we demonstrate our Bitachon in Hashem and in no one else.
Do we want the Geulah to come?--it is up to us, and to our Bitachon in
Hashem! Hakhel Note: To strengthen our bitachon on a daily basis, we
once again highly recommend Emuna Daily, a 3-5 minute daily phone message
which one can call at any time during the day for no charge. The number is
605-475-4799. The pin number is 840886#. To listen to today’s Shiur, one
need only hit # again. To listen to all of the prior wonderful Shiurim (now
more than hundreds on file), begin with the number 1…and keep on going!
Yasher Koach to Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, for these wonderful Shiurim! To
subscribe to the related short daily Emuna email message: emunadaily @gmail.com.
With Chanukah advertising everywhere, and Chanukah products filling the
stores, we should take it as a real reminder to begin our spiritual
preparations for this very special period as well. Is there a new
Peirush on Chanukah that I will study, a new Sefer that I will
buy? ‘Water, water is everywhere--and there is plenty to drink!’
ON THE YAHRZEIT OF HARAV YITZCHAK HUTNER, Z’TL:
Today, 20 Kislev, is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, (Yitzchak
Ben R’ Chaim Yoel, Z’tl).
the Sefer Pachad Yitzchak, HaRav Hutner teaches that just as there is
a difference in the meaning of the word Amen when answering to a Birkas
HaShevach or Birkas HaMitzvah (it is true, and I believe it), on the one
hand, and a Birkas Bakasha (it is true and may my request be fulfilled
soon) on the other--so too, is there a difference between the meaning
of the word “Baruch” when recited in a Birkas HaShevach or
Birkas HaMitzvah (when it connotes only praise--that Hashem is the
All-Powerful Source and Grantor of all blessing), and that of a Birkas
Bakasha (in which the word “Baruch” includes the request
that Hashem as the Only Source provide you with the matter or item
ARE A CRAFTSMAN:
based upon the Pasuk in Tehillim (58:2) teach : “Mah Umnaso Shel Adam
BaOlam Hazeh…what should a person’s expertise be in this world,
in what way should he be a craftsman?--It should be in the area of
controlling his speech.” Chazal teach…that it is in the area of proper
speech--when to speak and when to refrain. Once again, for further
assistance in practical, real-life situations, one should ask his Shailos to
the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline,
9:00PM to 10:30 PM, EST.
The following is the second and final part of our excerpt from Toras
HaBayis, an English booklet adapted by Rabbi Shalom Naumann, from the
Chofetz Chaim’s great work Toras HaBayis. The Chofetz Chaim would
constantly utilize practical analogies to everyday life, and to making money
and earning a living, as we will see re. The next time that you look at a
dollar bill, see if you can see beyond it--to the so much that you can learn
1. Someone once found a farmer sobbing. “Why
are you crying?” the person asked. “You see these fields? I paid an
expensive fee to rent them for ten years. I didn’t work them, and I’m not
even earning back enough to pay for the rent, let alone support my family.”
The person replied, “That is indeed a reason for distress. But bemoaning
your fate won’t help you. What you can do is stop being lazy and work the
field for the remaining time. Maybe, with Hashem’s help, you will succeed
in making a profit.” The lesson for us is clear.
2. People commonly hide behind the wobbly
facade that most people do not utilize their time to learn. Unfortunately,
many people eat without making a bracha. Does that mean we should follow
Learning Torah is no different. If someone
walking with friends noticed a large sum of money on the ground that his
friends didn’t notice--would he ignore it because his friends did? This
applies no less to the Torah, which is “more desirous than gold and
multitudes of precious jewels” (Tehillim 19: 11).
3. Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men,
reveals to us the secret of achieving greatness in Torah and fear of Hashem:
“If you seek it like money and search for it like hidden treasures, then you
shall understand the fear of Hashem, and His wisdom shall you discover” (Mishlei
2:4-5). A man once traveled to a distant country on business. In the
course of his short trip, he expected to earn enough money to last him for
the rest of the year. During a crucial meeting, someone offered him a
newspaper to read. The businessman looked at him in astonishment, “What are
you doing! Can’t you see that I’m doing important business?!” We are here
in this world for a short time, during which we have to earn enough Torah
and good deeds for the rest of eternity. Do we have time to study
newspapers? [The Chofetz Chaim’s message applies to a much greater extent
today. The entire world revolves around news, media, Internet, and other
forms of electronic communications. The situation is far worse than during
the time of the Chofetz Chaim, when newspapers were only one page. Today,
one can spend an entire day doing and learning ‘interesting’ things--but it
is like a newspaper offered to us at a time when we have infinitely and
everlastingly more important business at hand.
4. We are careful not to lose our money by
leaving it unguarded or investing it in a risky venture. In the same
manner, we must take care not to lose our merits by using our tongues
improperly, by speaking slander, lies, or other forbidden speech.
5. People are willing to try various means
of earning money, even if their peers tease them or tell them that they will
never succeed. Likewise, we must learn and grow spiritually even if it
means withstanding peer pressure. Chazal (Avos 2:4) teach: Do not say I
will study when I am undisturbed, for perhaps you will never be
undisturbed. Remember that someone carrying an inappropriate heavy load
puts down the load immediately at his earliest opportunity. We too should
not want our shortcomings to remain with us even one moment more than
necessary. If we can improve in some way in our Torah study, we must think
about how we can do so--and act on it!
6. If someone discovers an opportunity for a
good investment, but he doesn’t have enough money for it, he borrows from
others. Similarly, someone who never learned how to learn should ask others
for help. He should look for a chavrusa who is willing to help him, or a
shiur he can attend. Hashem is the one who created us and knows the extent
of our intelligence and memory, yet he still commands us to learn and
desires to reward us for our efforts--in accordance with our talents.
7. Even if a person has amassed a fortune,
he wants to gain more. If we would view spiritual achievement the way we do
financial success, we would always yearn for more. The opposite end of the
spectrum is also true. If one’s business fails, he does not just say, “Oh
well, I guess I’m just not cut out for earning money. I’d better give up.”
Earning a living is a necessity; one does not give up even if he does not
succeed initially. Similarly, a person cannot survive spiritually without
Torah and the fear of Hashem. If we do not succeed at first, we must
continue and try again. Sometimes, the effects of a drug are not
immediately felt--rather, one must take it several times until your
dedication...sees wonderful and lasting [in our case--everlasting] results!
US REMEMBER--HUGE AND AWESOME!
In preparation for Chanukah, we recall the words of the Seder HaYom,
who teaches as follows: “Yemei HaChanukah Ain LeHisatzeiv Bahem…--on
the days of Chanukah one should not be sad, but should show joy and
happiness for all the good that we received in these days…and the Mitzvah of
Chanukah, although it is ‘only’ a Mitzvah D’Rabbanan should not be viewed
lightly in one’s eyes, because it is one of our Mitzvos which are
Gedolos V’Nora’os--huge and awesome, as it expresses
appreciation for the great kindness that Hashem showed to us. One who is lax
in the Mitzvah of Chanukah c’v demonstrates that he denies the
goodness that Hashem has given him, that he does not rejoice together with
K’lal Yisrael and that he does not care about their rejoicing and
Note One: The Rambam (Hilchos Chanukah 3:1-3) actually writes that the days
of Chanukah are Yemei Simcha V’Hallel. There is much
discussion in Halacha on this point--but we can certainly take the words of
the Seder HaYom deeply to heart!
Hakhel Note Two: The Bach (to the Tur Orach Chaim 670) writes that
the ikar gezeirah of the Yevanim against us was because we became
weakened in our Avodas Hashem-- and this is why the decrees of the Yevanim
affected our service in the Beis HaMikdash--as they ruined our Mizbe’ach and
stopped us from bringing our Karbon Tomid. As a last straw, they attempted
to stop us from lighting the Menorah, by defiling all of our oils. Through
the Teshuvah brought about by the Chashmonaim who were moser nefesh
for the Avodah--great miracles occurred with the very
neiros--with the very Avodah--that the Yevanim wanted to
prevent. We therefore continue every year Lehodos U’LeHallel
--to thank and praise HaKadosh Baruch Hu--which is our very own Avodah
responsible for our character. Don’t say, ‘That’s how I am!’ That’s untrue.
We have free will and we’re able to control our characters. For middos
(character traits), everybody is accountable: men and women, and boys and
girls. Character--that’s the touchstone, that’s the test by which all
mitzvos and all aveiros (sins) are measured.” [Excerpted from Simcha
Minute--Inspiring Quotations by Rabbi Avigdor Miller, Z’tl]
AVAK LOSHON HARA:
are words which are prohibited because they could lead to Lashon Hara called
Avak Lashon Hara? What does the term Avak
mean and teach us?
No one is too old, too smart or too sophisticated to appreciate a sincere
[Excerpted from Positive Word Power (Artscroll, Chofetz Chaim Heritage
At the end of HaNeiros Halalu we will recite words in which we thank
and praise Hashem--Al Nisecha VeAl Niflaosecha VeAl
Yeshuasecha. Please recall or study the difference between these
three important acknowledgments--Nisecha, Niflaosecha and
As we daven daily for peace in Eretz Yisrael and the world over (remember to
say with feeling--Bechol Eis U’Vechol Sha’ah Bishlomecha), we should
recall the following two exceedingly important points:
1. If one is aware of a dispute among family or friends which he himself
cannot stop, he must not take part in it in any way, as taking sides only
fuels the dispute and could even enlarge it. Furthermore, if one of the
principals in the machlokes simply stops in his tracks--he has
eliminated the danger to the lives of himself and his family in this world
and the next (Chofetz Chaim, Sefer Shemiras HaLashon, Chapter 16)
2. As we learned in last week’s Parasha, the only legitimate fight to have
is with the Yetzer Hara. Let us look for a moment at the results of that
battle: Yaakov was temporarily injured at his thigh and subsequently healed,
yet his descendants for all time remember what the Yetzer Hara can do to a
person through the prohibition of Gid Hanasheh. On the other hand, the
Yetzer Hara, having been bested in battle, went back to sing shira to Hashem!
Beating the Yetzer Hara is, simply put, a win-win situation!
WORLD OVERVIEW: “When
we look at the world in general, we reach an important conclusion, based on
its history since creation as well as on the predictions of the prophets.
This is the fact that humanity as a whole can exist in four basic states. In
this respect, the history of man is very much like the life of an
individual. Like a single person, the entire human race is born and reaches
“The first state was one where ignorance and darkness prevailed among
mankind, and true knowledge of God and His perfection were greatly obscured.
Our sages call this period the “two thousand years of desolation.”
“The second state is somewhat better, and it is the one in which we now
live. We have knowledge of both the existence and perfection of God, His
Torah is available to us, and we can thus serve Him.
“Still, we live in a time when there is neither sign nor prophet, and the
true enlightenment of Divine Inspiration (Ruach HaKodesh) is lacking. Even
though man can gain very much knowledge through his own intellect and human
endeavor, this cannot be compared to what he can gain through the spiritual
inspiration granted by God. The two are as different as the body and the
“The third state is still better, and this is the state that existed while
the Holy Temple (Beis HaMikdash) stood. During this period, there were
wonders and miracles, and prophecy could be found among men. Prophetic
inspiration, however, was not granted to all mankind, but only to a few
select individuals. Such inspiration was furthermore very difficult even for
such persons to attain, for there were things preventing one from attaining
it and otherwise holding it back.
“The fourth state is the very best, and this is the state that the prophets
predicted for the ultimate future. This will be a time when folly will cease
to exist completely. Divine Inspiration will be poured out on all mankind,
and will be attained without any difficulty whatsoever. At this time,
humanity will be considered to have attained full maturity. From then on,
mankind will experience constant elevation, and will delight [in God] for
ever and ever.”
[Excerpted from Derech Hashem by HaRav Moshe Chaim Luzatto, Z’tl (Feldheim
Publishers, Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Z’tl)]
The following is excerpted from Toras HaBayis, an exceptional English
booklet adapted by Rabbi Shalom Naumann, from the Chofetz Chaim’s great work
was once a prince, who was beloved by his father the king. The pampered
prince had everything he needed or wanted. One day, the king summoned his
son and told him he had an important task for him. The prince was to travel
to a faraway land. His destination was a primitive land where he would
dwell in a hut, wear coarse, uncomfortable clothing, and eat unsavory
foods. The inhabitants of this faraway country were not particularly
sophisticated, and he would have no friends.
the prince wanted to know. Why would his wise, caring father send him to
such a terrible place? The king explained, “In this faraway land, there are
millions of precious, shining gems, each one unique. The gems lie on the
floor, as common as pebbles in our lands, and are free for the taking. The
ignorant people of that land do not appreciate the treasure lying at their
feet. You, however, being well acquainted with precious jewels from the
palace, will be able to evaluate each stone.” Spending just a short time
under uncomfortable conditions, the prince would collect the jewels and
become one of the wealthiest men in the world, famous for his spectacular
is the King, and we are His sons. Although we were happily basking in His
presence, He sent us to this world, because only here can we accumulate
mitzvos, valuable jewels in the World-to-Come. To help us, Hashem gave us
His precious Torah. If we dedicate ourselves to its study, it will guide us
on our mission. Every word of Torah we learn is another mitzvah, so in a
single twenty-four hour period, we can amass thousands of precious jewels.
If we learn constantly, we can earn countless gems each year and many times
more throughout a lifetime.
However, because the Torah is so readily available, not everyone appreciates
its worth, much like the natives of that faraway land. We must be wise like
the prince and recognize the value of the Torah while we are still in this
Hamelech, renowned for both his knowledge of Torah and his vast wealth,
declared (Mishlei 3:15): “It is worth more than pearls, and all of your
possessions do not equal it.’ Chazal (Yerushalmi Pe’ah 1:1) explain that
one word of Torah is worth more than all the physical possessions of the
world combined. People scuba-dive to collect pearls. We need only to
start learning!” Hakhel Note: Especially remember the Chofetz Chaim’s
analogy when it appears that you may have a learning roadblock--and figure
out a way to get to the pearls!
A Posek on the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras Halashon Hotline
contacted us, and urged us to mention that learning even just one halacha in
Shemiras Halashon in Shul after Shacharis (given by the Rav or Gabbai as men
were putting away their Tefillen) could literally save thousands of words of
Lashon Hora daily—and generate great, great zechusim for all of K’lal
It is fascinating to note that the Mitzvah in last week’s Parasha of Gid
Hanashe commemorates Yaakov Avinu’s fight with the Sar Shel Eisav, who was
unable to defeat Yaakov, and so injured his leg. At first glance, the need
to commemorate this event appears problematic. After all, was not Yaakov
soon fully healed from the attack, as the Pasuk records (Bereishis 33:18): “Vayavo
Yaakov Shaleim”--which Rashi explains indicates that he was healed from
his injury? There are two famous answers (perhaps among the many) to this
question. The Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 3) movingly writes that the
Mitzvah is to remind us that no matter how powerful Eisav is and no matter
how much he tries to hurt us--we must be mechazeik ourselves--for in
the end we will emerge victorious. This is something we must always
remember, especially in the darkest part of the Galus night, right before
Alos Hashachar, when all seems so discouraging, and there is so much
despair in the world around us. In the end (may it come speedily), we will
follow in the footsteps of Yaakov Avinu--and emerge healed and victorious! A
second approach relates to a specific Mitzvah which we can all strengthen
ourselves in. It is the Mitzvah of leviyah--that of escorting guests
out of our home, which helps them attain Hashem’s protection. If Yaakov
Avinu’s sons had accompanied him, the Sar Shel Eisav would never have been
allowed to attack in the first place. The Mitzvah of Gid Hanashe,
performed on millions and millions of Kosher animals over the years--reminds
us of all of the times that we have the opportunity to perform this great
Mitzvah! Hakhel Note: For further beautiful detail on the Mitzvah of leviyah,
see the Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer Ahavas Chesed.
WEEK AWAY FROM CHANUKAH:
we are almost one week away from Chanukah! Of course, the week may be used
to ready ourselves with Menorahs, wicks, oils and everything else that we
need to make sure that the Ma’aseh Mitzvah is performed B’Hidduro. We note,
however, that in addition to the Mitzvah objects being readied, those
involved with and performing the Mitzvah must also be readied. We are
approaching two months since the last of the Chagim ended, and the Yetzer
Hara has done a yeoman’s job in attempting to rid us of the sacred vestiges
of those inspiring and uplifting days. We can do much to counter his
attacks by making the effort starting today to rise to the great
occasion just ahead of us, especially in light of the Seforim that teach
that the final judgment of a person is actually concluded on Chanukah. We
may even suggest that the reason one’s judgment is finally determined on
Chanukah is in order for the Heavenly Tribunal to determine whether the
Kabbalos and improvements we undertook really stayed with us, at least in
some ways. Our Teshuva B’Chol Yom Program should be especially implemented
during these days, and one should also be careful to check himself against
his Kabbala sheet each day in preparation for and in honor of the
miracle-filled days ahead. The Yetzer Hara does not sleep on other fronts,
and so one may want to examine his ways in general--looking for the Yetzer’s
thrusts into new areas of daily living (by way of example but not
limitation--late to davening, late to learning, more (and not less) time on
the cell phone, loose lips in general and ona’as devorim in particular).
Let us use the time ahead to grow in our Avodas Hashem--so that when we
stare at the purity of the Neiros this Chanukah--we will also see its
beautiful reflection in the purity within ourselves as well!
Remember--the time is now!
Several to many times a day, one
receives brachos of various kinds from various people: “Have a good
day!”; “Hatzlacha!”; “Be gebentsched!”; “Zei Gezunt!”; “Stay well!”; “Yasher
Kochacha!”; “Auf Simchas!”; “Make a lot of money!”…. We suggest that aside
from answering “Amen” to the bracha--that one do so in a relatively
resounding way--with feeling and gusto (“Amen!!”), which will have the
effect of not only accepting the bracha wholeheartedly, but of also
energizing the one giving the bracha to give brachos to others as well!
Hakhel Note: We add that the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim
215, seif katan 10) brings that when one hears someone davening for
another or giving a bracha to someone else, he must answer
“Amen!!” as well!
BRACHA ON COUGH MEDICINES?:
“We provide the following important reminder relating to cough medicines as
excerpted from Halachos of Brochos, by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner,
Shlita (Feldheim): “Foods
which are unpleasant tasting, but are eaten for medicinal purposes (e.g.,
mineral oil), do not require a brocha. However, foods which are eaten
primarily for medicinal purposes, but are pleasant tasting (e.g., herbal
teas, cough drops, chewable vitamins, etc.) are subject to a brocha.
Medicines, such as Kosher cough preparations that are pleasantly flavored
with a sweet syrup, are subject to a brocha. Some Poskim, however, rule that
they are not subject to a bracha and it is advisable, therefore, to have
intention to exempt the pleasant tasting medicine by first making a Shehakol
on another food or drink other than water (unless he is drinking the
water in order to quench his thirst, in which event one can recite a brocho
on the water as well).”
SO MUCH GOOD!
are some unusual words which appear in large type on the front label of a
particular food product (not otherwise particularly known as a health food).
“DAIRY FREE GLUTEN FREE WHEAT FREE EGG FREE NUT FREE 100% VEGETARIAN NO
PRESERVATIVES”. After all of that, on the back of the label for this very
product, one will find the words “For best results--deep fry.” [Hakhel
note--while deep frying may provide the ‘best results’ in terms of taste,
deep frying may be the most harmful way of preparing a product, and we
provide it here not as an endorsement, but to accurately report the contents
of the label]. Labels such as these should serve as a great reminder to us
to always look at the good in a person, place, event, item or thing--and not
take an immediate and negative approach towards the person’s or object’s
qualities, and most certainly avoid harming in any way or maligning
in any way the ability and character of others. Yes, he may possess
the human midos-equivalents of gluten, eggs, nuts or saturated fats--but
there is really oh much good in him as well. So put the deep frying part on
your friend’s ‘back label’ in small type--and put all those healthy FREEs in
large type on his ‘front-label’--so that you see that when you greet him--
there is really so much good for you to see!
WE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING IMPORTANT POINTS AND POINTERS RELATING TO ONE’S
ANSWERING OF KEDUSHA AT SHACHARIS, MINCHA AND MUSSAF:
A. The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 125, seif katan 4) urges
us to have Kavannah in Kedusha LeKadeish Es Hashem Yisborach--adding
that one should intend to fulfill the Mitzvas Asei of VeNekdashti Besoch
Bnei Yisrael when reciting Kedusha. The Mishna Berurah adds: “U’Vezechus
Zeh Yashreh Alav Hashem Yisborach Kedusha MiLemalah--in this merit,
Hashem will cause Kedusha to descend upon him from heaven.”
B. When reciting the Pasuk of Kadosh Kadosh and the Pasuk of
Baruch Kevod in Kedusha, one should lift his opened eyes towards the
Heavens. The Mishna Berurah brings from the Sefer Heichalos that
Hashem teaches: “Ki Ain Li Hana’ah BaOlam K’osah Sha’ah…--for there
is no pleasure for Me in the world, as those times when their eyes are
lifted towards Me…at those times I grasp onto the Kisei HaKavod where
the image of Yaakov is placed, hug it and kiss it, mention their zechusim
and bring the Geulah quicker.” (Mishna Berurah, ibid., seif katan 5 and 6)
Hakhel Note: Although we cannot fathom these anthropomorphisms, we are
given an absolutely essential glimpse into the true profundity of the
C. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (in the Sefer Ishei Yisrael),
states that he does not know of the source as to why people turn to their
sides when they recite “VeKarah Zeh El Zeh VeAmar”. (Brought in the
Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah 125, footnote 15)
D. Although the Kaf HaChaim (125:10) teaches that one should lift
his body each time he recites Kadosh--or three separate times, the
Aruch HaShulchan (125:3) writes that one should raise his body once and keep
his body lifted for all three times one recites Kadosh. We note that Rebbi
Akiva Eiger, Z’tl, learns that even if one is standing and only listening to
Kedusha because he is still in the middle of Shemone Esrei, he can still
raise his body at this time, but the Kapos Temarim disagrees. (ibid.)
E. If one finds himself constantly missing Kedusha because his personal
Shemone Esrei takes longer than most of the Tzibbur, he should consult
with his Rav or Posek on how to conduct himself.
F. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, in the Igros Moshe (3:89) writes
that even if one hears Kedusha 100 times a day, he must respond--for it
is a Mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem and each and every time he responds, he
fulfills the Mitzvah another time.
Hakhel Note: Those who are blessed with this daily opportunity should truly
treasure and sincerely rejoice in the great moments!
In this week’s Parasha we receive a great re-awakening from none other than
the Sar Shel Esav as to the power of our daily morning prayers. The Sar
tells Yaakov--”Shalchuni Ki Alah Hashachar--send me for dawn has
broken” (Bereishis 32:27). Rashi explains why he wants to go--’because I
have to sing shira!” If we take a step back for but a moment--it is
none other than the Sar of Esav who is expressing how he does not want to
MISS THE OPPORTUNITY to sing Shira to Hashem in the morning! Oh, how we
should treasure our Pesukei D’Zimra--and allow ourselves the time and
opportunity to recite the words meaningfully--each and every day!
QUINOA KASHRUS ALERT:
following link, we provide a Kashrus Alert regarding quinoa issued by the
Bais Din of New Square.
THE YAHRZEIT OF REBBI YEHUDA HANASI:
Today, 15 Kislev is the Yahrzeit of Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi, the Mesader
of all of Mishanyos. The Shelah HaKadosh writes that “Kabbalah BiYadi--I
have a personal Kabbalah that a person who is a baki--well versed--
in Mishnayos will not be ‘Roeh Penei Gehenom’--will not see the face
of Gehenom.” The Maharal calls the study of Mishnah the “Yesod HaGadol
VeAmud HaBarzel--the great foundation and the iron pillar to all of
Torah”(Luach Davar B’Ito). We provide by the following link an
outstanding Limud Mishnayos Chart distributed by Congregation Darchei Tzedek
of Baltimore, Maryland
The chart allows you to follow your progress in learning, on a
Mishna-by-Mishna basis, and provides valuable information as to how many
Mishnayos there are in each Mesechta and in each Perek of each Mesechta--for
all of Shas! Imagine the glee one will experience if he can mark off his
success and complete the entire chart! Even one Mesechta, and certainly an
entire Seder is cause for great celebration as well! May you be blessed
with much success in filling in this very special chart!
DAVEN FOR ME!
“Daven For Me & I’ll Daven For You” is a great initiative in Ahavas Yisrael—emphasizing
the power of both Tefillah and Chesed to our nation. To join, visit
HIS CLASSIC WORK, IN THE BEGINNING, HARAV AVIGDOR MILLER, Z’TL,
PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING BEAUTIFUL AND EXTREMELY MEANINGFUL LESSONS ON THIS
VaYevorech Oso Shom”--The Malach of Esav--the Satan--the Yetzer Hara--
blessed Yaakov. We learn from here that the Yetzer Hara, when properly
resisted by a person, proves to be his greatest blessing--for according to
the effort is the reward (Avos 5:23). If not for tests of virtue, life
would be bereft of value. The long night of battling the Evil Inclination
in the darkness of this world is the greatest blessing to us, as Yaakov’s
When Yaakov met Esav--they wept (Bereishis 33:4). We also find that when
Yaakov met Rochel he wept (ibid. 29:11), and that Yosef wept when his
brothers came (43:30, 45:2, and 45:15). Additionally, Esav and Yaakov
embraced and kissed each other, Yaakov kissed Rochel, and Yosef embraced and
kissed his brothers. We see that the family of Avrohom and Yitzchak express
their love of kin in a highly emotional manner, and we learn from this that
it is an excellence of the soul to love one’s kin with powerful emotion. By
loving one’s kin, one comes to love his kin’s kin, and eventually he attains
the feeling that the entire House of Israel is his kin. The perfection of
character toward one person tends to spread, and is subsequently broadened
to include others. The fact that even Esav ran toward his brother, embraced
him, kissed him and wept demonstrates how deeply ingrained the fervent love
of kin should be in family life!
ACHARON ACHARON CHAVIV:
Shach, Z’tl, asks why Yaakov Avinu, when about to encounter Esav, sent the
sons of the Shefachos first, then the sons of Leah--and kept his
especially beloved Rochel and Yosef last and most protected. HaRav Shach
provides an incredible p’shat, which he says is Emes L’Amito” The
Shefachos and their sons suffered most, as because they had the least honor
in the family, they were ba’alei yissurin--thereby attaining greater
kapparah--and the greatest natural protection from Esav. Next came Leah and
her sons who were also lower in spirit because they were not the ikar
of Yaakov’s household--so, although not as great as the Shefachos and
their children, they too had a higher level of kapparah and protection
afforded to them. It was those who were chaviv--Rochel and Yosef
who had to come Acharon, Acharon--last--because they had the
least kapparah...and thus needed the most protection!
CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
provide below several teachings of the Shelah HaKadosh in his Sefer, under
the subtitle ‘Meseches Shabbos’:
Although there is a special Ma’aleh to buying food for Shabbos on Erev
Shabbos, that is only true regarding foods which will be better if purchased
closer to Shabbos. With respect to foods for which it will not make a
difference, it is better to purchase them earlier in the week, based upon
the principle of Zerizim Makdimin LeMitzvos--one should act with
special alacrity when doing a Mitzvah. Additionally, when purchasing an
item, one should declare “Lichvod Shabbos Ani Koneh!”
one undertakes Shabbos preparations on his own without somebody else being
his “Shaliach” for him, he is fulfilling the words of the Torah “La’asos Es
HaShabbos--making the Shabbos on his own.” One should even reduce his Torah
learning to do so.
Chazal teach that the relationship between Erev Shabbos and Shabbos is a
paradigm for the correlation between Olam Hazeh and Olam Haba--in which one
prepares everything he needs now, so that he is fully ready for the great
next step. This also teaches us, the Shelah continues, that one should
examine his ways and do Teshuvah on Erev Shabbos--so the he is prepared not
only for his physical needs on Shabbos, but for his spiritual needs as
is best for men to finish Shenayim Mikrah VeEchad Targum Friday afternoon
after Chatzos. If one cannot do so, he should try to finish before the
Shabbos Seudah on Shabbos morning; if this is not possible as well, he
should finish before Shabbos Mincha.
Because Shabbos is known as “Shabbos Kallah,” the first two meals are like
the Seudas Erusin and Seudas Nesuin!
One should feel a high level of Shalom and Ahava on Shabbos, as on this day
even the Reshaim in Gehenoim have a rest from their punishment. If one gets
angry on Shabbos, his Aveirah for doing so is ‘Kefulah’--doubled. One
should begin his special care against anger beginning at Chatzos on Erev
Shabbos. Indeed, continues the Shelah, the Sefer Chassidim writes that it
is better to eat vegetables on Shabbos with warm feelings than to eat the
fattiest of meats while unsettled or in a spirit of rife or dispute.
the Zechus of eating Shalosh Seudos, the third meal, one is saved from the
war of Gog U’Magog. The Gematriah of Gog U’Magog is 70, which teaches that
one will thus be saved from all 70 nations of the world.
WE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING POINTS
AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA, PARASHAS VAYISHLACH:
A. Although Hashem had promised Yaakov Avinu that he would be sustained,
Chazal teach that Yaakov was worried “Shemah Yigrom HaCheit--maybe an
aveira would do away with the Brachos that would otherwise come. What
aveira was Yaakov referring to? HaRav Daniel Movshovitz, Z’tl (the last
Rosh Yeshiva in Kelm, who was killed Al Kiddush Hashem), provides an
incredible explanation. He teaches that Hashem’s assurance of bracha to
Yaakov was really an assurance to him that he was capable of attaining
that blessing--and that if he did the proper hishtadlus, he would be zoche
to it. Yaakov, then, was worried that he would not realize his
potential-- not live up to the capabilities that Hashem told him he was
in fact capable of. This is, of course, a great and important lesson to us
all. Hashem wants to give us brachos and has unlimited resources--we
simply have to properly step into the shoes of the very person whom He wants
to give them to. We are simply hurting ourselves--we are taking away
our very own bracha-- if we are weak in Lashon Hara here, easy to get angry
there, come even a little late to davening, or in general are not careful
enough in areas in which you know you really could be. Instead of
worrying--let’s realize our potential and draw the bracha in!
Additional Note: It is no secret that while a child may like to wallow in
the mud or dirt, spreading more and more grime on to his arms, face and
feet, an adult will try to avoid any of this--and will instead attempt to
promptly remove any residual evidence of stain on his clothes or body. This
obvious contrast should serve as a real-life lesson for us all. When one is
tempted to speak when he shouldn’t, miss a learning seder, eat of an unknown
Hashgacha, or engage in conduct that he would not feel comfortable with if
it was Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur--he should picture himself both as a
little child and as a well-respected adult--and then make the choice of
getting dirty--or staying clean!
provide the following outstanding excerpt from the Sefer Aleinu
L’Shabei’ach, containing the teachings of HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein,
Shlita, as presented by Artscroll in an outstanding English translation.
Posuk states “Im Lavan Garti--I have
sojourned with Lavan” (Bereishis 32:5). Rashi notes: “Yet I kept the
613 Mitzvos.” HaRav Zilberstein comments: “R’ Gershon Kalivensky told
me something about the self-sacrifice of Jews for Mitzvos, even in the land
of their enemies-and especially for the Mitzvah of Tefillah: “During all
the years that we were in Siberia, our ‘library’ consisted of a single
Sefer--a Siddur. And even that would not have remained with us, of not for
the incredible self-sacrifice of my righteous mother, who guarded that
Siddur fiercely and would not let the suspicious Siberian police steal it
from her. The police conducted a search through our barracks, and found the
stained Siddur, which they wanted to confiscate. My mother, with all the
meager strength in her body, refused to let them so much as touch it with
their polluted hands. Those accursed men stared at her sternly--a stare that
meant something much more menacing than a punishment. In Siberia that kind
of stare meant only one thing--a bullet to the head. But, amazingly, those
evil men backed down from the confrontation and left us alone. I shook with
fear. Had those policemen decided to shoot Mother, r’l, there would
seemingly have been no one to defend her, for anyone who dared open his
mouth would have been finished. I later passed this story on to my children
and grandchildren, along with the message that a Jew need not fear
anyone--no matter what happens. A Jew fears only Hashem.”
Zilberstein concludes: “This is what the G’ra meant when he wrote, ‘Akshanus
B’ruchniyus Yatzliach--obstinacy in spiritual matters will succeed!’
And I heard from HaGaon R’ Adess that the letters of the word ‘Ivri’ also
hint at this idea, as the acronym of ‘Akshanus B’ruchnius Yatzliach’
spells ‘Ivri.’ In other words, anyone who is called an ‘Ivri’--a
Jew--must be stubborn in his service of Hashem. And then he will succeed.”
Additional Note: One example of Ivri on these short Shabbosos, is the
proper performance of the Mitzvah of Shalosh Seudos. Neither the
Torah nor Chazal provide an exception for the third meal in the shorter,
winter months. Neither man nor woman should fall prey to the weak attitude
of those who may be around him, and should plan ahead (perhaps eating less
at the earlier Seudah) in order to properly fulfill this Mitzvah. Chazal
teach that one who eats three meals on Shabbos is saved from three
puroniyos--three difficult times-- the Din of Gehinnom, the Chevlei
Moshiach, and the Milchemes Gog Umagog. This teaching is, in reality,
quoted in the Mishna Berurah, a Halacha work, in Shulchan Aruch, Orach
Chaim, 291, seif katan 1.
C. As noted earlier, the Torah makes it very clear to us in this week’s
Parasha that Yaakov Avinu had a long and difficult battle overnight--with
none other than, as Chazal explain, the Sar Shel Eisav himself. The Chofetz
Chaim teaches that neither Avrohom nor Yitzchak had this incredible
battle--only Yaakov. What was it that so upset the Satan--that he went to do
battle head on at this point?! The Chofetz Chaim explains that this was a
pivotal moment in world history. Avrohom Avinu was the Amud HaChesed which
became a mark of his descendants for all time. Yitzchak Avinu was the Amud
of Avodah which separates us from all peoples. Now, however, came
Yaakov--who learned Torah in Eretz Yisrael--kept it in Chutz La’Aretz-- and
was returning with Torah to Eretz Yisrael. The Amud HaTorah would mean
the ultimate effective defeat of evil--for it would prove that the Torah of
Galus would last and be successfully transplanted back to Eretz Yisrael.
HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl, in explaining his Rebbi’s teaching, writes
that Torah is literally a Jew’s ammunition--without it, all of the guns,
artillery, fighter jets and manpower can simply not do battle. It is for
this reason, Chazal teach, that even if Hashem is mevater on the sins
of Avodah Zara, Gilui Arayos and Shefichus Damim--Hashem will not be
mevater on the sin of Bitul Torah. One who disregards his Torah study
time and/or does not learn as he could or should is really like a sentry who
has been asked to guard the ammunition depot--turns away and lets the
terrorists steal it all. Yaakov showed the Sar Shel Eisav that even if he
could be temporarily maimed, our essence of Torah could not be defeated. It
is our role as Yaakov’s progeny to follow in his ways. This means EVER
STRENGTHENING OURSELVES in the study of Torah--and not letting weakness set
in. As we are now more than two months after Yom Kippur and counting, with
the detours and distractions of Esav’s Sar all around us--we must fight off
the difficulties and temptations--to make sure that we are learning more
this year--not less. We must make sure that we are utilizing our wisdom and
our capabilities to devise and develop new ways to learn and new times to
learn-so that we are constantly growing and modernizing our arsenal.
Finding another five minutes of ‘downtime’ during the day to learn, trying
to help someone else grow in Torah, or utilizing another technique in modern
technology for learning--are some of the actual examples of the weaponry of
our survival. We are soldiers in a lonely army--but the world’s most
important and the world’s best. If we fail in our individual duty, we are
hurting ourselves and making the world a more dangerous place. If we
succeed--then we will have realized the full and potential of Yaakov
Avinu--and unite with him to together be called Yisrael!
We hope to soon kindle the Chanukah lights. If we are to sincerely take the
lesson from this week’s Parasha --the time is now to rekindle the flame of
Torah is now. It takes just a few minutes of reflection, of thinking ‘out
of the box’--to take yourself to the next step in the great and surprising
strides you can make over your lifetime in Torah study.
second essential teaching on the battle of Yaakov and the Sar Shel Eisav:
The Aish Kodesh on Parashas VaYishlach (Bereishis 32: 27,28) poses
two important questions: Firstly, after the Sar Shel Eisav injured Yaakov,
why did Yaakov ask him for a bracha--who needed a bracha from this mazik?
Moreover, hadn’t he already received a bracha from Hashem Himself--what more
did he need?! Secondly, why did the Sar Shel Eisav have to ask Yaakov his
name--and why, upon hearing it, did he change it? The Aish Kodesh
astoundingly explains that Yaakov, by asking for the bracha, was
establishing a precedent for his descendants (based upon Ma’aseh Avos
Siman LeBanim)--he wanted a havtacha that after this “injury” something
great--a yeshua--would come from it. He asked for an assurance that when
Bnei Yisrael have yissurim it should lead to bracha--not merely an ending of
the yissurim--but an actual beginning of salvation and a showering of
blessing. The Sar Shel Eisav acquiesced to Yaakov’s request. Accordingly,
he advised Yaakov that although you are called Yaakov now--i.e., getting
brachos only after yissurim--your name will be changed to “Yisrael” and you
will receive brachos without having to suffer first! May we be zoche soon
to always be referred to as Yisrael!
The Rabbeinu Bachya writes that Yaakov bowed down to Esav seven times before
meeting him--in order to demonstrate (and instill within us) that although a
Tzaddik may fall along the way seven times--he will finally arise and
F. Yaakov then meets Eisav, and they have their world-effecting encounter.
The Sefer Sechel Tov notes that Eisav, upon
Yaakov taking leave of him, had kefitzas haderech in traveling to
Se’ir. We can well understand why Eliezer or Yaakov would have kefitzas
haderech--but why would Eisav HaRasha--who is even referred to as a
Yisrael Mumar have kefitzas haderech? The Sechel Tov
answers that Hashem sped his departure so as not to cause Yaakov Avinu undue
discomfort in being in close proximity with the rasha. This is the degree to
which Hashem watched the righteous. If you have a rasha who is bothering
you--you must remember that it is your fault--not his!
G. Shimon and Levi are each referred to in this week’s Parasha as
an Ish in describing their battle against the wicked people of
Shechem--as the Pasuk states “Ish Charbo” (Bereishis 34:25). We
derive from here that that the age of Bar Mitzvah is 13, since Levi was 13
at the time and the Torah goes out of its way to specifically refer to him
as an Ish. As Rabbi Maimon Elbaz, Shlita, puts it: this is because
the true sign of being a man--is to be able to stand up against
Note: Indeed, this is the great lesson in preparation for the time that we
are in--as the Chashmonaim dedicated their lives to fight those who
thought that they were really ‘men’. In the end, it was not the Greeks
who were the ‘Ish’--it was the Chashmonaim who fought against all
odds for the honor of Hashem and his Torah. This too is our mission--to be
the Ish…in our times!
the end of the Parasha, the Torah devotes 43 Pesukim to Esav’s descendants.
Why? We suggest that these special passages help us appreciate the Torah’s
great and unfathomable depth. If the Torah was simply telling us a story or
giving us a genealogy lesson--most of us would undoubtedly just turn the
page--for after all, our inner feelings would say: what interest do we have
in this mumar’s descendants?! How could someone like this grow up in
Yitzchak’s house anyways? Who needs or wants these wicked and unwanted
relatives? It is obvious then that Sodos HaTorah--thoughts, ideas
and principles beyond the average person’s grasp are placed into these words
and letters. Rather than let the words fly by us during Krias HaTorah--we
should be awed and mesmerized by their deeper connotations currently not
known to us--the Kedushas HaTorah! Most certainly, when the Moshiach comes
we will have a lot to learn. Until then, we must try to properly honor and
respect the Great and Holy Treasure that has been handed down to us. It is
much more than a priceless diamond--it is a limitless one!
THE YAHRZEIT OF THE ALTER OF NOVORDAK:
Sunday, 17 Kislev is the 100th Yahrzeit of the Alter of Novordak,
HaRav Yosef Yozel Hurvitz, Z’tl. The Sefer Hizharu Bichvod Chaveireichem,
by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita, provides the following great lesson: What
propelled the Alter of Novordak, to become the mussar giant that he was?
HaRav Yozel was an extremely successful businessman who met Rebbi Yisroel
Salanter in a city named Mamel. Rebbi Yisroel asked him to stay a few days
so that they could get to know each other better. HaRav Yozel advised Rebbi
Yisroel that he had already hired a wagon driver to take him home. Rebbi
Yisroel thereupon urged him to hurry back to his hotel as soon as
possible--for perhaps the wagon driver was looking for him--and by being
late perhaps he was causing him tza’ar and agmas nefesh.
Perhaps noticing a bit of hesitation, Rebbi Yisroel urged him on further:
“No matter how precious the discussion we are having is--it should not be at
the expense of another.” HaRav Yozel was so moved by this attitude and
approach that soon after he gave up his successful business pursuits--and
followed after Rebbi Yisroel to learn true Avodas Hashem!
were advised by a reader that upon attaining bar mitzvah, a bachur from the
U.S. visited with HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, Z’tl, and asked him for
various Brachos. One of the brachos that he (or perhaps his father)
requested was that he become a ‘Ba’al Middos’. Upon hearing this,
HaRav Lefkowitz asked: “Do you know what a Ba’al Middos is?” After a
moment of silence he continued “It is someone who is mevater--someone
who steps into the shoes of the other person—and accedes to their needs and
requests.” Fascinatingly, a different reader advised us that he went to
HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl, to receive various brachos from him. When he
asked for a bracha for Shalom Bayis, HaRav Zilber advised him that he would
not give a bracha for that--because in order to achieve and maintain Shalom
Bayis, one needs only to be ‘Mevater Al HaKol’—step into the place
and view of the other person and give in--thus creating your own Shalom
Additional Note: Rabbi Bentzion Klatzko, Shlita, reports in the name of an
Adam Gadol that, after 120 years, 95% of the Bein Adam L’Chaveiro
that one is judged upon will be the Bein Adam L’Chaveiro within one’s
own home! It may be much easier to be nice, pleasant, courteous and
understanding to someone whom you see less often, or upon whom it is
important to make a good impression. It is in one’s own home where the
essence of one’s Derech Eretz, Middos Tovos, and ways of
pleasantness are the true indication of his inner self…and in which they
must sparkle and shine!
HERE IS FOOD FOR (AFORE)THOUGHT:
Can a sarcastic statement, comment or response ever be useful?
THE FIRST OF THE ANI MA’AMINS:
In the first Ani Ma’amin, we affirm our knowledge and belief that Hashem
created everything and continues to control and direct all of creation. A
reader pointed out that we must never forget that the term Lechol Haberu’im
includes each and every one of us--and that it is HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself
Who is guiding one through life--whatever the situation, whatever the
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
Parasha of Yaakov meeting Eisav is sometimes referred to as the Parashas
HaGalus, and trains us how we are to behave to those seeking us harm or
otherwise antagonistic to us in Galus. Yet, this Parasha occurred as Yaakov
is on his way back to Eretz Yisrael--and not on his way out to
Chutz LaAretz. It would have seemed that we would learn the Parashas
HaGalus not from Yaakov’s encounter with Eisav--but from his encounter
with Lavan, which is when Yaakov was exiting Eretz Yisrael for a while--and
not on his way back! Moreover, Lavan was a genuine Akum, whereas
Eisav is described by Chazal as a Yisrael Mumar (Kedushin 18A).
Thus, wouldn’t Yaakov’s conduct with Lavan be the better standard and guide
for us to learn from?!
FROM A READER WHO CAREFULLY
STUDIES THE PARASHA:
1. Where in this week’s Parasha can we find a Pasuk in which all the words
end with an Enda-Mem??
2. Where in this week’s Parasha can we find the only Pasuk that ends with
3. Where in this week’s Parasha can we find a Pasuk that has 5 straight
words that all begin with the letter of aleph??
1. Perek 32, Pasuk 15.
2. Perek 32, Pasuk 28.
3. Perek 36, Pasuk 41.
A MINUTE CLOSER:
In the past, we have noted the four brachos to be made upon the coming of
Moshiach, as taught by HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl. The Sefer
Otzros Acharis HaYomim, by Rabbi Yehuda Chayun notes that according to
the Sefer Lev Chaim (Volume 2, Orach Chaim 41), we would also recite
the bracha Goel Yisrael.
Hakhel Note: The Sefer Otzros Acharis HaYomim also brings Rav Chaim
Volozhiner, Z’tl’s description of the Moshiach’s arrival: “I will be sitting
in my courtyard learning Torah, and my wife will rush in and exclaim:
“Chaim--how are you learning--the Moshiach is coming?!” I will ask her: “How
do you know?” and she will answer: “Go outside and you will see that
everyone is out to greet him!” It is thus apparent that HaRav Chaim held
that the Moshiach would come suddenly, as Chazal teach that the Moshiach
will come at a time of hesech hada’as--unexpectedly (ibid. p. 135)
Additional Note One: It is well known that the Chofetz Chaim urged everyone
to prepare as best as he could for the Moshiach’s arrival. In fact, he had
prepared a special Shabbos Kapote which he put on from time to time
and sat down with to await the Moshiach’s arrival. He also had a suitcase
ready with essential items so that he would be ready to travel to Eretz
Yisrael immediately. Once on Erev Shabbos Bein Hashemashos a Gadol came to
the Chofetz Chaim and the Chofetz Chaim promptly asked him whether they are
talking about Moshiach on the streets. The Gadol did not have an answer. The
Chofetz Chaim responded--this is the problem--they don’t talk about the
Moshiach. Are we not taught--Achakeh Lo--I await him? How can
we not await him?! (ibid. 147 to 149)
Additional Note Two: In the house of the Chozeh of Lublin the clock sounded
every minute. Once a guest entered and told the Chozeh that as he hears the
minutes tick by he is saddened--for he realizes that he is getting closer to
his 120 years. The Chozeh responded: “As for me--with every passing minute I
feel happier and happier--for every minute brings me closer to Moshiach’s
Additional Note Three: Let us take the messages to heart today!
At a gathering on behalf of Renewal, in Flatbush, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff,
Shlita, taught a fantastic lesson. He stated that prior to the Mendel Beilis
trial the Czar had for all intents and purposes announced that after Beilis
was found guilty there would be a pogrom in Russia. The Jews united
worldwide in Beilis’ defense. HaRav Meir Shapiro, Z’tl, then a young Rav,
sent a letter to the defense team assembled that he felt that the main
argument of the prosecution, who had allegedly gone through the Talmud,
would be that Jews did not consider non-Jews to be human beings based upon
the Talmudic teaching of ‘Adam Atem--Atem Keruyim Adam…’, and they
were therefore given the license to kill non-Jews for religious (such as
Matzah baking ) purposes. HaRav Shapiro told the defense team that this was
absolutely the wrong p’shat in Atem Keruyim Adam. In fact, the
word Atem means you, in the plural--and means to convey that all of
K’lal Yisrael together (i.e., you--in the plural) are called Adam--one
human being--for you are all united. The nations of the world would not
unite in defense of a person they did not even know--but Jews worldwide
acted together as one. This is our mantra. When we know that Chesed is
needed, it does not matter that we don’t otherwise know the person or that
he or she may live 6,000 miles away. It only matter that we, as a collective
unit, are called--Adam!
DAVENING FOR THE WELL-BEING OF
Points and pointers on davening for the wellbeing of others from the
monumental Sefer Praying with Fire II, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman,
1. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that saying the name of a sick
person is preferable to merely thinking it (based on the Pasuk in Tehillim
2. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that when a group is reciting
Tehillim for an individual, one should be careful to mention the name
before praying. In that way, each member of the group will have that
person in mind, and the unique merit of the Tefillos of a Tzibbur will be
effective on the person’s behalf.
3. If one does not know the sick person’s mother’s name, than the father’s
name should be used. The Iyun Yaakov (Brachos 34) writes that one
can mention the father’s name--especially if the father has many merits that
will stand in good stead for the sick person. If one does not know the name
of the mother or father, he can say the family name or just the name of the
4. When one davens for himself and others, he should mention the other
names first, and then his own name.
5. HaRav Kanievsky also rules that if one intends to pray for a lengthy
list of people, one can pray for them collectively by saying: “For all
those on this list”, rather than reciting each individual name, which may be
difficult especially when under a time constraint.
6. Even though by maintaining privacy others will not pray for him, HaRav
Kanievsky rules that one must respect a person’s request and his name may
not be revealed. Even if the patient has not requested secrecy, but the
family has requested it, one must obey the family’s wishes. However, the
Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah (Sha’ar 5) writes that one can daven for a sick
person even if the sick person did not ask him to pray on his behalf. Doing
so fulfills the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeReiacha Kamocha!
Jew has to see himself as a part of Klal Yisrael, analogous to being one of
the many organs of the human body. Each organ has its specific task to
perform, one which impacts on the proper functioning of other parts of the
body. Obviously, some organs are more vital to the survival of the body than
others. Nonetheless, this does not negate the significance of the other
organs. Just like it is ludicrous for the hand to be jealous of the eye
because the hand does not have the ability to see, so, too, should one Jew
not be jealous of another who has been endowed with special talents and
Heavenly blessings. The Jew’s heart should swell with pride that Klal
Yisrael is blessed with such talented people. He should feel fortunate to be
part of such a unique nation. When a person humbly thinks only of Klal
Yisrael, he will be spared the feelings of arrogance and jealousy that
consume the minds and thoughts of so many people. He is proud that Klal
Yisrael has people of towering spiritual potential and achievements. The
fact that he has not been endowed with this potential does not take away
from his feelings of happiness that others have. The great Chassidic Master,
the Rebbe, Reb Bunim was once asked if he would like to change places with
Avrohom Avinu; he would get Avrohom Avinu’s talents and potential and
Avrohom would get his. He smiled and replied, ‘I wouldn’t want to·change
place with Avrohom, because what would Hashem gain on this exchange? There
would still be one Avrohom Avinu and one·Bunim...’.”
[Excerpted from A Humble Spirit based upon the teachings of HaRav
Avrohom Pam, Z’tl, by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita]
THE ROOTS OF CHANUKAH:
Sefer Sichos BaAvodas Hashem by Rav Yaakov Meisels, Shlita, writes
that the root of the word Chanukah is chinuch--indicating that Chanukah
requires chinuch--real preparation in order to perform the mitzvah properly.
One sure way to begin the preparations is to recognize what the days of
Chanukah were intended for--’LeHodos U’LeHallel’--to thank and praise
Hashem. With this awareness, we look to Leah’s naming of her fourth child
Yehudah--when she stated “This time, I will thank Hashem”. Incredibly, as
we have noted in the past, this one name--Yehudim or Jews--is the name that
has lived with us for the last 2,000 years. The Sefas Emes (in the
name of his grandfather, the Chidushei HaRim) explains that this appellation
has remained with us because it serves as a daily reminder to live our
lives with the recognition and awareness to thank Hashem--for
everything--not just the Six-Day War type of miracles--but the daily
miracles as well. Our preparation for Chanukah, then, is to begin by
thinking and thanking--especially in Modim of Shemone Esrei--to which we
will soon be adding Al HaNisim --to all else that we recognize and
thank Hashem for.
Meisels beautifully concludes that the reason the bracha of Sim Shalom,
which contains so many brachos for us, was placed by Chazal immediately
after Modim, is because if we properly demonstrate our thanks to Hashem--we
will be deserving of more and more and more brachos!
Note: The Sefer Avodas Penim asks whether every time that we get
Hana’ah, a benefit from this world, it actually detracts from a benefit
we would have in Olam Haba. He answers with the following Mashal: A worker
in a supermarket agrees to get paid his salary in kind with items from the
store. The storeowner permits him to take whatever he would like without
payment, keeping a record of how much he has purchased on credit, and
reduces it from the salary owed. If, however, the worker elects to pay cash
for the items purchased, then his salary will not, of course, be reduced.
When we give the proper recognition and thanks to Hashem for his
beneficence, we are paying ‘in cash’ for the Olam HaZeh, and this will not
reduce any of the salary that we work for in this world!
Chozeh of Lublin actually takes this lesson a step further:
HaMelech in the Posuk that begins and ends Chapter 118 exclaims “Hodu
LaShem Ki Tov Ki LeOlam Chasdo--give thanks to Hashem for He is good;
His kindness endures forever.” The Chozeh explains that Dovid HaMelech is
teaching us by the juxtaposition of these phrases that the second half of
the Posuk is actually a direct and proximate result of the first. If one
recognizes and understands that Hodu LaShem Ki Tov--Hashem gives him
everything that he has and rightfully and properly thanks Him for it, then
Ki LeOlam Chasdo--he will merit that unparalleled second half of the
Posuk--Hashem’s enduring kindness forever and ever!
THE PURSUIT OF PEACE:
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 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
Hadfields and the McCoys and their ilk. 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!
Note: The Chofetz Chaim provides the following clear and definitive
guidelines as to machlokes:
Even if one of the parties to a dispute is one’s close relative--even one’s
father, one should not follow him in the dispute, and even if his father
commands him to. This is no different than the Halacha (Shulchan Aruch,
Yoreh De’ah 240: 15), that if a father directs his son to do an aveirah,
the son should not listen.
When the sons of Korach did not listen to him, it was surely a bizayon
to Korach --but it was the right thing to do, and their lives were spared as
a result. Chazal incredibly teach that the very first words of Tehillim
(1:1) “Ashrei HaIsh Asher Lo Halach BaAtzas Reshaim--fortunate is
the person who did not follow the advice of the wicked-- is referring to
the sons of Korach who did not follow their father’s direction!”
above relates to a situation in which the son or relative could not
influence his father or his relative who is a Ba’al Machlokes.
However, if a father or a close relationship respects his son or relative,
and the son or relative nevertheless remain silent, then the son will be
punished for not taking action to bring peace. One who does bring peace
will, as Chazal teach, ‘eat its fruits in this world’, and the keren,
the principal amount will still be left for eternity in Olam Haba. Even if
one sincerely believes, or even knows, that his father is right--he should
nevertheless do what he can to quash the dispute. When one does so, aside
from fulfilling the incomparable Mitzvah of Hava’as Shalom, one
should realize that his considered opinion as to how correct his father or
relative is may really be jaded because of his love or person negiyos.
appreciate the extent of the need and requirement to quiet Machlokes, let us
look no farther than Moshe Rabbeinu--who went out to Dasan
V’Aviram in order to bring peace.
should not tire from seeking to resolve a dispute--even if it has been going
on for a while, and even for a long time. Chazal teach on the Pasuk
(34:15): “Bakeish Shalom V’Radfeihu”--Baksheihu HaYom
VeRadfeihu LeMachar--seek Shalom today, and run after it
tomorrow--not despairing and not tiring from attempting to reach the great
The Chofetz Chaim refers to the seeking of Shalom as a Middah
Kedosha--a holy Middah, and concludes that even if one is not
successful with the Ba’alei Machlokes themselves, who refuse to get
past the facts as they see them and their hurt feelings, one will still be
successful in keeping away or assisting those extraneous to the Machlokes
from getting involved or staying involved…and each and every ‘piece of
peace’ is immeasurable and invaluable!
once again provide the amazing story related by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon,
Shlita, that he himself heard from HaRav Shmuel Greineman, Z’tl: There was
once a gathering at the house of the Chofetz Chaim which was attended by the
Roshei Yeshivos in order to find a way to fund the Yeshivos and provide food
for the Talmidei HaYeshivos. Those gathered sat together for an extended
period of time but could not come to any conclusion, and agreed to reconvene
the next day. The Chofetz Chaim was very pained and remained sitting in his
place. HaRav Greineman, who was in attendance, could not bear to see the
Chofetz Chaim so pained, and decided to rest with the hope that he could
come up with an idea. He came up with what he thought was a fantastic idea.
He was going to put on Tefillin the next morning. Since Tefillin is such a
great Mitzvah, it must be that the reward for it would be enough to support
all of the Yeshivos on an ongoing basis. He was therefore prepared to give
his reward for the Mitzvah of Hanachas Tefillin that day to the Yeshivos--so
that they could sustain themselves on an ongoing basis. Before he did so,
however, he wanted to make sure that this was the right thing to do, and
went to the Chofetz Chaim--who was still sitting and thinking in the same
place. He approached the Chofetz Chaim and told him: “Rebbi, I have found
the solution!” The Chofetz Chaim’s face lit up and asked him what it was.
HaRav Greineman answered that he was going to give his reward in the Mitzvah
of Tefillin today to the Yeshivos, so that they could support themselves!
The Chofetz Chaim looked at Rav Greineman, smiled and said: “Mein Kihnd--my
son, the Ribono Shel Olam will not accept this.” The Chofetz Chaim then went
on to explain: “If a small child found a check for a million rubles on the
street, he would probably take it to the candy store thinking that he could
obtain a bag of candy for it. What would a responsible storeowner do upon
looking at the check--would he take it for a bag of candy?! Of course
not--he must tell the child that the check is worth much more than a bag of
candy, and that the child should take it to his father.” The Chofetz Chaim
then powerfully advised: “If you would only know how much more putting on
Tefillin just one time is worth than supporting all of the Yeshivos! Hashem
will most certainly not accept your request! This is what Chazal mean when
they teach that there is no reward that can be given for a Mitzvah in this
world--the whole world is not enough to satisfy the greatness achieved by
the performance of one Mitzvah!”
Hakhel Note: One should contemplate how great the performance of each and
every Mitzvah is. Before putting on Tefillin every morning--men can
certainly think of this story. We can also think of the same story before
the myriad of Mitzvos that we perform as well!
this very fast-paced world, when everything and everyone seems to be moving
faster and faster, we can justify our lack of proper middos based upon the
exigencies of the world around us. Rabbi Viener teaches that we would be
much better served if we could envision a neon sign in front of us that
flashed: “THIS IS A TEST”! If one ‘sees the sign’, he will respond
successfully. In fact, the most appropriate or favorable response may be to
be simply remain silent--or simply hold on and not respond or react in any
way for 30 seconds or so. Whatever the appropriate response may be--the
recognition of the Nisayon is a great step towards success!
PRODUCE FROM ISRAEL:
We received the following Kashrus Alert from the COR of Greater Detroit -
Bell Peppers from Israel
(red, yellow and orange) are beginning to appear in U.S. stores, and require
taking of Terumos and Maaseros. They
are being sold locally at Kroger, Walmart, Holiday Market and other stores.
The brands include Sunset, Gilad, Pero Family Farms, and others, both
regular and organic.
Consumers should carefully check the fine print on the package,
or the sticker on individual peppers sold loose, for the country of origin.
Often the same brand has some peppers from Israel and some from other
locations, so each individual package or pepper should be checked. Details
of the tithing procedure can be found (courtesy of cRc Chicago) at
examples of Israeli produce commonly found in the U.S. include tomatoes,
carrots, citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, mandarins, clementines
and pomelos), persimmons (“Sharon Fruit”), mangos, dates, dill and parsley.
Check the sticker, bag label or original case for the country of origin.
A DOLLAR A DAY:
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that one in the midst of a tzara
can pledge bli neder to do something once he has a yeshua, and that
the pledge is effective in the ‘here and now’. During these days of intense
Ikvasa D’Meshicha, one may want to consider bli neder pledging even a
small amount--let us say a $1 to Tzedaka at the end of the day—if one heard
a besura tovah that day. If thousands would do this across the
world--thousands of dollars would B’EH be earned every day for Tzedaka--and
one could have a part in Yeshuas Yisrael on a daily basis!
The Rosh (Orchos Chaim L’Rosh, 80) teaches: Al Tisatzel
Lehovi Ma’aser El Bais HaOtzar Ki Mattan Besaiser Yichpeh Aff--do not be
slow, do not delay to give Tzedaka privately--for giving Tzedaka privately
(where the receiver does not know who the giver is) WILL COVER OVER HASHEM’S
ANGER at us. What a special undertaking--endeavoring each and every day
to give Tzedaka Besaiser.
have the answers--we have to be smart enough to use them!
YOUR MESSAGES ARE MALOCHIM!
outset of this week’s Parasha, which describes Yaakov Avinu sending Malachim
to Esav, Rashi writes that they were “Malachim Mammash--real angels.
What does Rashi mean to add by teaching that they were real Malachim? The
Chofetz Chaim explains (in another context) that Hashem has many, many
Malachim to do His work--and not all of them are angels. As Dovid Hamelech
teaches us in Tehillim--”Oseh Malachav Ruchos--Hashem makes the winds
His messengers.... It is up to us to realize that Hashem is constantly
sending us messages through what other human beings say or do to you,
through events in the world at large, through an event that occurred in
front of your eyes, and through changes in the lives of those you know or
are close to. Yaakov Avinu was zoche to deal with Malachim mammash. We may
not be in a position to benefit from the assistance or teachings of the
Malachim mammash--but we most certainly should recognize and benefit from
the Hashgacha Pratis, direction in life and messages being related to us
through Hashem’s messengers in all sizes, shapes and forms.
Note: As a simple starting point in getting used to a constant appreciation
of Hashem’s Presence in your life--the next time you are about to get angry,
raise your voice or say the wrong thing to someone--stop and think--’wait a
second he was Hashem’s messenger’!
REMINDER--PRESENCE OF MIND FOR BRACHOS:
The Ba’alei Mussar teach us that if we give thanks to Hashem properly, we
can preempt the need to plead with Hashem to save us from danger. One way
that we acknowledge Hashem’s great kindness to us and express our thanks to
Him is in our brachos over foods. Accordingly, we once again provide the
following quiz, in order to assist in proper focus from time-to-time during
the day before making the bracha over a food item.
of the following thoughts would DEFINITELY NOT be in order prior to making a
bracha and partaking of food or drink:
In Whose Presence you are.
What the bracha is on, including the incredible process that brought
this item from its creation (in Eretz Yisrael, Idaho, China or your
backyard) to your consumption.
That you are consuming this item in order to have a strong and
healthy body so that you can serve Hashem and fulfill your life’s purpose.
That ‘Gomel Nafsho Ish Chosed’--one who treats his body
properly is actually performing a Chesed to none other than himself.
That you intend to elevate the food by its consumption and extract
the ‘nitzotzos of kedusha’ within the food.
That the bracha you are making will include all other items in your
home that you may also consume now that share this same bracha.
That even if you move into another room within the house, your bracha
in this room will lechatchila cover your consumption in all other rooms as
That you are not a ‘kofui tova’-one who does not properly recognize
Hashem’s beneficence to you. Instead, you are expressing your thanks and
praise to the Source of All Creations.
That making a bracha prior to eating is a Mitzvah D’Rabbanan, and
making a bracha after eating is either a Mitzvah D’Oraysa or D’Rabbanan
(depending on what you have eaten)--so that even the most basic physical act
of eating ( which for the right reasons, is a mitzvah in and of itself!) is
‘sandwiched’ by Mitzvos!
That the reason the food is providing you with nutrition and energy
is not because “Al HaLechem Levado Yichye HaAdam” there is power
within the bread itself, but rather “Ki Al Kol Motze Fi Hashem Yichye
HaAdam--only because Hashem wills it and orders it every single time you
An animal is hungry, and I am hungry. An animal eats and I eat. Human
beings live here on earth with animals, and are far, far away from the
malochim. Actually, some even call us ‘two-legged animals’. Let me make a
quick bracha now because this is what I know I’ve gotta do so that I can
eat, and snatch some of that food.
Dovid HaMelech, who lived through so much in his lifetime, provides a Pasuk
in Tehillim which we can use to guide us. This Pasuk is recited every day,
twice a day, from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Shemini Atzeres--a period when
we know that our lives, and indeed the whole world around us, hangs in the
balance. The Pasuk is the climax--the final and concluding Pasuk of LeDovid
Hashem Ori--it is “Kavey El Hashem, Chazak V’Yaametz Libecha V’Kavey El
Hashem--Hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you
courage, and [once again] Hope to Hashem!” (Tehillim 27:17)
Pasuk’s lesson is clear: An important part of our nisayon in life
(especially during these days of Chevlei Mashiach) is that our Emunah is
confronted and challenged. When this happens, after our initial hoping to
Hashem, which may in the ordinary course be followed by feelings of weakness
to cope, we must strengthen ourselves and hope to Hashem again. Of course,
improving one’s Tefillah (especially Shema and Shemone Esrei), one’s regular
brachos (especially when reciting the word “Ata” and Hashem’s Names), and
feeling Hashem’s actual Presence at times of challenge, helps one to
reinforce and ignite the initial hope--and obliterate depression and
additionally suggest that even reciting this very Pasuk when one experiences
confusion, dejection or despondency can help a person get back on track to
refocus--there is Divine Purpose, and Ani Maamin--I believe with all my
heart in the details of the Shelosha Asar Ikarim--the Thirteen
Principles of Faith (which can also be recited more than once a day!).
we strengthen ourselves, we should not forget to strengthen others as well.
Remember--Kavey El Hashem…V’Kavey El Hashem--with faith--and joy!
At the outset of last week’s Parasha, we learn that after Yaakov Avinu saw
his great vision—“Vayashkaim Yaakov BaBoker –Yaakov arose early in
the morning” (Bereishis 28:18) in anticipation of a great new day in his
life. In huge contrast, we find exactly the same term “Vayashkaim Lavan
BaBoker –and Lavan arose early in the morning” (Bereishis 32:1) in order
to get away from Yaakov and everything he represented as quickly as
possible, and go back to his regular despicable lifestyle. Yaakov and Lavan
were at opposite ends of the spectrum—but each was in a great rush to get to
where he felt his life should be. We must take the lesson when we arise
each morning—there are those who will energize themselves each morning
leaning towards Lavan’s lifestyle, goal and purpose. We must balance this
approach with a hearty Vayashkaim BaBoker of our own very much
weighted in the direction of Yaakov Avinu--as Yaakov, looking forward to a
day of Hashem’s blessing and protection, a day of purpose, a day of
successfully meeting any challenges that face us, a day of fulfillment. As
we awake in the morning, let us appreciate that morning of Vayashkaim
Yaakov BaBoker—and make it our day’s guiding light as well!
A CUP RUNS OVER:
words of Dovid Hamelech in Tehillim “Kosi Revaya--my cup runs over”--HaRav
Avigdor Miler, Z’tl provides the following great insight (in his Sefer
Shaarei Orah I, p.96, as brought in Growth Through Tehillim, by
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita): “A cup can only run over if it becomes full
first. If there is a hole in the cup, it will never become full and will
never run over. This is a lesson for us to constantly remember the good
things that Hashem does for us. Don’t forget them. Then the good things
will add up--and the happiness will flow!
FROM OUR READERS:
it not interesting that the master trickster -- Lavan -- is upset when he is
the “victim” of trickery, while not caring a whit that he has always tricked
others all the time, causing THEM to be “victims” of his own trickery? Is
this not a great example of middah-kneged-middah--that he should
feel for himself what he bestowed on all around him?
was moved by the following excerpt from the Sefer Leading with Love--
the teachings of HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, Z’tl : “In his Derech Eitz
Chaim, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes that during the terrible period
of persecution known as “Tach v’Tat” (1648-1649), the Satan was
forced to explain why he was inflicting such persecution [on the Jewish
Nation]. He replied, “If you will agree to annul Torah study…I will stop the
persecution.” The Satan wanted there to be no Torah study. It pains him if
we learn Torah, for Torah is the main threat to the Satan’s existence. It is
for this reason that in every generation there are decrees against Torah
study.” HaRav Shteinman’s directive: Let’s Win the Battle!
FROM THINK HASHEM DAILY!
A THOUGHT TO HELP US THINK ABOUT HASHEM:
“Our Tafkid (purpose) in this world is to take a fleeting moment and
transform it into an eternal moment.”
HaRav Shach, Z’tl.
To subscribe to Think Hashem Daily, email: email@example.com
WHAT’S IN A NAME?:
In last week’s Parasha, the Torah accords special attention to names and
their meaning. The custom of many at the end of Shemone Esrei before
reciting Yiheyu LeRatzon and taking three steps back is to recite a
Pasuk from Tanach which begins and ends with the same letters as one’s name
begins and ends, or a Pasuk in which his name is itself mentioned. This
custom is referred to by the Chofetz Chaim (in the Sefer Shemiras
HaLashon II:8), the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (18:15), and even by the
Eliyahu Rabba to Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 124, seif katan 3). The
Maharsham brings that if one recites ‘his’ or ‘her’ Pasuk--the Torah itself
will save him from Gehenom! Hakhel Note: What’s in a name--plenty!
Perhaps it is for this reason that calling someone by a nickname even if it
is not derogatory--must be carefully reviewed, with a Shailah being asked in
any question of a doubt. Making a nick in a name is not a Torah
The following D’var Torah on last week’s Parasha, was given over by HaRav
Meir Schuck, Z’tl, the Rav of Temesvar, Romania in 1943. It was found among
“Vayeitzei Yaakov…Vayeilech--Many Meforshim explain the double
expression of Vayeitzei and Vayeilech. Perhaps the Torah is
giving an understanding of the context of Yaakov’s trip. It is not just a
description of Yaakov leaving home--it is a description of a very difficult
state. His brother back home is out to kill him. He is going to Lavan who is
untrustworthy and is ready to uproot his identity and uniqueness. He is
traveling on a road that is full of wild animals…. Having told us the
context of Yaakov’s trip, we are also told that Yaakov tries to protect
himself from the danger--he takes stones and surrounds himself. He does what
he can. But the message of the Torah is much deeper. The Pasuk tells us that
Yaakov can sleep (Vayachalom)--in the middle of all of the danger he
goes to sleep. His Emunah and Bitachon let him sleep! He then dreams. People
dream of what they are busy with during the day. Yaakov dreams of Malochim
and Hashem’s supervision at the end of the ladder. Yaakov doesn’t dream of
danger--he dreams of Hashem’s protection. Going up and down the ladder in
life is all up to Hashem. He gives life and He gives us salvation. Masei
Avos Siman Labonim!”
ENJOYING OLAM HAZEH!
reported that when HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl, was told of a certain
gvir who gave in the 5-6 figures daily to Tzedakah, he was very
impressed, and added: “I don’t know who will have a greater Olam Haba, but I
am privileged to learn Torah all day--so I don’t think that he can have a
greater Olam Hazeh than I do!”
Additional Note: The Torah records that the fifth son of Leah was Yissachar,
and her sixth son was Zevulun. We know that Yissachar symbolizes the
diligent study of Torah, and Zevulun --its unwavering support. We may
suggest that there is a great lesson in the juxtaposition of their births.
As great as the support of Torah is—what is first needed is the assiduous
dedication to Torah--its support is an opportunity that is only thereafter
then afforded to us. We should hold in the highest esteem those who apply
themselves to full time study—for only after the birth of Yissachar is there
an opportunity of Zevulun to come into existence. First and foremost, the
Torah is an ‘Eitz Chaim He’ in and of itself--we are then blessed
with the opportunity to be machazikim ba—who grasp on to it by
supporting those who study. When you are approached asking to help support
a Yeshiva or student—remember it is only after Yissachar that Zevulun
Naftali Kaplan, Shlita, provides a wonderful suggestion for improvement in
judging others favorably: Try to find and write down two or three examples a
day (day after day) in which you judge another in a favorable light--even if
the favorable light is a highly unlikely one. The cheshbon is a
simple one. Every person has faults, and knows of them. Yet, he tries to
justify or explain his actions whether for this reason, that reason or
various and sundry reasons. Every person has his own background and his own
experiences. Chazal teach (Avos 1: 6): “Hevei Dan Es Kol Ha’adam L’Chaf
Zechus--judge the entire person with favor”. HaRav Yaakov Yitzchok
Ruderman, Z’tl, explains that Ha’adam refers to the entirety of the
other person--which is something that no other person can know. You may
understand 20% of another person, or perhaps 40%, 60%, or even 80%. However,
you will never understand 100% of another person’s thoughts and actions.
Moreover, when one judges another unfavorably, he is feeling superiority
over that person--and that is wrong. On the other hand, Chazal clearly
provide the wonderful reality that when one judges another favorably, he is
judged favorably in Heaven as well--and this is for eternity! There are
exactly two weeks until Chanukah--try writing down two or three examples a
day, and see whether you can build your mental muscles in Dan L’Chaf Zechus!
The Bnei Lavan bitterly complained that Yaakov had taken their father’s
wealth and made for himself “Es Kol HaKavod Hazeh” (Bereishis 31:1).
The Vilna Gaon asks why the Torah uses the word “Kavod” here, when we know
that, as Chazal teach--”Kavod is Torah”. The Gaon answers that the word
Kavod is, in fact, written here without a “Vav”--to teach us that while
wealth may appear to be a source of Kavod, there is really something very
much lacking in the Kavod that is limited to wealth alone. Indeed, by using
the term Kavod with the Vav missing, the Torah is indicating that even the
sons of Lavan should have known better--and realized that money in and of
itself is not honor. However, we do ask Hashem for a Parnassah BeKavod
(with a Vav) both in bentsching and in Birkas HaChodesh. We suggest that
there are two aspects of wealth which are afforded a higher station:
recognition that Hashem has appointed this or that wealthy person as a
“trustee” to properly distribute the entrusted assets (See Igeres
one acts properly and honestly with his money (the Pachim Ketanim of
Yaakov), then the money becomes sanctified and elevated as an object of
treat our assets and our wealth in the capacity of a trustee, and with
utmost honesty and integrity--then the word Kavod in our Tefillos can have a
Vav in it--because then it is complete!
TESHUVAH MOMENT: Sunday
is the 10th day of Kislev--two months from the 10th of Tishrei --Yom Kippur
(!). We may add that it is certainly not just another one of those
coincidences that the Haftorah for this Shabbos (according to Minhag
Ashkenaz) actually incorporates the Shabbos Shuva Haftarah of “Shuva
Yisrael Ahd Hashem Elokecha--return, Israel, to Hashem your G-d.” The
Yetzer Hara, disguising himself as Mother Nature, the cold of winter [for
those in the northern hemisphere] or whatever else you may want to call him
(Chazal say he has seven names) makes sure to remind us that we’ve got to
slow down now--after all, birds fly south, animals hibernate, it’s dark when
we wake up in the morning and already dark again in the late afternoon by
the time we get home. He shows us how cold, nasty or treacherous it is to
go outside to the shiur or do the chesed, and how easy--and “important”--it
is to turn over in bed just one (or two) more times. Our response must be
that we are not weakened by the external stimuli, by what the world looks
like or does around us, but instead remember Shuva
Yisrael--always keep your priorities straight, and keep the proper
focus. Let us invigorate ourselves with a fresh breath of cold air--as we
invite in the challenges of winter with a renewal of our own, personalized
Avodas Hashem in a way that only we ourselves would know---and be proud of!
WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
A. How many possible prohibitions could one violate by opening a food or
drink packaging or container on Shabbos that should have been opened before
Shabbos? The Sefer Orchos
Shabbos lists six possible Melachos: (i) Makeh
BePatish--completing a utensil, (ii) Boneh--building,
the previously existing structure, (iv) Kore’ah--tearing,
to size, and (vi) Mocheik--erasing
letters on the container. Thus, when attempting to open anything on Shabbos
that was mistakenly not opened before Shabbos--from a can of tuna fish to a
bottle of black cherry soda--from a box of Matzos to a bag of potato
chips--and from a freeze pop to a can of beer, one must be very certain that
his Rav or Posek permits what he is about to do and the manner in which he
proposes to do it. Hakhel Note: Many Poskim do not allow the opening of a
soda bottle when a ring is left on the bottle as the cap is removed.
Accordingly, as part of the Erev
Shabbos Checklist of many, one will find: Open soda bottles--which
means taking a knife or other sharp instrument before Shabbos and completely
separate the ring from the cap (if one simply twists off the cap it will
allow some fizz to escape, taking away from the complete Oneg Shabbos of the
drink!). One reader proudly advised us that he doesn’t remember “even one
occasion when I forgot to open soda bottles before Shabbos--and I never had
to come to open the bottle in a strange manner on Shabbos itself--by poking
holes in the bottle or otherwise”. Hakhel Note: Let the Shabbos observer
beware--and keep assiduously to his/her Erev Shabbos Checklist!
B. From Sefer Refuas
Yisrael by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita: On Shabbos: “…someone
suffering from heartburn may not drink a bicarbonate beverage such as
Alka-Seltzer (which may pass as a seltzer beverage), or eat an antacid
tablet such as Tums (which may pass as candy). Although these preparations
are edible, because they are primarily used as medicine (in this case, to
relieve heartburn), they are included in the prohibition, and may not be
taken on Shabbos.” We asked Rabbi Bodner about the permissibility of
sucking cough drops on Shabbos. He responded as follows: “It may be that
cough drops would not be treated like Tums, as people may suck on cough drops in place of
candy. If this is so, perhaps cough drops would be considered ma’achel
bri’im and would be permitted even if one eats it for a sore throat. We
need a factual determination as to how the average person eats it.” Hakhel
Note: One should accordingly consult with his Rav or Posek as to the
permissibility of taking cough drops on Shabbos.
C. We received a request from one of our readers that everyone properly
appreciate the ba’alei kriyah in their shuls—who spend so much time, and put
in so much effort to be mezakeh us with a proper laining, including proper
trop, dikduk and pronunciation. May we suggest that men in Shul should go
out of their way after laining to express their Hakaras HaTov to the
baal kriyah, with a personal compliment relating to the particular laining,
if possible, as well. Whether they get paid or not is really not the
issue—it is your thanks and
middos tovos that must be expressed!
D. As Chanukah is fast approaching, we note that Chazal (Shabbos 23B)
teach: “HaRagil B’Ner Havyan
Lai Banim Talmidei Chachomim--if one is careful to properly perform the
Mitzvos of Ner Chanukah and Ner Shabbos, he will have children who are
Talmidei Chachomim. Rashi (ibid.) explains that this is based upon the
Pasuk (Mishlei 6:23): “Ki
Ner Mitzvah V’Torah Ohr--through the Ner Mitzvah of Shabbos and Chanukah
will come the light of Torah.” It would certainly be an auspicious time for
one to begin to study in a careful and meaningful way the Halachos of Neiros
Shabbos and the Halachos of Neiros Chanukah--whatever your particular
reward may be--it will certainly be bright! Lest you think this is a ‘drasha’--what
we have stated is brought in the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim
671, seif katan 1)!
WE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING POINTS AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA, VAYEITZEI:
A. In the Parasha, Yaakov Avinu pledges that whatever he is given, he will
take Ma’aser from. The Divrei
Siach brings that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita was asked the following
question: Shimon owes money to Reuven, and is not paying him. Reuven does
not want Shimon to be held accountable for gezel, and
does not want to be involved in a machlokes with
Shimon. Accordingly, for purposes of Shalom, he wants to waive the loan and
deduct it from his Ma’aser obligation. Can he do so? HaRav Kanievsky
answered that if one realizes that he cannot collect on a debt due to him,
he cannot deduct it from Ma’aser.
B. At the outset of the Parasha, Rashi teaches that the Torah goes out of
its way to state that Yaakov left
the place, to teach that when a Tzaddik leaves a place, it leaves an
impact. Why was this lesson taught to us by Yaakov Avinu--and not by
Avrohom and Yitzchok? HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that Yaakov
Avinu was an Ish Tam Yosheiv
Ohalim--one who spent his
time in the Bais HaMidrash, and would not otherwise be known to the people
in the same way as others. Nevertheless, we must know that his departure
from a place makes a lasting impression-- in the same way as Avrohom Avinu
who was known to all!
C. The Pasuk (Bereishis 29:1) teaches: “Vayisa
Yaakov Raglav--and Yaakov lifted his feet.” Rashi comments that Yaakov
felt especially good over the Besora Tova that he had received. We should
appreciate the lesson of how important it is to relate Besoros Tovos to
others, and additionally, to make people feel good!
D. If Yaakov was told by Rivka not to come back from Lavan’s house until
she called for him--why is Yaakov held accountable for not showing Kibbud
Av, to the extent that Yosef was separated from him for the same 22 years
that he did not demonstrate Kibud Av V’Aim to his parents--after all, was he
not listening to his mother by
not coming home until she called for him? HaRav Kanievsky incredibly
explains that it was Yaakov’s responsibility to daven that he
should not be put into a position in which he would not be able to honor his
E. Rashi (Bereishis 28:17) explains that Yaakov Avinu came back to the
place of the Beis HaMikdash when he realized he had passed it, exclaiming
“Can it be that I passed by the place where my fathers davened and I did not
daven there?!” HaRav Kanievsky teaches that we learn from here that one
should daven in a place that a Tzaddik davened, and that it is a segulah to
daven in a place where Tefillos previously had been accepted.
F. How could Rochel have given the Simanim to
Leah, when she knew that Yaakov thought that he was marrying her? She was
helping Leah--but was she not hurting Yaakov!? On this point, HaRav
Kanievsky teaches that Rochel understood that Yaakov would accept Leah as
his wife as well--so that in this way she was saving her sister and at the
same time fulfilling Yaakov’s quest for marriage. As the Pasuk shows, she
was in fact correct--as Yaakov remained married to Leah, who gave birth to
the majority of his children!
G. Lavan told Yaakov (Bereishis 29:14): “Ach
Atzmi U’vesari Attah--you are my ‘flesh and blood’--and Yaakov stayed
with him for a month.” If Lavan can say this--all the more so, must we
consider our relatives--of whom the Navi expressly exclaims (Yeshaya 58:7):
“U’Mibesarcha Lo Tisalam.”--do
not hide yourself from your kin!
H. The name Yissocher is not pronounced Yissoscher.
The Chazon Ish told the Ba’al Kriyah in his Shul, however, to lein it
Yissoscher only in Parashas Vayeitzei. HaRav Kanievsky explains that a
possible reason for this could be that Yissoscher gave a Shin in his name to
his son Yov--so that his name would be changed to Yashuv, a more appropriate
name for him (as Yov was the name of an Avodah Zara at the time). Once he
had given over the Shin after the events of this week’s Parasha, we refer to
him as Yissocher--without the Shin.
I. We find that Yissocher is born before Zevulun. Zevulun’s great zechus is
in supporting Torah--but Torah has to come first, in order for it to be
Sefer Toldos Shimshon by
HaRav Shimshon Chayim (B’R Nachman Michoel) Nachmani, Z’tl, writes that
although the world stands on three things--Torah, Avodah and Gemilas
Chasodim--we must remember that Torah comes first, for from Torah comes
everything else. It may be the role of some to support Torah, and the role
of yet others to be Gomel Chesed--but Torah Jews have the study of Torah as
J. Upon reaching Yaakov, Lavan complains to him, Vatignov
Osi (Bereishis 31:27). Literally, you have stolen me. Rashi explains
that this means ‘Ganavta Es
Da’ati’--you tricked me, or you deceived me. The lesson is a great
one--when one tricks or deceives another--it is so severe that it is as if
he has stolen him himself!
K. After all of Lavan’s complaints about Yaakov running away from Lavan, and
of not allowing him to kiss his children, and say ‘Good bye’ to them, the
Pasuk records that Vayashkeim
Lavan Baboker--the next morning, Lavan got up early to leave. His
actions were clearly not in-synch with his words. A person’s true feelings
and true priorities can best be seen not by what he says--but by how he
acts. If Tefillah or Torah study is important--would he not make every
effort to be among those who ‘turn on the lights’, rather than those ‘who
have time’, or who come a few minutes late? If Shemiras HaLashon is
important enough--how often does he ask Shailos on the Shemiras HaLashon
Shailah Hotline and to others? If giving Tzedakah is important, would one
take the initiative of giving even when not asked…? If Lavan got up early in
the morning to leave--showing his true essence, we too, have to demonstrate
L. Yaakov Avinu told Lavan “Im
Asher Timzah…--with whomsoever you find your gods, he shall not live.”
Rashi cites the Midrash which states that because of this curse, Rochel died
shortly thereafter. This teaches how careful one must be with his
words--even if he feels totally in the right and otherwise fully justified.
We must take to heart that life and death are in the hands of the tongue--it
is not just an adage--it is a fact!
M. After Lavan accused Yaakov of stealing his idols, and did not
subsequently find anything to verify his accusation, Yaakov did not say
anything that would antagonize Lavan or stir up further animosity. He
merely defended himself and restated his own innocence. Once again, the
Chofetz Chaim teaches that we learn from here that a person should avoid
becoming involved in a dispute even
when he knows that he is right. (ibid.)
we encounter two Chasunahs in this week’s Parasha, both of Leah and of
Rochel, we provide below several informative questions and answers from
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (Sefer Derech
Sicha ), relating to Chasunahs:
Does a Chassan who is “Domeh
LeMelech” have to nevertheless stand up for his father?
Yes--for even a king must stand up for his father. In fact, according to
Rav Elyashiv, Z’tl, a Chassan must also stand up before a Talmid Chacham,
even though a Melech does not. This is because a Chassan is only “Domeh
LeMelech--like a king”, but is not fully a king!
Does the Chassan have a mitzvah to be Mesameach himself?
appears that it is a Machlokes Tenoim (based
on a Sugyah in Maseches Avodim Chapter 2)
order to properly fulfill the Mitzvah, must one be Mesameach both the
Chassan and the Kallah?
Mesameach either one fulfills the Mitzvah and brings all of the reward.
it permissible to turn down a Kibbud at a Chasunah?
one can turn down a Kibbud at a Chasunah, except for the offer to lead
In the order of “Ailu Devarim
She’Adam Ocheil Peiroseihem BaOlam Hazeh” that we recite every morning,
we recite “Bikur Cholim,
Hachnosas Kallah, U’levayas HaMeis.” Why is Hachnosas Kallah placed in
between Bikur Cholim and a Levaya?
In the name of his father, the Steipeler--this teaches us that if one who is
sick gets involved in Hachnosas Kallah, it can literally save his life.
Should a Chassan avoid going to Shul during the Sheva Brachos week, because
if he goes, the Tzibbur will not say Tachanun?
The Mishna Berurah states that a Chassan should not go to Shul, so that the
Tzibbur will say Tachanun. However, the Chazon Ish states that this is not
the Minhag--and that Chassanim should go to Shul [for a discussion as to the
Mishna Berurah’s intent here, see Piskei
Teshuvos Vol. II, p.74]. Hakhel Note: Each person must consult his own
Rav or Posek.
A TORAH JEW’S THANKS:
Another of the many foundations for life that we learn in this week’s
Parasha, was Leah Imeinu’s exuberant expression when she gave birth to
Yehuda: HaPa’am Odeh Es
Hashem--this time I will thank and express my appreciative submission to
Hashem! We present briefly below three important explanations of these
words, and would most welcome your explanations as well:
1. Leah realized that the fourth son granted to her was beyond her
allotment--after all there were 12 sons to be born to four wives--making
each wife the mother of three boys. With this appreciation--that she had
received more than her allotment--she gained a fully new appreciation and
picture as well. Even the first son, the second son and the third son were
undeserved and a great gift from Hashem. Were her meager deeds indeed
worthy of a first miracle, a second miracle, or a third miracle? Leah thus
asked herself--HaPa’am Odeh
Es Hashem--should it be only this time that I thank Hashem?! Proper
thanks must always be expressed for the blessings that we have--even if they
are repeated. Because we were able to see, hear, eat or think
yesterday--does it mean that the miracle necessarily must recur today? HaPa’am teaches
us that the gifts should not be viewed on a ‘wholesale’ basis--but rather
should be scrutinized and appreciated in an individualized way. (based upon
the teachings of HaRav Shmuel Ehrenfeld--the Mattersdorfer Rav, Z’t’l)
2. In many of our Tefillos during the day, we thank Hashem for
something--and then ask for more (Modim, and the HaRachamans after
bentsching, for example). This of course demonstrates our sincere belief
that Hashem is the continuous Source of Blessing at all times. However,
sometimes we should express our thanks without any additional ‘ulterior
motive’--of more blessing, more benefits or more rewards. Pure thanks and
thanks alone--unaccompanied by anything else-- over an event, occurrence, or
yeshua is a pure appreciation of “Ki
Mimcha Hakol--You have provided me with this blessing and I express my
sincere and heartfelt thanks! (based upon the teachings of HaRav Meir
Schuck--the Temesvarer Rav, Z’tl)
3. Leah did not want to let this great moment of appreciation and joy pass
by as a moment in history. She wanted it very much to be a part of her for
the rest of her life--and she did so by making that her son’s name. When
she called out her son’s name--for supper, for an errand, to go to bed, she
would remember that Hashem is to be thanked for His blessings. There is
really a dual message here. Firstly, we should find reference points or
milestones within our day to help guide us so that our days are properly and
meaningfully directed--and so that we do not get lost in insignificant
trivialities and diversionary trifles through which a day’s events can be
detoured and minimized. Secondly, we should appreciate the significance of
names (perhaps the meanings of our friends/’families’ names that we call
upon can be part of our daily milestones, as we call their names). Indeed,
Chazal teach that it is wrong to be “mechane
shem”--to call someone by other than his name, even if it is not
necessarily condescending. A person’s name identifies him in this world and
the Next World--and we should very much express it as such.
We recall that the lesson to us of Leah’s naming of Yehuda is so important,
so crucial, so pivotal--that the appellation “Jew” has stayed by our side
around the world-over for 2,000 years. Through our proper appreciation and
accomplishments from the lessons of this title--may we deservingly go back
to the title of B’nei Yisrael--speedily and in our day!
In this week’s Parasha, we learn how Yaakov Avinu dealt with business
matters--with complete reliance on Hashem. In today’s economic climate, many
of us may be faced with financial strain, and be placed in situations in
which our honesty and integrity are put to the test--sometimes to a smaller,
and sometimes to a larger, extent. We must understand that whatever happens
to each one of us on a financial basis is--just as the rest of our lives--Hashgacha
Pratis for us, and that if we were meant to lose $3,156.23, that is exactly
what we are to lose, or to gain $7,248.99, that is exactly what we are
supposed to gain. Of course, even who we lose the money to--or gain the
money from--is part of the very same unfathomable Divine Providence.
An important Avodah in these troubled times for us is to understand that
everything comes from One Source and Only One Source. If
we remember Hashem by reciting Tehillim Chapter 23 before we eat, by
reciting Birchas HaMazon with increased Kavannah, and by realizing and
appreciating from time to time that every ounce of food, our shelter, our
clothing, all comes from Hashem Yisborach. By understanding and
appreciating the relative wealth that we do have, we will move closer to the
great accomplishment of a close relationship with Hashem Yisborach.
In order to bring this point home, we remind ourselves of the following
popular mashal from the Sefer Orchos
Tzadikim in Shaar HaSimcha:
“This may be likened to 100 blind individuals walking one after the other,
with each one placing his hand on the shoulder of the one in front of him,
with one person who can see at the head of the line leading all in back of
him. Everyone on line knows that though he is placing his hand on the
shoulder of his friend, and that his friend is in front of him, he is not
really being led by his friend. Rather, all are being led by that one man
who could see at the head of the line. If this first man would move
away...they would all stumble and fall.”
This, the Orchos Tzadikim teaches, is what every thinking person must take
to heart. He must realize that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is the Leader, and that we
are the people who cannot see following in back. Although we may have our
hand on the shoulder of the one in front of us, we may be helped by our
“friends” (i.e., bosses, business colleagues, partners, customers and
clients, etc.), in fact, no one of these friends could succeed but for
Hashem Yisborach at the beginning of the line, Who lovingly, unswervingly,
and with limitless omnipotence and omniscience, knows how to lead!
Hakhel Note: If this is so true in the realm of finance, business and
money--oh, how true it also is in the realm of talents, capabilities,
health…and life itself!
Orchos Chaim LaRosh (20), the Rosh instructs: “Yaniach
Kol Asakav VeYispallel--one must put to the side all of his business
dealings and all matters that could distract him, in order to engage in
direct and meaningful prayer to Hashem.” Perhaps, at least before beginning
Shemone Esrei, we should think of these four words--”Yaniach Kol
Asakav Veyispallel--clearing our heads for the great and
incomparable opportunity before us!”
Every day, three times a day, at the end of Shemone Esrei we exclaim: “Asei
LeMa’an Shemecha, Asei LeMa’an Yeminecha, Asei LeMa’an Kedushasecha, Asei
LeMa’an Torasecha.” We plead with Hashem to bring us the Yeshuos
that we need--not only for our sakes, but for Hashem’s name, Hashem’s power,
Hashem’s holiness and Hashem’s Torah. Let us resolve to have great Kavannah
in each one of these pleas--as we so longingly look to Hashem to bring the
TAKING A CALL…
a call while with friends or even the (supposedly) surreptitious glance down
at a screen--aside from being rude--carries the implication that they are
second to whomever is on the line.” [Excerpted from The Evolving
Digital Challenge by Rabbi Nechemiah Gottlieb, Shlita].
OBVIOUS QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
In this week’s Parasha, after Yosef is born, Yaakov asks Lavan permission to
leave and make his way home (Bereishis 30:25). We then learn of Yaakov’s
miracle-filled ‘deal’ with Lavan for payment. Yet, it is not until many
Pesukim later (ibid. 31:13) that a Malach appears to Yaakov and instructs
him to leave and return to Eretz Yisrael. How could/why would Yaakov have
initiated his plans for departure and return to Eretz Yisrael without
instructions from his mother (who said she would call for him when it was
safe--see ibid. 27:45), or without having received instruction from
Hashem--which apparently only happened much later?!
If a person works hard to provide good service, he expects the appreciation
of a timely payment besides a sincere expression of thanks. Many who are in
a service business (doctors, lawyers, accountants, consultants, craftsmen,
plumbers, electricians, etc.) are the first to pay their bills to other
service providers--because they know how sorely and even hurt they feel when
they are not paid on time. As we look at Lavan’s foolish and rotten
conduct, in withholding from Yaakov whatever he could for as long as he
could, we are reminded of the concluding words of the Rambam in Hilchos
Sechirus (the Laws of Hired Workers). There, the Rambam refers to Yaakov as
‘Yaakov ‘Hatzaddik’, and states that Yaakov worked Bechol Kocho--with all of
his strength for Lavan. Though the wicked Lavan tried to avoid payment,
Hashem Himself acknowledged Yaakov’s steadfast and honest efforts and Yaakov
was rewarded even in this world with “Vayifrotz HaIsh Me’od--he
became very wealthy.” By bringing this as the concluding Halacha here, we
can suggest that the Rambam intends to impart a great lesson to all
workers. Dedication and integrity in the workplace should be rewarded by
our employers or those who hire us. If we act as we are supposed to, then
we are Tzaddikim--and we should be dealt with accordingly by those who hired
us. Even if, however, we are treated more like Lavan treated Yaakov, then
Hashem Himself will get involved in a way that He deems fit and either
despoil the Lavan we are dealing with for our benefit--or take care of us in
some other very special way---as the Pasuk unusually emphasizes--Me’od
Me’od--his situation *very much* improved. In these difficult financial
times, let us take the lesson of Yaakov HaTzaddik--and may we not only give
Nachas to Hashem and reap the rewards for our conduct in the Next World, but
touch the Me’od very much so in This World as well!
In these changing times, we must emphasize and overemphasize Bitachon as the
mainstay of our existence. We once again provide by the following link
Pesukei Bitachon for one to review, which have been excerpted from the Sefer
Hamevorach Yisborach. A person will typically find one or more
Pesukim which especially move him based upon his Techunas Henefesh,
and his past experience. One should definitely keep a Pasuk of Bitachon
close to him for reiteration in the Ikvasa D’meshicha.
Note: Many have seen the wonderful work by Rabbi Shalom Arush, Shlita,
(translated by Rabbi Leizer Brody, Shlita) The Garden of Emunah: A
Practical Guide to Life. A careful reading of this book can certainly
change one’s perspective on life. Of course, one’s questions and thoughts
relating to the deep and essential subject matter should be shared and
talked through with one’s Rav or Posek. The following is just a brief
excerpt from this superb Sefer:
“Sorrow, hardship, and deprivation are perfect loving kindness when they are
the agents that bring about one’s Tikkun - the correction and perfection of
the soul, the greatest achievement on earth. When we accept life’s
difficulties with Emuna - calmly and happily, knowing that Hashem is doing
everything to help us achieve the loftiest of aspirations-we become
candidates for eternal happiness and inner peace, in this world and in the
athlete is prepared to implement grueling demands from a seemingly-merciless
coach; not only that, but a top athlete usually loves and respects his or
her coach. Why? The athlete knows the coach, and trusts that the coach
wants to build him or her into a winner and champion. We should have the
same knowledge of and trust in Hashem.
“Imagine that we’re driving a car and want to make a right turn, but Hashem
blocks the way; we decide to make a left turn, but Hashem has set up an
obstacle to block that way also. Without Emuna, we’d be subject to anger,
frustration, and disappointment.
with Emuna, we believe that life’s stumbling blocks, barriers, and
hindrances are agents of Hashem’s Divine Providence. We don’t sink to
frustration, anger, and depression when armed with the knowledge that life’s
setbacks are milestones, guiding lights, and personal gifts from Hashem!”
FROM THE SHA’AR HEBECHINA:
We provide below some essential excerpts from the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos
in the Sha’ar HeBechina--the Gate of Reflection--in which we are
urged to consider the constant goodness we receive in this world. The
translation is from the highly recommended Duties of the Heart
(Feldheim, two volumes, translation by Rabbi Daniel Haberman):
“Reflect further on the good which Hashem has bestowed on man by [granting
him] speech and coherence of language. Through speech he can express what
is in his soul and innermost self, and can communicate with others. The
tongue is the heart’s pen and the mind’s messenger. Without speech, a man
would have no social relationship with his fellow, and would live the
[solitary] life of an animal, through speech it becomes apparent that one
man is superior to another. Through speech, bonds of friendship are formed
among men, and covenants are made between Hashem and His servants. Through
speech a man turns from his mistaken path and seeks atonement for his sins.
The way a man speaks is the best proof of his worthiness or unworthiness.
It has been said that a man [in essence] is his heart and tongue. Speech is
the defining element of a human being. For a man is defined as “a living,
speaking, and mortal being”; it is speech that distinguishes man from
“…The third reason [people fail to perceive Hashem’s graces] is that
misfortune befalls them in this world and harm comes to them in body and
property. They fail to discern how these serve as means to their ultimate
good, [nor do they appreciate] the benefits to be gained from the trial and
discipline [which these provide], as it says: “Happy is the man whom You
discipline, Hashem, whom You teach from Your Torah” (Tehillim 94:12). They
forget that they owe their own existence and all that belongs to them to the
graces which the Creator-- in His generosity and love--bestows on them, and
that His decrees upon them are just, in accordance with the dictates of His
wisdom. They are resentful when His judgment is visited upon them; they do
not praise Him when His loving-kindness is manifested to them; and their
ignorance brings them to deny both the benefits and the Benefactor.
Ignorance may even bring many of them to assume that they are wiser than He
is in regard to His acts and the various created things which He created for
their benefit. How closely they resemble in this regard men who are not able
to see and who are brought to a house prepared for them with everything that
could benefit them: Everything in it is arranged perfectly; it is fully
equipped and ideally suited to benefit them and provide for their welfare.
In addition, effective medications--and a skilled physician to administer
them--are provided for their treatment, so that their sight be restored.
Nevertheless, the men neglect to undergo treatment for their eyes, and
disregard the advice of the physician who was to treat them. They walk
about the house, handicapped greatly by their blindness, stumbling over the
very things that had been prepared for their benefit, falling on their
faces; some suffer bruises, and others broken limbs. They suffer much, and
their troubles are compounded. They complain bitterly about the owner and
builder of the house and condemn his actions. In their eyes he has been
negligent and a poor leader, and they believe that his motivation had not
been to do them good and show them kindness, but to cause them pain and
injury. This leads them to deny the benevolence and kindness of the owner.
As the Wise One said: “Even while the fool walks on the road, he has no
sense, and he says of everyone: ‘He is a fool’ (Koheles 10:3). Since this
is so, it is the obligation of men of wisdom and knowledge to rouse
those who fail to perceive the favors of the Creator and to teach people to
recognize these blessings intellectually. For there are many blessings
which people possess and yet fail to profit from altogether--do not fully
enjoy--simply because they are not aware of them and do not appreciate their
value. Once they are alerted to the many benefits of these blessings--and
what had been hidden from them is revealed to them, they will sing the
praises of and express full gratitude to their Benefactor--and as a result
find pleasure and enjoyment in this world--and a fitting reward in the
Note: Please reread each one of these excerpts!
A TESHUVAH MOMENT:
Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yosef Viener, Shlita, explained how to defeat
the Yetzer Hara, hands down. One does it ten minutes at a time. The Yetzer
Hara’s role is not to go away as you get older--he may change his technique
or his goal--but his task is a 120 year one. Remember, it is a matter of one
putting his foot down against his worst enemy. If one is incapable of doing
so on a one shot basis--he will always be successful ten minutes at a
time. Hakhel Note: To energize oneself in this area, one’s mantra should
be: “Chazak V’Ematz”!
FROM THINK HASHEM DAILY:
If we spend less time
trying to make this world
a better place to live in,
and more time
trying to make ourselves
better persons to live with,
the world would be
a better place to live in.
(A Candle By Day - S Silverstein)
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MAKING OTHERS HAPPY:
does one make others happy? Chazal (Ta’anis 22A) teach that Eliyahu HaNavi
showed Rebbi Beroka two men who were Mezuman L’Chayei Olam Haba. The
reason for this was that they were Semeichim U’Mesamchim B’nei Adam--they
were happy and made others happy. It is evident that in order to make others
happy--one must be happy himself!
helps the impoverished--we recite this phrase prior to our Shacharis
Shemone Esrei. to A reader pointed out to us from the Sha’ar
HaKavannos: ahl pi kabbalah, that our Kavannah in these words
should be that we join together with the Shechina which is also
‘impoverished’ with us in Galus--for the Shechinah is now too without a home
in this world. We affirm with Emunah Sheleimah that together--the Shechinah
and us--will be brought back to our true and great wealth--and this
Many may be familiar
with the outstanding Sefer
Prayers for Special
Occasions, truly a
must for every
home. By the following
we provide one Tefillah from the Sefer: Tefillah
L’Kabalas Yissurim B’Ahava (Prayer for Accepting Suffering With Love),
culled from the Sefer Shomer Emunim.
MECHALKEL CHAIM B’CHESED:
It is important for each and every one of us to pay specific attention to
the words “Mechalkel Chaim B’Chesed--Who sustains the living with
kindness”, which we recite three times daily in Shemone Esrei. We should
appreciate on a personal level the great kindnesses which we receive from
Hashem on a daily basis. Indeed, if one would sit down, and begin writing
the Chasodim down, he would realize that the detail would never stop. Let us
not be counted among those who recite these words as mere lip service
without thought--but among those who stop for a moment and think of just a
few of the Chasodim that he has experienced since the last Shemone Esrei!
This week, we continue learning of the quality of Emes L’Yaakov. In
fact, the quality of ‘Titein Emes L’Yaakov’ is the Tenth Middah of
Hashem, as explained in the Sefer Tomer Devorah: “…and to those who
conduct themselves in this world with uprightness, Hashem also conducts
towards them with this quality of truth, having mercy on them in a
way that is upright and just. So, too, must a person act towards his
fellow in a way that is upright and true, never perverting the justice of
his friend. He should have true mercy on him, just as Hashem has
true mercy on his creatures [even of] average stature.” We see from the
Tomer Devorah that even Hashem’s truth relates back to the truth--of mercy.
If this is the truth that we seek from Hashem--this is the truth that we
should mete out to others!
THAT EXTRA LEVEL OF PATIENCE!
HaRav Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, in the Sefer Tomer Devorah writes that
the first two Middos of Hashem--described in the Pesukim of Mi Keil
Kamocha (Michah 7:18-20, poignantly recited at Tashlich) both relate to
the Middah of Savlanus--of the patience that Hashem has with us. HaRav
Cordevero explains that not only does Hashem bear our iniquities without
displaying intolerance, anger or insult (allowing us to continuously move
our limbs during the moment of sin itself!)--but also allows the
mashchisim--the destructive creatures created by the sin to continue to
exist. As the Tomer Devorah writes: “The strict letter of the law
would justify that Hashem state-- ‘I do not nourish destructive creatures!
Go to him who made you, and derive your sustenance from him!’ It is thus
with tremendous tolerance that Hashem conducts this world. From this, man
must learn to what extent he, too, should be tolerant and bear the yoke of
his fellow and the wrongdoing committed against him--even if the wrongdoing
remains. He should tolerate one who sinned against him until the sinner
actually mends his ways or the sin disappears of its own accord....”
Hakhel Note: We can all put this into real practice--EMULATING HASHEM’S
PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!
The Chofetz Chaim spent so much of his life dedicated to helping others
avoid Shemiras HaLashon. He obviously wanted the impact of his words to lead
us to Moshiach. If a person finds himself generally adhering, or wanting to
adhere to the words of the Chofetz Chaim--we may suggest that he put some
additional aids in place to assist him with his honored and hallowed goal.
One method would be for a person to fine himself if he realizes he spoke or
wrote something that was a violation of the laws of Shemiras HaLashon (and
perhaps even if it was a ‘gray area’). Supplementing this idea, or perhaps
in the alternative, one can pledge bli neder an amount per day to the cause
of Shemiras HaLashon (such as The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation), and
give the aggregate amount on a periodic basis. Help bring the Geulah to
yourself and to your people!
CHOFETZ CHAIM MAKES THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL POWERFUL POINTS:
When a person looks at his friend, he can see a physical being--human,
mortal, frail and insignificant. All the more so will he take this view if
the person has done something negative (especially if that negativity was
addressed towards him). Hashem, however, knows better--for He knows that
the root of the Nishmas Yisrael is Gadol VeNorah Ad Me’od.
Indeed, the Zohar writes several times that the source of the Nishmas
Yisrael is LeMa’alah BeMakom Norah Ad Me’od. It is for this
reason that Hashem views our importance and loves us--Ad LiMe’od as
When a person judges his friend below, he stands in judgment above as
well--so that with one’s very words he decides his own case in Shomayim--the
place that counts.
person must not only judge his friend favorably--but must use all of his
kochos, all of his strength to do so. One must picture himself as the
object of judgment--and as people suspect him of this or accuse him of
that--he should imagine how he would deflect and reject their words with
this reason, that rationale, these grounds and those explanations.
Ultimately, [as the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim writes], our goal is to
give Nachas Ruach to Hashem. A father never wants his child to be looked
down upon, degraded, shamed or disgraced. Hashem is much more than a loving
father--He loves us beyond human love. We must follow suit to the greatest
extent possible--with each and every one of His children!
A TESHUVAH MOMENT:
like sushi? Even if you do, you certainly would not like that to be your
first name or even your nickname. Yet, Eisav was known by what he
ate--why?! Rabbi Mordechai Hammer explains that when we take a closer look
at his sale of the Bechor-Right for a humble meal, we realize that this was
not an act of absolute desperation upon which Yaakov was c’v taking
full advantage. As we see from the Pasuk, this was a thought-through
decision of ‘Lama Zeh Li Bechora--man’s end is death and so the
pleasures of Olam Hazeh shall be my focus and that of my descendants’. To
be sure, after Eisav ate and for the ensuing 45 years until it became an
issue again at the time of the Birchas Yitzchok, we find no attempt
whatsoever by Eisav to reverse the transaction, based upon fraud, duress or
the like. No, this was an outright sale--with Eisav feeling that he was
getting his full money’s worth (!) with the food he had eaten. The Torah
itself ‘uncharacteristically’ testifies that this was a despicable act-- a
bizayon --with the words VaYivez Esav Es HaBechora. By
selling the Bechorus for the Edom food--he demonstrated what was
important to him--and “Ish Lefi Mehallelo---a man is defined by where
he puts his priorities”. That being said, a person must think about, must
consider, what he is exchanging Torah or Mitzvos for when he takes away time
from learning or from performing a Mitzvah that he could have otherwise
performed. If it is for ‘toys’, ‘candy’, or the like, then he is showing
that he considers them to be more important---and if that is the case--who
knows what he should be called! We must demonstrate our proper value of the
right things--by being careful and taking steps not to waste our most
precious personal commodity--time--with the Edom-like enticements of this
world. Why be called ‘sushi’--when you can be called a Ben Torah!
We learned in last week’s Parasha that it is the voice of Yaakov, rather
than his muscle, that will defeat his enemies in war (as we see with the
Chashmonaim a little later this month). If this is true for war, it is also
most definitely true for terrorist attacks as well. Three times daily, as
part of our personal requests in Shemone Esrei, we plead: “Vechol
HaChoshevim Alai Ra’ah Meheira Hofair Atzasam Vekalkel Machashavtam--and
for all those who plan evil against me, quickly annul their intent and
thwart their plans.” We certainly can have special Kavannah here for
ourselves and the rest of K’lal Yisrael. We can take these few moments
during the day to PRE-EMPT TERROR as only our Tefillos can. Let us bli
neder make the commitment to help ourselves and K’lal Yisrael at this
crucial time in world history--in an incredibly real and result-filled way.
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
The monumental event of Yaakov Avinu studying at the Bais Midrash of Shem
and Bais Midrash of Ever for fourteen years is not mentioned in the Torah
Sh’Bichsav at all. Why?
Additional Note: The Midrash Rabba (68:11) teaches that although Yaakov
slept at the Makom HaMikdash at the outset of the Parasha, he did not sleep
during those 14 years in the Beis Midrash of Ever. What was he doing all
night? There are two opinions. According to Rebbi Yehoshua Ben Levi, he
recited the 15 Shir HaMa’alos in Sefer Tehillim. Rebbi Yehoshua Bar Nachma
teaches that he recited all of Sefer Tehillim. We also, of course, gain a
better appreciation of the great d’veikus one can attain-- through the
proper recitation of Tehillim in general, and of the 15 Shir HaMa’alos in
REMINDER--TEFILLAH ON TECHNOLOGY:
By the following link we provide a meaningful Tefillah written by a Rav in
the United States, and reviewed and approved by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky,
Shlita. Our special Hakaras HaTov to TAG for supplying it to us. May
we suggest that one recite it daily before opening his computer or other
NOTES ON ANSWERING AMEN YEHEI SHEMEI RABBA!
teach that reciting Yehei Shmei Rabba with Kavannah breaks terrible and
otherwise long-lasting decrees. Below are important points relating to
answering Yehei Shemei Rabba. May our implementation of them bring those
zechusim that we need so desperately.
Shulchan Aruch itself writes that one should try to run (‘Lehishtadel
Larutz’) in order to hear Kaddish (SA OC 56:1)
Answering Amen Yehei Shemei Rabba is a ‘Mitzvah Gedola Me’od’,
and takes precedence to answering Kedusha or Modim. (ibid., Mishna Berurah
seif katan 6)
should answer Bekol Rom--aloud. The Mishna Berurah writes that this
arouses one’s Kavannah and is mevatel gezeiros kashos. (ibid., Mishna
Berurah seif katan 5)
Note: Experience dictates that looking into and reading the words from a
Siddur greatly assist a person’s Kavannah.
should pause between Amen and Yehei Shemei Rabba, just as one
pauses after answering Amen before answering Modim D’Rabanan--because the
Amen goes on the previous phrase, and Yehei Shemei Rabba (as well as Modim)
are new statements. (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 2)
one entered the Shul when the Tzibur was already in the middle of answering
and up to Mevorach--he does not answer Amen, but should still
recite Yehei Shemei Rabba. (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 9; for
further details on other circumstances, see Mishna Berurah there and Dirshu
Notes 17, 18 and 19)
NOTES FROM LAST WEEK’S PARASHA:
A Rav commented: “After the events at the outset of last week’s Parasha--is
this a phrase to be used by a Torah Jew--or by those who follow in the ways
BAS BESUEL HA’ARAMI MIPADAN ARAM ACHOS LAVAN HA’ARAMI:
asks why these descriptions--all which we already know--are used to describe
Rivka in the Parasha (Bereishis 25:20). Rashi answers that it is to teach us
that despite her close relationship and proximity, Rivka was able to say ‘Lo
Limadati MiMa’aseihem’’--that she did not learn at all from the deeds of
Besuel, Lavan or the people of Padan Aram. What an outstanding lesson for
us. In our times, we have come far past the ‘deghettoizing’ industrial
revolution--we are in the midst of a technology revolution which has brought
all western and eastern societies, cultures and norms into the palm of our
hand and its quick fingertips. Every day, every single day--let us be proud
to say-- Lo Limadati MiMa’aseihem!!
following important teachings of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, are
excerpted from the Kuntres Divrei Siach by Rabbi Yitzchok
individual asked HaRav Chaim for a bracha to have Yiras Shomayim. HaRav
Chaim responded that this is not accomplished by a bracha--that for this one
has to learn Mussar.
Another individual asked for a bracha for wealth, because he was in heavy
debt. HaRav Chaim gave him a bracha: “Shelo Titztareich L’Ashirus--that
he should not need wealth!”
HaRav Chaim writes in his Sefer Orchos Yosher that one who is careful
not to lie will have all the brachos he gives fulfilled--for just as he is
careful not to be meshaker so too in Shomayim will they be careful
that all he says is true as well--by fulfilling his bracha!
the Ruchniyus of one’s children, there is no other eitzah in the world other
When a plumber came to his apartment to repair something--HaRav Chaim asked
him how he davens for his parnassah on Rosh Hashana. The plumber was silent.
HaRav Chaim told him that he should daven that if a person had a gezeirah
for tza’ar and yisurim--it should instead be fulfilled though
a pipe bursting--so that everyone would benefit.
Many people asked HaRav Chaim what to strengthen themselves in--and he
responds: “L’Hispalel”--for there is no better eitza and
hishtadlus than Tefillah! HaRav Chaim advises that every Tefillah helps,
and no person returns empty handed from his Tefillah.
woman asked what she should do to hear positive results regarding a medical
test--what should she accept upon herself. HaRav Chaim responded that she
should add an additional Tefillah to what she had previously been accustomed
is brought in Shulchan Aruch that one should give Tzedaka before davening,
and some do so while reciting the words: “V’Ata Moshel BaKol”. What
if one does not have money on his person before Shacharis? HaRav Chaim
responded that he has this question from time to time--and it is for this
reason that he segregates a sum of money and has Kavannah to be mezake
from it a peruta for tzedaka every morning before Tefillah.
From the Sefer Toldos Shimshon by HaRav Shimshon Chayim (B’R Nachman
Michoel) Nachmani, Z’tl: In the first bracha of Shemone Esrei, we exclaim
that Hashem is HaGadol HaGibor VeHaNorah--these are the shevachim
we are allowed to say, even though the shevachim of Hashem are truly
limitless (and it would be otherwise disrespectful to mention any--which
could be mistakenly taken to mean that that they are limited)--because Moshe
Rabbeinu specifically mentions these three shevachim in the Torah
itself (Devorim 10:17). The meforshim explain that HaGadol
corresponds to Avrohom Avinu and the Middah of Chesed; HaGibor corresponds
to Yitzchok Avinu and the Middah of Avodah--Service of Hashem; and
HaNorah corresponds to Yaakov Avinu and the Torah. Chazal teach that
because of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash and our exile, Yirmiyahu
removed the word Norah from our Tefillos, and Doniyel removed the word
Gibor--but that the Anshei K’nesses HaGedola re-inserted them. Why
did they re-insert them--what made them overturn the decisions of none other
than Yirmiyahu and Doniel? As the Middos relate to Hashem Himself, Chazal
teach that the fact that K’lal Yisrael is able to survive--a sole sheep
among seventy wolves--shows Hashem’s unfathomable Gevurah, and the fact that
He is able to allow akum (now Arabs) to prance on the Makom HaMikdash
shows us Hashem’s unimaginable Nora’us. HaRav Nachmani teaches that the
re-insertion of these Middos also relate to us--even if our service of
Hashem is currently incomplete without Karbanos (HaGibor--Avodah),
and even if our Torah study cannot be at its highest level without a Bais
HaMikdash which allows us to reach our potential (HaNorah--Torah)--we
nevertheless mention these Middos in order to demonstrate that we know what
we must do on our end to keep the world going (Avos 1:2)--the Nora’us
of Torah and Gevurah in the service of Hashem--which, even for the
moment without a Bais HaMikdash--must be done to the best of our ability!
We have received the following information from the OU:
Bar Granola bars have the same issue regarding beracha achrona as Nature
Valley granola bars. If one eats a kezayis of the oats, one still recites a
Borei Nefashos, but it is appropriate to avoid doing this, and instead eat
the granola bars during a seuda in which bentsching will cover the bracha
Note: Another alternative would be to eat less than a kezayis in which case
no bracha achrona will be required. The reason that Borei Nefashos is to be
avoided as an after bracha is because there is a strong opinion that the
bracha achrona on granola products really is Ahl Ha’adama V’Ahl Pri Ha’adama
(similar to the bracha of Ahl Ha’eitz V’Ahl Pri Ha’eitz). However, it is not
the practice to recite this bracha, and so the Mishna Berurah advises that a
yerei shomayim should avoid the issue (which can be accomplished in the
manner set forth above).
Torah’s first description of Eisav’s evil relates to the way he spoke and
ate. Eisav tells Yaakov “HaLiteni Na--pour into me now some of that
very red stuff…” thus, it appears, that the early warning sign of Eisav’s
evil related to his mouth--what came out of it and how he put things into
it. Below are some additional lessons, based upon the Shulchan Aruch, Orach
Chaim 167 and 170:
should not stare at someone or look at his food while he is eating.
should not drink an entire cup in one gulp. Hakhel Note: As we have noted
in the past, it has become a matter of custom for people to drink from all
size water and juice bottles, both at the table and in public. Even if this
is society’s norm, it may be that society around us does not effuse the
level of Kedusha that we do into our daily needs such as eating. Would you
drink from a bottle (any size) in front of a King?
should not bite from a piece of bread and put the remaining bread on the
you are a visitor, wait to be served; do not ask to be served.
older person at the table should be served first, or take his portion first.
ALL ABOUT CARING!
provide the splendidly meaningful words of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, as
he comments on the final Pesukim of last week’s Parasha in his classic Sefer
Love Your Neighbor:
Yitzchok El Yaakov VaYivarech Oso, VaYitzavehu VaYomer Lo, Lo Tikach Isha
M’Binos Canaan (Bereishis 28:1)--and Yitzchok called to Yaakov and
blessed him, and [then] commanded him saying, ‘You shall not take a wife
from the daughters of Canaan.’”
Chofetz Chaim used to say that we can learn from Yitzchok the most effective
way of admonishing others. Before Yitzchok warned his son Yaakov what
not to do, he blessed him. Often, you will not be able to correct
someone by shouting at him. (Even if you are successful, you will have hurt
the other person’s feelings, and will have caused ill will.) But if you
show a person first that you truly care about his welfare, he will much more
readily listen to your advice or admonition (HaChofetz Chaim, Volume 3, p.
what a great lesson this is if we can apply it to the way we speak to our
immediate family members, friends, and colleagues at work!
In last week’s Parasha we learn of the special emphasis and significance
placed in the Torah on receiving brachos from others--especially from a
parent and/or a great person. We once again provide several important
reminders from the Sefer Pele Yoetz relating to the giving and
receiving of brachos from other people:
Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei (22:9) “Tov
Ayin Hu Yevorach...” Chazal (Sotah 38B) teach that this Pasuk alludes to
the fact that one with a good eye always gives brachos to other people. The
one who blesses others will, in fact, also be blessed himself, as the Pasuk
also teaches (Bereishis 12:3): “Va’Avorecha Me’Varachecha--I will
bless those who bless you!”
One gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem by blessing others, and if the
bracha is successful and produces results, one has performed a special act
of Chesed to that person. In fact, some Poskim allow one to give a bracha
to his friend even if it is immediately before he makes a bracha to Hashem
(such as on a food item), because it is considered an honor to Hashem as
well to bless another person! The Zohar, however, teaches that before
blessing another person he should first bless Hashem (such as by reciting “Yisborach
Shemo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu”) as the Source of all bracha.
One should not be stingy in giving brachos, as Shlomo HaMelech
teaches (Mishlei 3:27) “Al Timnah Tov…--do not withhold good from the
one who needs it, when you have the power in your hand to do it.”
Likewise, one should always be mishtadel to receive brachos,
as Chazal teach (Rus Rabba 7:15) “Were it not for the brachos that the
elderly women gave to Na’ami--they would never have been a Bais Dovid!”
One should also seek brachos from the poor and indigent, for Hashem
listens to their calling.
One should especially desire and seek brachos from Talmidei Chachomim
and Tzaddikim, because their bracha is ‘kerova lehiskayeim--close to
being fulfilled.’ In any event, continues the Pele Yoetz, Hashem
will bless this person directly, because in seeking their brachos, he
demonstrates his esteem for Torah and Tzaddikim!
The following is excerpted from the wonderful Sefer: V’Haeir Eineinu:
Enlighten Our Eyes, A Practical Guide to Shemiras Einayim.
A. The Chida writes (Nachal Kedumin, Bereishis) that if Yidden look
at forbidden sights, then the forces of Eisav and Yishmael gather strength.
But if we take extra care to protect our sense of sight, then Eisav and
Yishmael will be wiped out and Moshiach will come.
entices with false fantasies, but with one’s awareness that it is truly a
deception--a custom nisayon made for one to overcome and thereby earn vast
reward for eternity-- the infatuation, like a helium filled balloon, will
soon deflate and drop down to the ground.
Though we hope to improve ourselves forever, it is more effective to set
short term goals. Start with taking on a commitment for a day or two. If no
hitches appear on the horizon, perhaps increase your goal to a week.
Eventually, set month-long goals but not more than that. These ‘little’
victories are essential--especially in this area which can be so addictive.
If we accustom ourselves to overcoming small temptations then, bit-by-bit,
these little victories will lead to bigger ones. Good habit, rather than
logic, will carry the day.
might ask: “How can I unhook myself from something that has long been part
of me?” Rabbeinu Yonah (Yesod HaTeshuvah) suggests imagining yourself
as a newborn--with no credits and no debits. Picture a blank piece of crisp,
clean paper, or a mystery gift waiting to be unwrapped, or a rose unfurling
its velvety petals in the morning dew. You’re starting out today as a
traveler on a brand new path--without any baggage. Every drop of Shmiras
Einayim, then, is eye therapy--self administered, readily available, and
wonderfully restorative. Every time we choose purity over impurity we are
thereby rectifying our past.
Come let us picture a scene unfolding: a threadbare beggar crawls out of his
hovel and finds himself standing face-to-face with the king. His majesty
graciously hands the fellow a $1 million in cash. But, shockingly, no
glimmer of thankfulness lights up the haggard face, no words of praise gush
from his lips as the ingrate takes the fortune from the monarch’s hand
without a smile, even begrudging the effort spent carrying it home. “What am
I supposed to do with all of these mounds of green papers?” he wonders.
but we do not recognize ourselves here? Don’t we realize that every time we
are accosted with impurity, it is actually a golden opportunity for growth?
We could be turning those aching temptations from stumbling blocks into
stepping stones. In the Next World, our whole status and reward is dependent
on our struggles in this world. Nisyonos are a gift and the recipient is
none other than ourselves.
Ben Ish Chai writes (Od Yosef Chai, Va’eschanan, shana 1) that a
major source of pleasure in this world is eating and drinking. In the Next
World, we first enter the lower Gan Eden where our souls enjoy delightful
fragrances, after which we ascend to the higher Gan Eden to partake of the
marvels of seeing the Divine Glory. This progression is demonstrated by the
structure of the face. Lowest is the mouth, above that the nose, and topmost
are the eyes; therein lies a message: At all costs preserve your spiritual
eyesight. It’s every Yid’s fondest and deepest hope to one day bask in the
ecstasy of the profound luminescence of the Shechinah--Lachazos BeNo’am
Hashem (Tehillim 27:4). This is the highest dimension of experience.
Though the light of the Shechinah is infinitely more powerful than any
blazing sun, this will pose no problem for the eyes that are spiritually
healthy and clean. For all eternity, their owner will delight in the wonder
of glazing at phenomenal luminescence of Hashem’s Presence!