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Special Note One:  As the Arab world continues to totter, as the after-effects of the earthquake in New Zealand shockingly appear, and the Western World is reminded of all of the world turmoil with drastically increasing oil prices--where does this leave the Torah Jew?  Let us look for a moment at Tehillim Kepitel 99 (to be the Chapter of the day in Nach Yomi later this week!).  There, Dovid HaMelech states:  “Hashem Malach Yirgezu Amim Yosheiv Keruvim Tanut HaAretz--Hashem has reigned: let peoples tremble; before Him who is enthroned on Keruvim, let the earth quake” (Tehillim 99:1).  Our relationship with Hashem is symbolized by Keruvim as well--the Keruvim on top of the Aron described in last week’s Parsha (Shemos 37:7-9).  The Keruvim teach us that our lives are to be focused at Hashem and what Hashem wants of us in this world.  By focusing on Hashem, we are constantly reminded that our goal in life is to constantly elevate ourselves spiritually--to gradually be better--to steadily attain new gains and set new goals.  This, of course, brings us to our daily aspiration, our daily ambition--Teshuva BeChol Yom!


In order to help  us accomplish this task, the Sefer Orchos Tzadikim (in the Sha’ar HaZechira--which contains 30 items that we should Always Remember) provides the following potent one-sentence instruction:  IN HEBREW:  “Veyishal MeiElokim Aizer Sheya’azreihu Veyodiahu Chochma, VeYechazek Aivarav Lisbol Mitzvosav VeLa’alos Madreiha Achar Madreiga.”  IN ENGLISH:  One should remember to ask Hashem (Hakhel Note:  We believe the intent is at least daily) for His Help in teaching him wisdom and its ways, and in strengthening his body to perform the Mitzvos so that he can continuously raise himself to higher levels in life.  Perhaps one can write this thought in his Siddur after Elokai Netzor.  Please recall the words of the Ramban in Parshas Shemos (which we had previously published) in which the Ramban writes that the reason Moshe Rabbeinu was not healed form his speech impediment at the Burning Bush was that he had not asked to be healed--and that if had asked for it, it would have been answered!  Let us make sure that, daily, we make sincere and appropriate requests for Hashem’s assistance in helping us focus--and Hashem, represented by the Keruv facing us--will have something very important and very worthwhile to answer!



Special Note Two:   HaRav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Z’tl, provides a great question and a remarkable insight on last week’s Parsha.  The Torah goes to great lengths to describe the Mishkan and its Keilim--both the instructions to build it, and the actual details as to its construction.  We know the Mishkan was precious to Hashem, and that we gain special insight into the Dor HaMidbar with all of the detail.  However, all of this detail is for a temporary structure that is supposed to be standing for only a short while--until the Bais HaMikdash is built.  Remember that the Chait HaMeraglim had not yet taken place, so Bnei Yisroel were due to soon (within weeks or months) enter Eretz Yisroel and build the Bais HaMikdash shortly thereafter.  Thus, the Mishkan was intended to function for perhaps a year or two (although ultimately it remained standing for 479 years).  Yet, we see the detail which the eternal Torah provides for it--and the zeal, dedication, and effusiveness of the people towards a very short-term construction.  The important and special lesson here is that our goal must be to accomplish.  A Mitzvah may look to the eye as if it is fleeting--so why put in so much time, such difficult effort, and significant expense?  This is absolutely not an appropriate cheshbon.  One must study, for example, the Megilla, and the Halachos and Hashkafos of Purim, one must prepare and give Matanos LaEvyonim and Mishloach Manos, all of which will take longer than the Yom Tov itself.  Time is a physical concept--and we must transcend it in order to attain our spiritual goals.


So, the next time you feel like you are spending so much time--whether it is trying to figure out what Bracha to make on a particular food or whether you can eat a particular item, waiting on a line long for a few, “last-minute” Shabbos items, davening or saying Tehillim for someone who is having surgery today, or talking with someone on the phone who always seems to need chizuk, remember…the “short-term” everlasting and eternal Mishkan!



Special Note Three:  In last week’s Parsha the Torah records that the people brought donations to the Mishkan “BaBoker BaBoker” (Shemos 36:3).  The Sefas Emes interprets the repetition of the word ‘Boker’ to mean that the people brought their gifts early in the morning, and explains that there is special power in doing something early, or first, in the morning.  It is for this reason, the Sefer Talilei Oros explains that the Vilna Gaon, Z’tl, would exclaim BeLev Shalom U’VeSimcha when he rose from bed:  “Hareini MeKabel Alai Ol Torah HaYom!”  Likewise, the Siddur Siach Yitzchak (Siddur HaGra) notes that in the Bracha of HaMa’avir Sheina early each morning the first two requests we make following the Yehi Ratzon are “Shetargileinu BeSorasecha VeDabekeinu BeMitzvosecha--please accustom us to study Your Torah and attach us to Your commandments”--for the first efforts, the first requests of the day, have a special status and bearing.  In special fact, the Tefillah presented by the Zohar upon arising in the morning is “Yehi Ratzon…Sheyihiyeh Libi Nachon U’Masur BeYadi Shelo Eshkachecha--May it be Your Will that I be upright, and in control of my heart today, so that I don’t forget You.”  The Siddur Siach Yitzchak concludes that when one has a Haschala Tova in the morning, then “Az Yehiyeh HaKol Tov--everything will be good.”


As we arise in the morning and begin to ready ourselves for the day all kinds of new ideas and reminder bombard us--everything we have to do and even the order we have to do it in.  If we can take those first precious moments and focus them properly--“Shetargileinu BeSorasecha VeDabikeinu BeMitzvosecha”, “Sheyihiyeh Libi Nachon U’Masur BeYadi Shelo Eshkachecha”, and the Gra’s thought B’Lev Shalom U’VeSimcha to accept upon oneself the Torah and the Mitzvos--then we have the express assurance of the Siddur Siach Yitzchak that Az Yehiyeh HaKol Tov!



KASHRUS ALERT:  According to a recently issued report, individually wrapped Zaza candies from Brazil may sometimes be placed in the same larger bags or containers together with other individually wrapped non-Kosher candies, and accordingly one must look for the Hechsher on each Zaza wrapper individually--especially before giving candy to young children who will not be looking at any wrapper!  At least in one case it was reported that the non-Kosher candies mixed into the bag actually had beef gelatin as one of its ingredients!  Consumers, as always, are urged not to ‘rely on the past’ but to check each and every wrapper for a Hashgacha...and look forward to seeing it!


Special Note One:  As we pay special, indeed exclusive, attention in this week’s Parsha to the Mishkan, to Hashem’s Sanctuary in this world, we recognize that it is time for us to re-focus on the Mikdash Me’at in our neighborhoods and lives as well.  One of the great interferences and degradations of our Mikdash Me’at, of our Shuls and Batei Medrashim in our time, is the unabashed use and display of blackberrys, cell phones and related devices before, after, and shockingly even during Davening.  One reader even noticed a Shaliach Tzibur texting or emailing after he finished his private Shemone Esrei, as he was waiting to start Chazaras HaShatz (one wonders what was on his mind during his Shemone Esrei).  Some more reserved individuals may only allow themselves the luxury of texting and emailing in Shul--but they still do so in the presence of the King and in His very throne room.  While it is true that we are waiting for the final glorious Palace to be built, right now it is our Shuls and Batei Midrashim that are Hashem’s Home in this world.  Would one have his cellphone on the Oval Office table, if he was in a meeting with LeHavdil Eleph VeAlphei Havdalos the President of the United States ?!  In may Kehillos, Rabbanim may have already prohibited the use of these phones and related electronic devices in the Shul itself at any time.  In those Holy Places where this is not yet the case, we urge YOU to take an active role in making it happen.  The Chofetz Chaim brings the significant view of Rishonim that the Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa of “U’Mikdashi

Sira’u--and you shall fear my Sanctuary’ applies to our Shuls and Batei Medrashim today.  We cannot allow those uneducated in the meaning in the reverence one should have for a Shul or in the importance of communicating with Hashem to spoil (really defile) the sanctity of the Place for us all.  Is there anything wrong with going over to a person who is talking or typing and asking him to do so outside, because the walls are imbued with Kedusha?  Even if they argue that what they are doing is for a Mitzvah Overess, explain to them that others will not understand and will learn to do likewise in any circumstance.  The Torah in this week’s Parsha does not directly and openly refer to ipads, iphones, or any less sophisticated instruments--but it does teach us, in the form and context of a complete, non-digressing Parsha, how important the Mikdash Me’at is to Hashem and, therefore, to K’lal Yisroel.  Let us really take action--and, in this zechus, may we literally uplift ourselves from our Mikdash Me’at to the Third and Final, Permanent and Everlasting Third Bais Hamikdash...speedily and in OUR days!



Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parsha, we learn that those who were Nedivei Lev--givers from the heart--were able to accomplish an incredible task--the Building of a House and its Furnishings the likes of which were never built before--and which is in fact hidden away to this very day and forever thereafter.  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim teaches us that there is something even more special than a Nadiv, a giver--it is a Nadiv HaShalem--a complete giver.  He writes that a Nadiv HaShalem is one who gives--whether large or small amounts before being asked to do so.  By doing this, he performs the act of giving not out of coercion or embarrassment, not ‘to be left alone’, and not even out of rethinking or reconsideration--but purely because he is a giver.  It may take a little time to get used to--but if one could sway his charitable donations, even if in only small amounts, in this direction--he will actually move towards Shleimus in the act of giving.  The Torah teaches us the value of the Nadivei Lev...let’s see if we can make this attribute a part of ourselves in the most complete way possible!



Special Note Three:  We all try to improve our learning, for, after all, “VeTalmud Torah KeNeged Kulam--Torah study is equivalent to them all.”  As we learn of the Aron’s construction in this week’s Parsha, we realize that we must also build ourselves to house the Torah within us. Every individual knows himself best, and can make progress and strides in his own way.  However, one area which may be particularly frustrating to many in their Torah growth is their inability to remember where they learned something--e.g., where exactly it is in Shulchan Aruch or the Gemara, which commentary said it, or what the particular language may be.  If a person would take but one item a day that he has learned that day, write down its source, and try to commit the item and its source to memory whether through memory association techniques or otherwise (it will obviously require review), than over the course of a year--he will know more than 350 sources!  Each and every day has so much potential inherent within it--if we merely ‘tap’ on it we can accomplish so much over a month, a year, a decade...120 years!



Special Note Four:  In the Parsha, we also learn of the construction of the Mizbe’ach HaKetores, upon which the Ketores was brought, which Chazal teach brought forgiveness for the private sin of Lashon Hora.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that the study of the laws of Lashon Hora assist one in staving off Lashon Hora--for a person more fully appreciates and understands what speech is permitted, and what speech is not.  It is extremely important to note, however, that the Chofetz Chaim also composed a Tefillah (there are short and long versions of it) for one to recite, in which one prays for Hashem’s assistance to be saved from improper speech.  There are so many situations, circumstances and temptations in our lives--that even those who study the laws still need the extra Tefillah that they be freed of those who are not careful in this regard, and of those tempting, instinctive and even unclear situations.  Bringing the Ketores was part of the Avodah every day; we too should be sure to make our Tefillah to be saved from Lashon Hora an important part of our own daily Avodah as well!



Special Note Five:  With the recent earthquake in New Zealand, Hashem reminds us both of His Awesome Power, and that He saves us daily not only from governmental upheaval and other turmoil caused by people, but from all else that ‘could go wrong’ as well.  There is really such a tremendous host of things that we have to be thankful for.  Hopefully, our thankfulness will stave off the need for any reminders that are, in fact, closer to home, and we most definitely pray for those who are suffering as a result of the catastrophe.  Not that we should ever have to use it, but we note that the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (II: p.528) brings the following from HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl: “I found in a Sefer Yochsin that it is a Sod Gadol in the event of an earthquake, for one to recite the Posuk from Yeshaya (6:3): “VeKara Zeh El Zeh VeAmar Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh Hashem Tzevakos Meloh Chol HaAretz Kevodo” three times, in order to quiet the earthquake.  Perhaps we can keep this thought in the back of our minds, and relate it to others, with the hope and the prayer that we recite this Pasuk as part of our daily Kedusha--but that we do not have to recite it otherwise!



Special Note Six:  We have confirmed with a renowned Rosh Kollel in Beitar that the following story, which occurred just a few weeks ago, is “absolutely true”:  “A girl in Beitar Ilit went to a fish store to purchase a fish for Shabbos.  The Arab worker took a fish out of the water, put in on the scale, and told the girl that it would be 150 Shekel.  The girl told the Arab worker that her family buys a fish every week, and that the maximum cost for a fish like this was 100 Shekel.  “Did the price go up?” she asked the worker. “No”, he said, “This fish weighs more.”  The girl called her mother and asked her what to do.  The mother said “for Shabbos we don’t cut corners” and instructed the girl to buy the fish.  As the Arab worker was cleaning out the fish, he threw the insides into a large pail.  The girl noticed something different that was thrown into pail together with the insides.  “What was that that you just threw in?” she said.  “Is was nothing--it was just the dirt from the inside of the fish” he said.  After she insisted many times, the worker went back into the pail, searched around, and... pulled out a golden necklace!  The girl asked that he give it to her--and he said “No it belongs to me because I found it.”  After an argument with other customers joining in for the girl, the manager of the store was called--and he decided on the customer’s behalf.  The girl brought the necklace home.  After Shabbos, they took it for appraisal--it was worth $12,000.00 (USD)!  Hakhel Note:  The story of Yosef Mokir Shabbos can happen to each and every one of us!



Special Note Seven:  With the previous story fresh in our minds, we continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series:


1.  Because this week’s Parsha uniquely contains the prohibition of Lo Seva’aru Eish BeChol Moshvoseichem--do not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on Shabbos, the Ba’alei Mussar strongly urge that the fire of anger be especially squelched this Shabbos.  Furthermore, in order to avoid getting even close to the fire--they recommend and suggest that today--Erev Shabbos (and especially close to Shabbos) be Anger-Free.  The Yetzer Hora knows the Parsha too--and he will undoubtedly--as part of his job--be seeking ways to have one bring fire into his home--so let us put ourselves into a proper mindset and fulfill the Parsha’s directive against kindling any kind of fire this Shabbos.  If we can start this week, who knows how far it can lead us....!  Remember, as the saying goes--you have to be in it, to win it!


2.  A friendly and important Shul in Flatbush has a unique message on its tissue boxes--”Please take only one at a time --it is probably all you need.”  This is an awakening thought for the many who must use the Shul’s tissue supply on Shabbos.  Even if at home we may use our supplies a bit more freely, the Shul’s supplies are usually purchased from public funds and are for public use.  Accordingly, we should take extra special care not to misuse the public’s trust.  A tissue here and a tissue there may seem very insignificant--but it is an attitude--and, moreover, what if you reach into the box near you and there is none left?!  Don’t wait to learn the lesson that way!


3.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 252:7) rules that one should check his pockets on Erev Shabbos. What if one lives in a neighborhood where there is an Eruv, or is in a hotel for Shabbos--does he still have to check his pockets?  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (73:23) and the Mishna Berurah (O. C. 252; seif katan 55) rules that he does--because there may be Muktza in one’s pockets.  Our vigilance for Muktza begins...even before Hadlakas Neiros!


4.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim Chapter 285 is dedicated to the Halachos of Shenayim Mikra Ve’Echad Targum--reading each Parsha twice with its Targum Onkelos once.. Chazal teach (and the Mishna Berurah brings in seif katan 1) that for one who accomplishes this Mitzvah “ma’arichin lo yamav u’shenosav”.  When, actually, is the best time to complete the Mitzvah?  The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan 8)  rules that it is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to do so on Erev Shabbos, or in the alternative to begin at the beginning of the week and continue on through the week. The Sefer Piskei Teshuvos ( III : p.63) writes that the Arizal would complete the Mitzvah before Chatzos on Erev Shabbos, but the Ba’air Haitaiv and Shelah HaKadosh rule that it is best to complete it after Chatzos.  If one did not complete his Shenaim Mikra Ve’Echad Targum before Shabbos, it is best if he completes it before the Shabbos Day Seudah.


5.  Last week’s Parsha ends with the radiance of Moshe Rabbeinu’s face being so great, that he had to put a mask on it--and this week’s Parsha begins with the Mitzvah of Shabbos--what is the connection between these two Parshios?


6.  What should every Shabbos Seudah contain?  The renowned Mechanech, Rabbi Dovid Finkelman, Shlita teaches that a Yerushalmi Tzaddik told him that one should not allow his  Seudah to be diverted, and that accordingly no Seudah should miss:

a.  Niggunim;

b. A meaningful story which reinforces everyone’s Emunah and Emunas Chachomim;

c. A Devar Torah; and

d. A Devar Halachah--over time, hundreds and hundreds of halachos are learned, reviewed and discussed.


The great lesson from the Yerushalmi Tzaddik is that the Shabbos Seudah is an incredible opportunity--not only for quality time and Oneg Shabbos--but for growing spiritually.  The Shabbos Seudah in a wonderful sense, is able to combine the Olam HaZeh comforts with the Olam Haba aspirations--bringing us to Menucha VeSimcha!



Special Note One:  By clicking here, we provide a Tefillas Todah (posted at Kever Rochel) which a reader sent to us in order to share with others.  Even if one recites this Tefillah only once a week or once a month, it certainly will help a person put the matters, parts, and incidents of his life in proper perspective!



Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parsha, Vayakhel, the Torah teaches that the Badim, the staves were placed into the Aron for a particular purpose:  “La’Sais Es HaAron--to carry the Aron” (Shemos 37:5).  Chazal (Sotah 35B) teach, however, that in fact the Aron was not carried by its bearers, but instead actually carried those very same apparent bearers.  HaRav Nosson Adler, Z’tl, finds that the lesson is clear--those who support Talmidei Chachomim may appear to be the supporters--but are in fact and in deed--actually supported by those who study.

Hakhel Note:  There is an Olam Hazeh and Olam Haba way to look at what is actually taking place...since Olam Haba is much, much longer and indeed everlasting--one should very much adapt the long-term view!  Let us keep this in mind every time that we have the opportunity to in any manner honor or “support” one who is studying Torah full time!



Special Note Three:  Chazal teach that “HaDan Chaveiro L’Chaf Zechus Danin Oso L’Chaf Zechus”--one who judges his friend favorably will be judged favorably by the Heavenly Tribunal.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim I: p. 219) asks a pointed question:  “How can the Heavenly Tribunal have any license or ability to judge one ‘favorably’ if in Heaven everything is clearly known, and there are no doubts about the meanings and intentions of the person?”  HaRav Friedlander answers that the fact that one judges another L’Chaf Zechus demonstrates that he has a “Mabat Shel Rachamim V’Ahava Al Acheirim--that he looks at others mercifully and lovingly”, and that accordingly they will look upon him with mercy and love in Heaven.”  Thus, when Chazal state that he will be judged “L’Chaf Zechus” in Heaven, it does not mean that they will ignore what he really intended, but that he will be looked upon mercifully and lovingly, which is the root of his Middah of being Dan L’Chaf Zechus.  HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, explains the concept in a related way.  He notes that when one is Dan L’Chaf Zechus he is demonstrating an “Ayin Tova--he wants his friend to be zakkai, to be innocent, not to be culpable and searches for ways to get to that result”.  In Heaven, therefore, they will act with an Ayin Tova--searching for the ways and means to likewise understand his deeds in a positive light. 

Additional Note:  At his most recent Shiur in Flatbush, HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, related the following story in the name of his father:  “There was a very wealthy man in a town in Europe who was known in the town equally for his miserliness as for his wealth.  Moreover, the man, Yankel was his name, would not simply keep his door closed to the poor--but would let them in and talk and then proceed to give them a new-fangled excuse as to why he could not or would not be helping them at this time.  As a result, Yankel was despised by all for his incredible, his inconceivable, disregard for the needs of others.  When he died, the Chevra Kadisha did not want to bury him in sheer disgust over the life he led.  After several days, they agreed to bury him, but on the condition that on his tombstone they put the title “Yaakov Goy” in full and final demonstration of his complete lack of connection to his people.  As the months passed after his demise, the Gabboim of the soup kitchen and Gemilas Chesed Fund had less and less to give until they were able to give very little to the poor.  The Rav of the town called them to task, and they explained that their major anonymous donor had suddenly stopped giving.  When it was all put together, it turned out that “Yaakov Goy” was responsible for it all.  The Rav then wanted to remove the term “Goy” from his tombstone, but Yaakov appeared to him in a dream and begged the Rav that it be left on--’For you cannot imagine how much Kappara this Bizayon brought to me in the Beis Din Shel Maalah.’”


Of course, we do not know why “Yaakov Goy” acted in this manner (and if one intends to act likewise he must most certainly consult and obtain the consent of his Rav), but at least two lessons immediately emerge:


1. The great extent to which a Bizayon in this world can help a person in the next world.  Indeed, in the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 2), Rabbi Moshe Cordevero, Z’tl, writes that a Bizayon is a very efficient form of Kappara--for it accomplishes much without physical pain and without causing Bitul Torah as would other sicknesses and afflictions.  As a matter of fact, HaRav Cordevero adds that “when shame or disgrace comes upon a person, yismach bo--he should rejoice in it, and desire it…!”


2.  How far removed from our external awareness the thoughts and feelings, the successes and the failures, the goals and accomplishments of an individual are.  As the Navi says, “Because the person sees only from the outside, but Hashem sees into the heart.”  Whether or not the townsfolk were required to judge Yaakov favorably al pi halacha, they were obviously wholly unfamiliar with what he truly wanted to do and how he actually did it.  Each of us owes it to ourselves to not only spend the moment in which we enjoy the everlasting benefits of some disgrace heaped upon us, but also spend another moment to recognize that the person sitting across the aisle in Shul who rubs you the wrong way, the uncaring neighbor down the block, the unconcerned worker in the store, or the inconsiderate co-worker down the hall, has much within him--history, experiences, strengths and weaknesses, ambitions and ideas, and a Tachlis HaChaim which may not necessarily coincide with yours, but to which you should give due recognition, allowance, courtesy, and maybe even respect.  Before attributing or labeling anyone for any reason, consider whether you are going the “Yankel Goy” route--or whether you can leave him simply as “Yankel”--which is probably the real truth, and by which you will end up much better off!  Remember:  “Yankel Goy”--or “Yankel”--the meaningful choice is yours!



Special Note One:  Rabban Gamliel Rabinovich, Shlita notes that every morning, before putting on his Tefillin, he reminds himself that unlike the Tzitz--one of the Eight Garments of the Kohen Gadol which had Hashem’s name on it one time (in the words Kodesh LaShem), one’s Tefillin has the name of Hashem in it 42 times.  This is a great source of inspiration and appreciation when donning Tefillin.  The Bi’ur Halacha in Hilchos Tefillin adds that when we tie the knot on our arm every morning--we are tying the “Kesher HaYichud VeHaKedusha--the knot which declares Hashem’s Oneness and Mastery, and the knot of Holiness.”  A Rav once saw his Mispalel with a tired and distracted face as he was about to don his Tefillin.  He turned to him and said--in the Megillah what you are about to do is referred to as “Yekar”--something very honored, and very precious.  You should be smiling from ear to ear that you have an opportunity now to wear not any crown jewels--but Hashem’s crown jewels!

Hakhel Note 1:  One of the reasons the  events which called for our annihilation at the time of Purim occurred is because “Yoshanu Min HaMitzvos--we were asleep with the Mitzvos, for the Mitzvos were ‘old hat’ to us; rephrased just a bit-- we were doing the Mitzvos in our sleep.  The threat of annihilation woke us to realize that Torah was not an instruction book with many details--but was true Orah--the infinite and pervasive light , that Yom Tov was not an interruption from the daily routine, forced vacation, or expensive--but real Simcha, a human’s ultimate joy together with his Creator even in this world; that a Bris Milah was not simply the mark of a Jew--but was Sasson, the reality that 24/7 one could be bonded with Hashem.  So, Re-feeling the Yekar of Tefillin each and every day before we put them on--especially at this time of year is an important step in making us worthy to observe and celebrate Purim.  It only takes an extra moment of two of reflection--and the difference may very well be phenomenal.  Hakhel Note 2:  For women who do not don Tefillin, their Yekar may easily be seen as the honorable Bigdei Tznius--the clothing and attire that befits an Am Hashem.  After all, Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, describes this clothing with the words “Oz VeHadar Levusha--her dress is powerful and beautiful--quite similar to the Yekar of Tefillin--no?  In truth, men are supposed to wear their Tefillin all day, but most are not capable; women, then, whose clothing is with them throughout the day, succeed to sustain their Yekar far beyond the average man.  It definitely follows that just as men must spend a little time to appreciate their Yekar, women too--especially when the see the deportment of other females in stores and businesses--should not sleep though--but very much appreciate, and be very grateful for the badge of honor that envelops them daily.  Let us start practicing now--so when we begin to sing the words LaYehudim Hoysa Orah...on Purim they have very, very special meaning to us!



Special Note Two:  As Arab Governments (Yishmael) remarkably weaken and falter before our very eyes--only a few short years after the Western World (Esav) began tottering from both security and financial perspectives, we recall the words in last week’s Parsha in which Hashem advised Moshe Rabbeinu--”Ve’Roisa Ess Achorai U’Fanai Lo Yeira’u--You will see my ‘back’, but not my ‘face’--you will understand events after they happen but will not be able to understand them prior to then.  We all know that something is happening--we simply don’t know what it is--and we are not supposed to, for if we did we would have Nevi’im .  So what is left?   Of course, it cannot be said enough--it is Teshuva--the desire, the longing, the movement, the actual strides to put your life and the lives of those close to you in the right direction.--in that very same direction as those 20% who left Egypt, and not the 80% who tragically remained forever behind.  The first steps in Teshuva are identifying the foibles and the shortcomings, the failures and the faults.  The next step is feeling true remorse over them and realistically resolving how to not fall to them so easily again.  Every day, we recite the words “Selach Lanu Avinu Ki Chatanu--Hashem, please forgive us for having sinned”.  Without proper charata--remorse over a misdeed, what worth is the thrice daily lip movement?  Is there any redeeming value to saying something to Hashem which you don’t mean now--even if you do intend to mean it five or six months from now when Elul gets closer?  The key is valuing each day here and now, and not letting it pass without a new step in the direction of shleimus--making oneself whole as a person.  Just as with the body--when we bang our foot, we begin to walk funny, so too it is with the soul--if our tongues are a bit too loose with a little loshon hora, or with coarse, hurtful, or non-complimentary words (even if they are simply only words that you wouldn’t say in front of your Rav, your Rebbe...or your shadchan)--then our Tefillos are also hurt and wounded, and our words of Torah are far from pristine.  Not letting the indiscretion, the carelessness, the instinct-over-intellect, happen again, and doing this consciously and consistently, day after day, will provide daily elevation--not only in Shemiras Halashon, but in one’s precious words of Torah and Tefillah as well.


There is something even more powerful.  As we have noted in the past, the Chasam Sofer explains that the month of Adar, according to his reckoning, is representative of Shevet Binyamin.  He explains that the stone on the Choshen for Binyomin is Yospheh--which can be split into two words--Yesh Peh--he has a mouth.  This, the Chasam Sofer explains, is what allowed Mordechai from Shevet Binyomin to be victorious over the Lishna Bisha--the evil words of Haman which were set to literally destroy K’lal Yisroel.  Mordechai was a descendant of Binyomin who had a mouth--but kept it closed and did not tell his father Yaakov what his brothers had done to Yoseph; Binyomin’s descendent, Shaul Hamelech also had a mouth, but once again kept it closed until the time came to be declared King; Esther HaMalka as well did not reveal ‘moladata’, where she was from, despite the immense pressure from the king for her to do so--and as a result all of K’lal Yisroel was saved.  Succinctly stated, the closed mouth of Binyomin--the Yoshpheh-- literally brought salvation to us all.  By following in the Yoshpheh tradition (you may even very well be from Shevet Binyomin!), you are not only saving your own mouth from contamination, you are not only immensely approving your words of Torah and your words of Tefillah--but you are bringing us all one step closer to the Bais Hamikdash and Geulah--as Hashem’s House is especially nestled... in the nachala of Shevet Binyomin!



KASHRUS CARE :  The OU has recently issued the following alert--“While the Orthodox Union certifies RAM Caterers at Shaarei Zion in Brooklyn and Magen David in Deal, NJ during the year, the Orthodox Union is NOT certifying the kashrus of RAM Catering at any hotels for Passover, such as The Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Resort in Ft. Lauderdale FL., and the Rye Town Hilton in Westchester NY.”  Hakhel Note:  This is yet another great lesson for us in checking and confirming the Hashgacha every single time we purchase something or go out to eat--we cannot assume that matters stay the same, and one should check each time!  On a related note--for those who may have not seen the update, the Volover Rav has issued the following Urgent Notice:  “Bristling sardines from Scotland , whether in water or oil, cannot be cleaned and may not be eaten.”  The Badatz of the Eida HaChareidis in Yerushalayim has issued a notice that the sardines under its hashgacha from Riga , Latvia are free of Anisakis.  Additional Point:  The adequacy and sufficiency of a Hashgacha on a food establishment or service may be closely tied to the integrity of the owner of the establishment.  One reader conveyed to us her hurt feelings over a Pesach hotel operator (without identifying the person) who never paid her for her work as head counselor at a resort Hotel last Pesach because he “lost money” on the venture.  The Choshen Mishpat approach of a food services operator may be important to a consumer in determining whether the Hashgacha can team up with that operator to enjoy a ‘Zissen Pesach’.




Special Note One:  Many of us have tried to ready ourselves for Pesach by studying its Halachos perhaps a week, two weeks, or even a month in advance of the Holiday--but because of the great number of Halachos--don’t seem to get through it, and hope again for next year.  By clicking here we provide a Two-Month Schedule for Hilchos Pesach, which began just two days ago on Shabbos.  At a much more calm and measured way, one can achieve the goal of actually learning through Hilchos Pesach at a slow but sure pace.  Please spread the word!



Special Note Two:  We received the following meaningful message from a reader, which is much more than a cute story:  “A chasid once came to the Rebbe of Velborz and said, ‘Rebbi, I am ready to do Teshuva, ahl tenai--on condition that all my troubles leave me!’  To which the Rebbe responded, ‘And when you sinned was it also on condition?’”  Hakhel Note:  With yet another Yishmael government--this time the Sonei Yisroel regime in Libya --somewhere along the process of toppling, we once again re-awaken ourselves to the understanding that there is bigger picture here, and we dare not let the loud sirens go unheeded and ignored as another part of world history.  Our Teshuva BeChol Yom, our Yosair MiMah She’haya thoughts and actions must persevere over our daily habit, routine and Yetzer Hora-driven lack of focus.  As we have passed the six-month mark since Yom Kippur, we recognize that the soldiers who aspire and endure are the ones who make it up the ladder in rank, and achieve meaningful positions in their army.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that in our days we are all soldiers of Hashem who must do our utmost in His service--and by doing so, we not only succeed personally--but keep the army, and the nation it is protecting, alive and even thriving in the most serious and difficult of times.  With enough of us trying to do more, to be better today than yesterday (whether it be a bli neder undertaking to complete the study of a Mussar Sefer before Pesach, bettering oneself in some aspect of Torah study such as making it a point to come or start learning on time, extra-effort to concentrate in Shemone Esrei, or some aspect of Bein Adam LeChaveiro)--then instead of continuing to respond to history--we can once and for all make it happen.  Each and every one of us should count ourselves in! 



Special Note Three:  The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 246:18) rules that Talmud Torah is equal to all of the Mitzvos.  Accordingly, one who is in the middle of learning is not allowed to interrupt his studies to perform a Mitzvah unless there is a Mitzvah that must be done immediately, and there is no one else who can properly perform it.  In that case, one should interrupt his learning to perform the Mitzvah, and then, the Shulchan Aruch concludes, “he should return to his learning” (this is also the language of the Rambam in Hilchos Talmud Torah).  Why is it necessary for the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch to add that after one completes the Mitzvah he should return to his learning--is it not self-evident??  We may suggest that after one has interrupted his studies to legitimately perform a Mitzvah that no one else could perform, he may then determine that now is the time to take a cup of coffee, make that phone call, take care of this thing, speak to that person....All of this, the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch rule, is inappropriate and incorrect, for it shows that he was willing to be mevatel for far more than the Mitzvah.  Instead, one should show his high regard for the Torah, and how serious leaving it even to do a Mitzvah is--by going right back to learning as soon as the Mitzvah has been completed.  Thus, especially when one has left Torah to take care of a Mitzvah, he should be sure not to allow himself to be further interrupted with a few additional duties or tasks, no matter how legitimate they may seem (read: Yetzer Hora hard at work) by going right back to Torah study--as both the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch advise and enjoin.


Additional Note 1:  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim writes that one should make the effort to write down new Torah thoughts that he has learned or developed.  This displays an honor of the Torah--and will prevent this newly learned or developed Torah from being forgotten.  This then is second important way of displaying one’s Chashivus HaTorah.


Additional Note 2:  The Chofetz Chaim brings the following teaching from Chazal:  The reason that the Torah was written “She’lo KeSidran--not in order” is because if it would have been given KeSidran everyone studying it would have had the power of Techiyas HaMeisim.  Such is the inherent power of the Torah.  As we move towards the Kimu VeKiblu of Purim, we should recognize the inherent greatness of Torah as Hashem’s greatest gift to the entire world, and treat our precious time for Torah Study with a corresponding degree of appreciation and reverence.  Especially in the months of Adar, we can regale in the thought that the Torah has been given to us as an inheritance and burst out in song with the words “Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkeinu--How Happy we are--and, quite to the contrary of Haman’s wishes, How Fortunate is Our Lot!”



Special Note One:  In this week’s Parsha, we find that the Torah requires that: “Vishomru Bnei Yisroel Es HaShabbos--Bnei Yisroel shall observe the Shabbos,” to make the Shabbos an eternal covenant for their generations (Shemos 31:16).  This Pasuk, together with the Pasuk which follows it, are so essential to our understanding of Shabbos that we repeat them both at Ma’ariv and in Shacharis on Shabbos.  What is the concept of “Shemiras Shabbos?”


HaRav Shlomo Mandel, Shlita, explained at a Hakhel shiur that a “shomer” is someone who guards, watches out for, is on the alert, and anticipates.  Indeed, the Torah uses the concept of “Shemira” when it describes how Yaakov Avinu responded to Yosef’s dreams.  The Torah states:  “V’Aviv Shamar Es HaDavar--and his father [Yaakov Avinu] was waiting and anticipating for [the dreams] to happen.” (Bereishis 37:11, and Rashi there)


This is an extremely important lesson for us.  The Torah requires us to be “Shomrei Shabbos”.  In order to fulfill this properly, we cannot start with candle lighting and/or “Lecha Dodi”.  Instead, we must appropriately prepare our thoughts and actions, so that, to the greatest extent possible, we can enter the Shabbos in a state of preparedness and equanimity--watching out and anticipating for the Shabbos the come.


There are many practical examples in which one can make strides towards this end.  For instance, one can, as much as possible, undertake Shabbos preparations on Thursday evening and Friday morning.  Additionally, business matters such as taking care of bills, or even going through the mail, when it does not require immediate attention, can become part of “Shemiras Shabbos” if they are put off until Sunday or Monday.  Interestingly, it was HaRav Aryeh Levin Z’tl’s custom not to open letters that arrived Friday afternoon, so that bothersome thoughts and worries should not trouble him on Shabbos (Growth Through Torah p. 220, quoting A Tzaddik In Our Time p. 100).


There are other activities which could help you become a superior “Shomer Shabbos”.  Making a list of the things that have to be done--and especially those things which you have had issues with in the past--making sure you have wine, candles, matches, open tissue boxes, clothes (without stains from the previous week), Torah thoughts for the Shabbos table--and accomplishing these, and many other items which could truly be taken care of, hours and hours and even a day before Shabbos.


If a man is more often late than on time for Mincha in shul on Friday afternoon, or if a woman customarily, or even usually, lights the neiros “just a minute or two” after the published Z’man, there is an indication of weakness in his/her anticipating, watching out for, guarding, longing for, the Shabbos that is coming.  If the scene is one in which the husband is still in the shower/bedroom area at candle lighting time, or the woman of the house has to choose between davening Mincha before candle lighting--or lighting neiros five minutes late, some corrections may be in order.


Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch, rather than requiring raised voices, anger, and tension, immediately prior to Shabbos, instead requires that a person “arise early” on Erev Shabbos to properly prepare (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 250:1).  In fact, the Mishna Berurah there requires that some Shabbos preparation be done after davening Shacharis (and, if necessary, even before Shacharis--see there).  Furthermore--the Shulchan Oruch (Orach Chaim 260:2) actually requires that one speak “B’Lashon Raka” (in a soft voice)--immediately before Shabbos(!)--even as to those matters which require correction before Shabbos arrives.


In an ideal world, Shemira would include being ready a few minutes in advance and waiting for the Shabbos queen to come, by saying Tehillim, learning Torah, or the like--just as the watchman watches and anticipates.  For the men, there are undoubtedly great zechusim--merits--to be had when one is not dashing out the door to shul with suit jacket in hand, tie not made, and wet hair.  For the women, there is very much to be gained lighting neiros two or three minutes before the z’man, instead of a minute or two or three after the z’man.  Each one of us should sit down and think about how we can improve our quest for a greater appreciation, a greater understanding, a greater accomplishment, in being a “Shomer Shabbos” Jew!



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


1.  The Sefer Yereim writes that Hadlakas Neiros is “Gemara Gemiri La”--is actually a Halachah LeMoshe MiSinai!  Rebbe Akiva Eiger, Z’tl suggests that men (Hakhel Note: or other able-bodied person) take part in the Mitzvah by making sure that the Neiros are in fine order for the woman of the house to light.  We may add that this could include testing the candles and fixing them well into the leichter, putting the matches in place, making the Sefer with special Tefillos for the time readily available on the table--as the time of Hadlakas Neiros is an Eis Ratzon, etc.  The moment the Queen enters is a powerful one--and a proper--and not hurried and hassled-- Hadlakas Neiros is like the rolling out of a beautiful red carpet to meet her!


2. In response to a question we posed to him, Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita rules that:  “Moving muktza even if it moves only in its place is prohibited.  Touching muktza without causing it to move, wobble, or tilt is permitted.”


3.  In this week’s Kriyas HaTorah, we find the following powerful Pasuk describing Moshe Rabbeinu’s initial reaction to the events of the Chait HaEigel:  “VaYomer Ein Kol Anos Gevura VeAin Kol Anos Chalusha Kol Anos Anoci Shomea--Moshe Rabbeinu told Yehoshua “It is not a sound shouting strength nor a sound shouting weakness--it is a sound of distress that I hear (Shemos 32:18).  HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita teaches that the meaning of the word Anos the third time it is mentioned in the Pasuk is different than the first two times that it is mentioned. The first two times it means ‘sounding’, and the third time it means ‘distress’--inui.  It is truly a different word--which is why there is a dagesh in the Nun of the third Anos of the Pasuk, and not in the first two.  Accordingly, to the extent possible--the ba’al kriyah who is laining, and one being ma’avir sedra should read the third occurrence as ANNOS and not as ANOS--i.e., with a greater accent or drawing out of the nun, not actually making it onto a ‘double-nun’--but extending it a bit--so that one recognizes and demonstrates the different word being read!



Special Note Three:  In this week’s Parsha, we learn of the horrific sin of the Golden Calf.  In its aftermath, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu: “Say to Bnei Yisroel--you are stiff-necked people…” (Shemos 33:5).  In fact, this exact same description of our “stiff-neckedness” is repeated two other times in the Parsha (Shemos 33:3 and 34:9).   Likewise, in the Viduy we recite “Kishinu Oref--we have been stiff-necked.”  There is a very important message here for us.  The neck, as opposed to the front, symbolizes the back of the person and shows that the person is turned away from someone, rather than facing him.  It is our job not to turn away from what we have done, and certainly not to turn away from Hashem.  Instead, we must face that which we have done with a plan to improve, and face Hashem asking Him for nothing less than Divine assistance going forward.


We believe that there is also a vital second lesson:  The Torah is teaching that the heinous “Chait Haegel” is related to being obstinate and inflexible.  In our stubbornness, we must be careful to distinguish between fact and opinion, between “teaching lessons to others” and learning to control our self-interest or pride.  It is now a very auspicious time to deal with this middah, in order to indicate that we, on our own personal level and in our own private way, are looking to correct the stiff-neckedness within us--and our recognition that obstinacy could eventually result in something that is catastrophic, rachmana litzlan.  If our actions are “just because” or “because that is the way I do things” or because “I know I am right” or “because I don’t do it that way”… (you can fill in another phrase that better summarizes your own stiff-neckedness) then we may have to work on some adjustments in attitude.


Of course, being tough in some areas is good--such as not flinching from the requirements of Halacha or proper Hashkafa in spite of work, financial or even social pressures to do so.  However, Chazal advise specifically that “a person should be soft as a reed, and not hard as a cedar tree” (Taanis 20B).  Reeds are malleable and do not break--even in the face of a harsh wind or thunderous storm.  Incredibly, the mighty cedar may fall earlier than the thin little reed.  Let us take this lesson to heart as we practice acting with more pleasance than presence, the way Hashem would like us to!



Special Note Four:  We present several additional points from Parshas Ki Sisa to apply (and hopefully inculcate within ourselves) over the coming week:


a.  The Pasuk teaches that the letters on the Luchos were engraved through and through, and that, by Miracle, they could be read from both sides although the writing was not reversed.  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, as quoted in the wonderful work”, by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, brings the following important lesson relating to this Miracle:  HaRav Chaim Elazar Wachs, Z’tl, (the “Nefesh Chayah”) was a partner in a paper factory.  His partner came to him with an idea that would bring him a great deal of profit in a short amount of time.  When the partner presented all of the details, HaRav Wachs concluded that the idea involved some degree of impropriety, and bordered on geneiva.  His partner still wanted to go ahead with the “get-rich-quick” scheme.  HaRav Wachs exclaimed, “Don’t you realize why the Luchos had to be readable from either side?!  Because no matter which way you turn the Luchos--you have to see the Lo Signov!”  [In Yiddish:  “Az men dreit a hin, oder men dreit a heir, es shteit noch ales Lo Signov!”]  We may all be faced with the temptations of improprieties--some bigger and some smaller.  We must, however, realize that the Luchos preceded these temptations and manipulations--and covers them from whatever angle they may be coming!


b.  Chazal (Rosh Hashanah 17B) teach of the great power of the Thirteen Middos of Rachamim found in the Parsha (Shemos 34:6,7), which are first introduced to us after the Chait HaEgel.  Indeed, their introduction to us after the Eigel indicates their great potency--as we are kept going as a nation after such a devastating aveira.  The Netziv makes an amazing point as to one of these Middos.  He writes that it is not correct to read this Middah as “Rav Chesed” and then simply continue with “Emes”, as the next Middah.  Instead, and in fact, the word “Rav” modifies BOTH Chesed and Emes--for Hashem not only provides Abundant Chesed but also Abundant Truth.  It is this Middah that we must emulate--not to allow ourselves into the singular comfort of “Rav Chesed” which we are so incredibly blessed with in K’lal Yisroel--but also to be the Rav Emes--being an overflowing source of Truth as well!


c.  The Taz asks what is the Attribute of Mercy contained in the word “Lo Yinakeh”.  We know that Yinakeh means that Hashem cleanses the sin of one who does Teshuva--but how is the Lo Yinakeh--Not Cleansing the Sin--helpful to us?  The Taz answers that it means that Hashem will not eliminate the sin and will in fact punish the sinner somewhat --but still waits for him to do Teshuva, and in the interim does not give him the punishment that he truly otherwise deserves.  There are thirteen different levels of Mercy--it is up to us to determine which levels of Mercy we will be zoche to--we do not have to be at the bottom of the class--so why should we put ourselves there?  Teshuva is a much better alternative!


d.  HaRav Moshe Rosenshein, Z’tl, approached his great Rebbe, the Mashgiach of Mir, HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, and asked him to explain the Chait HaEigel to him.  After much study of the topic, HaRav Rosenshein was expecting a greatly detailed and long explanation from his Rebbe of what had transpired here.  HaRav Yeruchem answered with Two Words.  The Two Words....Yetzer Hora!  After all, could it make any sense that a people who owed so much to Moshe Rabbeinu would believe that he died--and almost immediately start to wildly party?  As we say in the Lechu Nerannena at the outset of Kabbalas Shabbos (Tehillim 95) “Va’Omar Am To’ei Levev Haim...--and I said they are a people who are mistaken of heart...”.  The Yetzer Hora’s effects were so devastating that the sin of the Golden Calf burdens us to this very day.  There is a great lesson for us all here.  If we could remind ourselves when making any daily decision that we must realize which side of the decision the Yetzer Hora is on--we can take a great step--on a daily basis--to overcoming, overriding and overruling the Chait HaEigel itself.  What an accomplishment!  What a great and enormous potential every day brings with it!



In response to yesterday’s question from a reader about why the Me’il of the Kohen Gadol did not have Tzitzis, we received a response from a reader available by clicking here.



Special Note One:  Yesterday, we noted that one who gives Tzedaka together with encouraging words is blessed with 17 brachos.  A reader pointed out that 17 is the Gematria of Tov--teaching us that there is real Goodness inherent in the Brachos that one will be receiving.  We also note that 17 is also the Gematria of Chait (which is one of the reasons given for not eating the Egoz on Rosh Hashana--for its Gematria is the same as Chait).  The Alter of Kelm, Z’tl, highlights that Chait means chisoron--i.e., lacking or failing, for when one sins he is losing his Shlaimus HaAdam--in fulfilling his completeness as a person.  Accordingly, when one gives--but does not give with a kind word of appeasement, encouragement, or bracha--his giving is lacking.  May our Giving always be...not with Chait...but with Tov!



Special Note Two:  :In this week’s Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu was taught by Hashem to invoke the Thirteen Middos of Mercy (Shemos 34:6, 7) because of the danger facing the Bnai Yisroel.  Remarkably, the first four of these Attributes relate directly, as you may have guessed, to Hashem’s Compassion.  We present below the basic meaning of each one of these four Attributes--which are “Hashem,” “Hashem,” “Kel” and “Rachum,” as published by the Irgun Harbotzas HaTorah of Lakewood , New Jersey :


“1. Hashem--Compassionate before one has sinned.  Even before a person has sinned he still needs Heavenly Compassion, for Hashem owes us nothing; all that we have is only due to His grace and compassion.  Also, even when Hashem sees that a person will sin in the future, His Compassion for him at present remains, since the person has not yet sinned.


“2. Hashem--Compassionate after one has sinned and repented.  Even after a person has sinned, after repentance, Hashem’s compassion is immediately rekindled towards him.  This is unlike the behavior of a human being, who will distance himself from a person who has wronged him, and will often never accept him back.  Hashem’s being, however, is unchanging (as hinted in this word), and therefore even after a person sinned (even seriously) His Compassion still remains.


“3. Kel--This, too, is an attribute of compassion.  There are different levels of compassion.  This is not the same type of compassion as is denoted in the name Hashem.  Some explain that the two letters of this Attribute--Alef and Lamed--denote total mercy.


“4. Rachum--Compassionate to ease even the punishment of sinners when they call out to Him.”


ANOTHER WAKE UP CALL--this time from the Parsha ahead of us!  If we can back up our Tefillos for Hashem’s mercy with personal empathy and feeling for others--and with kind words and quiet actions which stave off their need to ask us for Chesed--we will be in a better position, a much better position, to beg Hashem to shower His Compassion upon us and all around us!  Let us make this a prime goal in our lives--living with compassion in all areas of life--especially in a world that needs so much compassion!


Additional Note:  One can learn to have compassion even to those who do not act nicely or properly to him (even if they are family members!) by simply taking the reasoned attitude that nobody really owes you anything.  If you are able to give and share--Hashem has graced you.  They may have their own duty of Hakaras Hatov--but that is for their own personal Shlaimus.  You are who you are and you have achieved and accomplished whatever you have achieved and accomplished--whether you get a shrug instead of a thank you and a kick instead of a kiss.  With this attitude, we unite with Hashem who graces us with so much.



Special Note Three:  The following is an extremely important excerpt from the Sefer Geulah B’Rachamim by Rabbi Pinchas Winston, Shlita.  For further information on how to obtain this special Sefer, one may contact www.thirtysix.org


“The Jewish people are on a mission and it can be summed up in two words:  Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify the Name of Hashem.  This is not just something we do on the side, something that is supposed to result from everything we do, whether alone or in public.  Rav Papa asked Abaye, ‘Why is it that for the former generations miracles were performed and for us miracles are not performed?  It cannot be because of their learning, because in the years of Rav Yehudah, their learning was confined to Nezikin, and we learn all six orders.  And yet, when Rav Yehudah took off one shoe [during a drought on a fast day], rain used to come.  We torment ourselves and cry loudly, and no one pays attention to us!’  He answered, ‘The former generations used to sacrifice themselves for Kiddush Hashem; we do not sacrifice ourselves for Kiddush Hashem’ (Brochos 20a).  What does it mean to sanctify the Name of Hashem?  There are many ways to do it, but they all result in the same thing:  more of Hashem’s Presence in Creation.  The opposite term, ‘Chillul Hashem,’ the profanation of Hashem’s Name, comes from the word ‘challal,’ which means a ‘void.’  Something that profanes Hashem’s Name has the impact of making Creation somewhat void of the Presence of Hashem, the extent to which depends upon the severity of the Chillul Hashem.  Kiddush Hashem has the opposite effect, by drawing more Divine Light into Creation, thereby making the Presence of Hashem more pronounced.  That’s why a Kiddush Hashem can occur even when a person is alone, and no one else is around to witness it; it will still impact Creation in a positive way.  The longer the Jewish people remain in exile, the more we begin to mimic the host nations amongst whom we live, blurring the distinction between Jew and gentile.  Eventually, our actions, even as Torah Jews, may fall into the category of those which are acceptable by world standards, but not by Torah standards, resulting in a Chillul Hashem, and sometimes, severe ones.  This is very dangerous for everyone.  Reducing the Shechinah in Creation, L’havdil, is like not keeping up sanitary conditions in a hospital--unhealthy stuff fills the void, endangering the lives of everyone.  The more Creation becomes void of the Presence of Hashem, the more spiritual impurity fills the void, corrupting man and Creation, a situation that Heaven will put up with for only so long.  We’ve seen what results when we cross that line.  As the Gemora says, doing that which sanctifies the Name of Hashem brings special Divine Providence, anything from success in business to good relationships, to, perhaps, personal salvation from a life-threatening circumstance.  Aside from being a Torah mitzvah, it is a wise step in the direction of the Final Redemption.”


As we continue through this auspicious time, let us purposefully do all that we can…to bring us to that Final Redemption!



Question From A Reader:  I understand that the Me’il of the Kohen Gadol was a four-cornered garment--did it have Tzitzis--if not, why not?!  We invite your response!




Special Note One:  The Tanya Rabosi (quoted by the Sefer Taamei Dinim U’Minhagim) provides us with the following answer: Dovid HaMelech in the last Chapter of Tehillim (Chapter 150--Halleluka Hallelu Kel B’Kadsho), which we recite every morning, uses the word “Hallelu” twelve separate times in order to express the different kinds of Hallel that we are to give to Hashem during each of the twelve corresponding months of the year.  Thus, for example, the sixth time Hallelu is used in this chapter, is in the phrase “Hallelu B’Teka Shofar”, corresponding to the sixth month of the year--the month of Elul--in which we blow Shofar the entire month, and the seventh time Hallelu is used is “Halleluhu B’Nevel V’Chinor” (with lyre and harp), corresponding to the Simchas Bais Hashoeva of Sukkos, so befittingly culminating the month of Tishrei.  Now, the twelfth Hallelu, which corresponds to the 12th month of the year--Adar I--is climactic--“Kol HaNeshama Tehallel Ka”--Let all souls praise Hashem!  In fact, the reason we repeat the same Pasuk--Kol HaNeshama (i.e., a thirteenth Hallelu) when reciting this Chapter in the morning is to take into account second month of Adar--the thirteenth month of the year!  What appears clear from this is that our Avodah, our sacred and wonderful task, for this month (and continuing into Adar II), is to raise our souls in the service of Hashem.

This month, as we recite “Kol HaNeshama” daily, let us feel within ourselves a raising of our souls, a heightening of our spiritual awareness, a supernal inner joy--in our lot (pun intended)--and in our life.

Additional Note:  The Chasam Sofer notes that each one of our months corresponds to one of the Shevatim--and writes that the twelfth month in which we are corresponds to Binyamin in whose portion the Bais HaMikdash was substantially built--and is to be substantially rebuilt.  It is for this reason that the month is so auspicious for spiritual gain--and for Geulah!



Special Note Two:  We cannot pass up the following closing note on last week’s Parsha: Two articles of the Kohen Gadol which had to stay together when worn-- were the Choshen and the Aifod--the breastplate and the apron.  Thus, the Choshen was tied on all four corners to the Aifod.  This requires some explanation.  After all, the Choshen was intended to provide forgiveness for the sin of “Kilkul Hadin--perverting justice.”  On the other hand, the Aifod was to provide forgiveness for the sin of Avoda Zara.  Why did these two articles--which brought about kapara for such diverse sins need to be tied together? 


HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, explains that these two avairos are very much “connected”, for they both involve the grave sin of kefira--denial of Hashem.  When one worships Avoda Zara, even if he joins it with service of Hashem, he is denying Hashem’s Omnipotence.  So too, with someone who deals dishonestly in monetary matters.  If he feels that he can outsmart his colleague, customer or competitor, if he purchases a product with “shtick” in order to save money, if he takes advantage of a big company “because everybody does”, or if he gently pads his time…--all of these provide indication that the person believes that he is in control of his financial destiny--that it is he, his mental prowess, or his technical skill, who will determine whether he is or will be poor, middle-class or wealthy.  We are therefore, enjoined to always remember to keep the Choshen together with the Aifod--for we must always realize that just as we would never, ever, think of worshipping an idol, or the sun, or the stars in any form or manner--for that matter, so, too, should we never, ever cheat, lie or steal in any form or manner in our lives.



Special Note Three:  With this thought--we continue with a thought on this week’s Parsha, Ki Sisah, which begins with the Zechus of giving money to the right causes--with one’s Shekalim being used for great and lofty purposes.  Chazal (Bava Basra 9B) teach that one who gives charity to a person in need is blessed with Six Brachos--as rooted and demonstrated by the Pesukim in Sefer Yeshaya.  What an incredible rate of return! It really is much better, however, for Chazal add--based upon a continuation of the words of the Navi Yeshaya--that one who is Mefayso BiDevarim, one who appeases the poor person with kind words and an uplifting spirit receives an Additional Eleven Brachos--so that if one gives money--and on top of that provides words of support and encouragement--He is Zoche to Seventeen Brachos!  With this, we should begin to appreciate what our “Shekalim” do not only for the Ani--but for our very own Ruchniyus.  Our giving to others--is a gift to us from Hashem.  So let us be careful to give--and always with the right attitude!



Special Note One:  The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 252:3) rules:  “Kol Regah She’Meacher Lifdos HaShevuyim Haicha DeEfshar LeHakdim Havi Ke’ilu Shofech Damim--Every minute that one delays in redeeming captives when one can obtain their earlier release--it is viewed as if one is shedding blood.”  Although, of course the situation referred to in this ruling is not squarely analogous to Yehonasan ben Malka Pollard’s case--we do see how seriously the Halacha views a Torah Jew’s obligation to assist in freeing a person from prison--especially in a case as Yehonasan’s when so many eminent jurists have stated publicly that it is an injustice for him to remain incarcerated.  One reader sent us the following message on how she remembers to call the White House (202-456-1111 or 1414):  “I use my cell phone calendar to remind me during my lunch hour to call the White House.  It is something everyone can do.”  Let us pursue justice in the best way that we can--and let us continue to plead with Hashem that our brother be released and that any gezeira ra’ah against him be nullified.  Tehillim 121 teaches us that Hashem can help instantly and in every way possible--because He is the “Oseh Shomayim Va’aretz--He created and continuously creates the Heavens and the earth”--so He can most definitely open the lock to a man-made prison cell.  Let us take the action we can to bring happiness to another.


In this regard, we bring you a Simcha message (of course, especially ripe for Adar) from the Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim:  Veyargil Ess Libo Liheyos Sameach Keshe’Yeish LeAcheirim Tovos U’VeYosair Yismach Bi’Reoso Bnei Odom HaMechazrim Al HaMitzvos La’asos Retzon HaBoreh Yisborach-- One should accustom himself to feel the Simcha when good things happen to others, and one should be especially happy when he sees people performing Mitzvos--to do Hashem’s will.”  Please read this important teaching again, for it can change one’s approach and attitude many times during the day upon witnessing an occurrence or event or hearing news.  Let us now reflect for a moment about a situation in which you don’t even personally know the ‘Ba’al Simcha’ and you practice the middah of Simcha--how noble, how spirited, how uplifting!.  With this in mind, before saying the Tehillim or making the call, imagine the joy that Yehonasan will feel when he can go to Shul on a Shabbos Morning and listen to K’riyas HaTorah and answer Amein;  picture the joy of Purim or Pesach for him B’EH THIS YEAR!  It is still very possible.  We can participate in this joy--by doing our part in the here and now!



Special Note Two:  We return to the Mashpil Gai’im U’Magbiah Shefallim note of yesterday.  After decades of being in absolute power, the Egyptian leader’s downfall was stunningly precipitous.  The Magbiah Shefallim--our uplifting will be even more striking because Hashem’s Middah Tovah is vastly greater than his Middas Puraniyos.  As HaRav Schwab points out--it will be His Rachmanus that finally raises us up and over.  We must not forget that at the outset of Tachanun every morning we exclaim “Hashem Moleh Rachamim Rachem Allai Vekabeil Tachanunani--Hashem you are filled with mercy--have mercy on me.  In the Kail Moleh Rachamim prayer for those who have passed on we also begin with the reminder that Hashem is filled with mercy.  Hashem obviously has no body, shape or form--but these Tefillos are urging us to understand that we are not attempting to ignite some dormant or hidden power, or trying to turn on some kind of power switch or transformer on ‘off’.  Hashem is filled with mercy right here and now--and it is we that must act to let the mercy out.  Moreover, no matter how much mercy we let out--Hashem will always be filled with it--it is an unending and everlasting source!  May our earnest Tefillos for Rachamim and personal acts of Rachamim to others serve as the final catalyst and catapult to our speedy and soaring uplifting.  Perhaps most important is our personal recognition and desire not to be left behind--the original redemption resulting from the very same Mashpil Gai’im in Egypt saw only one-fifth benefit from the Magbiah Shefallim.  Let us do what we can and should do now through our rededicated and focused Tefillos and our especial and consistent display of compassion, understanding and kindness to others to be on the right side of the border--so that we are lifted soaringly high, and have the opportunity, as our predecessors to sing Az Yashir!



Special Note Three:  The Birchos HaShachar that we recite every morning are potent wake-up calls to the many personal miracles that we are blessed with daily.  It is well-known that the Sefer Yesod Veshoresh Ha’Avodah suggests that prior to reciting the bracha of Pokaiach Ivrim --thanking Hashem for the ability to see (for those who have and benefit from this complex miracle), one should close and then open his eyes so that the bracha be recited with awareness and appreciation.  We may add that we can do the same in our own way for each particular one of these primary Brachos.  It is no wonder and coincidence (as it never is) that the Shulchan Aruch itself (Orach Chaim 46;1) takes the time and space to explain what these Brachos are about.  We owe it to ourselves to spend an extra minute or two in the Morning to recite these Brachos awake, with intensity and with clarity.  They are our entrée into the day--putting our life into a true and pure frame of reference. over the course of a year--they add up to thousands of Brachos properly and meaningfully recited--and provide a special guide and portal to your entire day.  As one gets out of a chair later that day--he can recall that Hashem is the Mattir Asurim; when one feels exhausted much later on--he will bear in mind that Hashem is the Nosain LaYaeif Koach....  Life and every part of it is a gift--let us make sure that we properly and carefully take it out of the package--and preserve it!



Special Note Four:  How many generations do you think there are from the time the second Luchos were given in this week’s Parsha--and today?  You may be relatively surprised to see one sample chronology that we provide by clicking here you are closer to Sinai then you think--and should be careful to keep the chain in fine condition!



Gemara Shiurim:  Among the thousands of Shiurim available on Kol Halashon, are Gemara Shiurim (non Daf Yomi) by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita on various Mesechtos. Each Shiur is approximately one hour, and is accompanied by the wonderful stories and penetrating insights of one of the leading Rabbonim in America today.  To access the Shiurim, which are free, dial 718-906-6400, followed by #1 and # 2 and #12.






Special Note One:  Today is the Six-Month Anniversary of Yom Kippur--Please by guided by Teshuva Bechol Yom--let us be driven by Yosair Mi’mah She’Asisi!



Special Note Two:  You can really do it!  If you start Mesechta Megillah this week (latest start this Thursday) and learn one blatt a day--you will make a Siyum on Mesechta Megillah at the Seudas Purim!  What Joy for Purim!  If you need a Blatt Shiur--one hour (or less) a day to help you--once again, you may call 718-906-6400, in addition to the many Shiurim available on line.  Don’t wait--start today.  The greater the preparation for Purim--the more one puts in to make it great--the grander the Simchas Purim will be!



Special Note Three:  On the topic of Joy--there is also the Joy of Adar right here and now as well.  How can we better experience it each and every day?  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim in Sha’ar HaSimcha writes:  V’Chol Ha’Oseh HaMitzvos BeSimcha Yaish Lo Sechar Eleph Yados Mi’Mi She’Hamitzvos Alav LeMaso--One who performs Mitzvos with joy receives 1,000 times the reward of one who treats the Mitzvos as a burden.”  Many of us can easily become drained because of all of our daily tasks--as despite all of the machines and devices which are intended to save us time and make life more convenient and accomplishment-filled, we are left with a seemingly unending list of modern-man meanderings.  Our Mitzvah performance is truly threatened daily by the rush, the haste, the rote and habit, the weariness, and the hurried and harried environment around us.  If we can instead get into the habit of taking a moment to STOP and SAVOR a MITZVAH before performing it, a second to inhale the wonderful opportunity and benefit before davening, reciting a bracha, studying Torah, helping another, consciously refraining from Lashon Hora, paying a compliment to lift another’s spirit, helping a child or elderly person even if they are immediate family, then we will perform Mitzvos with the unabated joy that they deserve.  What a special Avodah for Adar--to work on appreciating our G-D Given Daily Opportunities and taking them out of the mode of something that ‘I have to do’ into something that ‘I am happy and spirited to do’.  Ivdu Ess Hashem BeSimcha (Tehillim 100:2)--let Dovid Hamelech’s guiding words be a meaningful mantra and beacon of bright light for us in the coming weeks!



Special Note Four:  In response to our question as to Hashem’s possible lessons for us from the grass-- recently uncovered in its original state (!) after having been covered by snow for many weeks in the Northeast--we received the following pensive and fine response from a reader:  “If grass, which is a simple living thing, can survive under what appears to be such difficult conditions as having a huge blanket of snow many times its own size and thickness, and of such low temperature as to be below freezing, covering it for so long, even more so should K’lal Yisroel be able to survive amidst the most adverse of situations in which we find ourselves, as we surely have survived until now--every single ‘blade’ of ours only by Hashem’s Grace and His Ratzon.  Hashem is being Mechazek us--showing us that after the harshest Winter comes a regenerated Spring.  We must appreciate and understand Hashem’s lesson and strengthen ourselves!”


Hakhel Note:  Thank you for a wonderful thought on strengthening ourselves and our re-vitalization.  We may add that the recent fearful and earth shaking events in Egypt, while re-inspiring us to continuously recite Tehillim Chapter 91 for Hashem’s protection, also remind us of the awesome words we recite daily in Shacharis immediately prior to Shemone Esrei.  We exclaim that Hashem is Mashpil Gai’im U’Magbiah Shefallim-Hashem lowers the arrogant and raises the lowly.  Non-Coincidentally--the Mashpil Gai’im (as HaRav Schwab Z’tl explains in Rav Schwab on Prayer) is referring to the Middas HaDin that Hashem applied to the Egyptians.  The immediate aftermath of that was Magbiah Shefallim--the Middas HaRachamim that Hashem showed to the B’nai Yisroel.  Let us do what we can in order for Hashem’s current Mashpil Gai’im--Middas HaDin on the Egyptians to repeat itself with a Magbiah Shefallim--a Middas HaRachamim for and upon the B’nai Yisroel--as we witness a new and this time final Geulah.   A tried and true way to receive exceptional Rachamim--is by demonstrating exceptional Rachamim to and on behalf of others--through our Tefillos for those who are sick and are in difficult straits, through our acts of exceptional kindness, and through our thoughts and words of compassion, encouragement and sensitivity.  May we be zoche to not only recite the words of Magbiah Shefallim--but to witness it arising out of the Mashpil Gai’im of the Egyptians--speedily and in our days.  If we need a countdown--may it have already begun!



GRASS REVEALED!  To many in the Northeastern United States , grass was revealed and reappeared for the first time in several weeks--and lo and behold it was all there in its dark green color and distinct shape and size--as it was before being covered over by the protective snow for oh so long.  It had not changed--it did not grow recognizably, nor was its vegetable life taken--it reappeared almost exactly as before!  What special lesson can we learn from the... reappearance of the grass? 





Special Note One:  Today is 7 Adar Aleph--and as we know 7 Adar is the Yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu.  Although the Yahrzeit will essentially be observed next month--in Adar Beis, we note a great lesson that our Chazal provide from 7 Adar:  Chazal teach that Haman was elated when the lottery of the month in which he would annihilate the Jews fell upon the month of Adar--for this is the month of Moshe’ Rabbeinu’s Yahrzeit--which undoubtedly was a great calamity for K’lal Yisroel.  He concluded, therefore, that c’v the month was opportune for further Jewish catastrophe.  He was very much mistaken, Chazal continue, because he did not know that Moshe Rabbeinu was also born on 7 Adar, as Hashem completes the years of Tzaddikim to the day.  The month of Adar was then an incredibly successful one for K’lal Yisroel--for where would any of us be for all of eternity --without Moshe Rabbeinu coming into this world?!  He may have temporarily expired from Olam Hazeh, but he is still working hard for us in the upper world;  he will be back soon in the Techias Hameisim of Tzaddikim (which some say will occur first before the general Techias Hameisim); and he left the legacy of ‘Toras Moshe Avdi’--for us all to live by generation after generation!  In reality, the month of Adar is a time of joy--a time very much befitting for the salvation of the Jewish people.  Most certainly, then, we unlike Haman, should recognize the inherent might and greatness of this month and especially endeavor to fulfill the Mishna’s teaching: ‘MiShe’Nichnas Adar Marbin BeSimcha’ in whatever way that we can.  May we suggest that one begin by absolutely banishing sad, troublesome or disheartening thoughts that may enter his mind (Yetzer Hora, hard at work) and replace those thoughts with positive and appreciative realizations of the elevated and unique position any one reading this has in relation to the many, many billions of humans and other creatures on this planet. Our elevated Simcha period will soon lead into the incomparably potent Geulah Period of Purim and Pesach--and hopefully along with it into the Final and Everlasting Geulah--so bring the Simcha in--and be sure let it out and share it with all around you as well!



Special Note Two:  For those who recite a series of Chapters of Tehillim daily (for instance, completing a daily schedule to complete the Sefer every month), may we suggest that in order not to get caught up in rapid and unthinking recitation, one stop for a moment between each Chapter and read the caption found in many of the printed Sefer Tehillims available, which succinctly summarizes the origin, theme, or purpose of the Chapter.

Hakhel Note:  If anyone could supply us with the Mechaber or source of these descriptive captions, we would greatly appreciate it.



Special Note Three:  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim teaches that the Middah of Boshess, of being reserved rather than brazen, shamefaced rather than shameless, is essential to a person’s character and conduct.  However, the Orchos Tzaddikim continues, there are certain circumstances where reticence is the incorrect reaction or response.  In the strongest of terms, he writes: “V’Ain LeHone’ach Shum Mitzvah Avur HaBoshess”--one should not fail to observe or perform a Mitzvah because others are not doing so, or others are not careful in its performance--for a true servant of the King would not leave his service even if was mocked or ridiculed, and certainly if only smirked upon or if his actions would not be understood by those who lack sufficient Yiras Shomayim to appreciate the eternal importance of each and every Mitzvah--and each and every Mitzvah performed properly!  In the words of the Orchos Tzaddikim, it is a “Boshes Ra’ah Me’od”--a very bad Boshess if one is more ashamed of a person than of Hashem.  If one sees laxity in others--whether it be in areas of Kashrus and Bedikas Tolaim (which from all of the recent findings seems to be one of the real and final tests of our generation), of failing to eat Shalosh Seudos, of batala during the course of Torah Study, of questionable financial meandering, of zip-zap Brachos or Tefillah, one should not join the crowd but instead stand up for Hashem and demonstrate what and how it should be done.  Of course, if one feels that the people around would be far from receptive or would be ‘hurt’ or ‘insulted’ by his actions , one should consult with his Rav or Posek on a definitive course of conduct--but action of some kind must most definitely be taken.  A Ganev, as someone who steals secretly, is more scared of man than of Hashem and must therefore must pay Kaifel or double for his actions.  Let us not c’v fall into a Ganev mode by being more shamefaced of man than of Hashem --but instead serve Hashem in each and every Mitzvah with the dignity and honor--with the unabashed nobility--that is attached to being part of the Mamleches Kohanim Vegoy Kadosh!



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


a.  Chapped Lips.  During the winter months, many suffer from dry or chapped lips.  Although there is at least one kosher lip balm on the market, please note that it is prohibited to use any lip balm on Shabbos because the rubbing of the balm stick onto the lip constitutes the melacha of memachek.  Additionally, special care must be taken not to bite the skin off the lips on Shabbos.  In fact, according to The Shabbos Home (Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita), biting skin off the lips “does fall under the Biblical prohibition [of gozez] since this skin is normally removed by biting.”  Note: With regard to lipstick itself, we note that from a kashrus perspective, lipsticks require proper kashrus certification. On Shabbos, once again, use of lipsticks would be prohibited because of memachek.


b.  Inexpensive Tissues, etc.  Some less expensive brands of facial tissues are manufactured in a less-than perfect manner which results in some or many of the tissues in a box being attached, at least partially, to the tissue(s) underneath, frequently at one or more of the tissue’s corners.  A reader advised us that a leading Posek (we will not mention his name, as we have not independently confirmed with him) has stated that it is a Mitzvah Lefarsem--to publicize the Issur in separating the tissues.  When one quickly or in a rapid movement pulls tissues out--he may be separating the tissues--which may involve issues of Koraya or Mechatech.  Accordingly, you should check his tissue box (or at least the brand of tissue) before Shabbos.  There is a similar issue with pre-cut toilet paper in Shuls and Yeshivos-which are in some instances put into dispensers, they may be attached at corners, and be prone to ripping as one removes them from their container or dispenser.  One should urge the person in charge of tissues and paper in Shul to purchase only the right brands to avoid all such issues-and one should advise his Shomer Shabbos supermarket to especially stock the “Shomer Shabbos” brands in which the issues do not exist.


c.  Muktza items may be touched as long as they are not moved.  Thus, one may touch most appliances and put things on them, as the appliance will not move as a result.  What if an appliance such as a refrigerator has a door with Muktza and non-Muktza items on its shelves, or an oven which is not turned on has some food left inside from Erev Shabbos --can you open the appliance door?  The Sefer Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (Third Edition 20:79) rules that it is permissible to open the door to take food out--but that if possible lechatchila  one should remove the muktza items (such as medicines that will not be used on Shabbos) off the refrigerator door before Shabbos--because by opening the door one would be moving muktza.  We once again remind our readers of the special care and regard for Shabbos that the cautious observance of Hilchos Muktza demonstrates--as one carefully guards his actions within the 25 hours of Mai’ain Olam Haba--much as one would when in the grand and palatial palace of...the King of the World!



Special Note Five:  Several brief points relating to this week’s Parshas Tetzaveh.  We can’t supply you with food for the meal--but perhaps with some food to accompany the meal:


1.  At the outset of last week’s Parsha, Teruma, Hashem commands B’nai Yisroel with the words “VeYikchu Li Teruma --they shall take for Me Teruma.  This week’s Parsha however begins with the words “VeYikchu Eilecha--they shall take for you Shemen Zayis, highly refine olive oil.  What is the explanation for this change from the great Li-Lishmi lesson of Parshas Terumah to Moshe Rabbeinu’s personal involvement with the Shemen Zayis here?


2.  The Bigdei Kehuna Gedola of Aharon as Kohen Gadol are described in the Torah as clothing which is LeChavod U’LeSiforess--clothing that brings and displays honor and glory to the position.  The clothing of the regular Kohanim is also described in the Torah with the very same words of LeChavod U’LeSiforess.  There is a moving message--even if one does not don the garb of a Rav or the Elders of the congregation--he is still an important part of the K’lal and brings Kavod V’Siforess to himself and his people in his own way.  With this privilege comes the responsibility.  Although Aharon’s sons did not wear Eight Garments--they did wear Four Garments of special dignity.  One must therefore be mindful--especially when going to pray or even when making a bracha in his own home that he also bring Kavod V’Siforess (or c’v the opposite) to his Avodas Hashem by his dress and comport.  A person who wears a baseball cap to Mincha or Ma’ariv with the emblem of “Mitzvah Man” perched on top of a cartoon character amusingly sprawled underneath the emblem may be demonstrating the same (or negative) degree of Kavod V’Siforess to his Avodah as the person touting a Bluetooth-equipped ear during Shemone Esrei, or the young man clad in an outdoor jacket which proudly and widely displays the Puma or other Western World Insignia.  This Shabbos is a time to reattach ourselves to the dignity of the Avodah --by showing the regard we give to it in our every day lives!


3.  The first of the Kohen Gadol’s Eight Garments listed in the Parsha is the Choshen.  Chazal (Zevachim 88B) teach that the Choshen brings forgiveness for injustices in monetary matters.  We can well understand why this Article of the Bigdei Kehuna is listed first--for, after all, the first question that a person will be asked after his 120 year stay in this world is Nossasa VeNosata Be’Emuna--did you deal honestly with people?  Straightening out our actions in monetary and financial matters is a primary matter --a matter of first concern.  As we get set to do the Avodah-we must first be a N’Ki Kapayim--as our living in Olam Hazeh requires that clean hands be the pre-requisite for elevation of our spirit.  When we think of what to do or how to conduct ourselves in a particular monetary matter--let us visualize the holy Choshen--and let us remember it as the very first of the Kohen Gadol’s Eight Garments!



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Special Note One:  The Chofetz Chaim asks a pointed question:  We all know that Dovid Hamelech teaches “Mi HaIsh HeChofetz Chaim Ohaiv Yomim Liros Tov --Who is the person who wants life, who wants days of seeing good--one who keeps his tongue from evil....”(Tehillim 34:13).  Yet, Dovid Hamelech’s own son, Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, teaches that Shomer Piv U’leshono Shomer MiTzaros Nafsho...one who guards his mouth and tongue will be spared of Tzaros to his soul (Mishlei 21:23).  There appears to be a large gap, a very large gap, between life and days of seeing good throughout an everlasting Olam Haba...and simply sparing one’s soul of pain and suffering.  Which then is the true result of properly guarding one’s tongue?  The Chofetz Chaim explains that of course Dovid Hamelech’s vast and wonderful statement is the accurate description of the result and reward for one who guards his speech.  Shlomo Hamelech, in turn, is referring to one who is not sure as to what he is about to say is appropriate.  The Yetzer Hora (how can one creature work so much overtime?) tries to have him err on the side of making the statement--for, after all, ‘there could really be a big to’eles here’; or ‘you don’t want to be blamed for letting them go out--nobody will ever trust you again!’; or even ‘if they become partners, it will lead to such loshon hora...’  Now, it could really be that he is supposed to make the statement or disclosure--but if one is not sure-- then Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, is teaching us not to make the statement.  If one does so--then even if he should have made the statement--he will still be spared any punishment for not having made it.  When Chazal teach that if the speech is one sela, then silence is two--what they really mean is that one is saving himself much, much more than money! 


Hakhel Note:  Thanks to The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline many important doubts and queries (is this my Yetzer Hora or my Yetzer Tov?) can be resolved, as expert Poskim answer your personal, real life Shailos on Shemiras Haloshon (should I say or not say, and how/what should I say).  Thousands of Shailos have been answered since the Hotline’s inception.  The Hotline is open evenings from 9-10:30 pm EST , and in emergencies--718-951-3696.  May we all be Zoche to be spared from Tzaros Nafsho--and to the special and outstanding bracha of Chaim Ohaiv Yomim Liros Tov!



Special Note Two:  PRE -SHABBOS ALERT!  Please take the time to examine your plastic garbage bags (Glad, Hefty, no brand name, etc.) to determine how the bag is manufactured and packaged.  A reader advised us that he found that each individual Hefty “cinch” bags are fused together on their folded sides, and that by opening them you are separating the bonded folds; other bags may have the opening at the top fused in a special way when wrapped.  We are not providing any ruling on any one kind of bag--for some may be perfectly permissible, and others may not.  If one believes that there may be an issue with the bags that he is using, he should show a folded bag to his Rav or Posek, who will open it and make a Halachic determination.  To be clear, there may be one or more Melachos D’Oraysa associated with opening one of these bags on Shabbos (easily obviated by pre-opening before Shabbos)--so real caution is URGED and ADVISED.  Like much of life--those little things can mean a great, great deal.


Additional Note I:  By taking care of this today, you can, to the contrary, fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa--on Thursday--of Zochor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadsho--remembering the Shabbos day--to keep it holy. 


Additional Note II:  Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkeinu--How fortunate is our lot!  Dealing with plastic bags that hold waste materials is not a matter for the commoner or proletariat--but a topic and issue for the Gedolei Haposkim, for we know that every single part of our lives is meaningful and must be properly undertaken and guided.  A reader mused to us that he was working in close proximity to an individual who constantly used nivul peh.  One day, our reader finally decided that ‘his ears had been burned’ and could be burned no longer, so he turned to the foul-tongued one and sincerely exclaimed and urged: “Can’t you stop cursing? “  To which, the co-worker responded:  “Stop?  From what?  What do you think this is--church or something?!”  We understand the world and its workings much, much differently than this co-worker.  Every day, several times a day, we may recite the Pasuk Kodosh, Kodosh, Kodosh...Meloh Chol Ha’aretz Kevodo--Hashem You are Holy--and Your Glory Fills the World--every part and aspect, and every minute of it.  The most mundane, if we take it properly, will be seen to truly be among the sacred.  The Chasam Sofer notes that the Torah’s command to build the Shulchan in last week’s Parsha comes before the command to build the Menorah.  He explains that Olam HaZeh, symbolized by the Shulchan which housed the Lechem HaPonim must perforce come before Olam Haba--symbolized by the Menorah as the supernal radiance and illumination of Torah.  Only if we are successful with our attitude and approach to the holiness of the Shulchan--to bringing Kedusha to Olam Hazeh-- will we merit the Menorah of Olam Haba.  The Shulchan, after all, was in the very same Ohel Moed/Heichal--known as the Kodesh--as the Menorah itself.  Let us remember how important each and every aspect of our lives is--so that we personally demonstrate throughout our entire day our true recognition, our complete belief, our whole and resounding awareness that Meloh Chol Ha’Aretz Kevodo--His Glory Fills the World and Every Part of It--Every Single Part of It!



Special Note One:  In this propitious month, we must strive to find new and different ways to serve Hashem through Simcha.  Not every move or attempt towards this goal has to involve major or earth-shattering events.  May we simply suggest approaching a friend or colleague and asking them, “Did you smile today?”  Hopefully, this will evoke a smile.  One can then follow up with asking them to think about something in their life that they can smile about now--and hopefully they will smile again!  Their smile(s) could be fleeting--or they could take the uplifted feeling with them a little while longer--and your Ruach Adar may have changed their day.  You, in turn, have much cause for sublime rejoicing--in having made someone else’s day a happier one!  Keep up the Ruach Adar in others--and most certainly don’t allow yourself to falter!



Special Note Two:  A further enhancement--from one of our readers who had explained why the Mishna Berurah stresses that the lamed in Tefillin has a dagesh in it.  The shoresh of the word “Tefillah” (what we refer to as prayer) is pay-lamed-lamed, meaning to “assess and correct.”  The root tof-pay-lamed, on the other hand means “tasteless or valueless.”  Unless one is careful to pronounce the dagesh in the word, thus making it clear that the word is from the shoresh of pay-lamed-lamed, it would very mistakenly appear that the shoresh of Tefillah is tof-pay-lamed.  It follows then that “Lehaniach Tefillin” means “to lay tools for prayer, i.e., for assessment and correction of my relationship with Hashem”.  If one leaves out the dageish in Tefillin, then he has one once again changed the root to tof-pay-lamed, tasteless or valueless.  “Lehaniach Tefillin” without the dagesh would be an affront and insult to the mitzvah.  This is why the Mishna Berurah provides a specific warning to avoid making this error!”



Special Note Three:  It is interesting to note the times that we recite at least the first Pasuk of Shema--before Pesukei DeZimra in the morning; before Shemone Esrei in the morning and evening; before laining from the Torah on Shabbos and YomTov, before going to sleep every night--and at the conclusion of the Yom Kippur Katan and Yom Kippur tefillos--which is really before the new month and before the newly renewed ensuing year will begin.  It would appear that Shema is the portal, the entranceway, to approach a new and next stage in life--for it is the essence of Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim--the recognition that whatever you are about to do or undertake is in the presence and service of the One and Only Hashem who loves you and watches over you.  One may want to add other occasions before which he recites this Pasuk--such as before heading out to work, before going out on a date, and other situations and circumstances before one is going to start something new.  Your Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim at that time is a pristine statement of your recognition and awareness that whatever you do and whatever results --you are in and under Hashem’s great and loving care!



Special Note Four:  This week we will conclude the Shovavim period for 5771.  During this time, some have raised their level in an area or areas in which they felt a faltering.  .  If one feels the special time has passed by without making a real mark on him this year, may we propose the following brief but potent idea:  The Sefer Chovos Halevavos explains that the essence of a person is his thoughts--and this is where his Bechira Chofshis really lies, for whether or not (and in what manner) one effectuates his thoughts will be determined by Hashem’s especially dedicated Hashgacha Pratis over him (see previous Note!).  One’s thoughts are therefore his true and very personal and personalized expression of self.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, in Sefer Sifsei Chaim especially emphasizes the importance of ‘Rikuz HaMachshavos’-consistently focusing one’s thoughts towards what is right and away from wrong.  Failure to develop in this area affects one’s entire being, for it is not just the brief or passing improper thought that has entered and spoiled, but it is the impervious downgrade of one’s character and attitude that results from the improper notion or thought.  Accordingly, may we suggest that one attempt to go through a day (starting today, perhaps here and now) resolving not to have or allow a thought today that he would be embarrassed about in front of a close family member or friend--and certainly not in front of Hashem who knows all thoughts.  When one is aware that the thought is coming or has come--he should quickly banish it by reminding himself that the thought is not him--but like a foreign bacteria or virus, is there to harm him--in this case in a spiritual and everlasting way.  The gauge of ‘will this embarrass me’ is a simple but effective one.  Even if one feels that this is not possible for it is too much of a ‘cold turkey’ response to his thoughts until now--it should definitely be made a part of one’s day when he becomes aware of an unbecoming, unacceptable or inappropriate thought--and, realizing it, moves to cleanse and clarify his thoughts--and his life.


Shovavim 5771--may we make sure to leave it with a meaningful impact upon our lives!



Below are two other alerts issued yesterday relating to sardines:


From Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita:


All sardines (including ‘Heimishe’ brands) should not be used unless they are the “skinless, boneless” variety.  The previous information regarding one brand has now been extended to others as well.”


From Rabbi Gershon Bess, Shlita:


Sardines [with skin and bones] from Portugal have been found to be infested with Anisakis worms. They are forbidden according to ALL opinions since they are not found in the flesh but rather in the cavity of the fish. The sardine must be gutted and the interior walls scraped to insure that the worms have been removed. This is required according to all opinions even if there is an OU on the can.  [Recently, nine worms were found in one sardine!]

This alert was initiated by the findings of the Volover Rav Shlita

Skinless and boneless sardines are permitted.



From PROJECT KAVEY (Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita):


No Strings Attached

A child must always be made to feel loved and accepted, regardless of his actions. Just as we cannot refuse to offer a child food to eat, even if we are not pleased with his actions, neither can we refrain from expressing our love for and acceptance of him, even if we are not pleased with his actions. When we do need to punish, even though it may not be appropriate to demonstrate our love, we should do so only out of love with the feeling that “I am punishing my child because I love him and I want to help him.”


If you would like to join a live parenting line or would like more information, contact tips@kavey.org, or call

646-504-1016 (US), 020-7043-5619 ( UK ), 082-441-2713 (SA), 052-769-7588 (IL)




Special Note One: Not a position to be in:  The Chofetz Chaim in the name of the Sefer Chareidim writes that when one does not judge another favorably, he becomes the merkava, the carrier or bearer, of a K’lipas HaTumah known as Chovah.  Important Recommendation:  Today, as you are about to experience that situation in which you do not at all understand how or why that person could have said this or done that, resolve that instead of devolving into a merkava for Chovah, you will instead fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa of Betzedek Tishpot Amisecha--judging another favorably even under the most puzzling or extremely difficult set of circumstances.  It follows that, in that event, rather than becoming a bearer of Tumah--one will instead be the bearer of the special spirit of Tahara.  Chazal teach that Hashem’s Midah Tovah is at least 500 times greater than his Middah of Puraniyos.  Let us re-examine each and every one of these daily meetings, situations and circumstances.  Far more than being a thorny challenge or trying time--each one is more truly an incredibly great opportunity--which should not get away.  Every day--every time--go for the purity that will come upon you and your Neshama in such great measure!



Special Note Two:  In response to yesterday’s Question as to why the Torah is put into an Aron and then into the Kodesh HaKodoshim seemingly isolated from the people, we received the following excellent responses from readers:


a.  “If the Torah would just be “there” for us, it wouldn’t make us want it at all.  One must view and seek out the Torah just as one would a hidden treasure in order to properly appreciate how invaluable it is to our lives”.  Hakhel Note:  We can apply this lesson daily by treating our Maggidei Shiur and Seforim with an added level of appreciation, care and respect--for they are very much helping us to reach an essential part of our life--the ‘VeSein Chelkeinu BeSoresecha’--uncovering and revealing the Torah for us, so taht we can attain our life’s potential and portion in Torah knowledge and study.  One should very much try to improve his hakara, his recognition and affection to those who help him take the Torah out of the Aron and imbibe Hashem’s Wisdom into his being daily-and everlastingly!


b.  “The Declaration of Independence is kept under lock and key in a pneumatically sealed chamber with atmospheric conditions perfect for its preservation, and back in the times when it was written, copies were disseminated among the states for their publicizing the Declaration. Lehavdil, we need to have one copy of the Torah that is sacrosanct as a proof that over all of these millennia, not a dot has been changed in the Torah.  We will need this proof one day when the nations that surround us make the final accusations, and the original scroll will appear and we will be able to compare that the scrolls that we read in Shul today are exact copies of the original scrolls written by Moshe Rabbeinu and dictated by Hashem Yisborach.  And since that will be Y’may Mashiach, Am Yisrael--and the very same Torah will continue live l’olam va’ed!”



Special Note Three:  Remember--this is Adar. Every day one should go out of his way to do something to make yourself and others happy--learn and/or tell a D’var Torah, give someone a compliment, show somebody that you were thinking about them...each person should set a daily goal over this period of MiShe’Nichnas Adar, so that when he leaves Adar to the freedom of Nissan and Pesach he will have uplifted his mind and spirit to new and special heights.  May we strongly urge that you keep a record of your joyful accomplishments.  In the secular world, it is electronic devices that get Updates and Upgrades, and then only it is from time to time--in the Torah world we can and should move to upsurge in wonderful measure each and every day.  Let’s start with a real Simcha Upgrade today!



KASHRUS ALERT!  Because of various findings of Kashrus supervisors relating to canned sardines, one should consult with his Rav or Posek, or the Kashrus Agency certifying the product, as to what checking is necessary prior to consuming the sardines.  Apparently, the issues involved consist not only of krill, but of anisakis as well.  This is not to say that sardines cannot be consumed, but rather that one should know the ‘if and when and what and how’ before purchasing and certainly consuming the product. 


As the Sefer Mesillas Yeshorim writes, when in doubt--one should view food upon which there is a Halachic issue as a possibly dangerous food--and not consume it unless and until you are sure that there is really no danger associated with it.  In this case, the ‘doctor’ we must turn to for advice is our spiritual doctor--our Rav, Posek or Kashrus Agency who can provide us with the precise preventive medicine that one may need!  Hakhel Note:  This thought is of course not limited to sardines--but to any food product which is new or upon which there is a question, or of which you are unsure.  Remember, this is your spiritual life to which we are referring--we have to make sure we remain healthy for a very long, in fact, everlasting, time!



SUGGESTION OF THE WEEK:  Every day, Hashem’s kindnesses to us are so great that we describe them in Shemone Esrei as “Ki Lo Samu Chasodecha--Hashem’s Chesed is Unending”.  When reciting these all-encompassing words we should feel the bliss of the many (countless) blessings we have at that moment--relating to the body, soul, family, personal miracles and experiences, etc.  One can and should sense a shower of Chasodim upon him, just as one senses the pleasure of a hot shower on a tired or perspired body--the water keeps on coming and coming-bringing salvation, relief and renewal!  Indeed, even throughout the day--as one realizes the specific blessing here and the definite  blessing there--exclaim ‘Ki Lo Samu Chasodecha--Your Chesed keeps coming and coming!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In last week’s Parsha (Shemos 25:16), we find that the ‘Edus’--the Torah--should be placed into the Aron, with no specific direction as to when to take the Torah out.  HaRav Zalmen Sorotzkin, Z’tl, asks:  Why is it that the most precious possession that we have--the Torah--should be put away into an Aron--and then kept in a sense hidden in the Kodesh HaKodoshim on top of that?!  Shouldn’t the Torah be open and exposed for us all--the Torah is not the crown jewels, but our crown jewels of life that needs to be seen and exposed to us all--why was it to be put away--in the Aron and in the Kodesh HaKodoshim?!




Special Note One:  Now that we are at the third day of Adar Rishon (!), we are reminded of the words of Rav Dessler, Z’tl in Michtav Mai’Eliyahu (Volume 2, p.123).  Rav Dessler teaches that just as there are stages in the aveilus of Av beginning with Rosh Chodesh --which climax on Tisha B’Av, so too is there an increase in the Simcha one is to feel as he moves daily through Adar- reaching a pinnacle on Purim and Shushan Purim.  This avodah is not something that one waits until the last moment with.  This year, with the extra month of Adar, a person is given more and greater opportunity to develop this joyfulness.  A person’s joy is never marked by a one-time chuckle at a joke or one-liner, but at the Simcha of one’s relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu, as the world turns on the axle of His Hashgacha Pratis over someone.


In connection with this fundamental point, we received the following correspondence from a reader:  “HaRav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita just explained at his Rosh Chodesh Adar Seudah that the Sefer Chovos Halevavos writes that one who trusts Hashem, i.e., a Ba’al Bitochon, is always BeSimcha.  It follows that if one wants to be Marbeh Besimcha, it would mean that he should work on increasing Bitachon (such as by studying the Chovos Halevavos Sha’ar HaBitochon) in Chodesh Adar”.

Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim, which consists of 28 Sha’arim or Chapters, each of which is named by and describes a  particular Midah, also contains a discussion of Bitachon--can you guess the name of the Sha’ar--the topic, in which the discussion of Bitachon is contained?  Let us get the message from these most classic of Seforim--and let us use this precious time period to expand our Simcha horizons!



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Eli Mansour, Shlita brings Chazal who teach about how the Yetzer Hora operates: “HaYom Omeir Lo Aseh Kacha, U’lemachar Aseh Kacha--today the Yetzer Hora says ‘do this’ and tomorrow ‘do this’.  Why is the same term--do this today, do this tomorrow used?  Rabbi Mansour beautifully teaches that the tachlis of the Yetzer Hora is to keep you at status quo--whatever you are doing today--do it tomorrow.  Don’t grow, don’t become better, don’t get anywhere in life.  You are five minutes late every day to Shul, that’s just fine--keep it like that; you don’t have time to go over the Parsha--hey, you did that when you were younger, no need to start something new now;  you sometimes lose yourself--that’s good, you have to every once in a while--keep it up.  Our task in life is to fight him at his “Kacha’s”--just do it and do it again.  We have to become better than yesteday--and not allow yesterday’s Kacha in!

Hakhel Note :  Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, explains that the Keruvim had the appearance of children--for us to realize that in our relationship with Hashem and with others we should view ourselves as children--not stuck in any kind of bad habit or rut--and always willing to try something new, always trying to explore--to get up and grow.  Let us be guided by the light of doing more than in the past, doing Yoseir MiMah She’Hayisi--not being a Kacha Jew--but being like the Keruvim --better today than the day before!



Special Note One:  Welcome to Chodesh Adar!


As we all know, “Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha--when one enters into Adar, we increase our joy” (Taanis 29A).  There is discussion in the Achronim as to whether this increased level of joy commences with the first day of Adar I--tomorrow!  The Sefer Adar U’Purim by HaRav Yoel Schwartz, as well as the Aishel Avrohom (Butshatsh) both learn that in fact the joy commences with Adar I.  HaRav Schwartz understands this from the term “Mishenichnas”, which indicates that the initial entry into Adar warrants the increased degree of happiness.  He adds from the Sefer HaToda’ah (by HaRav Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl) that the Mazal of Adar is “Dagim”, which is “fish” in the plural (as opposed to Dag, in the singular), in order to indicate that the Mazal of both months of Adar is identical, and that they are both to be infused with joy.  The Shaalos Yaavetz (2:88), however, regards only the Adar which is close to Purim as the Adar of Simcha.


If we are “strict” in this matter, and rule that we must begin our increased Simcha tomorrow, how can we begin to manifest it?  The Sefer Nimukei Orach Chaim (to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim Chapter 685) writes that each person should engage in activities or do things that make him personally happy.  HaRav Schwartz adds that it is a nice custom to post signs in your home reading “MiShenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha”--in order to have a constant reminder to feel and experience an increased level of Simcha (one can even do so today--as he will not be able to post the sign on Shabbos!).


Increased Joy for two consecutive months--yet another benefit of a Jewish Leap Year!


Additional Note: We are pleased to point out that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, is of the opinion that “Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha” applies to Adar I as well, based on the fact that there is a mitzvah to especially increase our Seuda on Purim Katan (the 14th of Adar I), as is brought by the Rema in his very last words to all of Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (Chapter 697).  HaRav Kanievsky continues that the way we can express this Simcha is “if one has a Siyum, or other Simcha to make, he should make it in Adar” (Derech Sicha, p. 187).



Special Note Two:  We received the following similar and important responses from readers regarding our question about why the Mishna Berurah emphasizes that there is a Dagesh in the Lamed of the word ‘Tefillin’


A.  The word Dagesh means emphasis and in this instance is referred to as a Dagesh Chazak  A Dagesh Chazak is intended to double the letter in which it appears.  The doubling of the Lamed in this case, executed properly, should end one syllable and begin the next syllable with each of the Lameds as follows: Tefil-leen.


B.  In pronunciation, the dotted letter is used to both close one syllable and open the next.  In this case, the word is “te-fil-lin”, but those hyphens only divide up the syllables, don’t actually pause mid-lamed!  It’s one, slightly longer, /l/ sound.  In English, the “ll” in “bullet” works the same way; the syllables are “bul-let” (not “bu-llet”).  Trying it might help convey what I mean.


Hakhel Note:  Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us!



Special Note Three:  We provide the answers to our Shehechiyanu questions of yesterday: 


A.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 59)writes that one does not recite Shehecheyanu over smell because the benefit of smell is to the Neshama--and the Neshama is Nitzchi, eternal so it is not bound by the time-bound nature of the Shehecheyanu over a new fruit.


B.  The issue of a Bracha of Shehecheyanu over a diamond ring is a fascinating one.  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl (Igros Moshe, Evan HaEzer 4:84) writes that the Chosson purchasing the diamond ring makes a Shehecheyanu, and then the Kallah, upon her receipt of the ring makes a Shehechiyanu.  In his Teshuva, HaRav Moshe adds that perhaps the Kallah’s Bracha is HaTov VeHameitiv (as both she and her future husband will enjoy the new diamond).  HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, rules that only the Kallah makes the Bracha, and not the Chosson (Sefer VeZos HaBracha, p. 168). 


In providing some background, Rabbi Yisroel Pinchas Bodner, Shlita, author of The Halachos of Brachos, wrote the following to us:  “In earlier times the acquisition of new Kaylim (or jewelry) was something that did not occur often.  In those times acquiring new Kaylim was usually cause for much happiness.  Thus the Shulchan Aruch states that a Shehecheyanu may be made when new Kaylim are acquired  In our times, however, the Minhag is not to recite a brocha for any new acquisition (except when purchasing a new home or a significant new garment).  Nevertheless, if one acquires a possession that brings him such joy that he really wants to recite a brocha, he is permitted to do so.  Thus if the Chosson feels great joy he is permitted to recite  a Shehecheyanu when he is Koneh the ring. If the Kallah feels great joy when she receives the ring she is permitted to recite a Shehecheyanu.”


Based upon of the foregoing, a Chassan and Kallah would be well advised in discussing the possibility of making this bracha with their Rav or Posek...Be’Sha’ah Tovah U’Mutzlachas!


Hakhel Notes: 


a.  The responses to the above Shailos may be different for Sefaradim, so please check with your Rav or Posek.


b.  The practice of specifically giving a ring as opposed to another or other valuable items is a different topic, which may be pursued at another time.  In the interim, we refer our readers to the gifts given by Eliezer to Rivka--and perhaps more importantly the meaning and symbolism behind each one of the gifts!



Special Note Four:  A reader provided the following true story and insight on the lesson of Tzedaka we had provided earlier this week:


“Your quote from the Chofetz Chaim (One should never be upset if the same pauper returns to him time after time; indeed, one should feel as much joy each time as if an important customer were coming to buy more and more goods, since a pauper brings a blessing from Hashem with his every approach!) reminded me of a story I read.  You may want to share it with your readers.


‘Purim is the most hectic of days for every Jew - how much more so for the great Rosh Yeshivah, and leader of his generation, R’ Chaim Volozhiner. R’ Chaim was besieged all day long by lines of paupers who stretched out their hands for Mattanos L’evyonim.  Every poor person received his gift with gratitude and promptly left the Rabbi’s home to run elsewhere for more gifts.  But there was one pauper who lingered around the house and then approached R’ Chaim again to ask for another gift.

Often, people become annoyed by this kind of behavior, especially on Purim when they may feel beleaguered by the onslaught of a seemingly endless flow of solicitors.  Not so R’ Chaim Volozhiner.  He graciously gave the pauper a second monetary gift and even spent a moment talking to him.  The world famous Rov and Rosh Yeshiva asked the poor man if perchance he had a gut vort, a nice Torah idea about Purim to share with him.


The pauper responded, “The Midrash says that Mordechai knew that the heavenly tribunal agreed with Haman’s decree to harm the Jews because they had to be punished for their sins. However, the tribunal has two different ways of sealing its decrees. If the decree is sealed with a seal of blood, it is permanent and can’t be rescinded.  If, on the other hand, it is sealed with clay, then there was still a last chance for the Jews to repent and thereby shatter the clay seal. Mordechai was deeply concerned lest the decree was sealed in blood.  When he met Eliyahu Hanavi who informed him that the decree was only sealed with clay, Mordechai was overjoyed because there was still hope for the salvation of the Jews.

‘I would like to know, honored Rabbi, whether there is some remez--a hint of this concept on the text of the Megillah itself’.”

Before R. Chaim could reply, the pauper continued and demonstrated a textual source for the derivation of this idea from the Megillas Esther (3:9), where it says “Yikasev Li’Abdam”--it shall be written down to destroy them.  The Hebrew word “Li’Abdam”, may be broken into two words to read “Lo B’dam”--not with blood.  Simply inserting a space in this word describing Haman’s decree reveals this key fact about the hidden Divine decree.

The next time R’ Chaim visited his Rebbe, the Vilna Gaon, he repeated this vort to him.  The Vilna Gaon’s response was, “The very same Eliyahu Hanavi who brought this good news to Mordechai in Shushan many centuries ago, revealed this Scriptural proof to you on Purim.”

This incident teaches us how important it is to be patient with the poor.  If R’ Chaim had been impatient with the pauper when he approached him a second time, and had rejected his request, then R’ Chaim would have forfeited his opportunity to have ‘gilui Eliyahu’-a revelation of Eliyahu Hanavi.  Beware!  You never know who is knocking at the door!’  (from Tuvcha Yabiyu Vol II, p. 278, Tzedakah Treasury p. 256).



Special Note Five:  For the month of Adar Rishon, we reach the Sixth Ani Ma’amin--I believe with complete faith that all the words of the Neviim are true.  The Neviim represent the highest level that man can reach in this world--receiving actual directed communicated from Hashem.  Therefore, every word of theirs that is recorded has such great weight that the commentaries analyze each such word as if it was the Torah itself.  Whenever reviewing a Pasuk from Navi we should reflect on its meaning and its application to us--it is all true!  Observation:  Thinking about the Neviim as we recite this Ani Ma’amin daily should ‘raise our bar’--as we recognize that there are not currently Neviim, and that each of us in our own way can reach the highest levels that man can reach in our day.  There is no reason to linger behind--when you have the opportunity to be at the top.  If you demonstrate true dedication and zeal, even when our Neviim come back--who knows where you may be.  After all, in reviewing the Neviim who are part of Tanach, we see a broad spectrum of Neviim--from different families and different places. Chazal (Megillah 14A) indeed teach that there were actually more than a million of Neviim, but that there Nevuah was not for future generations so it was not formally recorded as part of Tanach.  With the right and ambitious effort on our part, who knows what we can attain--the Mesilas Yeshorim was not written for the theory--it was written to show what a person (not an angel) could truly attain.  Let’s start that effort today--for our beginning to read the Parshios of the first Mikdash over the next several weeks may be a special supernal sign that we too may witness the building of the final Mikdash in this very period--and it would be truly wonderful if we were in an elevating and elevated mode!



Special Note Six:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Hilchos Shabbos series: 


1.  In the Yekum Purkan at the conclusion of our Shabbos Shacharis, we recite ‘U’Mi She’Meyachadim Batei Chnei’sios LiTefillah, U’Mi She’Bo’im BeSocham LeHispallel--and those who dedicate Shuls for prayer and those who come to them to pray.’  Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita , notes the apparent redundancy of these two phrases--why do we ostensibly say the same thing twice.  There is really a great difference, Rabbi Weiss explains.  There are, in fact, two different hinds of people who come to Shul.  There are those who treat the Shul with a care and concern, with a feeling of love and attention.  If a light bulb is out, if tissues are needed, if the chairs are in disarray, if items need to be picked up and thrown out--immediate attention is taken, and the Shul is responsibly taken care of and cared for.  Why leave the privilege for the hired help--and why wait until tomorrow to get it done?  These are the people who dedicate the Shuls for prayer.  Then there is a second group of people--those that just ‘come to pray’--stepping over a wrapper on the floor, asking when “they” will finally get it right, stuffing up the sink, leaving the coffee out--and letting “them” or the caretaker fix the problem, clean the mess and...take care of the Shul.  This is what we announce in the Yekum Purkan in Shul on Shabbos--yes, you are all coming to Shul--but you are two separate and distinct groups of people in the eyes of men, and in the eyes of Hashem!


2.  There are some wonderful free Family Shabbos Newsletters which can be sent to your email box.  For Shabbos Stories, please send a subscribe request to keren18@juno.com.  For Inspiring Insights on Torah and Tefillah, contact RabbiyehudaWinzelberg@gmail.com


3.  Shabbos Question--can one return a lost object to its rightful owner on Shabbos?


4.  Several Notes on Hilchos Muktza:


a.  Some stores items (such as Challah trays or the like) in their oven on Shabbos, using it as an extra cabinet while not in use.  This may be problematic, as the oven door may be considered part of a K’li She’Melachto LeIssur, which is only permitted to be moved (in this case--opened and closed) if no other eitzah with a K’li She’Melachto Lehetter is immediately available.  If this is an issue for you, please consult with your Rav.


b.  Sifrei Kodesh, and usable food items, are never considered Muktzah.  What about clothing?  This is a Machlokes HaPoskim, with HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita ruling that clothing can be treated as usable food and is not Muktzah--even if it is not needed, and HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita ruling that clothing that is not needed cannot be moved without a need or purpose.


c.  In Igros Moshe( Orach Chayim, Chelek Heh), HaRav Moshe rules that it is preferable not to rely on the concept of ‘Geraph Shel Re’ii’ if one has a better method of moving an item, such as moving it indirectly.  However (unlike other Poskim who prefer a child to move the Geraph Shel Re’ii item), HaRav Moshe rules that it is not a good idea for the child to move Geraph instead of an adult--for he will then think that he is allowed to move Muktza!  All agree that it would be best for a Gentile to move the Geraph item.  Hakhel Note:  In considering the broad nature of these Halachos, one realizes that one of the messages and lessons of Muktzah to us is that while all of our actions in life are extremely important--our Shabbos actions, as actions on a day which is Mai’Ain Olam Haba, take on an even greater measure and level of significance to our eternal existence.  We should be especially careful with these Halachos--for it shows how much we truly care about the day!



Special Note One:  The Mishna Berurah in Hilchos Tefillin (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 25, seif katan 19) writes that when reciting the bracha of ‘LeHoniyach Tefillin’, one should note that the letter Lamed in ‘Tefillin’ has a dagesh in it.  What is the message the Mishna Berurah trying to convey?  Is there a special way that we are supposed to pronounce the Lamed?  We very much welcome your response!



Special Note Two:  Two Related but Unrelated Questions:


a.  Does one make a bracha of Shehechiyanu over a spice that he has never smelled before?


b.  When a Chassan buys a diamond engagement ring for his Kallah, is any special bracha recited --by the Chassan?  by the Kallah at the time of receipt?


Note:  Please consider quickly, for we intend to provide responses tomorrow!



Special Note Three:  Why is last week’s Parsha of Mishpatim, which contains the basis of so much of our financial and civil law, brought in the Torah prior to the building of the Mishkan, which is the core of this coming week’s Parsha?  It seems like such a stark contrast between two items at opposite ends of the spectrum--the Aron HaKodesh on the one hand--and $ on the other!  One simple suggestion to explain this paradox may be that before we can even begin to establish our bond with Hashem, we must first properly conduct our relationships with humans in the way Hashem tells us is correct.  If you want to further elevate your human existence--first get to the point at which you can elevate it, as you can’t get to the second floor without passing through the first.  The Bais Halevi, however, explains the juxtaposition in a different way.  He teaches that Hashem is indicating to us that the money that we use to build our spiritual goals in this world--cannot be just any money--but money that is pure and clean.  A person cannot ‘bless’ or justify tainted actions for tzedaka or spiritual causes.  The money given--as the giver himself--must be wholesome.  This lesson is beautifully furthered by Dovid Hamelech in Tehillim (24:3) with the moving words, fervently recited on the Yomim Noraim:  ‘Mi Ya’aleh BeHar Hashem U’Mi Yakum Behar Kodsho---N’ki Chapayim ... Who may ascend the mountain of Hashem , and who may stand in the place of his sanctity?  One with clean hands and a pure heart....


In fact, the Chofetz Chaim (in the Introduction to his Sefer Ahavas Chesed) writes that Hashem said that he loved Avrohom Avinu because he would teach his family ‘La’asos Tzedakah U’Mishpat...to do charity and justice.  Tzedaka, righteousness, appears to be beyond the letter of the law whereas Mishpat is the letter of the law.  Avrohom Avinu would not be giving his children two contradictory messages--what does the Torah mean?  The Chofetz Chaim explains that there are two parts to a relationship--how a person acts to his fellow man, and how his fellow man acts towards him. One should use Mishpat--the strict letter of the law for everything that one is doing that involves someone else’s money, and be sure to avoid taking a penny that is not his.  On the other hand, when considering how another person is reacting to him, one should use tzedaka--employing a degree of flexibility and compromise--so that not everything is a fight or the ‘principle of the thing’, and so that one does not leave behind open, jagged potholes as he travels life’s road.  This is not simple or easy--but it is the path described Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim, the path originally paved by Avrohom Avinu for all of his descendents, and the very way we can leave Parshas Mishpatim and arrive very quickly at the portals of the Mishkan!  Let us remember that money is not useful currency in Olam Haba unless you exchanged it properly--very properly--when you had the chance and when the bank was open--in the here and now!


Additional Note 1:  Our mandate to strive for honesty and integrity is recorded in Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 231:14) which requires us to err and give a little more from our side when weighing or measuring for another--as the Pasuk teaches”Vatzedek Yiheye Loch (Devorim 25:15), which Chazal teach means “Tzadek Mishelecha Vetitten Lo (Bava Basra 68B).


Additional Note Two:  HaRav Pam, Z’tl, would often quote the teaching of the Chofetz Chaim applicable when hiring workers of any kind:  One should try to describe exactly what has to be done, and how much will be paid for doing it.  Otherwise, it is highly probable that a problem will develop, and in the end a tinge (or more than a tinge) of ill will and gezel, may develop.  Be clear--up front, to avoid any avoidable wrangling and aggravation.


The goal of being a N’ki Chapayim is not for the Rabbis and Scholars, and not left to the high Holy Days.  It is the calling of the descendants of Avrohom Avinu--and it is the basis for our building a Mishkan in this world.  How mighty are our challenges--but how immense are our accomplishments!



MASHAL OF THE WEEK:  The Chofetz Chaim provides an astonishing Mashal which we can and must each learn from.  A man of great wealth sent two different representatives to purchase precious stones for him to a far away land. To one, he gave 1,000 gold coins, and to the other he gave 100 gold coins.  Both were sizable sums, but the greater amount was entrusted with the more responsible sh’liach.  The representatives went on their way together, proud of their assignment and determined to do well. Their spark and ambition began to give way towards their own personal needs, and they realized that they could ‘live a little’ by spending just a little bit of the money with which they had been entrusted.  After all, they would be certainly be able to easily make up the money spent with some wise purchases at the end of their destination--and they needed to take care of themselves today.  It wasn’t very long before the 1,000 gold coins became 200 in the hands of the first agent, and the 100 dwindled to 40 in the hands of the other.  Both began to get a bit nervous, and their jitters suddenly exploded into a reciprocal ranting.  The more entrusted one yelled: “How can you compare yourself to me--you have only 40 gold coins to your entire name--and I have five times as much!!  To which the lesser agent responded:  “What an incredible fool you are!  What are you boasting about!  Those 200 gold coins are not yours--you are only a sh’liach who has been entrusted with the money to bring back gems.  In fact--you are much, much poorer than me--for I spent 60 coins of our sender’s money--but you squandered and owe him a whopping 800!!  You are going to have a lot more of explaining to do--and I don’t envy at all the shame and disgrace that you will face--and the heavy price you are going to have to pay for your enormous derogation of responsibility!”


The Nimshal is stark and clear.  We here in this world are all sh’luchim, agents of Hashem from the higher worlds, entrusted with a mission to rectify and cleanse our souls--each in accordance with the level of wisdom and responsibility which Hashem has placed within us.  It would be ridiculous for a person to consider himself superior to his friend, or in any matter be haughty--for his wisdom, wealth or talent is not his--but was given to him for a special and dedicated purpose--his unique and singular mission in life.  A person must exercise great care to fulfill that mission with that which he has been equipped--for if one acts responsibly, it is truly a real and attainable goal.  Along the route, one must be especially careful not to allow himself to be sidetracked with the wiles and guile of the Yetzer Hora--allowing this indulgence after that desire, this hankering after that immoderation--none of which disappear after ‘their use’ but instead continuously pile up into what can mount into an embarrassing and unexplainable heap and mess.  One must most certainly appreciate the hours that he has each day for Torah and Tefillah and not allow them to be squandered, unaccounted for, or spent away rather than serving their purpose.  Each day, and the precious hours that it is comprised of, can go far in taking those gold coins one has received--and fulfilling their entrusted mission--practically, meaningfully and successfully!




Special Note:  The Sidras Mishpat Moshe on many practical topics in Choshen Mishpat was published in 5758 under the auspices of HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita (in memory of Rabbi Moshe Sherer, Z’tl, by Ruach Country Publications).  Before taking leave of the vast amount of Hilchos Choshen Mishpat contained in and encompassed by Parshas Mishpatim, we provide below but a few significant points from this wonderful publication.


1.  To appreciate the broad scope of Choshen Mishpat, one must recall that its Halachos apply every day of the week--even on Shabbos (!)--in contrast even to the essential Halachos of the 39 Melachos on Shabbos--which apply one day a week.


2.  A non-Torah person thinks of possessions and money as being items to accumulate in any way possible.  This attitude is described by Shlomo Hamelech (Koheles 2:26 ) with the words “VelaChotai Nossan Inyan Leh’Essof VeLichnos...To the sinner he gave the urge to gather and collect.  Such a person thinks that accumulating wealth is a goal unto itself, and accordingly pursues a path based upon terminology such as ‘sharpness’ and ‘shrewdness’  which r’l taint all of his possessions with at least a touch of theft or misappropriation in some form or nature.


3.  The Torah’s attitude towards possessions and money should be studied well.  In English, we have the verb ‘to have’. One says, for instance, “I have a new car”, or “I have a new phone”.  HaRav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch, Z’tl, points out that the verb ‘to have’ does not exist in Lashon HaKodesh.  One says instead “Yaish Li”--there is to me--instead of I have. Rather than saying “I own this pen”, in Lashon HaKodesh one says “There is a connection between me and this pen.”  We call this connection ownership--but all the connection really means is that a person has some right to control the pen.


4.  If one is able to develop a fear of having someone else’s money in his possession--and learns to feel a repulsiveness for it, one will be well on his way to protect himself from even a small gezel--which always, of course, leads to a larger gezel.


5.   A Torah Jew’s need for possessions and to own property should be motivated by one’s desire to take care of one’s needs and responsibilities, to have a place to live, to provide for one’s family, and to support the community in a way that is filled with Torah and Mitzvos.  If one’s aspiration for money and possessions is correct, and one is careful that they are acquired without any taint of gezel, then each one of them is a Cheifetz Shel Mitzvah, just like a beautiful Esrog--without any blemish.  One does not have to wait until Sukkos--he can be surrounded by the beauty of his Mitzvos --with his Chafatzim Shel Mitzvah --every day--at home and wherever he goes!



SPEECH ALERTS:  We provide the following especially important notes relating to an ill-conceived word or statement:


a.  The Torah provides the following Lo Sa’aseh when you are in the process of criticizing or rebuking anyone (including reproving any close family member or close friend):  “VeLo Sisah Alav Chait--and do not bear iniquity when rebuking him.”  The Chofetz Chaim explains that even when one is giving a legitimate and appropriate reprimand--and even if the reproof is not in public but in private, one cannot speak so harshly in the course of his admonition that he shames or disgraces the other person...and, concludes the Chofetz Chaim, violation of the prohibition is even more blatant when it is not in the course of a legitimate admonishment, or when in a more public forum.  How careful must one be to stay clear of such a severe Lo Sa’aseh--which in its very definition in the Torah is called a Chait!


b.  When has one crossed the border and committed the grave sin of Ona’as Devorim--abusing his sacred power of speech by using it against others.  The Rambam and Chinuch, as quoted by the Chofetz Chaim, write that it occurs when one angers or disturbs someone and he is frustrated, or put in a position that he can not answer back or save himself.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (63:5) gives several examples and concludes that Ona’as Devorim is any speech that causes Tza’ar HaLev--emotional pain or hurt to another.  None of us want any kind of Tza’ar HaLev which is so painful--we should be especially careful not to get even close to meting it out to others!  It is certainly a true and everlasting accomplishment to go through a day, especially under difficult or trying circumstances, and especially when you have a ‘good’ excuse to act badly--pure and refined--because it was Ona’as Devorim free!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In this week’s Parsha, we find the B’nai Yisroel’s first great demonstration of giving to a worthy cause.  In fact, the Torah calls it taking (“And you shall take for me Teruma’) for the many reasons that you have undoubtedly heard in the past.  Now let us think for a moment.  There are 14 possible Mitzvos Aseh that one can violate in speaking Loshon Hora.  How many Mitzvos Aseh can a person fulfill when he gives Tzedaka?  We will start off the list of possible Mitzvos...perhaps one can keep a piece a paper with the list of these Mitzvos with him--look at it--and be a little nicer and more grateful when he is asked for Tzedaka funds.  This is our starting point and we sincerely ask that you supply us with your additions to the list:  VeAhavta Lerayacha Komocha, Posoach Tiftach, U’Vo Sidbak, VeHechazekta Bo, Yishuv Eretz Yisroel, Talmud Torah (possibly DeRabbim).  In his Sefer Ahavas Chesed (1:7), the Chofetz Chaim writes: ‘One should never be upset if the same pauper returns to him time after time; indeed, one should feel as much joy each time as if an important customer were coming to buy more and more goods, since a pauper brings a blessing from Hashem with his every approach!’ (See Journey to Virtue by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita (Artscroll, p.459).  As we count the Mitzvos--we begin to appreciate the great blessing--all to be heaped upon and added on to the heartfelt and powerful blessings that may be offered by the thankful recipient!




Special Note:  As yet another storm brews in the United States, with the threat of cold and ice to many, we recall the words of Dovid Hamelech (Tehillim 1747:17) that we recite daily in Pesukei D’Zimra:  “Mashlich Karcho KeFittim Lifnei Karraso Mi Ya’amod-- He hurls His ice like crumbs, who can stand before his cold?!”  Indeed, a Gadol once remarked that this alludes to the slippery power of ice, upon which the most adept and careful walker can take a spill.  Yesterday, we suggested the recital of Tehillim 91 as a protection for our brothers in Eretz Yisroel against the turmoil going on around its holy borders.  One reader actually pointed out that he has been reciting this very same kepitel as a shemira for himself when he goes out into the storm and post-storm conditions.  Whether we are equipped with a Hummer, the latest model snow blower or the finest Russian fur hat (see yesterday’s Bulletin as to Shatnez testing it), even the greatest meteorologist and greatest internist knows that the weather conditions and how they affect each and every one of us is a blatant and manifest demonstration of Hashgacha Pratis.

Hakhel Note 1:  Recital of Kepitel 91 twice--for both situations, personal and communal-- would therefore most certainly not be contradictory! 

Hakhel Note 2:  With all of the difficult weather one may have experienced over the winter, one should consider whether he or his family has become sick and if so to what extent--considering the possibilities.  Think of the shelf of over-the-counter cold and flu medication besides the antibiotics of varying degrees that the pharmacist has behind the counter.  If you have thusfar gotten through relatively unscathed--then you have saved yourself a lot more than the cost of the drugs and medications. Perhaps some special acknowledgement and thanks in Modim is in order, and perhaps some renewed Kavanna in Refaeinu and Asher Yotzar!


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