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Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  I was eating a bag of pretzels and drinking a can of juice.  When I finished drinking the juice, I wanted to make a borei nefashos but was concerned that it would exempt me from the al hamichya.  I was not finished eating pretzels, so I did not want to be exempted from the al hamichya.  Was it correct not to make the borei nefashos?


A: The Mishna Berurah writes (206:8) that if one has two fruits in front of him, for example an apple and a banana, and he makes a hoadoma for the banana it does not automatically exempt the apple – even though a hoadoma made on an apple would be valid b’dieved.  If he had specific intention to cover both the banana and also the apple, some Poskim say it will be valid for the apple.  In your case even if borei nefashos would be valid b’dieved for mezonos (see yesterday’s post), if you made the borei nefashos for the juice it would not automatically cover the mezonos.  Therefore, you would be safe in making the borei nefashos when you finish the juice.  Then go ahead and make the  al hamichya when you are done with the pretzels.


Hakhel Additional Note One on Brachos:  Chazal in Makkos teach that Chavakuk (2:4) came and taught the Yesod of VeTzaddik Be’Emunaso Yichyeh--a Tzaddik will live through his Emunah.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, points out that the Emunah that Chavakuk is referring to is the Emunah in the Bi’as HaMoshiach--which one can readily see from looking at the context of the Pasuk there.  Yesterday, we referred to the two brachos in Shemone Esrei which conclude with the word Rachamim--Divine Mercy.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, points out that the word Rachamim in the second of these two brachos Vesechezenah Aineinu BeShuvcha LeTzion BeRachamim refers to our request that the Moshiach come without the pain and suffering of Chevlei Moshiach.  Perhaps, at this crucial point in world history, when requesting Rachamim at these points in Shemone Esrei, we simply and literally stretch out our hand and ask Hashem to show us His Mercy--for we are knocking on His Door in need, and He is the Only One Who Can Help Us!


Hakhel Additional Note Two on Brachos:  One of the great constructive criticisms leveled against K’lal Yisroel by Yeshayahu HaNavi was that they acted by “Mitzvas Anashim Melumadah”--performing Mitzvos by rote.  A great personal exercise in combating the Yetzer Hara in this area may be for one to go through his day and find a bracha which he recites with the least Kavannah or attention--and make a definite effort to improve it in some way.  Is it the first bracha that one makes in the morning while still bleary eyed--Al Netilas Yadayim?  Is it Borei Nefashos--which is so short anyways?  Is it Hamapil--which is recited when one is so tired and falling asleep?  Is it Yishtabach--because one is in a hurry to get to the Birchos Kriyas Shema?  Whichever bracha it may be--one’s devotion to making a change--especially in something important as a bracha indicates his desire to come closer to Hashem!



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


A Word on Words

Lesson #6


In his recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita, provided a moving story that had happened to him personally--in a bank in Eretz Yisroel.  Rabbi Brezak found it necessary to go to the bank for many days--day after day-- in connection with the institution that he runs.  Every day he would greet the security guard, a burly and obviously not religious individual, with a pleasant greeting, and the security guard would respond in kind.  After many days of going back and forth to the bank, Rabbi Brezak who was by now exasperated with the bank still greeted the guard and added:  “We have to stop meeting like this!”  The guard looked at him and suddenly responded:  “Rabbi, I agree--can you take out some time to teach me Torah?!”  Baruch Hashem the postscript is a beautiful one, as Rabbi Brezak’s tedious visits to the bank produced a religious family man--and family!  Greeting another pleasantly--even if he is far removed from you and even in difficult circumstances--can have everlastingly outstanding effects!



Special Note Three:  One week from tonight we look forward to Kriyas HaMegillah.  Hopefully, the Moshiach will come within the week--but even if he does--Purim will never be Batel.  We begin some of our Purim festivities today, just one week in advance, with some questions regarding Megillas Esther and Purim:


QUESTION:  How does one fulfill the concept of Pirsumei Nissa on Purim? 

ANSWER:  The reading of the Megillah publicizes the miracle--and everyone praises (or should praise) Hashem in its aftermath.  As a matter of fact, the reason that we read the Megillah at night and during the day is to remember how Klal Yisroel cried out to Hashem to be saved both at night and during the day--and through this we remember the Nes.  (Rashi to Megillah 4A)


QUESTION:  What two events relating to the Megillah was the Malach Gavriel responsible for?

ANSWER:  (1) Gavriel placed the tail on Vashti, which led her not to come to Achashveirosh’s party (Megillah 12B), and (2) On the night when Achashveirosh could not sleep (BaLaylah HaHu) when Shimshi, Achashveirosh’s scribe, was erasing what Mordechai had done to save the life of Achashveirosh, Gavriel rewrote his life-saving act in the King’s book of chronicles (Megillah 16A). 


QUESTION:  Can you name at least three Nevi’im--other than Mordechai and Esther--who lived at the time that the miracle of Purim took place?

ANSWER:  Baruch Ben Neryah, Sraya Ben Machsaya, Daniel, Chagai, Zechariah and Malachi. (Rashi to Megillah 15A)


QUESTION:  When was Haman hung? 

ANSWER:  Haman was hung in the evening after the 16th of Nissan (i.e., the night of the 17th). (ibid.)


QUESTION:  Why does the Megillah refer to Haman’s lottery with the term “Hipil Pur, Hu HaGoral” (Megillah 3:7)-was is the difference between a Pur and Goral?  

ANSWER:  The Pairush Megilas Sesorim by the Nesivos explains that a Pur is a lottery which is intended to have a negative effect, while a Goral is intended to have a positive result.  Thus, Haman had intended for it to be a Pur for K’lal Yisroel--however--the Megillah already testified at that time that it would be a Goral--a lottery in which we were the winners!


QUESTION:  On what day did the Ikar Neis of Purim occur?

ANSWER:  The thirteenth day of Adar, when the major wars against our enemies were fought (Rashi to Megillah 2A). 


QUESTION:  What does the word Manos in Mishloach Manos refer to?

ANSWER:  Although we commonly translate the term as portions, Rashi (Megillah 7A) defines Manos as Minei Ma’adanim, kinds of delicacies. 


QUESTION:  Why was Mordechai called a Yehudi, if he was from Shevet Binyomin? 

ANSWER:  Rashi on the Megillah (2:5) writes it is because all members of B'nai Yisroel who were exiled with Shevet Yehudah were referred to as Yehudim.

Chazal (Megillah 12B) give several other explanations:

(1) He really was not from Yehuda, but it was a type of royal nickname.

(2) Although his father was from Binyomin, his mother was from Yehudah.

(3) Shevet Yehuda claimed that Mordechai’s life was in their zechus--because Dovid Hamelech did not put Shimi Ben Geirah (Mordechai’s ancestor) to death, and so Mordechai could be born.   

(4) Everyone who is Kofer in Avodah Zara is called a Yehudi--and Mordechai refused to even bow before Haman!


QUESTION:  According to the opinions that one should give Mishloach Manos through a Shaliach, through a messenger--can that agent be a monkey, or other person who could generally not represent you as your ‘Shaliach’?

ANSWER:  The Chasam Sofer (in the Chidushei Chasam Sofer to Gittin 22B) writes that a Shaliach need only be competent when the matter to be performed really needs to be performed by the principal, but we just accept the Shaliach in his stead as his agent.  However, when the Torah requires that a Shaliach (and not the principal) perform the act--such as in Mishloach Manos--then one can even send a monkey or any other person who would be pasul as a Shaliach to deliver the Mishloach Manos--for he is not serving as the alter ego of the principal--but as himself whomever he may be!  How is this for a novel idea for this Purim?


QUESTION:  What is the source for the concept of drinking on Purim to the point of not knowing the difference between ‘Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai’? 

ANSWER:  The source is easy--Megillah 7B--but why should you not know the difference between Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai--especially on Purim?!  We look forward to your answers! 


Tomorrow, BE’H, we hope to present many Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, relating to Purim from the new and expanded version of Kovetz Halachos for Purim, by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita.



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.



Q:  What if someone does not know how to say al hamichya by heart, can he say borei nefashos, when he ate mezonos and does not have a siddur?


A:  Good question. The reason you presume that borei nefashos will be valid is probably because borei nefoshos can be viewed as a general purpose brocha Achrona.  In fact, there is a machlokes haposkim on this point. Some Poskim are of the opinion that borei nefashos is indeed a general brocha achrona and will work for everything b’dieved.  In the opinion of Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim, Volume 1, 74) one who is required to make an al hagofen and cannot do so without a siddur, may make a borei nefoshos.  The Mishna Berurah (202.42 and 202.55 and 208.62) sides with the many Poskim who rule that a borei nefoshos is totally not valid – even b’dieved – for an al hamichya or al hagofen.  According to this view, reciting a borei nefoshos for al hamichya would be a brocha l’vatolah. (See Halachos of Brochos page 386)


Hakhel Additional Note One on Brachos:  As we daven for our Gedolim, for the matzav of our brethren in Eretz Yisroel and abroad, and the world situation in general, we note that there are two brachos in a row in Shemone Esrei that end with the word “BeRachamim--with Divine Mercy” immediately before concluding the bracha with “Baruch Atta Hashem”.  What brachos are they--may we suggest that we put a little more Kavannah into this word at these places in these difficult times--and special days!


Hakhel Additional Note Two on Brachos:  Reminder to keep a diligent calendar of your success in the First Bracha of Shemone Esrei (bli neder) over the next Ten Days!



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


A Word on Words

Lesson #5


In his Hakhel Shiur on Chaim BeYad HaLashon, Rabbi Zev Smith, Shlita, urged that when performing a Mitzvah we go beyond the Mitzvah itself to the person and feelings which are in the background.  He gave many examples--we will mention only a few.  After someone has given a Shiur (which obviously entails much preparation and aforethought), one should be especially careful to compliment the Maggid Shiur.  When attending a Chasunah, one should go out of his way to tell the ‘other side’ (who usually knows his new mechutan for a short period of time ) that “Your mechutan is a wonderful person…”  After a Chasunah (which involves so many weeks of effort), one should go out of his way to make a phone call to the Ba’al Simcha and compliment him for its beauty.  When giving even a small sum to a collector (who is so bedraggled), don’t just ‘put the dollar in his hand’, but say “Bracha V’Hatzlacha”, or some other words of lively encouragement.  When giving your child’s Rebbi a check for Purim or Chanukah, add a note in the envelope expressing how much your son has benefitted from his hard work.  When reading a name on a Tehillim list--see the person behind the Mitzvah who is in bed, in pain--and your commiseration with him will connect you with him and produce more meaningful and successful Tefillos!  The key is to bond with the Mitzvah--and the person behind it through your thoughtful words!



Special Note Three:  At the conclusion of To Remain A Jew (Feldheim, the life story of Rabbi Yitzchak Zilber, Z’tl (the unparalleled founder of the Russian Teshuva movement), his son, Rabbi Benzion Zilber, Shlita, provides a moving insight on personal accomplishment, based upon the words of HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Z’tl:  Both Avraham Avinu and Bilam HaRasha awoke to saddle their donkeys out of their respective intense love and great hatred.  Yet, regarding Bilam’s actions, the Torah states ‘Vayakam--and he got up’, whereas regarding Avraham Avinu, the Pasuk states ‘Vayashkeim--and he got up early’.  This indicates that Avraham woke up before Bilam--that is to say, his love for HaKadosh Baruch Hu was greater than Bilam’s hatred for the Jewish people.  Both men demonstrated the power of the individual--they both exhibited devotion to their missions, both saddled their own donkeys--but Avraham’s power was the greater of the two.  When a person is extremely devoted, he has tremendous power--and according to the intensity of his devotion will be the strength of his power.  Because Avraham Avinu’s devotion was greater than that of Bilam, Rashi (Bamidbar 22:21 ) writes that Bilam’s designs were thwarted by Avraham’s actions.  Rabbi Zilber recognized the need for unwavering devotion as the secret to success--and lived his life according to the saying of the Alter of Novardok:  I never asked if I could, I asked if it is necessary. The rest was all simply in devotion to the task--something we are all capable of!



Special Note Four:  In a wonderful Shiur on Purim, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Schlesinger, Shlita, makes an outstanding point.  When Achashveirosh suddenly asks Haman what to do for a person whom the kings wants to honor (Megillas Esther 6:7-9), Haman incredibly unflinchingly answers:  Ish Asher Hamelech Chafeitz Biykaro Yavi’u…For the man whom the king wants to honor, have them bring a royal attire that the king has worn and a horse that the king has ridden, one with the royal crown placed on his head.  Then let the attire and the horse be given over into hand of one of the king’s most noble officials and let them dress the man whom the king especially wants to honor, and parade him on the royal horse through the city square proclaiming before him ‘This is what is done for the man whom the king wants to honor’.”  How, asks Rabbi Schlesinger, was Haman able to have all of this ready on the tip of his tongue?  It must be that, Rabbi Schlesinger concludes that Haman was dreaming of this very thing happening to him.  He lived in a world of dimyonos--reaching for things beyond his reach and grasping for matters beyond his station in life.  With these words, he brought about the beginnings of his downfall--as he paraded Mordechai through the capital city.  We all can make the mistake of Haman--dreaming about being in positions that we should not be in--and paying the consequences in not fulfilling our true potential.  Purim-on the other hand--is a time of Kiymu VeKiblu--reestablishing ourselves with the Torah--and aspiring to reach our potential in it, which is far from dimyonos--for it is reality!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  Yesterday, I had some talmidim over.  We set a platter of sliced cake for the boys. There was one large whole cookie in the platter.  A question arose about the brocha: Since it is preferable to make a brocha on a whole item, should each boy take a slice of cake and one person (like the Rebbi) make a brocha on the whole cookie in order to be motzi all the others?


A:  The Mishna Berurah (213.12) states that the prevailing minhag is not to be motzi others, even though being motzi creates a hidur mitzvah (b’rov am hadras melech - when persons come as a group to appear before the king, it is a greater show of honor and appreciation than when single individuals appear).  Nevertheless, we are permitted to be motzi in certain specific instances.  For example, if a person has a sofek if he already made a brocha, he may ask someone else about to make that brocha to please be motzi him.  Since our general practice is that one does not ask someone to be motzi him just to gain the hidur mitzvah, the Rebbi should not be motzi the talmidim to gain the hidur mitzvah of making a brocha on a sholaim (a whole intact item).  However, if it ever comes up again I have a simple eitza.  Everyone should simultaneously hold onto the large whole cookie and each person should make his own brocha.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  A note of HaRav Chaim Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, from the recent Hakhel Shiur he gave on Emunah.  HaRav Belsky suggested that perhaps before we make a bracha on a food we look at it and think or exclaim:  Mah Rabu Ma’asecha Hashem Kulam BeChochma Asisa Malah HaAretz Kinyanecha (Tehillim 104:24)--How great are Your Works Hashem, You make them all with wisdom--the world is full of Your possessions!  May our repetition of this meaningful thought help bring a Refuah Shleima to HaRav Belsky--R’Chaim Yisroel Ben Chana Tzirel--Besoch She’ar Cholei Yisroel.  If you think/exclaim of this Pasuk at least once a day before making a bracha--it will certainly serve as a zechus for him, as well! 



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


A Word on Words

Lesson #4


Chazal teach that one who gives money to a poor person is misboreich with six brachos, while one who additionally gives him words of encouragement and support is blessed with eleven brachos by Hashem.  A wonderful explanation of the concept is presented in the Sefer MiShulchan Gavoha, on last week’s Parsha, Parshas Terumah:  There is a commodity more precious to a human being than even money--it is his time.  When a person takes the time to encourage another, he is giving of himself something more precious than gold.  At the recent Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita, noted that he passed a man who he had not seen in a while on the street.  In passing, he asked him how everything was.  As they were walking by each other the man responded:  Lo BiSeder--things are not well.”  Rabbi Brezak heard these words as he was already past the person and had a quick debate in his mind.  He was in a rush, in fact an absolute rush, to get to the cell phone store.  The matter was urgent for him.  But, how could he leave a man who just said that things were not well--and now 20 or 30 meters behind him?!  His Yetzer HaTov got the best of him, he ran back towards the distraught person, and gave him words of care and Chizuk for a few moments.  A few days later the man called him to express his Hakaras HaTov to Rabi Brezak for stopping to talk with him.  Because of the desperateness of the situation at the time, the man was actually contemplating suicide--and Rabbi Brezak’s thoughtfulness and words--reversed his thinking and frame of mind!  This is literally Chaim BeYad HaLashon--and we are all capable of it!



Special Note Three:  In reviewing our current world situation, a crazy man with crazy ideas in Iran tries to destroy the Jewish people.  This sheds light on the situation of Purim--it was definitely not within the realm of normalcy for Haman at the height of his power to go after a people who had done nothing wrong.  Yet, as Chazal explain, the decree against the Jews was such that they could not even be sold into slavery--they all had to be killed.  The situation was possibly just as (or more) absurd then as it is now!  What is our action plan?  As we know, much of our success in overturning the mad request of Haman and its fulfillment by Achashveirosh was through the power of our collective Tefillos. 


Accordingly, let us specifically recall:


THE POWER OF A TZIBBUR:  Any Tzibbur, acting together, can bring about Refuos and Yeshuos (healings and deliverances) that all of K’lal Yisroel, acting individually, may not necessarily accomplish.  The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (18A) teaches that Hashem is ready to accept the Teshuva of a Tzibbur the whole year the same way that he accepts the Teshuva of an individual in the Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah.  In the Megilla, we learn from the words of Lech K’nos ( 4:16 ) that Mordechai and Esther elected to gather all of the Jews in Shushan to daven, instead of asking everyone to do something on his own.


THE POWER OF TEFILLA:  The power of Tefilla is immeasurable.  It can break the harshest of decrees.  Our cries brought about Yetzias Mitzraim.  Moshe Rabbeinu’s pleas broke the decree of destruction at the time of the golden calf--and brought us victory against Amalek on more than one occasion!. 


OUR GOAL:  HAVE KAVANA IN THE FIRST BROCHA OF SHEMONE ESREI:  According to the Shulchan Aruch (101:1), one is required to have Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei.  According to the Mishna Berurah, this means that one should not daven at all until he feels that he will have Kavanna in the first Brocha of Shemone Esrei.  This is how important the first Bracha is.


Our goal, as in previous years, is to activate the power of the Tzibbur and the power of Tefilla by asking each member of the Tzibbur to have special Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei when davening each day from today, through Purim.  Please especially have Kavanna when reciting the words “Ozer” (Helper), “U’Moshia” (Savior), “U’Magen” (Shield):


  • Ozer--a Helper, who thwarts an existing immediate danger from overpowering a person (example:  you have already been attacked and the attacker is defeated);

  • Moshia--a Savior, who cancels danger threatening to overpower a person (example:  prior to his attacking, the attacker runs away);

  • Mogen--a Shield, who prevents trouble from reaching you in the first place (example:  the attacker never leaves home).

            See Michtav M’Eliyahu 4:65 as brought in Praying with Fire (page 117).




IMAGINE THE Z’CHUSIM:  The z’chusim which can be created by the thousands of us getting together to have dedicated Kavanna--in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei, are literally astounding.  Davening properly, that is, having Kavanna for the simple translation of the words of the first Bracha, which we are all capable of doing with little effort, can convert a Shemone Esrei that perhaps should not have been said, into a true prayer to Hashem.  The results will B’EH be Refuos and Yeshuos for K’lal Yisroel.


IMPLEMENTATION--BE’H STARTING TOMORROW:  It is recommended that you B’EH make a daily notation in the calendar provided below, b’li neder.



5 Adar







6 Adar













8 Adar






9 Adar









10 Adar








11 Adar







12 Adar






13 Adar






14 Adar



























Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  This past Motzaei Shabbos at the end of the shalosh seudos meal, my wife said boruch hamavdil before she bentsched.  She wants to know if she should say r’tzei in bentsching, since it is no longer Shabbos for her.


A:  A Shabbos meal which starts before sundown, even if it continues well after nightfall, requires r’tzei (Shulchan Aruch 188.10).  However, if one davened Maariv in the middle of the sholosh seudos meal, and then comes back to bentsch, he should not add r’tzei to bentsching (Mishna Berura 188.32).  If one made Havdalah before bentsching, he should also not add r’tzei to bentsching (Shulchan Aruch Harav 188.17).  If he said boruch hamavdil in the middle of the meal, it is questionable if he should add r’tzei to bentsching (Mishna Berurah 263.67).  Therefore, the best advice would be that she should first listen to Havdalah after which she may surely bentsch without r’ztei.  If she cannot do that, she should bentsch without r’tzei.  


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Today, we conclude our two-week series on Asher Yatzar:


The bracha concludes with the words: “Baruch Atta Hashem” a second time.  We may suggest that after having just gone through all of the remarkable processes and descriptions in the bracha until this point, we are now ready to recite Baruch Atta Hashem in perhaps a more uplifted way then when we first started the bracha!  We then praise Hashem for being a Rofeh Chol Basar.  As we have previously noted, with these words we bring our thanks to Hashem to the present moment, as the phrase is in the present tense.  We thank Hashem for His Hashgacha Pratis in keeping us well, for we know that taking the waste matter out of our body is essential to our continuous and continued existence.  The concluding words of the bracha is U’Mafli La’asos--Hashem acts are simply wondrous.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 6) and the Rema give important explanations to these concluding words.  One of the explanations of the Shulchan Aruch is that man can be compared to a flask full of air--if a hole is pricked in the flask all the air would go out.  Yet, man has many openings and the breath of life stays within him.  The Rema explains that the wonder is how the gashmiyus of the body holds within it the ruchniyus of the soul.  The Sefer Kavannos (brought by the Mishna Berurah, ibid.) teaches that the Neshama is nourished from the ruchniyus of the food and the body is nourished from the gashmiyus--and through food they are joined together!  Thus, with the term U’Mafli La’asos we affirmatively declare that Hashem cares both for our gashmiyus and our ruchniyus.  We may add that the bracha concludes with the word La’asos--to do, which incorporates our Tefillah for the future--that Hashem continue to perform all of these miracles for us. 


Thank You Hashem!



Special Note Two:  In this morning’s Musaf we recited stirring words for Rosh Chodesh “U’Seshu’as Nafsham MiYad Sonei--Rosh Chodesh serves as a salvation for us from the hand of our enemy”--May it be so for us from both our physical and spiritual enemies!  As the days progress we recognize more and more that we are writing our own script through our Torah, our Tefillos, and our actions.  Everything is set on the world’s stage--only Hashem now knows the outcome.  May it be a happy one for our Father in Heaven, and for His children here.  We remind our readers that based upon our past discussion of the brachos of Shemone Esrei, the bracha of Go’el Yisroel contains our hopes to Hashem to redeem us speedily and in great and miraculous ways as the Go’el Chazak.  In the bracha of Sim Shalom, we affirm that Hashem can bring peace to each of us individually, to K’lal Yisroel, and to the world as a whole.  Let us focus on the words of these brachos, and of all of our other Tefillos in these times--which are packed with so much concern, and so much potential for us! 



Special Note Three:  Some additional points and pointers on Chodesh Adar:


A.  As Adar is the sixth month of the year since Rosh Hashana, we still have the majority of the year in front of us to grow and accomplish.  Let us each give ourselves a gentle wake-up tap across our cheeks, and remind ourselves of our goals and hopes—and how we can practically accomplish them.


B.  As we all know, “MiShenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha--when one enters into Adar, we increase our joy” (Taanis 29A).  HaRav Yoel Schwartz understands from the term “MiShenichnas” that the initial entry into Adar warrants the increased degree of happiness. 


C.  Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita wrote the following: “When Adar begins we increase our joy.  This alone is a great lesson.  HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, explained that we have the capacity to choose to learn how to increase our joy.


D.  As we see in tomorrow’s Parsha, the Aron consisted of solid wood, plated inside and outside with gold.  In spite of the fact that the Aron was plated with gold much more valuable than the wood it covered, the Aron is nevertheless referred to in the Torah as the “Aron atzei shitim--the acacia wood Aron”.  Why is it that the Aron is described as wooden--and not as a more valuable and respected golden Aron?  HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’TL, answers that, in fact, wood more aptly describes the Aron because wood is something that grows and that regenerates.  Indeed, even if one cuts down a tree to the ground, its roots are left and a new tree can sprout forth.  Gold may be valuable in this world, but it has no inherent capacity to live or grow.  Our Torah is much more aptly described with wood for “etz chaim he--it is a living tree”--it enables one--even one who was down and out--to reinvigorate himself and renew his life.  Rav Pincus notes that this is the special nature of the month of Adar, and of Purim, as well.  It is a time of Hischadshus--of a new lease on life both physically and spiritually.  It is no wonder then, that after experiencing the miracles of Purim, our people’s immediate reaction was “kimu v’kiblu”--a rededication and revival to Torah commitment.



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


A.  The recently published Oz V’Hadar (Mesifta) Zemiros Shabbos writes that al pi the Arizal, when one enters his home on Leil Shabbos, he should say aloud “Shabbos Shalom!”.  The piyut of Shalom Aleichem is found in the Tikunei Shabbos--from the students of the Arizal.  There are various minhagim as to how it is said, and its actual wording.  The Siddur HaShelah writes that the reason we recite Aishes Chayil is because it alludes to the Shechinah that we especially welcome on Shabbos Kodesh.  The Ben Ish Chai brings that, al pi Kabbalah, a person should kiss the hands of his father and mother before Kiddush, with the intent of fulfilling the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av VaEim. 


B.  The Sefer Orchos Shabbos (II:407) writes that on Shabbos a person may put his used dishes and used clothes in the same place that he puts them during the week.  One could therefore put his dishes into the dishwasher, or his clothes into the washing machine (assuming that there are no electrical issues), and this would not be considered to be an act of hachana for these items to be cleaned after Shabbos.  Likewise, one can put food or drink into the refrigerator after a Seudah, even though he knows he will not be using them again--as this is their place. 


C.  Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended now by approximately 150 women.  Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the questions to the first 69 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions.

**PLEASE NOTE** Rabbi Webster’s Shiur, which this year is on the Halachos of Kashrus in the Kitchen, has now moved to the Agudah of
18th Ave , 5413 18th Avenue .  It is on Wednesday mornings from 10AM to 11AM, and admission is free.


70. Is one permitted to wrap kishke in aluminum foil  and submerge it in a cholent pot?


One is not permitted to completely submerge a container with food into the cholent on Shabbos because it is considered as insulating the food (container) in a material that adds heat-- Mosif Hevel, due to the fact that other hot food will help raise the temperature in the container.   There is a dispute among the poskim whether wrapping food in aluminum foil is permitted Erev Shabbos.  According to Hagoan Harav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, one is not permitted to wrap food completely in aluminum foil for it is considered as an item that adds heat--Mosif Hevel.  However, the Debreciner Rav, Z’tl, disagreed and held that if your intention for wrapping the food in aluminum foil was in order that the food should not fall apart or dry out, then it is permissible.


71. In # 70 what would be if my intentions is that a kishke should absorb the flavor of the cholent?


It is a Machlokes HaPoskim.  HaRav Moshe, Z'tl, would not permit it.


72. Is there a difference if a pot is completely wrapped on all sides or partially wrapped?


The prohibition of Hatmana is when a pot is completely wrapped on all sides.  If  some part of the pot is left exposed--one full side then it is not considered as being insulated.


73. Does the prohibition of Hatmana apply if the wrapping does not touch the pot?


As we explained in # 72 in order  for there to be a prohibition of Hatmana the pot must be completely insulated on all sides with the insulated item. If the wrapping does not touch the pot on all sides it is not considered as being totally insulated. Therefore, if one wraps a pot loosely with a towel even though the pot is covered with the towel it would be permitted for this is not considered as Hatmana.


74. How can one warm up a baby bottle in water so that there is no prohibition of Hatmana?


When warming up a baby bottle one is not permitted to submerge the whole bottle in hot water one must leave the nipple exposed.



Special Note Five:  In Parshas Terumah, we begin to learn how to construct a Mikdash to Hashem.  At this moment in our lives, although we may not have the ultimate Mishkan or Bais HaMikdash, we do have our Bais Haknesses and Bais HaMidrash, as our Mikdashei Me’at.  According to many Rishonim, the Mitzvas Asei MiD’oraysah of Mikdoshi Tira’u applies to our Mikdashei Me’at as well.  We provide below several points and pointers from Hilchos Bais HaKnesses (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 150-153), as excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah:


A.  It is a great Mitzvah to donate Sefarim to a Shul or Bais Midrash for study.  The Chasam Sofer (Yoreh De’ah 244) writes that one fulfills the words of “Oseh Tzedaka Bechol Ais--doing an act of righteousness at all times” by doing so.


B.  The Sha’arei Teshuvah to Orach Chaim 46, writes that when one enters a Shul he should bow towards the Aron Kodesh.


C.  The Shulchan Aruch (151:1) itself rules that simply sitting in our Mikdash Me’at is a Mitzvah, as Dovid Hamelech writes:  Ashrei Yoshvei Veisecha”.


D.  Chazal teach that if a person embarrasses another in front of a Talmid Chochom, then he is an apikores and does not have a chelek in Olam Haba.  All the more so, writes the Mishna Berurah, would this apply to one who disgraces his friend in front of the Sefer Torah and the Kavod HaShechina--in Shul.  (151:Mishna Berurah, seif katan 2)


E.  One should not enter a Mikdash Me’at with a knife or similar object, because the Torah lengthens a person’s days, and a knife shortens a person’s days in this world.  (151: Mishna Berurah, seif katan 22, Dirshu Note 20)


F.  It is inappropriate of antennas to be placed on top of a Shul, and if it was done against the will of those who daven there, they should not take rent or a fee for the antenna--for it is forbidden to make profit from the bizayon of a Shul.  (Shevet HaLevi, quoted in Dirshu Note 26)


G.  It may be permissible to sell a Sefer Torah in order for a Shul to acquire Gemaros and Halacha Sefarim--because this may be considered putting one’s study into practice. 


H.  One fulfills a Mitzvah if he enters and leaves a Shul by different entranceways; this is based upon the pasuk relating to the Bais HaMikdash:  HaBa’ah Derech Sha’ar Tzafon LeHishtachavos Yetzeih Derech Sha’ar Negev” (Mishna Berurah, ibid., seif katan 21).  The Mishna Berurah explains that this demonstrates your chavivus to the Bais HaKnesses.



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


A Word on Words

Lesson #3


In Rabbi Zev Smith’s wonderful Shiur on Chaim BeYad HaLashon, he referenced the Hakhel Gemach List and praised Klal Yisroel for the hundreds upon hundreds of meaningful and sometimes unique Gemachs covering so many phases of our life.  Rabbi Smith suggested adding another Gemach that every person could run--at absolutely no cost, and at all hours of the day--a Word Gemach.  The Word Gemach would be based upon one principle--what can I say to make his day?  Special language would be tailored to each recipients needs.  Rabbi Smith noted how he always marveled over HaRav Pam, Z’tl, being able to compliment each Shaliach Tzibbur after he finished davening, in a specific way applicable directly to the way he had davened, and to who the person was.  Start your Word Gemach--today!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  We were in Florida recently, and we cracked open a coconut to drink the coconut milk. I wondered what the correct brocha was for the coconut milk.


A:  The brocha for coconut milk is shehakol.  However, a borei pri hoetz made on the coconut exempts the coconut milk from a separate brocha (Kaf Hachaim 202.62).  I presume that you asked permission to take the coconut or that it was hefker (otherwise there would be no brocha on it).


Hakhel Additional Note One on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Accordingly, we continue to provide points and pointers on the bracha of Asher Yatzar over the coming days:


The next phrase is “Iy Efshar LeHiskayem VeLa’amod Lefanecha--it would be impossible to exist and stand before you.”  To the Torah Jew, not much is impossible.  With these words, accordingly, we emphasize the extreme need for Hashem’s continued gift to us of the proper functioning of our bodies.  What is the difference between LeHiskayem (to exist)--and La’amod (to stand)?  The Olas Tamid (based upon the Ra’avad) explains that LeHiskayem means that without the proper operation of our bodily systems, we would lose our human form of existence and simply crumble back into dust, while our inability to be La’amod Lefanecha, refers to our inability to stand before Hashem in Tefillah and in the study of Torah--for to do so most properly requires a clean and healthy body.


Hakhel Additional Note Two on Brachos:  Popcorners (popcorn in a chip) is a relatively new and popular product certified by the OU, whose main ingredients are yellow corn, sunflower oil, and sea salt.  We asked the OU for the bracha on this product, and were advised that it is borei pri hoadama.


Hakhel Additional Note Three on Brachos:  A reader pointed out that he believes that one should ask his own Rav or Posek whether he should recite “Boruch Rofeh Cholim” after taking all medicines.



Special Note Two:  This morning in Musaf, we recited the words “Roshei Chadashim LeAmcha Nossata--You have given Your people the gift of Rosh Chodesh.”  If someone today had given you a designer’s gold watch, wouldn’t you feel uplifted--perhaps even joy--for the rest of the day?!  Today, not only being Rosh Chodesh, but Rosh Chodesh Adar(!!), we should try to internalize a special feeling of elation for the special gift of Rosh Chodesh that, on top of all else, Hashem Himself has given to us directly.  Will you learn for an extra few minutes today and/or will you have a special Seudah in its honor?



Special Note Three:  Happily, 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 Yoel 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.  Start working on Simcha…today!



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


A Word on Words

Lesson #2


In his outstanding Shiur at last Monday’s Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Zev Smith, Shlita, emphasized that not only is Maves BeYad HaLashon, but that Chaim is also BeYad HaLashon--as the Pasuk teaches us Maves V’Chaim BeYad HaLashon.  Accordingly, it behooves us not only to be careful with avoiding negativity and negative words--but to the contrary, to be kind and pleasant with words of praise and compliment.  The Rambam, for instance, in explaining the Mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel first writes Lefichach Tzarich LeSaper BeShivcho--a primary indication of the love that you have for your fellow man in the praiseworthy manner in which you speak of him.’  Rabbi Smith incredibly related a teaching of HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl.  HaRav Lopian, who had learned in Kelm, related that everyone knew how the Rebbetzin of the Alter of Kelm undertook so many tasks--in keeping her home, the Yeshiva, and the students going, that she seemed to him to be almost super-human.  He wondered what gave her all of this strength--what empowered her in this way.  He once ate a Shabbos Seudah at the Alter’s home, and noted that after each course the Alter provided her with a different, specific and apropos compliment.  HaRav Lopian realized that she felt appreciated at all times for everything that she undertook on behalf of others.  This had empowered her to go beyond perhaps what she was otherwise capable of.  Based upon this story, Rabbi Smith suggested that the Pasuk Olam Chessed Yibaneh--does not necessarily mean that one’s own world is built on the kindness that he performs--but that one can build the world of another through the words of kindness that he shares with them.



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  (Continued) Would seeing the awe inspiring underwater coral formations in the form of magnificent natural coral mountains arches and cliffs require the scuba diver who sees it to make the brocha “Oseh Ma’aseh B’reishis”?  


A: No.  Granted that these sights are more awe inspiring to you than the Alps , and granted that there is no question that a brocha Oseh Ma’aseh B’reishis is required when one sees the Alps , nevertheless, it is not to be recited on coral mountains and cliffs and other coral formations.  The reason for this is that the brocha Oseh Ma’aseh B’reishis may only be made on a natural creation which was made during Ma’aseh B’reishis.  Any natural creation which grew or developed after Ma’aseh B’reishis obviously cannot be the subject of a brocha being made for creations from Ma’aseh B’reishis (Mishna Berura 228.1) Coral reefs often resemble rock formations or even plants but such resemblances are only superficial.  HaKadosh Boruch Hu creates coral reefs from many tiny animals known as coral polyps.  Thus the awe inspiring coral mountains and formations that you see is even profoundly more awe inspiring when you realize that it is made of the skeletons of live and constantly growing coral.  Nevertheless, since much of the formations that you see were created after Ma’aseh B’reishis, the brocha of Oseh Ma’aseh B’reishis is not applicable.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Accordingly, we continue to provide points and pointers on the bracha of Asher Yatzar over the coming days:


As many may know, the Shulchan Aruch itself (Orach Chaim 6:1), goes into great detail explaining the meaning of Asher Yatzar in detail.  The term we are up to in the bracha is “She’im Yipase’ach Echad Mai’hem, O Yisaseim Echad Mai’hem”.  Here, the Shulchan Aruch gives several explanations.  One of the explanations is that in the mother’s womb, the fetus’ mouth is closed, and when he enters into the air of this world, it opens.  If it would remain closed even for a short period of time (“sha’ah achas”), or if one of the organs which are ‘closed’ (such as the heart) would open even for a short period of time, the human being would not be able to exist.  The Shulchan Aruch also suggests that if a person had to take care of his bodily needs too often, and the process of excreting harmful fluids and waste occurred too continuously, the person’s life would be endangered.  In the Sefer VeZos HaBracha, Rabbi Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita, adds that the phrase She’im Yipase’ach… conveys that all of our organs are in exact measure--both in size and in proportion.  If an opening was a bit larger, or a size was a bit smaller, the processes necessary for a person’s functioning could not continue. 



Special Note Two:  From a reader:  “Some years ago, a friend heard Rabbi Paysach Krohn speak on the topic of refuah, and he referenced www.refuahcard.com, a site maintained by a person l’ilui nishmas Rabbi Asher H. Abittan zt”l.  He offers a “credit-card-size” copy of the Yehi Ratzon and the after- bracha in Hebrew on one side and in English on the other.  Worthwhile to have with oneself!”  Note:  the same reader also asked us to remind our readers that in addition to the Yehi Ratzon we discussed yesterday before taking a medication or treatment, one should also recite “Baruch Rofeh Cholimafter the medication or treatment (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 230:4). 



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


A Word on Words

Lesson #1


We begin today with an excerpt from The Power of Words, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


“The Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 33:1) relates that Rebbi Yehudah Hanasi served tongue at a feast he hosted for his disciples.  He noticed how each person carefully selected a tender slice, leaving over the tougher pieces.  He utilized this opportunity to point out to his disciples that just as in eating they chose the softer pieces of tongue, so too when they speak they must be careful to choose softer words and leave over those that are harsh.  In his weekly Motzai Shabbos lectures on the Torah portion of the week, my late Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, Rosh Hayeshiva of Brisk in Jerusalem, explained: Rebbi Yehudah Hanasi meant this as a lesson to his students to teach them just how careful we must be not to cause anyone pain with words.  He did not have to warn his students not to violate an explicit prohibition of the Torah.  Rather, he was giving them a vivid illustration of the extent of our obligation in the laws of ona’as dvorim.  When Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi served tongue at his table all the pieces were certainly edible.  Nonetheless, as long as there is a slight variation in tenderness, one favors the piece that is even slightly softer.  This is the Midrash’s point.  Not only are outright derogatory words and insults prohibited--but as long as there is a noticeable difference between two expressions we are obligated to ways select the more pleasant one.  People are sensitive and comments that are meant as light banter can cause untold anguish.  A person should have the foresight to be aware of the consequences of every statement, concluded Rav Yosef Dov, and continuously be on guard to choose the softest possible approach.  Whenever you speak to others, always choose ways of expressing yourself that will be the most sensitive to the other person’s feelings. 


Hakhel Note:  Practice this today.  Please try to keep it in mind every time you start a new conversation, or write a new email.



Special Note Four:  HaRav Yaakov Galinsky, Shlita, brings the following story with HaRav Yosef Feimer, Z’tl, the Rav of Slutsk.  The governor of Slutsk approached him, as the Rav of the city, and asked HaRav Feimer:  “Why do you Jews glorify yourselves as ‘The Chosen People’--how are you different than all of the other nations?”  The Rav responded: “What do you mean--how are we different?--with everything--; we are especially circumspect in Kashrus and what we eat--being careful to check even our vegetables; we are vigilant regarding forbidden relationships; and we are even careful as to what we say--so what is your question?” “True” responded the governor, “but all of this is an aside.  The majority of our days are spent in earning a living.  In this, Jew and gentile are alike.  I believe, in fact, that Jews have a greater desire for money than us.”  The Rav readily responded:  “Yes, we spend a good portion of our day with our livelihood--but we have an entire code of Jewish law--Choshen Mishpat, which guides and binds us in monetary matters.  Furthermore, no matter how much we are pressed by Parnassah, when Shabbos comes we stop everything, and try not even to think about our business--which is a separate Mitzvah in and of itself!  Can you claim any of this?” “No”, said the governor, admitting his defeat.  “You are right--you are The Chosen People!”  In this vein, as we take leave of Parshas Mishpatim and its lessons of how we must guide ourselves, we provide for review--and inspiration--certain Halachos of Ma’aseh U’Matan, as excerpted from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, relating to the way a Jew conducts his business in this world.  The excellent English translation of the Kitzur is provided by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, Shlita, Moznaim Publishing: 


1.  Great care must be taken not to deceive or cheat a colleague.  Whoever cheats or deceives a colleague violates a Torah prohibition.  This applies whether the seller deceives the purchaser or the purchaser deceives the seller, as the Pasuk [Vayikrah, 25:14] states: “VeChi Semkaru Mimkar…when you sell something to a colleague or buy something from a colleague, do not wrong each other.[Shabbos 31a] relates that this will be the first issue about which a person will be questioned [by the Heavenly tribunal] in his ultimate judgment.  He will be asked: “Have you dealt and traded honestly?”


2.  Just as one is forbidden to cheat a colleague with regard to a sale, so, too, there is a prohibition against cheating with regard to hired work, contracted labor, and exchange of currency.


3.  A person who trades faithfully need not worry about the prohibition against cheating a colleague.  What is meant by “trading faithfully”?  A person who says: “I bought this article for this amount and I want to make this much as a profit.  Even if he was cheated when he purchased the article--though a person who was cheated has no right to cheat a colleague--nevertheless, the above-mentioned practice is permitted.  He clearly tells the purchaser not to consider the worth of the article, but the amount which he had paid for it.


4.  One must weigh and measure generously, giving the purchaser slightly more than the required measure, as implied by the Pasuk [Devarim, 25:15] Aipha Shleimah VaTzedek…a full, honest measure.” What is meant by “honest”?  The Torah teaches:  Seek honesty at your expense and give him from your own (Bava Basra 88b).  Hakhel Note:  This would appear to apply to “billing by the hour” as well.


5.  When a person seeks to buy or rent a certain object, whether land or goods, from a colleague - whether Jew or gentile - and they have already agreed on the price, but before they have completed the transaction, another person comes and purchases it or rents it, the latter is considered a wicked person.  The above applies only when a price has already been agreed upon.  However, when a sale has been discussed, but the purchaser seeks to pay a lesser sum than requested by the seller, another person is entitled to purchase it.  It is forbidden to encroach on a colleague’s rights with regard to the rental of property from a gentile and other similar matters.


6.  When a person makes even a small down payment on a purchase or marks a desired object as his own in the presence of the seller, or the seller tells him: “Make a mark on your purchase” - even if the transaction has not been formally concluded--should either the seller or the purchaser desire to renege upon his commitment, he is considered to have performed an act unbecoming to a Jew and must receive a Mi She’Porah. The latter term implies that he is brought to court and cursed, as follows:  Mi She’Porah …may He who exacted retribution from the generation of the f1ood, the generation of the Tower of Babel, the inhabitants of Sodom and Amorrah, and the Egyptians whom He drowned in the sea, also exact retribution from a person who does not fulfill his word.”


7.  It is proper for a person to abide by his word even when he gave no money, made no mark on the object of sale, and did not complete the transaction.  As long as the buyer and the seller agreed on the price, neither should renege on his commitment. If either the purchaser or the seller reneges, he is considered as “a faithless person,” and the Sages do not approve of him. It is fitting for a Jew to fulfill his word, as [Tzefania, 3:13 ] states: “She’eiris Yisroel…the remnant of Israel will not act perversely, nor will they speak with lies.  “A person who fears Hashem should even carry out a commitment which he made in his heart--e.g., if he decided to sell an object to a colleague at a particular price and the latter was not aware of his decision and offered a higher sum, he should take only the sum which he had originally decided upon, in fulfillment of [Tehillim, 15:2]: “Dover Emes B’levavo…he speaks truth in his heart.”Similarly, a purchaser who made a commitment to purchase an object at a particular price should not renege on his commitment.  Similarly, with regard to other dealings between a person and a colleague, he should carry out the decisions of his heart--e.g., if he decided to do a favor for a colleague and it is possible for him to do so, he should carry out his commitment.  However, with regard to his own personal matters, if they have no bearing whatsoever on a mitzvah, he need not fulfill even the statements he made.


8.  In All Events:  A person should not invite a colleague to dinner when he knows that the colleague will not eat.  Similarly, he should not offer him a present which he knows he will not accept.  It is also forbidden to perform any action in which one’s statements do not express his true feelings--e.g., to make it appear that he honors a colleague when he does not feel that way.  One should speak truth and act with upright feelings and a pure heart. 


Hakhel Note:  With a proper understanding of this, we can move on to Parshas Terumah--the Building of the Mishkan!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:   (Continued)  One sees an awe inspiring mountain or other natural creation and cannot make the brocha while seeing it. Is he permitted to make the brocha at a later time (in this case when the scuba diver surfaces)?


A:  With regard to the brocha oseh maseh b’reishis for lightning or thunder the Shulchan Aruch (227:3) states that it may only be made within two (at most three) seconds after the occurrence (i.e., within the time frame of toch k’dei dibbur).  (If one hesitated for more than three seconds after seeing the lightning flash or after hearing the sound of thunder, he should not make the brocha).  What about seeing an awe inspiring mountain?  May the brocha only be made within toch k’dei dibbur?  Rav S. Z. Auerbach zt”l is of the opinion that one may make the brocha later after leaving the site, as long as he still has the awe inspired feeling (Halichos Shlomo volume 1, page 287).  Rav Y. S. Elyashiv, Shlita (may he be granted a refuah shlayma) is quoted as saying that if he leaves the site he must make the brocha within toch k’dei dibbur.  This machlokes would affect whether or not you may say the brocha after you surface. (Continued in the next Bulletin).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Accordingly, we continue to provide points and pointers on the bracha of Asher Yatzar over the coming days:


A.  The word Nekavim and the word Chalulim are both immediately repeated a second time in the bracha.  We may suggest that this is because there are two types of Nekavim and two types of Chalulim--there are two holes within the same system (such as the opening of the mouth and the opening of the esophagus), and the opening of the ear and the opening of the nose--which are of two different systems.  Similarly, there are two kinds of Chalulim--within the same system--and within different systems.  We thus marvel at the complexity of each system--and of the totality of all of the systems!


B.  We continue with the phrase “Galuy Veyadua Lefinei Chisei Kevodecha--it is obvious and known before Your Throne of Glory”.  What is the difference between Galuy and Yadua?  We may suggest that with the term Galuy we affirm our belief that Hashem sees everything--everything is revealed to Him even in the most hidden of places.  The term Veyadua, on the other hand, is our affirmation that Hashem not only sees everything, but also knows everything.  The term Lifnei, of course, is a contraction of the words “Le and P’nei-- to the face of”, in which we indicate that not only does Hashem see and know everything, but that it is directly before Him.  The term Chisei Kevodecha, explains HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, is a term of honor, referring to the fact that that we always stand before Hashem--before the throne of glory itself!  Picture it!



Special Note Two:  Two additional notes on the concept of Refuah:


1.  At this time of year, with temperatures changing sometimes drastically from day-to-day, we may hear more sneezing then we usually do.  What is the proper thing to do when you hear someone sneeze?  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 230:4, seif katan 7), writes that one should tell the person who sneezed “Asusah--you should be healthy”, and the person who sneezed should respond “Baruch Tiheyeh”, and then recite the Pasuk of “Lishuasecha Kivisi Hashem”.  The one who sneezed thus gives his friend a bracha--and also davens for himself!   

Hakhel Note:  If the friend who hears the sneeze is learning Torah at the time, there is a Machlokes Achronim as to whether he should interrupt his Torah study to say “Asusah”.  The Shach (Yoreh Deah 244) is of the opinion that one does interrupt his Torah study, while the Taz rules that it is forbidden.  Accordingly, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to what he should do in this circumstance.


2.  If someone is actually taking a medicine or a treatment, we know that before taking the medication or treatment, he recites Yehi RatzonSheyehei Aisek Zeh Li LeRefuah Ki Rofeh Chinam Attah. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 230:4)  What if a person is taking a drink together with the pill or medicine (other than water being used only to help the pill go down, in which case, no bracha would be recited)--does he say the bracha first?  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (61:4) rules that one should say the Yehi Ratzon first and then the bracha, so that the Yehi Ratzon does not interrupt between the bracha and the drink. 



Special Note Three:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #19


Rav is quoted in Bava Basra (110a) as saying that when looking into a particular shidduch, one should first look into the woman’s brothers.  Chazal, after deriving the source for this statement from the Torah, teach Rov Banim Domim L’achei Ha’Aim--most children are similar to the mother’s brothers.  Rabbeinu Bechaya (Bereishis 24:3) says that most children are drawn in their middos to the nature of the mother’s family because the nature of wine is that it carries the taste of the vessel or barrel in which it is placed.  As such, the child growing in the womb of his mother will absorb the nature of her and her family by extension.  Rav Shach, Zt’l, in his sefer Michtavim says that this concept only applies to middos, not to hashkafa, so that even if the brother of the mother has corrupted dei’os, that is not a reason to negate a particular shidduch due to the fact that hashkafos have to do with bechira--and each and every child has their own freedom of choice.


The Steipler, Zt’l, was also lenient in this regard (although unlike Rav Shach, he was concerned with their hashkafa as well, not just the middos) and said that if there are a number of brothers that are proper, even if one is not, who is to say that your children will go after the inappropriate brother as opposed to the proper ones.  Additionally, he says that people look primarily at the specific child in question and this is an accepted norm in K’lal Yisroel to which we could apply the concept of Shomer Pesa’im Hashem.  Additionally the Steipler points out that it is quite possible that maybe the brother went off the derech before really receiving a proper Torah chinuch and is in the category of a Tinok She’nishba.  Finally, in Orchos Rabbeinu (Volume 1, p. 265) he quotes the Steipler, Zt’l, that the issue of checking into the mother’s brothers is referring to a time when the environment and the communities where yidden lived were proper.  In such a setting if a brother went off the derech, it was a real chashash of a p’gam in the family.  However, in our times, when the environment is polluted and people have brought into their homes inappropriate material, the fact that a child goes off the derech is not a proof of a serious blemish in the family--and as long as the young lady is a proper Bas Yisroel, one should not be concerned with the brother.


NOTE:  This entry concludes Rabbi Weinberger's special series on Shidduchim.  If you have specific Shailos in Shemiras Halashon situations, please submit them, as we hope in the near future to present Shailos U'Teshuvos in Shemiras Halashon.  B’EH, tomorrow, we hope to begin a new series--A Word on Words.



Special Note Four:  We continue with our excerpt from Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, on the importance of lending objects--today focusing on the borrower’s obligations with respect to these objects: 


1) A borrower may use an article only in accordance with any conditions stipulated by the lender. (Ahavas Chesed, part 2, ch. 22)


At a New York airport shortly before his plane was scheduled to depart for Israel, Rabbi Aharon Kotler asked to see Moshe Carlebach, a student of his.  Those present were under the impression that the Rosh Hayeshiva had an important message to tell this student and rushed to find him.  They were surprised when they found out that Rabbi Kotler had previously borrowed Moshe Carlebach’s copy of  Nefesh Hachayim.  Now that he was leaving the country for a few weeks, he wanted to ask explicit permission to take the book with him.  Needless to say, the student readily gave his permission. (Heard from Rabbi Moshe Carlebach)


2) A borrower may not lend the article to others. (Ahavas Chesed, ibid.)


3) A borrower must be careful to return the article when he finishes using it or when the time allotted to him to use the article is over.  Failure to return the borrowed article on time might cause the lender much inconvenience. This is especially true when the lender does not recall to whom he loaned the article and has to search for it. (ibid.)


4) A borrower is obligated to pay for any damage that occurs to the article, even if the damage was entirely accidental, unless it was in the normal course of use (ibid.). For example, if a person borrows a pen and loses it or something falls on the pen and breaks it, the borrower has to reimburse the lender. If, however, the pen runs out of ink during normal usage, the borrower is not held liable.  A halachic authority should be consulted whenever questions arise.


5) In all events, we must be very careful with someone else’s possessions to prevent their getting ruined or damaged (Rambam, Hilchos Daios 6: 3).  When one borrows something, it must be kept away from small children.


Once on Erev Yom Kippur, Rebbi Yisroel Salanter was seen bringing a cat into his house.  He had a number of borrowed books in his house and he feared that when everyone would be in Shul  on Yom Kippur, mice might nibble on those books.  If he did not guard those books properly, he would be guilty of violating the laws of a borrower. (T’nuas Hamussar, vol. 1, p. 353).



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  In a previous Hakhel Bulletin you wrote that the brocha for major awe-inspiring mountains such as the Alps , and for oceans and other natural creations is “oseh maseh b’reishis. I recently became certified for scuba and was exposed to the most awe inspiring sights of underwater coral formations in the form of magnificent natural coral mountains arches and cliffs.  I have been inspired by seeing the Alps, but these sights were even more awe inspiring.  I wanted to make the brocha “oseh maseh b’reishis” but wasn’t sure.  What should I have done?


A: There are really 3 shailos in your shaila, (so this will be continued): 1- Since you obviously were underwater and had a regulator in your mouth your first question is: can you make a brocha without reciting the words audibly? 2- If you must make the brocha audibly, can it be made after you reach the surface? 3- Are coral reefs subject to a brocha? 


1- Can you make a brocha without reciting the words audibly? The Shulchan Aruch (206.3) states that a brocha must be recited loud enough so that one hears himself say the entire brocha.  B’dieved if a brocha was whispered so quietly that he could not hear it, as long as the words were actually recited, it is valid.  However, if one merely formulates the brocha in his mind without actually reciting the words, it is not valid.  In your case you would have to wait until you surfaced.  So let us continue in the next bulletin.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Accordingly, we continue to provide points and pointers on the bracha of Asher Yatzar over the coming days:


A.  In his introduction to the bracha of Asher Yatzar, HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, notes that the 19th-Century naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt is said to have commented that he reviewed the prayer books of many religions, and found no other prayer comparable to Asher Yatzar.  A Rav reported to us that he was told by someone who had visited HaRav Yehuda Zev Segal, Z’tl, that HaRav Segal had said the bracha in three languages at the time that he has visited with him (obviously in a manner where there were no Sheim U’Malchus issues).


B.  We continue in the bracha with the term Chalulim, Chalulim.  As noted last week, the G’ra points out that the Gematria of this phrase is 248--corresponding to all of the limbs of the body.  The Sefer VeZos HaBracha, provides specific examples of Chalulim--as organs with hollows--the stomach, and large and small intestines, which house the chemicals and enzymes necessary for digestion.  As but one example of our incredible makeup, www.designerperfect.com teaches that the two kidneys that most human beings possess weigh only five ounces each--and filter 450 gallons of blood each day--expelling all toxins from the body in the process!



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #18


First Shidduch


The Steipeler, Z’tl, was asked about a bachur who went out with his first shidduch numerous times--and although everyone was pleased, his parents were concerned that maybe he should go out with others.  The Steipeler responded that if he had doubts then he should go out with others; however if everything seemed to be correct and proper in his eyes, then he should not push away this shidduch just to see what other girls might be like.  He said doing so would be causing tza’ar to someone else for no reason. If someone does this, he will suffer terribly throughout his life.


The Shidduch of Younger Sibling before an Older Sibling


The Chazon Ish learned about a mother holding back her younger son from going out because an older brother was not married.  He sent a message to her that it is totally permissible for the younger one to go out before the older one.  The Steipler explains the Shach (Yoreh De’ah 244) on this topic to mean that it is a father’s chiyuv to be MeShadeich his older son first, but a younger brother is allowed to get married first, especially if the older brother has difficulty with shidduchim.  Similarly, the Steipler says there is no hekpeidah on a younger sister getting married before an older brother.  He states that he himself married off a daughter before a son, according to the P’sak of the Chazon Ish.  In regard to whether a younger sister can get married before an older sister, it would appear to be a Machlokes Achronim.  According to many opinions, the older sister should be Mochel and allow the younger sister to get married before her (see Bach Yoreh Deah 244, Igros Moshe Chelek Bais).



Special Note Three:  As we have just experienced Parshas Shekalim, we remind ourselves of the words of Chazal--who teach that the Shekalim that the Bnei Yisroel gave to the Mishkan were able to override and defeat the huge sum of 10,000 talents of silver offered by Haman to Achashveirosh (Megillas Esther 3:9).  May our study of the Parsha of Shekalim and the giving of “shekalim’ to Tzedaka in the coming weeks serve in our stead again to save us from the Hamans of our day.  In this vein, we note that the Bais HaLevi explains why the Parsha of Mishpatim comes before this week’s Parsha of Terumah.  It is based upon the Pasuk in Yeshaya (56:1) “Shimru Mishpat Va’Asu Tzedaka Ki Krova Yeshuasi Lavo….”  The Bais HaLevi explains that if we follow Choshen Mishpat, our monetary laws properly (Mishpatim)--then our Tzedaka will be true, ‘kosher’ Tzedaka (Terumah)--and that this in turn will bring the Yeshua!  We simply add that just as it is permissible to pledge Tzedaka for a particular reason (“So that I find my Shidduch”; “After I am successful in business this week”), so too, would it appear to be acceptable to pledge Tzedaka--for our Geulah Shleima (“So that the Geulah comes”; “I will give [a certain amount] when the Geulah comes”)!  Let us be careful with our financial matters--and give Tzedaka--and may the Geulah Shleima come speedily and in our day!



Special Note Four:  With so many Mitzvos in last week’s Parsha, upon which so much Torah SheBe’al Peh is based, it is difficult to select any one Mitzvah to delve into--but that should not stop us, to the extent that it can.  Accordingly, as but one example, we provide a bit of iyun into the topic of borrowing  and lending objects, as so beautifully set forth in Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


A person is obligated to lend his possessions to others and a borrower has an obligation to carefully guard that which he borrows.  First we shall discuss the obligation to lend articles, then we shall discuss the borrower’s obligations.


1)  You fulfill the commandment of doing chesed when you lend any article to another person. The mitzvah applies even to very minor items, such as a can opener or comb.  This form of chesed is easy for everyone to fulfill, even someone who is not wealthy. (Ahavas Chesed, part 2, ch. 22)


When Rabbi Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Teumim (“Haaderes”) the Rabbi of Jerusalem , used to travel, he would take along a special satchel full of articles that people might want to use when they travel, so that he could lend them out if they were needed. (B’tuv Yerushalayim, p. 367)


2)  If the item you lend will be used by the borrower to earn a livelihood, the reward for lending it is even greater. (Ahavas Chesed, ibid. )


3)  The mitzvah of lending applies even when the borrower is wealthy.  But the obligation is greater when a poor person who is unable to buy the item asks to borrow it. (ibid.)


4)  Some people do not like to lend their belongings to others even when they themselves are not using them.  This is a very bad trait and must be corrected. (ibid.)


5)  There are people who do not mind lending their belongings, but mind the bother involved. For instance, if the item they are asked to lend is in the basement, they are too lazy to go down and get it.  The cure for this is to acquire a realization of the importance of chesed.  A person should actually be happy when he has an opportunity to lend his possessions to others (ibid.).  A person is willing to walk to the Shul to hear the blowing of the shofar; he should also be willing ‘to walk to do chesed!


6)  It is a very big mitzvah to lend someone your seforim (Torah books).  The merit of the Torah knowledge which the borrower will gain from the books will be credited to you. (ibid.; also see Sefer Chassidim 868-877)


7)  Some people refuse to lend articles to someone with whom they are angry.  The Chofetz Chayim writes that people should consider all the times they acted against Hashem’s wishes and still Hashem continues to bestow His kindness upon them. (Ahavas Chesed, ibid.)


8)  One should act in a very friendly manner toward someone who wants to borrow his possessions, so that the person should not hesitate to ask again. (ibid.)


9)  Although the borrower should return the article on his own initiative, one should not discontinue lending his belongings even when it happens that he must approach a borrower to return an article.  A storekeeper who extends credit knows that sometimes he will have to remind his customers to pay their debts.  Yet, he will not close down his business just because he finds it bothersome to collect debts.  He knows that this is his means of a livelihood, and that no business is without its difficulties and losses.  Similarly, says the Chofetz Chayim, a person should not discontinue lending his possessions to others just because it is bothersome.  Every loan is a mitzvah, and the greater the bother, the greater the reward for fulfilling the mitzvah.  This is a person’s means of obtaining eternal life, arid nothing should deter him from it. (Ahavas Chesed)  It is a good idea to have a special notebook for writing down the names of people who borrow his possessions. As a result of the record, he will know who has a certain article in case it is needed, and thus will be more inclined to lend his belongings to others.  Also, a person should write his name on his belongings to insure that the borrower will remember who the owner is!


Tomorrow, BE’H, we will continue with the borrower’s obligations.  Remember--Chazal teach that in order to be saved from the Chevlei Moshiach one should be involved in Torah study and Gemilas Chesed.  There is no better time than the present!



BY NOW !  At this point, we assume that most/all of our readers have received a copy of the stirring words of HaRav Moshe Wolfson, Shlita, relating to the precise time period that we find ourselves in, as importantly published in Hamodia.  We thank Hamodia for providing this Article to the world.  We should review the heartfelt words of HaRav Wolfson several times, as KeMayim Panim El Panim…HaRav Wolfson’s words emanate straight from his heart and should penetrate ours.  We particularly note his call for our vigilant Tefillos, our especially dedicated Torah study, and for our Teshuvah.  Please put special emphasis on our goal of Teshuva BeChol Yom!  We also especially note that HaRav Wolfson has suggested that we all recite Tehillim Chapter 46 daily.  The Hamodia article concludes with the words set forth below--we should give ourselves Chizuk in this daily.


“Everyone has to be mispallel that Klal Yisrael should be saved from chevlei Moshiach, that he and his family should be saved,” he said.  Rav Wolfson also spoke about kevias ittim for Torah, not interrupting even “if the cell phone rings.”  “I heard from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, that when a Yid sits down to learn it should be like Shabbos,” Rav Wolfson said. “That is the only time that one is pattur from work.”  “In a beis medrash it is Shabbos ... If someone interrupts his learning and he picks up the phone, he brings the marketplace, he brings the office into “Shabbos”. He is mechallel the Shabbos.” But above all, Rav Wolfson said, Yidden should keep in mind that we live in momentous times, and we should prepare for the upcoming era with emunah and bitachon.  “In the next couple of weeks there will be news,” Rav Wolfson said, “and with the help of Hashem, it will be good news for Yidden.”



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  I made a brocha on a fruit, then after I made the brocha I changed my mind and wanted a different one, may I do this?


A:  No, you are required to eat (at least the first bite) from the fruit upon which the brocha was made.  For example, if you made a brocha on a red delicious apple and then change your mind because you see a more inviting one, or because you rather have a yellow apple, you must first take a bite from the apple upon which you made the brocha (Halachos of Brochos page 38).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Accordingly, we continue to provide points and pointers on the bracha of Asher Yatzar over the coming days:


A.  The next phrase in the bracha is U’Vara Vo Nekavim, Nekavim.  The term U’Vara--and created, explains the Malbim (Bereishis 2:7), is used to indicate Yeish MaiAyin--something created from nothing (as opposed to yetzirah and asiyah, which are later stages of development).  Here, we recognize that Hashem created apertures, or openings, from nothing.  What needs to be ‘created’ in an opening?  Firstly, the size of each opening, and the particular constitution of each opening, is detailed for each individual.  Additionally--it is not just one aperture that was created but a series--and different parts of the body have openings with different purposes.  The openings in the ear help us hear, the openings in the nose help us breathe and smell….It is perhaps for this reason that we thank Hashem for Nekavim, Nekavim--many apertures which function independently and relate to each other, and which provide us with the experience of oh so many daily miracles!


B.  The term Vo means ‘within’.  We thank Hashem for what is within us--that which we cannot see, but which keep us functioning minute-to-minute and second-to second.  We cannot even claim control over them, because we do not see them nor their processes!  With our express appreciation of the physical items within us, we will better able to appreciate in Elokai Neshama--our Neshama--the spirituality within us which we also cannot see--and which is also described in the same way as Shenasatah Bi!



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #17


Hishtadlus (continued)


The Medrash (Bereishis Raba 68:4) relates the famous Chazal that Hakadosh Boruch Hu sits and makes shidduchim constantly announcing bas ploni l’ploni. Chazal say that Hashem sometimes matches them baal korchum, even against their will.  The sefarim explain that the concept of a zivug is not in the realm of nature at all, but rather completely and totally in Hashem’s hands.  Although we are enjoined to do our hishtadlus in the realm of teva (nature), one will not be successful if their zivug has not been ordained by Hashem.  This is what Chazal mean when they say Kasheh Zivugo Shel Adam Lefnei HaKadosh Baruch Hu KeKriyas Yam Suf (Rashi (Sotah Daf 2a) comments and says that just as the laws of nature from creation were changed at the time of krias yam suf so too the shidduch of a person is above the laws of nature and does not follow normative rules).    The Ran in Moed Katon (18b) adds that although it is decreed from Heaven who he will marry, if someone else comes along, who is not the proper zivug and davens to Hashem to marry that particular person, it could be that his Tefillah will be answered.  So great is the power of Tefillah (it is for this reason that we do not daven for any particular individual, but rather that Hashem allow us to find our proper zivug).  If a person prays and is successful in derailing Hashem’s decree of bas ploni l’ploni, the Ran says that at the end, the decree will be maintained through either divorce or death so that the proper individual will marry his or her bashert.



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


A.  There is an amazing ruling contained in the Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa (46:5).  If one realizes that because he is davening Mincha on Erev Shabbos he will not be able to be mekayem the Mitzvah of Tosefes Shabbos for a minimum of two or three minutes--then it is better to daven beyechidus--privately and not with a Minyan--earlier--in order to be Mekayem the Mitzvah of Tosefes Shabbos.  A close talmid asked HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita about this Halacha--and he responded that ‘avada’--of course --it is correct--for this is the Mitzvah of Tosefes Shabbos which according to many is a Mitzvas Aseh  D’Oraysa!


B.  Last Erev Shabbos, we brought the ruling of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, regarding the imperative of following the entire leining.  Based upon this ruling, it may behoove us to the extent possible to follow the leining word-for-word by keeping our finger on the place.  We note that this Eitzah was and is used by many Gedolim to guide Kavannah in their davening--especially in Shemone Esrei.  In fact, a student of HaRav Pam, Z’tl, advised us that HaRav Pam would follow in the Siddur with his finger during Chazaras HaShatz as well!


C.  Oz VaHadar--which has published the renowned Mesivta Series on Shas, has now published a Mesivta on Zemiros Shabbos!  The Sefer provides wonderful detail as to Zemiros, as well as important yedios in the Halachos of Shabbos and on the Ruach of Shabbos.  One important example is the concept of giving brachos on Shabbos.  The Sefer provides several reasons why Bircas HaBonim is given on Leil Shabbos:  (a) Because through the Neshama Yeseira imparted upon the one giving the bracha and the one receiving it, the brachos are chal, and the satan cannot be mekatreig against the bracha [Sefer Ma’avar Yabok];  (b) There is a shefa from Shomayim on Shabbos, which ketanim cannot access on their own, and so older people must provide it to them [Siddur Bais Yaakov];  (c) Because the tzinorei brachos--the channels of bracha are open on Shabbos.  Additionally, the brachos given by a father or rebbi to his child or student will preempt the effects of any anger against the child or student that the parent or rebbi has  [Sefer HaChaim];  (d) During the week people are busy and cannot focus on giving brachos with Kavannah.  A bracha without Kavannah, i.e., a distracted bracha, does not help.  On Shabbos and Yom Tov, a person has Yishuv HaDa’as and the Kavannah can enable the bracha [Chasam Sofer]; and (e) Chazal teach that one who his Shomer Shabbos KeHilchaso is forgiven for his sins--the one giving the bracha may therefore be a Tzaddik whose brachos are especially effective through his Shemiras Shabbos--which is the Mekor Kol HaBerachos--the source of all brachos! [Imrei Noam].


D.  Last Erev Shabbos, we discussed the concept of Hirhur and Dibur--thoughts and speech on Shabbos.  We provide several additional points:  (a) Even though speech for the sake of a Mitzvah that will occur even after Shabbos is permissible as “Cheftsei Shomayim”, nevertheless, the Mishna Berurah rules that lechatchila one should not speak about it unless there is a real need (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307, Mishna Berurah seif katan 1);  (b) Even though non-distressing thoughts are permissible, even if otherwise unrelated to Shabbos--this does not mean that one can listen to a conversation of Akum relating to business, or that one can study a financial statement or business matter even without uttering a word--in both of these cases there is more than just thoughts--as action is involved as well; and (c) Finally, the general rule, as we know, is that on Shabbos one should not say that which he cannot do.  Thus, one cannot say:  “I am driving to New Jersey tomorrow”--because driving is a prohibited activity.  However, although one should not be verbose on Shabbos for no reason, it is permissible to say:  “I am so tired that I am going to sleep the whole day tomorrow”--because no prohibited activity is involved and mere words (with nothing else), are not considered a Hachana (a preparation) from Shabbos to chol. 


E.  Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek , Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended now by approximately 150 women.  Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the questions to the first 62 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions.


**PLEASE NOTE** Rabbi Webster’s Shiur, which this year is on the Halachos of Kashrus in the Kitchen, has now moved to the Agudah of 18th Ave , 5413 18th Avenue .  It is on Wednesday mornings from 10AM to 11AM , and admission is free.


63.  A pot that was wrapped in a heat-retaining material (such as a towel) before Shabbos and became unwrapped on Shabbos by itself--may one re-wrap it on Shabbos?
 Yes, as long as the food is completely cooked and wrapped in the heat retaining material before Shabbos.


64.  A pot that was wrapped with a towel before Shabbos and was intentionally unwrapped to take food out of the pot can one re-wrap it on Shabbos?
 Yes, as long as the food is completely cooked and wrapped in the heat retaining material before Shabbos.


65.  Is one permitted to add a layer of towels to a pot that was already wrapped in towels before Shabbos?
 One is permitted to add a heat retaining layer e.g. towel to a pot that was already insulated before Shabbos.


66.  Does the prohibition of Hatmana apply to a kli sheini, a second vessel?
 The prohibition of Hatmana only applies to a kli rishon-the original pot that the food was heated on the flame.  If one transferred food from the kli rishon to a kli sheini- a second pot there is no problem to insulate it with a heat retaining material e.g. towel.


67.  Is one permitted to wrap a baby bottle in towels?
 See # 66.  If warm  milk is placed into a baby bottle where upon the baby bottle becomes a kli sheini, than it is permissible to wrap a towel around it in order to keep it warm. 


68.  Is one permitted to wrap a pot and leave it on the blech or hotplate on Friday before Shabbos?
 No, due to the fact that there is a independent heat source under the pot.


69.  Is one permitted to insulate an electric water urn on Friday before Shabbos?
 One is not permitted to fully wrap an urn on Erev Shabbos even without a heat retaining item



Special Note Four:  We provide below a portion of the questions and answers on this week’s Parsha as presented in the outstanding English Sefer Torahific! by Rabbi Maimon Elbaz, Shlita:


QUESTION:  If an animal swallowed your cell-phone, how much does its owner have to pay you?

ANSWER:  If an animal consumes something inedible, the owner must pay half its value.  Since an animal doesn’t normally eat such things, it is considered an unusual manner of damage. (Mishnah Bava Kama 2:2)


QUESTION: How many times does the Torah repeat the warning to respect and love a convert and not hurt him in any way?

ANSWER:  Several times the Torah warns us to love and respect a convert.  A convert naturally feels uncomfortable in his new surroundings, so the Torah warns us repeatedly to make him feel at home. Many times even Jews feel uncomfortable with their fellow Jews who come from different backgrounds.  Sometimes Ashkenazic Jew feels out of place in the company of Sephardic Jews, and vice versa.  We must strive not to be prejudiced, and to make each other feel comfortable.  After all, “Achim Anachnu!” (We are brothers!) Spare our fellow Jew culture shock! (Midrash Halacha)


QUESTION: When should a person imagine himself as a poor man?

ANSWER:  When one gives tzedaka (charity) or a loan to one in need, he must feel as if he was in that needy situation himself.  As the saying goes, “Put yourself in his shoes!” (Rashi 22:24)


QUESTION: Why does the Torah say that one who damages another person’s eye has to pay “An eye for an eye,” if it does not literally mean that?

ANSWER: The Torah is implying to the perpetrator that had Hashem wished He could punish him “measure for measure”.  If he damages someone’s eye he might lose his own eye.  The Torah gives him a chance to do teshuva by allowing him to pay money.  If he does not do a perfect teshuva, he might end up losing his own vision. (Rambam)


QUESTION: What must a damager do after he pays for the injuries of someone that he has harmed?

ANSWER:  After one pays for the injuries he caused, he must ask forgiveness as well.  The Torah teaches us not to physically or emotionally hurt another Jew!  (Mishnah Bava Kama 8:7, Rambam Hilchos Chovel! U’mazih 5:9)



Special Note Five:  We provide the following points and pointers on the Parsha. 


A.  In his commentary in this week’s Parsha on the requirement of boring a hole in the recalcitrant Eved Ivri’s ear, the Sefas Emes (5645) notes that the measure of reward, or Middah Tovah, is always greater than Middas Puraniyus.  Accordingly, if an awl must be bored through the ear of one who wants to stay an Eved to another human, then the reward who accepts upon himself the service of Hashem and expresses the words “V’Ahavta Es Hashem” with fervor will be granted divine assistance to be able to clearly hear the voice of Hashem.  We must make sure that we use our ears for the right reasons--so that they be amply rewarded!  Hakhel Note:  It is no coincidence (as it never, ever is) to note that our very same Parsha contains the mitzvah of Lo Sisa Sheima Shav--do not listen to/accept Lashon Hora or falsehood (Shemos 23:1).  Fascinatingly, this prohibition against listening to Lashon Hora is found in the Torah even before the prohibition against speaking Lashon Hora, which does not occur until Parshas Kedoshim!  We suggest that the reason for this may be actually quite simple--without a listener there is simply no Lashon Hora at all to be spoken-- notwithstanding that it is at the tip of someone’s tongue already mixed with venom, pride, disregard and anger!  This is the one occasion in which one should not at all be a good listener.  Similarly, we note that of the 48 Ways in which Torah is to be acquired are set forth in Pirkei Avos (6:6)--and  the first is Torah study, the second is Shemiyas HaOzen--attentive listening, and only the third is Arichas Sefasayim--appropriate speech.  Thus, an extremely important Avodah for the coming week--taught to us at the outset of the Parsha so that everybody appreciates and gets to it-- is to reevaluate and reconsider how we treat and use our ears.  Getting within earshot of an argument between people, or a conversation between two people who are of a lower element of society, or someone screaming on a cell phone allows destructive foreign influences to enter into one’s body and soul through those precious and miraculous apertures [as per the note on Asher Yatzar above] placed on either side of the brain for good reason.  Stay Away--don’t become an Eved Ivri!  On the other hand, if you see a lively Torah discussion taking place--listen in!  Our ears heard the Voice of Hashem at Har Sinai--let them continue in the way of their bold and royal tradition and upbringing each and every day--let us remember that we say Shema Yisroel for good reason!


B.  The Shelah HaKadosh provides an amazing insight from the Zohar into the power of Teshuva.  In the Parsha, we are taught that “VeChi Yiftach Ish Bor”--if a man digs a pit in a public area he is responsible and must pay for all of the damage that it causes.  If someone caused another to sin, which has far greater ramifications because it can permanently affect his Olam Haba forever and ever, one would think that the damages he is liable for are much larger and exceedingly great.  Yet, this is not so--for the power of Teshuva is so great that it repairs the damage done above, the damage done below, the damage done to oneself--and the damage done to the world!  Let us think of the pit and all the responsibility that it entails--and realize that with Teshuva one does not have to fall in it or anywhere near it! 


 C.  A related teaching of the Shelah Hakadosh is on the Pasuk tomorrow “Ki Seitzeh Aish--when a fire goes out and finds thorns....”   The Shelah explains that one might think that he is not responsible for a fire that unintentionally went out on its own from one’s property.  The Torah teaches that this is not the case, and that one must be especially circumspect with fire and its power--where even for an ‘accident’ or an ‘unintentional’ act will one be held fully responsible.  This, the Shelah continues (in the name of Rebbe Menachem HaBavli, Z’tl) is an important allusion to the ‘fire’ of machlokes or anger--where one simply must guard himself with greater effort and care, even if it ended up happening by accident or without intention.  The Shelah concludes with these important words: U’Klal Gadol Hu Zeh Lehavio LiHeyoso Kadosh Bechol HaKedushos--this is a great principle--the recognition and practice of which will bring him to holiness of holinesses.  Hakhel Note:  These are the Shelah’s words--not ours!


D.  This Shabbos, 25 Shevat, is the Yahrzeit of Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl.  In this week’s Parsha we learn of the laws of guarding borrowed objects--the laws of a Shomer Sho’el.  The story is told of Rebbi Yisroel who was on his way to give a shiur in Shul in Lomza upon visiting the city.  Suddenly, a heavy rain began to fall and someone lent him an umbrella, Rebbi Yisroel did not let the umbrella out of his sight, keeping it perched at the bima next to him--with the full knowledge and awareness of the responsibilities that borrowing entails.  (Tnuas HaMussar, Volume 1; p.353, brought in Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita).  Hakhel Note:  Rebbi Yisroel was not acting like  a Tzaddik--he was teaching by example how one has to live his life. 


E.  The Torah specifically teaches us “Midvar Sheker Tirchak--stay away from falsehood” (Shemos 23:17 ).  The unusual term used by the Torah--to **distance** oneself--from untruth should cause us to picture in our minds how we would react when a wild dog or vicious anti-Semite was coming down the block.  Our reaction to untruth should be no different.  So, how can we help ourselves grow further and further in this area?  It is known that Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl (once again, his Yahrtzeit is tomorrow), would encourage the constant, meaningful repetition of a phrase in order for its message to penetrate into your heart and, deeper yet, into your soul.  Although, we may not feel as we should the direct connection between ourselves and some of the Halachos in tomorrow’s Parsha (such as the laws regarding laborers or oaths) because our long and dark exile has distanced us from our land and our way of life, perhaps we can at least build on the important phrase taught in the Parsha--”Midvar Sheker Tirchak”--over the coming week.  As we meet situations at home, in the office, and in the marketplace, in which our honesty, or even shades of it, is tried or tested, let the words of the Torah resound from within and emanate from without.  The Navi (Zephania 3:13 ) simply and starkly teaches us who will be left of us as the End of Days:  ”Sheayris Yisroel…Lo Yidabru Kazav--the remnant of Israel …will not speak deceitfully.”  Let us work hard, very hard--let us overcome the world around us and the temptations from within—in order to be one of those very special, everlasting Remnants of Israel!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: My wife and I were visiting new neighbors and we were offered a drink. We made a Shehakol and partook.  A bit later they offered us chocolates.  When we made the brocha we had absolutely no inkling that we would be eating anything else.  Does that mean that we should have made another Shehakol when we were served the chocolates?


A:   No, your first Shehakol was good for everything your host would subsequently serve.  When you are at home and you eat one item, then later take a different item you must make a new brocha.  However, when you are visiting and are being served by the host, you cannot know what you will be served, so you automatically subconsciously have intention for all that the host will serve (Halachos of Brochos page 120).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Accordingly, we continue to provide points and pointers on the bracha of Asher Yatzar over the coming days:


A.  Until this point, we have discussed the terms Asher and Yatzar (and Yatzar together with Rofei Chol Basar).  The next phrase that requires special focus in this bracha is Es HaAdam.  How, after all, is man different than animal in the miraculous constitution of his body?  After all, do not a myriad of live creatures in various kingdoms have incredibly complex and truly incomprehensible digestive, circulatory and other body systems?  What makes ours so special and unique? Do not we in fact, conclude the bracha with the words Rofei Chol Basar--Who heals all flesh?  We may suggest that the answer lies in the meaning of the word HaAdam.  When Hashem first created Adam HaRishon, the Pasuk states VaYivrah Elokim Es HaAdam BeTzalmo BeTzelem Elokim Barah Oso (Bereishis 1:27 ).  We are thus thanking Hashem not only for all of the incredible body systems in (hopefully) perfect working order and place, but also for our unique Tzelem Elokim.  With the expression of Es HaAdam we express our true appreciation to Hashem for giving us the ability to lead spiritual lives in a physical world--to elevate all of our physical processes.  Indeed, there are even Simanim in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 3,6,7) which provide specific Halachos as to a conduct of a person when taking care of one’s needs!  We are not merely like the other creatures who Hashem keeps in miraculous existence as well--we are sanctified as Es HaAdam in the process!


B.  With the next phrase of BeChochma we indicate that Hashem’s wisdom is not a wisdom which we can duplicate or even comprehend.  As but one short example to remember--miles worth of intestines within a person just a few feet tall deserves our real attention and special appreciation!



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #16





The Steipeler was once asked regarding a shidduch that was suggested and then pushed off--should one try to reintroduce the shidduch and pressure the individual to reconsider.  He quoted the Sefer Chasidim, Siman 514 that showed that one should not do such a thing.  On yet another occasion he responded to a similar inquiry and said that if one begins the shidduch process and sees that it does not go forward, he should not do hishtadlus to push it, because most probably this is not the right shidduch (Orchos Rabbeinu p. 264).


There are times that a person worries about what their neighbors and friends might say about their children or themselves regarding a shidduch.  A young man once came to the Chazon Ish and poured out his heart seeking the Gadol’s advice.  The bochur said that his neighbor has a tremendous hatred and ruins every potential shidduch that comes his way when he is asked for information.  The Chazon Ish responded and told him: “Don’t worry about your neighbor, when the right zivug will come about, either your neighbor will not be asked, or he will be quiet, or his words will have no influence.  All of his efforts thus far, were only regarding shidduchim were not your proper zivug and therefore he was successful in ruining it--for your benefit!”



Special Note Three:  We provide below several important points made by HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, as brought in the Sefer Leket Reshimos (Inyanei Bais HaMikdash):


A.  Chazal (Kedushin 40B) teach that a person should always see himself as having the scale in exact balanced--not only for himself, but for the entire world.  One correct tipping of the scale can save the person--and the world.  HaRav Nosson teaches that this is not simply an allegory--but the metzius.  A person must view himself as being able to save the world--literally!  With this thought high on one’s mind, he will avoid sin and frivolity, and will make sure that his time is well spoken for and well spent.  If one would only recognize his true worth--oh what he could accomplish for us all!


B.  When a child sits at his father’s table and sees all that his father provides him with, there is no room for mistake, no room to think “ Kochi VeOtzem Yadi.  This was true when there was a Bais HaMikdash and the Shechina was evident.  Now, however, although we still receive everything from Hashem--we don’t realize it.  This is Hester Panim, this is Churban.


 C.  Chazal teach that the “BeCharbi U’VeKashti--the sword and the bow” (Bereishis 48:22) of Yaakov Avinu was in fact his Koach HaTefillah--his prayers.  For the Torah Jew, Tefillah is his sword, and Tefillah is his bow.  Just as warriors--no matter what their weapons--must display great Gevurah to succeed--so too must we display great Gevurah in our Tefillos.  We must overcome the Yetzer Hara induced mixture of machshavos zaros (sometimes ridiculous ones at that), impediments, delays in beginning and rushes to complete.  Just as one army bests another in battle and wins the war, we can overturn the world’s condition with our proper Tefillos! 


D.  Tears are the expression of the heart.  If one hears the cries of a child, he runs towards him and tries to help--the cries and tears caused the closeness, breaking down mechitzos and forging a bond.  We must understand the power of tears.  After Yaakov received the brachos from Yitzchak Avinu, Eisav asked for a bracha as well.  Yitzchak advised him that there were ostensibly none left to give.  As a result, Eisav lifted his voice and cried (Bereishis 27:37)--and Yitzchak somehow then gave him a bracha!  Moreover, Chazal teach that Eisav has had the power to rule over us (in this 2,000 year Golus) because of those tears!  Even Eisav HaRasha--with tears--was able to break down all of the mechitzos.  In another but related vein, Chazal teach that Leah’s eyes were rakkos because she understood that she was destined to marry Eisav and so she cried with tears.  As a result, she was able to change the Gezeirah…and left the Chelek of Eisav to be one of the Imahos and the mother of six Shevatim!  To understand the extreme importance of dema’os for our final redemption, Dovid Hamelech especially teaches us in Tehillim “HaZorim BeDimah BeRina Yiktzoru--those who sows with tears--will reap in joy” (Tehillim 137).  It is no coincidence then --as it never is--that the Navi tells us that “Rochel Mevakah Ahl Baneha--and as a result she is the one who receives the assurance of VeShavu Vanim LeGevulam.  Our meaningful and, if possible tear-filled, prayers are the foundation of, and the secrets to, our Yeshuos--and our Geulah!



IMPORTANT NOTE: We recall that today is the Yahrzeit of the Manchester Rosh HaYeshiva, HaRav Yehuda Zev B’R Moshe Yitzchak HaLevi Segel, Z’tl.  HaRav Segel put the Koach HaPeh at the forefront of his Avodas Hashem and assured others that they would experience personal Yeshuos through the proper study and application of Shemiras Halashon.  His special dedication to the Koach HaPeh teaches us all that one can continuously edify and refine his speech and his manner of speech.  “  ‘I am going to cheat on my diet with this piece of cake.’;  ‘Can I steal a moment of your time?’;  ‘What a disgusting bug!’;  ‘That food is nasty.’;  ‘I have no patience for this!’;  ‘I can’t talk to you bye [click].’;  are all examples of short statements which ultimately impact a person’s mindset and overall personality.  Replacing the snaps, remarks and quips, and the gruff, negative and unseemly words with wise words of compliment, praise, optimism and encouragement may appear to have a limited effect upon a small part of the overall day--but actually will impact surely and steadily on a large part of one’s personality. The time to begin to improve with better, more chosen words is not tomorrow or next week--if for no other reason than there is simply more to accomplish tomorrow and more to grow in next week.  May our election to become better today, on the Manchester Rosh HaYeshiva’s Yahrzeit, bring us the individual Yeshuos that the Manchester Rosh HaYeshiva so seriously attributed to a worthy Ruach Memalela--the expression of our spirit from within--as expressed to the outside world by our power of speech!




Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  In a previous Hakhel Bulletin regarding the brocha achrona for “trail mix” containing less than a k’zayis of raisins, you wrote:  “If you would have eaten a k’zayis of raisins within three minutes you would have indeed been obligated to make an al hoeitz.”  My question is: so what if there is less than a k’zayis of raisins, would you not have to make al hoeitz anyways because each raisin is a ‘beryah’?


A:  Good question.  Let us divide your shaylah into two shaylos. 1. What is the brocha requirement for a beryah?  2. Does a raisin qualify as a beryah?  1.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 210:1) states that some Rishonim say that natural items which are whole (such as a whole grape or a whole blueberry) may possibly require a brocha achrona even if they are smaller than a k’zayis. This is because something which is whole is possibly as choshuv as if it were a k’zayis. To avoid this sofek, the Shulchan Aruch advises to avoid eating a whole natural item if you are not planning to eat a k’zayis, but rather to break it, (or bite off a bit) or squash it before eating it. Since many Rishonim are of the opinion that a beryah less than a k’zayis does not warrant a brocha achrona, one is never permitted to make a brocha achrona for less than a k’zayis, beryah or not.  2. By the way, raisins--being dried out and shriveled, are not considered beryah in the first place (heard from Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Accordingly, we continue to provide points and pointers on the bracha of Asher Yatzar over the coming days:


A.  In this bracha, after we recite the regular nusach of every bracha--”Baruch Atta...”, we continue with the word Asher’.  We usually recite the word Asher in a bracha when it relates to a Mitzvah--such as Asher Kideshanu BeMitzvosav.  We also use the term Asher in Birchas HaTorah--Asher Bachar Banu, and in the first of the 15 Birchas HaShachar, Asher Nasan LaSechvi…. Otherwise it is reserved for ‘special occasions’ such as Sheva Brachos or a Bris, and is not recited in our brachos either before or after we partake of food.  We may suggest that the word Asher is related to the word Ashrei, indicating a special level of appreciation and thanks.  Indeed, HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, in his commentary on Ashrei Yoshvei Veisecha teaches that Ashrei ‘definitely means happiness’ (although he does not connect Asher to Ashrei).  We use this apparent nexus of Asher and Ashrei as a suggestion--to experience a sense of appreciation and thanks at the outset of the bracha--when expressing the word Asher.


B.  The next term, ‘Yatzar Es HaAdam--Who formed man,’ teaches us that man was miraculously created this way at the outset of creation, and that accordingly, many billions of people have been blessed with a phenomenally functioning system-- every day, several times a day--and even throughout their entire lives.  Nevertheless, we should not get lost in the fact that our bodily functions and systems are part of an act of creation thousands of years ago--but instead we should recognize that in actuality Hashem is the Rofei Chol Basar (in the present tense)--the One Who makes each system of every human being work each day--on an ongoing basis! (based on Sefer VeZos HaBracha)



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #15


The Shadchan (continued)


9.  There are different customs as to how the payment to the shadchanim should be divided when numerous individuals were involved.  One common arrangement is that the shadchan or shadchanim who initiated the shidduch and the ones who completed it equally divide the normal fee.  The others who were involved receive a token payment.  The practice in some communities may be different.


10.  When there are two shadchanim, one of whom dealt with both the chassan and the kaIlah and one of whom worked with only one of the parties, one common arrangement is that payment is evenly divided between them--even if the initial idea for the shidduch came from one of them, who then involved the second person.  Here too, the practice in some communities may be different.


11.  One may not interfere and try to serve as a shadchan to advance a shidduch if someone else is already effectively involved. Similarly, it is improper for either side to involve a second shadchan if the first shadchan is prepared to continue his involvement.  If there is a problem in dealing with the initial shadchan, a Rav should be consulted.


12.  If someone suggests a shidduch which was rejected, and that same shidduch was later suggested by a different shadchan and it was then accepted and brought to a successful conclusion, one common arrangement for dividing the payment is:


• If the second shadchan knew of the first shadchan’s suggestion, the first shadchan receives between 1/3and 1/2 of the payment.


• If the second shadchan was unaware of the first shadchan’s suggestion, the second person receives the entire payment.


Due to the complexities of these halachos, a prominent Rav should be asked for advice.


13.  Any questions or disputes regarding the payment of shadchanus must be resolved by a Rav acceptable to all the parties or before a beis din.



Special Note Three:  As we continue through these difficult times, with an astonishing number of Gedolei Rabbanim having been hospitalized almost at once, we must recognize that we are not to become depressed, discouraged or despair--but rather that it is a ‘call to action’ on our part.  The challenges we now face must be taken in the same way that our fathers, and their fathers, back to the Avos met with their trials, tribulations and difficulties.  Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 3:3-5) exclaims:  Rabbim Omrim LeNafshi Ain Yeshuasa…Koli El Hashem Ekrah VaYa’aneini--many say ‘there is no salvation for him’…with my voice I call out to Hashem and He answers me….”


Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in his exceptional Sefer Growth Through Tehillim: Exploring Psalms for Life Transforming Thoughts, comments on these words of Dovid HaMelech as follows:  Even though he was faced with a mighty challenge compounded by those whose opinions could cause despair, Dovid Hamelechs complete belief in Hashem’s unlimited goodness and compassion was powerful.  His knowledge of Hashem’s benevolence was so strong that, not only did it help carry him through the severe test he was facing [at that time from his son’s rebellion], but it also enabled him to transcend the negativity of many, regardless of how great they were.  People are fallible.  Humans can project negativity.  They can feel certain that they are not being pessimistic, but realistic.  They can give many logical, rational reasons why they feel someone is doomed.  But the will of the Al-mighty is stronger.  Connecting to the kindness and compassion of Hashem, always gives hope. There are many life situations and circumstances in which it is easy to be pessimistic.  It might be easy to give up hope particularly when others make discouraging comments.  Let us learn from Dovid Hamelech. Let us always believe in the benevolence of our loving Father and powerful King. Let this belief be so strong that nothing anyone says, can cause us to lose hope.” Rabbi Pliskin continues:


I once asked someone who survived a concentration camp in the Second World War, “What was most difficult for you during the entire ordeal? The negativity of others,” he replied. “In the home where I grew up, my parents had high levels of bitachon, total trust in the Al-mighty. I was frequently told, ‘No matter how bad a situation might seem, Hashem can help you in a moment.  This was so deeply ingrained in my mind that, on my own, I never lost hope.  But hearing people who were older than me telling me that I was a dreamer and I wasnt realistic, began to shake my hope.  My mother was a Tehillim-sayer’. She constantly read Tehillim.  She would repeat frequently, ‘We must learn from the trust in Hashem of Dovid HaMelech.I remembered how Dovid HaMelech called out to Hashem, even though others told him that it wouldnt help him.  I drew upon the inner strength of Dovid HaMelech, to increase my own inner strength. And this enabled me to give encouragement to many others.



Special Note Four:  HaRav Yitzchak Zilber, Z’tl, concludes his stirring autobiography To Remain a Jew with the following words:  The Torah, describing how Yosef was led from prison to Pharaoh in the palace, does not say he “was taken out;’ but rather that he “was rushed out:’ Why?  Because when the time comes, every minute is precious to Hashem.  The same will be true with us, says the Chofetz Chaim.  When the time of our deliverance arrives, it will come to pass as written in Yeshayahu 60:8: “Who are these, flying like a cloud, like doves, to their nests?”  May it be Hashem’s will that we merit experiencing this time, speedily, in our day, Amein!”



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  I would like to know if I am I required to make the brocha HaGomel on a plane trip from New York to California ?


A:   Rav Moshe zt”l was unequivocally of the opinion that a one is required to make HaGomel after a plane trip, because while he was up in the air--regardless of whether he was over land or over water--he was in a matzav of sakonah (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim. Vol. 2: 59).  Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, was also of the opinion that a HaGomel is required for all flights, even those over land (Halichos Shlomo, Vol. 1, p. 276).  However, the minhag ha’olom is not to make HaGomel except for flights overseas. Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach zt”l has a wonderful eitzah for people who have a sofek if they should make HaGomel.  When we recite the Birchos HaShachar every morning, the final brocha is: HaGomel Chasodim Tovim L’Amo Yisroel.  This brocha is valid for being yotzei the obligation of one requiring Bircas HaGomel.  Therefore, one who has a sofek  should recite this brocha in front of ten people (example, be the shliach tzibur in shul to say brachos), and have specific intention to be yotzei for your Bircas HaGomel obligation.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  We understand that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, has urged us to improve our Kavannah in the bracha of Asher Yatzar as a zechus for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  Accordingly, we hope to provide points and pointers on the bracha of Asher Yatzar over the coming days:


A.  If one was required to make both a bracha achrona on food, and an Asher Yatzar, one first makes the Asher Yatzar and then the Bracha Achrona over the food. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 7, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 2)


B.  The Sefer VeZos HaBracha explains that this bracha demonstrates the importance of discreet cleanliness.  Furthermore, the bracha emphasizes how our bodies are organized and ordered with wondrous wisdom--so that we can obtain just what is needed from our food and drink, and eliminate that which is not. 


C.  The Sefer VeZos HaBracha also brings that one reason we repeat the word ‘Chalulim’ is because the Gematria of Chalulim two times is 248 (representing all of the limbs of the body), so that all of our limbs are represented in our thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu in this bracha. (see Imrei Noam of the G’ra)


D.  We provide below a moving communication from a reader, which we had once published.  “… I have a special “feel” for Asher Yatzar” because I was zochah to receive a kidney transplant more than five years ago, Baruch HaShem!  I know what it means when one of the spaces and organs ceases to function... e.g., the kidneys, and the poisons build up in the bloodstream without the filtering mechanism they provide.  Not a good time.  Baruch HaShem, I was able to be on dialysis for 4 1/2 years, and that saved my life until I got my transplant.


So yes, be sure to specify nekavim NEKAVIM chalulim CHALULIM...  because it’s surely galui v’yadua lifnay Chisay Ch’vodecha, that if one of them is opened that should be closed, or one of them is blocked that should be open, it would be ee efshar to continue to live, [sometimes] even for one hour!  When I read this each time, I think of a person whose lung has been punctured, or who has a ruptured appendix or other piece of bowel which ruptures... OY VEY.  Even in today’s medically advanced world, it can be disastrous.”



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #14


The Shadchan


1.  It is a mitzvah to be involved In the process of helping to arrange shidduchim. and one may do so on Shabbos and Yom Tov, even though there will payment for such services.


2. There is an absolute obligation to pay a shadchan, just as one must pay any broker who renders a service.  The shadchan may seek recourse in beis din in order to collect what is rightfully owed. Great poskim have said that shadchanus is “the most kosher money.”


3. Shadchanim are entitled to payment whether they acted of their own accord or whether they were brought into the process by one of the parties.


4. It is generally accepted that the parents of the chassan and the parents of the kallah evenly divide the payments to the shadchan, even if the shadchan was more involved with one side or worked longer with that side.


5. Unless otherwise specified In advance, the shadchan’s fee is determined by the normal fee paid in the location of the chassan and kallah, regardless of the amount of time and effort the shadchan invested.  If the chassan and kallah live in different places, and the normal amount paid in one’s location is different than that of the other, a Rav acceptable to all parties should be asked to determine the fee.  The payment to the shadchan is assumed to include reimbursement of all the shadchan’s expenses.  In the event that those expenditures exceeded the normal fee, the shadchan is reimbursed for those additional expenses as well.


6. The accepted custom is that the shadchan is paid at the time of the engagement, If the engagement Is broken, the shadchan must still be paid.


7. Unless otherwise stipulated at the outset, the shadchan does not receive any payment or reimbursement, if the proposed match did not lead to the couple’s engagement.


8. If more than one shadchan was actively involved from the start, the normal payment is evenly divided among them.



Special Note Three:  We provide below several points relating to Parshas Yisro (Har Sinai, the Mitzvah of Shabbos, the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av VaEim) from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita. 


A.  Hashem chose Har Sinai, a small mountain, as a symbol of the need for humility to be successful--rather than simply giving the Torah in the depths of a valley, because true Anava is when one may feel ‘big’ but nevertheless lowers himself--and is not demonstrated by one who feels lowly in general. 


B.  The Steipeler’s Rebbetzin would keep her Siddur open to Lechu Neranena next to the Neiros Shabbos, as a segulah against fire, both when she saw the flame was traveling upward, or when she left her home.  This is permissible, even though one does not usually leave a sefer open and leave the room--because it is for a reason and is not a bizayon.  Moreover, it is a Kavod for the Siddur--that the house not suffer a fire because of it!


C.  When one bakes many challahs at a time and it is enough for several weeks, it is not a Kavod Shabbos for the future weeks.  It is only a Kavod Shabbos if one can tell that the act was done for the sake of this Shabbos.


D.  Although one cannot make personal bakashos on Shabbos, one may think about personal bakashos. 


E.  The custom not to blow out candles is based upon the Midrash Chupas Eliyahu printed at the end of the Sefer Reishis Chochma.  The Steipeler Z’tl, and yblc’t HaRav Chaim, follow this custom


F.  If one has a choice between supporting the store of a Mechalel Shabbos or an Akum, it is still better to support the Mechalel Shabbos--for he can do Teshuvah! 


G.  If a grandfather requests of his son to be the Sandek at the upcoming bris of his grandson, and the father is a Shomer Torah U’Mitzvos, then Kibbud Av supersedes the son’s desiring to give the Kibud to an Adam Gadol.


H.  If a son finds an Esrog which is more mehudar than his father’s, he need not give it to his father, nor to his Rebbi. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 658, Sha’arei Teshuvah, seif katan 12).


I.  If a child visits his parent and the parent is sleeping, when he advises them later that he visited he has fulfilled the Mitzvah of Kibbud by giving them benefit.  This is true as well of one visiting a sick person who is sleeping--upon advising him later that he was visited the person who is ill will derive hana’ah and so one has made the choleh feel better thus--which is the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim! 


J.  When a child learns Torah or does a Mitzvah it is a Zechus for the parents, whether or not the child actually expresses that he would like for it to be a zechus. (see Sdei Chemed I, p. 145)



IMPORTANT TEHILLIM NOTES:  As we continue to recite Tehillim for a Refuah Shleimah for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, and for Cholim in need, we remind our readers that in Shir HaMa’alos MiMa’amakim (Tehillim 130), not all of the Sheimos have the identical meaning, even though we pronounce them in the same way.  Three of the Sheimos are the Shem of Aleph-Daled which means that Hashem is the Master of All.  The four other full Sheimos are the Shem of Yud-Key-Vuv-Key, which means not only that Hashem is the Master of All, but that He Was, Is, and Will Be, and also keeps everything in existence.  Unless we have memorized which Name of Hashem is where, it behooves us to look in a Siddur or Sefer Tehillim so that we have the proper Kavannah--especially in something so important as the Sheimos of Hashem!  We also remind our readers of the wonderful P’shat of HaRav Feivel Cohen, Shlita, on Tehillim 121 (Shir LaMa’alos Esah Einai).  In the second Pasuk, we exclaim: “Ezri Mai’im Hashem Osei Shomayim VaAretz--My help is from Hashem, Maker of heaven and earth.”  HaRav Cohen movingly commented:  “We all know that Hashem created the heavens and the earth--we must certainly know that He has the ability to heal any Choleh and all Cholim--who are but a part of the entire creation!”



Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, we learned how essential Kibbud Av Va’eim is--being included as one of the Aseres Hadibros, with the reward of life itself--in this world and the next--attributed to it.  In For Goodness Sake, by Rabbi Boruch Brull (which we have cited in the past, because of its outstanding and meaningful content), Rabbi Brull brings the story of a 12 year old boy who traveled from Denver to Chicago to study Torah.  Before leaving, his father asked him to write every day.  The boy listened to his father--and as of the date the book was published--had written to his parents every day for 43 years!  The “boy” is HaRav Yeruchem Pitter, Shlita, so well-known for his guidance to the bachurim at the Mesivta of Long Beach.  Greatness starts somewhere--so let's get started!



Special Note Two:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  Continued: We just spent a week’s vacation in a high-rise condo, overlooking the ocean.  Should we make a brocha when we first go out on the balcony and see the ocean?


A:  I assume that the ocean that you overlooked was the Atlantic , the Pacific, the Caribbean , or the Gulf of Mexico .  All of these are connected and are referred to by the Poskim as “Okianus” (meaning the great ocean that spans the world).  According to most Poskim the brocha to be recited upon seeing this ocean for the first time in 30 days is: “Oseh HaYam HaGadol.” (Mishna Berurah 228.2)  There is one important condition--if you live near the ocean, and can easily see the ocean anytime, it is as if you have seen the ocean within 30 days, in which case you are not going to be impressed or awe-inspired by seeing the ocean, and a brocha should not be made.  But if you come from the Midwest or not within close proximity to the ocean, and have not seen the ocean within the prior 30 days, you do make that bracha. (Rav S. Z. Auerbach in Halichos Shlomo volume 1, page 287).


Hakhel Additional Note One on Brachos:  Last week, we noted that in the order of priority of brachos, the bracha of borei pri ha’eitz (over an orange, kiwi, mango, etc., for instance), precedes borei pri ha’adama over your banana chips, melon, craisins, etc.).  More than one reader asked us to point out that if one likes the ha’dama item (it is chaviv ) more than the ha'eitz item, then one should make a ha’adama first.  In one reader’s words:   So if I like popcorn better than grapes (even Shivas HaMinim) in general and that is what I wish now, then the ha’adama on popcorn goes before the ha’eitz on the grapes." (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 211, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 35, and Bi'ur Halacha dibur hamaschil veyeish omrim shegam…).  Hakhel Note:  Thank you for adding the concept of chavivus of food.  in a related vein, we note that the Ba'alei Mussar teach that one should not say that he loves a particular food item--for love is reserved for real feelings and  relationships.


Hakhel Additional Note Two on Brachos:  In a recent Shiur by Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, on the bracha of Shehechiyanu, Rabbi Pearl noted in the name of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, that women would make a Shehechiyanu on a new sheitel if it makes them truly happy, and that although the Kaf HaChaim rules that the Minhag HaOlam is not to make a bracha on new keilim, HaRav Moshe rules that if the item makes you truly happy, one would make a bracha even on new household items (such as appliances).  One should, of course, consult his Rav or Posek with any particular Shailos that he may have--and as to what the proper bracha would be--She'hechiyanu or HaTov VeHaMeitiv.



Special Note Three:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #13


The famous Mashgiach, Rav Eliya Lopian, Z’tl, states that “Middos Tovos are the foundation to build oneself and to reach all other lofty madreigos.  Very negative character traits are an illness that very few are able to cure themselves of.”  It is for this reason that many Gedolim stress the aspect of Middos as the most important element of Shidduch as is borne in the Torah with the choice of Rivka as the Shidduch for Yitzchak.


Similarly, the Chazon Ish says the most important conditions are Taharas HaLev, Ahavas Torah, and good middos.  The Meiri (Shabbos 11A) rules that in addition to checking into the Yichus and the relatives of the prospective girl, one should be exceptionally thorough in the investigation of Middos, because negative traits can destroy the entire marriage.  Rabbeinu Bachya (on Parshas Chayei Sara) tells us that children are drawn after the middos of the mother’s family, just as the taste of wine follows the vessel in which it is stored.  Thus, Chazal were particularly mindful of a mother’s Middos Tovos.


The Steipeler, Z’tl, once told a boy that money and looks is a good thing, but only if the Shidduch is going in a good direction.  However, regarding proper Middos, one cannot be Mevater in any which way, because a women without proper Middos is considered Gehenoim in the house.  The Steipeler repeated this numerous times.


Rav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, in his Sefer Teshuvos VeHanhagos brings from the Chazon Ish that the Ikar Middah to be most concerned about is that the girl is not stubborn, for stubbornness can be a tremendous impediment to life together.  


Rav Elyakim Schlesinger (Bais Av Al Hatorah, 2:33 ) says that the Chazon Ish was accustomed to saying the following four middos are essential in regard to a Shidduch: lev tov, easygoing middos, Ahavas Torah, and Histapkus--satisfaction with what one has. 


Additional Note on Shemiras HaLashon:  We provide by the following link a summary review of the seven prerequisites that are necessary in order to relate what would otherwise be considered Lashon Hara http://tinyurl.com/3n7kbk2  You can print it out, cut it into the size of a card, and leave it in your wallet.  On the other side, you can put the following notation:  “Any questions--call the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline: 718-951-3696, 9:00 to 10:30 PM , EST.



Special Note Four:  Now that we all have received the Torah again in last week’s Parsha, we should feel energized with a new, unwavering and vibrant commitment to Torah study.  Last week, we provided several important Halachos relating to Kriyas HaTorah on an ongoing basis. We now provide several additional Halachos relating to Kriyas HaTorah, once again from the Mishna Berurah--Dirshu Edition, (Chapters 147-149):


A.  The Chofetz Chaim writes:  Ashrei Me Shenosein Kavod LaTorah--Praiseworthy is the one who honors the Torah, as the Pasuk says “Ki MiChabdai Achabeid”.  Thus, when one honors the Torah it is considered as if one has honored Hashem Himself.  (Bi’ur Halacha, d’h Vehanachon).


B.  The opening of the Aron Kodesh is a remez to a “Sod Gadol BeOlamos HaElyonim (Elef HaMagen; Dirshu Note 11).


C.  The Chazon Ish rules that when the Gemara states that the one who lifts the Torah is ‘notel sechar k’neged kulam’ (his reward is commensurate with all of those who were called to the Torah)--this in our day refers not only to  the magbe’ah, the one who lifts the Torah, but also to the golel, the one who wraps the Torah.  This being said, why do we sometimes given gelilah to a child under Bar-Mitzvah?  The Mishna Berurah answers the question--gelilah should, in fact, only be given to a katan who is of an age in which he understands what a davar shebekedusha is--and the reason we do so is to properly educate him in the Mitzvos.  (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 147, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 7)


D.  The Rema writes that the reason that children are brought or urged to go to kiss the Torah is lechancham u’lezarzam b’mitzvos--to educate and to teach them to pursue the Mitzvos--rather than perform Mitzvos passively, or to wait for the mitzvah to come to the person.  (ibid., 149:1)


E.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that the kaddish immediately following Kriyas HaTorah was instituted le’ilui the Neshamos all of the meisim who do not have someone to say Kaddish over them, and that if an aveil (and not the ba’al kriyah) recites this Kaddish, then he should have in mind that he is reciting it for the Neshamos of these other meisim as well.  (Dirshu, note 19)


F.  The Chazan holds the Sefer Torah with the open part towards the people because “the light of the Sefer Torah” emanates to the Tzibbur from the side by which it opens(!).  (ibid., note 16)  Hakhel Note:  Let us appreciate the light of the Sefer Torah when we are in its presence--whether or not we see it! 


G.  On Simchas Torah, HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl, would not give away the Sefer Torah to someone else, but would wait until someone took it from him.  (ibid., note 21)


H.  When the Sefer Torah is being returned to the Aron:  (i) it is a hiddur to escort it back, as the Pasuk says “Acharei Hashem Elokeichem Teileichu”,  (ii) even if the Sefer Torah is not passing in front of the person, he should move closer a bit, to be able to see it at a closer distance,  (iii) if one is unable to kiss the Torah with his mouth, he should at least use his hand (so that an effect of Kedusha is left on his hand), and  (iv) if possible, if one is close enough it is preferred that he hug the Torah with his right hand.  (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 149, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 3 and Dirshu note 5)



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: Continued:  Is a brocha made on a balcony or in an apartment valid for fruit and tea which we take to eat at the poolside patio, and vice versa?


A: A change of location from your apartment or condo into the hall, elevator, poolside patio, or another person’s condo will terminate the eating session and necessitate a new brocha. Since your condo is your own private domain, and the public area is a different domain, the brocha you made inside your condo or on the balcony becomes invalid as soon as you step out the door into the hall. (See Halachos of Brochos page 139).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  There is an extremely significant concept which must be taken into account before making a bracha, which is that generally a bracha rishona covers only that which you intend for it to cover, as has been previously discussed by Rabbi Bodner, Shlita (if you remember the situation in which additional food was purchased in the store, after the person had begun to eat).  If is therefore very important, to avoid doubtful situations as to whether a new bracha on a food or drink will be required, to have da’as or intent that the bracha is intended for “Al Kol Mah She’yaviu Lo--on everything that they will bring before him.”  With this thought before making a bracha, then even if something new and different which has the same bracha rishona is brought before the person from the refrigerator, for example (and as long as he intended to continue eating), no new bracha rishona is required.  In fact, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (57:5) rules that if one made a shehakol on beer with the intent of Al Kol Mah She’yaviu Lo, and they later gave him even fish--the shehakol over the beer will cover the fish (although one is a liquid and the other is a solid, and although it may otherwise be viewed as a strange combination!)



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #12


Attributes in Searching for a Shidduch-Part 1


The Steipeler, Z’tl, as well as many other Gedolim, did not feel that regarding a boy one should look for the biggest baal kishron or iluy, rather the ma’alah should be of one who is a ben aliya.  The Chasam Sofer writes that a zivug hagun that a girl should seek is a bochur who is a yorei shomayim and ba’al midos as well as a masmid in learning. 


The Chasam Sofer in a letter to Rabbi Akiva Eiger, his father-in-law, informs him of the engagement of one of his daughters to one of his talmidim in his yeshiva.  He states that the bochur is still young in years and is an average talmid at present, but has the potential to become an outstanding talmid chochom in the future.  He is a yorei shomayim and a tremendous masmid.  The Steipler in the Sefer Peninei Rabbeinu Kehilas Yaakov, vol. 1 page 14, responds to an inquiry regarding what one should look for in a shidduch and says:  “You do not need many ma’alos except for three things:  diligence in learning, a clear seichel, and good midos”.


The Bach, as well as many other achronim, said that many prominent people and gaonim were not makpid if a family member of the prospective boy or girl was a ba’al aveira or even a meshumad.  Their main focus was the particular person in terms of yiras shomayim, midos, etc. (Teshuvas Bais Chodosh Hayeshanos).



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


A.  In the Aseres HaDibros in this week’s Parsha we are taught:  Sheishes Yamim Ta’avod VeAsisa Kol Melachtecha--for six days you should work and accomplish your entire job (Shemos 20:9).  The Mechilta (brought by Rashi on the Pasuk) explains that when Shabbos comes, it should be in one’s eyes as if all of his work was done, and one should not think about work.  The initial difficultly with this Mechilta is that, as Chazal (Shabbos 150A) teach, Hirhur or thoughts about work is, in fact, permissible--it is only when the thoughts are expressed in words or deeds that it becomes assur based upon the Pasuk of Mimtso Cheftsecha V’Daber Davar.  The Tur, as well as the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (306:8) explain the paradox:  Although, one may think about work if he does not express or act upon them, the Pasuk in the Aseres HaDibros teaches us that it is still a Mitzvah not to think about work at all and to view it as “all done”.  The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan 38) explains that in any event if the thoughts will cause “Tirdas HaLev U’De’agah”--one to feel burdened, or to worry, then these thoughts would not be permissible at all on Shabbos.  The Bais Yosef brings that this is what we mean in davening by the words “Menuchas Shalom Hashkeit Vavetach Menucha Shleima Sha’ata Rotzeh Bah”, and also what we mean in bentsching with the words “Shelo Ti’hei Tzara V’Yagon BeYom Menuchaseinu!”


B.  On the prohibition of Mimtso Cheftsecha V’Daber Davar, the Chasam Sofer (to Shabbos 150A) writes that these prohibitions against speaking or acting on work/business and inappropriate Shabbos matters is actually based in the Mitzvas Asei D’Oraysa of “Tishbos”.  That which is Cheftseih Shomayim, however, is permissible.  For this reason, it is permissible to pledge money for Tzedaka on Shabbos, to step outside one’s home to determine how and where he will build his Sukkah after Shabbos, and to delve into communal needs, even in a group setting.  In case of doubt as to permissible activity falling under Cheftseih Shomayim, one should consult with his Rav or Posek. 


C.  When living in a free country where we are able to observe Shabbos without restraint, we may forget what a true privilege it is simply to sing Zemiros in the niggunim that we enjoy.  In the book Inspiring Lives and Their Lessons (Artscroll), Rav Avrohom Birnbaum, Shlita, describes how a group of Yeshiva Bachurim were able to sing Zemiros in a Siberian labor camp:  “The anti-religious communists would not tolerate the singing of Zemiros, so Rav Chaim Stein, Z’tl, and his friends devised an ingenious idea.  They sang the words of the Zemiros to the tunes of nationalist, communist marches.  The supervisors were thus proud that the Jews were singing communist songs even in their own language, and with such gusto.”

Hakhel Note:  May we sing spirited Zemiros this Shabbos--in honor of the Mitzvah of Shabbos given to us in the Parsha, and in honor of our freedom to sing them!


D.  How much is a special Shabbos experience worth to you?  In the Sefer Leket Reshimos (Inyanei Bais Hamikdash), it is recorded that HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, had to travel to the American Consulate in Warsaw prior to the outbreak of World War Two.  In order to be in Kelm for Shabbos, he and his friend took a special taxi--and at that time paid $100 for it!  The Rosh Yeshiva in Kelm, HaRav Doniel Movshevitz, Z’tl, H’yd, asked them why they spent so much to do this.  The responded:  “We did not do it for Olam Haba, but for Olam Hazeh.  The Mesikus U’Ne’imus--the sweetness and pleasantness of a Shabbos in Kelm will brighten and enlighten our lives in the here and now!”  If we cannot go to Kelm--let us try to find the Mesikus and Ne’imus in our Shabbos!


E.  In last week’s Parsha, BeShalach, we were first introduced to the term Shabbos as it related to the Mon.  In this week’s Parsha, as part of the Aseres HaDibros, the Torah once again uses the term ‘Shabbos’.  In which Parsha--last week’s (relating to the Mon) or this week’s (relating to the Mitzvah of Shabbos itself) is the term ‘Shabbos’ used more?  Can you suggest why this is the case?



Special Note Four:  As we receive the Torah in this week’s Parsha, we provide the following notes, culled from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 144-147), on the ongoing Mitzvah of Kriyas HaTorah that we enjoy every Monday, Thursday, Shabbos and other special occasions:


A.  It is forbidden to leave a Shul or room where the Sefer Torah is open and being read (or ready to be read), and this is true even if one has already heard the Kriyas HaTorah (146: Mishna Berurah, seif katan 1).


B.  Although it is forbidden to speak even words of Torah between one aliyah and another, if one learns privately in between aliyos, the Mishna Berurah writes “Ain Limchos BeYado--one need not reprimand him(!)”(ibid. seif katan 6)  One should consult with his Rav or Posek if he has any doubt about what to do between aliyos, so as not to waste time.


C.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, permits one to say “Mazal Tov!” in between aliyos to a ba’al simcha who had an aliyah, because it is a Tzorech Mitzvah. (ibid. Dirshu note 5)


D.  If one lost his concentration and missed any part of Kriyas HaTorah, the Siddur HaGra brings that he has not fulfilled his obligation of Kriyas HaTorah. Also see Igros Moshe 4:23 and 4:40 (4), who writes that in such event one has lost the Pasuk, and we do not burden the tzibbur to go back and read a Pasuk on behalf of an individual, although it is an individual’s obligation to hear the entire laining on Shabbos morning.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, however, rules that Kriyas HaTorah is an obligation of the Tzibbur and not that of the individual.  (ibid. note 8)


E.  If a Sefer Torah is resting on a bench or a chair in which there are holes for the Amudei Sefer Torah, the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 1:38) writes that it would seem that one would have to stand, and could not sit, in the presence of the Sefer Torah. (ibid. note 16)


F.  The Minhag is to stand even for a Sefer Torah that is pasul.  (ibid. note 19)


G.  The Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 5:38 (1)) writes that the obligation to stand for a Sefer Torah is MiD’Oraysa. (ibid. note 20)


H. If one is walking and a Sefer Torah passes by, the Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh De’ah 282:3) writes one should stand in his place until the Sefer Torah passes. (ibid. note 21)


I.  The obligation to stand before a Sefer Torah means that one cannot lean (such as on a shtender), for that is considered like sitting.  (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 146, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 17)


J.  Although there are different customs as to whether one stands during Kriyas HaTorah, the reason for standing is that a person should envision himself as listening to the Torah as if it was given at Har Sinai--where everyone was standing. (ibid, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 19)  All agree, however, that when hearing the one called to the Torah recite Barchu and when answering “Baruch Hashem HaMevorach LeOlam Va’ed”, everyone must stand. (ibid. seif katan 18)


K.  Because there is a divergence of opinion as to whether one should stand for the Aseres HaDibros if he is not standing for the rest of the leining, the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 5:22) suggests as an Eitzah that one should, if possible, stand for the entire Kriyas HaTorah when the Aseres HaDibros are read (tomorrow!)



Special Note Five:  What is in a name? At the outset of the Parsha, the Torah reminds us that the firstborn son of Moshe Rabbeinu was named Gershom because Moshe was a stranger in the foreign land of Midyan (Shemos 18:4).  We already know that his uncle, Levi’s son, was named Gershon for the same reason that Levi was a stranger in a foreign land.  We may suggest that a lesson to us is that in every generation we must provide and establish new reminders that we are in Golus--every generation in accordance with its Nisyonos--its difficulties, lures and temptations.  Even if we do not have a son or relative named Gershom or Gershon--we must remember where we are, and that there is a tremendous need for us to leave.  If we only spend a few moments a day thinking about what we had and who we were, about Yerushalayim as the Kelilas Yofi, about the daily miracles in the Bais HaMikdash, about the Malchus Bais Dovid…about the feeling of the Shechina in the air--we could move ourselves to a greater Kavannah every time we request the Geulah in our daily Tefillos--and in our private Bakashos.  May the name, and the feeling of Gershom/Gershon serve as a remembrance of the past--instead of the sentiment of the present! 



Special Note Six:  We provide the following points and pointers on the Parsha.  They are excerpted from the wondrous Sefer Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


A.  The Pasuk states:  “Lo Sa’asun Iti Elohei Chesef Elohei Zahav…you shall not make anything to be with me; gods of silver and gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.” (Shemos 20:20)


The Chofetz Chayim cites the Midrash (Yalkut, Re’ah) which states that we must take care not to be remiss in our responsibilities to the poor, for failure to show mercy is equated with idolatry.  How is this so?  A person who keeps all of his money for himself in contradiction to the Torah’s command to give charity shows that his faith rests with his money and not with Hashem.  The Chofetz Chayim adds that this concept is hinted at in our verse: “You shall not make for yourself gods of silver and gods of gold,” that is, do not make gold and silver into a god. (Ahavas Chesed, 10)


B.  Points and pointers on Kibbud Av VaEim:


1.  A basic aspect of this Mitzvah is that we must always speak to our parents in a soft and pleasant tone of voice (Sefer Chareidim).  Chazal (Bava Metzia 58b) teach that to distress someone with words is worse than to cheat him financially.  Now, how many people would cheat their own mothers?  Surely, only the most reprehensible. But speaking disrespectfully towards ones mother is a worse crime! (Rabbi Avigdor Miller)


2.  One is obligated to stand up before his father and mother (Yoreh De’ah 240: 7).  When one stands up to honor his parents, he should sit down afterwards.  Even if one will have to immediately stand up again to go somewhere, he should first sit down to show that he stood up solely to honor his parents (Sefer Chasidim 91).  Even if a person’s parent is blind, and will not realize that his child stood up before him, the child is obligated to rise. (Chidushai Rav Akiva Eiger, Y. D. 240:5) (Note: A parent has a right to forgo this honor.)


3.  If a person’s parent told him not to speak to someone (out of hatred) or not to forgive him, he should not heed that order.  It is forbidden to hate others even if a parent says otherwise. (Yorah Daiah 240: 16; Shach and Taz)


4.  If a mother tells her child to do a specific act and afterwards the father angrily asks him, “Why did you do this?” he should not reveal that his mother told him to do it.


5.  After a person has emerged from a dangerous place or situation, it is a mitzvah for him to notify his parents as soon as possible so that they should not worry about him.


6.  Honoring your parents’ relatives is considered as honoring your parents. (Shearim Hametzuyanim Bhalachah, vol. 4, p. 31)


7.  A person is obligated to honor his parents even after they die, and for this reason a son says kaddish for a deceased parent (Chayai Odom 67).  When parents are alive, a child might have ulterior motives for honoring them, but when he honors them after their death, he definitely has a pure motivation (Smochos 9: 21; see Hadibrah Hachamishis, pp. 175-196).


8.  Some people spend a large amount of money on elaborate gravestones for their parents.  The Chofetz Chayim writes that it is preferable to buy a simple gravestone and utilize the money thus saved toward starting a free-loan fund or donating sacred books to a synagogue or yeshiva in their memory.  This is a true honor for one’s parents and a merit for their souls. (Ahavas Chesed, 5)


9.  A person might try to excuse himself from honoring his parents by saying, “Parents have a natural tendency to care about the welfare of their children just as they care about themselves, so why should I be grateful to my parents?” True, Hashem has implanted in parents an innate, strong love for their children, but this does not lessen the Torah obligation of the child to honor and respect his parents. We must be grateful for the numerous acts of kindness that our parents have bestowed upon us, and have no right to minimize their efforts on our behalf by questioning their motives. (Chochmah U’Mussar, 1:43)


10.  Parents should make sure that even their young children show respect toward them.  If a young child forms the habit of being disrespectful to his parents, he will also lack respect when he grows up.  The reward for honoring parents is long life (“LeMa’an Ya’arichun Yamecha…that your days maybe long”), therefore a parent who sincerely loves his children should make sure that they fulfill this commandment. (Derech Slulah, p. 14)



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  We just spent a week of vacation in a high-rise condo, where we ate our meals on the balcony overlooking the ocean.  We would take our tea and cake and finish dessert at a poolside patio.  If we made a brocha on the balcony, does it work for inside the condo, and for our fruit and tea at the poolside?


A:  It sounds like a beautiful vacation. There are actually three shaylos here. 1. Is the brocha valid from inside the condo to outside on the balcony, and vice versa? 2. Is it valid from balcony to poolside, and vice versa? 3. Should you make a brocha when you first go out on the balcony and see the ocean? We will take number 1 here, and continue in subsequent posts. In general, a brocha made inside a house or apartment is no longer valid when one steps outside. Outside is defined as not under the same roof.  Thus, your question is very apropos, since the balcony probably is not under a roof.  Nevertheless, the Poskim rule that if there is no exit to the street from the balcony, it is considered as another room of the house and the brocha made on the balcony is good for the apartment, and vice versa. (See Halachos of Brochos page 139).


Hakhel Additional Note One on Brachos: The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 207, seif katan 5) writes that the word “VeChesronam” in Borei Nefashos specifically includes Hashem’s gift to us of fruits above and beyond the needs of our daily sustenance.  We have fruits in mind every day of the year!


Hakhel Additional Note Two on Brachos:  A reader asked us to clarify that the bracha on banana chips is a borei pri ha’adama (even though it is a “fruit”), and another reader asked us to clarify that there is a fourth order of priority after borei pri ha’aeitz and before shehakol--which is borei pri ha’adama.  Putting the reader comments together--if one would like to eat an orange, banana chips, and drink water, he would make brachos on items in the following order of priority: first a borei pri ha’aeitz, then a borei pri ha’adama and finally a shehakol.  Incredibly, only one after bracha of borei nefashos is necessary on these various gifts--and even then is only made if one has eaten at least a K’zayis of the orange and banana chips combined, and/or drank a revi’is of the water.



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim.

Below are basic rules for the matchmaker:


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #11


1. Do not suggest a Shidduch if, objectively speaking, it is not in the best interests of each of the parties involved. Put yourself into their respective positions. You are doing a great chessed, not playing games of chance.


2. Generally, do not be guided by what you believe is best for a person but by what that person feels is important to him/her.


3. Do not overly “investigate” the two and their families before proposing the match. This is the responsibility of the parties and/or their parents.


4. Do not suggest a Shidduch unless:


(a) You believe, based upon your current knowledge, the two could be a good match, and you are unaware of any reason the relationship could cause pain to either one or could result in one party being a negative influence on the other.


(b) There is reason to believe their meeting will ultimately result in engagement.


(c) You are unaware of any medical, emotional or character deficiency that would render one party unfit for marriage at the present time.


(d) You are unaware that one party lacks something subjective that the other is insistent upon, or has something subjective to which the other has explicitly expressed strong objection.


One final note:  If you are not sure whether to redt the Shidduch based upon the above circumstances, call the Shemiras HaLashon Shailah Hotline (718-951-3696, between the hours of 9:00PM through 10:30PM ), and a qualified Rav will guide you.



Special Note Three:  In the moving autobiography To Remain a Jew, Rav Yitzchak Zilber, Z’tl, brings the following story from his life as a Frum Jew in communist Russia : “I had a friend in Kazan, Yosef Lipshitz.  He worked in the forest industry. Once in the fall, just before Shemini Atzeres, the cold air set in suddenly.  The river froze, logging came to a halt, and the lumber didn’t reach its destination.  Most likely, a problem like this should have been reported to the authorities, or there could-be negative consequences.  But Yosef Lipshitz went straight to the synagogue, sang and danced there, as if nothing had happened... I saw he had a warm Jewish heart and tried to persuade him.  I would say to him, ‘Yosef, do Teshuvah, start observing Shabbos and Kashrus.’  ‘Now I don’t have the time, there’s too much to do at work.  Wait a bit.  I am going to retire and then I will become a kosher Jew.  I will start observing everything,’ he answered.  To my great regret, he passed away three days before retiring.”

Hakhel Note:  Perhaps the lesson is that important deeds of good should not wait until retirement.



Special Note Four:  What instruction would you give to a Chosson or Kallah under the Chuppah?  According to Rabbi Yechiel Spero, HaRav Chaim Stein, Z’tl, gave the following instruction:  “Prior to my Chasuna, he met with me and told me exactly what to daven for while I stood underneath the Chuppah:  Gezunt, Parnassah and Nachas.  And then Rav Chaim instructed me to accept, upon myself to learn for at least an hour a day.  This, he said, is what is required for a ben Torah’s hatzlacha in life.” 


Hakhel Note One:  Now, if any Chassan or Kallah asks you the question--you now know what to answer!


Hakhel Note Two:  As to the last point of instruction given by Rav Chaim to Rabbi Spero above, it is well known that HaRav Stein accepted upon himself a kabbala when he was a teenager to learn one hour a day b’retzifus--uninterrupted.  This kabbala took him through the Siberian labor camps and the ravage of World War II and its aftermath.  He often urged his talmidim and listeners to take this kabbala upon themselves as well.  In his tzava’ah, he writes that he will intercede Above for those who accept it upon themselves.  Rav Chaim himself would begin the hour again if he was interrupted during his hour of retzifus.  For those who could not do an hour--he urged them to do one-half hour twice a day, or at least a half-hour in this way.  Observation:  When one undertakes any task, he recognizes the value of its being performed uninterrupted.  All the more so with especially dedicated and uninterrupted Torah study--as we impart special significance, and show our special treasure, of Hashem’s words to us!



Special Note One:  We provide the following point and pointers relating to Tu B’Shevat, and its various customs, including the custom of eating fruits today:


1. In honor of Tu B’Shevat, we provide a link here to a moving Tefillah from the Ben Ish Chai to be recited for your Esrog this Sukkos (courtesy of Mesivta Yochanan Shraga of Monsey).


2.  The Magen Avraham writes that the reason that we do not recite Tachanun today is because it is the Rosh Hashana LeIlanos (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 131:6).  Indeed, the Mordechai (to the first Perek of Mesechta Rosh Hashana) writes that it is forbidden to fast on Tu B’Shevat because it is a Rosh Hashana.  The G’ra (ibid.) adds that all four Rosh Hashanas that are written in the beginning of Maseches Rosh Hashana are all Yomim Tovim. 

Hakhel Note:  The very fact that it is called Rosh Hashana should remind us that it is another opportunity to start again!


3.  It is the custom to eat fruits from trees on the Rosh Hashana LeIlanos (ibid, Mishna Berura seif katan 31).  This is the case even though it is on Shavuos that we are judged on fruits of the tree.  The author of the Luach Bnei Yaakov suggests that perhaps we eat fruits today because man is compared in the Torah to an “Eitz HaSadeh”--and the fruit that he consumes today is to remind him of his own fruits--what are his deeds like, is he producing beautiful fruits…?  After all, it is four and half months since Rosh Hashana--and we will not experience the great spiritual resurgence of Pesach for an additional two months.  Accordingly, it is a time to remind ourselves of our own personal fruits, and further nurture them--to ensure that they are worthy of Bracha. 


4.  Some eat 15 fruits, and recite the 15 Shir HaMa’alos.  One of the reasons for this may be to remind everyone in a grand way that the Year is a new one for Terumos and Ma’asros, Orlah, and Netah Revaii for the fruits of Eretz Yisroel.


5.  We additionally note that many have the custom of reciting the brocha of Shehechiyanu on new fruits in season today.  The recitation of this Bracha has become a bit more complicated in today’s times because of the availability of many fruits all-year round, taking them out of a particular season, and also because of grafted fruits (See Piskei Teshuvos II, p. 911-918 for further detail).  We therefore recommend that you consult with your Rav or Posek prior to making a Shehechiyanu for a final P’sak on whether or not to recite the bracha on a particular fruit in your area. We do not intend to be party poopers--we just want to ensure that it is a party that in which Hashem is honored!  Even if one does not make a Shehechiyanu, a special feeling of Simchas HaChaim is certainly in order! 


6.  For further discussion of the topic of Shehechiyanu on fruits, we provide a link to the the newest issue of Halachically Speaking, entitled The Beracha of Shehechiyanu on Fruits   http://tinyurl.com/7w72sck


To subscribe to Halachically Speaking for free and to view its archives, one may visit www.thehalacha.com


7.  Of course, if one intends to eat dates, figs or carob, he should make sure that he knows how to properly check them for tolaim, and that dried fruits (banana chips, tropical fruits, etc.) he is given to partake of “in order to make a Hoetz have an acceptable hashgacha.  We provide by the following link -- http://tinyurl.com/7hstw9z  an important guide recently distributed by the Central Rabbinical Congress--especially relating to Tu B’Shevat fruits (and which apply to fruits and nuts year round).  We note, of course, that a person should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shaila that he has.


8.  In furtherance of the previous paragraph, for nuts that require checking, one should crack open the nut, inspect it for bugs in the manner required, and then make the Bracha--as making the Bracha before opening it to be checked would result in the Bracha being made too far in advance.


9.  We received the following wonderful idea from Parsha Thoughts relating to Tu B’Shevat:  “Why does the world have to be colorful, wouldn’t a black and white world have sufficed? Do we need such variety of foods? We would be able to sustain ourselves with (plain) bread and water! R’ Yaakov Naiman, Z’tl, in the Sefer Darchei Mussar, explains that the reason Hashem created the world in color with a whole variety of foods was to make the world pleasant for mankind and give them Joie de vivre.  Because we are obligated to follow in His ways, we therefore have the responsibility to make other people’s lives more pleasant in any way we can.  It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day more pleasant.  Never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind word.” Hakhel Note:  To subscribe to Parsha Thoughts email amjake1@gmail.com.


10.  As many people may be eating craisins today, we move to a ‘FRUIT’ snack product where there may be some confusion as to the proper bracha.  Craisins essentially consists of dried cranberries. The Laws of Brachos by Rabbi Binyomin Forst, Shlita writes that the bracha on cranberries is Borei P’ri Hoetz.  However, The Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, states, based upon the p’sak of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’TL, “Cranberries grow on creeping vines which grow along the ground. Although the plant produces fruit year after year, nevertheless, since cranberries grow within nine inches of the ground, its bracha is Borei P’ri Hoadomah.”  The Sefer V’zos HaBracha by Rabbi Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita, also writes that the bracha is Borei P’ri Hoadomah.  We note that if the proper bracha is Borei Pri Hoadomah, the recitation of Borei Pri Hoetz would be improper, and would result in a bracha levatala and no bracha rishona having been recited on the food!  Accordingly, one should ask his Rav what bracha rishona to recite over cranberries and craisins (and while with the Rav--over cranberry juice as well!).



Special Note Two:    We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  I would like to know what brocha to make for quinoa (pronounced kinwah)?


A:  Quinoa is not a true grain product and not related to the five types of grain which require mezonos. Rather it is a grain-like crop closely related to species such as beets and spinach. Therefore, the brocha is borei pri hoadoma and borei nefoshos.  Kasha has similar qualities. It is called “Buckwheat Groats” but is neither a true grain nor a wheat product.  Its brocha is also borei pri hoadoma and borei nefoshos.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos LeKavod Tu B’Shevat: If one has a plate of fruit in front of him which includes fruits of the Sheeva Minim, then he should make his Borei Pri Haeitz over a Sheeva Minim fruit (unless he doesn’t want to eat any Sheeva Minim fruit).  Note that within the Sheeva Minim fruits there is a priority as well--dates come before grapes (unless, of course, one does not want to eat dates).


The following is the priority order of Brachos: 

(a) Hamotzi--with a preference of wheat bread over barley bread.

(b) If not making a Hamotzi, Mezonos with preference of a wheat product over a barley product. 

(c) A Haeitz with the actual Bracha itself (which will cover all fruits one intends to partake of) to be made over a fruit in the following order of preference: olives, dates, grapes, figs, pomegranates, any other fruits. 

(d) The Bracha on beer is Shehakol.  Therefore, even though it comes from barley which is one of the Sheeva Minim, it has no bracha priority

Note:  If one made a Borei Pri Haeitz over an orange, and had intended to eat the grapes in front of him as well, the Bracha over the orange would cover the grapes BeDieved.  However, if one made a Shehakol over a drink or a candy, or a Borei Pri Haadama over a carrot, he would nevertheless still make a Borei Pri Haeitz over fruit that he wanted to eat, as he clearly did not intend for the Shehakol or Haadama, which are more general Brachos (and could theoretically encompass the fruit that he intends to eat), to cover the fruit as well. 


Please be sure to consult with your Rav or Posek to consult with any particular Bracha Shaila you may have.


Remember--as we have previously pointed out--the very first Mesechta in Shas is Mesechta Brachos--this shows you how important Brachos really are!



Special Note Three:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #10


Breaking an Engagement


When a shidduch is broken, gifts of the chasan and kallah given to each other as well as gifts from the respective parents are returned.  This is true even in a situation where it was an inappropriate basis to break the engagement.  Generally speaking the one who broke the engagement is obligated to pay the other side for any unreimbursed wedding expenses that they may have to date.  Due to the complexity of this matter, a competent posek must be consulted.


It is customary that a shtar mechila is written and signed by both sides.  No shtar mechila is necessary when one of the sides fooled the other as we had mentioned earlier.  It is still best to obtain such a document even in that circumstance.


If a shidduch unfortunately is broken the one who ended it should not reveal any derogatory reasons to others but rather say that it just did not work out.  It is permissible however, for the other side to state that “we were willing to go ahead.”


Special Note Four:  We received a comment from a reader, who questioned whether all readers could learn from HaRav Lefkowitz’, Z’tl, jump out of the train in order to maintain his Kedushas Ainayim.  Every situation must, of course, be dealt with in accordance with its particular circumstances.  HaRav Lefkowitz, who was obviously an Adam Gadol already at that time, must have clearly reasoned and viewed his response as the correct one.  This is not to say that this is the response for an older and frailer person, nor does one have to put his life in even a Safek Sakana under most circumstances.  Nevertheless, when we recite the words “U’VeChol Nafshecha” in Kriyas Shema, we should envision ourselves as sacrificing our lives--and we should really mean it.  When indeed, do we have to sacrifice our lives for the sake of our Ruchniyus--of our Neshama within us?  We suggest that it is a topic, especially in Galus, that we all must be fully familiar with.  One may want to ask his Rav or Posek what the specific guidelines are--or even for a detailed Shiur on the topic!



Special Note One:  Many of us have devoted time to saying Tehillim for HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita.  We should dispel the notion that we recite Tehillim for one who is sick only because one does not know what else there is to do, as we are powerless to do anything.  In the moving and meaningful book For Goodness’ Sake by Rabbi Boruch Brull (Feldheim), Rabbi Brull writes that two different doctors were tending to the Bobover Rebbe, Z’tl, when he was once very ill.  “The first doctor, treating him in the morning, walked out of the sick room where the Chassidim anxiously waited news of the Rebbe’s condition, and appeared disheartened.  The doctor told them that he regretted to inform them that he had tried everything in his power to heal the Rebbe but unfortunately did not see any chance for recovery.  The Chassidim refused to give up hope, however, and continued davening outside the Rebbe's room, waiting for any updated reports of the Rebbe's condition.  Later that evening, the second doctor who was also treating the Rebbe emerged from the Rebbe's room and spoke to the Chassidim who were still keeping vigil. "It is hard to believe," the doctor told them, "but the Rebbe is getting better. He is expected to pull through this crisis and survive."  Needless to say, there was great joy and relief when the Chassidim heard this wonderful news.  The first doctor who had seen the Rebbe earlier that day was present when the announcement was made of the Rebbe's improvement.  Immediately, the Chassidim surrounded him and asked, "How is it possible that you told us just this morning that there was no hope for the Rebbe's recovery and now he is expected to live?"  The first doctor replied, "How can you compare my visit with the second doctor's visit?  I went in to try to heal the Rebbe early in the morning, while the other doctor went in many hours later.  Do you know how many Tefillos and Kepitlach of Tehillim were said for the Rebbe's recovery between our two visits?  Had I been the doctor to see the Rebbe after all those tefillos were said, I could have been the messenger to help heal the Rebbe!”


Rabbi Brull concludes:  “We all know that the power of healing comes from Hashem and that doctors are only His messengers.  But what we sometimes fail to realize is that we, with our heartfelt tefillos, can help effect miraculous recoveries.”


Hakhel Note:  In addition to the awesome lesson provided by this ma’aseh, we learn from last week’s Parsha that “Im Shomo'a Tishma LeKol Hashem...Kol HaMachala Asher Samti VeMitzrayim Lo Assim Alecha, Ki Ani Hashem Rofecha...if we listen to the words of Hashem than the sicknesses placed upon the Mitzriyim will not be brought upon us--for Hashem is our Healer” (Shemos 15:26).  This Pasuk teaches us that we should turn to Hashem for Preventive Medicine as well--for Hashem, as our Healer, will not bring the sicknesses upon us in the first place.  With this, we gain insight into the words Refaeinu Hashem V’Neirafeh--not only do we daven to Hashem to heal us from a sickness that exists--but we daven to Hashem not to become sick in the first place.  May our Tefillos be sincere and heartfelt. and May our Tefillos be accepted! 



Special Note Two:  In the pamphlet VeNomar Amein, the story is brought about a religious Jew who was placed into one of Stalin's, yemach shemo, Siberian labor camps.  One morning, as he awoke, he contemplated for a moment what he was going to say Modeh Ani about.  After all, he thought, what type of life was he leading--far off in a distant, forsaken corner of the world, a captive in the ice cold weather of Siberia ?  Not only had he been separated from his family, but he was being forced not to observe Shabbos, not to put on Tefillin, and not to keep Kosher.  There were no Jews around him either.  What, then, was he thanking Hashem for with the words She'hechezarta Bi Nishmasi Bechemla--for returning his neshama with compassion”?  The prisoner then recalled that the concluding words of Modeh Ani are Rabba Emunasecha--abundant is my faith in You [Hakhel Note:  Others translate it as-- abundant is Hashem’s Faithfulness].  He thought:  "They can take away so much of me physically and spiritually--but they can never take away my Emunah in Hashem.  For my Emunah in Hashem itself, it is worthwhile to get up in the morning and meet the day ahead."  He had the will to live again and survived the inhumane conditions.  Later, after this Jew was released, he told his Rebbe of his mental debate and his ultimate conclusion on Modeh Ani.  He Rebbe responded:  “You should know that you were sent Min HaShomayim to the depths of Siberia in order for you to reach this conclusion and achieve this special relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu!”  Hakhel Note:  It is reported that Rav Chaim Stein, Z’tl, would not be satisfied with reciting Modeh Ani just once, but would be seen repeating it in the morning continuously after he left his home on the way to daven Shacharis in the Yeshiva.



Special Note Three:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #9


Breaking an Engagement


                According to the halacha it is generally forbidden to negate a shidduch without both parties agreeing.  This is based on shame and embarrassment that the other party will suffer, as well as financial commitments that have been made previously.  This prohibition exists even if formal tenaim were not made. In certain circles, there is even an issur cheirem to break an engagement, whereas other poskim are of the opinion that the cheirem does not apply today.  According to numerous poskim, the one who breaks the shidduch is obligated in a k’nas (financial fine based upon the Beis Din evaluation).  This issue is one that has many stipulations regarding kabalas kinyan (a formal tenaim document, etc.), and requires halachic guidance from a renowned posek.  There are numerous circumstances in which one is permitted to break a shidduch.  Some of those situations are where the boy or girl have deteriorated spiritually in the interim, or one of the families fooled the other family regarding information that was concealed until now.  The particular types of issues that fall into the aforementioned category require the input of a competent Rav or posek. The poskim differ regarding situations, such as a previous engagement that the other party was unaware of, differential in age or in the boy’s financial ability, or negative information that comes out at this point and had not been known previously.



 Special Note Four:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  Continued from last post:  What should we do l’maysah regarding the machlokes of how to calculate the k’zayis of cakes?


A:  We spoke about the machlokes between the Mishna Berura and Rav Moshe zt”l regarding how to calculate the k’zayis of cakes whose volume comes from ingredients other than flour (Igros Moshe O”C volume 1, 71) . What should we do l’maysah? I asked Rav S. Wosner shlit”o (bal Shevet Halevi) what to advise the oilom.  He advised us to tell the oilom to follow the minhag ha’olom as written by the Mishna Berurah, and any individual who wishes to be machmir can do so.  With regard to being machmir - there is an unconfirmed ruling from Rav Moshe, Zt’l, that the most one would have to add is another quarter of a k’zayis to be sure he has enough to make an al hamichya.  I asked my daughter-in-laws to help with some (very limited) experiments, to make a cake (e.g., a chocolate cake) with just the flour and liquid, and another same cake with all the regular ingredients.  I found that indeed the other ingredients never added more than 25% to the volume.  Additionally, in some cakes the added ingredients made the cake denser and actually yielded less k’zaysim. You are welcome to make your own experiment for your favorite cake (please let us know the result!).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  HaRav Chatskel Levenstein,Z’tl, is reported to have told his students that one should be especially careful to always properly utter the last of the Birchos HaShachar--HaGomel Chassodim Tovim LeAmo Yisroel.  HaRav Chatskel explained that this bracha is uniquely powerful because with the phrases Chassodim Tovim (beneficent kindnesses) and LeAmo Yisroel (to the entire nation of Israel ), it is all-encompassing in nature.  There are, additionally, many significant Bakashos within this Bracha.  If one recites the bracha out loud, and word-for-word, he will gain a great insight into its omnibus nature--and to the Omnipotence of HaKadosh Baruch Hu in being able to grant all of these requests!



IS IT THE SAME PRODUCT?  We are aware of products that have a certain Hashgacha in Eretz Yisroel, but when shipped overseas, post different Hashgachos upon them.  This may suggest different runs with different ingredients.  One may be very well used to eating the product in Eretz Yisroel while living there or visiting, and assume that it is the “same product” when shipped overseas.  It may very well not be.  We additionally note that when one sees two or three Hashgachos on a product from Eretz Yisroel, with one being an Eretz Yisroel Hashgacha, a second being a national American Hashgacha, and a third being a ‘local Rabbanut Hashgacha’, they all may be basing their certification on the very same individual.  Accordingly, caution should be exercised when buying a product from Eretz Yisroel where the Hashgacha changes for Chutz LaAretz--notwithstanding three or more Hashgachos on the label!


Special Note One:  In the outstanding book To Remain a Jew (which we hope to discuss a bit more later this week), Rav Yitzchak Zilber, Z’tl, brings the following from his first cousin, who studied under the Chofetz Chaim…:  “The Chofetz Chaim sighed and said to his son, “Listen, you are colder than I am.  Your children will be colder than you are.  And their children will be even colder.  How far will this cooling go?”  Yesterday, we witnessed the sad event of Yeshiva bachurim, Bnei Torah, dedicating several hours of their life, even in a spirited way, to watch the other nations of the world engage in sport--a sport of muscle and misused intelligence--a sport of battle for pay.  How can we not but quiver at the words of the Chofetz Chaim coming true before our very eyes?  To witness the horrifying sight of Torah-filled youth being brought to the level of the uneducated bully, the partying masses, and the one with time to waste, is sad and disheartening.  What can we do--after all, the Yetzer Hara is strong, the generation is weak, and the possibility of their immediate Teshuva (without the Moshiach coming) seems slight.  We did not ask Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita, this question.  However, we know that HaRav Scheinberg would often suggest to one who was in a difficult situation, or who had done something wrong to “Give Tzedakah”.  Perhaps we can show our Achdus and Achvah for the bachurim who so miserably fell prey yesterday--by giving Tzedakah to Talmidei Chachomim or otherwise to the poor in Eretz Yisroel or in our community.  If you need an address, we provide www.yadeliezer.org  May it help bring a Kapparah for us all.



Special Note Two:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  Continued from last post--(I would like to know what brocha to make on carrot cake):  What is the machlokes regarding how to calculate the k’zayis of cakes?


A:  There is a machlokes regarding how to calculate the K’zayis of cakes whose volume comes from ingredients other than flour.  As we all know, the shiur of a K’zayis is measured by the cubic volume of the item (See Halachos of K’zayis, p.17).  Suppose the cake can be made two ways:  (a) as a plain cake with just flour and liquid, or (b) as a carrot cake with shredded carrots and other ingredients.  Suppose the plain cake will yield a pan that can be cut into 20 little squares of one K’zayis each.  Suppose further that the carrot cake will yield 40 little squares.  The Mishna Berura writes that the minhag ha’olom is to consider all the ingredients as mezonos and treat each square as a K’zayis (Mishna Berurah 208.48).  Accordingly, if you eat one square of carrot cake an Al Hamichya is required.  Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, ruled that you only consider the volume produced by the flour and liquid.  In this example you would need two squares for an Al Hamichya (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim, Vol. 1, 71).  ( To be continued…)


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  Last week, we noted that if one eats a fruit salad with fruits of the Shivas HaMinim and other fruits (such as apples) together, his only after-bracha would be Al HaEitz V’Al Pri HaEitz.  A reader inquired as to what the Halacha would be if one ate less than a K’zayis of the Shivas HaMinim fruit.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 210, seif katan 1) answers this question--the bracha would be Borei Nefashos.  We emphasize, however, that if one did eat a K’zayis of the Shivas HaMinim fruit, he would not be Yotzei with a Borei Nefashos and he must make an Al HaEitz V’Al Pri HaEitz.  In a related interesting question, the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (ibid.) brings the case of someone who ate less than a K’zayis of fruits which require an after- bracha of Al HaEitz and less than a K’zayis of cake--but all together the fruit and the cake equal a K’zayis, what would be the after-bracha?  While the Mishna Berurah does not deal with this question, the Dirshu Edition brings the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (51:4)--that one should make a Borei Nefashos. 



Special Note Three:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #8


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


As mentioned previously, illnesses both medical and psychological that are of a serious nature that would be not known otherwise and will not be told by a prospective boy or girl should be told to the person seeking information.  We must bear in mind that psychological issues are of a wide range, sometimes simple medication can allow for a normal and healthy marriage.  Thus, there is a difference between an individual who is taking medication for a slight neurosis and perhaps temporary in duration, versus an individual diagnosed with a serious personality disorder, psychosis, bipolar, etc.  Additionally, in regard to medical issues, understand that a person who has hay fever or allergies is not considered an illness comparable to an epileptic, diabetic or serous asthmatic, etc.


Kibbud Av VaEim Regarding a Shidduch


The Halacha states (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah, end Siman 242; Noda B’Yehuda 2, Evan HaEzer Teshuvah 45) that a child does not have to listen to his/her parents in regard to a Shidduch.  Nonetheless, it would be prudent and wise to generally follow their advice and guidance.  In the event that the prospective shidduch is an appropriate one, and the parent is negating it for inappropriate reasons, i.e., not prestigious or wealthy enough, then the child may exercise their right not to listen, but should do so with the guidance and advice of a competent Rav or Posek.  However, if the individual that they seek to marry is indeed inappropriate, and would cause the parent much shame and tza’ar the child is obligated according to Halacha to listen to the parent (Bais Hillel Yoreh De’ah Siman 240; Maishiv Davar, Yoreh De’ah Siman 50).



Special Note Four:  Several points and pointers relating to Parshas BeShalach:


A.  HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, teaches that we should focus upon what finally ‘did the Mitzriyim in’.  It was, essentially, their bad Middos!  They chased after their money (actually losing the majority of their money with which they decorated their chariots in the process), and ran to retrieve their pride which was belittled by their servants departing.  Had they not chased after the Bnei Yisroel for these reasons, they would have been left as a people.  The pursuit of money and the pursuit of ga’aveh can do-in not only an individual--but an entire people--forever! 


B.  At the outset of the Parsha, we learn that Moshe Rabbeinu took the Atzmos Yosef, while each Shevet took the Atzamos of their own ancestor (Reuven, Shimon, Levi…).  The obvious question is:  Why did Menashe and Efraim not take out the Atzamos of Yosef who was their ancestor?  Some answer that when two people or groups have job to do, it does not get done, because each party will look to the other.  We may suggest a different approach.  The Bnei Yisroel were responsible for sending Yosef down to Egypt , into exile.  It became their responsibility, Middah K’neged Middah to remove him from exile.  Moshe Rabbeinu, as leader of the people, had to take the charge upon himself on behalf of the nation. The one who makes the mess ultimately will have to clean it up.  If one avoids getting angry, speaking Lashon Hara or causing another harm, he will be far better off--for he will not have to go through the difficult process of undoing, untangling, and rectification that he has left in its wake--a process that could take generations to clear up.


C.  Before Kriyas Yam Suf, Bnei Yisroel cried out to Hashem.  Rashi points out that they grabbed hold of the umenus of their forefathers (Shemos 14:10)--of the tried and true profession of Tefillah that their forefathers had taught them.  HaRav Yisroel Dovid Schlesinger, Shlita, points out that one can get an idea of what it means to call out to Hashem by studying the making a phone call.  For a phone call to succeed, all the numbers which constitute the full number must be dialed and they must be dialed in a particular order.  If one number is missed, or if all of the numbers are dialed except that even two are transposed, the call will not get to the right party.  All the elements of Tefillah are important for “the call to get through”.  Beginning one’s Tefillah at the proper time, and consciously and conscientiously following through to a meaningful conclusion, can lead to a successful call!  Through the proper care in our Tefillos--we too can be zoche to Dabeir El Bnei Yisroel VeYisa'u!


D.  At the Yam Suf, Nachshon Ben Aminadav jumped into the stormy sea demonstrating his Mesiras Nefesh for the command of Hashem.  Is this kind of Mesiras Nefesh possible in our time?  Well, there is a documented story about HaRav Mechel Yehudah Lefkowitz , Z'tl.  He was a bachur riding on a train in Europe when a woman in inappropriate dress walked into the car.  Rather than face the situation which he felt could impact upon his Kedusas Einayim, he actually threw himself out of the moving train.  While we may not necessarily expect ourselves to jump in the same way as Nachshon ben Aminadav or Reb Mechel Yehudah, we must realize that we are capable of much more than the world would ascribe to an ordinary human.  One should jump--in his own way, and at the time when he too can demonstrate that he would rather follow the will of Hashem--than cave to his human frailty.  We know where the Mesirus Nefesh took Nachshon and Reb Mechel Yehudah.  Where will it take you?


E.  Although the Malachim were not allowed to sing Shira Al HaYam, Bnei Yisroel were allowed to do so.  What was the difference?  Some answer that when Bnei Yisroel wanted to sing Shira, the Mitzriyim had already been thrown into the sea.  As a result, the Mitzriyim merited being Mekadesh Shem Shamayim through the punishment that they received.  Thus, the Bnei Yisroel were not singing over the death of the Mitzriyim--but over the ten different ways in which the Mitzriyim perished at the sea, demonstrating in detail how HaKadosh Baruch Hu controls the world, punishing when he has to punish, and rewarding (the Bnei Yisroel at the sea) whenever he can.  Indeed, Rabbeinu Ovadia MiBartenurah (Avos 5:5) highlights the Pesukim in the Shiras HaYam which detail the differing punishments that the Mitzriyim received.  With Yetzias Mitzrayim, and perhaps with the war of Gog U’Magog, we witnessed and will witness Hashem’s Hand in both reward and punishment.  We look forward to the day, as we exclaim in Aleinu every day of “LeSaken Olam BeMalchus Shakai VeChol Bnei Vasar Yikre’u ViShmecha…when the need for punishment will no longer exist--and Hashem’s Name will be sanctified by the unified goodness of all the world’s inhabitants.  May our sincere Tefillos in Aleinu bring us closer to the reality that we seek!



ESPECIALLY FOR TU B’SHVAT SHOPPERS:  The following question and answer is excerpted from the English Sefer Shulchan HaLevi; Halachic Responsa of HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita: 


Q:  Many stores sell nuts and dried fruits from large sacks and bins, or repackage them without supervision.  May the consumer assume these items are kosher, or should one insist on buying only sealed containers that carry kosher certification?


A:  Nuts and dried fruit have always been sold from large sacks.  To say that one should never buy these items when sold this way would be an unnecessary restriction, and for many of these products there are no issues at all.  On the other hand, any processing or cooking raises potential kashrus issues.


Hakhel Note:  Among the items that Rabbi Belsky writes require a reliable Hechsher are dried apples, dried pineapples and other dried tropical fruits, banana chips and of course, any nuts roasted in oil.  One should certainly consult with his Rav before Tu B’Shvat on the items he intends to purchase, as well as any necessary Bedikas Tolaim that must be done on these items or fruits of the Shivas Minim.  We additionally note that supermarkets and fruit/nut/candy stores without a hashgacha may themselves re-package these items and claim that they come from a larger container with a reliable hashgacha.  Let the buyer beware!




Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shaila that he has.




Q:  I would like to know what brocha to make on carrot cake.


A: The major ingredient of this cake is flour, therefore the brocha rishona is borei minei mezonos. The brocha achrona is al hamichya, provided that you eat a k’zayis of cake not including any cream topping or filling.  There is a machlokes regarding how to calculate the k’zayis of cakes whose volume comes from ingredients other than flour (such as ground carrots). This will be discussed in the next post.


Additional Note on Brachos:  Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, teaches (Koheles 7:14 ) BeYom Tova Heyeh V'Tov--which we may translate as--on a day which is good--be good!  If we are able to stand, walk, have food and eat it, have clothing and get dressed, etc.--we should recognize that IT IS A BLESSING EACH AND EVERY DAY, EACH AND EVERY TIME.  We suggest that after 120 years, when our lives are played back before us (in a manner which is beyond time as we know it), we will not simply be told--you made 4,380,000 Brachos (100 brachos a day for 120 years) in you lifetime, of which 2,800,000 were with acceptable Kavannah and 1,530,000 were not--but rather EACH AND EVERY BRACHA will be individually revealed, weighed and counted--FOR EACH AND EVERY BRACHA in life is an outstanding opportunity to express your recognition of HaKadosh Baruch Hu and your relationship with Him--and is wonderfully and everlastingly significant! 



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #8


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


We had mentioned previously that an individual may ask any question that he so desires regarding a prospective shidduch, and the respondent should respond to the best of his ability.  However, the only time one is allowed to offer information when they are not asked is in regard to a serious impediment in the person which the shidduch will not see on his/her own, or a matter which would constitute a serious impediment to the marital relationship.  An example of the latter would be when you know the girl to be extremely soft and sensitive, and you know that the boy is harsh, strong, and somewhat crass. Due to the fact that this may not come out or be discerned on a date, and you know the two personalities well, you may offer this information even if you are not asked--or if possible simply state that you do not recommend the shidduch. 


We had also mentioned in a previous lesson that blemishes which will not impede on a marriage or will be seen should not be offered in advance unless the inquirer is a relative or close friend who you know would be makpid.  . However, Poskim recommend that even then it would be best if the prospective shidduch would relay this information on their own after a number of dates. Then, you are absolved from saying anything at the outset.  In the event that they are not planning on doing so, then you have an obligation to reveal that information at the outset.  The following would be included in this category: serious medical illnesses both physical and psychological, genetic diseases where there are at least two or three of the relatives that have the same genetic problem, adoption, addictions and serious aveiros of recent activity.


In regard to a Ba’al Teshuva most Poskim are of the opinion that one should be told that the prospective shidduch has come to Yiddishkeit on his own.  However, it should be stressed that the Gedolim of the past generation have looked very favorably on Ba’alei Teshuvah, who exemplify wonderful Middos and Yiras Shomayim. 



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


A.  This week, a reader sent us a passage from the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, together with a one word remark “Wow!”  This is certainly a great and admirable trait--for one to take a Sefer that he had perhaps learned several times before and find new and meaningful lessons in it.  Parshas Beshalach is certainly one of the Parshiyos with which we may be quite familiar.  We accordingly reiterate last week’s Erev Shabbos teaching, in which we urged that as part of his one develop his own questions and answers, his own chiddushim--especially on Shabbos (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 290, Mishna Berurah seif katan 3 who brings in the name of the Zohar that it is a special Mitzvah to be Mechadesh Chiddushei Torah BeShabbos).  Let us remember that one is granted a Neshama Yeseirah, one is granted a reward for Torah study equal to 1,000 times the reward of a regular weekday (as we have previously brought from the Ben Ish Chai), and that Shabbos is 1/60th of Olam Haba--and use the outstanding opportunity to the greatest extent that we can!


B.  On Shabbos, we take out a Sefer Torah twice in one day.  The only other day that this great privilege

occurs is on Yom Kippur (reading the Torah on Simchas Torah at night is actually a Minhag).  It is brought that HaRav Chaim Stein, Z’tl, would kiss the inside of the mantel as the Torah passed by him.  While there may be reasons Al Pi Kabbala for this, his stated explanation of this, was that the inside of the mantel is closer to the Sefer Torah than the outside.  From this teaching (and perhaps by following it on Shabbos as the Torah is taken out and placed back in the Aron) we should appreciate that the closer we are to the Sefer Torah, the better!


C.  Chazal (Shabbos 150B) bring the following Ma’aseh:  Ma’aseh B’Chossid Echad…there was a chossid who noticed one Shabbos that there was a breach in the fence around his field and he resolved that it had to be fixed.  Once he realized that he had made this resolution to repair on Shabbos, he decided not to fix the fence at all.  A miracle occurred and a Tzelaf--a caper tree grew in the place of the breach.  A caper tree has three different kinds of fruits--and the man was able to sustain himself and his family thereafter from the tree's produce!  Fascinatingly, this Ma’aseh is brought both by the Rif and the Rosh (who bring the Halachos gleaned from the Gemara), and is explained by the Taz (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307, seif katan 14).  Accordingly, the meaning of the story does not appear to be limited to a wonderful story about a ‘Chossid Echad’.  We may suggest that there is a powerful lesson to us all:  Even if weekday thoughts which are not verbalized nor put into action may be permissible on Shabbos--it is nevertheless  a great accomplishment for one to cleanse and purify his thoughts on this great day.  As we learn of the Kedushas Shabbos this week in the Parshas HaMon, let us bli neder undertake to absolve our minds as much as we can of the ‘weekday Mon' that may otherwise concern us.  Let us instead regale in the Ruchniyus of the meaning-filled words in this week's Parsha (Shemos 16:25 )--Shabbos HaYom--LaHashem!



 Special Note Four:  We learned that there were *205* recorded earthquakes in 2011 with magnitude above 6!  Aside from the-underlying message--you can definitely thank Hashem that you were not in a place in which any of them occurred.  Remember, the miracle of each Makkah was doubled by each Makkah not happening in Goshen !



Special Note Five:  As we move further in our Geulah, actually exiting Mitzrayim proper in this week's Parsha, it behooves us to recognize the times and pay special attention to Yetzias Mitzrayim in our tefillos as well. Where do we refer to Yetzias Mitzrayim in Pesukei Dezimra even before VeCharos Imo HaBris? (Hint--In Hodu).  Why do we refer to Yetzias Mitzrayim both in Kriyas Shema and in Ezras Avoseinu? (Hint: See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 70; Mishne Berurah seif katan 2). What is the result of Yetzias Mitzrayim? (Hint: What do the last three Pesukim of Pesukei Dezimra immediately before Yishtabach and after the Shiras HaYam refer to?). These are times of Geulah--we should show our sincerity and dedication, our yearning, our longing and desire to not only to be a part of it --but for it to be a part of us!



Special Note Six:  Chazal (Arachin 15A) teach that the outstanding event of Kriyas Yam Suf did have two sorry aspects to it--as two of the ten Nisyonos that Bnei Yisroel tested Hashem with occurred at the Yam Suf--one as the Bnei Yisroel went in--and one as they went out.  As they went in, some uttered “HaMabli…” and as they came out they muttered--just as we are leaving the sea, so too, are the Mitzriyim leaving at another point.  There is a great lesson to be learned here.  At moments of happiness, of satisfaction, of success, of victory--we should not let the Yetzer Hara turn the situation around or find reasons to mar, shter, or twist the event into something other than it truly is.  An experienced Tzedaka collector advised us that he cannot understand how, when he approaches the father of a chosson or the father of a Kallah at a Chasunah (or after) for a donation--they usually give him one, but it is typically with a scorn and feeling that the collector is ‘interfering’ with their Simcha.  He asked:  “Why don’t they smile at me, and be happy to share their joy with others in a truly meaningful way?”  As we noted earlier, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches “BeYom Tova Heyeh V’Tov  (Koheles 7:14 ).  We all have our own personal wonderful events like Kriyas Yam Suf--let us keep the Yetzer Hora out in any and all respects!  Rather than complaining, and rather than being self-focused...let us be sure to share and spread our joy with and to others! 



 Special Note Seven:  We provide several important notes from HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, on the Shira, as presented in the monumental work Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll) for us to take with us throughout the year:


1.  The communal recitation of the Shira at the Sea was a miraculous event in and of itself.  After all, how could it have been possible, before the advent of loudspeakers and sound systems, for hundreds of thousands/millions of people to recite the Shira together!  (Note: See Sotah 30B--they repeated at least the first words of each Pasuk after Moshe; R’Eliezer ben R’Yossi Ha’Glili holds they repeated the entire Pasuk).  Accordingly, by repeating it in our Pesukei D'Zimra *after* the other songs and praises in Pesukei D'Zimra(which, chronologically, actually occurred after Kriyas Yam Suf), we further raise our level of praise to Hashem--by remembering the miraculous way in which He assisted our forefathers in expressing their feelings of joy and thankfulness to Him through the nes of its recitation together.  (Hakhel Note:  We likewise should thank Hashem daily for the miracle of our being able to express our thanks to Him through our faculties of thought and speech in reciting the Shira--for starters.)


2.  The four-letter name of Yud Keh Vav Keh appears ten times in the Shira--alluding to the ten Makkos and ten salvations from the Makkos that the Bnai Yisroel experienced even prior to Yam Suf, as well as to the ten nissim by the Yam Suf--and further indicating that it all transpired through Hashem’s four letter name of Rachamim--of great mercy.  Hakhel Note:  We should endeavor to recall this when reciting these Shaimos in the Shira


 3.  The Pasuk of “Mi Ch Amocha BaAilim Hashem…who is like You among the heavenly powers, Hashem….” is a critical portion of the Shira, and for this reason it is repeated in the Brachos of Kriyas Shema both at Shacharis and at Ma’ariv.  With this Pasuk, B'nai Yisroel demonstrated that they reached a level of Emunah in which they accepted--and even sang about as part of their Shira--the tza’ar of galus together with the geulah.  How could Hashem remain apart from the cries and screams for so long?  The answer is clear--He didn’t have to or need to--as there is no one as powerful; and just as there is no one as powerful, there is no one who is as far removed from our understanding as He.  Bnai Yisroel acknowledge that our being placed into a suffering-filled galus is for reasons we acknowledge that are good but that we simply do not and cannot comprehend--and we thank Him for the galus, as well.


4.  The Pasuk of “Hashem Yimloch Leolam Vo’ed--Hashem will reign for eternity” expresses the universal recognition that a worldwide Malchus Shomayim will happen at some time in the future.  With this exclamation and proclamation we conclude “VeHaya Hashem LeMelech”-- the final portion of praise of Pesukai D'Zimra--in which we declare that, once and for all, Hashem will be king over us all for ever and ever--and that is really something to sing about!


Special Note Eight:  Before leaving the Shira, we add a few additional points and pointers, as previously provided:


1.  A reader pointed out that the words immediately prior to the Shira read "VaYire'u Ha'Am--and the nation feared...." If one reads the word VaYiru--i.e., not pronouncing the sheva under the Raish, then he is saying that "the nation saw, which is not only incorrect, but c'v suggesting that the people could see Hashem which is an impossibility and against our basic tenets of belief.  One must be very careful to properly pronounce VaYire'u


2.  The same reader reminded us that later in the Shira we recite the pasuk "BiG'dol Zeroacha Yidemu Ka'Aven--at the greatness of Your arm, may they be still as stone".  The proper pronunciation is Yidemu--which means 'still' or 'silenced'.  If one does not pronounce the sheva under the Raish, then he is reading the word ia read Yidmu--meaning may they be likened to stone--a wholly different meaning!  Let us come away from the Shira this week--with the proper pronunciation of its great and awesome words!


3.  Furthermore, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 51, seif katan 17) emphasizes that the two words found at the end of Pasuk 10 in the Shira--"BeMayim Adirim--are not connected and should not be not read together.  This is not a phrase which means that the Egyptians sank in the 'mighty waters.'  Rather, the two words should be separated, because their true meaning is that the Adirim--the mighty warriors sank like lead--in water.


4.  The Mishna Berurah (ibid.) brings from the Zohar that "One should say the Shiras HaYam with Joy--picturing himself as if he is crossing through the Sea today--and one who recites the Shira with Joy is forgiven for his sins ("Mochlin Lo Avonosav"!).  Could it be that for this special expression and experience of joyful Emunah a person is fully forgiven of his sins--is this what the Mishne Berurah is saying?!  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita  (in Sefer Derech Sicha, II, p.99) explains the great potency of a joyful, personal expression of Shiras HaYam daily as follows:  A person must, of course, do Teshuva for his sins to be forgiven.  However, sometimes in addition to Teshuva, a person may have to also experience Yissurim and the like--and the Shira BeSimcha will replace the suffering or affliction.  Hakhel Note:  Why be in pain--when you can be happy--and build your Emunah together with it!



FROM PROJECT KAVEY (Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita):  “In these generations we are beneficiaries of the blessing of plenty.  We can obtain almost anything our heart desires and in abundance. (To cite one instance in the United States of America there are over two hundred types of breakfast cereals to choose from).  Yet we often find our children to be unhappy and dissatisfied.  Jealousy and competition are the norm instead of peace satisfaction and appreciation.  Indeed our Sages teach that the more one has the more one wants.  So that the blessing of plenty be a blessing indeed, we must help our children shift their focus from what they want to what they have.  Sharing and expressing our personal joy with our lot will certainly be a significant factor in effecting this change in our children.”  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).  Exciting News!  The Expanded Weekly Parenting Tip is now available, including: practical examples, Q&A relating to the tips ideas and suggestions to make it easier to apply the tip.  For $5 a month, you can receive the expanded version of this tip each week, by sending an e-mail with your request to: kaveytips@gmail.com.


Hakhel Note:  Rabbi Brezak, Shlita, will B’EH be coming in from Eretz Yisroel and speaking for Hakhel at its next Yarchei Kallah on Monday morning February 20th, at Agudas Yisroel of Madison, 2122 Avenue S. The essential topic is: “It's Not In The Way, It Is The Way; Facing Adversity With Faith”.  For those who have not heard him speak--it is truly a privilege and practical learning experience.



REGARDING THE KEURIG:  Two days ago we provided information regarding the issue of Tevilas Keilim and the Keurig coffee brewer.  By providing the information, we did not intend to discuss either the Kashrus of the various Keurig coffee products, or of a Keurig machine that is used at work by other employees who may also be using it for products which may not necessarily be Kosher, such as hot chocolate.  Your Rav or Posek should be consulted.





A.  “In Parshas Beshalach, Perek 16, Pasuk 16, you will find one of two Pesukim in the ENTIRE Chumash that has the ENTIRE Alef-Bais in the Pasuk!”


B.  “Rav Pincus, Zt’l, said in a Rosh Hashana tape that the Choshech Mitzrayim was the *inability to change*! Omed Aino Yachol Lasheves, Yoshev Aino Yachol La’amod.  Rav Pincus pointed out that a prerequisite for Teshuva is the belief that one *can* actually change his habits and behavior.  (of course this dovetails exactly with what the Mefarshim say--Mitzrayim is from the word Meitzar--border or limit--for one is enslaved by his perceived limitations.”




Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shaila that he has.




Q:  I am told that the minhag is not to make a Shehechiyanu for new Kailim; would this Minhag also apply to not making a Shehechiyanu for new clothing?


A:  The Shulchan Aruch states that a Shehechiyanu should be made upon the purchase of (a significant article of) clothing such as a suit or coat (as opposed to a new shirt, tie, or robe etc.).  The minhag is to recite a Shehechiyanu for new clothing the first time one wears it, provided that it is a important garment (i.e., one does not buy such clothing every few months), and that he feels happy with his acquisition. (Mishna Berurah 223.17).  Thus, one may recite a Shehechiyanu for a new tallis, and even for a new Shabbos hat if he feels happy with the purchase (Halichos Shloma Chapter 23, par 22).  According to some Poskim there is a requirement to also recite the brocha malbish arumim.  Preferably, one should arrange to wear the garment for the first time in the morning, and when he recites malbish arumim (in the morning brochos) he should have intention to also be yotzei his obligation for the new garment.  (Shulchan Aruch 223.4) He should then recite Shehechiyanu. (Eliyahu Rabba 223.7)


Additional Note on Brachos:  Some points on the term “L’Chaim!” and its relationship to brachos:


1.  According to the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (II, p.518), the mekor for exclaiming” L’Chaim!” is Rebbi Akiva’s words at the Chasunah of his son.  The Gemara (Shabbos 67B) records that on every cup of wine at the Chasunah, he exclaimed: “Chamra V’Chayei Lefumra Banan U’Lefum Talmideihon!”--wine and life into the mouths of the Rabbanan and into the mouths of their students! 


2.  There are divergent minhagim as to if one exclaims “L’Chaim!” before making the bracha on the wine, or after he has made the bracha and actually tasted a bit of the wine (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 174, Mishbetzos Zahav, seif katan 11). 


3.  One should hold the cup in his hand when he exclaims “L’Chaim!” (Kaf HaChaim 168:seif katan 108), and one should respond, depending on his Minhag, either: “L’Chaim Tovim U’LeShalom!” or “L’Chaim U’L’Bracha!”. 



Special Note Two:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #7


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


Generally speaking, issues regarding a prospective boy or girl that are visible and can be seen by the other party should not be told up front.  Rather, the person should see for themselves if this issue bothers them or not. 


Included in this category are issues such as height, weight, other physical features such as a slight twitch, a slight limp, etc.  These issues could bother one person and yet not another, and if mentioned right at the outset it might be imagined as being far worse than reality, and the person would have no interest in going out. 


If however you are being asked explicitly if the person is tall, short, heavy, slim, etc., you are obligated to be honest and respond accordingly.  Nonetheless, in all situations you should attempt to expound on the positive virtues of the individual so that people are not caught up in minor or sometimes seemingly insignificant aspects of one’s physical appearance.


In the event that the question is being asked by a relative or very good friend and you know that they would be very upset if you did not tell them something about the person’s physical appearance, you may offer the information even though you were not explicitly asked.


To be continued…



Special Note One:  From “the husband of a reader”: “It says by the Makka of Choshech that they couldn’t see each other.  That was real Choshech!”



Special Note Two:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shaila that he has.




Q:  My partner and I have a route servicing technical equipment.  In one large non-yehudi establishment there is a staff lunch room which has a sign ‘For Staff Use Only’.  My partner usually helps himself to a coffee every time we are there (which is a few times a week).  Two questions, first of all is he permitted to take the coffee, and secondly if he makes a brocha in the lunch room will it still be valid in the basement where we service the equipment?


A: What your partner is doing is considered gezel akum.  The Shulchan Aruch categorizes gezel akum as ossur M’dorayisa (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 328.1).  A minority of Poskim are of the opinion that it is only ossur M’drabonon. (See Halachos of Other People’s Money, page 33).  In either case, your partner may not make a brocha on that coffee, and you are not permitted to say amain (Shulchan Aruch 196.1).  If your partner gets permission to take from the staff only lunchroom, he may make a brocha, you may answer amain, and the brocha would be valid in the basement of the same building (Halachos of Brochos, page 144).


Additional Note One on Brachos:  As we have noted previously, the Maharal teaches that the first time a word is used is significant in terms of its true meaning.  Where is the first time that the word “Baruch” is used in the Torah?  It is in Noach’s expression of thanks to Shem for having saved him from the embarrassment caused by Cham.  The actual language used by Noach was “Baruch Hashem Elokei Shem”.  We may suggest that this is a telling Pasuk for all of us to comprehend.  In every bracha that we make--before we proclaim Hashem as “Elokeinu Melech HaOlam”--we must first recognize and understand that Hashem is Elokei Shem--that Hashem has provided me personally with the subject matter upon which I am about to make the bracha--and further--with the opportunity to make it!


Additional Note Two on Brachos:  Perhaps a common scenario in one’s home--if one eats fruit salad which has fruits of the Shivas HaManinim, and other fruits (such as apples, pears and the like)--then there would only be one after-bracha of Al HaEitz VeAl Pri HaEitz (and not Borei Nefashos)--for they are all fruits of the tree (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 208:13).  The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan 63) explains as follows: the only reason that we do not make Al HaEitz on ‘regular’ fruits is because they are not as chashuv as the Shivas HaMinim.  Once, however, one is making an Al HaEitz in any event--it would cover all ‘regular’ fruits as well.



Special Note Three:  Follow with us, as we continue our series on Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim, provided to us by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, Lawrence, and the Mechaber of many renowned Seforim. 


Shemiras HaLashon in Shidduchim

Lesson #6


Specific Details-Inquiry Regarding a Shidduch


An extremely important area of consideration is when parents are very involved with the children’s shidduchim and sometimes are not are not necessarily looking out for the interest of their child as much as their own interest.  Examples of this would be marrying into an affluent family, a mishpacha with great yichus, etc.  It is difficult to delineate explicitly what areas should not be an issue to consider, as sometimes the aforementioned examples are indeed appropriate. 


Each family must have a Rav with whom to discuss issues of shidduchim beyond the attributes of being bnei Torah, yirei shomayim, people of integrity, alleh middos, etc.  We have unfortunately seen parents who have sometimes ruined appropriate shidduchim for their children due to nonsensical and inappropriate desires. 


To be continued…



Special Note Four:  HaRav Elchonon Wasserman, Z’tl, in the Sefer Kovetz Ma’amarim, writes that it appeared to him that any person or nation who wanted to ‘give a klap’ to K’lal Yisroel in his generation was able to do so--and Reb Elchonon strove to find a reason why this was so.  After all, Reb Elchonon questioned--does not the Shechina always with us in Galus as the Shomer Yisroel--the Guardian of Israel?  Reb Elchonon concluded that while Hashem is, in fact, our Shomer-he is not a Shomer Sachar (for we can adequately pay or repay Him for everything that he does for us)--but a Shomer Chinam.  Now, the Halacha is that a Shomer Chinam can surrender his responsibilities at any time if he no longer would like to perform them for any reason.  Why, however, would HaKadosh Baruch Hu want to ‘give-up’ His capacity as a loving Shomer over us?  A Pasuk in Parshas Ve’eschanan (Devarim 23:15), he concludes,  provides the revealing answer for us.  The Pasuk states “VeLo Yirah Becha Ervas Davar VeShav Meiacharecha…so that He will not see a shameful thing among you and go away from behind you.”  What Hashem shuns, the reason He would (temporarily) not serve as our Shomer Chinam --is Ervas Davar--inappropriate breaches in the area of Tzniyus.  He therefore appealed to everyone--men and women alike--to improve and increase their level of modesty both inside and outside the home.

Hakhel Note:  As we look around us--at the lions and wolves which seem to abound--let us raise our levels of Tzniyus--of appropriate dress, demeanor and behavior-and ask Hashem to please, please watch over us as the Shomer Yisroel!



Special Note Five:  We provide the following notes in Halacha relating to the portion of Davening after Shemone Esrei:


A.  On Monday or Thursday, if one is still in the middle of Tachanun and the Tzibbur is up to reciting Berich Shemei on taking out the Torah, the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah (5:8), writes that one should stop reciting Tachanun and say Berich Shemei together with the Tzibbur (Dirshu Edition of Mishna Berurah, Siman 134, seif katan 12, note 12)--because the recitation of Berich Shemei is an Inyan Gadol!


B.  If one is outside the Shul for any reason when the Sefer Torah is being taken out or being returned, it is a Mitzvah to enter into the Shul to participate, based upon “BeRov Am Hadras Melech” (ibid., seif katan 10).


C.  When the Torah is being lifted to show it to the people, the Shulchan Aruch rules that that it is a Mitzvah to look at the words, to bow, and to say VeZos HaTorah (Siman 134:2).  The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan 11) adds that it is good for one to see the letters to the extent that he can read them, for the Mekubalim write that through this an Ohr Gadol will be brought upon the person (ibid., seif katan 11).


D.  When leaving the Shul after davening, one should bow and recite the Pasuk “Hashem Nicheini VeTzidkasecha Lema’an Shorerai Haishar Lefanai Darkecha--Hashem guide me in Your Righteousness because of my watchful enemies; make Your Ways straight before me(Tehillim 5:9).  This is obviously a beautiful request for one to make before he heads out to face the outside world.  The Mishna Berurah adds that the reason we bow is because the Kohanim when leaving the Bais HaMikdash after finishing their Avodah would bow as they left (Tamid 6:1-3).  We, too, are finishing the Avodah in our Mikdash Me’at!


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