CONTEMPORARY SHAILOS RELATING TO
The following Teshuvos were provided to
Hakhel by Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, in response to our questions
regarding today’s eggs, which, when purchased commercially, are not
QUESTION:If one finds blood in an egg, does one need to throw out the whole
egg or can one just throw out the blood and use the rest of the egg?
ANSWER:HaRav Moshe Feinstein Z’TL says that the custom is to throw out the
whole egg in such a situation.
one forgot to check the egg and mixed it with food (e.g. dough), can one use
the dough?If one mixed the egg
in flour and sees some blood, if one takes out the blood that is visible may
one use the rest of the dough?
ANSWER:If the egg is already mixed with other ingredients, just remove the
blood itself and whatever other parts of the egg that had not been mixed
with anything else.The rest may
be used l’chatchila.
QUESTION:If one cracked an egg over a hot frying pan and sees that there is
some blood in the egg, can one just take out the blood?What is the halacha with regard to the frying pan?
ANSWER:Throw out the entire egg.The
frying pan does not need to be kashered.
QUESTION:When one cooks a hard boiled egg, does one need to check it for
blood?If yes, how?
ANSWER:There was no need to check hard-boiled eggs, even in earlier times,
when eggs were fertilized.Certainly
today, no checking is necessary.
QUESTION:When one cooks a hard boiled egg, does one need to cook three eggs
at a time or due to the fact that our eggs are not fertilized one may cook
even just one egg at a time?
ANSWER:There is no need to cook three eggs at a time today.Your question should not have mentioned hard-boiled eggs, because the
real concern applied to soft-boiled eggs which have to be checked.If one found a blood spot (in a soft-boiled egg) and there were only
two eggs cooking, the other one would have had to be thrown out and the pot
kashered.Similarly, if three
eggs were cooked (the common practice) and blood spots were found in two of
them, the third egg was discarded and the pot would be kashered.
QUESTION:Does one need a special egg pot today as our mothers and
ANSWER:No, it is no longer necessary.The
reason for the special egg pot was so that in case of a “blitztrop” the
pot could be kashered, or if it was only a makeshift pot-like an empty
can-thrown out.Today, there is
no need to kasher the pot and thus no need for a specially-designated egg
QUESTION:If one made a soft boiled egg and finds a blood spot, may one just
take out the blood and eat the rest of the egg?What is the halacha if one removed the blood which was hot (yad
soledes bo) with a kosher spoon?
ANSWER:As before, throw out the egg.The
spoon need not be kashered.
SHAILOS RELATING TO SHABBOS
The following Teshuvos were provided to
Hakhel by Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, in response to our questions
relating to Hilchos Shabbos.
QUESTION:Before taking medicine, one davens “Yehi Ratzon She’yeheh Esek
Zeh Li L’refuah Ki Rofeh Chinam Ata” (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim
230:4, Mishne Berurah seif katan 6).Can
one recite this before taking permitted medicine on Shabbos or Yom Tov or
Yom Tov Sheni?
ANSWER:One should think these words, but not say them, because it is a
personal bakasha, a personal request, which is not made on Shabbos.The same applies even on Yom Tov Sheni.
QUESTION:Can one pray “Tehay Yisorai Kapora al Kol Avonosai” (May my
pain/suffering serve as an atonement for my sins) on Shabbos or Yom Tov?
ANSWER:I do not believe so, because it is also a bakasha, a personal
QUESTION:Is one permitted to heat up a challah on top of the crock pot on
Shabbos morning?What is the
status of the challah-is it still parve? Would its status change if it were
wrapped up in aluminum foil?
ANSWER:One can do “chazara” on a solid food on the top of a full pot
(“kedera me’lea”).You do
not need a second pot.The
challah should be treated as fleishig unless separated by aluminum foil.
QUESTION:If you have leftover challah after Shabbos, it is best to double wrap
and discard it, or can one leave it in the park for squirrels or ducks?
ANSWER:You can feed animals and birds with left over food, but you should
place it down in a manner in which it will not be stepped upon.
NOTES ON RETZAI
Our special addition to the Shabbos
Birchas HaMazon is Retzai V’Hachalitzeinu.Two notes follow:
are familiar with the word “Retzai” which is also the first word of the
17th brocha of Shemone Esrei-May our acts be acceptable and appeasing to
HaKadosh Boruch Hu, but what does “Hachalitzeinu” mean?The Eitz Yosef brings the Yerushalmi’s various definitions for the
word and concludes that in the z’chus of our Shemiras Shabbos, we will be
redeemed and go up to Eretz Yisroel with “chilutz atzamos”-strengthened
and physically healthy.Thus, we
are asking Hashem not only to be strengthened-but to be strengthened by the
is described in Retzai as “HaGadol V’Hakadosh Hazeh-Ki Yom
Zeh Gadol V’Kadosh Hu Lefanecha”-this great and holy day
Shabbos-because this day is great and holy.”It is important to note that the term “HaGadol V’Hakadosh”
(which is even repeated in the same sentence here) is only used to describe
Hashem (in the beginning of “Yishtabach” every morning) and the Beis
HaMikdash (in the third brocha of bentching-“HaBayis Hagadol V’Hakadosh”).How we should treasure and revere the Shabbos-for it is described
only with the highest and rarest of company!
Imagine the unbridled joy of a 49er who
had traveled all the way out West by foot and wagon, without regular food
supply, clothing tattered, sleep-deprived…and…he really finds it--Gold!Real Gold!
Compare this to the well-fed and clothed
gentlemen with a fine cane who notices something shiny on the ground and
bends down to pick it up-amazing-Gold!It
goes without saying that both men are quite happy with their find.However, the 49er had dedicated days, months, and maybe even years to
the task of finding gold, while the other man merely leaned over to pick it
up.He will enjoy the benefit of
the gold, but will lack the ecstasy of accomplishment, and will not feel the
joy of seeing the fruits of his labor.They
both have real gold-but only one has that special ephemeral feeling-the
wealth of spirit that accompanies the great find.
The Chofetz Chaim (Chovas HaShemira, Chapter
8) writes that the “Ikar Kedushas Mitzvah He K’She’ose Osa B’Kevius
Gemura.”The primary sanctity
of the mitzvah is in its dedicated regularity.One cannot compare “finding” a mitzvah (which is most certainly
gold, in all events) at any time or from time-to-time, but without any plan,
aforethought or program, to the prior commitment to perform a mitzvah on a
day-in and day-out basis-which is the gold together with the very
special Kedusha that accompanies it.
Learning Torah for 20 minutes a day after
davening because this is your dedicated seder has that “Ikar Kedushas
Mitzvah” which learning for 20 minutes when you have the time simply does
not have.Accepting upon oneself
to learn for 15 minutes without interruption of any kind is not the same as
learning uninterrupted because nobody called on the cell phone during that
time.Likewise, learning two
Mishnayos, or one-seventh of the Parsha, every single day of the week is not
the same as studying an entire Perek or the entire Parsha all in one day.
The concept extends, of course, to all
mitzvos.This “kevius” is
the source for the great segulah of “Machsom L’fi” in which a person
undertakes (b’li neder) to be especially, especially careful to guard his
tongue from evil during a designated two-hour time slot (e.g.,
) every single day.Similarly,
one can, b’li neder, undertake to give some tzedaka every day before
Mincha, or plan to honor parents or elders daily in a special way, or be
very conscious daily in matters of honesty, etc.
Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim in the Toras
HaBayis (Chapter 1) asks-Why did we have to be brought down to this
world?Could we not have studied
Torah and performed mitzvos in the Upper World, instead?He responds that the essence of a mitzvah is the “amal v’nisayon”-the
toil and the difficulty-one has in its performance, which one can experience
only down here in this world.
When one obligates himself (b’li neder)
to perform a mitzvah b’kevius against the “amal v’nisayon”-that go
along with this dedication and consistency-he has attained the essence of
the mitzvah and has sanctified himself in the process.
Practical Suggestion:Choose a mitzvah (within easy reach that you may even do every day
now, but without commitment) and b’li neder dedicate yourself to its
performance for the next 30 days in a particular manner, no matter what the
amal or nisayon.Record your
daily success in your private calendar.
THREE RULES OF SHEMONE ESREI
In a recent issue, we quoted HaRav Chaim
Kanievsky’s psak (Orchos Yosher, page 100) that the study of the
laws of Tefillah takes precedence over the study of all other topics--for we
daven three times daily (over 1,000 times a year).If we know the halachos of Tefillah, we have consistently acted
properly, but if we do not, it amounts to a huge mistake.
One of the seemingly great paradoxes in
Hilchos Tefillah is how one should view himself both prior to and during
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 95:2)
writes that prior to beginning Shemone Esrei, one should picture himself as
if he is actually standing in the Beis HaMikdash.The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 94, seif katan 3), based on the
Gemara in Berachos (30A) amplifies this concept by adding that one should
feel as if he is actually standing in the Kodesh Kodoshim itself.Of course, with all of the current replicas, facsimiles, photo
plates, schematics and drawings, this has become much easier for us to
The paradox?The Shulchan Aruch is also posek that we are to place ourselves in
two other places before commencing Shemone Esrei:
In Orach Chayim 98:1, the Mechaber rules
that just as when one is about to stand in front of an earthly king, he
would clarify and crystallize his thoughts, certainly should he do so when
he imagines himself as standing in front of the King of Kings-Who knows all
thoughts.The picture here is of
one being alone in the Throne Room before, not just any earthly King, but
the King of Kings, who knows what you should be thinking.
So, at this point, we should view
ourselves both as in the Holy of Holies and in audience with the ultimate
King.Perhaps we can reconcile
this by surmising that the Kodesh Kodoshim is the equivalent of the inner
recesses of the palace, even though this may not be how we would ordinarily
However, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim
98:3) then writes that our in Tefillah we should beg Hashem for mercy--just
as a poor person begs at the door.
How can we imagine ourselves in the Holy
of Holies, and/or standing in the magnificent palace of the King, directly
in front of not only the King, but the King of Kings, and be begging at the
door simultaneously?Could a
pauper asking for a dollar find himself in the King’s palace, much less a
palace that even the Kohen Gadol only fearfully entered on Yom Kippur?
It appears that there are three separate
and distinct thoughts that we should bring to mind before the 1,000-plus
Shemone Esreis we recite each year (approximately 20,000 brochos annually):
Place:Wherever we are, we
are in the Kodesh Kodoshim(!), for we are davening--and our tefillos
perforce travel--through the most sacred place on Earth-the Kodesh Kodoshim-to
reach the Heavens (Brachos 30A).
Greatness:We are in
audience with the World’s Creator and the World’s Supervisor--Who knows
all thoughts, hears all pleas and can grant all requests.
Humility:Truth be told, we
can do nothing on our own.Everything,
literally **every**thing, is Hashem’s gift to us.We must knock on the door and plead for **every**thing.Hashem, as the Ba’al HaBayis, knows how to best respond to a
person’s sincere requests.
Thus, the Shulchan Aruch teaches us
exactly how to focus on, and appreciate, the great meeting we are about to
experience will be measured by the quality of our focus and appreciation of
this precious time.
Practical Suggestion:L’Havdil, at a stop sign, we are taught to Stop, Look and Listen.As you prepare to begin Shemone Esrei, spend three moments--to
appreciate the Place, to understand in front of Whom you are standing, and
to reflect upon who you are--and try to draw it all into the private
audience, known as your Shemone Esrei.
A WORD TO THE WISE
The Mishna in Avos (5:9) lists the seven
qualities which characterize a Chochom-a learned person.In contrast, the Mishna teaches that a Golem-an uncultivated
person-is succinctly defined by his lacking of these important traits.
There is a common denominator which links
all seven--you may be able to discern the connection among them upon your
review of the seven traits, which are listed immediately below:
1)He does not begin speaking before someone who is greater than
2)He does not interrupt his friend while speaking;
3)He does not respond in a hurried manner;
4)He asks relevant questions, and he responds to questions
5)He speaks first things first, and last things last;
6)On that which he has not heard, he responds, “I have not
7)He admits the truth.
Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, teaches
that the seven traits listed by Chazal show us that a wise person is not
necessarily the one with the most knowledge, or the greatest capacity to
derive from, or compare, one teaching to another.Rather, the learned person is the one who uses his gift of speech
He knows when to talk-and when not to talk;
He does not interrupt the words of another;
He knows how to speak--humbly, sensibly and truthfully.
His opinion is not the only opinion, and
certainly not the only correct opinion.
Indeed, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all
men (see Melachim I
) teaches us elsewhere that “The words of the wise--are heard softly…”
Once again, in contrast, a Golem-an
uncultivated person-is not defined as the one who is illiterate, unlearned,
childish or boorish in character, but as simply one who lacks the proper
mode or refinement of speech.
The Mishna here does not refer to Loshon
Hara, Onaas Devorim, bad advice and other Torah prohibitions of speech.Instead, it refers to the manner of communication in which one
relates to his fellow man.
If talk is cheap, blame it on…
Suggestion:Review the seven
traits of a Chochom before going into a planned conversation, phone call or
meeting with the firm resolve to be a Chochom during the entire course of
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The Gemara (Shabbos 10B)teaches that
HaKodosh Boruch Hu advised Moshe Rabbeinu:“I have a good present for you in my treasure house-and Shabbos is
its name-go and tell B’nei Yisroel.”
At first glance, the language of the
Gemara is quixotic.Why does
Hashem need to add “and Shabbos is its name”?And why only after Moshe is told of “its name” is he commanded to
tell B’nei Yisroel about Shabbos?After
all, the B’nei Yisroel themselves named the Mon (Shemos
The Sefer Ahavas Shalom writes that
unlike all of the other chagim u’moadim, which arrived through the
auspices of Beis Din and currently through our established Calendar, Shabbos’
arrival is established by Hashem and is purely “l’eyla”-entirely from
above.It therefore becomes our
privileged role to draw down and arouse the Kedushas Shabbos in this world
by “calling out its name.”
How does one “call out” the name of
Shabbos?One method is quite
literal.When we bentch our
family and friends with a “Gut Shabbos”, it should be with a feeling of
warmth and appreciation for the ruchniyus of the day.In fact, the Ahavas Shalom points out that when we tell a
choleh “Shabbos he mi’lizok u’refuah k’rova lavo”, we are actually
arousing the Kedushas Shabbos itself to bring the refuah closer.
Although this first way to draw upon
Kedushas Shabbos is really less esoteric than you may otherwise believe,
there is a second, perhaps more tangible, method of drawing the Kedushas
Shabbos upon us.The Medrash
Tanchuma (Bereishis 3) authoritatively states: “Kavod Shabbos odif
mai’elef taaniyos-honoring Shabbos is greater than 1,000 fasts.”While there are general aspects of Kavod Shabbos that apply to us all
(neiros Shabbos, Shabbos clothing, preparatory bathing, etc.), it is clear
that each individual should bring upon himself the “name of Shabbos” by
demonstrating or performing acts of Kavod Shabbos in his own special way.Indeed, the Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 19) points to the
“Chachomim HaRishonim”, the Early Scholars, who would prepare for
Shabbos-“each person according to his own way” (see Shabbos 119A), and
then adds to this that a person should be wise on his own-to find his own
path-to call upon the name of Shabbos.
We should truly work on this--our personal
Kavod Shabbos is so important.In
fact, the Sefer Chasidim (Siman 122) brings the story of a woman who
used to weave Erev Shabbos and did not properly involve herself in Shabbos
preparations.After she passed
away, a person saw in a dream that her eyes and hands were burned using
strands of flax.He asked her
why her judgment was such and she responded that it was because she was busy
with flax on Erev Shabbos, and not sufficiently occupied with the needs of
Shabbos.This may be an extreme
example, but the wasted opportunity is clear.
So what can we do?The possibilities are truly boundless.
For instance, the Sefer Ta’anug
Shabbos writes that one does not appreciate how great the act of
cleaning his shoes before Shabbos is, as the posuk (Shir HaShirim 7) states:
“How beautiful are your steps in your shoes!”
To someone else, attendance at a special
shiur, establishment of a special chavrusah, or learning a unique sefer on
Shabbos (for instance, Chumash with Ramban, MinchasChinuch,
or Chovos HaLevovos) may be his properly “calling out the name”
Yet to another, the resolve to
bake--rather than “bake-ry”--challahs may draw the Kedusha in.
And, as a final thought, let us not forget
Zemiros.The Shelah HaKadosh (Mesecheta
Shabbos) quotes the Reishis Chochma that Kedushas Shabbos comes from
“Shiros u’Zemiros”.We can
readily note the special effect that Zemiros have on little children-they
hum the tunes and may even say the words when doing other things, because it
obviously has had a supernal effect on them.
Practical Suggestion:This Shabbos, when saying “Gut Shabbos” to a family member or
friend, try to instill in it your desire to bring Kedushas Shabbos both in
and around you.
Also, as you go through this Shabbos,
think of ways you could improve your Kedushas Shabbos through new acts of
kavod that may be unique, special or important for you personally.
It is said that Rabbi Simcha Bunim of
Peshischa ZT’L was once asked-we know that everything in Creation has a
reason and purpose-What is the purpose of a “kruma svara”-perverse
reasoning?What end could
crooked logic serve in this world?He
answered that twisted thought could actually help a person fulfill a MITZVAS
What and how?The Torah commands “B’tzedek Tishpat Amisecha”(Vaykira
)-you must judge your friend favorably.There are important distinctions in Halacha as to how to judge the
acts of different types of people (tzaddikim, beinonim and reshoim).For a review of these distinctions, see Sefer Chofetz Chaim 3:7,8, and in English Guard Your Tongue by Rabbi
Zelig Pliskin 4:6,7 or The Chofetz Chaim, A Lesson a Day, Days 52-54.After reviewing these halachos, it certainly becomes imperative to
learn, practice, train and re-train yourself in this fundamental mitzvah,
which helps in controlling and distancing oneself from Loshon Hora, needless
hatred, machlokes and other similar and serious aveiros.
My wife “forgot” to make supper for the second time
He said he would help me with this and now he is
He only gives a quarter to poor people-he could afford
to give so much more
She is a real complainer
He always comes late to meetings
She eats, and eats and eats
The truth is that each one of us is
constantly challenged by the actions of people which do not live up to our
standards, or how we believe a person should act, in the situation at hand.
This is where dynamic, and yes, even
crooked, thinking is necessary:
He always gives quarters to the poor--Wow!He is sacrificing not having money for the parking meter in order
to give to the poor
She always complains--She probably does this to everyone
else, so by the time she gets home, she will be nice to her husband, or,
her Rabbi must have instructed her to get her problems out rather than
He always comes late to meetings--He doesn’t know how
much it bothers people, his father probably did it-and he is so used to
it, it has become his second nature
She eats, and eats and eats--The doctor probably told
her that she has to have a certain vitamin constantly absorbed by her
And the list, and the obtuse reasoning,
goes on and on.The harder you
work at it, the more proficient, and the greater a person, you become.Of course, there are occasions where your instruction and reproof are
necessary, but this is a separate mitzvah and should be done with the
guidance of an experienced Rav.
Chazal teach: “One who judges his friend
to the side of merit will be judged [by the
] to the side of merit” (Shabbos 127B).
Practical Suggestion:In the many situations in which judging another comes up in a day,
use your perverse logic to its fullest capacity!Come up with at least a couple of reasons as to why he did this or
she is like that.In addition to
being judged favorably by Heaven, it would also seem quite logical (this is
straight logic) that, in this merit, Hashem will help straighten out your
thoughts in other situations where straight thinking is really required!
ON HOLY GROUND
“And [Hashem] said: ‘Do not get close
to there; remove your shoes from your feet, because the place you are
standing on is holy ground.’” (Shemos 3:5, this week’s Parsha).
The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh (ibid.) asks a
stark question.Moshe Rabbeinu
is first commanded not to get closer to the burning bush, and only after
that to take his shoes off, for he was on holy ground.Should he not have been commanded **first** to take off his shoes-as
he was already on holy ground-and then, not to get closer to the bush?The Ohr HaChaim responds that with the order of this posuk, Hashem
reveals His true will-His main concern-is fulfillment of the Mitzvos Lo
Saa’seh-for when violating a Lo Saa’seh, by taking action, a person
actually wounds his soul.
It is for this reason that when the Torah
urges us “to be careful” and “to do” in the same posuk, the Torah
always precedes “shmira” (guarding oneself from violating a negative
prohibition) and then follows it with the “asiyah” (doing the positive
commandments of Hashem).
Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 34:15) reinforces
this priority by teaching that a person who wants life, who loves days to
see good, is the one who is “sur meirah” (turns away from evil), and is
“aseh tov” (does good).
Of course, there are 365 negative
prohibitions and the 365 days of the solar calendar correspond to them.Perhaps this is to teach us that we are to be on constant guard-on a
day in, day out basis-to avoid violating the negative prohibitions.
The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh concludes that
this seems to be quite an expensive lesson for Moshe Rebbeinu-he was
standing on holy ground and did not even know it-yet, he was first
instructed to avoid the Lo Saa’seh before taking off his shoes-doing the
aseh.See there for two possible
Perhaps we can also suggest that there was
an additional lesson to Moshe Rebbeinu here-that, in fact, he had to
be careful wherever he may be-for everywhere he or we go is “admas kodesh”
(holy ground).We are on “holy
ground” when we consciously refrain from violating Torah prohibitions,
Not saying Hashem’s Name in vain (Shemos 20:7)
Eating something which is questionably kosher (even
though it may have some Hebrew writing on it) (Vayikra 11)
Not holding back wages (Vayikra
Not insulting someone else (Vayikra
Not to cause another to sin or give him bad advice (Vayikra
Delaying to save someone in danger (Vayikra
Not to embarrass another (Vayikra
Not to cheat with weights and measures (Vayikra
Doing something which could result in Chillul Hashem (Vayikra
Not to be closed-handed to the poor (Devarim 15:7)
Refraining from getting involving in returning a lost
item (Devarim 22:3)
Allowing ourselves or our children to wear Shatnez (Devarim
Delaying fulfillment of a promise you have made (Devarim
And all of the other mitzvos Lo Saa’seh.We have a great opportunity, on a daily basis, to stand on holy
ground, as the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh states-when we avoid violating the
Mitzvos Lo Saa’seh we are performing HaKadosh Boruch Hu’s “Ikar Daas
Suggestion:Each day for the
coming week, take a Mitzvos Lo Saa’seh you feel may need some chizuk in
your life and be especially mindful and careful with it, or learn more about
a Mitzvos Lo Saa’seh that you are relatively unfamiliar with (see Sefer
HaChinuch –in English published by Feldheim Publishers; Sefer
HaMitzvos of the Rambam; and Sefer
HaMitzvos HaKatzur of the Chofetz Chaim for further study).
Remember-We are always on holy ground!
The Sefer Chovas HaShemira (written
by the Chofetz Chaim Z’TL) makes the following fundamental observations:
mouth is actually the doorway to the body--allowing in and directing out.As we know, if a doorway is kept open too long, too much hot air will
escape and the house will become cold and unpleasant.
Bais Hamikdosh will be rebuilt--but its construction will not be paid for in
dollars-but with our pure words.How
much more valuable could our speech be?
enormity of the mitzvah of Shemiras Haloshon is so great that “B’Vadai
Yimchol L’Avosov B’Zchuso”-“Certainly even deceased parents will be
forgiven in its zechus.”
who is on guard not to speak Loshon Horah is rewarded for his vigilance on a
constant basis--whether or not he encountersa potentially sinful situation.He
can be compared to an expert security guard or bodyguard who is well-paid at
all times--whether or not a break-in occurs or a criminal attacks, because
of the difficulty of his task.
The Orchos Tzaddikim writes that
while we have two eyes, two ears and two nostrils, we only have one mouth,
and the reason for this is that it is to be used less than these other
faculties. It is noteworthy that the very first words we utter as we begin
Shemone Esrei are “Hashem Sifasai Tiftach”-Hashem, open my mouth,-- and
then the very first words we utter as we conclude Shemone Esrei are
“Elokei Netzor L’Shoni Mairah”-My G-d, save my tongue from evil.”
Practical Suggestion:In a conversation you are having today, try to picture yourself as a
well-paid security guard-on careful alert-who does not want to lose his
A LESSON FOR ASARA B’TEVES
Today may be viewed by some, R’L, as a
burden or nuisance occurring annually in the middle of the winter, and by
others as the “easiest fast of the year” (due to its brief length).To yet others, the fasting itself is somewhat perplexing for, after
all, the Golus Bavel lasted only 70 years, and many great events occurred
after Nebuchadnezzar’s initial siege of Yerushalayim--including Purim,
Chanukah, the Nevuos of Chagai, Zecharya and Malachi, and the Bayis Sheni,
which stood for 420 years.
Yet, we know that the fast of Asara
B’Teves is so stringent that even it if occurs on Erev Shabbos--unlike all
of the other fasts--we fast the entire day until Shabbos begins.For the initial siege was, in fact, the horrifying beginning to the
end of the most glorified time in our history to date-The First Beis
Hamikdosh with all of its open miracles--the Shechina’s palpable presence,
the Aron with the Luchos, and literally hundreds of thousands (!) who had
reached the level of nevuah (Megillah 14A).With the enemy surrounding the city, the downfall of this singularly
unique period began.
As we look in the Torah, we find that very
bad endings have to start somewhere, and that it is the terrible beginning
that we need to control and avoid.Perhaps
the greatest example of this is one of the Aseres Hadibros.The last of the Aseres Hadibros warns us “Lo Sachmod/Lo Sisaveh”
(see Shmos 20:14; Devorim 5:18)-Do not covet/Do not desire.The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 359:10,11,12) explains that
desiring leads to coveting which leads to stealing--so that from the initial
prohibited desire, three negative prohibitions can be violated.It is telling that the Aseres Hadibros does not contain the
prohibition to steal property--which is the last step in the process--but
rather it contains the prohibition to desire and to covet which are the
initial steps leading to the horrible end result.The Torah teaches that it is the beginning of the process where your
action is required--for the end may be too late.
Similarly, the parsha of Arayos (Vayikra
18:6, read on Yom Kippur at Mincha) begins with “Lo Sikrivu L’Galus
Ervah”-Do not get close to forbidden relationships which Chazal teach
refers to prohibiting initial touching and thoughts.Likewise, the Torah goes out of its way when prohibiting Loshon Hora
to say “Lo Selech Rochil B’Amecha” (Vayikra 19:16)-Do not even begin
walking in order to speak Loshon Hora, for this will lead to downfall.
Of course, the flip side is also true.It is known that the Vilna Gaon, prior to undertaking a mitzvah,
would state, “Hareini Oseh K’mo She’tzivani Hashem B’Soroso-I am
about to do what Hashem commanded in His Torah”.See Haggadah of the Gra.
So, it is really the planning, or at least
the forethought, which sets the tone and the standard for what is about to
happen and what you are going to do.Will
it be up with Yaakov’s ladder--or down like the dominoes?
Practical Suggestion:In the last bracha of Birchas Hashachar, have kavana when reciting
“V’lo Lidei Nisayon” to ask for Hashem’s help not to come to the
first step of a situation in which you can falter--and if you see such a
situation coming, think “THIS IS THE BEGINNING-I must avoid or circumvent
In the z’chus of our starting from the
beginning, we can reverse the infamous, and literally world-shattering
events, that began on Asara B’Teves, and we can start anew with
“She’Yiboneh Bais Hamikdosh Bimheira V’Yameinu.”
FOUR TIMES OVER
The second brocha of Shemone Esrei is
known as the brocha of “Gevuros”, for in this brocha we demonstrate
HaKadosh Boruch Hu’s absolute omnipotence.
The Ritva (Taanis 2A) notes that the
concept of T’chiyas HaMeisim--revival of those not alive--is mentioned
four (4) times in this brocha.While
T’chiyas HaMeisim is certainly unparalleled gevura--why need it be
mentioned four different times within one short brocha?As we know, the Anshei K’nesses HaGadola compiled each brocha
B’Ruach HaKadosh, and each word is very literally counted and deeply
meaningful.See the remarkable
words of the Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 112:4,5).
Because of the strength of this question,
the Ritva teaches that in fact there is no reiteration here at all.Rather, there are four separate and distinct forms of T’chiyas
HaMeisim mentioned in this brocha:
FIRST:“Mechaye Meisim Ata Rav L’Hoshia” is immediately followed by
Morid HaGeshem, because this phase refers to Hashem’s bringing us to life
with proper rain, which bring us our food and sustenance.
SECOND:“Mechaye Meisim B’Rachamim Rabim” (which is followed by Somech
Noflim) refers to people who are seriously or even deathly ill whom HaKadosh
Boruch Hu brings back to life through miraculous healing power.
Meimis U’Mechaye” refers to the departed whom the Neviim (such as
Eliyahu HaNavi and Elisha HaNavi) helped bring back to life, and
additionally to those whom Hashem brings to life “B’Olom HaNeshomos”
(obviously this is a niftar concept).
FOURTH:“V’Neeman Ata L’Hachayos Meisim” refers to the ultimate
T’chiyas HaMeisim, which we all anxiously await.
We see here how Hashem’s greatest
gevuros have always been with us, are currently with us and will in the
future be with us, as well.
week, appreciate the great Gevuros Hashem, by stopping at each of the four
references to T’chiyas HaMeisim and thinking for a second about its
Also, if you want to take on a special,
additional suggestion, before each Shemone Esrei this week, take a moment to
appreciate how practical, meaningful and powerful each word of Shemone Esrei
people per year suffer from eye disease and disorders, such as glaucoma,
cataracts and the like. In some cases, these people have their lens
replaced and can then see with a clarity and crispness they had never
Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 36:10) teaches us
that “Because with You is the life source-in Your light we see light.”
When looking at the world around us on an
everyday, day-in-day out basis, we may be accustomed to looking at things
with our limited, obscured and obstructed vision and not in the way HaKodosh
Boruch Hu expects and empowers us with.It is important to note that the words “ayin” (eye) and
“iyun” (investigate) have the same root, for when we look at something
we are expected to go beyond the superficiality and imbue the objects or
events with true meaning and significance.
The posuk in Shma which we recite twice
daily states: “V’lo Sosuru Acharei Levavchem V’Acharei Eineichem-you
shall not go after your heart’s desires and what you see.”Yet, Rashi there incredibly comments that first the eye sees and then
the heart desires (Bamidbar
).Rashi seems to be sending the
message--you believe that the heart desires and then you look for evil--but
it is the reverse, it is your eye--inappropriate sights and views of the
world around you--that initiates your inappropriate conduct.
Fascinatingly, the ramifications of this
fundamental principle pervade deep into Halacha.The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 378:5) states:“Even looking-if damage results to his friend from his looking-is
forbidden.It is therefore
forbidden for a person to stare at the field of his friend when it is
standing full of crops.”
The S’MA on the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.)
explains that the act of viewing itself will bring damage to the
neighbor’s crop (“hezek re’eah”).
Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita, brings this
closer to home for us in a related ruling:“It is forbidden to stare into a neighbor’s house or yard because
any intrusion into a person’s privacy is considered a form of damage.”Journey to Virtue,p. 344 (Artscroll 2002).See Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 154:6).
Practical Suggestion:It is said that Rav Elya Eliyahu Lopian Z’TL was once learning
Torah while waiting for a bus at a bus stop for a long time.He finally looked up to see if it was coming.Afterwards, he was upset with what he had done-his looking up did not
make the bus come any faster.
Once a day, for the next week, before you
are about to look at something, think-should I really look at this or
not-will it serve a positive purpose-or any purpose at all?
Use your eyes to see all this world really
has to offer-with Hashem’s light!
WORLD VIEW II
Note:A literally tried-and-true method of locating an object one cannot
find is to recite the following teaching (See Bereshis Rabbah 53): “Omar
Rebbe Binyamin Bar Abba, ‘HaKol B’Chezkas Sumin Ad She’HaKodosh Boruch
Hu Meir Es Aineihem, She’ne’emar VaYifkach Elokim Es Aineha’-Everyone
is presumed to be blind until Hashem enlightens their eyes as it is says
‘And Elokim opened her eyes.’”
The lesson here is that if we allow
ourselves to recognize and appreciate that our vision is Hashem’s gift
(for which the lost item may be a slight reminder), then Hashem will further
enlighten us.We note that this
method of locating items should apply in spiritual matters, as well.For instance, if you are looking for a posuk, a ma’amar Chazal, a
shiur or a chavrusa, you should remind yourself that it is Hashem who
enlightens you.In fact, we pray
daily “V’haeir aineinu b’Sorasecha.”
A greater awareness of Hashem providing
our guiding view will make it harder for us to act improperly with our
eyes--rolling eyeballs, winking to ridicule someone or something, looking at
the wrong thing, staring without legitimate purpose, reading inappropriate
items, letting our eyes wander from our sefer or siddur for no reason, etc.
It is interesting to note that the Remah,
quoting the Maharil (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 271:9), writes in Hilchos
Kiddish as follows: “And when he begins [Kiddish on Friday night], he
should look at the candles.”The
Mishne Berurah there (seif katan 48) explains the reason for those who are
careful (medakdek) to do this: it is a “segulas refuah” for the eyes
which have dimmed from “pesiah gasa”--from what appears to be rushing
around during the work week.
Perhaps the underlying lesson in this
ruling is that looking at the neiros Shabbos which bring Hashem’s light
into the home--peace, harmony, honor and enjoyment--corrects the lost vision
brought about by the aimless actions of the past.
This Shabbos, as we “take a good look”
at the neiros, may we be moved and inspired so that their light helps
correct our past--and refines our concept of vision for the coming week.
A WORD ON PRAYER
The book Praying With Fire began a brand new cycle on 1 Teves
(January 1)-just three days ago.Thousands
upon thousands have literally become inspired to daven better (“with
fire”) by this classic work, using the Five-Minute a Day Lessons in the
book.This is a great new
opportunity to start improving your Tefillah.
It is important to note that there are
about 150 simanim (chapters) in Shulchan Aruch relating to Tefillah, which
is approximately the same number of chapters relating to all of Hilchos
Shabbos, including the laws of Eruvin on Shabbos.
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules as
follows (Orchos Yosher, p. 100):
“It is an absolute obligation to be
proficient in the laws of prayer, since a person who approaches the King,
and does not know how to behave, will certainly be expelled [from the
palace] by the King.All those
who are careless about this, will eventually be held accountable, and there
is no doubt that the study of these laws takes precedence over all other
studies, since they apply three times a day.”
[Translation from the original Hebrew
provided by Guidelines, p. 14 (Targum Press, 2004).]
These powerful words of HaRav Kanievsky,
Shlita, one of the great poskim of our generation, should be carefully
We urge those who have not already done
so, to begin the new cycle of Praying With Fire over the next
personal growth in Tefillah--and in your relationship with Hashem--will be
AFTER THE LAST DAY, THERE IS A
It is said in the name of the Alter of
Kelm that one should study “the nature of miracles—and the
miraculousness of nature”.
Today is known as “Zos Chanukah”-This
is Chanukah!As Chanukah ends,
we must be able to point to the beautiful days and say “This is what I
will take with me from Chanukah.”With
all of the great lessons-the little light eclipsing the overbearing
darkness, the weak and downtrodden defeating the brazen warriors,
rededication, overcoming despair and hopelessness, perhaps one of the most
poignant lessons we take from Chanukah is contained in a posuk in Tehillim
(104:24) which we recite every morning in Birchos Kriyas Shma:
“Ma Rabu Ma’asecha Hashem, Kulam
B’Chochma Asisa…”-How great [important] are Your works, Hashem-all of
which have been made with Divine wisdom.
When all is said and done, with all the
skyscrapers, iPods, Concorde jets and satellite transmission, the world and
all in it, the nature and the miracles, the everyday events and the
near-misses, victory and defeat, sadness and joy, is all Hashem’s creation
Sefer Chareidim (1:15) writes that it is a Mitzvas Aseh from the Torah
to be “misbonen”-to think about and into-the greatness of Hashem, as the
posuk (which we recite three times daily in Aleinu) states, “V’Yadata
Hayom V’Hasheivosa el L’evovacha…Ein Od.”Succinctly stated, we should place upon our hearts that Hashem is in
the Heavens above and in the Earth below-and there is nothing else.
Suggestion:In your Siddur,
with a yellow highlighter, highlight the posuk ”Ma Rabu Ma’Asecha Hashem…”
in Birchos Kriyas Shma and the posuk in Aleinu “V’Yadata Hayom”.When reciting these posukim in davening, appreciate the greatness of
Hashem-that He is Creator and Maker of everything for all time!
A very happy “Zos Chanukah” today, and
may it last not only today, but every day of the year!