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Special Note One:  In order to begin to appreciate the great number of issues that these times generate, we once again provide below several Halachos from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh, written by Rabbi Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita, containing the Pesakim of Rav Elyashiv, Shlita, and from the Sefer Koveitz Halachos which contains the Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kaminetzky, Shlita on the Bain HaMitzarim Period, as written by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita:


Pesakim of HaRav Elyashiv:



a.  HaRav Elyashiv rules that one cannot play an acapella tape during this period, because turning on the recorder is like turning on a musical instrument.  He also rules that it is assur to listen to Chazanus during this period.  One need not change the ‘hold music’ on his telephone line, however.


b.  Until Rosh Chodesh Av, one can buy and use utensils or clothing, but only if a Shehechiyanu need not be recited.


c.  During the Nine Days, it is permissible to travel to relatives for Shabbos, and this is not considered a ‘tiyul’.


d.  One should avoid any activity which involves ‘me’at sakana’--which may be a little dangerous.  If at all possible, one should not schedule non-emergency surgery during this period. 


e.  While it is permissible to purchase Seforim during the Nine Days, it is better to buy them beforehand. 


f.  One should not give gifts, or even send flowers during the Nine Days, but one can be lenient with a Bar Mitzvah gift.


g.  For Havdalah, it is best to give the wine or grape juice to a katan who knows how to make a bracha, but is not yet capable of mourning over Yerushalayim (i.e., until the age of approximately eight years old).  If there is no such katan available, it is still better for one to give the wine or grape juice to a katan under Bar Mitzvah, than drinking it himself.  However, if no such katan is available, even though a girl under the age of twelve is available, one should drink the wine himself.


Pesakim of Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky:


a.  One need not change the ring tone on his phone to a regular ring.


b.  If one has non-Jewish workers in his home, he need not instruct them to turn off their music.


c.  One is permitted to sit in a waiting room or to enter a store, where music is ‘piped in’. 


d.  One is permitted to recite Shehechiyanu on Shabbos.  If one was Mekabel Shabbos early, one can recite Shehechiyanu even if it is still daylight outside. 


e.  One should not purchase a new Tallis during the Three Weeks, as it would require a Shehechiyanu.  However, it one’s Tallis was lost, one can buy a new one and make a Shehechiyanu even during the Three Weeks--he need not bother his friend to borrow his Tallis.


f.  One should not begin painting his home during the Three Weeks.  Similarly, one should not have ‘body work’ on his car during the Nine Days, if its purpose is to enhance the car’s appearance.


g.  It is permissible for a woman to wear her regular, everyday jewelry during the Nine Days.


h.  It is best to be mechanech children to be ‘me’ma’ait BeSimcha’ during the Nine Days. For instance, they should not go to an amusement park or build a clubhouse.  Generally, one should also not make a ‘birthday party’ during the Nine Days--but if there is a specific situation one should ask a Shaila.


i.  One should not plant flowers for beauty’s sake during the Nine Days.



Special Note Two:  At the beginning of Parshas Masei, Rashi teaches us that all of the travels of Bnai Yisroel are listed in the Parsha to show us the great Chesed of Hashem, in that the Bnai Yisroel had to travel only 20 times in 38 years, and not twice every month or even twice a year.  The Luach Bnei Yaakov provides a fascinating insight here:  What does Rashi mean by the “Chesed” provided in moving only 20 times in 38 years?  Would anyone like to move his home 20 times in 38 years?  If one has to move every four or five years, it is considered burdensome.  People don’t like to move even once in ten years. The Luach answers that Rashi is providing us with a great lesson.  We have to keep things in perspective.  In truth, it could have been so much worse--we could have been required to move in the Midbar 60, 70, or even 100 times during the 40 year period.  Yes, it could have been much, much worse.  A person has to look at the positive, and not focus on the negative.  Look at all of our daily Chasodim which you receive, not at the Chasodim that you want to receive (which may or may not be best for the tachlis of your neshama in this world).  When saying the words in Modim “VihaMerachem Ki Lo Samu Chasodecha--and the Compassionate One for Your kindnesses never end” think of several kindnesses you recently experienced, and several kindnesses that you receive “as a matter of course” every day, day-in and day-out.  Hakhel Note:  HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, adds an additional note with respect to the Mas’aos themselves.  The travels then very much relate to the travels in the length of our Galus today.  Ultimately, they served their purpose, for they got us to our ultimate destination.  We, too, in our exile after exile, in our move after move after move should also recognize that they will all lead to a great--and this time, permanent--dwelling place with the Shechina!



Special Note Three:  The Sefer Talelei Oros relates that on Parsha Masei in the last year of his life, a Minyan was convened for the Brisker Rav in his apartment, and he stayed in his bedroom.  During the leining of the boundaries of Eretz Yisroel, the Ba’al Kriyah read the location of ‘Tzeena’ (Bamidbar 34:4) with the accent on the second syllable as ‘TzeeNAH’.  Suddenly a loud voice was heard calling from the Rav’s room exclaiming ‘TZEEna’--with emphasis on the ‘Tzee’.  He explained that when one places the emphasis on the first syllable of ‘Tzee’, the meaning of the word is ‘L’Tzeen’, to Tzeen, which is what the Torah means.  The Ba’al Kriyah though, by putting the emphasis on the last syllable, changed its meaning to TzeeNAH, which may or may not have been the name of a place at all, and has its own meaning related to the word shield (as in the Pasuk “Tzeena VeSocheira Amito”).



Special Note Four: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that the word ‘Rotzeiach’ is mentioned exactly 17 times in the parsha of Ir Miklat--corresponding exactly to the 17 times in Tanach in which a murder was committed--commencing with the murder of Hevel by Kayin, and ending with the murder of Gedaliah Ben Achikam by Yishmael Ben Nesanya.  The lesson:  We must really appreciate how exact and exacting the Torah is with each and every one of its words.



Special Note Five:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series.  We provide below some practical points on the Halachos of Borer, as excerpted from the monumental Sefer The 39 Melachos of Shabbos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita:


A.  A Halachic mixture is not present if two objects or substances are merely touching, but are not attached.  Even connected items may not be necessarily mixed if they are not strongly attached-- substances or items that are loosely connected and are easily separable at their point of contact are not considered mixed.  For Example, food or food residue is not considered to be mixed with the plate it is on; if apples are in a bag, the apples and the bag are not a mixture; and liquid and the glass it is in are not considered mixed.


B.  Similarly, a Halachic mixture does not exist if the different objects or substances are readily distinguishable because of a clear, striking difference in their consistencies or structures.  For Example, large slices of fruit in fruit soup, pickles in brine, meatballs in sauce, and ice cubes in soda are not mixtures.


C.  Food items that have begun to spoil or deteriorate to the point where most people would be unwilling to use them for the same purpose are regarded as being of a different type than fresh items of the same product--even if it could be said that they taste essentially the same.  For Example, bruised or split grapes in a bunch of fresh grapes are considered significantly inferior by most people, and are therefore classified as a mixture of both types even if they basically taste the same, and so one not remove the bad grapes from a cluster.  Similarly, dried slices of cake or challah, mixed on a platter with fresh pieces all of the same flavor, are considered a mixture of different types because most people would be unwilling to use them for the same purpose. 


D.  Although one may peel an orange or other fruit, or remove candy or other wrappers which are stuck to the food item, one must remember to do so only with his hand or a piece of silverware (‘B’yad), and only for immediate use (M’yad--just prior to eating).


E.  Removing just the P’soles (unwanted part) from a mixture is always prohibited, even if some of it is still left remaining in the mixture.  For Example, one may not remove undesired rice or noodles from soup, even if some of the rice or noodles are left in the remainder of the soup.


F.  If one needs to remove something such as crumbs or hair that fell into a drink, he should not merely use the handle of a spoon or tweezers, because he must remove a substantial amount of the drink (i.e., not just a minute insignificant part), so that he is not only removing p’soles but actual ochel as well--in which some p’soles is merely contained.



Special Note Six:  We conclude our focus with the Tenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Teka B’Shofar:


A.   The Art of Jewish Prayer (Rabbi Yitzchok Kirzner, Z’tl, with Lisa Aiken), brings a Midrash (Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer 31) which explains what we mean by Shofar Gadol.  The Midrash teaches that no part of the Ayil that Avraham Avinu sacrificed was at all wasted, because he sacrificed it with total dedication and devotion: “The left horn of the Ayil was the Shofar that was blown when the Torah was given, the sinews were made into strings for the Kinor that was used by Dovid HaMelech…the right horn of this Ayil which was much larger than the left one is the Shofar that will be blown by Eliyahu HaNavi at the ingathering of our exiles.”  This is what is meant by the Shofar Gadol--it is the Shofar that is larger than the Shofar used at Matan Torah!  We must appreciate the enormity of the event--it is a culmination and epitome of our Achdus, as demonstrated use the Shoresh of Kabeitz (gathered together) used three times during the course of the Bracha.


B. The Sefer Acharis L’Shalom writes that we conclude the Bracha with Amo Yisroel--adding the word Amo [in the previous bracha we mentioned Go’el Yisroel, without Amo], because we--as His Nation  want to indicate our sincere and dedicated belief that we can bring the Geulah not just because the time has come, but through our own Ma’asim--our Torah, Tefillah, and Mitzvos.  One final incredible point:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes the use of the Shoresh Kabeitz in the bracha and adds that it derives from the Posuk in Yeshaya “Ne’um Hashem Elokim MiKabeitz Nidchei Yisroel Od Akabeitz Alav L’Nikbatzav” (56:8).  He teaches that the last four words--Od Akabeitz Alav L’Nikbatzav, indicate that not only will we be ingathered ourselves, but that all of our possessions and belongings will join us--Hashem making the experience all the more wonderful and all the more enjoyable for us ! How can we not say Baruch Atta Hashem with sincere meaning for all He gives us in this Bracha!!



QUESTION OF THE DAY ONE :  Yirmiyahu HaNavi laments in Eicha ( 3:19 ) “Zechor Anyee U’Merudi.”  What does the word Merudi mean?  See Rashi there for a startling interpretation.  What lesson can you learn from this?


QUESTION OF THE DAY TWO:  Every morning, we wake ourselves to the wonderful words of Modeh Ani, which conclude with “Rabba Emunasecha”.  What do we mean by Rabba Emunasecha?  Rashi to Eicha (3:23) writes that it means that we acknowledge to Hashem that Your Assurances to us are Great, and that it is a great thing to believe that You will fulfill all that You have assured us about.  In short, we wake up to a breathe-in and breathe-out of our Bitachon in Hashem--now and in the future!


Special Note One:  With the recent Petira of great Roshei Yeshivos, we were all reminded of the Chazal that the Petira of Tzaddikim brings a Kapparah (Mo’ed Koton 28A).  Chazal actually provide two separate Limudim, or sources to teach that Misas Tzaddikim is Mechaper (both are from Parshas Chukas).  The first is the fact that the Torah places the passing of Miriam next to the Parsha of Parah Aduma (which is mechaper), and the second is the fact that Aharon’s passing is placed next to a reference to the Bigdei Kehuna (which are mechaper).  Why are there two separate examples in the Torah for what appears to be the same teaching?  We look forward to your comments. We may suggest that there are two different kinds of Kaparos that the Missa of Tzaddikim brings.  The Kappara of Parah Aduma represents forgiveness for the Ma’aseh Eigel (see Tosfos ibid., d’h’ Mah Parah)--which was the chait of Klal Yisroel, a sin of our community.  The Bigdei Kehuna, on the other hand, atone for an individual’s sins, as demonstrated in Zevachim 88B.  From the breath and extent of the Kappara that is effected, on an individual and communal level, we can begin to understand the enormity of a Tzaddik, what he represents to his generation, and how he defends and assists his people--even with his Petirah.  Now that the Sheloshim period for these Tzaddikim has passed or will soon be passing, it behooves each and every one of us to do something (give Tzeddaka, learn something extra, take on some additional Kavannah, etc.) so that we demonstrate our personal Hakaras HaTov and Kavod--at the very least for the Kapparah that these Gedolim effected for us individually and as a community. Let us not tarry or delay in this sacred obligation.

Hakhel Note:  Chazal (Brachos 43B) teach that one of the traits that we should emulate is “not to walk in last into the Bais HaMidrash”, for a person who does so is called a Poshei’ah.  Rashi there defines a Poshei’ah not as somebody who is of a rebellious lot, or someone who acts willfully and wantonly, but simply as a ‘Misatzeil’--a lazy person, one who puts off and delays to another day that which he can do today.  Our Gedolim brought us what seems to be a much needed Kappara.  Let us now do for them--properly, respectfully--and promptly!



Special Note Two:  A reader provided us with the following links for more inspiration and information on Asher Yatzar:


Bracha of Asher Yatzar is now available in a beautiful color poster format, suitable for posting in the home or in public places,

See http://www.torahtots.com/birchtam/asheryatzar.htm

http://www.torahtots.com/birchtam/ayposter.htm (See bottom of page for instructions)

You can print both sides of the poster on a color printer.


Please spread the word!



Special Note Three:  When Moshe Rabbeinu got upset at the officers in last week’s Parsha, Chazal teach that he was “Bah LiChlal Ka’as--he came within the boundaries of Ka’as” and lost out as a result (See Rashi, Bamidar 31:21).  HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, explains that he did not need to actually get angry.  It was simply allowing himself to come within the boundaries of Ka’as that prevented Moshe from becoming the one who would teach the army the laws of Kashering Kaylim as set forth in the Parsha.  From this, HaRav Levenstein teaches, we learn that it is insufficient that one prevent his anger from exploding when he feels that it is about to erupt.  Rather, one must not allow himself those initial thoughts and the  knee-jerk first reactions which egg-on the upset feelings and the anger--for even those initial thoughts and reactions--even without the anger spell following--mean real trouble down the line.  We must not only avoid “Bah L’Ka’as”, we must also avoid the “Bah LiChlal Ka’as.”  As we work on improving ourselves and our relationships with others during this important period--let us be sure to catch ourselves early and on time-- to avoid the “LiChlal Ka’as”--so important to our character and to our life!



Special Note Four:  We continue with our focus on the Tenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Teka B’Shofar.  The Sefer Seder HaYom writes that there is something very special about this Bracha that goes even beyond the previous Bracha of Go’el Yisroel, in that we ask for redemption not only personally and in our current situations and environments--but this time we seek “Hashkeit U’vitcha B’Artzseinu Ka’asher Batechila”--for us to return to our original wholeness and wholesomeness as we existed when the Bais HaMikdash was first built.  This means (as is brought in the Siddur HaGra) that we are davening here that the Aseres HaShevatim, part of whom disappeared into the dark mountains, and part of whom disappeared beyond the Sambatyon River, will be brought together with us once again.  Even those who are “Nidchei--dispersed or pushed away, will be brought back together! Fascinatingly, the Seder HaYom adds that the term Yisroel, the last word of the Bracha, does not only refer to the people of Klal Yisroel, but to Yaakov Avinu, known as Yisroel.  How?!  Yaakov had three sons, each in a different kind of Golus--Yosef, who everyone had given up on; Shimon, who was alone and in trouble; and Binyomin, for whose life he very much feared.  It is from and for all of these different types of Golus that we daven--so that we can come back B’Simcha Gedolah from each and every kind of Golus--to a united Geulah!  Remember--M’Kabeitz Nidchei Amo Yisroel!



Special Note One:  REMINDER--as we have noted in the past!  During the Three Weeks, we do not make or attend chasunas, may this be soon reversed and the Bais HaMikdash rebuilt speedily and in our days.  In the interim, we can, however, experience some aspect of a wedding while eating a regular (even weekday) meal in our own home.  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 170, Seif Katan 45) brings from the Shelah HaKadosh that one should be glad of heart at all of his meals, whether large or small, and eat “b’simcha” in happiness [reflecting upon all of the goodness from Hashem, that the simple meal involves].  Moreover, the Mishna Berura continues, if one eats and drinks in a healthy manner, with the purpose of energizing his body for the sake of his soul, then his Seudah, his meal, is actually L’Halacha, deemed a “Seudas Mitzvah.”  Thus, just as at a wedding one is happy and partakes in a Seudas Mitzvah, one can make his own little “chasunah” at home at every meal!


Your thoughts and your feelings--these are what Hashem leaves up to you.



Special Note Two:  Today, 25 Tammuz, is the Yahrtzeit of the HaRav Meir Mai’Apta, the Ba’al Ohr LaShamayim.  A reader has provided us with a beautiful copy of the Tefillah that the Ba’al Ohr LaShamayim composed, which would most certainly be appropriate to recite on his Yahrtzeit.  The tefillah is available by clicking here.



Special Note Three:  My son is a six year old who was recently put on a heart transplant list.  His name is Chai Avraham ben Rachel Leah. My community is participating in a “Asher Yatzar”  refuah shelaima initiative.  Enclosed is the email that our Rav, Rabbi Fried sent out:  ’Dear everyone, we learn that a person should not do a mitzvah for the sake of the reward (which will surely come) rather it should be done l’shem shamayim, all for Hashem’s Name, and the reward is to come in the hereafter (olam haboh).  Yet, when someone goes out of their way, and does a mitzvah they didn’t need necessarily to do, but they took it upon themselves, or they have a measure of extra concentration while performing it, e.g. give extra money to tzeddaka, or say a brocho slower than usual-for this we can expect reward in this world, and it is the basis of why we make extra efforts for special zechus, merit, at critical times.  (Two examples of this: In [Mesechta] Pesachim, if a man says a dollar to tzedakah that my son should live, it is utterly proper. Another, mentioned by Rav Elyashiv, Shlita, from [Mesechta] Brochos, is where Rav Zera was sick, and couldn’t learn, so he said that, at least, he’ll go to the Yeshiva and stand up for the scholars as they go by, so he will be able to rise for them and receive reward for that.  Hence, for extra efforts to perform mitzvos, we can expect reward in this world).  Therefore, as a special zechus for Chai Avraham Ben Rochel Leah Lifshutz, our amazing 6 year old friend (son of Marty and Rhonda), who is in need of Hashem’s brocho for refua shelaima, we announce the following initiative, to generate extra zechus for him, from the extra efforts of the tzibbur, for just one month,-that the Ribbono Shel Olam should send him good health and long life.  During the month of Av, we all should try to say the special brocho, recited after leaving the bathroom-Asher Yotzar es ho’odom- with a little more feeling of gratitude, and a bit slower (at least once per day).  Additionally, I will send periodic insights about this truly incredible, richly crafted brocho that we tend to take for granted, to everyone.  Many times, in the rush of life, one can forget to say it completely, or blurt it out at lightning speed, without due care or emotion.  And, in the merit that we try, once per day, for a month, to slow it down when saying this brocho about the miracles of our bodies and our health, and contemplate for one moment the overwhelming gift of our organs and their proper function-may Avrumi have good health, min Hashamayim, and celebrate all the proper milestones that we hope will occur, l’orech yomim tovim, in a long life.’  Hakhel Note:  Rabbi Fried certainly teaches us how impactful Asher Yotzar is and should be.  May the additional Ahavas Yisroel engendered by this initiative be a Zechus for Chai Avraham and truly for all of Klal Yisroel!


We also received the following from a reader on Asher Yatzar:


Dear Hakhel,


I’m replying to your Question of the Week, because Asher Yatzar is undeniably my favorite tefillah!  And I hope you’ll see why below:


Isn’t it true that in Chumash, when a word is repeated, it is to stress its meaning rather than just saying it?  e.g., the repetition of hochay’ach tochi’ach in Vayikra 19:17 where i opened up to, you shall surely reprove... So to me this means that we must include EVERY SINGLE organ and passageway and all in our praise of HaShem Who made us all.


I am a radiologist, and before doing my residency in Radiology, I thought I would be a surgeon.  I cannot tell you how amazingly well-put-together our bodies are!  Take the abdomen, for example.  It is a finite space, with defined boundaries, in most of us.  Yet within that space lie many organs, a huge bundle of gut/intestine, and so many other things, and the biggest miracle before I became frum was that when we operated, we could get it all back inside in the proper order in order to close the wound!


I don’t understand how anyone in the medical profession could be anything but a strong believer in HaShem and His Great Power and Ability.  One look at the layers of the retina of the eye, and how those cells coupled with the brain which receives the image allows us to see...  Think about how the heart pumps the blood, from its very small muscular container throughout the entire body, and how it comes back again from one’s fingertips and toes, to be aerated by the lungs and then returned to the heart to be circulated once again...  Every single part of the body is totally amazing.  Just as the Torah is written with not an extra letter or idea, so too our bodies. 


It’s mamash a miracle! 


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. 


So Praise HaShem Who heals all flesh (of mankind) and does wonders (for His people Israel)!


Hodu LaShem Ki Tov, Ki L’Olam Chasdo!


Hakhel Note:  After reading the above from our treasured readers--may each and every Asher Yatzar that we make take on an appreciative and dedicated significance!



Special Note Four:  We continue with our focus on the Tenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei-Teka B’Shofar: HaRav Eliyahu Munk in his Sefer Olam HaTefillos writes that this Bracha is centrally placed as the middle Bracha of Shemone Esrei because it bridges between the requests we make for the individual and the upcoming requests that we make for the community.  In fact, in the Bracha, we ask that Hashem actually unite the individuals into a community--as the Mekabeitz Nidchei Amo Yisroel.  The Sefer Dover Shalom provides an outstanding insight for us in this regard.  He writes that the three stages of our uniting and Geulah are represented in the three phrases of the Bracha prior to its conclusion:  First, there will be a Shofar Gadol L’Cheirusainu--i.e., we will be freed of our Shibud Malchiyos, of our subjugation to the nations of the world.  Then, VeSah Neis, a banner will be raised to gather us to one place, readying us for the Geulah.  Finally, Vekabitzeinu Yachad MeiArbah Kanfos HaAretz--we will actually be ingathered from everywhere and anywhere, the closest--and furthest--places on earth.  These  Three-Steps actually mirror the Three Steps of our Geulah from Mitzrayim-- as we first stopped working for the Mitzriyim as the Makkos continued, then were miraculously gathered to one central meeting place where we all left together from (see Shemos 12:37)--and then we finally left all together--as a united people!  Every time we recite Teka B’Shofar, we  plead with Hashem that he begin now with the Shofar Gadol L’Cheirusainu--first freeing us of the Shibud of Galus--and then continue the process so that we can all--united and together--experience the Geulah Sheleimah--speedily and in our day!



QUESTION OF THE DAY :  At the end of the day today, will you say it was an Olam HaBah day--or an Olam HaZeh day?  Truth be told, this question is not limited today--but can be asked by everyone at the end of the day--each and every day!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Every day, in Asher Yatzar which we can recite several times a day, we thank Hashem for creating us with “Nekavim, Nekavim; Chalulim, Chalulim.”  Why do we repeat each of these words (which are already in the plural) twice, and what is the difference between ‘Nekavim’ and ‘Chalulim’.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 6:1) writes that each word is repeated to teach that Hashem created us with many Nekavim and with many Chalulim.  Nekavim refers specifically to our body’s apertures, such as the mouth, the nostrils, and other openings of the body.  Chalulim, on the other hand, refers to the numerous organs in our body such as the heart, the stomach, the intestines, which both function independently and interrelate in their own miraculous way.  As we recite the moving and thankful words of Asher Yatzar this week, let us begin by focusing on these words which quantitatively and qualitatively acknowledge Hashem’s Mastery and Miracle within our human bodies!  Remember--stop-- “Nekavim, Nekavim; Chalulim, Chalulim!”




Special Note One:  One final note on Parshas Matos, from a reader:  “Regarding the Parsha of Nedarim--where the Parsha provides that one can take something otherwise permissible to him, and promise not to eat it or use it--how could it be that a mortal being can have the power to actually change or convert something that is Muttar (permissible) from the Torah’s (Hashem’s) perspective to become Assur (forbidden)?   The Sefer Nesivos Sholom explains (based upon Rabbeinu Yonah in Avos) that a mouth is a Kli Sharais--holy utensils.  Just as a Kli Sharais in the Bais Hamikdosh is Mekadesh--sanctifies--what you put into it and, accordingly, everything that is taken out of it is Kadosh, so, too, are the words that come out of your mouth Kadosh!”

Hakhel Note:  Defiling a Kli Sharais is a horrible act--while bringing more and more Kedusha to it so beautifully fulfills its purpose!



Special Note Two:  We received the following from a reader: “At a Shiur in Monsey, HaRav Mordechai Schwab, Z’tl, provided the following insight:  For one who is attempting to grow in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, the lowest level would be to be ‘Makdim Shalom L’Chol Adam V’Afilu Nachri SheBashuk--to be first to greet others--even strangers in the marketplace’ (the UPS man, the trash collector, etc.).  The highest level, on the other hand, is to be ‘Mamlich your friend over you’--to treat another as a king, as royalty, recognizing his needs before he requests them, and harkening to all of his requests.” 

Hakhel Note:  Even if we cannot accomplish this with everyone, perhaps we can begin by trying to be Mamlich at least one person over us.



Special Note Three:  We continue with our series on short lessons from the Motza’ei Shabbos Video Series, last week given by Rabbi Bentzion Shafier, Shlita, on the topic “Parnassah and Hishtadlus”:


A.  The following words do not belong in the lexicon of a Ba’al Bitachon:  “I could’ve; I should’ve; I would’ve; I am anxious about this.”  Additionally, taking insults personally rather than as a message from Hashem clashes with Bitachon (the person who hurled the insult has his own Cheshbon with Hashem--but that Cheshbon is not your business). 


B.  If one considers the size of Noach’s Teivah, one realizes that in no way could it have held so many Kosher and non-Kosher animals.  Noach had to exercise his Hishtadlus, but the actual housing was B’neis.  The same is true of us.  A person earning a Parnassah can be compared to a tight rope walker.  Although the netting that is underneath him may be invisible to most, it is really always there, and his situation is never really in question.  Whether you earn a living at this job or that job, whether you choose to invest or not to invest, it is all B’Yad Hashem.  Hakhel Note:  This is why your Tefillos in Bareich Aleinu for you, your family, and all of Klal Yisroel is more important to your earning a Parnassah than your eight hour work day, or any additional jobs that you or any family member takes on.  



Special Note Four:  Yirmiyahu HaNavi exclaims in Eicha “Nisah Levaveinu El Kapayim El Keil BaShamayim--let us lift hearts with our hands to Hashem in heaven (Eicha 3:41 ).”  Rashi there comments that it is not enough to lift our hands up in prayer--we must also lift up our hearts together with our hands as well.  With this in mind, we continue with our focus on the Tenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--the Bracha of Kibbutz Galuyos.  When we recite the three key terms Shofar Gadol, Sa Neis, and Kabbtzeinu Yachad, we should put our hearts into it, and visualize the enormity and significance of the Geulah--which will come, but which we want to come now.  One reader commented that the Shofar Gadol may allude to the similar Kol Gadol of the Shofar of Mattan Torah which did not weaken.  So too, the Geulah that the Shofar will herald will be forever and ever--is there anything larger!  Similarly, the Neis, the banner will be high enough for the world to see as our exiles are ingathered from Johannesburg and Buenos Aires, from Vancouver and Stockholm, and from New York and London as well.  What an event--what a  happening--and it could be before our very eyes!  Finally, we will be gathered Yachad, all together--side by side in ultimate peace and harmony.  Let us focus on the sheer enormity of the event--and give these unparalleled requests the heartfelt clear Kavannah that they, very literally, so greatly deserve!



KASHRUS ALERT FROM A READER:  Last night I bought Post Fruity Pebbles in a local kosher supermarket.  This morning when I opened it to give breakfast to my grandson, I found inside “Fruity Pebbles Treats” it looked very tasty, and as I was checking out the package, it stated on it “Not Kosher.”  I threw it away, and called the store.  The buyer must always beware! They said it was being removed from the shelves....



Special Note One:  Upon being asked how Moshiach can come in a generation such as ours, without the great luminaries of yore--R’ Shmelke of Nickolsburg responded, “After a war leaves a great mess in a city, the simple workers come to clean up....”



Special Note Two:  Today is the yahrzeit of the unparalleled HaRav Moshe Cordevero, z’tl, perhaps most well known for the Sefer Pardes Rimonim and the Sefer Tomer Devorah, among his many other works.  According to the Arizal’s testimony, the procession bringing HaRav Cordevero to burial was preceded by a pillar of fire, and, because he was so pure, his death could only be attributed to the chait of Adam HaRishon.  Chapter 4 of the Tomer Devorah concludes as follows:


A person can purify his Yetzer Hora by leading it towards good, and then even his Yetzer Hora becomes rooted in holiness. This is the elevated level of repentance that a person should contemplate every day--and one should also repent in some [even minor] way every day--so that all his days will be spent in Teshuva!”



Special Note Three:   For New York City Metropolitan Area Residents:  Tomorrow is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Yaakov Yosef, the first and only Chief Rabbi of New York over 100 years ago.  His kever in Brooklyn , New York is known as a remarkable makom of Tefillah.  Driving directions to the kever are available by clicking here.



Special Note Four:  Rashi (Bamidbar 31:21) provides an amazing insight in last week’s Parsha.  It was Elazar HaKohen, Moshe Rabbeinu’s nephew and student, who taught the Halachos of Kashering unkosher utensils, rather than Moshe Rabbeinu.  Why?  Because Moshe Rabbeinu had recently become angry (see there), and as a result, had erred and forgotten these Halachos.  In fact, Rashi there cites two other instances in which Moshe erred as a result of his becoming angry (all of the “anger” on his level, of course).  We all can gain tremendously from this teaching.  When one “loses it” and gets angry, he is losing more than his composure and control for the moment.  He is going to err, he is going to forget, other things--important things--as well.  The effects of anger go well beyond that momentary loss of mind.


As we carefully work on our Bein Odom L’Chaveiro during the Three Weeks, we should pay special attention to this great lesson from the Parsha and try as best as we can to maintain ourselves despite the hot weather and the difficult environment, and always speak “B’Nachas Im HaBrios”--whether they be family, friends, employees, co-workers or others—-which will certainly bring Nachas not only to those around you--but to Hashem Yisborach and to Klal Yisroel, as well!



Special Note Five:  Also in last week’s Parsha, the Torah records that “Elef LeMateh, Elef LeMateh”--or “1,000 soldiers, 1,000 soldiers” were to be taken from each Shevet to do battle with Midyan.  Why does the Torah phrase it as “1,000 soldiers, 1,000 soldiers”--and not simply as “2,000 soldiers”?  It is because 1,000 soldiers actually went to war, and the other 1,000 were enlisted to daven for victory.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, teaches that the 1,000 who were davening did not stay behind--but actually accompanied the fighting soldiers to battle, so that the soldiers would understand that it was not their military prowess (‘Kochi VeOtzem Yadi’) that was the basis of their victory--but rather it was Hashem who was the Source of victory through our Tefillos. 

Hakhel Note:  During these times, as we wind down the Jewish People’s career in Galus, we may add that it is not only the soldiers who should be aware of the singular power of our Tefillos, but it is we ourselves who must know and understand that when we pray such tefillos as “VeLeYerushalayim Ircha”, “Es Tzemach”, “Shema Koleinu”, and the like, with sincerity of heart, we are fighting--and defeating-- those who mean us harm from Teheran to Turkey, and from Moscow to Washington D.C.  There may be spies and counter spies, politicians and statesmen, military analysts and advisors and the most advanced of weaponry, but the battles are won in Hashem’s Court, and Hashem’s Court only.  Incredibly, Chazal teach that Nevuchadnezzar did not allow the Jewish people to rest upon exiling them, until they got to “Al Naharos Bavel” because he was fearful of their ability to wholly reverse the entire earth-shattering decree against them by simply turning and returning to Hashem.  Let us not lose the opportunities that the soldiers in battle were made aware of, that Nevuchadnezzar knew about, and that has been a recurrent theme of our existence since the days of Yetzias Mitzrayim.  Let us take out the time in these days to cry out to Hashem, as HaRav Leib Chasmin, Z’tl, teaches “KeShekoeiv Zoakim--when one is in pain, he cries out.”  Together we can turn this period from a time of nuclear armament to nuclear disarmament, from a time of swords into a time of plowshares, and from a time of terror to a time of love and peace.  This is Hashem’s World and no one else’s--we all know it--now is the time to feel it--and to meaningfully express it!


Hakhel Note:  With this in mind,   We continue with our focus on the Brachos of Shemone Esrei--this week we continue with the Tenth Bracha--NON-COINCIDENTALLY arriving at the bracha of  Kibutz Galios--Teka Beshofar. [...Up to The Tenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Rosh Hashanah is really approaching!] The Sefer Rinas Chaim notes that in the first six Brachos of request, our request are for individuals within the community--whereas the second group of six Brachos--which commence with Teka BeShofar--are requests of and for the  entire community.  The Kuntrus HisChaskus BiT’fillah brings the following further parallel:


“The Avudraham teaches that the first six Brachos of request in Shemone Esrei--commencing with Atta Chonen-- correspond to the second six, which commence with Teka BeShofar.  The first group begins with the prayer for intelligence, without which a person has nothing, and in the words of the Shulchan Aruch (115: 1) this is what distinguishes the human from the animal, and the Mishnah Berurah (there) adds, that this should be one’s main request--that Hashem should bestow upon us an upright and logical understanding.  The corresponding bracha in the second group is the one requesting the ingathering of our exiles to Eretz Yisroel, as the Torah describes in Parshas Nitzavim (Devorim 30), because the Galus degrades the spirituality of our holy nation, and withholds from us the holiness of Eretz Yisroel and Yerushalayim which have the power to rejuvenate us with powerful faith and love of Hashem and His Torah and Mitzvos.  Thus, the ingathering of the exiles is similar to an injection of true spiritual intelligence into our entire nation.”


Additional Note One:  The Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim (Chapter 19) writes that when we daven for the Geulah and the return of Kovod Shomayim, we give Nachas to Hashem just by showing we really care and make a sincere plea--and whether or not Hashem immediately accedes to our request. We must really reJewvinate ourselves for this Bracha--and give Hashem Nachas!


Additional Note Two:  What is the Shofar Gadol?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah brings that it is GADOL BECHASHIVUS--it is not necessarily a large Shofar but it is an extremely important one--picture the MILLIONS AND MILLIONS--from this and previous generations--who will be so fully and finally overjoyed with the news--speedily and in our day!



Special Note One:  As the world continues to hurt so badly from the horrific tragedy of Leiby, Z”l, which is now compounded by the solemnity of the Three Week Period, we would like to present several thoughts, which perhaps can demonstrate that we do understand that we have to react to the times we are now going through:


A.  BAIN ADAM LEATZMO:  In a Shiur given by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita in Lakewood , HaRav Salomon noted that the details of the crime could only have been accomplished if one had previously seen movies, videos and the like--and used those as a basis for the details of his crime .  Allowing the influences of the outside world into our lives brings us not only to sin, but really starts to  disassociate us from a Torah way of life. HaRav Salomon pointed out that the most prevalent contemporary means of bonding with the outside world is internet access.  The exposure to that which is no good and not part of a Torah Jew’s lifestyle has a drastic effect upon us, even if we do not realize it.  With  the tragedy of Leiby, it was brought out in its grossest form, but it effects everyone in some way.  Accordingly,  everyone should consult with his Rav or Posek as to parameters and guidelines for internet use.  Hakhel Note One:  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim) brings a meaningful Tefillah to be recited before entering the streets around us which do not honor or at least follow the same principles that we have been taught.  As we have previously suggested, this very same Tefillah can in fact be recited when it is necessary for us to turn to the Internet--which in many cases is essentially bringing the streets into your office or home office.  This is the concise and potent Tefillah that he brings:  Hineni Holech Begai Tzalmovess Bemakom Mesukan.  Hoshieini MiYetzer Hora U’MaiChatoim U’MaiAvonos, U’Bifrat ...[specify here any Chait that may be an issue based upon the circumstances]. HaRav Friedlander then suggests that the following Pasuk from Tehillim (119:37) be added:  Ha’avair Einai Mair’os Shav--Bidrachecha Chayeini--Avert my eyes from seeing futility; in Your ways give me life!  Hakhel Note Two:  A sister concept to this would be to keep your own Internet Log, in which you actually record when you go on to the Internet in search of something, and for what reason (how many times and in how many forms does one have to learn of, study and review the news daily, anyway). With the log, you will be able to curb the need for non-essential uses, and could even find more time to learn Torah and do Mitzvos as a result--for you know that you will be able to look back at your own log, your own script on Erev Rosh Hashanah--and that your failures--and successes--will be on your mind on Yom Kippur as well!


B.  BAIN ADAM LECHAVEIRO:  We all feel the pain--of Leiby, of his family, of how the middos of Eisav at its worst could have arisen in our community.  We are suffering, we are in pain, we are hurting.  Perhaps we can now better  realize how horrible it is to hurt another human being with words, with mannerisms, with action--and sometimes, by inaction.  In the Vidui , we recite Tzararnu--we have caused others anguish.  Oh, look how devastating anguish is! How difficult it is to feel hurt!  How hard it can be to be in distress! Can we not go through a day in which we don’t harm another--and also (a bit harder) think about in advance how to avoid hurting someone by actively doing something on his/her behalf.  Let us banish Tzararnu EVEN IF THEY ARE ‘DESERVING’ OF IT, in all relationships--spousal, children, close friends, neighbors, person who sits next to you in Shul, employees and co-workers, and all of the really annoying and truly ungrateful people that you know who don’t appreciate you and all that you do for them.  Before saying those words, before expressing your disappointment and feelings, before ignoring someone or not providing the obvious help or words that are necessary--remember--Tzararnu--I don’t want that to be me!  We are now in a Tzararnu period of our own--perhaps we can get out of it by ridding ourselves of the middah once and for all, trying OUR BEST to do so in its entirety.


C. BAIN ADAM LAMAKOM:  Many have mentioned and discussed whether the Kiddush Hashem of the united search and outpouring for Leiby and his family was damaged by the Chilul Hashem of the discovery of the horrible crime.  HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita has in the past taught that the greatest Chilul Hashem is that we are still in Galus.  The Chilul Hashem here has excruciatingly reminded us that we must do what we can to stop this--we are living mired in Galus-- stuck in Chilul Hashem!  Moreover, if we are so forlorn, so perturbed at these times--imagine the Tza’ar HaShechina--homeless and one with his children’s suffering.  Firstly--how we have to daven to get out of this--Hashem listened to our Tefillos to get us out of the pain of Mitzrayim--it is the Very Same Hashem who will listen to our Tefillos here.  Can we not groan and moan to Hashem as our forefathers did--can we not put an emphasis on the requests for Bimheira--that the Geulah happen speedily.  We really DO NOT have to spend another Tisha B’Av exiled among the nations.  We work hard, oh so hard to prepare for Pesach--it is no coincidence, as it never is, that Tisha B’Av comes out on the same weekday as the first day of Pesach--as if to teach that if we work hard enough at it  we can experience the Geulah of Pesach on this day, rather than the tragedy of Tisha B’Av.  Secondly, to battle Chilul Hashem, the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva (1:47) writes that we have to actively work on Kiddush Hashem--not only responding, but initiating acts which make our Father in Heaven proud that we are his children.  If we can start our own personal  Kiddush Hashem Initiative Program, we will come away not only battling the current Chilul Hashem before our eyes, but the ultimate Chilul Hashem , the degradation, debasement and defilement of a Father and his children held by the world  in derision and scorn.  We have the capabilities, the weapons, the knowledge--let us add that extra effort through our energized Tefillos and pursuit of Kiddush Hashem--that could take us out of a an old, smelly and dirty mire, and raise us clean, high, and actually--believe it or not-- BeSimchas Olam to the waiting arms of our Father in Heaven.



Special Note Two:   What is the Halacha if one has already davened, and walks into Shul (or is learning in Shul) and hears a minyan reciting or about to recite the Shelosh Esrei Middos-the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy of Hashem (Hashem Hashem Keil Rachum VeChanun...)--should he recite it together with them?  What if he davens Nusach Ashkenaz--and they are reciting it because it is part of the Nusach Sefard Shacharis and Mincha--would that make a difference?  HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl , was asked this  shaila (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:89) and responded as follows:  “Those who are then davening are asking Hashem to have mercy upon them with His Middos HaRachamim, so the tefillah would apply to those who are davening then--and since he is not davening then, it would not be shayach to him to join in.  However, the Minhag HaOlam is for one [who just walked in and who has already davened] is to recite the Shelosh Esrei Middos--and the reason is to be a maitiv--to do good to those who are now davening--for even though they already have ten people and can recite it, nevertheless when there are more people reciting them, the Shelosh Esrei Middos arouse more Rachamim from Hashem Yisborach (bolding added).  This is why one should join in--and HaRav Moshe adds that if one is learning privately (not Talmud Torah D’Rabbim)--he also joins in to arouse more Rachamei Shomayim on behalf of those davening!  Let us appreciatenot only the meaning and the power of the Shelosh Esrei Middos-but the meaning and power of one additional Jew’s tefillos--as he is maitiv to the entire assembled Tzibbur davening by pleading with them as well.  Your additional davening--is Me’orer more Rachamim for the entire Tzibbur--it truly counts!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the Ninth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Barech Aleinu.  It is interesting to note that the bracha both begins with Barech and ends with Mevarech--indicating that sustenance is a particular area in which one must especially recognize its true Source (from beginning to end!).  In fact, in the Birkas Kohanim (Bamidbar 6:24 et. al.), the first word is also related--Yevorechecha. Rashi there brings Chazal that the Kavannah is Yisborchu Nechasecha--may your possessions be blessed!  We would think that the holy and limited words of the Birkas Kohanim would be involved with more ‘sublime’ matters.  However, the very fact that this is the only word of the Birkas Kohanim in which bracha is directly utilized--and this is pashut p’shat according to Rashi--teaches us how we have to especially recognize that bracha is only from Hashem in financial matters--and act and behave accordingly.  Three final notes from HaRav Schwab Z’tl (in the monumental Rav Schwab on Prayer--a must for EVERYONE’S home):  a.  WE had previously asked Hashem to bless Hashanah HaZos--this year.  In the last words of the bracha, we recite that Hashem blesses the years--in the plural--as an expression of our Emunah Sheleima that Hashem will bless future years as well.  b.  If a person has difficulties with Parnassah, he should add his own personal tefillah just before he closes the bracha with Baruch Atta Hashem.  c.  Even though a person’s Parnassah has been decided for the year on Rosh Hashanah, we ask that Hashem to increase the predetermined amount--in the merit of our expenditures for Shabbos and Yom Tov and for the support and promotion of Torah learning...if we use the money we have for the right reasons...the more Bracha one can expect in return!



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


1.  For those who requested the source of the Arizal requiring a four-legged dining table, like the Shulchan in the Bais Hamikdash, we refer you to the Ba’air Haiteiv, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 262, seif katan 1.


2. To’ameha Chaim Zachu--We recite this phrase at every Shabbos Mussaf, but do we fully fathom its meaning?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah writes that the plain meaning of the words is that one who enjoys Oneg Shabbos with various Shabbos delicacies is zoche to Arichus Yomim!  Practical Suggestion:  Perhaps prior to partaking of a wonderful Shabbos Food, recite this phrase to demonstrate that you are consciously fulfilling the Mitzvah of Oneg Shabbos--and may the bracha that follows come your way!


3.  The Seudah on Leil Shabbos should be eaten letei’avon (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 249:2). Accordingly, it is a mitzvah to refrain from being kove’a a Seudah from the ninth hour of the day and on.


4.  The Chayei Odom writes that when making a Motzei at each Seudah, it is better to keep the Challos covered until after the bracha--as a Zecher to the Mann which was covered on top and bottom.


5.  From The Sefer Berumo Shel Olam:  The Bach (to the Tur Orach Chaim 291) writes that just as the Three Tefillos of Shabbos correspond to Shabbos Beraishis, Shabbos Mattan Torah and the Shabbos of Le’Osid Lavo, respectively, so too do the Seudos of Shabbos correspond to the very same Shabbasos. Chazal, for example, teach that Adam HaRishon was created on Erev Shabbos so that he would be able to promptly enter into the Seudas Mitzvah of Leil Shabbos.  The mitzvah to participate in Seudos in honor of Shabbos then continues into Motza’ei Shabbos, with the Melave Malka escorting out the Queen.  The Melave Malka is the only meal that feeds the Nischoi, which is the part of our body which remains intact even after a person leaves this world, and through which Techiyas Hameisim will come.  The Eliyahu Rabba teaches that the Nischoi did not benefit from the Eitz HaDa’as--because Adam ate of the Eitz HaDa’as on Erev Shabbos--and the Nischoi ONLY obtains nourishment from Motza’ei’ Shabbos food--accordingly the gezeira of Misah resulting from the Eitz HaDa’as is simply inapplicable to it--and it lives on!  The Sha’arei Teshuva (Shulchan Aruch 300, seif katan 1) brings in the name of the Talmidei HaArizal that the Neshama Yeseira does not fully depart from a person until he completes Melave Malka. Accordingly, we should have specific intent to escort the Shabbos with this meal, and to bring bracha into our Seudos in the week to follow.



Special Note One:  Together, we continue through the meaningful Three Week Period.  We provide the following timely recommendation that is spreading through our community worldwide:


As you recite the fourteenth bracha of Shemone Esrei, Vlirushalayim Ircha three times daily, spend just an extra few seconds of time and effort to concentrate on the plain meaning of the words, and on the nachas and simcha Hashem and K'lal Yisroel would have with the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the Bais Hamikdash.


Some Helpful Points:

         You may want to highlight the bracha in some way in your siddur to remind yourself.

         A tear from time to time, if possible, is also meaningful.

         Try to keep a written record of the times you had kavana (maximum three times per day!)





Special Note Two: In the Haftarah of Teshuva, Shuva Yisroel, the Navi Hoshea teaches us that we are to do Teshuva "Ki Koshalta Ba'avonecha"--because you have stumbled in **your sins.**  The Navi is careful to point out that one person's sins  may be quite different from the sins of another, and that a person must personalize the process.  Moreover, the Navi is enjoining us not to merely blame the world's ills  upon the 'real resha'im',or even on the 'tinokos she'nishba'u' worldwide (including those who may be in so-called powerful positions in Eretz Yisroel itself and worldwide).  Instead, if the Bais HaMikdash is not rebuilt, if the dreaded machalos continue to afflict the old and young, if the worldwide nuclear threat is real, if a world racing ahead technologically is being terrorized by madmen based upon so-called religious precepts,  if the international economy (and individual Parnassah) are sorely hurting, then we have to look not outward, then our fingers are not to point here and there, but we are to look inward for the 'avonecha'  that we should be healing our bodies and souls of. Shlomo  HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in Mishlei (21:2)"Kol Derech Ish Yoshor B'Ainov-- a man views his actions as upright".  The Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the Pasuk teaches that it is  natural for a person to justify his Middos and his conduct.  Therefore, the Pasuk cited concludes "VeSochen Libos Hashem--but Hashem resides inside his heart".  The Rabbeinu Yonah explains the end of the Pasuk to mean that Hashem intervenes in our lives in order to inspire us to rectify our mistakes (translation from Artscroll Tanach).  The events surrounding and, indeed, pervading us today appear to be that direct intervention-- the Sochen Libos Hashem.


In one of the shortest Pesukim in the entire Torah, we are taught in last week Parsha (Bamidbar 26:11)"Uvnei Korach lo maisu--and the sons of Korach did not die'.  Chazal explain that they did Teshuva and that, accordingly, a place was designated for them at the apex of Gehinnom.  There is an obvious question here --if they did Teshuva, why did they still end up in Gehinnom, albeit at a high point ?!  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita   answers that their Teshuva was done **after** the earth had already opened. If their Teshuva had been done literally MOMENTS earlier, they would have remained alive in this world!  Indeed, at the outset of the Sefer Sha'arei Teshuva,  Rabbeinu Yonah alerts his readers to the folly, naivete, and recklessness of one who delays Teshuva.  It is for this reason that we wait not until Elul to remind ourselves and our readers of this life-giving need.


We each have to start somewhere.  As we have mentioned in the past, HaRav Moshe Cordvero, S'tl  in the classic Sefer Tomer Devorah(Chapter 4) writes that one should remind himself to do Teshuva in some way every day.  If you really need a jump start, we can mention that a reader advised us (THIS IS UNCONFIRMED) that he had heard in the name of one of the Gedolei HaDor that current world conflict and turbulence is directing us to improve in the area of Ona'as Devorim ( to rectify bad relations among people).  The reader added that he heard in the name of another Gadol that to improve our current plight talking in Shul must be curbed (as the Tosfos Yom Tov had commented in light of the 1648-49 Pogroms).  Our note is that the common denominator between the two is improvement in the area of speech and silence--knowing what to say--and when and where to say it.


Let us take the Three Week opportunity in which we are currently enveloped to demonstrate to Hashem--and to ourselves--that we understand what we have to do, and that we are acting upon it!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the Ninth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Bareich Aleinu:  The bracha of Bareich Aleinu contains words which change depending upon the time of year--either VeSein Bracha or VeSein Tal U’Matar LiVracha.  This relates directly to the thought conveyed yesterday-- we ask that Hashem bless the year (Shanah) and all of its changes.  There are then two different nuscha’os, or texts, which follow--depending upon our custom, you recite either VeSabeinu Mituvecha or VeSabeinu MiTuvah--and the meaning changes depending upon your custom.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 117, seif katan 1) writes that it is the opinion of the Magen Avraham in the name of the Rosh, and the Maharshal, that we recite VeSabeinu MiTuvecha, while in the Siddur of the Arizal [as well as in the Ma’aseh Rav and in the Iyun Tefillah] the nusach is MiTuvah.  What is the difference between Mituvecha and MiTuvah?  The Rosh writes that MiTuvecha refers to Hashem, and not to the year, i.e., we are asking Hashem to satiate us from His goodness.  The Sefer Ya’aros Devash beautifully adds that by MiTuvecha we indicate that we want our sustenance to come from that which is good to Hashem--with not even a speck of gezel or in proprietary associated our livelihood or funds.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander brings a second interpretation of VeSabeinu MiTuvecha as well.  He writes in the name of the Sefer Avnei Eliyahu that we are asking Hashem that a little Gashmiyus in this world satiate us because it is MiTuvecha--because it emanates from Hashem, so that the spiritual overtakes the material.  As Rashi writes in Chumash (to Vayikra 26:5), one can eat even a little and still feel satiated inside.  The second nusach--VeSabeinu MiTuvah does not refer to Hashem or His goodness, but instead [according to the Gra and the Iyun Tefillah] refers to Eretz Yisroel, which is the Pnei Ha’adamah just referred to in the bracha.  We ask of Hashem that He give us from the good with which Eretz Yisroel was blessed, as the Eretz Zavas Chalav U’Devash!  Note:  HaRav Friedlander points out that there is only one nusach in the bracha of Mai’ain Shalosh (Al HaMichya)--according to all opinions it is VeSabeinu MiTuvah--referring to Eretz Yisroel and its goodness.



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In the first Parsha of Shema, we recite the words “UKeshartum L’Os Al Yadecha…”, whereas in the Second Parsha of Shema we recite the word UKeshartem Osam L’Os….”  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 64, seif katan 9) writes that there is a difference in meaning between UKeshartum and UKeshartem.  Do you know what it is?


Special Note One:  Yesterday, we learned how Bnei Yisroel were bereft of the Korban Tamid on Shiva Asar B’Tammuz.  As we noted yesterday, we just read the Parsha of the Korban Tamid in last week’s Parsha, which is the Parsha we read daily in Shacharis to this day.  The Korban Tamid when brought served in all of our steads--men and women, old and young.  In fact, the Chofetz Chaim writes that one of the reasons that women recite Birchos HaTorah daily (even though they don’t have the same Mitzvah of Talmud Torah as men), is because women are obligated to recite the Parsha HaKarbanos (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 47, Bi’ur Halacha d’h Nashim).  Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, makes a marvelous point on the Parshas HaTamid.  The Torah in describing the Tamid in last week’s Parsha records:  “Olas Tamid HaAsuyah BeHar Sinai--the Korban Tamid that was performed at Har Sinai.”  What is the relevance to us that it was brought at Har Sinai?  He answers that anything that we do day in and day out like the Korban Tamid can lose its special luster to us, because we do it so often.  The Torah accordingly reminds us that our daily Torah study, our daily Tefillos, our daily Mitzvos, must be infused anew every day--as if we had just received them from Har Sinai.  Every morning as we recite the Parshas HaTamid, let us recall that we are currently only reciting the Parshas HaTamid--and that it would be much more optimum for us to be bringing the Korban Tamid.  Perhaps a good way to get us there is by reflecting upon the words HaAsuya BeHar Sinai before beginning Shacharis --activating our daily Torah, Tefillah, U’Mitzvos with the HaAsuyah BeHar Sinai that the Korban Tamid so symbolized and characterized!  


Additional Note:  A reader presented the following essential thought to us (he believes that he may have heard it from Rav Avrohom Schorr, Shlita), “If one of the wealthiest men in the world would come over to you and tell you that he would give you $1 billion if you did not put on Tefillin for one day (or, for a woman, did not dress within the Halachic requirements of Tzniyus for one hour)--would you accept the offer?  He has the cash and it is no joke.  You would not agree because you know the everlasting importance of Tehillim, and the eternity of Tzniyus.  You may not be a Rosh Yeshiva or Rav, but you know that it’s simply not worth $1 billion to give it up for one day.  That being said, before putting on one’s Tefillin, or before putting on Tzniyusdik dress, one should reflect upon the fact that he is more than a billionaire.  What energy, what appreciation, what zeal we should put into every Mitzvah--we don’t need the Forbes 400--when each and every one of us is Hashem’s 1!



Special Note Two:  From a reader:  “Regarding the Bracha of Refaeinu that you discussed last week, I would like to add my own personal thought.  I was recently beset by an infection which was very painful and which kept me off my feet for almost two weeks.  I had been very careful to keep certain Chumros or higher levels--such as being among the first ten to Shul, making the Zeman of the Magen Avraham for Shacharis, and other nice accomplishments.  Over the almost two weeks that I was ill, I was not able to accomplish my Chumros.  One of the great lessons I learned from my illness was that even my Chumros--what I thought was my own power--were really gifts from Hashem, and that Hashem’s Chesed extends to the great lengths of giving us the wherewithal to serve him in nicer and more meaningful ways.  I believe that this is a Kavannah that can be added to “Ki Sehilaseinu Atta--for You are our praise!”



Special Note Three:  We continue with our series and short lessons from the Motza’ei Shabbos Video Series, last week given by Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, on the topic “In Hashem’s Shelter”:


A.  The story is told of two (2) friends who were incarcerated in Siberia.  Every few hours the authorities let them come close to a stove for a few minutes to warm up.  One of the friends missed his turn.  When asked why, he replied “What is the difference--I only get warm again for a few minutes and then freeze again for a few hours.”  His friend responded:  “No, if you keep coming to the fire, you may get cold in between trips, but you won’t end up frostbitten or frozen.”  On a daily basis, we must continue coming back to Emunah, to warm ourselves, and prevent ourselves from getting frozen by the world around us and the events that surround us.  The Ani Ma’amins should be read with thought, and with the realization that we are in a warming station.


B.  Chazal say that Shemo Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu Chal Al Mi SheYesurin Ba’in Alav.  When a person feels Yissurin, he should also recognize that “Imo Anochi BaTzara”--Hashem is with him in his pain and suffering--and the goal is to get both Hashem and the person out of it! 


C.  Every Middah, no matter how negative it may be, has a positive aspect to it.  For instance, the Middah of Kinah can be used for Kinnas Hashem (as we saw with Pinchas);  the Middah of Ta’avah can be used for Chemdas HaTorah;  the Middah of Ga’avah can be used for “Vayigbah Libo B’Darchei Hashem”--elevating his thoughts in the service of Hashem; and the Middah of Kefirah can be used when helping another person--not saying that “Hashem will take care of him”--but actively going to take care of him yourself, no matter what the tzara may be.  When hearing of the tzara of another, the Steipeler, Z’tl, would say that no matter what the tzara was, it filled his whole heart with concern and a desire to help.  To the Torah Jew, the Middah of Kefira is merely the flip side of…Ahavas Yisroel!



Special Note Four:  We continue with our focus on the Ninth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Bareich Aleinu.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, asks why we ask that Hashem give a Bracha to HaShanah HaZos--this year.  He explains that Shanah is related to Shinuy--meaning change, and over the course of a year there are changes (hot and cold, rain and drought etc.)  We accordingly ask that Hashem infuse his Bracha into each and every one of the changes that occur throughout the year.  It is for this reason that we begin the Bracha not simply with Bareich Aleinu Hashem, but with Bareich Aleinu Hashem Elokeinu--the word ‘Elokeinu’ is especially emphasizing Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis over each and every aspect of our Birchas HaParnassah through the vicissitudes of the year.  We then quickly add “V’Es Kol Minei Sevuasah L’Tova--that all of the specifics, and all of the changes, turn out for our good.  We do not mean only our physical good, but our spiritual good as well--through our recognition that each and every Bracha came from Hashem and was not the product of Kochi V’Otzem Yadi--and through our utilization of the Brachos wisely--to meet our true purpose in this world (and not as an end in and of itself).  If we can elevate our Gashmiyus in this way, we will demonstrate that we are ready for the Brachos of Geulah, which are soon to follow (yes, the double entendre is intended)!



Special Note One:  Today is the Seventeenth day of Tammuz, a fast day by Takanas HaNeviim, which is no small matter.  If we look at the number 17, we will soon realize that it is concomitantly the Gematria of each of “Oy”, “Chait”, and “Tov”.  Thus, we see that the power of the day need not only lie in the negative, but can and must extend to the positive and good, as well.


We typically remember that the first frightful event that happened on this day was Moshe Rabbeinu’s breaking of the Shnei Luchos which contained the Aseres Hadibros, as a result of the sin of the Golden Calf.  If only the people had shown enough faith to wait one more day for their venerable and venerated leader, their happiness and dancing would have resulted in the greatest Simchas Torah ever(!).  Instead, we still feel the pain from the torturous event.


In fact, there was one prior significant event on this fateful day which preceded the breaking of the Luchos.  The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes that the Yona, the dove sent by Noach out of the Ark, could not find a place to land and so returned to the Teiva (Bereishis 8:8).  The obvious question is, why would Noach bother sending the dove out without any indication whatsoever (from Hashem directly, or otherwise) that the waters had receded?  Was he taking a stab in the dark?  We may posit that Noach sensed or knew that the day was right for renewal and joy.  The fact that the dove returned indicated to him that it was he and his family, representing all of mankind, who were the ones not ready for this renewal.  The same lesson carried through on this date to the Golden Calf, and thereafter the subsequent tragedies on this day in which our people’s spiritual growth was stunted rather than cultivated.


Today and the Three Weeks in front of us should not be viewed as a burden to be overcome, evidence by our expression to others to have “an easy time of it.”  Instead, it should be a meaningful and important time in which we hope, pray and take action.  Depression and despair should not be the hallmark of these days, for they may evidence a breach or lack of faith which is the antithesis of spiritual growth.  We should learn from the gift of gravity that Hashem has given us to always keep both feet firmly on the ground despite the forces working against us.


It is the custom of some to recite “Tikun Chatzos” during the Three Week period (see Rabbi Webster’s Halacha discussion below)--some even in the middle of the day.  We may not as yet be on this level.  However, we should remember that every day, three times daily in Modi’im, we thank Hashem “for the goodness given to us in the evening, in the morning, and in the afternoon.”  What goodness is it that Hashem gives us at these especially designated times?  We suggest that it is Tefillah itself.  If we can conclude the Yehi Ratzon at the end of Shemone Esrei with Kavana during these three weeks, three times a day, we will have sincerely davened for the Beis Hamikdash and our redemption more than 60 times during this short period!  Rather than wallowing in self-pity, we will demonstrate a renewal of our faith and have beautifully affirmed our supreme goals.


In the merit of our prayers, may we see with our own eyes the ultimate redemption at the beginning of the short period of special thought that lies ahead.



Special Note Two:  HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan--Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Halacha Shiur in Boro Park.  We provide below a review by Rabbi Webster of the Halachos of The Three Weeks, which begins today.  As with all Halachos, in case of one’s particular circumstances, he/she should consult with their own Rav or Posek:


There are four levels of mourning for the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.

A) From the Seventeenth of Tammuz

B) From Rosh Chodesh Av

C) The week of Tisha B’Av

D) Tisha B’Av

Some restrictions begin from the Seventeenth of Tammuz, others from Rosh Chodesh Av others during the week that Tisha B’Av occurs and others until the tenth of Av since the Bais Hamikdash continued to burn until then.  One should be careful to distinguish properly the exact period of each restriction.


Why are there so many restrictions such as not reciting Shehecheyanu on new fruits, buying new clothing, or making a wedding in the weeks preceding Tisha B’Av?  Chazal tells us that Hashem Yisborach destroyed the Bais Hamikdash because of baseless hatred that existed within the Jewish nation.  In Pirkei Avos we are instructed that jealously, lust and pride bring the downfall of man.  These restrictions such as refraining from wearing new clothing (symbolic of status of a person) or not eating meat from the day of Rosh Chodosh Av (want for earthly pleasures) tend to remove hatred and jealously, often considered sister traits in man, and may bring a spirit of harmony and humility to us.  These qualities found through these restrictions are the proper correction in character of the Jewish nation that will lead to the third and final rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash.  B’ezras Hashem Amen (ER-1).


There is a dispute among the poskim when the restrictions of The Three Weeks begin. Most poskim are of the opinion that they start from nightfall on the Seventeenth of Tammuz until midday on the tenth of Av (Chaim Shaul Vol. 1-24, Archos Rabbanu Vol. 2 Daf 127, TE Vol. 10-26, Divrai Moshe Vol. 1-33, MU Vol. 8-338, Shraga Hameir Vol. 2-13, Igros Moshe Vol. 1 OC 168 Vol. 4 OC 112 EH Vol. 1-166, SMB 122-1).  


Chazal felt that during this tragic time for Klal Yisroel it is not a time for one to be very joyous, therefore holding a wedding during this time of sadness demonstrates a lack of sensitivity regarding the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash (Bach 551, MB-14).


It is customary in the Ashkenazic community not to make a wedding even if they will not serve the wedding meal, from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until midday on the tenth of Av. In the Sephardic community there are differences of opinions with regard to this restriction--whether it applies to the whole Three Weeks or from Rosh Chodesh Av (SA 551-2, MA-9, MB-15, YO Vol. 6-43, YD Vol. 1-36). Many Sephardic communities have taken upon the minhag not to make a wedding from the Seventeenth of Tammuz.  This Halacha applies even to someone who has never been married (Sh’vus Yaakov Vol. 2-35, Sedai Chemed Vol. 6-1:14).


Engagements or Tena’im are permitted throughout the Three Weeks including the Nine Days however, one should refrain from dancing at the affair (SA 551-2, MA-6, MB-16, KH-44).  A festive meal is permitted only until Rosh Chodesh, during the Nine Days refreshments may be served (MA-10, MB-16 & 19, KH-38).  Some Poskim are of the opinion that one should refrain from making an engagement during the Nine Days (Ben Ish Chai Parshas Devorim-4, See TE Vol. 13-60).  One is permitted to make a birthday party for a child without music (MB 551-1, Am kilavi Vol. 1-27 (7)).


Although dancing and playing musical instruments (including music tapes) are prohibited during the three weeks (MA 551-10, MB-16, KH-39) (Silmas Chaim 29-1, Halachos Moshe (Mamon) 43, Kapi Aharon 52, Igros Moshe Vol 6 OC 21-4, YD Vol. 6-32), one may sing without any musical accompaniment, only if it does not bring one to an over joyous mood (Sedei Chemed Vol. 6, Yalkut Yosef Daf 561 (5)).  A musician who earns his living by playing for a non-Jew may play the instrument until Rosh Chodesh (PM Eshel Avraham 551-10, KH-39, Mahram Shick YD 368, Zachar Simcha 67).  However, he should refrain from playing on the Seventeenth of Tammuz (KSA 122-1, Biur Halacha, KH-39, KSA 122-1). A person who must play after Rosh Chodesh should consult a Rav (see Yalkut Yosef).  Similarly, a music teacher who earns his living by giving lessons may do so until Rosh Chodesh (PM 551, TE Vol. 16-19, Rivovos Ephraim Vol. 2-155 & Vol. 6-291(1), Chai Halavi Vol. 2-40) and a child may practice playing a musical instrument until Rosh Chodesh (S.B. 122-2, Iggros Moshe OC Vol. 4-21, Rivovos Eprahim Vol. 2-155:2,Vol 3-334, Am Kilavi Vol. 1 OC 305 not like Bitzel Hachacma Vol 6-61).  Some are lenient and permit the child to practice until the week of Tisha B’Av (Zacher Simcha 67), and in such event, one should consult a Rav.  One is permitted to sing zemiros songs on Shabbos during the entire three weeks (Iggros Moshe OH Vol. 4-112:1, KH-41, Rivovos Ephraim Vol. 6-291(1)).  One is permitted to teach new songs to others, however, they should not be over joyous tunes (KH 551-41).  One is permitted to play a musical tape for small children until Rosh Chodesh e.g., Uncle Moishy etc. (See Marshag Vol. 2-125, Kol Sinai Daf 146, S.B. 122 Kunt. Ach. 2).  One is permitted to stay or work in a place where they are playing music over the intercom (office, bus). Furthermore, it is permitted to listen to a commercial that has music in the background (Yalkut Yosef).  It is permissible for one to exercise to a music beat.  One is permitted to sing a tune while learning (YD Vol. 6-32, Shevet Hakahati Vol. 1-189).


A couple that was married before the Three Weeks may celebrate their Sheva Brachos.  However, there is a dispute among the Poskim whether one is permitted to play music and dance at the sheva brachos (See MH Vol. 7-109 & 2nd ED. Vol 1-443, Igros Moshe EH Vol. 1-97, Binyan Tzion , Shraga Hameir Vol. 2-13, MU Vol. 8-338, Kovets Or Yisroel Tamuz 1996, Archos Rabbanu Vol. 2 Daf 128, KH-40). Accordingly, one should consult with their Rav.


The custom among the Ashkenazic community is not to cut one’s hair from the eve of the fast on the Seventeenth of Tammuz until midday on the tenth of Av (Rama 551-4, MB-82, Chaim Shaul 24, Eshel Avraham Vol. II 551-3, Igros Moshe OC Vol. 3-100) even for the honor of Shabbos (MA-14, MB-32, see PM -14, Matai Yehudah-4, R’ Akiva Eiger, CA 133-17).


The Sephardic community is lenient and does not start this prohibition until the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (SA 551-3 & 12).  Others are more stringent and start the prohibition from Rosh Chodosh Av, while others are not lenient and conduct themselves like the Ashkenazic community from the Seventeenth of Tammuz (Yaskil Avdi Vol. 7-35).  One should consult his Rav.  This prohibition applies to all men (MB-79, Nodai Beyihudah YD 99), women and children.  If a woman has excess hair and for modesty needs to cut it, it is permissible (MB-79, Igros Moshe YD Vol. 2-137 & OC Vol. 4, KH-47, Rivovos Ephraim Vol. 4-135(8)). One is permitted to trim one’s mustache if it interferes with one’s eating the entire three weeks (SA-13, MB-80). Some poskim are of the opinion that it is permissible only until Rosh Chodosh (KSA-4, see Shar Hatzion-90).  

One is permitted to tweeze one’s eyebrows (Nitai Gavriel 8-4 in the name of Hagoan Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, and Rav Shmuel Wozner, Shlita, Rivovos Ephraim Vol. 5-376(3)).  Combing one’s hair is permissible throughout the three weeks (MB-20, AH-15, see KH-46 & 47).  A married woman may cut her hair around her temples or in the back of her head for modest reasons the entire three weeks. A married woman or a girl of marriageable age may shave her legs the entire three weeks (Hagoan Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, see Rivovos Ephraim Vol. 5-376(2) & Vol. 6-291(2) Hagoan Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT”L see Halichos Baisoy 25- note 70).  A person who shaves daily and by not doing so may jeopardizes his job should refrain from shaving from Rosh Chodosh or at least during the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (SMB 122-2, Igros Moshe CM Vol. 1-93 OC Vol. 4-102, Yaskil Avdi Vol. 5-55).  An adult may not even give a haircut to a child under the age of chinuch during the Three Weeks (SA 551-14, MA-38, ER-31, CA 133-18, MB-81& 82, KSA -4).  Some poskim state that the prohibition starts only the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (CA).  In case of great necessity one should consult a Rav.


Although haircutting (the head, beard and the rest of the body) is forbidden the entire Three Weeks, one is permitted to cut one’s nails until the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (MA-11, MB-20, KH-48).  If one has a hanging nail or one’s nails are to long that they are causing one discomfort, one may cut them even during the week of Tisha B’Av, however, one should bite them and not use a nail clipper or scissors if possible (Ben Ish Chai-13, KH-49).


The Minhag is to refrain from wearing new clothing, eating a new fruit or buying new items during the Three Weeks that require a bracha of Shehecheyanu, so as not to require the recital of the bracha of Shehecheyanu which is recited over a joyous event (SA 551-17, MB-99, KH-207, Igros Moshe OC Vol 3-80).  Therefore, one should not buy or wear a new garment or eat a new fruit that requires a Shehecheyanu (MB-99, KH-210).  Many poskim are of the opinion that one may recite the bracha of Shehecheyanu on Shabbos (ER-42, CA 133-8, KSA 122-2, MB-98) till Rosh Chodesh (AH 551-38, Toras Chaim 551-35, Kinyan Torah B’Halacha Vol. 6-32).  Therefore, if the new fruit can last until Shabbos, one should wait until Shabbos, otherwise it may be recited during the week (Rama, MB-101).  Some poskim are of the opinion that one may wear a new suit or dress on Shabbos if there is a special occasion such as a bar mitzvah, bris milah until the week of Tisha B’Av (YD Vol. 1-37).  Others are stringent and permit this only with regard to a fruit but not with regard to clothing (ER-17, CA-14, KSA).


One may not purchase clothing etc. that requires the recitation of Shehecheyanu during the three weeks even if one will wear them after the three weeks.  However, clothing etc. that do not require a bracha of Shehecheyanu may be purchased until Rosh Chodesh, therefore, one may purchase socks, shirt, shoes, ties, dishes or any other item (MB-45).

If there is a big sale than one may purchase the garment although they require that one recite a Shehecheyanu, however, it may not be worn until after Tisha B’Av (MB-11, Shar Hatzion-12, KH-21).  If a person wore a suit or dress once, it is not considered a new any more and it may be worn during the Three Weeks (KH-90).  Some poskim are of the opinion that if the newness of the suit or dress is not noticeable, even after several times of wear, it may be worn until the week of Tisha B’Av (KH-87). 


One should refrain from looking or buying a house, apartment, during the Three Weeks unless one is in need of it desperately (MB 551-12, Chazon Ish ZT”L see Archos Rabbanu Vol. 2 Daf 129-15, Revovos Efraim Vol. 2-155 & Vol. 3 341, Nitai Gavriel 7-9). Similarly, one should not move into a new apartment, or house during the Three Weeks.  If one cannot wait, than one should put up Mezuzos and take some of belongings into the apartment or house before the Seventeenth of Tammuz (Levush Mordechai Vol. 1-101).


One is permitted to recite the bracha of Shehecheyanu upon the birth of a girl during the three weeks (Nitai Gavriel 9-6, Yad L’Yoledes).


According to all poskim one is permitted to recite the bracha of Hatov V’Hamativ during the three weeks (ST 551, Yavetz).


One should not give a gift that will cause great rejoicing to the recipient during the Three Weeks (Revovos Efraim Vol. 3-336, Tisha B’Av Sh’chal B’Shabbos (Dibliski) Daf 111, Yad L’Yoledes).


One is permitted to recite Hagomel during the three weeks (Sedai Chemed 2 note 3. Yad L’Yoledes).


Since these days are full of tragedies and misfortune one must be careful to refrain from doing things that may be dangerous (Mikor Chaim 551-14).


One should not hit one’s child or student during the Three Weeks (SA 551-18, MB-102 & 103, KSA 122-12, see Eshel Avraham (Butshasha)).


Some poskim state that one should not plan a pleasure trip during the Three Weeks (Sedai Chemed Pas Hasada 1-10 in the name of Rabbi Chaim Pilagi, Z’tl). Others state that it is only during the Nine Days (Nitai Gavriel 7-4).


Some Poskim are of the opinion that one should not go swimming in a pool during the Three Weeks unless they went swimming prior to the Three Weeks.  Most Poskim state that there is no basis for this and it is permissible to go swimming in a pool (Sedai Chemed Pas Hasada 1-1, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 4-135(14) & Vol. 6-285, Avalos Hachurban Page 133, Hilchos U’Minhagim Bein Hamitzarim Page 34, TV Vol. 2-263).  However, many Poskim agree that one should not go swimming in the deep parts of a lake or river (Mikor Chaim-16, Steipeler Rav ZT”L Archos Rabbanu Vol. 2 Daf 129, Rabbi YS Elyashov Shlita see Hilchos U’Minhagim Page 34).  Some Poskim in Eretz Yisroel are of the opinion that you should not fly by plane during the Three Weeks from Eretz Yisroel to America (Avalus Hachurban Page 134).  However, many are lenient. 

Although minors are exempt from the observance of mourning in cases of personal bereavement, some poskim are of the opinion that children of chinuch age are obligated to observe the laws of the Three Weeks etc. (MA 551-38, MB-70, 81, AH-31).

One should nor schedule an elective surgery during the three weeks unless one has no choice.  However, one should at least not have it during the nine days (Shiur Halacha U’Minhaga Lubavitch Vol. 2-225).


The Ari, Z’tl, held that during these days’ one mourns the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash more than the rest of the year.  Some have the Minhag to recite Tikun Chatzos (MA 550-42, MB-103), others do not follow this minhag (Aphrikasta D’anya 13, Miinhaga Torah Yisroel Vol. 3 551).  The Dubno Maggid relates that those who mourn most bitterly for our lost will witness the grief that one has turn into a great rejoicing.  This is based on the passage “Rejoice with Jerusalem , and be glad with her, all those who love her, rejoice, receive her in her great rejoicing, all of you who mourn for her” (Isaiah 66-10).


On the Shabbos preceding the month of Av, in the bracha of Rosh Chodosh one should refer to the month of Av as “Menachem Av” instead of just Av (Tamai Haminhagim Daf 285, AH). Many communities have the Minhag that on Shabbos Chazon the Rav of the shul is called up for Maftir (KSA-79-9).  In many communities the Haftorah is read with the niggun of Eichah (MA 282, MB-27), however, the Chazon Ish, Z’tl, was against this Minhag (MU Vol. 7-256 (1)).


Dedication by Rabbi Webster: Written in loving memory of my mother-in-law, Chana Sara Bas R’ Pesach, A”H, Niftaras 13th of Tammuz 5756 (1996) and my daughter Ita Tzipporah, A”H, Niftaras 23rd of Menachem Av 5753 (1993)



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the Ninth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Barech Aleinu:  HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, asks why it is that we ask first in this Bracha that Hashem bless this year with prosperity, and only afterwards, in the next succeeding Brachos, do we daven for Hashem for the Geulah.  After all, shouldn’t we have our priorities in order?!  HaRav Rabanovitch writes, in truth, our Ikar Tefillah for the Geulah is for the Tza’ar HaShechina that is currently in Galus, and it is this Tza’ar that we must experience and feel [Hakhel Note:  Especially on a day like today] while we are davening for the Geulah.  However, if we are too troubled and bothered by our personal Tirdos and Tzaros, then we will be davening for the Geulah essentially so that we be relieved of all of our suffering.  We therefore daven now that Hashem bless us with sustenance and prosperity--so that our prayers for the Geulah can be more pristine--for the Shechinah to come back home, and for us to join Him! 



Special Note One:  We continue our focus on the brachos of Shemone Esrei, this week beginning the Ninth Bracha of Barech Aleinu.  It is fascinating to note that this is the only bracha of Shemone Esrei that begins with the word Barech--specifically seeking bracha at the outset.  Perhaps this is an allusion to the fact that while it may be easier to have Bitachon in other areas--Hashem will help me with Teshuva, Hashem will provide the Refuah, Hashem will provide the Geulah--it is more difficult to have a complete trust in areas of Parnassah.  After all, don’t I earn a living because of my expertise, my skill, my unique abilities, my training, in my profession or job?  So, at the outset, we clear and clean our minds--ridding ourselves of western thoughts and beliefs--as we aver that our Parnassah comes only because of Your Blessing--which we whole-heartedly ask for.  Moreover, when we recognize that our livelihood, our sustenance--every dollar and cent, every agorah, is from Hashem--then ipso facto our monies will be blessed because we will seek, earn, keep and possess only honest funds--as we recognize it all as emanating from Hashem.  We then follow with the word Aleinu to emphasize that we want the bracha of Barech to apply not only to us, but to all our people--so that no one is tempted by his Yetzer Hora to follow any inappropriate means of moving money into his pocket, and so that people who currently do not have enough to make ends meet can see and savor Hashem’s blessing of sustenance with joy .  Accordingly, we daven for those who are indigent, for all those currently in need, and for all of our brethren.  The Sefer Ya’aros Devash notes that the Ikar of Parnassah comes not through Din, but through Rachamim, and so it is essential that we have the proper Kavannah in this bracha, imploring Hashem’s Rachamim upon us and upon all of K’lal Yisroel.--Barech Aleinu --let the words sink in--and flow out!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan--Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Halacha Shiur in Boro Park .  We provide below a review by Rabbi Webster of the Halachos of Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, which begins this evening.  As with all Halachos, in case of one’s particular circumstances, he/she should consult with their own Rav or Posek:


The Three Weeks (Bein Hametzarim-between the days of distress) is the time period between the 17th of Tammuz, when the first breach was made of the walls of Jerusalem to the 9th of Av, exactly Three Weeks afterwards when the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed (Eicha Rabba 1-29).

Five tragedies occurred on this day (Ta’anis 26b, Rambam Hilchos Ta’anis 5-2):


1.  The walls of the second Bais Hamikdash were breached by the Roman general Titus. (The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anis 4:5) maintains that the breaching of the walls during the first Bais Hamikdash occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz. The Talmud Bavli (Ta’anis 29a) however, maintains that the breach of the walls of the first Bais Hamikdash occurred on the ninth of Tammuz.


2.  The two daily sacrifices (Korban Tamid) ceased during the first Bais Hamikdash because the Kohanim were unable to find a lamb to offer as a Korban.  [Hakhel Note: It is no coincidence, as it never is, that we learned of the Korban Tomid in last week’s Parsha].


3.  The first set of Luchos were broken when Moshe Rabbeinu descended Har Sinai.  

4.  An idol was r’l erected in the Bais Hamikdash (Some say it was erected by Apostomus, others say it was Menashe, the idolatrous king of Yehudah during the first Bais Hamikdash ) (Ta’anis 28b, Rambam 5:2, Talmud Yerushalmi Ta’anis 4:5, Rashi Ta’anis 26b).


5.  Prior to the destruction of the second Bais Hamikdash, Apostomus, a Roman officer, burned the Torah. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 549, Mishna Berura, seif katan 2)


Since these five things occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz, Chazal designated this day as a fast (Rambam, SA 649-1).  The purpose of the fast day is to stir our hearts and do Teshuva-repentance for our own deeds and those of our forefathers (MB 549-1, KSA 121-1, Rabbi Chaim Brisker, Z’tl, see TV Vol. 3-154, Moadim B’Halacha). One should not make a mistake and think that by just refraining from eating and drinking one fulfills this requirement and the purpose of the day.  Just the opposite, one must search one’s soul and repent for any sins that they may have committed, if one just sits around and wastes the day without contemplating one’s deeds one has not fulfilled the purpose of the fast.  Similarly, one should not go on a pleasure trip on a fast day (CA 133-1, MB-1, KSA 121-1, Sefer Erech Apayim).  In a situation that one does not need to fast (e.g. a sick person), one nevertheless is required to do Teshuva (TV Vol. 3-154).


The fast commences at dawn and ends at nightfall, unlike the fast of Tisha B’Av, which begins with nightfall the evening before and lasts until the following nightfall (SA 550-2).  If one intends to eat or drink early in the morning before dawn, one should have in mind to do so before going to sleep.  If one normally drinks a hot beverage before Shacharis, it is not necessary to have it in mind before going to sleep that one will drink before dawn (SA 564-1, MA-3, CA 132-17, MB-6, KH-9).  One must consult with his Rav as to the time of dawn in his locality. 


Men and women both must fast on the 17th of Tammuz (SA 550-1).  Boys below the age of thirteen years of age and girls below the age of twelve years are not obligated to fast (ER 549). Parents should encourage their children (boys 9-12, girls 9-11) to fast for a few hours, such as delaying their breakfast by an hour or skipping breakfast until lunch.  However, they should not be induced to fast an entire day (CA 133-6, MB 550-5, KH-9 & 554-23, BM Vol. 8-98).


Chazal did not prohibit all types of pleasures on this fast day as they did on Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur.  On this fast only eating and drinking were prohibited.  Washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes, marital relations are permitted (SA 550-2, K’sav Sofer OC Vol. 100, see Likutai Hoaros on the K’sav Sofer).  Some are stringent upon themselves and only allow wearing leather shoes (MA 550-3 in the name of the Shelah, CA 133-7, MB-10), however, many do not follow this view.  Washing for medical purposes is permitted according to all opinions, even with hot water (MB 550-6, KH-13).  Although washing with cold water is permitted and therefore one is permitted to go swimming on this fast day, some Poskim are of the opinion that one should not go swimming on this day (BM Vol. 3-77).  Other Poskim permit one to go into the water to cool oneself off if it is a hot day or for health reasons (Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 1. 363 (1), BM).  Some are stringent and do not eat meat or drink wine before or after a fast (Marshal 92, ER 558-4, KH 564-12).


On all fast days other than Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, an ill person should not fast even if the illness is not life-threatening (MB 550-4, KH -7). One should consult with his Rav in all situations.


Some Poskim are of the opinion that a pregnant woman or nursing mother should fast. If she is suffering or is very weak, even if there is no danger to her life, she should not fast (SA 554-5, MB-5, YO Vol. 7-49). Other Poskim disagree, and rule that a pregnant woman or nursing mothers are not required to fast (Nitai Gavriel 2:6). The Steipler Rav, Z’tl, held that if she is a little weak she does not need to fast on this day (Orchos Rabbanu Vol. 2 Page 127).  One should consult with their Rav.


Those that are not required to fast should not indulge in sweets and candies.  Even young children above the age of six years old, if they understand the meaning of the fast, should not be given chocolate and cake, but only that which is necessary for their sustenance ( MA 550-2, DT 550, MB-5, Nitai Gavriel 2-4, KH 550-9, BM Vol. 8-98).  If the child take items by himself than one is not required to stop them (BM).


One is permitted to brush one’s teeth with a dry toothbrush on all minor fast days except Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av.  If this causes discomfort, it is permissible to brush one’s teeth with toothpaste and water (except for Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av).  However, one must be careful not to lean one’s head back so as not to swallow any water (MB 567-11, AH-3, BM Vol. 8-94, Minchas Yitzchock Vol. 2-109).  Likewise, it is permissible to use mouthwash on the minor fast days with caution to avoid swallowing (BM Vol. 8-94, see Kinyan Torah B’Halacha Vol. 2-49).  One is permitted to swallow one’s saliva (MB 567-13, see CA 132-22, Bais Meir, ME 612-7).  It is permissible for an ill person to take medication on minor fast days.  A pill or bitter-tasting liquid medicine should be taken without water, if possible.  If they need water, only a small amount should be taken.  Some add salt or other substance to the water to make it somewhat bitter (Halachos Ketanos Vol. 2-97, KH 554-34, Igros Moshe OC Vol. 3-91, TE Vol. 10-25 Chap. 22, Yalkut Yoseph, Daas Torah 567-1).


If one made a mistake and recited a bracha and than remembered that it is a fast day, one should not taste the food but rather say “Boruch Shem K’vod Malchuso Leolam Vaed” (ST 568-1, MH 7-80, TV Vol. 1-329, YO Vol. 2 YD-5).


If one made a mistake and ate something on the fast day, one should nevertheless continue to fast. One is not obligated to fast another day (Matai Eprahim 602-23, Marsham Vol. 4-20, MB 549-3 & 548-8, KH 549:7, YD, TV Vol. 1-328).


One is permitted to taste the food one is cooking to see if it needs spices, however, one must not swallow the taste but spit it out into a napkin (MA 567-1, CA 132-19, MB 1 & 6, KH-1 & 10, MB 568-10).  One is permitted to go to the dentist on a fast day, however not scheduling the appointment for this day is better.  If one has to go, one should be careful not to swallow any water (Lev Avraham Vol. 2 Chap. 4-5).


One should try not to get angry on a fast day (ER 568-18).



Special Note Three:  For those who completed Shir HaShirim on Friday, they may have noted the last Pasuk, and how Rashi explains it (Rashi is bracketed below).  Berach Dodi U’dmei Lecha Litzvi Oh Le’ofer Ha’ayalim Ahl Harei Vesomim--Flee My Beloved [from this Galus, and Redeem Us From Amongst Them], And Resemble A Dear or Hart [Who Runs So Quickly, Hurrying the Geulah so bring the Shechina to Dwell in Our Midst], on the Mountain of Spices [Har HaMoriah--the Bais HaMikdash, May it Be Built Speedily and in Our Days].  Hakhel Note:  May this Pasuk and Rashi’s interpretation be on our mind’s and lips--until we witness the fulfillment of the Pasuk with our own eyes, and the Three Weeks and all of the sorrows of the Jewish People of the Past are overridden, superseded and overturned by days of Joy and Gladness in our days!




Special Note One:  From a reader:  “Regarding your point about supporting Torah with joy, and appreciating that the scholar you are helping is really your ‘partner’ in business.  I saw a beautiful Targum in the Nach Yomi, Shir HaShirim, Chapter 7 on the Posuk ‘Seroreich Agan HaSahar’.  The Targum writes that this refers to the Roshei Mesivta in whose Zechus the whole world is sustained!  It made me think--who is really sustaining whom?!”



Special Note Two:  We asked the following question to Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, the author of the Sefer Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim):


QUESTION:  If one drank wine during a meal and was served ices as dessert, would the bracha on the wine cover the ices as it covers all drinks, or is the ices to be treated as a solid in this regard?


ANSWER:  It is amazing that you were mechavein to this shaylah!  It was discussed by the Debritziner in a Torah Periodical about 30 years ago, and the only other place that I am aware of it being discussed is in the Sefer Shailos U’teshuvos B’tzail Hachochma (Vol 3, p. 201, by HaRav Betzalel Stern, Z’tl).  The bottom line is that ice cream which has  many ingredients would not covered by the Borei Pri HaGafen, but ices (which is basically only water) is covered provided that it is consumed by licking (HaRav Stern brings proofs that licking is derech drinking).



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


1.  We remind our readers about the following information which we have received from a reader, who received it from her community publication:  “Please be advised that SAMSUNG REFRIGERATORS and perhaps other brands come equipped with a digital monitor to display temperatures and other information that ignites upon opening the door.  This can be problematic for Shabbos. If you have purchased one, please speak to the Rabbi.”


2.  The following Halachos are presented from Shiurim in Hilchos Shabbos given by Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Shlita:


A.  The Ba’air Heiteiv brings in the name of the Arizal that one should eat on a table that has four legs so that it is like the Shulchan in the Bais HaMikdash.


B.  The importance of cutting nails on Erev Shabbos is demonstrated by the fact that the halachos of how one should cut his/her nails is brought by the Rema in Hilchos Shabbos (Orach Chaim 260:1)!


C.  There are three reasons brought in the Sefer Zichru Toras Moshe for Hadlakas Neiros on Erev Shabbos: (a) Kavod Shabbos--it is a symbol of chashivus and brings simcha when there is light; (b) Oneg Shabbos--we enjoy the food more if we can see it.  Chazal teach that one who eats in the dark is not able to feel completely satisfied; and (c) Shalom Bayis--so that no injuries and strife occurs.  In truth, the obligation to light Neiros devolves on the entire household.  However, women have a first priority so that they can bring about forgiveness for the sin of Chava.  If a wife will be late in lighting, the husband should light. 


D.  If by mistake a woman made the Bracha before lighting the candles, could she still light, or has she accepted Shabbos upon herself with the Bracha?  The Shailos U’Teshuvos Toras Yekusiel opines that she did not intend to accept Shabobs on herself as her reciting the Bracha first was a mistake, and therefore she would be allowed to light.  On the other hand, what if a woman lit all of the candles and did not yet make a Bracha, and one of the candles went out--can she relight that extinguished candle?  The Sefer Bris Olam rules that once she has completed to light the candles it would be forbidden for her to rekindle the extinguished candle, and so another person in the household should rekindle it.  The Ketzos HaShulchan,, rules that it depends on the case.  If she lit the candles properly and one got extinguished for reasons beyond her control, she cannot relight.  However, if the candle was not properly lit from the beginning, she can relight it, for in essence she never completed the lighting to begin with.  One important way to avoid a faulty lighting is by following the direction of the Shulchan Aruch (ibid., 264:8), which rules that one should keep her hand with the match next to the wick until most of the wick is already caught on fire.


E.  Interestingly, there is a Minhag for the husband not to stand next to his wife at the time she makes a bracha over the Neiros.  A possible reason for this is that by answering amen to the bracha, there is a chashash that he is being mekabel Shabbos on himself, unless he had specific intent otherwise.  One who is mekabel Shabbos can no longer daven the Tefillas Mincha of a weekday, so it will be problematic for a husband who is then going to shul not having davened Mincha to answer Amen to his wife’s lighting, even if he will not do Melacha.  A woman, of course, must also daven Mincha before she lights Shabbos candles, as she accepts Shabbos upon herself by lighting (ibid., 263:15), and accordingly will not be able to daven Mincha after lighting. 


3.  As previously mentioned, in response to readers’ requests, we have made available on the Hakhel website all of the questions that we have sent out so far from Rabbi Webster’s, Shlita, bishul test.  The page will be updated, B’EH, as additional questions are included in our Bulletins and can be accessed by clicking here.



Special Note Four:  We conclude our focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Refaeinu:  The concluding statement of the Bracha is “Ki Kel Melech Rofei Ne’eman V’Rachaman Atta” with these words, we demonstrate that Hashem provides a Refuah as Kel (an All-Merciful One), as Melech (an All-Powerful One), and as a Rofei Ne’eman V’Rachaman (a Trustful and Merciful Healer).  The Sefer Baruch Sheamar notes that the terms Ne’eman and Rachaman from a human perspective would seem contradictory, for in most circumstances to be a trustworthy healer he must prescribe medications, regimens, or treatments which could costly, time consuming, painful, and perhaps c’v damaging in other areas.  On the other hand, one who is compassionate will not prescribe the full amount of bitter medication or difficult regimen, and accordingly may not bring about a full healing or recovery.  Hashem Yisborach, however, can bring His Middas HaRachamim (as we had previously noted the term Rachaman indicates intense Rachamim) to prevent Yesurei HaGuf while simultaneously still providing a complete, whole Refuah.  Thus, with Hashem, the two words Ne’eman and Rachaman can be read together and go hand-in-hand--and are in fact connected with a conjunctive ‘vav’!  We then conclude the bracha with the words Rofei Cholei Amo Yisroel, while the bracha of Asher Yatzar refers to Hashem’s healing of Chol Basar--everyone--all of His creations.  The specific reference to Amo Yisroel here, and not to all creatures, may refer to the special Hashgacha Pratis that we have in being healed over all the other nations of the world.  HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, adds that when Jews ask Hashem for healing, we ask not only for a Refuas HaGuf, a physical healing, but for a Refuas HaNefesh, a healing from our spiritual sicknesses as well.  Therefore we conclude the Bracha with thanks to Hashem for allowing and providing for both physical and spiritual healing!


Additional Note:  HaRav Schwab notes that in the final words of the bracha there is not comma after the word Cholei, and that the four words Rofei Cholei Amo Yisroel should be read together as one statement. 



Special Note Five:  We are not going to address in any kind of full way the recent horrible and shocking event in which the life of a pure Tinok Shel Bais Rabban was taken.  We understand that the family itself requested that one improve in Tefillah and retain the great Achdus that was shown in looking for Leiby, z’l, H’yd.  It goes without saying that giving Tzedaka or learning in his memory would surely provide zechusim to his already pure Neshama.  In all events, we must be sure to listen to the directives of our Rabbanim and Poskim as to what we should be doing, for they are our guides during this period of darkness.  There is only one point we will add.  Chazal (Bamidbar Rabba, 21:4) teaches that it is worse to cause someone to sin then to kill him, for if someone kills another person, he takes away life in this world--but if someone causes another person to sin--he takes away from his eternal life in the World to Come.  In this regard, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, brings the following event: 


Reb Yonah Emanuel of Yerushalayim relates:  On Tisha B’Av 1944, in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp no one received food, not even the very young children, and the sick and elderly.  This cruel decree notwithstanding, my mother cooked cereal for my young sister Batya, aged 3 1/2.  Two kapos caught her and brought her to trial.  The trial was convened on Friday night, Shabbos Nachamu, the first Shabbos after Tisha B’Av.  In Bergen Belsen , the kapos held special trials where the defendant was entitled to an advocate and could speak in his own defense.  My mother waived her right to have an advocate and did not say anything on her own behalf.  The trial was extremely short and the sentence was loss of food rations for two days.  I asked her why she did not argue that on that day there was no food and she could not let her young daughter starve.  These extenuating circumstances might have led them to give her a lighter sentence.  “It was already Shabbos and every word was recorded by a Jew, therefore I remained silent.  It is better to go hungry than to cause another Jew to be mechalel Shabbos.” (LeKavod Shabbos, Vol. 2, p. 549)


Rabbi Pliskin draws the following lesson:  In a Yeshiva, Shul, or any other religious institution it is of utmost importance not to make anyone feel uncomfortable.  By making someone feeling uncomfortable in any way you may cause him to leave an environment that is spiritually elevating in any way. 


Hakhel Note:  Let us consider these thoughts and L’Ilui Nishmas Leiby, whose life was taken in this world, do our utmost to be sure that we do not cause another person to sin, or in any way reject Torah or Mitzvos--as he will thereby lose eternal life in the everlasting World to Come.  All the more so, if we bring a person to Torah and Mitzvos, we are helping to instill life, eternal life, into the person and into the world.  Let us take the lesson to heart in all of our daily activities and encounters.



Special Note Six:  Set forth below, we provide some essential points of advice from the Chofetz Chaim in areas of Bein Adam LeChaveiro (Part C).  These teachings, as well as the teachings set forth in parts A and B and B’EH future parts, may be found in greater detail in the (Hebrew) work entitled : Sefer Likutei Chofetz Chaim Al Middos U’Mitzvos (by an anonymous compiler, with sources): 


A.  Yaakov Avinu asked Hashem to save him “Baderech HaZeh”, in his travels to Lavan.  With this, the Chofetz Chaim writes, we realize that it is easier to keep Shemiras HaLashon and honest speech in a religious environment.  However, when one meets the Lavan’s of the world in his life, he is faced with greater challenges.  It is perhaps for this reason that the prohibition in the Torah against speaking Lashon Hara is Lo Seileich Rachil B’Amecha--do not walk/travel and speak Rechilus.  It is ‘on the road’, not in one’s secure environment, in which he needs to guard himself and ask for Hashem’s help from the terrible effects and after-effects of Lashon Hara. 


B.  “I have heard that there are a groups of people who put the following posuk from Tehillim (120:3)  on their table, or in their pockets:  Mah Yitein Lecha U’Mah Yosif Lach Lashon Remiah”--what can Hashem do, tongue, to restrain you from doing further damage--he has already placed you behind two walls--the lips and the teeth!”  (Rashi, ibid.)  The Chofetz Chaim continues that for those who actually make this effort to write the note and use it--”Borur Etzli She’avur Zeh Yezacheir Lifnei Hashem L’Tova V’Livracha”.  What a bracha, what an assurance from the Chofetz Chaim!


C.  In doing Teshuva, one should recall before he goes to sleep, if he has hurt another person in any way, and start the Teshuva process at that point.  For before one retires, ‘Lo Nirsham Adayin LeMa’alah Klal--iniquity is not yet recorded in heaven’--and accordingly, it is most optimum to start the Teshuva process by then.


D.  The penalty for oness or mefatah is 50 shekalim of silver, whereas the penalty for motzi shem rah, one who speaks falsely in this regard against a woman is 100 shekalim of silver, besides makkos.  What a lesson!


E.  The Ikar Refuah for a person not to come to speak Lashon Hara is to study its laws and the mussar behind it.  One who studies these topics fulfills the Mitzvas Asei of “Zachor Eis Asher Assah Hashem Elokecha L’Miriam...”  Hakhel Suggestion:  Perhaps one can think or recite a Hineni Muchan U’Mezuman before his daily study of the laws of Lashon Hara!


F.  Why does Dovid HaMelech use the phrase “Netzor Leshonecha Meirah” (Tehillim 34:14) rather than simply Lo Yedabeir B’Leshono Rah--wouldn’t that be more straightforward?  The Chofetz Chaim derives from this that  Dovid HaMelech is teaching us that we must accept upon ourselves a Shemira, a guarding in future conversations, meetings, etc.  In other words, it is not enough just not to speak Lashon Hara.   We must be Shomrim--on guard--and must plan not to speak Lashon Hara in order to truly be successful--and to be Zoche to all of the brachos that will result!



Special Note One:  It is fascinating to note that Chazal (Brachos 35A) first attempt to derive the requirement to make a bracha over food from the Posuk “Kodesh Hilulim Lashem”.  Thus, it is clear to Chazal that the concept of bracha over food is related to Hallel (praise).  May we suggest that if one remembers before making a bracha over food, he think of this phrase to properly focus-- “Kodesh Hilulim Lashem--I am about to say Hallel to Hashem!”



Special Note Two:  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 61:3) writes that in Kriyas Shema there are 245 words, and in order to bring the number of words to 248, which corresponds to the number of limbs in a man’s body, the Chazan in shul repeats the three last words of “Hashem Elokeichem Emes.”  The Rema adds that a person praying privately could add the words ‘Keil Melech Ne’eman’ in order to make up those additional three words, bringing him/her up to 248.  Why is attaining 248 words so significant?  The Mishna Berura (ibid., seif katan 6) brings Chazal who teach that if one who reads Kriyas Shema ketikuno (properly), then each of the person’s Eivarim is able to take a corresponding word from Shema and is actually healed with it--thereby fulfilling the words of Mishlei “Rifus Tehi L’Sharecha V’Shikuy L’Atsmosecha (3:8)--it shall be healing for….”  Remember, this is the Mishna Berura, a Halacha Sefer bringing this Chazal.  In all events, it certainly pays to spend some time with Shema, and put appropriate markings in your siddur, to make sure that each word of your Shema is being properly accounted for and enunciated.


It is reported that women, however, do not have 248 limbs, but 252 (some write that the reason a Chosson and Kallah each are accompanied by two Neiros when they are lead to the Chuppah, is because the Gematria of Ner is 250 and two times Ner is 500, symbolic of the combining of the 248 man’s limbs and 252 woman’s limbs, which total 500 limbs all together).  This being the case, what do women do in Kriyas Shema, since the number of words--even with Kel Melech Ne’eman--do not equal the number of their limbs?


In the wonderful work Guidelines to Tefillah by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita, and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita (Volume I: Question 543), we learn that women nevertheless should do whatever a man would do (based on Sefer Ishei Yisroel, who quotes the Sefer Minchas Elazar (Munkatcher, Volume II: Siman 28)).  This is because the recitation of the three extra words is al pi sod, and this is also relevant to a woman.  


Hakhel Note One:  As far as whether in making a  Mi She’beirach for a woman who r’l is sick the term “Remach Eivareha” should or should not be used, Rabbi Jaeger referred us to the Shailos U’Teshuvos Ha’elef Lecha Shlomo (120) and the Shailos U’Teshuvos Rivevos Efrayim 3:200, who discuss this concept in greater length.


Hakhel Note Two:  HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, in Rav Schwab on Prayer (p.22) adds the following:  “In Kabbalistic terms, the human body is called Adam HaRuchani (spiritual man) because the human body contains not only 248 organs and 365 sinews in the physical sense, but it also contains the same number of spiritual organs.”  Obviously, there is much going on which is not blatantly evident before us--let us at least begin by counting the words of our Shema, and having them in turn very much count for us!



Special Note Three:  On the important topic of Refuos, we move to our focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Refaeinu:  We have thus far touched upon the first two phrases of the bracha:  Refaeinu Hashem V’Neirafei and Hoshieinu V’Nivasheia.  The next words continue “Ki Sehilaseinu Atta”--because our whole praise will be You.  We may suggest that with this phrase we mean to indicate that we will give Hashem heartfelt praise, we will demonstrate our Hakaras Hatov to Hashem, upon achieving our Refuah.  We thus affirm that we will not “forget about” the Shira that is due to Hashem, and that we will be sure to express our Hoda’ah after this tribulation is over with (as one does in a Seudas Hoda’ah, or other form or proclamation of Hakaras Hatov).  We then continue with the term V’Ha’alei Refuah Shleima L’Chol Makoseinu.  The word VeHa’alei--and raise up--not only indicates that we raise ourselves up as a result of the illness, but that we appreciate that in healing us Hashem will do something more than might otherwise happen in the ‘natural’ course of events.  Moreover, the Sefer Sifsei Chaim adds that this applies not only to particular illnesses, but LeChol Makoseinu--anything that a person feels that he has been smitten by--to all of our tzaros and difficulties which have affected us.  Here especially we specifically ask for a Refuah Sheleima--so that now that we have ‘risen’ to the occasion and we are hopeful that Hashem will provide the Refuah for the makka--it will once and for all be a Refuah Sheleima--a complete, final and ultimate healing.  Let us importantly attempt to take each precious phrase of this bracha to its inestimable power and potency!



Special Note Four:  Set forth below, we provide some essential points of advice from the Chofetz Chaim in areas of Bein Adam LeChaveiro (Part B).  The Chofetz Chaim gives the following wonderful and essential advice relating to money and finances:


1.  If a buyer knows that the article he wishes to buy has increased in price and the seller is not aware of this, the buyer must advise him of the increase in price (Likutei Amarim, Chapter 2).


2.  If the seller knows of any blemish in the material, he must so advise the buyer, whatever his nationality (ibid.).


3. To cheat somebody in weights, measures, or count is prohibited, in respect of anyone even if it is less than the share ona’ah (1/6th) (ibid.).


4.  If one wants to hire a worker or service provider, he must set a price with the worker up-front, for if one doesn’t, it is very likely that he will end up being termed a gazlan or an osheik sechar sachir according to Torah law.  One hires many workers in the course of a year, and unless he maintains this as a hard and fast rule, one will ultimately end up with a disgruntled party who will either not be Mochel him B’Lev Shaleim or will actually end up in a disagreement or fight with him.  Even if one shortchanges another by one peruta he is called a gazlan according to the Torah.  The only real alternative if one has failed to predetermine the cost, is to pay whatever the worker asks for, which is also very difficult.  The Chofetz Chaim adds that if the employer is considered a Talmid Chochom, then the terrible aveira of Chillul Hashem could be added to the mix, with the worker claiming that “a Talmid Chochom stole from me.”  Remember--set the price in advance! (Sefas Tamim, Chapter 5)


5.  Monetary matters must be kept in a proper perspective.  Just as one would not put a piece of meat into his mouth unless he knew it was Kosher, so too, should it be with money--not bringing money into his possession or keeping it with him unless he knows that it truly belongs to him.  In this regard, the Chofetz Chaim writes that anyone who is a “Yerei Elokim L’Amito” and wants to be involved in business must learn Choshen Mishpat, Cheilek Sheini, which contains many of the practical Halachos of business.  Before beginning to learn the Halachos, the Chofetz Chaim continues, one should be guided by the rule that anything that one doesn’t want others to do to him (i.e., something which is ‘not right’ or ‘appears unfair’, etc.) he should be sure not to do to others (Likutei Amarim, Chapter 2).


It is fascinating to note that Chazal teach that when one uses his money wisely--acting with justice and giving charity, he will bring about the Geulah which we all so long for--as the Posuk teaches “Tzion B’Mishpat Tipadeh V’Shaveah B’Tzedaka” (Shabbos 139B).  Let’s use our money properly and wisely--and bring about the Geulah!



Special Note One:  Four important points on our daily davening:


A.  Regarding the Posuk we mentioned yesterday, Va’ani Berov Chasdecha…Eshtachaveh El Heichal Kadshecha, a reader pointed out that the Radak on this Posuk (Tehillim 5:8) writes that the term Heichal Kadshecha refers to the Heichal of the Bais HaMikdash, “for when one bows towards Hashem he should envision the Bais HaMikdash in front of him and bow to Hashem in front of it (!).”


B.  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 61:14) writes that when reciting the first Posuk of Shema, one should stop in between Yisroel and Hashem and then again between Elokeinu and the second mention of Hashem so that one understands the Posuk to mean “Hear (Understand) Yisroel that Hashem Who Is Elokeinu He Is the One and Only Hashem.  One should then pause for a moment before reciting Boruch Shem, because one’s Ikar Kabalas Ol Malchus Shomayim is in this first Posuk of Shema.


C.  The Mishna (Brachos 34B) relates that Rebbi Chanina Ben Dosa could tell whether his particular Tefillah was going to be accepted or not.  The Gemara explains that it was the FIRST bracha--the bracha of Avos--that was determinative according to Rebbi Chanina.  If this bracha was recited well and without disturbance or difficulty, and he felt that the bracha flowed from his heart, then he took this as a sign that his Tefillah was acceptable and wanted.  If, however, the first Bracha did not go well, with the words not coming forth smoothly and other thoughts causing him Tirda, then he knew that the remainder of his Tefillah was going to be problematic and c’v unanswered.  We believe that there is a great lesson here for each and every one of us.  It is extremely important that we focus on the First Bracha of Shemone Esrei, putting in our strong efforts to make it Kavannah-filled and successful.  If we do so, the B’EH, it will be a Siman Tov for the rest of our Shemone Esrei! 


D.  Chazal (ibid.) conclude that a person should not Daven in a room unless it has windows.  This is based on the Posuk in Sefer Doniel, which specifically states that “Windows were open in his attic” as he davened towards Yerushalayim.  Rashi explains that the windows are essential, for a person looks up towards Heaven and humbles himself, which should greatly assist his Kavanna in Tefillah.  This serves as a lesson to us--we should lift up our eyes to the Heavens, recognizing not just our humanity and humility--but Hashem’s vastness and greatness.



Special Note Two:  Set forth below, we provide some essential points of advice from the Chofetz Chaim in areas of Bein Adam LeChaveiro (Part A):


1.  The more one supports a Torah Scholar, the greater one’s portion in the reward of his Torah is.  One must be careful to always give the support BeSever Panim Yafos--with the same feeling as one gives to one’s partner in business who has made many great deals on his behalf with the money that has been given to him (Sefer Ahavas Chesed, Chapter 20).


2.  One should recognize that Dibur, the power of speech, is the ‘Chaviv MeKol Chaviv’--so precious because with this power one completes his Tzuras HaAdam.  Therefore, just as one who has much silver, gold, and jewels carefully secures and protects it, so too, should one carefully guard his mouth and that which comes out of it (Sefer Shemiras HaLashon 2:2). 


3.  Only after Hashem made man out of dirt from the ground did he instill in his nostrils a Nishmas Chaim (“Vayipach Beapav Nishmas Chaim”)--unlike all the other animals which were created with their body and life spirit simultaneously.  There is a great lesson in this for us.  We too, must take the Afar Min HaAdama, the Gashmiyus of this world--and instill into it a Ruach Chaim through our thoughts and words.  Our life’s goal is to make the physical spiritual.  Look what we can do with our mouths--we can say about a piece of wood, a stone, livestock or anything else that it is “Kodesh LaHashem”, and with these words alone, one who violates the Kedusha created would violate the laws of Me’ilah and could even c’v be liable for Kareis (such as by shechting a Korban outside the Bais HaMikdash).  One does not, however, have to be in or near the Bais HaMikdash to apply this concept of Vayipach Beapav Nishmas Chaim.  When one, for instance, has the proper thoughts and intents before eating--to be healthy in Hashem’s service and to fulfill one’s role and potential in this world; when one has the proper thoughts when engaged in his business or profession--so that he earn an honest living without taking that which belongs to others, etc., then one has breathed the breath of life into his daily activities.  There is a great difference between a person who works hard or toils with a Cheshbon in mind throughout the day, and a person who merely goes from one daily task to the next until he puts his body into a bed and goes to sleep.  Before beginning any activity--no matter how mundane--think of the Nishmas Chaim that you intend to breathe into it! (Sefer Toras HaBayis, Chasimas HaSefer)



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Refaeinu:  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains why this Bracha follows after HaShiveinu, Selach Lanu and Re’eh (Nah) V’Anyeinu.  By following this order, we recognize that all sicknesses and all cures come from Hashem--as we recognize that we must first do Teshuva, then ask Hashem for forgiveness, then ask that our suffering serve as atonement, and only then can we legitimately plead with Hashem that He send the Refuah.  With this, we additionally demonstrate that the medications and therapies we undertake are the means in this world to achieve Hashem’s Refuah; we go to the internist, specialist or physical therapist with this in mind, and we take the pills, medications or shots by this understanding.  That is why we begin with the two words that tell it all--Refaeinu Hashem--Heal us Hashem! 


What, then, is the third word of the Bracha V’Neirafeh?  The Zohar and the Mekubalim (brought in the Sefer Baruch Sheamar and in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim) write that there are Refuos which come through Malachim following Hashem’s direction, which the Posuk alludes to with the words “Yishlach Devaro V’Yirpaeim”--Hashem sends His word and heals them (Tehillim 106).  We, however, plead that our Refuah not come through any heavenly intermediaries, but directly from Hashem because only the Refuah that comes from Hashem is a Refuah LeOlam, a permanent Refuah, while the Refuah that comes from a Malach may allow the sickness to recur.  Accordingly, the V’Neirafeh is an intensification of our request that Hashem heal us--so that we have a Refuah LeOlam!

Finally, we note that we conclude the bracha with the words of request V’Rachaman Atta.  The Sefer Baruch Sheamar explains that the word Rachaman, as opposed to Rachum is a special indication of great Rachamim, and uses the phrase “Tamid Darko Lechach--this is Hashem’s way.”  So, not only is Hashem All-Capable of a complete and permanent Refuah, but He is a Rachaman--always mercifully ready to provide it!



Special Note One:  Three great highlights from Rabbi Paysach Krohn Shlita’s Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Shiur on anger shown in 60 communities last Motza’ei Shabbos:


1.  Rabbi Krohn said that he was familiar with a group of people who get together once a week and discuss situations in the past week in which they got angry or could have gotten angry.  If a member of the group in fact got angry, he is assessed a k’nas, a fine by the group.  Thus, in addition to the shame at having to admit to the group that he became angry, he has to pay hard cash for it as well!  This concept can, of course, be applied for other Middos for which a group gets together to work on.  Work together--to be better!


2.  Pri HaMehirus Charata--the fruit of haste is regret.”--Rabbi Krohn said that he had heard this important and pointed truisim from Rav Shalom Schwadron, Z’tl, in the name of an Adam Gadol.  Any time we are about to make a quick decision think of this three word phrase!


3.  What are the three most important words in marriage?  Stop and think, then please read on.  According to Rabbi Krohn’s friend, a successful marriage counselor for many years they are…”I was wrong”.

Hakhel Note: We can add nothing to this wisdom of experience.



Special Note Two:  A few concluding points on Parshas Balak:


A.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, observes that Bilam is much more severely criticized than Balak.  Why is this so?  After all, was it not Balak who initiated all of the actions in the Parsha?  Was he not the one who instigated Bilam, inducing him to come, and moved him from one mizbe’ach to another to shake out some kind of curse?  Yet, Balak counts Rus as one of his descendents, while Bilam’s name lives in infamy forever.  HaRav Kanievsky explains that Balak acted out of trepidation and fear--having observed first-hand what happened as a result of the wars of Bnai Yisroel against Sichon and Og.  Bilam, on the other hand, was a non-party to all of this, and joined in only because of his Middos Mushchasos--his destructive, hurtful and rotten Middos.  HaRav Kanievsky remarkably notes that all of those persons listed in the Mishna in Sanhedrin (90A) as not having a portion in the World to Come, lost their portion because of Middos Mushchasos.  With this, we can understand the great contrast provided in the Mishna in Avos (studied last week, the week of Parshas Balak!) between the students of Avraham Avinu and the students of Bilam HaRasha.  The differences:  Ayin Tova vs. Ayin Ra’ah, Ruach Nemucha vs. Ruach Gevoha, and Nefesh Shefalah vs. Nefesh Rechava should therefore be especially focused upon by us this week.  Chazal in this Mishna are teaching us that above and beyond their differences in Torah, Tefillah, and Emunah, what rests at the heart of the distinction between Avraham Avinu and his future generations, and Bilam HaRasha and his followers are the following Middos (as explained by Rabbeinu Ovadia M’Bartenura):


a.  Ayin Tova-- being satisfied with what one has and not desiring the money or possessions of others.  Example:  You do not need a summer home, and if you have one, you do not need his or her summer residence. You do not need to feel the need to chew gum because she is chewing gum (adults may or may not have to change the gum analogy to something else).


b.  Ruach Nemucha--humble spirit.  According to the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva, this includes a person not being Machazik Tova to himself, and not seeking Kavod for the honorable things that he or she does in fact accomplish.  


c.  Nefesh Shefalah--deemphasizing the desires of this world, not barking up after every single ta’avah.  Indeed, there is a recent story of one of the Gedolim, who tasted ice cream once and was so impacted by its wonderful taste that he decided never to eat it again. 


B.  Ma Tovu Ohalech Yaakov Mishkenosecha Yisroel”.  We recite this Posuk upon entering Shul every morning.  The Chasam Sofer notes that there are two kinds of unacceptable behavior when it comes to one’s relationship with his Bais HaKnesses or Bais HaMidrash.  Some are hesitant to go to Shul, claiming that they can learn better at home, or accomplish more in their office.  To them, the Shul is only an Ohel.  To another who frequents the Shul or Bais Midrash, the Shul may lose a tad of its sanctity, as because it his a ‘home away from home’ he talks loudly across the Shul, walks around with an article of food or drink in his hand, and even engages in friendly conversations on all kinds of topics here and there.  Thus, he slightly abrogates the Mikdash nature of the Makom Kadosh, although leaving it as a Mishkan --a place that he frequents.  To correct both of these errant attitudes, the Chasam Sofer teaches that we immediately continue after Ma Tovu with the recitation of  (Tehillim 5:8) “Va’ani BeRov Chasdecha Avoh Vaisecha--Hashem, I know that it is only because of Your great Chessed that I can enter”; moreover, “Eshtachaveh El Heichal Kadshecha BeYirasecha--I bow towards the Holy Heichal in fear of You.”  With these important words, we demonstrate our true appreciation, and our inestimable value, of the Makom that we are about to enter.  Hakhel Note:  As we have mentioned in the past, although Ma Tovu is only recited when one enters Shul in the morning, others recite the Posuk “Va’ani BeRov Chasdecha” (in a bowed position) when they enter Shul and other times during the day as well.  We can now understand why!


C.  Another aspect of Ma Tovu is Bilam’s special awareness of how K’lal Yisroel treats the right of privacy of others--as he noticed how the entrance ways to each person’s tent was carefully positioned not to face another’s entranceway.  There are many ways that we can inculcate this into our daily lives:  When walking by a house with a door open or the shades up, one should not look in simply based upon the theory that they have left their door open or windows uncovered--so they must not care so much about it.  Indeed, one should be careful not to look in even absentmindedly, inappropriately bobbing one’s head from side to side while walking.  In our day and age, we may also include not peeking in to someone’s car as they are driving (even if they have pulled up next to you at a light).  We can also add to the list listening in to the conversation between two people which is obviously between the two of them--even if they have not asked you to leave (perhaps they have not done so as not to shame you, or because they are stunned by your behavior!).  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in his Sefer Love Your Neighbor, adds:  ‘It is because of our obligation to respect the privacy of other that Rabbeinu Gershom placed a Chairem on reading someone else’s mail without permission (Be’er HaGolah, Yorah Deah 334:123).  Even parents should not read the mail of their children without permission (see Rav Chaim Palaji, p. 18).’  One additional update:  Ma Tovu also reminds us not to look at the emails of others without their permission--and all the more so when you have received an email for someone in error.  Curiosity was never claimed as one of the great Jewish traits...and we should most certainly not dabble in this Middah now--at this advanced point in our history.  Before looking, before entering someone else’s life without permission or warning--remember, even Bilam realized...Ma Tovu!


Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Refaeinu.  The Bracha begins with the words Refaeinu Hashem V’Neirafeh, even though it is based on the Posuk in Yirmiyahu ( 17:14 ) which is actually written in the singular.  This teaches us that we are to join together the tza’ar of all cholim who need a Refuah, asking Hashem to have mercy upon all cholim (the Sefer Yesod Veshoresh Va’Avodah writes that one is mekayem a Mitzvas Aseh of VeAhavta LeRayacha Komocha for every person he davens for in the bracha).  We additionally emphasize with the words Refaeinu Hashem that the Refuah comes only through Hashem and that all else is merely the medium (or to those not in the know, the disguise) of Hashem’s Refuah.  After these first vital words, we importantly continue with the crucial words Hoshieinu V’Nivasheiah.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah writes that with these potent two words we ask that Hashem save us from anything that causes or brings about sickness--i.e., that we be saved from becoming sick.  Chazal (Shabbos 32A) teach that a person should always ask for mercy that he not become sick, for if he does become ill, then “Omrim Lo Haveh Zechus V’Hipateir”--they tell him show us what Zechusim you have to become well.  It is therefore extremely essential that we have proper Kavannah in the first five words Refaeinu Hashem V’Neirafeh, Hoshieinu V’Nivasheiah--first davening for all those who are ill to become well, and then Davening for those who are not ill to stay well.  One’s poignant and pointed prayer here demonstrates here not only his great Emunah in Hashem Yisborach, but also his Ahavas Yisroel--in wanting to do away with the tza’ar of others (including his own) and in bringing happiness to us all--at all times!



Technological Advancement?  We received the following from a reader, who received it from their community:  Please be advised that SAMSUNG REFRIGERATORS and perhaps other brands come equipped with a digital monitor to display temperatures and other information that ignites upon opening the door. This can be problematic for Shabbos. If you have purchased one, please speak to the Rabbi.



Special Note One:    Relating to Rabbi Becher’s thought on the meaning of the two Yuds placed together as representative of the name of Hashem, a reader wrote as follows:  “In the P’sakim Uk’savim of the Ba’al Trumas Hadeshen, he explains the origin of the two Yud’s, which were originally written with a horizontal “Vav”, was to make up the Gematria of 26 = Yud Kay Vav Kay.”



Special Note Two:  To all those who have joined the Sha’arei Teshuva Project:  A reader suggested that a person take ONE THOUGHT from the limud of that day, write it down in a notebook in order, and review these points as you continue to study the Sefer daily!  What a fantastic idea!  Hakhel Note:  IF YOU HAVE NOT YET BEGUN, AND START THE SHA’AREI TESHUVA TODAY, YOU WILL MAKE YOUR SIYUM ON EREV YOM KIPPUR!  THIS IS REAL PLANNING!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the brachos of Shemone Esrei--this week reaching the Eighth Bracha of Refa’einu (meaning that there are only 11 weeks to Rosh Hashanah--the more we prepare ourselves, the greater Sha’ah Tovah U’Mutzlachas it can be!).  Rabi Eliyahu Roman, Shlita, points out that we refer to Hashem in Eight different ways in the bracha--Hashem, Sehilaseynu, Atta, Kel, Melech, Rofeh, Ne’eman and Rachaman.  Certainly NO COINCIDENCE, but also highlighting for us how important it is for us to have Kavannah in this bracha--we are seeking Refuos for ourselves and others, and we have the opportunity to implore Hashem, pleading with Him based on various aspects of his Attributes!  HaRav Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash adds the following three pointers when reciting the bracha:


a.  One must have in mind all cholei Yisroel, joining in their pain with them--for we are all one nefesh and guf--and if a part of us hurts, we hurt.


b. In fact, one should daven for the rishei Yisroel who are sick as well--so that he does not die a rasha, but instead is healed so that he can have the opportunity to do Teshuva.  Not only will this help him, but it will make the one guf of K’lal Yisroel moves towards completeness, and will also remove rischa, a time of anger and din, upon the world engendered by the passing of a rasha in that state.


c..  One should especially daven for Talmidei Chachomim who are weakened and suffer through their studies and support of K’lal Yisroel.  In fact, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 115: seif katan 1) brings from the Sefer Seder HaYom that the Ikar Kavannah in Refa’einu is our pleading with Hashem that He heal us so that we will be healthy and strong to learn Torah and perform all of the Mitzvos--enabling us to fulfill our role--and our potential--in this world!  What can be more important-more crucial?!  Let us truly focus this week!



Special Note Four:  Today is the ninth day of Tammuz.  According to the Pesukim in Navi (Melachim II 25:3, Yirmiyah 39:2) today is the day that Nevuchadnetzar’s army, which had been besieging Yerushalayim, actually breached its walls.  King Tzidkiyahu and his Anshei Chayil fled from Yerushalayim that night, and were captured escaping through a cave in the Plains of Yericho.  Accordingly, today was a day of fasting during the 70 years of Churban Bayis Rishon.  Because the walls of the Second Bais HaMikdash were breached on the 17th of Tammuz, we have fasted on that day since the Churban Bayis Sheni.  The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anis 4:5) records that it was actually on the 17th of Tammuz that the walls were breached in the first Bais HaMikdash as well, but the people were so confused and perplexed--there was such upheaval--that the populace mistook the day for the 9th of Tammuz, and accordingly the Pesukim reflected it that way for posterity.  Undoubtedly, if the people believed it was the 9th, and if the Pesukim in fact specifically refer to the 9th, the force and influence of the 17th must rest in and with the 9th, as well.


We posit that a day which has destruction inherent within it also has the concomitant power of building and healing contained within it.  The greatest example is the “Mo’ed” of Tisha B’Av itself--which in the time of the Meraglim could have been--and ultimately and soon will be--a time of great celebration.  Even though we will not be fasting today, we can certainly find it within ourselves to pray for the building of the Bais HaMikdash, and act in a manner which demonstrates that we truly desire its rebuilding.  In this regard, we provide the following thought:


Chazal teach that “Pischu Li Pesach…”--open for me an opening the size of the point of a needle, and I will open for you an opening which is the size of the Ulam’s opening in the Bais HaMikdash (the Ulam’s opening was 40 Amos, or at least 60 feet, tall and 20 Amos, or at least 30 feet, wide).  The Kotzker Rebbe comments as follows:  Hashem asks of a man to open his heart to the extent of a needle’s point.  However, small as this may be, it must still be a needle’s point--needle-sharp--piercing through the material in its entirety.  Whatever Teshuva we do must pierce through the very insides of our being--it must penetrate through and through.  Hashem, in turn, will help us, so that our Teshuva will become more profound--to the incredible extent of an Ulam!  We add simply that the opening of the Ulam is not only the largest opening that we can think of--but it is also the largest opening of the Bais HaMikdosh--the holiest place on earth.  Through sincere Teshuva--we will see the opening of the Ulam as in the Bais HaMikdosh itself!  (The source for the Kotzker Rebbe’s teaching is the Sefer VSheeNonTom, by Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Shlita).



Question of the Week:  Chazal (Sanhedrin 105A) teach that Bila’ams father, Be’or, was none other than Lavan himself.  What does that make the relationship between Bila’am and the 12 Shevatim (and their descendants) that Bila’am sought to curse?  What lesson can you derive from this important and incredible fact?


Special Note One:  In Parshas Balak (Bamidbar 23:9), we find the prophecy of Bila’am come to life before our eyes:  “Hain Am Levodod Yishkon U’VaGoyim Lo Yischashav...behold, it is a nation that will dwell in solitude and will not be counted among the nations.”  As we see how the nations have turned --to the point where they have championed the cause of terrorists such as Hamas y’s (really out to kill them too) against us--we see how disregarded and despised we really are to them--because of who we are.  Perhaps one simple lesson we should take and apply for our times is to recite the bracha of “SheLo Asani Goy” with added kavana.  Would we ever want to act like this?!  Indeed, the joining of countries otherwise unfriendly with each other towards the common goal of hurting the Jew is reminiscent of the Midyan-Moav alliance for the same purpose, as described by Rashi in this week’s Parsha.  One thing is for sure, just as the foregoing Pasuk in the Parsha was fulfilled--so too will the later words of Bila’am to Balak in the Parsha also be fulfilled: “Lecha Iatzecha Asher Ya’aseh Ha’am Hazeh LeAmecha B’Acharis HaYomim--Come and I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the end of days”....May it come speedily and in *our* days--after all--it is all in one and the very same Parsha!



Special Note Two:  We provide the following essential teaching from Growth Through Torah, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (pages 350-352). Although the general concept described below may be familiar to us all, we note the important conclusion--which is there for all of us to put into daily practice:


Chazal (Makos 10b) take note that Hashem initially told Bila’am not to go with Balak’s messengers, who requested that he accompany them to curse Bnai Yisroel.  Hashem later told Bila’am that:  ‘If these people came to call you, arise, go with them.’ 


From here Chazal derives the principle, “In the way a man wishes to go, so he is led.” 


If a person wants to do evil, he will be able to do so. Of course, he will have to pay a heavy price for the successful completion of his evil wishes. Conversely, someone who wishes to study Torah and fulfill the Hashem’s commandments will be successful. For this, he will be greatly rewarded. When you wish to travel along the proper path in life, you will be Divinely assisted. Nothing stands in a way of a strong will. There are many things that you may wish for half-heartedly, but when you strongly set your mind on a particular goal, you will have the strength and abilities necessary to meet that goal. What a person truly wants in life, he will usually obtain (Alai Shur, pages 120-121). 


Rabbi Avigdor Miller (Rejoice O Youth, page 1) comments that Hashem guides that person who seeks wisdom, and the amount of guidance is in proportion to the earnestness of the seeker. 


When you feel a strong need for something, you will not feel the difficulties which you encounter insurmountable, even though you might have to work very hard to accomplish your goals. On the other hand, when you are not strongly motivated to do something, you will procrastinate and it will take you a very long time. Moreover, you will not do a very good job (Chochmah U’Mussar, Vol.2, p.180). 


It is up to you to intensify your will to do good. The stronger your will, the more you will actually accomplish. Lack of spiritual accomplishment does not come from lack of ability, but from lack of will. Work on developing a strong desire for spiritual growth and you will be amazed at the positive changes you will experience. 


Rabbi Ben Zion Yadler used to quote the Alter of Navardok, “There is no such thing as ‘I cannot.’ What happens is that a person is missing the will and then he claims that he cannot” (Betuv Yerushalayim, p.116).


Hakhel Note:  We must take the step ahead, and proactive in our mitzvah performance.  In war, one wins only by taking the offensive, and will not succeed merely by demonstrating great defensive maneuvers, no matter how valuable and important they may be.  This being said, we must realize that we cannot wait simply for mitzvos to come to us--we should seek out mitzvos to perform.

Think for a few moments.  How can I accomplish this essential task?  Is it by making a private “Shidduch meeting” with friends to think about those who are single?  Is it by starting a new Gemach in my neighborhood or on my block?  Is it by making sure to compliment at least one person a day every day for the next 30 days?  Is it by closing my eyes when saying the name of Hashem when reciting a brocha before and after food?  Is it by make sure that I have learned at least something--a Pasuk, a Mishna, a Vort, after davening Shacharis and Maariv and before leaving Shul?  Is it by going over to the poor person and giving him Tzedaka before he comes to me?  …


We, too, can act like our forefather Avraham Avinu--who saddled his donkey to do the will of his Creator, which in the end will accomplish much to defeat the designs of the Bila’ams of the world--who saddle their donkeys to go against the will of his Creator.  We, too, can bring success we so desperately need to our generation and to all future generations as well!  All we need to do

is take action!  Now!  Today!



Special Note Three:  Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, Z’tl, notes that one of the 10 items described in this week’s Perek (Avos 5:9) as having been created on Erev Shabbos at Bain HaShemoshos is the “Pi Ha’Ason”--the capacity of Bilaam’s donkey to speak.  Indeed, it is in this very week’s Parsha that the Torah describes how  Hashem opened that donkey’s mouth--and how strongly and cogently the donkey  responded to Bilaam’s beating (some learn that this Posuk is the source for the prohibition to cause animals pain).  Rabbi Soloveichik, however, queries: Is it not, in fact, two separate miracles that took place here which do not seem to be adequately described by merely referring to the “mouth of the donkey”?  Firstly, the donkey spoke, which no animal had ever done to date, and no animal has ever done since.  Secondly, however, and more importantly, the donkey articulated his point in a poignant and coherent manner.  Should not this incredible accomplishment be given an even greater stature in the Mishna in Avos, perhaps using the term  “Chochmas Ha’ Ason”, wisdom of the donkey, or the like?


Rabbi Soloveichik responds that Chazal are teaching us a lifelong lesson by teaching that the donkey’s actions constituted only one miracle.  When one speaks, but speaks nonsense, gibberish, in trivialities, or generally not to the matter at hand, it is viewed by the Torah as if he is not really speaking at all.  After all, when the Torah describes the creation of man (Beraishis 2:7), it states “...And He blew into his nostrils the Soul of Life.”  What exactly is the Soul of Life?  The Targum Onkelos (which the Gemara in Megilla 3A teaches was given with the Torah at Sinai) defines it as the “Ruach Memallalah”, or Speaking Spirit.  Thus, the power of speech is not independent of the thinking mind, but the key trait that defines and distinguishes human intelligence, and is furthermore considered according to the Targum given at Sinai,  to be the essence of the Soul of Life itself.


HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, adds to the concept.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches (Koheles 3) that there are times and places for everything--for extremes and everything else between those extremes: for example, a time for love and a time for hate--including, of course, everything else in between; a time to carefully guard and a time to lose--including, of course, everything else in between; a time of war and a time for hate--including, of course, everything else in between.  However, one of the contrasts listed in the Pasuk there is ‘a time to talk and a time to remain silent’--here there does not seem to be any in between, for you are either talking or not talking.  Not so, says HaRav Kanievsky, because some people talk without saying anything, and so are lost somewhere in between. There are, indeed, extremes within speech itself.  The word of Torah being infinitely distant from the word of Lashon Hora, or hurtful or insulting words.  However, we must remember that there are many kinds of other words in between--words of consolation, words of encouragement, words of endearment, words of advice, words of business, words of interest, words to pass the time, words of trivialities, words of non-meaningful politics, and other kinds of words, before getting to Lashon Hora, in between.


We should really try, at least from time to time during the day, to measure our words just a bit more.  Was the extra comment to the person of the opposite gender at work really necessary?  Does he really care about what I am telling him?  Does what I am about to say have any meaningfulness or relevance?  A short thought before making a comment can mean the difference between speaking--and a Speaking Spirit.  We need only once again look to last week’s Parsha--if only Moshe Rabbeinu, on his exalted level, had spoken the right words to the right rock just that one time, mankind would have been guided to eternal bliss some 3,300 years ago.


As we demonstrate to Hashem that we want to fulfill our role in creation--that we want to be the true Speaking Spirit for which we were created, may we be blessed with the words of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, as he speaks to us and tells us that he can now arrive!



Special Note Four:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos series.  Below are additional Shailos that we had asked HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita for which we received his handwritten responses.  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek with respect to his own situation or particular issues.


QUESTION: On Shabbos is a person permitted to spray insect repellant on one’s hands?

ANSWER: Yes. There is no choleh and the spray is not remedying an ailment


QUESTION: If someone’s window screen fell out on Shabbos, is a person allowed to put it back on Shabbos?

ANSWER: I think that if the screen is of the old simple type that you easily put in and take out, it is not considered a chelek or part of the actual window. In such a case, you would be allowed to either insert or remove it. However, the more modern window screens which are more a chelek of the window would be forbidden to insert or remove on Shabbos


QUESTION: I have small children who cannot stay up until the end of Shabbos. Do they have to make Havdalah on Sunday morning?

ANSWER: Rabbosai, you have to make Havdalah for little children. I’ll tell you a very interesting halacha. If a little child did not hear Havdalah, but the parent was yotzei Havdalah in shul, the father could make Havdalah with a brocha and be motzi the little child. I have always made an effort to have my children listen to Havdalah (on Motzoei Shabbos). And if that was not possible, I would have the child recite Havdalah from a siddur the next morning. If the child is too young to make Havdalah the next morning, then he is not considered to have reached the age of chinuch (education in mitzvos) for Havdalah and can do without hearing it.


QUESTION:  Is a person permitted to swing on a swing attached to a tree on Shabbos? or to go to sleep in a hammock on Shabbos?

ANSWER: One is permitted to use a swing on Shabbos which is suspended from a swing frame. A swing that is suspended from a tree, however, poses a problem. One may use such a swing only if A) the swing is attached indirectly to the tree, e.g. it is suspended from hooks that are attached to the tree, B) the tree is sturdy enough that it will not shake when the swing is being used, and C) the swing must be attached to the hooks before Shabbos. In contrast, a swing that is attached to a door post may be attached and detached on Shabbos and it is not considered Boneh.

In some bungalow colonies, a tire is attached to a tree. A person may not swing from it on Shabbos unless it is attached as described above.


QUESTION:  Is a child under Bar or Bas Mitzvah permitted to ride a bike, Big Wheel or roller skates/blades in an area containing an Eruv?

ANSWER: Young children may ride on bicycles, tricycles, Big Wheels and the like; however, older children should be discouraged from doing so on Shabbos.


QUESTION:  Are children under Bar or Bas Mitzvah permitted to play ball on Shabbos in an area containing an Eruv? What about Ping Pong?

ANSWER: Young children are permitted to play ball on Shabbos, but they must be careful not to play near the road or near the end of the Eruv where it is possible that the ball may roll outside the Eruv. Ping Pong is permitted on Shabbos.


QUESTION:  If a ball gets stuck in the tree on Shabbos, may one knock it out of the tree with a broom or other non-mukzeh object?

ANSWER: In a situation where the ball gets stuck in a tree or bushes higher that three tefachim (approximately 11½ inches) from the ground, one is forbidden to poke a stick into the tree or bushes, or to climb onto them or shake them.


QUESTION:  My child refuses to walk on his own. Can I carry my child if there is no Eruv?

ANSWER: One is forbidden to carry, drag or swing by both hands a child outside of an Eruv, whether or not the child can walk by themselves. If a child refuses to continue to walk, one should try to induce the child by offering some type of prize to encourage him to continue. If this will not help, one should try to get a non-Jew to carry the child. If this, too, is not possible, then one may carry the child less than four amos (approximately seven feet) at a time until one reaches home. When one gets home, one should try to get the child to enter the Eruv or house by themselves.



Special Note Five:  We conclude our focus on the seventh bracha of Shemone Esrei--Re’eh (Nah).  The Sefer Avudraham writes that the bracha begins based upon the words of Dovid Hamelech in Tehillim (25:18); “Re’eh Onyi VaAmali Ve’sa Lechol Chatosai...see my afflictions and my toil and forgive all of my sins.  It is reported that the Apter Rav, Z’tl would advise people to recite this Pasuk when feeling yissurin so that the suffering would affect atonement--importantly pointing out that a person must RECOGNIZE and EXPRESS the suffering not as happenstance or c’v as part of life--but instead as a kapparah for was one’s sins.  Based upon the words of the Avudraham, we may suggest that a person take a moment before beginning the bracha to reflect upon any difficulties he may be going through--and ask Hashem Re’eh Nah --may my suffering until now serve as my kapparah--so that I can now be freed of further suffering and anguish.  Indeed, with this in mind, we can better understand why the bracha of Re’eh comes immediately after the bracha of Selach Lanu--for even if we were undeserving of selicha based upon the previous bracha-please now add our past suffering to gain our atonement--so that we attain Geulah--salvation in all of its senses--Ki Go’el Chazak Atta--for you can bring us complete Geulah!



Special Note One:  IMPORTANT REMINDER!  With the Nach Yomi’s conclusion of Sefer Iyov today, Shiur HaShirim begins tomorrow Friday, July 8th.  By studying just one Perek of Nach a day (in whatever way that you can--with Rashi or Metsudos, or Artscroll, or by listening to a shiur available at ou.org)--by Rosh Hashanah you will have completed Shir HaShirim, Rus, Eicha, Koheles, Esther, Doniel, Ezra, and Nechemia. 


What a remarkable accomplishment over the summer--and for Rosh Hashana!  Join in and be a part of it!



Special Note Two:  The Chidah relates that Beraishis is an acronym for Bekol Ram Avarech Shem Hashem Tomid--I always bless Hashem aloud--this is the beginning of creation--and its purpose!  Let’s make it a practice to recite our brachos aloud--it adds to our kavana and proper pronunciation, it enables others to answer Amein--and it helps us fulfill our purpose in creation!


Additional Note:  With a proper Bracha, we also gain additional appreciation of the rest of creation that brought us to the point of making the Bracha. By clicking here, we provide a brief message from torahlive.co.il addressing exactly this point.


Special Note Three:  At Monday’s Hakhel gathering, Rabbi Mordechai Becher, Shlita noted that in some suddurim we find Hashem’s name appearing as Yud, Yud.  He suggested that it is not simply a printer’s way of abbreviating the name of Hashem--as we find the abbreviation in some of the Cairo Genizah manuscripts--obviously predating the printing press.  Instead, he suggests, the two Yuds paired together represent Hashem’s name both as it is written and pronounced--i.e., the first letter of the name Yud-Keh-Vov-Keh [which means Hashem Was, Is, and Will Be], and the last letter of the word Aleph--Daled--Nun and Yud [which means Hashem is Master of All] which is the way in which we currently pronounce Hashem’s name.  Thus, we encompass the intents and meanings of both of Hashem’s Names with the first Yud… and the last Yud.  It is our job to keep the meanings of both words in mind! 



Special Note Four:  We continue with our study of the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei:  HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, (Rav Schwab on Prayer, p. 453) emphasizes that the words U’Gealeinu Meheira LeMa’an Shemecha does not refer to the eventual Geulah Shleimah at the time of Yemos HaMoshiach.  Rather, this is a Tefillah for protection against the daily assaults, fears, apprehensions, and persecutions that our people face, whether in Eretz Yisroel or anywhere else in the world.  What we refer to here in our Bracha as Geulah is the constant protection of HaKadosh Baruch Hu against our enemies while we are in Galus--the Geulah within the Galus--which the Gemara calls Aschalta D’Geulah.



Special Note Five:  We continue our series on Summer Shailos, with the handwritten Teshuvos of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, to us relating to Early Shabbos:


QUESTION:   If a family takes on Shabbos early, when does a woman have to light her candles?

ANSWER: Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’TL, writes (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim, 3:38) that if, as in most cases, the husband makes an early Shabbos because of convenience, not because he wants to add to the kedusha of Shabbos, then the woman is not bound by the kahal’s or the husband’s Kabbolas Shabbos and may light the candles later or even at the time the husband comes home. When an entire community inaugurates the Shabbos early, such as in a bungalow colony, regardless of their rationale, no one in the community is exempt from the kahal’s kabbola. If there are a few minyanim and people alternate from one to the other as the need arises, then there is no tzibbur and no kabbolas hatzibbur. If there is indeed one monolithic community, but a few stragglers continue to ride around in their cars while everyone else is greeting the Shabbos, these people are being mechalel Shabbos and should be admonished. If, as the question suggests, the particular family has decided to honor the Shabbos by adding to its kedusha, then all agree that every family member is bound by one kabbolas Shabbos.


QUESTION:   During the summer, Plag Hamincha on some Shabbasim is after 7:00PM and the Mincha minyan is at 7:00PM . What is the proper time for women to light?

ANSWER: When Plag Hamincha is at 7:00PM , Mincha should be davened before then and Maariv afterwards. There is an (important) opinion which allows for both Mincha and Maariv to be davened after Plag Hamincha on Friday, but the Mishne Berurah frowns upon it and thus, it should be avoided. If no one in shul knows how to calculate the time of Plag Hamincha and no chart is available for guidance, expert help should be sought.

Licht bentchen must be done after Plag Hamincha. In case candles were lit before then, the brocha is considered levatola and candles must be lit again with a brocha. Consult with a Rav for guidance in such situations, if possible.


QUESTION:   If my husband goes to the early minyan can I still do melacha? If so, until when?

ANSWER: Even where a woman may do melacha after her husband was mekabel Shabbos, she may not do melacha for her husband. Please note that a wife is never bound by her husband’s personal Kabbolas Shabbos, only by the kahal’s kabbola where both husband and wife

4 5

belong to the same kehal or by the family’s kabbola as explained above.


QUESTION:   If my husband returned home from shul after attending an early Kabbolas Shabbos minyan, can I still light the candles since it is still not sh’kiah?

ANSWER: It can be argued that licht bentchen is a melacha done for the husband to insure Shalom Bayis and thus should be prohibited as above. You can rely on the lenient opinion but you should strenuously avoid lighting candles after the people come home from shul. This is an affront to kedushas Shabbos and surely not conducive to Shalom Bayis as it belittles your husband. Will the malochim given their brocha when they accompany your husband home from shul and find chol there instead of Shabbos? Take your guess. Never, ever allow for that sort of occurrence.

QUESTION:   If we make early Shabbos, am I permitted to finish the meal before nightfall or do I have to finish it after nightfall? Do I have to eat a kezayis after nightfall?

ANSWER: You should preferably eat at least a kezayis of challah after tzas hacochavim and do not rely on leniencies, as explained in the Mishne Berurah. There is something else to consider when addressing this question. If one began his early Shabbos davening at 7PM as mentioned earlier, he should be making Kiddush around 8PM . What will be taking place at his Shabbosdike tisch? Torah? Zemiros? A joyous, sumptuous family meal in an atmosphere of relaxed happiness and Shabbos holiness? The very question suggests a desire to rush, that the Shabbos seudah is being treated as an interference which must be over and done with as quickly as possible, R’L. In that case, a kezayis after tzas hacochavim will not do the trick (unless we are speaking of merely ensuring that challah is eaten at the end of a properly-conducted meal). Think about it.


QUESTION:   How many candles should my wife light if she normally lights seven candles in the City?  Is there a difference if my kitchen is small or if I rent a bungalow?

ANSWER: If there is room for setting up the full measure of lights, it should be attempted. On the other hand, many lights in cramped quarters with a bunch of small children K’EH running around is both impractical and downright dangerous R’L. Safety is also kavod Shabbos. Be careful!



Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei Re’eh (Nah) V’Anyeinu:  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (in his Sefer Rinas Chaim on Shemone Esrei) asks a question which is essential to our understanding of this Bracha.  The first word of the Bracha is Re’eh--See.  Would anyone imagine that Hashem does not see us?  Everything is open and clear to Him!  HaRav Friedlander answers that when the time came for Hashem to free us from Mitzrayim, the Pasuk relates: “VaYar Elokim Es Bnei Yisroel VaYeida Elokim--and Hashem saw the Bnei Yisroel, and Hashem understood.”  Hashem’s ‘seeing us’ thus directly brought the Geulah.  Rather than continue to hide us away from His view in Mitzrayim, rather than continue in a manner of Hester Panim, Hashem determined that He would now remove the Hester Panim and draw close to His people.  The rest--Yetzias Mitrayim and all of the Nissim VeNiflaos that accompanied it thereafter is very much a part of our history and us.  Now, when we ask Hashem ‘Re’eh (Nah)’, we are asking Hashem to do away with all of the difficulties, hardships and sufferings of the Hester Panim in our current Golus, and replace it with a glowing Hashgacha MeYuchedes of Ha’Aras Panim--shining upon us with His Obvious Presence.  With Hester Panim, our enemies can succeed, overcome us, and even reign over us.  Through Ha’Aras Panim, Hashem’s Watchful Eye and Loving Presence will enlighten every aspect of our lives and it is this that we so very much strive.  Accordingly, we must place real Kavannah into the first word of this Bracha--Re’eh!--Please Hashem, look at us, remove the Hester Panim--and shine upon us Your Ha’Aras Panim from now and forever hereafter!



Special Note Two:  Now that the summer is very much upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, a Rav asked us to review Summer Shailos.  The following Shailos and Teshuvos are questions that we asked Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, in the past, and his responses are either taken from his handwritten responses to us or from recordings of Hakhel Shiurim at which the questions were asked.  If one needs further clarification, he should consult with his Rav or Posek, who in any event should have the final word for any person’s particular Shailah.




QUESTION: Until what age is a woman/man permitted to take her young son/daughter to the pool?

ANSWER: The age of five is a good cut-off point for taking children of the opposite gender to the pool.  In the case of a more mature, or maturely-formed child, a younger age should be set as the limit.


QUESTION: Does a married woman have to cover her hair at the pool, both in and out of the water?

ANSWER: I have always understood that covered hair is the acceptable norm for married women at pools and is definitely the correct and proper thing to do.  There are deviations from the gidrei tznius at the swimming pool, as is understood, but hair covering is not one of them.


QUESTION: Does a married woman have to cover her hair at the pool in order to recite a brocha?

ANSWER: The previous item covers this question. L’daati, even those who are lax with regard to the aforesaid matter should not be meikil when making a brocha.


QUESTION: Is one permitted to recite a brocha at the pool even though the other women are not properly dressed?

ANSWER: In such a situation, one should turn aside and position herself so that her field of vision will encompass only properly-attired individuals.


QUESTION: Is one permitted to read a chumash or a hashkafa sefer at the pool?

ANSWER: One can definitely read a sefer at the pool.  Men should (at the very least) cover their heads while doing so.  Women should put on a robe.  For reading Jewish books (including hashkafa-oriented novels), less is required.


QUESTION: Is a woman permitted to sing in the bungalow if someone who cannot see her would still be able to hear her outside?

ANSWER: A woman may sing in her bungalow at the normal range of volume and male passers-by should keep their distance.  Where this is not practical, she should lower her voice or refrain from singing until they leave the area.



Overcoming Summer Time Nisyonos


QUESTION: Can one take his children to Hershey Park and similar places while on    vacation?

ANSWER: There is another question that is related to the above.  How can you work in Manhattan in the summer?  Rabbosai, I would like to tell you that we are subjected to very big nisyonos.  It is not comparable to a person who is occasionally subjected to things that one’s eyes shouldn’t see.  It is more than that.  It is an incessant bombardment from all sides and at all times, especially in Manhattan , where all the pritzim come together to display their immorality in the most provocative manner.  For a person who has to pass through the streets in order to get to his work place, this constitutes a major challenge that would seemingly require him to keep his eyes focused towards the ground with the exception of not bumping into another person or crossing the street without getting struck by the traffic.  It might seem that by my humor I am declaring that this is too much to ask of a person.  It is not too much to ask.  A person should keep his eyes down and avoid looking directly at those whose aim is to stimulate one’s passions in order to encourage them to purchase a certain brand of cigarettes or liquor, or a car or even a screwdriver for that matter, associating their product with something that a person has an attraction to because of his yetzer hora.  A person should definitely keep his eyes away and it is not easy.  The designers of these advertisements do it in a very expert way, with the knowledge that their provocative appeals will be very difficult to ignore.  That is just the reason why we must thwart their enticements they swamp us with and try to float in front of our eyes.  One has to avoid these influences unless it is absolutely impossible to avoid them. In such cases, one should avoid looking directly at these enticements. While it is true that one may look ridiculous in the eyes of others, it is worth it, gaining many precious zechusim.  We must struggle to clear things away from our eyes that we shouldn’t be seeing.  It is best that if one sees something and one wonders whether or not such a sight is mutar or assur, one should refrain from taking a second glance.  Better to remain ignorant.  You won’t regret it.



Calling Someone Else’s Spouse by Their First Name


QUESTION: We have all been in the same bungalow colony for the last ten years.  Is there anything wrong with referring to somebody else’s spouse on a first name basis?

ANSWER: The way the question is worded, there is an implication that something is not correct about calling somebody’s spouse by his or her first name if you have only known them for eight or nine years—but that ten years is different, and at that point, a first-name basis would be permissible.  However, the opposite is true.  The longer one knows a person of the opposite gender, the less likely you should call him or her by his or her first name.  There is more danger in such situations when you become very familiar with another person’s spouse.  Tznius is something that has to be learned.  The best way is to promote an elevated level of tznius in the relaxed, summer setting, whether in the bungalow colony or elsewhere.  During the weekdays, when women are alone in the country, they should still not go out to the swimming pool from their bungalow without the proper outerwear attire.  Tznius should be an important issue at all times.  A person should use chachma and seichel and not put themselves into potentially harmful

situations.  We live in a world where everyone else considers normal those activities that we recognize as to’aivah (abominations).  Therefore, you have to be careful that you behave and talk in a manner that reflects tznius and self-control.  These tiny breaches if not controlled can be the openings for dangerous situations.



Use of One Sink for Both Milk and Meat


QUESTION: My kitchen in the bungalow has only one sink.  In the past I used a separate rack in the sink for milk and a second rack for meat.  Is there anything else I need to do since I wash my dishes with hot water?

ANSWER: Yes, there is absolutely something that you can and must do.  Throw out the racks and get large dish pans (shisselach).  Rabbosai, racks are not a good system.  Whenever someone tries to use racks, there is cutlery (i.e. forks and knives) that slip through the holes in the racks.  The bottom of the sink has a fine layer covering of fleischig schmaltz combined with cheese and cream, butter and who knows what else.  It is almost impossible to control.  There will be backups and the water will rise and maybe it will be a keli sheni.  The backup will get all over the dishes and it will be an impossible situation for you to wash off all the dishes.  You shouldn’t use racks.  If you want to use a rack, put it under a dish pan.  The stores have plenty of these plastic dish pans in every color or shape to fit your particular need.



Yichud Issues


QUESTION: My husband goes shopping on Thursday night and oftentimes some neighbors want to go along.  Sometimes it is just one woman.  Is there a problem of yichud?

ANSWER: The answer is yes!  It can become a yichud issue when you travel on a dark country road late at night that is not well-traveled.  Again, even if it is something that is done once, it is a problem.


QUESTION: Sometimes I have to go to the City during the week and stay late at night.  I would like a female counselor to stay overnight in the bungalow to watch over the children.  What is the best thing to do to ensure that there will not be a problem with yichud?

ANSWER: If the female counselor is going to stay in the bungalow with a nine year-old boy, there is really no way to get away from the problem of yichud.  If the child is seven or eight years old, young enough to not have an active yetzer hora, it might be permissible to have the counselor stay overnight to watch the children.



Am I Required to Help a Stranded Motorist?


QUESTION: If I see someone pulled over to the side of the road with car trouble, am I required to stop and help?  Does it matter if I have my family with me and my stopping will inconvenience and make it harder for them?  What if my wife is expecting me home?

ANSWER: This is a very serious question and you have to utilize a lot of judgment.  To help someone and yet in the process cause a lot of tza’ar (hardship) and hurt others is not a simple thing to do.  One must think very carefully and make a judgment.  I was once driving up to the country and it was a very difficult ride.  It was very hot outside and there was a major traffic jam just north of the City.  There was a Yid who was stuck changing a tire on a very crowded spot on a little traffic island, surrounded by traffic on both sides.  There was no place to park.  I decided it would be better to drive on to the toll booths which was another five minutes away and inform them that there was a motorist stuck and that they should send an official vehicle to help him out.  As I was driving, a goy pulled up to me and stated loudly, “You didn’t stop to help your brother!”



Removing Yarmulkes and Tzitzis


QUESTION: May my son take off his yarmulke when playing ball?

ANSWER: While one is playing ball or engaged in any sport, G-d forbid that he should remove his yarmulke, for this leads to lightheadedness and stems from a lightheaded attitude.  One who fears that his yarmulke might fly off should attach it with bobby pins or the like.


QUESTION: May I take off my tzitzis when going to the pool?

ANSWER: A ben Torah should walk to and from the pool wearing tzitzis (and when playing ball).  Tzitzis should not be the clothing which we show we are more lax in during the summer months.  If you are going in the swimming pool and take off your tzitzis for more than an hour’s time, you must make a new brocha when putting them back on.  When taking off the tzitzis for only a half-hour, no new brocha is needed.  If the tzitzis are off from anywhere between a half-hour and an hour, you should not make a new brocha based on sofek brochas l’hakel.


Food-Related Items Under Bed


QUESTION: My wife and children say that because of lack of space in their bungalow/bunk in camp, they would like to store snack foods, drinks and plastic eating utensils underneath the beds. Is this permissible?

ANSWER: One should not use the space to store food or drinks, but utensils may be kept there.  If you mistakenly left food or drink there, you may use them.



Special Note One:  Looking Forward!  With the Nach Yomi’s conclusion of Sefer Iyov on Thursday, July 7th, Shiur HaShirim begins on Friday, July 8th.  Incredibly, by Rosh Hashanah, Nach Yomi participants will then complete Shir HaShirim, Rus, Eicha, Koheles, Esther, Doniel, Ezra, and Nechemia.


What a remarkable accomplishment over the summer!  Will you join in and be a part of it?



Special Note Two:  We continue with our study of the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Re’eh (Nah) V’Anyeinu.  The Bais Yosef (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 115) writes that this Bracha of Geulah refers to each and every Geulah from every single Tzara that Hashem saves us from.  In the Kuntrus Avodas HaTefillah, Rabbi Meyer Birnbaum, Shlita, explains that the first two phrases of the Bracha, in fact, refer to two different kinds of Geulah:  With the phrase Re’eh Nah V’Anyeinu we ask Hashem for His mercy in saving us from Tzaros which do not come from other human beings (such as floods, financial downturns, and the like), while in VeRiva Riveinu we ask Hashem to help us from the Tzaros that come about through other human beings (criminals, terrorists, wars, etc.).  After describing the sources, we then ask that ‘U’Gealeinu MeHeira’--Hashem, speedily redeem us, even if we are not worthy.  Thus, with the teaching of the Bais Yosef, we comprehend how all encompassing and pervasive Hashem’s Koach HaGeulah really is.  Through the breakdown of the Kuntrus Avodas HaTefillah, we learn to divide the Geulah into its parts, making each aspect of Geulah a separate request, and infusing particular meaning into the phrases of the Bracha--accompanied by a plea in all events of Meheira--even if we may not deserve it, please shower your mercy upon us speedily.



Special Note Three:  Which animal was created with a power of speech and lost it?  If you answered the Nachash, the snake, then you, of course, responded correctly.  The Meforshim explain that in last week’s Parsha, after complaining against Hashem, Moshe Rabbeinu and the Mon, those who were afflicted with the Nechashim HaSerafim, were told to look at the Nechash HaNechoshes in order to be healed and live.  By understanding the error of their ways in following the Nachash’s evil speech against Hashem, they would realize never to do so again.  The Middah KeNeged Middah was blatant for all to see.  The Meforshim (brought in the Sefer Talelei Oros) add several other extremely important points relating to the Nechash HaNechoshes, and its placement on a pole for K’lal Yisroel to look up to: 


A.  The Maharal writes that just looking up to Shomayim itself creates a feeling of awe and recognition of our Creator.  Indeed, the Sefer Chareidim writes that one should look up to Shomayim from time-to-time and recite the Posuk “Ki Ereh Shamecha Ma’asei Etzbeosecha Yare’ach V’Chochavim Asher Konanta” (Tehillim 8:4).  Hakhel Note--Remember--Look Up at Shomayim during the Day!


B.  The Ramban writes that although the snakes initially caused harm and death in the Midbar,  Hashem commanded that looking at the image of a snake itself would bring about the cure--so that the people would understand that Hashem and only Hashem is the One who makes ill and heals, who is ‘Maymis U’Mechayeh’, and who brings about the Yeshuah.  Indeed, other Meforshim point out that in a sense it would be anti-logical to look at a snake, for looking at the object that bit you would at least mentally cause more harm than good.  Nevertheless, the people were instructed to look at the very snake and look at Shomayim simultaneously--thereby recognizing the true, ultimate and only source of their Refuah. 


C.  The Sefas Emes provides a related insight.  He writes that the snake was even then known as a ‘Segulah Refuis’, something which provided (perhaps through its venom) special healing medicines or potions.  We note that it is perhaps for this reason even today the symbol of a pharmacist or apothecary is a snake on a pole or stick.  By lifting the snake high up, Hashem intended for the people to understand that even when being osek in medicines or therapies, they should lift their eyes up to Heaven, and realize that everything is up to Hashem.  Thus, whether it be taking a medicine, even it be only an aspirin for a simple headache, when undertaking physical therapy for a damaged knee, or when undertaking any other healing regimen, one ‘should look to Heaven’, affirming that one recognizes where the Refuah is truly coming from.  The world at large by making it the sign of medicinal healing have taken the diametrically opposed message of its true meaning! It is for this reason that we are sure to recite a Yehi Ratzon (as published in earlier Bulletins) before taking medicine, going to a doctor, and the like.  We must be careful not to lose the ikar when it is covered by a thin veil of tofel!


D.  Finally, it is fascinating to note that perhaps the most famous piece of the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim relating to Ain Od Melvado is immediately followed with the description from last week’s Parsha of the placement of the Nachash on the pole.  The Sefer Nefesh HaChaim then explains “K’Shehistaklu K’lapei Ma’alah LeHaNachash HaSoreif Hisbonenu Kocho HaRah, Im Kol Zech Batluhu MiLibam…”--When the Bnei Yisroel looked to the Heavens and saw the snake on the pole they understood its evil strength but voided it from their hearts and were not concerned with its awesome power, and instead, truthfully subjugated their hearts only to their Father in Heaven, and with this they were healed. 

Hakhel Note:  What a paradigm lesson for each and every one of us in the world that we live in and the situations, encounters, and difficulties that we encounter on a daily basis!


Let us review each and every one of the above teachings and inculcate them into daily life!



Special Note Four:  Finally, in last week’s Parsha, we are taught that when the Amaleikim went to war against B’nai Yisroel, the tried hiding their identity by not speaking their language, but instead the language of the Cana’anim.  With this, they hoped that the Bnai Yisroel would daven for the destruction of the wrong enemy and lose their war.  Nevertheless, the Bnai Yisroel realized that something was awry when they saw their antagonists with Cana’ani speech--but with Amaleiki clothing.  Accordingly, the Bnai Yisroel davened a general Tefillah that Hashem save them from the enemies whomever they may be--a Tefillah that worked beautifully.  Rebbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, Z’tl, asked:  “Why did the Amaleikim dress in their own clothing--who did they think they were fooling with the Cana’anite tongue?!”  He answered that their clothing was obviously so important to them that they would not give it up for any reason--even at the expense of their not being able to fool the Bnai Yisroel!  With this, he teaches, how important it if for us to make sure how important it is for us, as the Mamleches Kohanim V’Goy Kadosh to keep our clothing special, holy, and distinct.  It is not coincidence, as it never is, that this teaching comes to us with the summer months upon us.  We must be exceedingly careful to keep our standards of dress when davening, when learning, and when among the nations on the streets and yes, even on vacation.  Amaleik, as the lowest of nations, did not change their dress.  We, as the most royal, most certainly cannot and should not change ours!



Question of The Week:  Was there anyone in the Midbar who had killed BeShogeg during the time that Aharon was Kohen Gadol?  The Mesech Chochma writes that no, there were none, as the Pasuk says that Kol Bais Yisroel--all of Bnei Yisroel cried over Aharon’s petira, and if someone had killed Beshogeg, he would not have cried because he would finally be released from the Machane Leviah upon the Kohen Gadol’s petira.  In our time, All of Bais Yisroel must feel the loss of the three Gedolim, Guardians of Torah and of our People who were taken from us so devastatingly in the recent days.  The Chumash Torah Temimah writes that Misas Tzadikkim is Mechaperes because of the special Kavod--the hespedim and the Chesed that we show to Tzadikkim who were niftar.  Learning or giving Tzedaka in their merit would certainly appear to come within this teaching.  Chazal (Moed Katan 28A) teach that we learn that Misas Tzadikkim is Mechaperes both from Miriam and from Aharon--and NON-COINCIDENTALLY both of these occurred in, and are derived from, last week’s Parsha (Bamidbar 20:1 and 26)!--Let us take the message--and act upon it!  {If any reader has seen an explanation as to why we have to learn Misas Tzadikkim is Mechaperes two times--both from Miriam and from Aharon, we would appreciate your sharing it with us and our readers}.


Special Note One:  As we continue to feel the loss, we must note the teaching of this past week’s Pirkei Avos--“Teshuva U’Ma’asim Tovim Kisris Bifnei HaPuraniyos--Teshuva and good deeds are a shield against future retribution” (Avos 4:11 ). The Tosfos Yom Tov (ibid.) points out that the ‘shield’ referred to is specifically against punishments and retributions that are set to come to the world.  We certainly at this point need to do whatever we can to prevent further retribution.  May we suggest that your own participation in the Three Month Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva Project (which began only yesterday), together with your asking others to join in, may constitute the very Teshuva--combined with Ma’asim Tovim in one-- that you and the world need to stay protected!


Additional Note One:  Let us turn for a moment to our monthly Ani Ma’amin focus.  We begin with Tammuz the Eleventh (!) of the Thirteen Ani Ma’amins.  The Eleventh Ani Ma’amin is especially apposite, not only because of the recent events, but also because it seems to describe the events of the Month of Tammuz in our history.  Ani Ma’amin Be’Emunah Sheleima She’HaBoreh Yisborach Shemo Gomel Tov Leshomrei Mitzosav, U’Ma’anish LeOvrei Mitzvosav--Hashem rewards and punishes with correctness and clarity--in perfect accordance with our deeds.  This month, the worshippers of the golden calf and their supporters were wiped away, while Shevet Levi and the Kohanim gained everlasting and eternal prominence as the leaders of our people.  Similarly, our women, who failed to succumb to pressure and sin, are especially rewarded and blessed with a closeness to Rosh Chodesh monthly in a way that men are not zoche to.  Hashem is a judge who wants us to demonstrate our goodness--who so wants to be a Gomel Tov to us--let us be deserving--for it is oh so very much within our reach.


Additional Note Two:  We should seriously contemplate how we can personally improve our own separate and distinct Ma’asim Tovim as well--since the Ma’asim Tovim of no two people are alike.  One reader suggested that he realized in his own life that just as there is an elevated concept of Nosei Be’Ol Im Chaveiro, there is a very related concept of Nosei Be’ol Im Mishpachto--and that he had to very much consider the feelings, the needs, and the sensitivities, of each family member--something he had been glossing over in the past--because they were after all ‘family’.  We may add to this thought that the bracha given at a bris is LeTorah LeChupah U’LeMa’asim Tovim.  Interestingly, Ma’asim Tovim is not paired together with Torah--but is mentioned only after Chupah--as if to indicate that the acid test of a person’s Ma’asim Tovim will come after the Chupah --with his (her) attitude, behavior and sensitivity towards his spouse and family!


Additional Note Three:  In the first short segment of our Sha’arei Teshuva study, Rabbeinu Yonah brings Chazal who teach that if a Talmid Chochom has sinned--don’t think of him negatively the next day--for if he is a true Talmid Chochom, then Vadai Asah Teshuva--he has certainly done Teshuva by the morning.  In this way, everyone can attach himself to the deeds of Talmidei Chachomim, by not missing the opportunity of Teshuva--if at no other time than in the bracha of Selach Lanu (as discussed last week)--with opportunity knocking three times a day!



Special Note Two:  We now reach the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Re’eh (Na) Veanyeinu--the bracha of Geulah!  HaRav Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash, provides important guidelines and guidance in this bracha.  “In this Bracha, one should daven for Geulas Yisroel--not because we will then be the princes of the land and leaders of mankind, which will in fact be the case, but rather so that we can once and for all finally attain Shlaimus and bring an end to Chillul Hashem--as it is permanently replaced with Kiddush Hashem--and this is what we mean by U’Ge’alainu Meheira LeMa’an Shemecha.  We should also have in mind that even if we are not worthy of being saved--Hashem can act through his Great Mercy by miracle--outside of and beyond teva-- to redeem us even if we are undeserving--and this is the essence of Ki Go’el Chazak Atta.  HaRav Eibeschutz concludes that even if one did not see the Ultimate Geulah today, he must recognize and appreciate that EVERY DAY we are redeemed from enemies--some more overt, some less overt, who seek to harm, hurt and destroy us in any way they can devise--and Hashem saves us from their designs. This is why the bracha concludes in the present tense--Go’el Yisroel--because we truly experience Geulah every day--and should show our appreciation to Hashem for it.  Indeed, it may very well be that if we properly recognize Hashem’s great graciousness to us in our daily Geulos--we can be zoche Middah KeNegged Middah to the great and final Ge’ulah--speedily and in OUR day!



Special Note One:  Additional Notes on the Portals of Tammuz, and the 40 day period we commence today:


A.  With the commencement of Tammuz, we recognize not only that ten months of the year have passed, but that there are still three months left to go (as is evidenced by the great Sha’arei Teshuva Project above)!  Indeed, as some write, “Tammuz” is an acronym (juxtaposed) for “Zeman Teshuva Mimashmesh U’Ba”--and likewise for “Zerizim Makdimim V’Osin Teshuva”--both spell “Tammuz” in the Hebrew, and both mean that our feelings towards drawing closer to Hashem should begin to intensify at this time.  We provide another possible outstanding accomplishment.  For instance, the entire book Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, published by Artscroll, 2005), can be studied over its five-minute a day, 89-day cycle which begins on Sunday, the first of Tammuz and concludes on Erev Rosh Hashanah.  Uplifting and upgrading your davening, and improving upon your bond with Hashem, is a great way to concomitantly conclude this year, prepare for the Yomim Noraim and grow in the coming year!  Praying with Fire, is one of Artscroll’s bestselling Seforim ever, and is available in large and even pocket-sized copies in your local Jewish bookstore.  Even to the many who have gone through the Sefer once and more than once, perhaps do it with some family or friends, or others, and try to discuss with them the short five-minute segments presented daily.


B.  According to many, the first day of Tammuz is the date of the birth and petira of Yosef HaTzadik.  Chazal teach that Yosef was mekadesh shem shamayim b’seser--sanctified Hashem’s name in private--by not falling prey to the wife of Potiphar and withstanding this great test.  As a result, he was zoche to have a letter of Hashem’s name added to his name--and is known in Tehillim as “Yehosef” as well.  Accordingly, it would be extremely appropriate this Rosh Chodesh to remember Yosef--and memorialize the day--by performing a Kiddush Shem Shamayim B’seser--by undertaking an act of Kiddush Hashem that only you know about.  We leave it up to you!


C.   As we all know, if the Meraglim would have come back with the proper report, Tisha B’Av would have been marked as a day of eternal celebration, rather than a day which now lives in infamy.  In the time of Bayis Sheni, Tisha B’Av was, in fact, celebrated.  As it is referred to as a “Moed”, it will be certainly celebrated again--may it be this year.  The Targum Yonasan on last week’s Parsha explains that the Meraglim set out on their journey today, the 29th day of Sivan.  Thus, these very days--i.e., the next 40 days ahead of us until Tisha B’Av, which are perfectly parallel to the Meraglim’s 40-day trip (as Rav Dessler, Z’tl, explains, they are more than points of recollection in time, but an actual reliving of these times), are full of the potential to bring us a happy Tisha B’Av, if we reframe and recharacterize these days into days of building rather than days of destruction; days of finding the positive instead of the negative; days of compliments and not of snide or hurtful remarks; days in which we show our love towards Eretz Yisroel and its inhabitants in some unique and special way.  We know what we have to do.  Like the Meraglim, we have a mission.  Let’s succeed with flying colors--it is well within our capabilities, and the benefits and rewards will far exceed the investment and effort--as we will see when the Moshiach comes, Bimheira B’Yameinu!



Special Note Two:  Every Wednesday, HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek , Dayan Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended by approximately 100-125 woman.  This past 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.  Questions 1-35 were covered in previous weeks.  We now continue with a summary of those questions:


36. Is one permitted to add milk to a coffee that is in a second vessel?

    Liquids; e.g., water or pasteurized milk, may be added to a Keli Sheni.  This is true even if only a small amount of liquid is added.


37. Is one permitted to add salt or sugar to a first vessel?

    Salt or Sugar may be added to a Keli Sheni.  However one may not pour hot water from a Keli Rishon onto salt/sugar.


38. Is one permitted to warm up cold gravy in a third vessel?

    Yes, completely cooked liquids may even be reheated in a Kli Sheni.


39. Is one permitted to eat coleslaw with a piece of meat that is yad soledes bo?

    In order to answer this question, we need to explain some of the halachos of a Davar Gush--A Hot Solid:

A hot solid that has been removed from a Keli Rishon and placed into a Keli Sheni still remains very hot.  This hot solid is called a Davar Gush.  A question is raised in the Poskim as to the status of a Davar Gush:  Since it retains its heat, is it to be considered as a Keli Rishon?      There is a dispute among the Poskim regarding the status of a Davar Gush.  Some Poskim treat a Davar Gush no differently from any other food, with all the relevant dinim of Keli Rishon, Sheni, Shlishi, etc., applying to a Davar Gush.  Other Poskim are more stringent.  They maintain that since the Davar Gush retains its heat, it must still be considered a Keli Rishon even after it has been transferred to a Keli Sheni.  Practically, one may rely on the lenient opinion.  The Mishnah Berurah however states that one should follow the stringent opinion; e.g., according to the strict opinion, mayonnaise may not be placed on a hot potato.  According to some Poskim, pre-cooked liquid (even if totally cooled), e.g. ketchup, may be placed on a Davar Gush in a Keli Shlishi.  For this reason, margarine may be smeared on a hot potato or corn in a Keli Shlishi.  Others however are stringent in this matter.  Pre-cooked salt may be placed on a Davar Gush in a Keli Sheni on the condition that the salt will not dissolve.  Even according to the strict opinion, a Davar Gush has the status of a Keli Rishon only when it is standing independently on a plate. However if the Davar Gush is within a soup, it has the same status as the soup.  A hot Davar Gush may not be removed from a Keli Rishon and placed inside a cool liquid--even if placed in a large quantity of liquid.  For example, one may not place a hot potato in a bowl of cold water.  For the same reason, it would be prohibited to cool a hot, hard-boiled egg in a pan of cold water.  One may not place a hot Davar Gush on a cold, unboiled liquid; e.g., one may not place a hot potato on a plate on which there is a little oil.


40. What is the ruling regarding a ladle? Is it considered as a first vessel or a second one?

The Poskim write that it makes a difference how much time the ladle is inside the Keli Rishon.  If the ladle was inside the Keli Rishon long enough for the contents of the ladle to be as hot as the contents of the Keli Rishon, then the ladle is to be considered a Keli Rishon, and the liquid poured from the ladle an Irui Keli Rishon.  However if the ladle was quickly inserted into the Keli Rishon and removed immediately, then it has the status of a Keli Sheni and the contents poured from the ladle are considered an Irui Keli Sheni.  Practically speaking, unless the ladle was removed immediately from the Keli Rishon, we should always consider the ladle a Keli Rishon and pouring from a ladle an Irui Keli Rishon.  Regarding the bowl into which the contents of the ladle are poured:  Some Poskim are of the opinion that although the ladle is given the status of a Keli Rishon, the bowl may be regarded as a Keli Shlishi.  Therefore, if soup was ladled out of a Keli Rishon and poured into a bowl, it would be permitted to add salt to the soup.  One would also be permitted to add matzah, etc., to the soup as it is considered a Keli Shlishi.  However, other Poskim are of the opinion that the bowl is a Keli Sheni, and for salt, challah, croutons or matzah, etc. to be added to the soup, it must first be transferred to a Keli Sheni, e.g., a soup tureen, and then to the bowl, making the bowl a definite Keli Shlishi.  Common practice is for soup to be placed in a Keli Shlishi or to insure that the bowl is a Kli Shlishi to avoid all such problems of Bishul.  Those who do not use a tureen and would like to add salt to the soup, backed goods into the bowl should be careful to remove the ladle immediately from the Keli Rishon so that it has the status of a Keli Sheni, thereby making the soup bowl a Keli Shlishi.  

Another problem that arises when using a ladle is that if after removing the ladle from the Keli Rishon, the soup that remains on the ladle gets cold, then it would be prohibited to reinsert the ladle into the Keli Rishon unless the ladle was first wiped dry. To avoid this problem some people are careful to leave the ladle on top of the pot or prepare all the bowls of soup that are needed at one time.  The same is true of the pot cover, when the cover is removed the liquid inside the cover has cooled. In such a case, the cover must be wiped dry before it is replaced on a hot pot



Special Note Three:  At the outset of this week’s Parsha, the Torah writes “Zos Chukas HaTorah Asher Tzivah Hashem…this is the law of the Torah which Hashem has commanded,”--and then the Torah adds, Laymor, to say.” The Chasam Sofer teaches that there is a remarkable lesson here.  The chok--the decree--of the Torah is Laymor--to say it, repeat it, tell it over.  Whatever Hashem commanded, Laymor, say it, tell it, and proclaim it to others.  Were it not for this great teaching to aid, assist, and guide those who transgress, every Tzadik would sit quietly at home and worry only about his own elevation.  There would not be any responsibilities for the ills of mankind.  No Tzadik would be responsible for anyone but himself.


Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Shlita, of Yeshivas Toras Emes, writes:


“American people love to say: ‘Mind you own business.’  Our business is the spread of Torah and Mitzvos.  Accordingly, mind your business well.  You dare not and must not keep quiet if you can rectify a wrong doing.  Help someone become a better person.  Remember—Laymor--spread Ruchniyus by constantly talking about it to others.”


Hakhel Note:  We add that a person can be defined by what he talks about.  Try working on your Laymor--follow your speech, for it is a preeminent Torah principle--a Chukas HaTorah!



Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parsha, we find a unique Pasuk which requires explanation, even for its simple meaning:  Al Kein Yomru Hamoshlim Bau Cheshbon…regarding this the poets [Artscroll translation] would say come to Cheshbon….”  Chazal (Bava Basra 78B) teach that this Posuk refers to those who are moshel, those who rule over their Yetzer Hara.  How do they succeed?  Chazal continue, because they weigh the benefits of doing a Mitzvah against the losses incurred, and the loss of doing an aveirah against the benefits incurred.  The Chofetz Chaim helps clarify these losses and benefits for us:  The benefits of a Mitzvah are forever, while the pleasures of an aveirah are temporal.  The enjoyment of an aveirah, he continues, is weak in comparison to the awesome gratification that a Mitzvah will bring.  The Chofetz Chaim concludes that when that proverbial fork in the road presents itself, and a person must make a decision--Will he go there?  Will he say this?  Will he miss this?  Will he not do that?--he should picture a scale in front of him with the relative benefits and detriments of the proposed activity.  Indeed, beyond the scale he should view the background of Gan Eden awaiting one who makes the proper choice--an everlasting benefit for the right decision each and every time!



Special Note Five:  We conclude our focus on the Sixth Bracha of Selach Lanu today, with the words of the Sifsei Chaim, HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl.  HaRav Friedlander asks why the two Brachos of Hashiveinu and Selach Lanu are not, in fact, combined as one.  After all, does not Hashiveinu begin the Teshuva process and Selach Lanu complete it--as two parts of one whole?  HaRav Friedlander answers that Chazal specifically separated our Bracha of Selach Lanu in order for us to fulfill the Fifteenth Ikar HaTeshuva listed in the Sha’arei Teshuva (1:41-42).  The Fifteenth Ikar is Tefillah--that one should daven to Hashem and ask for His mercy in forgiving and erasing his sins.  HaRav Friedlander concludes that it is part of Hashem’s incredible kindness--that He allows us to come back to Him and pray time after time with this fault and that foible, and still forgive us through our Tefillos to have our Teshuva accepted.  It is for this reason that we conclude the Bracha with the words HaMarbeh LeSeloach--for Hashem abundantly forgives us--time and time again, and brings us to the level of Selichah, as if we had not sinned!  What a daily opportunity--and we have it three times a day!


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