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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin

JULY 2015 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE

 

 

15 Menachem Av

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 7--PARASHAS V’ESCHANAN

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that Mezuza is a Mitzvah which brings upon us Kabolas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. The Rambam (in Hilchos Mezuza) writes that the Mezuza reminds us that “Ein Davar Omeid L’Olmei Olamim Elah Yediyas Tzur Olamim”--there is nothing that lasts forever except for one’s connection to Hashem! Stop by the Mezuzah, and as many do, place your hand upon it and either recite one of the famous Pesukim (such as Hashem Shomri, Hashem Tzili, Ahl Yad Yemini, or Hashem Yishmor Tzeitsicha U’voecha Mei’ata V’Ahd Olam), or think about Hashem’s love and protection over you.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

One easy but important ‘habit’ we can develop is provided to us in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (183:6): “When one sees someone involved in his work, give him a bracha of ‘Tatzliach B’Ma’asecha--may you have success in your endeavors!”

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

When engaged in Torah study, Tefillah, or in any Mitzvah, rather than leaving two or three minutes before the time you have allotted for it--make it two or three minutes later. Move in the right direction--elevate yourself!

 

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QUESTION OF THE DAY : Rashi in last week’s Parasha, based on the word Venoshantem, teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed 850 years after our entry into Eretz Yisrael rather than 852 years after our entry into Eretz Yisrael, for, if Hashem would have waited the additional two years, all of K’lal Yisrael would have been destroyed. Why did Hashem not allow us an extra year--the 851st year in Eretz Yisrael as well? After all--did not Hashem wait until the last possible moment in Mitzrayim--before we reached the 50th level of tumah, and only then did he take us out. Certainly, then--for the good--couldn’t we have stayed in Eretz Yisrael one year longer?

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V’AHAVTA! In this week’s Parasha, we will learn of the fundamental requirement of V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha  (Devorim 6:5) set forth at the outset of Shema. The Seforno (ibid.) provides a most beautiful and instructive insight as to how we can demonstrate this love: “Tismach La’asos Davar Sheyitav B’Einav, Ka’asher Tavin She’ein Tachlis Nichbad Kazeh!--rejoice in doing that which is good in the eyes of Hashem, with the understanding that there is no more honorable pursuit!” Let us review this very practical and meaningful explanation of V’Ahavta--and try to implement it on a daily basis!

 

Hakhel Note: On the same word of V’Ahavta, the Ba’al Haturim (ibid.) writes that if we transpose the letters--V’Ahavta spells--HaAvos--our forefathers! The Ba’al Haturim then goes on to show that: (i) Avraham Avinu demonstrably fulfilled Bechol Levavecha, as the Pasuk (Nechemia 9:8) teaches: “U’Matzasa Es Levavo Ne’eman Lefanecha”; (ii) Yitzchak Avinu demonstrably fulfilled U’Vechol Nafshecha by being Moser Nefesh at the Akeida; and (iii) Yaakov Avinu fulfilled U’vechol Me’odecha by declaring (Bereishis 28:22): “Vechol Asher Titein Li Aser A’asrehnu Lach”. According to the Ba’al Haturim, then--we unite with the Middos of the Avos--as we recite the Pasuk of V’Ahavta!

 

Important Reminder Provided By More Than One Reader: “One should be careful to pronounce the word as “v’ahavTA” (and you shall love), rather than “v’aHAVta” (and you did love).”

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FIND YOURSELF! Rabbi Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, points out that the shortest Sefer of Navi and the longest Sefer of Navi each begin with the same word--Chazon (the vision).  The shortest Sefer is Ovadia which is one perek and relates to the destruction of Edom (from whom Ovadia had originally descended), and the largest Sefer is Yeshayahu (whose close relatives were the Kings of Yehudah at the time) which has 66 Perakim, and which contains many nevuos of consolation.  Everyone has a task and a role in making K’lal Yisrael succeed--and one should spend the time to determine what it is.  Hakhel Note:  It is said that HaRav Zundel Salanter, z’tl, was once seen practicing how he bowed during Shemone Esrei in the middle of the day.  When asked why he was doing so, he responded that he couldn’t wait until Shemone Esrei--when he was already standing before the King of Kings--to figure out what to do and how to do it.  In the aftermath of Tisha B’Av and in anticipation of redemption, we too should not wait very much longer in order to figure out what exactly it is that we have to do !

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THE PREFERRED ROUTE! The Geulah from Mitzrayim happened miraculously.  The Geulah from Galus Bavel happened in the so-called ‘ordinary course’ as part of the apparent plan of King Koresh to re-unite us with our homeland.  Which will the final Geulah be?  It is said that the Chofetz Chaim did not rejoice at all when he heard of the Balfour Declaration--for the third and final Geulah could come either way--and the miraculous route is much preferred.  Perhaps with this we can appreciate the special, double entendre in our daily Shemone  Esrei as we recite the words “VeSa Nes LeKabetz Goluyoseinu--and lift up a banner [a miracle] to gather together our exiles.  If the Chofetz Chaim preferred a miracle--certainly so too should we!  Let us remember at these words to daven with sincerity that Hashem lift the Nes--high up for all of us to see--Bekarov Bimeheira Veyameinu!

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Special Note One:  Today, joyously, is the 15th day of Av, Tu B’Av.  We are all too familiar with the five major tragedies that occurred on Tisha B’Av through the fall of Beitar and the plowing over of Zion (succeeded by other later tragedies as well).  We may be equally as familiar with the five corresponding great events of Tu B’Av:  Very briefly, 1.  It was finally determined that the final group of men aged 20-60 (previously part of the decree to pass away in the Midbar) were allowed the privilege of entering Eretz Yisrael.  2.  The shevet of Binyamin was saved from extinction by the shevatim being permitted to marry their daughters to the few hundred men left---so that there would be a kiyum of the shevet forever.  3.  The guards posted by the Kings of the Aseres Hashevatim for hundreds of years, which prevented the ten tribes from freely traveling to the Beis Hamikdash, were removed--and all were allowed to make their way to the Mikdash.  4.  The scores of thousands of people of Beitar who were murdered by the Roman legions, and whose bodies miraculously did not decompose for years, were finally allowed by the Romans to be buried (and as a result the bracha of HaTov Vehameitiv was composed).  5.  The people would no longer cut firewood for the Bais HaMikdash commencing on this date, because the sun’s rays had begun to weaken, and the people celebrated the completion of the Mitzvah (which also allowed for more time for the study of Torah, as explained by the commentaries). 

 

There is, however, an additional significant point about this day mentioned in the Mishna in Ta’anis (4:5).  There were nine days during the year in which families donated necessary wood to the Bais HaMikdash and celebrated the privilege by bringing a special sacrifice--a Korban Eitzim along with it.  One of these special nine days of the year was Tu B’Av.  However, there was something more special about the wood brought on Tu B’Av than on the other eight days--for on the other eight days the wood brought was limited to one particular family’s gift--but on Tu B’Av, as the Mishna specifically records it was a particular family --”the children of Zeitu ben Yehuda”--but together with Kohanim and Leviim; and together with anyone who no longer knew which shevet he was from, and together with other families who had demonstrated mesirus nefesh to reach the Beis Hamikdash in the past (see Bartenura there for details). In other words, there was a unique achdus on this day which went well beyond the singular family donation, and extended it to a united gift from various groups together.  It was almost as if the events of Tu B’Av were to be a blatant demonstration as to how the issues of Tisha B’Av have to be resolved--with togetherness and selflessness.  Indeed, the Bnai Yissoschar explains that it is no coincidence (did you really think that it was?!) that all of this happened on the fifteenth of AV--and that the fifteenth letter of the Aleph Vais is a Samech.  The Samech has no top and no bottom, no beginning and no end--indicating unity, harmony and accord.  It is for this reason, as the Mishna teaches, that the unwed girls would go out on this day in shared clothing (so that there was equality among rich and poor as well)--and dance in a circle --demonstrating that although one may be a Kohen, another a Levi, a third may not know which shevet he was from, another rich, another poor--we are all joined as one, and will always be one.

 

The last Mishna in Ta’anis teaches that there were no greater Yomim Tovim for K’lal Yisrael than Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur.  On the surface, we could explain that this is because on Yom Kippur we united with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and on Tu B’Av we united with each other.  The Kopshitzer Rebbe, z’tl teaches, however, that when we dance with each other on Tu B’Av--holding on to the next one’s hand and going around in that undefined circle joined together B’Achdus as one--then HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s hand is very much holding on to ours as well. 

 

Most certainly, when we dance together at any simcha, we should feel the spiritual elevation--the unity and oneness with everyone in our circle, and with HaKadosh Baruch Hu Who joins with us as well.  On this very special day, Tu B’Av, let us consciously demonstrate that we appreciate and understand the very special juxtaposition of Tisha B’Av and Tu B’Av.  Let us practice extra-special acts of love and caring for our brothers--holding on tight and joyously dancing in that broad and meaningful circle with everyone--whether or not we may actually be on any one plywood floor together! 

 

 

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

 

1.  Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, Shlita, points out that this Shabbos is not called Shabbos Nachamu because it is a time of relaxation or comedy--but because it is a time for one to appreciate his closeness to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  The notion of laxity associated with this Shabbos, and its related Motza’ei Shabbos, is immediately dispelled by the words of the Aseres HaDibros (coincidentally?) in this week’s Parasha!

 

2.  There are some special points of interest this Shabbos:

 

·        One should study and sing the words of Lecha Dodi in order to better appreciate and recognize the nexus between the Beis HaMikdash and Shabbos.  One reader advised us that he heard from an Adam Gadol that the Three Weeks and the Seven Weeks of Nechama are all alluded to in the Lecha Dodi

 

·        When reciting Av HaRachamim on Shabbos morning, let us consider that we are apparently given the permission to do so because we profoundly combine the Kedusha of the Kedoshim described, together with the Kedusha of Shabbos. 

 

·        In each Birkas HaMazon we will recall Yerushalayim, Malchus Beis Dovid, and the Beis HaMikdash--and ask for Hashem’s Mercy in restoring them.  Remarkably, we then inextricably bind the Kedusha of Shabbos to the Kedusha of the Beis HaMikdash with a special Retzeih recited for Shabbos placed into this Bracha of Boneh Yerushalayim!

 

3.  In this week’s Parasha, the Aseres HaDibros teaches us: “Shamor Es Yom HaShabbos LeKadesho--guard the Shabbos Day to keep it holy”. We should especially be diligent this Shabbos with our deeds and actions in guarding the Shabbos--especially in the areas of borer and muktzah to which people seem to fall especially prey. We additionally note that a reader asked us to warn people that he has seen children tie knots in filled plastic garbage bags in the same way that they do during the week--and one should advise his children to be careful against doing so. Hakhel Note:  Every action on Shabbos requires care from the epitome of Kiddush and our Shabbos Tefillos to…lehavdil how one takes care of the waste from the Shabbos table!

 

4.  The Chofetz Chaim also brings from HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl, that when making a bracha on a Mitzvah, we recite Asher Kideshanu B’Mitzvosav--but that the time itself during the performance of the Mitzvah is not necessarily Kadosh.  However, through our Kiyum HaShabbos, the Kedusha of Shabbos stretches and lasts through our other work days, so that all the time that a person lives on this earth becomes Kadosh--all because of Shabbos!  Savor the Kedusha!

 

5. Reality check--seven weeks from Shabbos…is Shabbos Shuva! Let us most certainly begin putting our treatment and feelings towards Kedushas Shabbos in good working order!

 

 

Special Note Three:  Shabbos Nachamu is intended to enlighten us as to how great the consolation will be.  There is no Pasuk that says “Eichah, Eichah.”  There is, however, a Pasuk which repeats “Nachamu, Nachamu--be consoled, be consoled...!”

 

Chazal teach us that “Kol Hamisabel Ahl Yerushalayim--Anyone who mourns over Yerushalayim,” is “zoche v’roeh--merits and sees”--its rejoicing.  HaRav Meir Schuck, Zt’l, notes that Chazal do not teach that the person who mourns over Yerushalayim will merit and see its rejoicing, but rather, in the present, now merits and sees its rejoicing.  How is this so?  After all, do not Arabs still occupy the Temple Mount?  Is not the Bais HaMikdash still in ruins?  HaRav Schuck explains that if someone truly appreciates the loss of a rebuilt Yerushalayim, he takes action, practical and meaningful steps, towards its rebuilding, just as someone with a tattered roof on his home, or a car in his driveway that doesn’t start, will do in order to fix things--to bring them back to normal.  How does one “fix” the situation in this instance?  He davens hard when he reaches the places in Shemone Esrei asking for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim (as noted in yesterday’s bulletin), and he undertakes special Mitzvos for the sake of the redemption.  His participation in the rebuilding brings him joy, much in the same way as someone still building a house envisions all of the room and conveniences it will provide when completed, or as a woman repairs the hem of a dress hums, realizing that she will be wearing it to a chasunah in just a few hours.

 

Let us begin to rejoice in the ‘building’ now--for there will be much more to rejoice about when our ultimate House is done, and when our great chasunah arrives.

 

 

Special Note Four  In a related vein, Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, brings an amazing teaching of the Ritva to Ta’anis 30B.  The Ritva explains that  there will be a unique Techiyas HaMeisim that occurs at the time of the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash which will especially occur for those who passed away in Galus but who were Mechakim LeYeshua--who awaited the redemption.  The general Techiyas HaMeisim for everyone else comes only later at the time of Final Judgment.  The Middah K’Neged Middah is as clear as it is remarkable.  Since you anticipated, you yearned, you pursued, the yeshua--you attain it far ahead of anyone else.  It’s almost like the person who knows to go quickly through the side streets to avoid the massive traffic jams at the bridge--turning a one-hour delay into a five minute ride--because he knew enough to anticipate and plan ahead---he knew how valuable the outcome really was, and succeeded to get there much faster!   

 

 

Special Note Five:  Tomorrow, we will read in the Torah the first Parasha of Shema, the cornerstone of our faith.  It is, then, no “coincidence” (as it never is) that we always read it on the Shabbos after Tisha B’Av, for it provides focus for our lives at all times and in all places.  It is certainly an extremely auspicious time now to review and renew our connection to the Shema, both as to its proper recitation, and the Halachos and Hashkofos which are associated with, and emanate from, its holy words. Moreover, Yeshaya HaNavi (29:13) exhorts us not to perform Mitzvos in a manner which is “Mitzvas Anashim Melumada--by habit or rote.” Because we recite Shema so often we could, c’v, fall into this trap--and especially in light of the Kedusha of Shema we must make special efforts to invigorate our Shema daily. Indeed, Rashi in this week’s Parasha (Devarim 6:6) writes that it should be viewed as a new proclamation from the King each and every day. One can visualize the King’s messenger or royal crier unrolling the King’s message on parchment each and every time that he reads the Shema.

  

We provide below several points regarding Shema, which we hope is only a brief starting point and motivator to improve one’s daily Shema (remember these words that we are privileged to recite daily are the very same words with which we conclude Neilah--the Final Service--on the Holiest Day of the Year!).

 

1.  Before reciting Shema, we should have in mind that we are fulfilling the Mitzvah of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shomayim, and the separate Mitzvah of Kriyas Shema.

 

2. “Shema” means listen, understand and accept.

 

3. “Yisrael” means to include you.  Rebbi Yisrael Salanter, Z’tl, used to say that while reciting the word “Echad,” we are to think about how Hashem, by Himself rules over the seven heavens and the earth, and all four directions of the world (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 61:4).  However, when thinking about this vast and limitless expanse--we must never forget that Hashem rules over us, as well, and we should sincerely subjugate our entire being, including all of our will and desires to Him.

 

4.  When reciting Hashem’s names--especially in the first two pesukim--we should understand what each name--i.e., “Hashem” and “Elokeinu,” mean and represent.  This can be accomplished quickly once you know the meanings well.

  

5.  One should recite Shema from a Siddur which aids in the essential understanding of the words and in their proper pronunciation (the various Artscroll Siddurim, for instance, provide lines between words which could be slurred together if a small break is not made, and indicate through horizontal lines on the top of letters which Shevas are Sheva Na’s and which are Sheva Nach’s).

 

6.  One should not motion with his eyes or hands, even for the sake of a Mitzvah, during the first Parasha of Shema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 63:6).

 

7.  Rabbi Moshe Goldberger, Shlita, teaches that there are seven (!) Mitzvos alone referred to in the first Parasha of Shema.

 

8.  The Chofetz Chaim brings Chazal (Sotah 42A) that the words Shema Yisrael are written in the Torah relating to our gathering before we go to war, in order to teach that if we properly recite Shema in the morning and evening, and that is the only Mitzvah that we do--it would be sufficient to be victorious in war.  Moreover, the Chofetz Chaim brings the Midrash that the entire creation is worthwhile just for the sake of this Mitzvah!

 

9. HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin, Z’tl, asks why the first Pasuk of Shema must begin with the words “Shema Yisrael”--Hear [and understand and accept] Yisrael. After all, the essence of the Pasuk is Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim-accepting upon oneself Heavenly Kingship--wouldn’t it have been sufficient to succinctly convey this very primary message with only the four words of “Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad”? What do the  words ‘Shema Yisrael’ add?  HaRav Sorotzkin answers that if we are to properly accept upon ourselves Ohl Malchus Shomayim, we must be sure to advise and proclaim it to others as well; it is insufficient for us to maintain this unwavering belief without joining in others. After all, if a person knew the secret of life--would he keep it to himself?!  If a soldier knew how to save himself when surrounded by the enemy--would he not save his comrades as well? If a person knew the difference between right and wrong--would he smile smugly as others faltered?! No--we must remember that as a prerequisite to our own Ohl Malchus Shomayim--we must first begin with Shema Yisrael --  a real quest  for others to know, learn, study, and appreciate as well!

 

10. The last Pasuk of the first Parasha of Shema contains the Mitzvah of Mezuza--let us be sure to remember to work on this week’s Summer Improvement Program relating to Mezuza this Shabbos--and hopefully beyond!

 

 Once again, the above are just a few thoughts to help you get started.  May this week’s Parasha bring with it a reinvigoration of our recitation of Shema--so that we properly fulfill the words of the Navi--”Yisrael Asher Becha Espoer--the People of Israel--in Whom I Glory!”

 

 

Special Note Six: We provide the following fundamental insights from the Sefer Hachinuch (English translation from the five volume masterpiece Sefer HaChinuch, Feldheim Publishers):

 

A. On the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh contained in the last of the Aseres HaDibros of ‘Lo Sisaveh’--do not desire what belongs to someone else, the Sefer Hachinuch writes as follows: “For it is indeed in each man’s power to restrain himself, his thoughts and his longing desires, from whatever he wishes. It lies in his free choice and in his decision to repel his desire--or to draw it near-- in all matters, as he wishes; and his heart is given over to his control; however he pleases he may move it. Hashem, before Whom all secrets are revealed, ‘searches all the chambers of the innards’ (Mishlei 20:27 ), seeing the organs of understanding and the heart. Not one, large or small, good or bad, out of all the thoughts of a man is hidden from Him, or concealed from the range of His sight. For there is nothing so good for a man as a good, pure thought, since that is the beginning of all the good deeds and their end....”

 

Hakhel Note: If you can, please read this again (and again)!

 

B. On the Mitzvas Aseh of Ahavas Hashem, the Sefer HaChinuch writes as follows: “It applies in every place, at every time, for both men and women. If a person transgresses this and fixes his thoughts on the material interests and vapid vanities of the world, not for the sake of Heaven but only to pleasure himself in them, or to attain esteem in this [lowly] world, to make his name great, not with any intention to do good for good people and to strengthen the hands of the honest--he disobeys this positive precept, and his punishment will be great. This is one of the constant precepts for a man [i.e., one of the Shesh Mitzvos Temidios--the six constant Mitzvos], forever placed upon him to observe.” 

 

Hakhel Note: Once again, if you can, please read this again (and again)!

 

 

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14 Menachem Av

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 7--PARASHAS V’ESCHANAN

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that Mezuzuah is a Mitzvah which brings upon us Kabolas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. The Rambam (in Hilchos Mezuzah) writes that the Mezuzah reminds us that “Ein Davar Omeid L’Olmei Olamim Elah Yediyas Tzur Olamim”--there is nothing that lasts forever except for one’s connection to Hashem! Stop by the Mezuzah, and as many do, place your hand upon it and either recite one of the famous Pesukim (such as Hashem Shomri, Hashem Tzili, Ahl Yad Yemini, or Hashem Yishmor Tzeitsicha U’voecha Mei’ata V’Ahd Olam), or think about Hashem’s love and protection over you.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

One easy but important ‘habit’ we can develop is provided to us in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (183:6): “When one sees someone involved in his work, give him a bracha of ‘Tatzliach B’Ma’asecha--may you have success in your endeavors!”

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

When engaged in Torah study, Tefillah, or in any Mitzvah, rather than leaving two or three minutes before the time you have allotted for it--make it two or three minutes later. Move in the right direction--elevate yourself!

 

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

76. Is one permitted to take a haircut before davening?

No, it is not permitted for one to take a haircut.

 

77. Is one permitted to read the newspaper before davening?

No, one cannot read the newspaper. However, one is permitted to glance at the headlines, if he feels that it will be me’orer him to daven better.

 

78. Is one permitted to go shopping for one’s parents before davening?

Yes, one is permitted to perform a mitzvah before davening (e.g.collecting Tzedaka). In this case, one is performing Kibud Av Va’eim by going shopping, so one is permitted to do so.  

 

79. Is one permitted to start cooking before davening?

Yes, if it for the sake of a Mitzvah, such as putting up cholent.

 

80. Is a woman permitted to cook for her husband before davening?

Yes--if done L’Sheim Mitzvah.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One:  Just a few final lessons from Tisha B’Av:

 

A.  The Mishna Berurah rules that, at a Chasunah, one can use a whole (unbroken) cup to break under the Chupah, and that there is no prohibition of ba’al taschis associated with its breakage, for it is for a real purpose--”L’Rameiz Mussar L’Ma’an Yitnu Lev--so that all in attendance take the lesson to heart, and realize the importance of Yerushalayim in our lives.”  For those in attendance at a Chasunah, please make sure that the cup’s shattering is meaningful to you!

 

B.  In Eicha, Yirmiyahu HaNavi laments “Lamah LaNetzach Tishkacheinu--which ostensibly means why will You forget us forever?”  However, we all know that Hashem will not forget us forever, and that He will bring Moshiach and an everlasting Beis Hamikdash back for us.  So what does the word “LaNetzach” mean here?  HaRav Yitzchak Ezrachi, Shlita, suggests that it refers to every minute before the Moshiach comes in which we lose the nitzchiyus--the true and full potential of that moment.  We lament every lost minute of potential until the final Geulah takes place!

 

C.  In several places, Chazal give reasons for why we were sent into exile.  However, Chazal (Nedarim 81A) also bring one reason brought by Yirmiyahu HaNavi in the Name of Hashem--”Al Asher Azvam Es Torasi--for they forsook My Torah”, which the Meforshim there explain refers to a lack of proper honor and respect for the Torah…even though it was studied.  How could Chazal have given alternate reasons if the Pasuk itself--in the name of Hashem--explains why we were exiled?  Many explain that Chazal pinpoint various sins that we were truly guilty of.  However, had we shown proper reverence for the Torah, studying it lishma and honoring it properly, then the Torah would have protected us from exile even in the wake of all of the egregious sins, as the Torah is a Magnoh U’Matzlei--a source of true and ultimate protection.  It thus very much behooves us to take a great lesson away from Tisha B’Av--learning to accord an extra level of respect and reverence to the Torah and those that study it.  This includes standing for Rabbanim, addressing them with a high level of respect, and learning Torah with the knowledge that it is Hashem’s gift to us, and that He wants us to utilize His gift!

 

Hakhel Note: HaRav Elchonon Wasserman, Z’tl, H’YD, teaches that even if Hashem would forgo the sins of murder, avoda zara, and gilui arayos, He will not forgo the sin of Bitul Torah, of wasting time from Torah study.  Why is this stark statement so?  After all, are these not the three cardinal sins that Hashem would be forgoing versus that of bitul Torah which does not appear to be anywhere near as heinous a misdeed?  The answer, Reb Elchonon teaches, is that, incredibly, the cardinal sins all are capable of Teshuva.  One can overcome these great failings through the Koach HaTorah, through the study of Torah.  However, if the Torah study itself, a Jew’s weaponry in this World, is taken away, then he has nothing left with which to fight.

 

There is a tremendous lesson here for each and every one of us, as we rapidly approach the days of reflection and introspection.  Do we want to enter Elul as a soldier without arms?  Don’t we want to equip ourselves as much as we can?  Where can we improve in our daily study (even for just a couple of minutes) after Shacharis?  After Mincha?  After Maariv?  On the bus or train?  Before going to sleep?

 

Also, what should we be studying?  What area of Torah study have we pushed off that we really need to know or in which we need improvement?  What Sefer have we never studied before that we really have been meaning to?  What Mussar Sefer will we be preparing for Elul?  What Halachos should we learn daily (especially that apply to us?).  How can we improve in our study of the Parasha?  There are so many new Hebrew and English Parasha Seforim.  Have we acquired any of them?  After we have made a mistake in Halacha, or we are not sure whether we said or did the right thing, do we learn what the proper Halacha or Hashkafa is in order to make sure that it will not happen again (i.e., Teshuva!). We note that the above is not only true for men--but for women as well!

 

As we all know, “Talmud Torah K’Neged Kulam--the study of Torah is equivalent to them all” (Shabbos 127A).  Let us take heed of the words of Shema (we will non-coincidentally be reading the first Parasha of Shema this week!) that we recite at least twice daily --so that we succeed not only in our daily battle--but in our life’s purpose and goal!

 

 

===================================

13 Menachem Av

 

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 7--PARASHAS V’ESCHANAN

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that Mezuzuah is a Mitzvah which brings upon us Kabolas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. The Rambam (in Hilchos Mezuzah) writes that the Mezuzah reminds us that “Ein Davar Omeid L’Olmei Olamim Elah Yediyas Tzur Olamim”--there is nothing that lasts forever except for one’s connection to Hashem! Stop by the Mezuzah, and as many do, place your hand upon it and either recite one of the famous Pesukim recite (such as Hashem Shomri, Hashem Tzili, Ahl Yad Yemini, or Hashem Yishmor Tzeitsicha U’voecha Mei’ata V’Ahd Olam, or think about Hashem’s love and protection over you.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

One easy but important ‘habit’ we can develop is provided to us in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (183:6): “When one sees someone involved in his work, give him a bracha of ‘Tatzliach B’Ma’asecha--may you have success in your endeavors!”

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

When engaged in Torah study, Tefillah, or in any Mitzvah, rather than leaving two or three minutes before the time you have allotted for it--make it two or three minutes later. Move in the right direction--elevate yourself!

 

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FROM A DROP OF WATER: “A ba’alas teshuvah once explained to Rav Pam what motivated her to take upon herself the yoke of Torah and Mitzvos. She had a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry. In a basic laboratory experiment studying the molecular makeup of a drop of water, she came to the realization that this could not have happened by chance. There had to be a Creator Who had brought into being the infinite complexities of life. She first tried Reform Judaism and then Conservative Judaism, both of which left her feeling empty and unfulfilled. Finally, in a fascinating chain of events, she discovered Torah-true Judaism and became a loyal Bas Yisrael--all from a drop of water…”. [Excerpted from Something To Think About! By Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita]

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NINETEEN WEEKS: As we especially dedicate ourselves to the twelfth Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week, we provide the following words of instruction from the great Praying with Passion Series (in order to go through this entire outstanding series on Tefillah, please visit http://prayingwithfire.org/archives.html):

 

“In the thirteenth blessing of Shemoneh Esrei we pray for the welfare of the Tzadikim--righteous and the Chassidim--devout because the good that we enjoy in this world comes in their merit. As long as there are righteous people in the world, there is good and blessing (Sefer Yaaros D’Vash, Volume 1, Drasha 1). This blessing mentions five different groups of people: Tzadikim--the righteous, Chassidim--the devout, Ziknei Amecha Bais Yisrael--the elders of Your people the Family of Israel, Pleitas Sofreihem--the remnant of the scholars, and Gerei Hatzedek--the righteous converts. The Sefer Avudraham notes that Tzadikim are those who are meticulous in performing all of Hashem’s mitzvos, having consistently and continuously fulfilled the mitzvos of the Torah. The Chassidim are on a higher spiritual level than Tzadikim as they do 'lifnim mishuras hadin’--above the call of duty-- they do more in the area of mitzvos and good deeds than one is required (Siddur Ha’Yavitz on Al hatzadikim). Alternatively, Chassidim refer to ba’alei teshuvah who, in order to avoid sins similar to those that they have committed in the past, must take on special additional precautions and fences.”

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TEFILLAH TEST!  We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

76. Is one permitted to take a haircut before davening?

 

77. Is one permitted to read the newspaper before davening?

 

78. Is one permitted to go shopping for one’s parents before davening?

 

79. Is one permitted to start cooking before davening (e.g. putting up the cholent)?

 

80. Is a woman permitted to cook for her husband before davening?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: We provide below some important lessons one could glean from Tisha B’Av, based largely upon the Hakhel Program this past Sunday:

 

1. The letters (osiyos) of Kinos are the same letters of Tikun--this is self explanatory!

 

2. HaRav Dovid Luria, Z’tl, carried a pocket Kinos with him throughout the year. When asked why--he said: “This is how I can fulfill the Pasuk of Im Eshkacheich Yerushalayim.”

 

3. We should appreciate how important it is to remember the Beis HaMikdash every day. The Kaf HaChaim rules that if one has time to recite either Tikun Chatzos or Selichos--he should recite Tikun Chatzos.

 

4. The Midrash teaches that the day the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, it was being decided in Heaven as to whether Bnei Yisrael would be destroyed or the Beis HaMikdash. In the end, it was the Beis HaMikdash that ‘gave up its life’--so that we could live!

 

5. The bells on the me’il of the Kohen Gadol made a little bit of noise due to the small movements of the Kohen Gadol. This is to teach us that little things really do mean a lot. An individual’s Shemiras Einayim, or Shemiras Aznayim is really very significant. The Teshuvah of one person can bring the Geulah!

 

6. The Meilitzer Rebbe teaches that in order to avoid a pigu’ah r’l of terrorists we should avoid being pogei’ah in the kavod of others. It is simply a middah k’neged middah defense!

 

7. When Yoshiyahu Hamelech learned that the Sefer Torah discovered after many years was rolled to Arur Asher Lo Yakim--cursed is the one who does not fulfill the Torah, he quickly concluded Aleinu L’Hakim--it is incumbent upon us to fulfill. This should be our mantra whenever we are faced with a particular situation, event, conflict, or challenge--Aleinu L’Hakim.

 

8. One of the Kinus we recited teaches: “Re’eih Mah Cheit Osa--look at what sin can cause!” If only one would think about the aftermath when sin entices--he could literally save himself, and his people.

 

9. In the Artscroll introduction to Kinos there is a tremendous Mashal that is given: A palace burns down. Those who love the king, and the kingdom’s subjects are all very shocked and disturbed. However, it is only the king who fully comprehends the tragedy of the event--for he knows all of the secret treasures that were in his palace. When we feel the tza’ar HaShechina--it is not only His tza’ar--but our tza’ar--we just don’t fully comprehend the extent of the tza’ar that we should be feeling.

 

10. Upon reading a Holocaust book or viewing a Holocaust video, one should really go beyond the horrific actions of the Nazis yemach shemam and their European and Asian collaborators and recall the cruelty, torture and death we were subjected to by so many nations throughout the ages. For one to get comfortable in Galus, it is not just silly--it is very unwise. It is said in the name of HaRav Chaim Brisker, Z’tl, that he remarked that when a sonei Yisrael passed him on the street and the sonei Yisrael did not punch him in the face--it was not because he did not want to, but because he was too lazy to do so. Perhaps each and every one of us should make it a point to remember every day: The situation around me is not normal, I am not supposed to be living in a land of immorality, of decrepit values, and with those who make light of terrorist threats and murderous callings against Acheinu Bnei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. Even if one does not recite Tikun Chatzos--he should recite at least one of the Tehillim Chapters immediately relevant to K’lal Yisrael’s situation now--such as 79, 83 and137. Let us take the situation as seriously as we should--and must!

 

11. One last point from one of the Shiurim: Four items prevent us from growing: (1) lack of knowledge; (2) ego; (3) leitzanus--including cynicism, mockery and lightheadedness; and (4) inappropriate friends. One should review this list and consider what is preventing him from growing--then correct the situation--and grow! If not literally now--then when?!

 

 

==================================

12 Menachem Av

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 7--PARASHAS V’ESCHANAN

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that Mezuzuah is a Mitzvah which brings upon us Kabolas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. The Rambam (in Hilchos Mezuzah) writes that the Mezuzah reminds us that “Ein Davar Omeid L’Olmei Olamim Elah Yediyas Tzur Olamim”--there is nothing that lasts forever except for one’s connection to Hashem! Stop by the Mezuzah, and as many do, place your hand upon it and either recite one of the famous Pesukim (such as Hashem Shomri, Hashem Tzili, Ahl Yad Yemini, or Hashem Yishmor Tzeitsicha U’voecha Mei’ata V’Ahd Olam), or think about Hashem’s love and protection over you.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

One easy but important ‘habit’ we can develop is provided to us in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (183:6): “When one sees someone involved in his work, give him a bracha of ‘Tatzliach B’Ma’asecha--may you have success in your endeavors!”

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

When engaged in Torah study, Tefillah, or in any Mitzvah, rather than leaving two or three minutes before the time you have allotted for it--make it two or three minutes later. Move in the right direction--elevate yourself!

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FROM THINK HASHEM DAILY!

 

 

We know that 

Hashem takes every good deed we do 

and transforms it into the building of the Bais Hamikdosh. 


 

In fact, when Mashiach comes, 

each of us will actually see 

the individual bricks or stones

 that were added because of our Mitzvos.


 

(Divray Yechezkal - Shiniver Rebbe

 

To subscribe to Think Hashem Daily, email: thinkhashem@ateresshimon.org

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10 YEARS SINCE THE GUSH KATIF TRAGEDY:  Although ten years have passed since the Gush Katif expulsion, we are still numbed by the devastating consequences wrought on its inhabitants and the surrender of Batei Midrashim and Batei K’nesios to sonei Yisroel y’s whose first actions upon taking the land was chilul and zilzul--may Hashem avenge their actions speedily and in our day. It is a day of shame and of reflection for us--another day where we hope and daven that the tza’ar will be turned into a Yom Tov in only a way that HaKadosh Baruch Hu can. Let us recite Tehillem Chapter 83 now as a zechus for those expelled and the troubles they face as a result even until today, and as a zechus for K’lal Yisrael that we never witness a brother against brother action such as this ever, ever again.

 

Hakhel Note:  Although Tisha B’Av 5775 is over, let us bli neder resolve this year to truly keep the the Kedushas Eretz Yisrael, Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash close to us every day of the year (see more about this in Special Note One below). It is very important to note that immediately after teaching us the Halachos of Tisha B’Av, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 560) provides us with the Halachos of what we must do Zecher L’Churban, in remembrance of the Churban--every day.  Our lives are not regular; and we once again emphasize the crucial point that we are not now ‘back to normal’. A normal, regular life for us is a life with  a Yerushalayim as the spiritual, focal point of the world, and with the Shechina in all of its glory on earth resting in the Beis HaMikdash. Accordingly, it is not enough to say that we believe in Moshiach. We must anxiously await Moshiach. The phrase in Ani Maamin of ‘Achake Lo’ is not a figurative expression but a literal one. Thus, once again, when we recite the words “Velirushalayim Irecha”--we are pleading that Hashem finally get back to His Home in His City [are you working on our “Less Than Sixty-Day Program”?; when we recite the words “VeSechezena Einainu” we are davening that our very eyes actually see the Shechina’s  return; when we say the words “Vesain Chelkainu BeSorosecha” we are imploring that the Torah  finally return to its former glory by our reaching levels in Torah Study that we cannot achieve in Galus. These special times in Shemone Esrei when we daven for our lives to really return to normal should not be brushed over, c’v. Instead, truth be told, they should be one of the main areas of our life’s focus, one of the highlights of our day. Especially after recent events, when our Rabbonim are teaching us that our Shemone Esrei should be and remain much improved from what it once was--let us certainly focus on the areas of Geulah in our prayers!

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TESHUVA and KAPPARAH! The Sefer Sha’rei Teshuva refers to Teshuva as the term Ohr HaTeshuva, and Hashem’s forgiveness of our sins as the Chesed HaKapparah. To have better Kavannah in the brachos in Shemone Esrei of Teshuva and Kapparah--may we suggest thinking before Hashiveinu of the words Ohr HaTeshuva!, and before Selach Lanu of the words Chesed HaKapparah!  What opportunity Hashem gives us--daven to Hashem for a full measure of Teshuva and Kapparah!

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MORE ON ASHER YATZAR:  Reb Elya Roth Z’tl, often stressed the importance of reciting 100 brachos each day…Regarding the bracha of Asher Yatzar, Reb Elya would say: “Do you  

know what Asher Yatzar really is? It is a ‘Thank You’ for 6 wonderful reasons.

1. We don’t need surgery to extricate the wastes from our bodies.

2. The process is not complicated.

3. It is [usually] painless.

4. It does not require anesthesia.

5. It is performed by the universe’s greatest Doctor.

6. It does not cost a cent.

Reb Elya would don his jacket and hat to recite this bracha, He once remarked with a smile, “Truthfully, this bracha, is such cause for joy that it would be proper to put on Shabbos clothing in its honor!”

    Excerpted from the wondrous work Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, Shlita, and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita (Artscroll/Mesorah)

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

71. We had mentioned that work is prohibited before davening Shacharis. Is there a difference between light work and heavy work?

Yes, some state that the only work that is prohibited is work that involves exertion. However, others prohibit all types of work.

 

72. Is one permitted to place a load of clothing into the washing machine before davening?

HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Zt’l, held that if it was presorted it is permitted. Other Poskim even permit one to sort it.

 

73. Is one permitted to take out the trash?

Yes

 

74. Is one permitted to go to the grocery to buy milk, etc. for breakfast?

Yes

 

75. Is one permitted to take a shower before davening?

Some Poskim permit one to take a hot shower and use soap and do not consider it to be a personal activity before davening. However, other Poskim permit one to only take a shower without soap, and other Poskim teach that a shower should not be taken before davening (rather, it should be taken the night before or after davening).

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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REMINDER--EVEN AFTER TISHA B’AV--STILL GREET OTHERS WITH SEVER PANIM YAFOS!

----------------------------------------------------

 

 

Special Note One: We provide below a few additional lessons one could glean from Tisha B’Av:

 

1. Dovid HaMelech, in perhaps the most renowned chapter of Tehillim (Chapter 130) begins “Shir HaMa’alos Mima’amakim--a Song of Ascents.  From the depths I called You…”  HaRav Klonymous Kalman Shapiro, Zt’l, H’yd, (the Rebbe of Piazeczna) taught the following about the word “Mima’amakim” to the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto with him:  Sometimes a person is in a situation from which he cannot extricate himself barring an absolute miracle.  For example, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, especially after the uprising.  Dovid HaMelech, by using the word “Mima’amakim,” refers to this kind of situation, for he does not refer to only one singular depth (which would be Emek), but to the depth of the depths (Mima’amakim, in the plural).  The Piazeczner concluded that Dovid HaMelech was teaching us that we cry out to Hashem whether or not we can reasonably be saved--for there are two kinds of prayer.  The first, basic type of prayer is to make requests of Hashem, the Omnipotent One.  The second, more sublime prayer is one in which one prays not to achieve a personal request, but only to connect and cleave to Hashem.  This is the “Mima’amakim” in which we cry out to Hashem--not only because we realize that He is the only source of our salvation, but also to demonstrate to Him that, when all is said and done, what we ultimately seek is dveikus with Him.

 

2. Kinah 29 states “Siman Tov L’Adam…--it is a good sign for a person if he is not eulogized or buried properly…. let him not fear the day of wrath.”  The Artscroll commentary explains that death in this way serves to fully purge a person of any stain on his soul caused by sin, and that such a person will be spared the punishments of the next world (Sanhedrin 46B; 47A).  This should serve as a great consolation for all of us who had relatives that perished in the Holocaust in so many diverse and cruel ways--although we should certainly daven that Hashem avenge their blood--see the next paragraph.

 

3. The Telzer Rav Zt’l, H’yd, before being murdered, was beaten by a ruthless Nazi with a hammer.  “Herr Rabbiner! Where is your G-d now?” he mocked.  The Telzer Rav responded, “He is your G-d, too--and you will find that out later!”  Whenever we recite Av HaRachamim (on Shabbos or after Yizkor), we should take the few moments necessary to recite it slowly and thoughtfully (some actually stand, as a symbol of respect, but this is not required by Halacha).  Remember, we are praying not only for the Kedoshim, but also for the honor of Hashem and His People.

 

4. The Pasuk in Eichah (1:2) states “Bocho Tivkeh Ba’Layla V’Dimasah…--cry, cry at night, and its tears….”  The Midrash teaches that there are three words for crying at the outset of Eicha to teach us that there are three tears--one for the first Beis HaMikdash, a second for the second Beis HaMikdash, and a third either for the Bitul Torah that the Churban has caused to this very day (we cannot attain our full potential without a Beis HaMikdash), or for the Kavod Yisrael, the honor of our People, which has been disgraced and defiled even by the nations which are friendly to us.  Thus, the last tear referred to in Eichah is being shed for us!

 

5. It is important to note that Chazal teach that both Nevuzradan (the Chief General of the Babylonians), and Nero (the first Chief General of the Romans to besiege Yerushalayim at the time of the Churban) realized that the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash that they were involved in was only by the Hand of Hashem.  They each fled and converted to Judaism.  Perhaps this is to teach us that, ultimately, all the nations of the world will have the proper perspective on life.  It is up to us now to live each and every precious day of our life--a day in which we are a step ahead of the rest of the entire world (!)--staying as close to Hashem as possible in everything that we do--so that by next year, when Tisha B’Av arrives, we will experience the greatest joy possible, with the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash and the World in all of its Glory!

 

 

==========================

11 Menachem Av

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We continue our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes. In the alternative, one can chart his own improvement course on a weekly basis as well.

 

WEEK 7--PARASHAS V’ESCHANAN

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that Mezuzuah is a Mitzvah which brings upon us Kabolas Ohl Malchus Shomayim. The Rambam (in Hilchos Mezuzah) writes that the Mezuzah reminds us that “Ein Davar Omeid L’Olmei Olamim Elah Yediyas Tzur Olamim”--there is nothing that lasts forever except for one’s connection to Hashem! Stop by the Mezuzah, and as many do, place your hand upon it and either recite one of the famous Pesukim (such as Hashem Shomri, Hashem Tzili, Ahl Yad Yemini, or Hashem Yishmor Tzeitsicha U’voecha Mei’ata V’Ahd Olam), or think about Hashem’s love and protection over you.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

One easy but important ‘habit’ we can develop is provided to us in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (183:6): “When one sees someone involved in his work, give him a bracha of ‘Tatzliach B’Ma’asecha--may you have success in your endeavors!”

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

When engaged in Torah study, Tefillah, or in any Mitzvah, rather than leaving two or three minutes before the time you have allotted for it--make it two or three minutes later. Move in the right direction--elevate yourself!

 

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CHADASHIM LABEKARIM RABA EMUNASECHA (EICHA 3:23): This Pasuk in Eicha which we read just yesterday, is the basis for Modeh Ani which we recite every morning as  we open our eyes. Yes, the Pasuk is in Eicha. For even in this bitter Galus, there is oh so much to thank Hashem for. As the Targum on this Pasuk explains: “New miracles occur every morning….” If we open our eyes and can see, move our legs to get out of bed and can do so, stand up and then walk…the miracles of the day are just beginning! Let us appreciate this as we exclaim Modeh Ani each and every morning!

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THE HAKHEL LESS THAN 60- DAY CHALLENGE: It is now less than 60 days until Yom Kippur. Can we recite slowly, and have special Kavannah in, the bracha of Velirushalayim Irecha in at least one Shemone Esrei a day--until Yom Kippur? Keep a written record of it!

 

Hakhel Note:  When we envision Yerushalayim, we should always picture it as a pe’eir--with a special glory.  As the Pasuk in Yeshaya (60:13) teaches:  Lefa’er M’kom Mikdashi”--to glorify the place of My Mikdash.  Every day, perhaps, as we recite Velirushalayim Ircha, we can picture the sight of a glorified Yerushalayim--and pine for it. 

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NINETEEN WEEKS! We are now in the thirteenth of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In past years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha. This week’s Bracha is… Ahl HaTzaddikim!

 

HaRav Yonasan Eibeshutz, Z’tl, writes that this bracha especially reminds us that we must daven for our Tzaddikim.  As HaRav Eibeshutz writes “Vechol Zeman SheTzaddikim BaOlam, Bracha VeTova BaOlam.”  In fact, we mention five different groupings of great people at the outset of the Bracha--Tzaddikim, Chassidim, Zikeinim, Pleitas Sofreihem, and Gerei HaTzeddek.  One can definitely think about or visualize the five different kinds of great people who are encompassed by this bracha.  For instance, when reciting “VeAl Ziknei Amecha Beis Yisrael,” we can think about our Zekeinim and that we are davening to Hashem that He give them life and good health.  The Seder HaYom writes that we are really moving up in ascending order through the five groupings, as the Ger Tzeddek represents the epitome, having raised himself up from being wholly unaffiliated with the Jewish people, to his current position.  HaRav Eibeshutz adds that when mentioning the term Gerei Tzeddek, we should reflect upon our love for him/them and be Mekayeim the Mitzvah DeOraysa of VeAhavtem Es HaGer!  After we mention this wonderful list--beginning with the Tzaddikim and ending with the Gerei Tzeddek--we add ourselves--V’Aleinu for Hashem’s consideration.  What a precious opportunity it is to be able to add ourselves to this great list! 

 

In addition to the above note, we provide by the following link additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the Praying with Passion Series (available at www.prayingwithfire.org), the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer, the Tefillah Tapes of Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, or other wonderful resources), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week!

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

71. We had mentioned that work is prohibited before davening Shacharis. Is there a difference between light work and heavy work ?

 

72. Is one permitted to throw a load of clothing into the washing machine before davening?

 

73. Is one permitted to take out the garbage?

 

74. Is one permitted to go to the grocery to buy milk, etc. for breakfast?

 

75. Is one permitted to take a shower before davening ?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: We provide below several points relating to the day after our fasting on Tisha B’Av:

 

A.  We recited the term Tzion many times in the Kinos, perhaps not understanding the context so well when reciting it then.  Every day in our Tefillos we refer to Tzion as well--perhaps the most famous occasion being Hamachazir Shechinaso LeTzion--who restores the Shechina to Zion .  The Navi laments:  Tzion He Doresh Ain La--She is Zion , no one cares about her” (Yirmiyahu 30:17).  Chazal explain that the Navi is teaching us with these words that we must care about her.  Let us try--at least--to focus upon the word Tzion in our davening-and show that we care about her!

 

B.  As many may know, the concept of the recitation of Tikun Chatzos is mentioned in the very first Siman of Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (1:2,3).  Even one who sincerely believes that he ‘is not holding’ at the level of those who actually sit on the floor and recite several Kepitelech of Tehillim (which basically constitutes Tikun Chatzos), should nevertheless know that if he is up for some reason at Chatzos anyways (currently approximately 1:00 A.M. in New York City), there is certainly nothing wrong with your occasionally attempting to recite Tikun Chatzos in the few minutes that it takes. Imagine sitting by the doorway on the floor (by the Mezuzah)--and meaningfully reciting a few chapters of Tehillim for the Shechina and K’lal Yisrael to come home.  The Shulchan Aruch itself (ibid.) teaches us that Chatzos is a unique and outstanding time for this--why not exercise it, at least when you are up for it?!  We note that Tikun Chatzos can be found in many standard Siddurim, without having to purchase a separate Sefer for it.  

 

C.  After a Tisha B’Av experience, we should try--at least for the rest of Menachem Av--to recite the 13 Ani Maamin principles with fortitude and sincerity....I believe in Mashiach...I believe in Techias HaMeisim...Allot an extra minute or two for the Ani Ma’amin recitation--which is the standard difference--between failure and success!

 

D.  We should use the Tisha B’Av period as a breaking point.  The soured or souring relationships, the negative quips, the daily disconnects between husband and wife and parent and child, between co-workers and employers and employees, now have a place to come to an end. Many Bain Adam LeChaveiro issues are the products of bad habits renewed daily--for no good reason other than ‘this is the way we behaved to each other yesterday’.  The sorrow-filled day of tragedy and grief of the ages has sobered us to the realities of the past, and the ‘day after’ teaches us that there is hope for the future--the Geulah will come, and it is up to each and every one of us  as to whether he will be a part of it.  So too with any past, sad history we may have in our inter-personal relationships--they too can leave us yesterday as we begin the day with a view towards personal Geulah as well.  Sinas Chinam and its ilk destroyed the Bais HaMikdash--bringing back  Ahavas Yisrael in a real and meaningful way will rebuild it--for each individual and for all of K’lal Yisrael.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 156; seif katan 4) brings that the Mitzvah of VeAhavta Lerei’acha Kamocha requires one to respect his friend as one himself would want to be respected.  What a simple but meaningful yardstick--before making the gesture, motioning, uttering that word or two, or taking that action, THINK--’Would I like this  done to me?’  If the answer is no--remember that you have turned a new leaf, and stop.  If the answer is yes--a very special thank you from us all--for helping us move an IMPORTANT STEP CLOSER towards next year’s Tisha B’Av--being a day of celebration in the Bais Hamikdash. May we all live to see it!

 

E.  Based on the calculation that it has been 1,945 years since the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, this amounts to more than 709,000 days and over 17,000,000 hours.  This is an extremely, extremely long time.  As we heard in the Haftara read on Tisha B’Av morning (Yirmiyahu 8:13 ): “Ein Anavim BaGefen V’ein Te’einim BaTe’einah--there are no grapes on the grape vine and no figs on the fig tree.”  What we live in is an illusory world--not the world in the state that it is supposed to be, and K’lal Yisrael in an unnatural habitat wherever its people may be scattered in the world.  Even in a time such as this, in which people can enjoy special comforts including Glatt Kosher international cuisine, the latest model cars and conveniences, and all kinds of medicines and therapies which help us feel better, we truthfully live in a stormy calm. The fear of terrorism and crazed human beings horrifies us in a way that mankind has never before known.  So, with all the comforts and conveniences, our times are nevertheless fraught with unrest, turbulence and confusion. Rabbi Yoni Zakutinsky, Shlita, explains our situation with the following Mashal:  One is in attendance at a huge Chasunah at a prestigious hall, with prominent rabbinic and lay leaders, an outstanding Chosson, the finest delicacies, a large band--there is just one thing missing--the Kallah.  Without the Kallah, all of the above simply does not get us to a true wedding.  In fact, all of this without a Kallah--could end in disaster.  We really have to recognize that we once and for all need the Geulah, and take steps to achieve it.  Whatever daily act (or two, etc.) it may be, we should try to do it for thirty days in a row, so that it ‘sticks’. We have to take the Galus out of us--daily--so that we can attain the Geulah! 

 

F.  Chazal (Brachos 6B) teach that “Igra D’Ta’anisa Tzidkasa--the reward of a Ta’anis is the Tzedaka that one gives (at least giving to Tzedakah the money he and his family saved from not eating).”  This fact should be no different regarding the fast of Tisha B’Av.  We especially note that the Haftarah of Shabbos Chazon ended with the words quoted so often, by so many (Yeshayahu 1:27 ):  Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh V’Shaveha BeTzedakah”.  The final word--even before we get to Tisha B’Av is--give Tzedakah!  We add one essential point to giving Tzedakah as made in the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah ( 3:35 ).  There, Rabbeinu Yonah explains that an essential part of giving is taught to us by the Pasuk (Devarim 15:10 ): “Nason Titein Lo VeLo Yeirah Levavecha Besitcha Lo--give to him and your heart should not feel bad as you give to him.”  It is not enough to give with the hand--for the Pasuk continues that one must not feel bad about giving, but rather feel a Midas Nedivus--good and happy about being generous.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (Mattisyahu Chaim ben Ettel L’Refuah Sheleima B’soch Sh’ar Cholei Yisrael), in his explanation of the Rabbeinu Yonah, actually teaches that if a person feels bad when he gives Tzedakah, then he violates the Lo Sa’aseh listed in this Pasuk of Lo Yeirah Levavecha Besitcha Lo(!).  We must feel happy and privileged over the opportunity to give at all times.  As a matter of fact, the ability to give should be included in our thoughts of thanks to Hashem when we recite the words in Modim of VeHamerachem Ki Lo Samu Chasadecha.  Give every day in the right frame of mind--so that we may all see V’Shaveha BeTzedakah! 

 

 

Special Note Two:  Yirmiyahu HaNavi (Yirmiyahu 2:5), in the Haftarah we recently read teaches us that the people severely erred because “VaYelchu Acharei Hahevel Va’Yehbalu--and they went after nothingness and turned into nothingness.” There is a great, yet simple and practical lesson here--you are that which you pursue.  For example, if a person pursues Torah, he becomes a “Ben Torah.”  If, on the other hand, he pursues Lashon Hara, he becomes a “Baal Lashon Hara.”  Everybody has to take a good look at what they really are pursuing.  There is an old quip about an uneducated Jew who came to Shul, and was asked by the Gabbai whether he was a Kohen, Levi or Yisroel.  He responded: “I am none of those.  I am a businessman!”  We, as educated Jews, have to make sure that it is clear to us--and to others--who we really are, and where our primary focus is. It is interesting to note that HaRav Dovid Kviat, Z’tl, (the “Sukkas Dovid,” who was one of the senior Rabbonim in America) when asked to make a remark to children (on Torah Umesorah’s “Shanghai Miracle” audio-visual presentation) asked them one thing only--to “Learn with Cheshek”--with enthusiasm.  Are we any different than children in this regard?  May we suggest that at the end of the day, one thinks to oneself--what did I pursue today--what did I do with enthusiasm? It is up to us whether we pursue nothing and become nothing, or whether we pursue a life of Torah fulfillment--and literally become models for the entire world!

 

MAY HASHEM BRING HIS SHECHINA BACK TO TZION B’RACHAMIM!

 

 

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8 Menachem Av

BE PREPARED! If you were given a 10 minute notice that Eliyahu HaNavi was about to arrive-- or even a one-minute notice--how would you prepare?

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WHO AM I? On the night of Tisha B’Av we are instructed to make our sleeping arrangements somewhat more uncomfortable than usual:  One who sleeps with two pillows should sleep with one, one with one should perhaps not use the pillow or even use a rock.  One who sleeps on a bed can sleep on the floor.  In the words of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (and others):  HaKol Lefi Mah Shehu Adam--all in accordance with who the person is.”  It is easier for us to claim about ourselves:  “I am not holding there.”; “I am not capable of this”; “Who am I?” or “I can’t do this.”  You, however, are left to be the judge, and far be it from you to shortchange yourself--for eternity.  It is very likely that you can, and even if you can’t--you certainly can try.  Most people will not study you, or be concerned with how you personally slept on Leil Tisha B’Av, what you may have thought about, what you resolve to do, or how you resolve to do it.  All of this falls into the realm of HaKol Lefi Mah Shehu Adom.  It is up to you to stand up and be counted--among those who will help bring the world to full and final fruition!

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AN APPRECIATION: The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 554 seif katan 21) rules that on the Ta’anis it is permissible for one to wash his hands [until his knuckles] before Mincha “Dehavi Kemekabeil Pnei HaShechina U’cheTevilas Mitzvah Shehitiru--for washing one’s hands before davening Mincha is performed in order to greet the Shechina--and can be compared to tevila in a mikva for the sake of a Mitzvah”. Oh, how we should appreciate Tefillas Mincha--and most certainly wash our hands prior to davening--each and every day of the year!

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IKAR AVODAH: One of our readers once met with HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita, and at our request asked him what the Ikar Avodah of the fast of Tisha B’Av is. He responded: “LeHagid Kinos”. This is HaRav Kanievsky’s instruction--the sincerity, feeling and meaning that is put into our Kinos is up to each and every one of us....

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QUESTION:  A person should reduce the hana’ah (pleasure) he experiences on the fast of Tisha B’Av as much as possible, true or false?

ANSWER:  The Rema (Orach Chaim 555:2) states that this is true.

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QUESTION:  If the Moshiach comes on the fast of Tisha B’Av after Chatzos ( midday ) will we continue to fast for the balance of the day?

ANSWER:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, in Sefer Derech Sicha, rules that we will continue to fast if the Moshiach comes after midday because Teshuvah is an element of the mourning that we are to feel and experience on Tisha B’Av. Hakhel Note: Let us not forget to do Teshuvah on the fast of Tisha B’Av--wouldn’t it be so remarkable and special if the Moshiach actually came while you were doing Teshuvah?

 

Hakhel Note One: The Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah brings from the Brisker Rav, Z’tl, that there are two aspects to Tisha B’Av--that of Ta’anis--and that of Aveilus. The Shelah HaKadosh explains that the Aveilus over Churban Yerushalayim is not to cry and bemoan the past as an end in and of itself--but rather for us to be misbonein--to seriously reflect upon the fact that the Churban resulted from our sins, and to be me’orer ourselves to look carefully into our deeds, and to do Teshuvah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 549: Dirshu Note 1)

 

Hakhel Note Two: We should especially recognize that this Sunday, which is 10 Av, is two months to Yom Kippur!

 

Hakhel Note Three: A Rav made the following point to us: Every generation has its own Yetzer Hara. In the 1800’s--it may have been the Haskala which was ostensibly an intellectual challenge to Torah Jews. Today, we should be embarrassed that our challenges appear to be so childish--spending so much time playing around with instruments--whether or not they are referred to as games--they are so time consuming, so habit forming, and truthfully so not important for eternity!

 

Hakhel Note Four:  The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah (Sha’ar Shelishi:14) writes that just as the reward for Torah study is greater than all of the other Mitzvos, so is the punishment for one who is mevatel from Torah study greater than all of the aveiros. This would mean that the sin of being mevatel from Torah is even greater than that of Chilul Hashem! Each and every one of us can do Teshuvah on Sunday in some way, on a going forward basis, in the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah!

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NOW , A QUESTION FOR YOU TO ANSWER: How many different names or titles is the Beis Hamikdash given in Megillas Eichah alone?  What does that teach us?

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

 

1. We provide by clicking here  important excerpts relating to the Halachos of today, Erev Shabbos Tisha B’Av, Shabbos Tisha B’Av, and the Ta’anis as observed on Sunday, as authored by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita. For those who want to look into any topic further, Rabbi Webster provides extensive Hebrew footnotes in the link. We thank HaRav Webster, for making this extremely important resource available to our readers. Of course, one should obtain a final ruling on all personal matters from his Rav or Posek. 

 

The important topics contained in the link include Halachos for:

 

A. Erev Shabbos Chazon: Bathing, Mikvah, Steam Room, Cutting Nails, Changing into Shabbos Clothing, Washing Floors, Polishing Shoes, Polishing Silver, Preparing For Motzoei Shabbos, Learning Torah, Eating or Tasting Meat Items on Erev Shabbos.

 

B. Shabbos Chazon: The Status of Mourning on Shabbos, Tefillos, Maariv, Seudos, Taking a Leisure Walk on Shabbos, Torah Learning after Chatzos on Shabbos, Mincha., Seudah Shlishis, Taking A Pill that Will Make Fasting Easier, Havdalah for One Who is Not Fasting, Which Beverage Should Be Used For Havdalah, Women’s Obligation in Havdalah, Reciting Havdalah for One Who is Not Fasting.

 

C. Observance of Tisha B’Av:  Preparing For Motzoei Shabbos, Lighting Candles on Motzoei Shabbos, Folding Tallis, Washing Dishes, Havdalah (Sunday Evening), Which Beverage Should Be Used For Havdalah, Kiddush Levanah, Restrictions on Motza’ei Tisha B’av.

 

2.  On Shabbos Chazon (as we eat meat and drink wine on Tisha B’Av), we should be especially aware of the Kedushas Shabbos, with the knowledge that as great as the Binyan Bais HaMikdash is--and what it would accomplish for the whole world--it is still not doche, does not push aside, the Shabbos…and must wait until after Shabbos has concluded!  We still celebrate Shabbos--with the gefilte fish, the cholent…the Oneg Shabbos in its honor!  Indeed, this Shabbos, we should try to be a bit more careful with the greatness of Shabbos.  If we feel that somehow we end up in some way moving Muktzah, inadvertently doing Borer, or not knowing what to do in a particular situation and ‘gambling’ with our own Shabbos P’sak, then this is the Shabbos for us to set out to rectify this kind of act or that kind of thing.  If one is used to playing with his hair and often then finds hairs pulled out in front of him, or if one is used to biting his nails or peeling at his skin, then this Shabbos should be the dividing line.  The Kedusha of Shabbos is so great, as is evidenced by its special observance in the face of Tisha B’Av--let us make sure that we inject Kedusha into our personal situations and circumstances as well! Our dear readers, Mekadesh HaShabbos…Kol Mekadesh Shevii...let us especially feel and appreciate it tomorrow!

 

 

Special Note Two: Timely points on this week’s Parasha, Parashas Devarim:

 

1. The Pasuk (Devorim 1:8) teaches: “Ba’u U’reshu Es Ha’aretz--come and possess the land that Hashem swore to your forefathers….” Rashi (ibid.) explains that war would not even have been necessary--we would have simply entered and possesed--had the Meraglim not spoken Lashon Hara. Thereafter, we would have remained in the land without the need or use of any kelei zayin--any weaponry forever! Let us stop Lashon Hara now--so that we can rid THE WORLD of ugly weaponry once and for all!

 

2. In a very much related vein, Rashi (ibid. 2:5) teaches that in the reward of Lot remaining silent and simply not revealing Sarah Imeinu’s identity as Avraham Avinu’s wife, he was zoche to become the forefather of two (Amon and Moav) of the ten nations that would inhabit Eretz Yisrael and the environs around it. Imagine--for remaining silent, but once!

 

3. Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu (Devarim 2:31 ): “Re’eih Hachilosi Teis Lifanecha Es Sichon V’Es Artzo--see I have begun to deliver before you Sichon and his land.” Hashem clarifies to all that it was not a human battle with Sichon--it was simply Hashem causing this great power and his people to melt before K’lal Yisrael. How is this accomplished? Rashi (ibid.) teaches that Hashem placed the Sar (the angel) of the Emorim under the legs of Moshe, so that Moshe could trample over the Sar. Although battles and conquests are fought physically in the world below--they are simply the actualization of the heavenly decree. We must constantly remind ourselves of how wars are truly won--as we engage in Talmud Torah, Tefillah, Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim on behalf of K’lal Yisrael the world over.

 

 

Special Note Three:  Several brief notes relating to Tisha B’Av:

 

A.       The Gedolim of the previous generation determined that Tisha B’Av is the day to express our mourning over the Churban Europe.  As we cry over the Six Million Souls that were lost to us and all of the related harm, injury and destruction to those who survived, we must remember not to get lost in the numbers of hundreds of thousands and millions, but to remember each Neshama, and multiply it by millions.  A Holocaust Survivor, who had approximately 13 uncles and brothers who were murdered, observed one Yahrzeit for them all on Asara BeTeves, since he did not know the specific dates upon which each of them was killed (this is a practice among many, picking a date that a ghetto was liquidated, or that a transport arrived in a death camp).  As we have noted in the past, he approached HaRav Chaim Baruch Faskowitz, Z’tl, on Asara BeTeves and asked if a Kel Moleh Rachamim could be made for them.  HaRav Faskowitz himself took the Sefer Torah and began to recite the Kel Moleh.  As the man was about to give him the list of all of the names to be inserted in the one spot, HaRav Faskowitz stopped him and advised him that he would making each one a separate Kel Moleh, for each of them had his own life, and that there would be no wholesale prayers or remembrances.  About half way through the Kel Molehs, HaRav Faskowitz could no longer bear reciting brother after brother, name after name, which concluded with the same father--”Ben Noach”--and with the Sefer Torah in hand, sat down crying, as his Kehilla cried with him.  Hakhel Note: HaRav Faskowitz’s Yahrzeit is on Tisha B’Av.

 

B.      The Rambam rules that one could r’l be chayav kares for entering certain areas of the Har HaBayis even in our day.  This is because “Kedusha Rishona Kidsha L’Sha’ata, V’Kidsha L’Osid Lavo”--the holiness initially instilled there never left, notwithstanding the destruction, devastation and defilement of the Makom HaMikdash.  This is an incredible teaching!  The area of the Bais HaMikdash is holy now--and we are missing it!  To analogize (lehavdil), in a material sense, imagine if someone was handed the title and keys to a brand new Lexus (with all gadgetry) and was told that he could not drive it, or that the most sumptuous steak and wine dinner was placed before him, with the limitation that he could look at it as much as he pleased, but that he could not eat it.  This kind of reality is even more painful in the spiritual sense, because unlike materialism which is fleeting, ruchniyus is, in fact, eternal--and every moment that we miss is a missed opportunity of eternity.

C.       With this understanding, we can appreciate an essential teaching that we once again provide from the Temeshevarer Rav, HaRav Meir Schuck, Z’tl.  HaRav Schuck poses the following question both with respect to the brocha in Shemone Esrei relating to the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, and the third brocha of Birchas HaMazon relating to the rebuilding of Yerushalayim.  Each of these brochos request “U’Venei”--that Hashem rebuild Yerushalayim for us “B’mheira B’Yameinu--in the near future.”  Yet, each brocha concludes with the words “Boneh Yerushalayim”--which means that Hashem is building Yerushalayim now.  Which is it?  Will Hashem build Yerushalayim soon--or is Hashem building Yerushalayim right now (in the present tense)?  HaRav Schuck answers that if we sincerely look for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim than Hashem is, in fact, building it now.  It really is dependent on our feeling, our sensitivity, our desire, our will.  How great!  When we recite the words “U’venei Yerushalayim”, or “HaMachazir Shechinaso L’Tzion” with real sincerity, Hashem is building Yerushalayim as we meaningfully pray for it!  This is something for us to remember every day--three times daily!  Hakhel Note: HaRav Schuck’s Yahrtzeit is on Tisha B’Av.

 

 

Special Note Four:  We provide the following Pesakim from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Pesakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, by Rabbi Yechezkel Feinhandler) and from the Sefer Kovetz Halachos (Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita) relating to Tisha B’Av:

 

From the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh:

 

1. There are various degrees as to the extent one should clean/wash his hands after having touched a covered part of the body, his shoes, or dirtied part of his hand but not the whole hand.  Hakhel Note:  One should consult with his Rav or Posek as to the specific rules.

 

2.  One who rides on a bus on the night of the fast of Tisha B’Av or before Chatzos can sit on the regular seat (without having to remain standing), as this is not considered a special act of pleasure or comfort.  Of course, the same would be true for a cab ride, and one would not have to make himself uncomfortable in some way.

 

3.  One should not fly on the fast of Tisha B’Av, as it constitutes a Hesech HaDa’as from the Ta’anis.

 

4.  Although one should not say Shalom or Good Morning in the morning, wishing someone Mazel Tov is permissible.

 

5.  If someone has taken upon himself to go to the Kosel for 40 days in a row and recite Shir HaShirim as a segulah for a shidduch, he should go to the Kosel at the same time on the fast of Tisha B’Av but not recite Shir HaShirim (as it is Tisha B’Av), and then go back later after the fast of Tisha B’Av and recite Shir HaShirim.  With this, he should not lose the segulah.

  

From the Sefer Kovetz Halachos:

 

1. If one is sitting on the ground itself (as opposed to a low chair), he does not have to put something like an article of clothing or towel between his body and the ground. While on or close to the ground (until Chatzos), one does not have to stand up for a zaken or talmid chochom who passes by, just as an avel is patur from this Mitzvah..

 

2. Although one cannot greet another, one can say Lehitraot, or Refuah Shelaima, because these do not involve She’ailas Sholom.  One should in any event not engage in unnecessary conversation, because it removes one’s mind from what it should be thinking about--Teshuva and aveilus of the Rabim. Similarly, one should not take a baby unto his lap when not necessary, for he may come to laughter.

 

3. Although in Shul the lights are dimmed, they need not be dimmed in the home.

  

4. One can complete reciting Kinnos after Chatzos, if necessary.

 

5.It is permissible to say Tehillim for one who is ill at any time on Tisha B’Av; one who usually recites  a certain number of Kepitelach every day can recite them after Chatzos.

 

6. On Tisha B’Av there is an absolute requirement of Talmud Torah--but only of the sefarim that it is permissible to learn.

 

7. It is best for men to daven Mincha early on Tisha B’Av, so that they can put on Tefillin at the earliest possible time. 

 

Hakhel Note:  As we have related in the past, the mother of Rabbi Mordechai Zuckerman, Shlita, a noted Talmud Chochom in Yerushalayim, davened Mincha close to sunset (which is usually preferred, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 233:1) every day of the year, except Tisha B’Av, when she would daven Mincha as early in the day as was possible.  Rabbi Zuckerman asked his mother why her practice on Tisha B’Av was different than the other days of the year.  She responded that the Mincha of Tisha B’Av is the one time during the year where we add a special Tefillah, asking Hashem to “Nachem”, to console, the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim.  She simply could not wait to daven Mincha until later, as this would mean an extra few hours of delay in begging Hashem to console us.

 

 

Special Note Five: Important reflections for Tisha B’Av:

 

 1.  On Yom Kippur the Sefer Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah teaches us that whenever one feels pangs of hunger or thirst, he should promptly react with:  “I am fulfilling the Mitzvas Asei of Inuy with this pang!”  So too, we suggest, one can have a related thought on Tisha B’Av.  It is said in the name of Gedolim that “Uff Yom Kippur Ver Ken Essen , un Uff Tisha B’Av Vir Vill Essen --on Yom Kippur who can eat, and on Tisha B’Av who wants to eat?”  If one feels the pangs of hunger or thirst--he should look back, look at the present, and look to the future--and think of what he is fasting for. 

 

2.  On Sinas Chinam.  The following is excerpted from the outstanding Sefer Yearning with Fire--a Sefer which we highly recommend for every Torah home:  “For many years, Yeshivah Middos Tovos prided itself on turning out graduates who were honest, helpful, and kind-hearted.  The boys developed these traits through their sincere Torah learning and the example of their rosh yeshivah, Rabbi Goodman.  Gradually, however; the students became less receptive.  Each new class was slightly more selfish and abrasive than the class that had preceded it.  The harder the yeshivah tried to revitalize the spirit of its earlier years, the more the students scoffed.  Finally, Rabbi Goodman decided to close the doors of the institution.  If, ten years later, a group of parents were to approach Rabbi Goodman and ask him to reopen his school, his first step would be to ascertain who their sons were.  If they were no different from the classes enrolled a decade earlier, he would undoubtedly decline to reopen.  That reasoning helps to explain the Chofetz Chaim’s teaching that if Hashem destroyed the Beis HaMikdash because of Sinas Chinam (baseless hatred) [and Lashon Hara, evil gossip], He won’t permit it to be rebuilt if we have not cured ourselves of these spiritual maladies.” 

 

The goal, then, is to rid ourselves of Sinas Chinam as quickly and as completely as possible.  What is Sinas Chinam?  The Sefer Yearning with Fire continues:  “Surprisingly, the Torah does not regard a string of hateful insults, nor even a punch in the nose, as a transgression of the commandment of ‘Lo Sisnah Es Achicha Bilevavecha’!” Rather, when a person acts or speaks against his fellow Jew, his transgression is defined by his act, such as hitting, insulting, cursing, bearing a grudge, or taking revenge, rather than by the hatred motivating his act.  It is hateful thoughts that are prohibited by Lo Sisnah.  In the secular legal system, one cannot be prosecuted solely for his inner feelings, but only for his express actions.  Yet the Torah seems to teach that there is a special toxicity to unexpressed hatred.  The Rambam explains why:  When a person expresses negative feelings to his adversary, there is a potential for reconciliation. Hiding one’s hatred leaves no possibility to improve the relationship and foster unity.  Besides the damage hatred causes on its own, many other transgressions sprout from its toxic soil.  That is why Rabbeinu Yonah advises ridding oneself of hatred as a vital part of Teshuvah.  Without attacking this root cause, says Rashi, a person will inevitably speak Lashon Hara about the subject of his hatred.  Baseless hatred is the tiny splinter of negative feeling that gets under our skin and makes another person an irritation to us.  Getting rid of these sharp shards of strife and smoothing out the edges of our relationships with our fellow Jews is a paramount objective for making our world ready for redemption. As the clock moves forward, minute by minute, day by day, and the struggles and anguish of the exile continue unabated, it becomes all the more urgent to dig in and complete this essential task that has eluded us for nearly 2,000 years.” 

 

3. Chazal (Baba Metziah 30B) teach that another primary cause of the destruction of Yerushalayim was that people did not conduct themselves Lifnim Mishuras HaDin--going beyond the exact letter of the law:  “I only have to do this”; “I don’t have to do that”; “I do what I am supposed to”; “I don’t owe him a dime”; “I am one hundred percent right and he is one hundred percent wrong”; “I do exactly what it says”--all may be technically correct, but Chazal teach that we must do better than the letter of the law.  In business, there is a saying that a good businessman ‘leaves a little bit of money on the table’--not taking the last penny for himself at the closing of a deal.  Nobody wants strict justice--why should we impose ours on others?!  Think about how you can improve in acting Lifnim Mishuras HaDin with at least one person or in at least one way. 

 

4. Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, importantly explains the term She’eiris Yisrael or She’eiris Hapleitah--i.e., the remnants of K’lal Yisrael, and most recently the remnants of those that survived the horrors of World War Two.  The term Nishar, according to the Malbim, is different than the term Nosar, in that Nishar indicates something that was left over deliberately and with a plan, while Nosar refers to something left over incidentally or unintentionally.  For instance, the Shirayim of a Rebbe is intentionally left for his Chassidim, while the meat of a Karbon that is left over past its time and must be burnt is called Nosar--nobody wanted that to happen.  The Malbim brings many proofs for this distinction from Chumash and Tanach.  What we have to realize is that we are not Nosarim but Nisharim--the intentional remnants of K’lal Yisrael--not having been left here incidentally, without a plan, because of unforeseen circumstances or by mistake.  We have a purpose and we must live with that purpose every day.  Rabbi Reisman teaches that one who is a Nishar must know and understand that he must exert the extra effort to rise above his weaknesses (and perhaps laziness) and undertake the actions that a survivor would undertake.  One should not necessarily quit on a Shiur, or on doing a Chesed because he has a headache, feels weak, is in despair or feels like he is ‘falling apart’.  Instead, he must rise above the situation to survive and further survive--for there is a plan and he has a purpose.  Each and every one of us is a part of the She’eiris--let us not only wear the badge with honor--but with action!

 

 

Special Note Six:  The Gemara (Megilla 21A) teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu would learn the more difficult laws and concepts of the Torah sitting down.

 

As we sadly noted last year, if we have to sit down this Tisha B’Av, we should take the time out to go over in our mind some of the difficult concepts that we tend to ignore, or at least avoid, during the rest of the year—the churbonos and the tzaros that have accompanied us through the ages and into our day.

 

Can we not shed a tear over:

 

·                                 The pain of the Shechina over the chillul Hashem of the Galus (the Father’s pain is greater than the child’s)

·                                 The void left by the Beis Hamikdash that is not with us and the resulting void of sanctity within us (we could be closer to angels, and not closer to animals)

·                                 The honor of K’lal Yisrael that has been cast to the ground and trampled upon

·                                 The Cohens and Levys of the world who are not Jewish

·                                 The Crusades

·                                 The Pogroms

·                                 The 1648-1649 Massacres

·                                 The Holocaust

·                                 The Yom Kippur War

·                                 The Lebanon War

·                                 The Gaza War, terrorism of a kind that the world has never faced before

·                                 The murder of the three-month old Chaya Zissel (a’h) Bas R’ Shmuel Elimelech. The kidnapping and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, the Bulgaria murders, the Toulouse murders of Rabbi Sandler and the three little children, the Fogel massacre, the Mumbai atrocity, the Sbarros bombing, the bombing of Bus Number 2, the Leil HaSeder attack, the drive-by murders, the tractor terror, the Mosad HaRav murders, the hundreds of other terrorist attacks, the murders and maimings, the mortars and bombs, the soldiers and the children all under attack

·                                 All of the unnecessary sickness and suffering for 2,000 years (multiplied by each second of pain)

·                                 The desolation and ruination of the Har Habayis, Har Hazeisim, Chevron, Teveria…

·                                 Low levels of conduct in Galus--smiling at the mishap of another, failing to properly rejoice at another’s simcha, and finding it hard to accept another’s honor and success

·                                 The Jews who do not even know that Tisha B’Av exists

·                                 The Jews who know that Tisha B’Av exists and do not grow in their resolve to do something to end this Churban as soon as possible

 

The Navi (Yeshaya 1:3, which we read as part of this week’s Haftara) teaches “Ami Lo Hisbonan--My nation did not consider.”  Rashi adds that the people knew they were acting improperly but “tread with their heels” on this knowledge, and simply “did not take it to heart.” 

We all know too well the desperate straits we are in at this time, in which we deal with the Churban of Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim--the defiling of a land and of a people on the one hand; and the turmoil in Eretz Yisrael today--upon which the nations of the world have heaped additional disgrace and scorn, on the other. 

 

Oh, what has befallen us! A nation in ruins, the holiest people on Earth berated by the lowest nations on Earth. What makes us better today than the captives of Judea taken by the Romans more than 1940 years ago? We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by the amenities, luxuries, or even just the relative comfort in which we live. We have been in exile far too long, and the longer we are here, the worse off we are.

 

L’Ma’aseh, living with reality and practically speaking, we are walking about badly wounded in this bitter exile.

 

Yirmiyahu HaNavi cries out (Eicha 2:19 ) “Shifchi Kamayim Libeich--pour out your heart [to Hashem] like water.” 

 

Let us take the time on Tisha B’Av to be misbonein over the pain and mourning over the Chilul Hashem that exists in the world today, over Hashem’s pain which is infinitely greater than ours, over a world that has been lowered to the bottom of the bottom-most depths, over all the individual and communal pain and anguish, over these and much more, we must cry real, very real, tears. 

 

Yirmiyahu HaNavi further teaches (31:14), “A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rochel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children, for they are not.” On this Pasuk, the Mahari Kara (in the Mikraos Gedolos) writes that Rochel Imeinu represents K’lal Yisrael, and that our weeping in exile is heard by Hashem’s ears. 

So, as much as we would not like to, we must cry--really cry. We must realize that we are in the nadir of our exile. The Tay-Sachs test, when originally developed, required a person to shed a tear, which was then tested. One had to think of something sad to shed that tear. Is it such a great challenge to cry unabashedly over an unfulfilled world, over the world’s most precious possessions disgraced and derided, over all the unnecessary anguish, unnecessary suffering, destruction, and death that we are currently experiencing?

 

If, for some reason you cannot cry--at least cry out--as our forefathers did in Mitzrayim. Remember, the gates of tears--and the gates of ruchniyus--are never closed. If we have to sit on the Ta’anis, it should do more than cause us some temporary physical pain. Plead to Hashem as Dovid HaMelech does: “El Dimosi Al Techerash--do not be silent to my tears!” (Tehillim 39:13) Hashem, I will not find comfort with the few pleasures I have when the Heavens and the Earth writhe in pain! Please join with your brothers this Sunday, as our sincere tears and cries reach the Heavens. May these tears and cries turn into overflowing sounds of salvation for each and every one of us, as we join together to witness the comforting of our people and the ultimate final and glee-filled redemption--speedily and in our days.

 

 

Special Note Seven:  ONE FINAL, VERY IMPORTANT POINT: The experience of Tisha B’Av should not be one of Yei’ush--despair, combined with a feeling of hypocrisy--knowing that one will eat on Sunday night and have Shabbos Nachamu in a week.  No, Tisha B’Av is quite to the contrary a time for us to revitalize our Achakeh Lo--our anticipation, our outstretched hope, our true yearning that the Moshiach really finally does come, and mankind reaches its final goal.  It is one of the most basic tenets of Torah belief, as told and retold by our Nevi’im, that the Geulah will come.  As to why the Moshiach did not come in the times of Rav and Shmuel, in the times of Ravina and Rav Ashi, or those of Rashi, the Rambam, the Ramban, the Bais Yosef, the G’ra, Rebbi Akiva Eiger, the Belzer Rebbe, the Ben Ish Chai or any of the outstandingly great Gedolei HaDor we have had in the past, it is simply not something we can understand at this moment.  Furthermore, for all of those who thought that it would be the Chofetz Chaim, the Chazon Ish, the Baba Sali, the Steipeler, HaRav Shach, or HaRav Elyashiv that would lead us to Moshiach, this is also, devastatingly, not the reality now.  Nevertheless, we must intensely believe, and intensely demonstrate, that we know that the Geulah will come.  We must bring home to ourselves that it is not another Tisha B’Av because it was so last year, the year before, or a hundred years before.  It is another Tisha B’Av because in the stretch between Tisha B’Av 5774 and 5775, we simply did not put enough bricks on the wall. The absolute truth is that it may literally be his one extra hour of Torah study, or her one act of Chesed that brings us over the top. The Alter of Kelm teaches that one of the greatest lessons of Tisha B’Av is rooted in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim:  The stabbing of the Paroches by Titus after he and his soldiers had come into the Beis HaMikdash and defiled it in any way they thought possible was, in fact, deemed by Hashem to be a meaningless act, with no effect in the Heavens whatsoever.  Indeed, as Chazal teach, the Heavens cried out at the time of the destruction:  “[What have you done--nothing!] You have burned a burnt building.”  Each one of us, on the other hand, can make the Heavens shake with a deed of kindness, an act of goodness, a sincere prayer, and meaningful Teshuvah.  It is up to us, each and every day until the Geulah arrives.  There is hope, there is a future, there is an end.  All of the sad Tisha B’Avs will vanish into past history, hopefully sooner than later.  We all chant together at the end of Megillas Eicha (5:21):  Hashiveinu Hashem Eilecha VeNashuva Chadeish Yameinu KiKedem--bring us back to You Hashem, and we shall return, renew our days as of old.”  When we can achieve this point--not only will Eicha be at an end--but so will this bitter Galus, and the sweet Geulah will begin! 

 

MAY WE BE ZOCHE TO NECHOMAS TZION V’YERUSHALAYIM THIS YEAR. ALL WHO MOURN OVER YERUSHALAYIM WILL BE ZOCHE TO SEE ITS REBUILDING!

 

 

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7 Menachem Av

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 6--PARASHAS DEVARIM

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Change your siddur, or your seat, or some other aspect of the way you daven in order to gain a freshness in your Tefillah.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

The story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza teaches us that every single interpersonal relationship is important, and that we can never, ever go beyond Halacha and hurt another--for this constitutes sinas chinam. Especially in this week before Tisha B’Av, we must be extra vigilant to avoid any taint of undue or unjust sinah. Remember that the Halacha is very, very limiting in permitting sinah of any kind. If you must act with emotion--act with ahava.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Every day, for at least a minute, think about what life will be like in the times of the Third Beis HaMikdash, with Moshiach--picture yourself there, and think about the spirituality--what an elevated existence! Long for the Geulah!

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PRACTICAL FEAR OF HEAVEN: “R’Shaul Kosovsky-Shachor, a religious lawyer, told me the following ruling that he heard from the Chazon Ish.  After Shacharis, R’ Shaul would learn Torah for several hours before going to work. Once, he told the Chazon Ish that although he tries not to interrupt his learning, it occasionally happens that a person will ask him to help him with the wording of a contract.  On those occasions, he removes his Tefillin and helps the person with the contract.  ‘The Chazon Ish told me,’ R’ Shaul related, ‘that I do not have to remove my Tefillin when I interrupt my learning to help people.’ ’Even if you were not wearing Tefillin,’ the Chazon Ish told me, ‘you would be allowed to put them on in order to write the contract.  According to the basic halachah, a person should wear Tefillin the whole day, even while he is working. You should certainly work on the contract while wearing your Tefillin, out of fear of Heaven,’ the Chazon Ish said’.”  Hakhel Note: Let us contemplate what can add to our fear of Heaven! [Excerpted from The Sefer Aleinu L’Shabeiach by HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, and written by Rabbi Moshe Zoren (Artscroll)]

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LIFE ON PLANET EARTH! Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, points out that after the first Pasuk in the Torah which describes that Hashem created the Heavens and the Earth--which includes billions of galaxies with billions of celestial bodies within them, the Torah immediately begins to focus on Ha’aretz--the earth. The earth in comparison to all Hashem created is almost infinitely smaller than even the Jewish population in proportion to the whole world’s population. Yet, the Torah teaches us that Hashem’s focus is here, with us, in this world, on earth. If life on planet earth is so important--how can we waste it on vanities, trifles, excesses, and the unimportant?! Especially in this precious time before Tisha B’Av, one of the highlights of which is Teshuvah--we must consider and reconsider how we can make our lives more valued and valuable!

 

Additional Note: Chazal teach that in a place where a Ba’al Teshuvah stands--even a Tzaddik Gamur cannot stand. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to be greater than even those who are looked to as Tzaddikim. Such is the power of Teshuvah. We must remember that Chazal teach: “V’HaKol Lefi HaCheshbon--everything is counted, and not overlooked by Hashem”. We have the capability to successfully overcome each challenge and each trial we face, and do Hashem’s will in each and every life situation and event. We suggest both of the following phrases are true: “We can--because we must”, and “We must--because we can”!

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PURITY! We understand that some have difficulty contemplating what life will be like after the Third Beis HaMikdash arrives. One person suggested to us that he thinks of his greatest end of Yom Kippur experience--the feeling of extreme cleanliness and purity--a feeling that each and every one of us has experienced to some extent and in some way. With the Geulah, this feeling of purity is what we will experience every day, he suggests--a thousand fold, or more!

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

66. One is not permitted to perform any type of work before davening Shacharis. How do we define work?

According to the Shulchan Aruch “work” is broadly defined to include eating, drinking, traveling, greeting another person and office work or house work. The prohibition applies to both men and women. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, held that after a woman recites a Tefillah Ketzara (i.e, making the bracha of Netilas Yadayim, reciting Birchos HaTorah, Birchos Hashachar and if possible the first Parasha of Shema), she may perform work.

 

67.  Why did Chazal prohibit this?

Because the Gemara states that it shows a form of arrogance when one shows priority to his personal needs before thanking Hashem.

 

68. Is one permitted to take medication before davening?

Yes, one is permitted to take medication before davening. If possible, one should wait until after reciting Tefillah Ketzara (see 66. above).

 

69. Is one who needs to eat due to medical reasons permitted to eat before davening?

If one must, he or she is permitted to eat before davening. If possible, one should wait until after reciting Tefillah Ketzara (see 66. above).

 

70. Are children permitted to eat before davening?

Yes, small children are permitted to eat before davening, but a girl over bas mitzvah really should not. However, it appears that some have the minhag to allow girls to eat before davening. Some poskim say that girls should at least recite Tefillah Ketzara (see 66. above).

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: The following are Piskei Halacha from HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita, as published in the Divrei Si’ach relating to Tisha B’Av, and the Churban:

 

A. For Kriyas Shema Ahl HaMita on Leil Tisha B’Av, HaRav Kanievsky recites only the Parasha of Shema, the Pasuk of BeYadecha Afkid Ruchi, and the bracha of HaMapil.

 

B. The Minhag to stand when reciting Ali Tzion is out of respect for the Kinah, and is not a chiyuv.

 

C. When putting on Tefillin in the afternoon, one may recite the Pesukim which he normally says when putting on Tefillin.

 

D. HaRav Kanievsky reports that the Chazon Ish permitted women to recite Tehillim on Tisha B’Av.

 

E. Halachos which are Zecher LeChurban:

 

1. A Simcha Hall which is owned by an individual requires an amah by an amah which is unfinished.

 

2. When traveling to the Kosel, the Steipeler would close his eyes upon entering the Old City until the Kosel, so that he would not have to tear his clothing twice--once for the walls of Yerushalayim--and the other for the Kosel.

 

3. One cannot be mafkir his clothing in order to avoid tearing it when seeing the Kosel. After tearing, one need not continue to wear it and one can replace it immediately.

 

 

Special Note Two: Important reflections for the days before Tisha B’Av:

 

PART 3

 

1.  Lashon Hara--we need say nothing more than these two words, which the Chofetz Chaim teaches is the Sinas Chinam which brought about the destruction of the Second Bais Hamikdash.  We have to know that a slip even one time a day has horrific results.  Picture five packs of cigarettes in front of you ready to be smoked--five words of Lashon Hara are infinitely worse than smoking all five packs!  Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Yearning with Fire points out that the current Galus is now more than 27 times longer than Galus Bavel.  Think about it--27 times longer--and the Galus Bavel was a result of the three major sins of Gilui Arayos, Shefichas Damim and Avodah Zara!  We have to get the message--and stop once and for all!

 

2.  As this week’s Haftarah concludes, Yeshayahu HaNavi ( 1:27 ) reveals to us:  “Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh V’Shaveha B’Tzedakah--we will be redeemed through justice and through Tzedakah.”  This does not apply only to judges and to the wealthy.  It applies to each and every Jew. We know that being Dan L’Chaf Zechus is part of Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh.  What are the ways that one can be Dan L’Chaf Zechus?  The Chofetz Chaim suggests several, which include one’s thinking that the person does not realize that what he is doing is wrong, or realizing that he does not understand the full context of the event (which is almost always the case), and yet another is that even if one feels that he understands the context and knows the person to be culpable, it may be that the person must act in this manner or in order to save someone else.  If one does not consciously realize, at least once a day, that he is judging another L’Chaf Zechus--then perhaps he is not being Dan L’Chaf Zechus often enough! 

 

3. Now let us turn to V’Shaveha B’Tzedakah--if we give Tzedakah daily--especially when doing so for the sake of the Geulah--we demonstrate that we are personally trying to fulfill the Navi’s words! 

 

4.  Tzefanayah HaNavi ( 3:13 ) teaches us that “She’eiris Yisrael Lo Ya’asu Avlah VeLo Yedabru Chazav VeLo YeMatzei BiPhihem Leshon Tarmis--those who remain at the time of the Moshiach…will be those that did not speak falsely or deceitfully.”  How important is honesty in one’s life!  It is literally the difference as to whether one will be present at the end of days, says the Navi.  What an important ambition in life!

 

 

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6 Menachem Av

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 6--PARASHAS DEVARIM

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Change your siddur, or your seat, or some other aspect of the way you daven in order to gain a freshness in your Tefillah.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

The story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza teaches us that every single interpersonal relationship is important, and that we can never, ever go beyond Halacha and hurt another--for this constitutes sinas chinam. Especially in this week before Tisha B’Av, we must be extra vigilant to avoid any taint of undue or unjust sinah. Remember that the Halacha is very, very limiting in permitting sinah of any kind. If you must act with emotion--act with ahava.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Every day, for at least a minute, think about what life will be like in the times of the Third Beis HaMikdash, with Moshiach--picture yourself there, and think about the spirituality--what an elevated existence! Long for the Geulah!

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START TODAY! If one starts today, and studies one Perek a day (with Rashi or another commentary) he will complete Eicha on Sunday, in observance of the Taanis. In the zechus of one’s dedication of studying the Churban and its aftermath in Eicha--may he be zoche to see the Beis HaMikdash HaBenuyah--this Sunday!

 

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NEW CYCLE STARTS THIS SUNDAY! The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Calendar Website (www.kitzur365.org) makes available any and all of the following: audio lectures, resources, calendars, Chavrusah hookup, and a host of other useful tools to begin Kitzur Shulchan Aruch study. A new cycle officially starts this Sunday, although one can begin any day and follow his own schedule. We urge you to take advantage of this most wonderful tool!

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WELCOME TO WWW .DAFNOTES.COM! The absolutely new www.dafnotes.com

 website is a tremendous source of commentary, insight and guidance in Daf Yomi study. One can review today’s Daf--or select any Daf in Shas. The website provides a unique opportunity for one to learn and review the Daf Yomi in a short period every day. Take advantage of the opportunity!

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FROM READERS: We received the following important communications from readers:

 

A. In an Irgun Shiurei Torah shiur, I heard Rabbi Saperstein say (I forget in whose name) that with the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, our siddur is like a portable Bais Hamikdash.  In our Bein Adam Lamakom focus these days, keeping this thought in mind might engender more Kavannah.  This morning, Rabbi Saperstein’s teaching made me so grateful just to have a siddur, a machzor, etc., all within easy reach.  I thought of people during the Holocaust, who davened from memory, or of stories of people who gave from their meager rations, just to have a chance to daven from a lone siddur or pages of a siddur that had been smuggled into the camps….

Also, I  read that HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, may he be well and strong, in comments on Chovos Halevovos, translated the word bitachon not as trust, but as certainty.  Namely, we are certain that Hashem will take care of us, send the geulah, etc.  When I pointed this out to a friend, she reminded me of the following mashal: ‘Why does a baby laugh when its father throws him up in the air?  Shouldn’t the baby be fearful and cry?  But the baby laughs because he is certain that his father will catch him!’  The nimshal is clear.  May we merit the Geulah Sheleimah, and may it be Geulah B’Rachamim.”

 

B. “One of the primary avodos of this period is not being mesiach da’as from the churban.  Speaking for myself and presumably others, this is an extremely difficult avoda and especially so for those of us working in a secular environment completely antithetical to all things religious.   So the question becomes: How do we go about our day and do all our normal activities but at the same time keep an awareness that we, personally and as a nation, are in a period of mourning?  I heard an eitza once.  It might sound silly or trite but it has worked for me and hopefully would work for others.  Take a small item, could be a paper clip or a folded up small piece of paper and put in your shoe such that as you walk around you notice it.  The item should not be too small that you cannot feel it and not too large to impede normal walking habits.  As you walk around, to the office, on an errand or running to catch the train, you will notice the object and the object will remind you that it is the Nine Days and a period of mourning.  Simple, but very effective.”

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NINETEEN WEEKS: As we especially dedicate ourselves to the twelfth Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week, we provide the following words of instruction from the great Praying with Passion Series (in order to go through this entire outstanding series on Tefillah, please visit http://prayingwithfire.org/archives.html):

 

“Who are the Zeidim? They are evil doers, the habitual and intentional sinners, who attempt to draw Jews away from their service of Hashem. We request that Hashem punish the Zeidim in no fewer than four different ways: He should “uproot, smash, cast down, and humble them,” Seaker, Seshaber, Semageir, Sachniyah. Rav Schwab (Rav Schwab on Prayer, Artscroll, p. 479) explains that these four verbs were chosen very carefully and represent four different types of punishment:

 

Seaker--we pray that Hashem uproot the evil doers, to prevent any future growth. It is our prayer that any ideology that attempts to take Jews away from Judaism—either by force or persuasion—shall be uprooted and thereby shall cease to grow and develop.

 

Seshaber--we pray that evil-doers should be smashed into various factions, thus

rendering them ineffective in reaching their evil objective.

 

Semageir--we pray that even the factions of evil-doers be broken up—that they

be further divided into individuals. Nevertheless, even without the strength

of the group, these individuals are still dangerous.

 

Sachniyahwe pray that Hashem humble the remaining individual evil-doers, so that individual Zeidim are rendered harmless.”

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

66. One is not permitted to perform any type of work before davening Shacharis. How do we define work?

 

67.  Why did Chazal prohibit this?

 

68. Is one permitted to take medication before davening?

 

69. Is one who needs to eat due to medical reasons permitted to eat before davening?

 

70. Are children permitted to eat before davening?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: Important reflections for the days before Tisha B’Av:

 

PART 2

 

1.  With all of the problems of Galus, we must see the Yad Hashem leading us from place to place, from trial and tribulation to respite, and from another trial and tribulation to another respite.  HaRav Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches that the Kinus are presented in a seeming disorder or disarray in order for us to understand that the trials and tribulations we experienced in the 1500’s were not in essence different than the trials and tribulations of the 1800’s, and that the respite in the 1700’s was not in essence different than the respite in the 2000’s.  It is all Yad Hashem walking with us, staying with us, leading us in a Derech Hanistar until that time that we are zoche for His glory to be revealed to us in all its splendor--and this time to the entire world!

 

2.  We must read and re-read the last few paragraphs of Chapter 19 of the Mesilas Yesharim, in which the Ramchal teaches us how each and every one of us is personally important and responsible to bring the Geulah.  We must teach this lesson to our friends, to our neighbors and to our children.  When pleading to Hashem for the Geulah, can we not be contrite enough to stick out our hand as a pauper does when we say:  Yehi Ratzon…Sheyibaneh Bais Hamikdash BeMiheirah V’Yameinu Visein Chelkeinu BiSorasecha…”? We do not have to limit this request to the end of Shemone Esrei--we can make it additional times during the day as well!

 

3.  Supplementing our reader’s suggestion above, we should take upon ourselves certain simple daily practices (everything, bli neder, of course), which indicate our discomfort and displeasure with our remaining in Galus.  Every person knows what he can do--skipping one’s first choice of dessert, not eating a particular food (ketchup, mustard, popcorn--you choose it), not speaking one time a day when you could--all in order to remember where you are and where you have to go. 

 

4.  The Arizal teaches that in order to be zoche to Ruach HaKodesh, one should recite Birkas HaNehenin properly.  We provide by the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/AlHamichyaElucidated.pdf   a simple translation of HaMichya and Borei Nefashos in Hebrew.  By using these translations (at least once a day), one may demonstrate that he aspires to the days when Ruach HaKodesh will once again be prevalent among us, and that he too aspires to that very same Ruach HaKodesh. 

 

 

Special Note Two:  What will Eliyahu HaNavi accomplish upon his arrival?  The last Mishna in Edios (8:7) brings different opinions as to Eliyahu’s actual role, and concludes with the words of the Chachamim: “Eliyahu will not come to make distant those who are currently close, or to make close those who are currently distant.  Rather, his purpose it to make peace in the world.”  Oh, how we need this now! The world and all its inhabitants, including parents and children, students and teachers, all of the estranged, and the erstwhile enemies, will no longer have a shred of Machlokes between them.  Peace and only peace will be the common thread of all humanity.  With this realization--that the singular task of Eliyahu HaNavi is to bring peace to the world--perhaps we should realize what an important goal peace really is even now--and place especially important focus and attention on the last Bracha of Shemone Esrei, and the other areas of Davening in which we plead for peace.  If we conclude Shemone Esrei with this plea, conclude Birkas Kohanim with this plea, conclude Bentsching with this plea…and Eliyahu HaNavi’s sole role will bring its ultimate realization, then we must do our part to realize its essential and unparalleled place in our lives, and in the lives of our family, community, and the world at large.  The next time (and every time!) you say Sim Shalom, Shalom Rav, Hashem Yivarech Es Amo BaShalom... or even Shalom Aleichem--especially during these perilous times--give it the special meaning and inspired intent that it actually, realistically and so very truly deserves!

 

 

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5 Menachem Av

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 6--PARASHAS DEVARIM

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Change your siddur, or your seat, or some other aspect of the way you daven in order to gain a freshness in your Tefillah.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

The story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza teaches us that every single interpersonal relationship is important, and that we can never, ever go beyond Halacha and hurt another--for this constitutes sinas chinam. Especially in this week before Tisha B’Av, we must be extra vigilant to avoid any taint of undue or unjust sinah. Remember that the Halacha is very, very limiting in permitting sinah of any kind. If you must act with emotion--act with ahava.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Every day, for at least a minute, think about what life will be like in the times of the Third Beis HaMikdash, with Moshiach--picture yourself there, and think about the spirituality--what an elevated existence! Long for the Geulah!

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EVEN IN OUR GENERATION! In a Shiur related to Tisha B’Av, Rabbi Zev Leff, Shlita, explained that in the Haggada Shel Pesach there are two times the phrase “Bechol Dor V’Dor” appears: (1) Bechol Dor V’Dor Chayav Adam Liros Es Atzmo--in every generation a person is obligated to view himself as having been redeemed from Egypt; and (2) Bechol Dor V’Dor Omdim Aleinu Lechaloseinu-- in every generation our enemies attempt to destroy us (whether blatantly or not). Chazal, by putting both phrases of Bechol Dor V’Dor into the Haggada are teaching us that just as each generation in Galus deserves to be in Galus--each and every generation--including ours--has the potential for redemption.  It is up to us not to look this way or that way, backwards, frontwards or sideways--but into ourselves--so that we can experience the very much preferred Bechol Dor V’Dor!

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ACTUALLY--MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO! Rabbeinu Sa’adia Gaon teaches as follows:  Hashem related to Avraham Avinu just two words about what would happen to the Mitzriyim when the time for Geulas Mitzrayim would come--’Dun Anochi--I will judge them’. Yet, we all know the fantastic miracles and wonders that subsequently occurred. Imagine, then, continues Rabbeinu Sa’adia Gaon about the future Geulah--think of the [perhaps thousands of] words of nechama in the Seforim of Yirmiyahu, Yeshayahu, Yecheskel and Trei Asar--how great and wondrous will the Geulah Sheleimah be! Hakhel Note:  All we have to do is take it seriously--and properly ready ourselves!

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PERHAPS YOU CAN START HERE…!  That one item that you were meaning to get to--improving your Kavannah in Pesukei D’Zimrah, Shema or Shemone Esrei; making sure to be on time for davening in Shul or to the Shiur; starting the new Gemach; making a daily Chesed call….  Whatever it may be that you have intended to begin but have not yet done so--now during this very important period in which we strive to increase our levels of Avodah--to show that we are ready for more--is truly the time to get started!

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APPRECIATING ALL OF HIS WONDERS: The following two extremely practical and meaningful points are excerpted from Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, Shlita, and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita (Artscroll/Mesorah)

 

1. Rav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, teaches: “My Rebbi, Rav Yeruchom Levovitz, Z’tl, the Mirrer Mashgiach, would say that just as one is impressed by a very loud, crashing clap of thunder, and consequently trembles when saying the bracha of Shekocho U’Gevuraso Maleih Olam, so should one also tremble and be awe-inspired when saying the bracha of Shehakol Nehiyeh Bidvaro before drinking a glass of water. The creation of water is just as much a result of the strength and power of Hashem as is thunder and lightning.”

 

2. Rav Zev Smith, Shlita, writes: “If a person wants to acquire love of Hashem, says Rambam, he should look at the miracles of the natural world. [In summer camp] Rav Nesanel Quinn, Z’tl, often took us on walks, and would point to a tree, a patch of grass. Each was in his eyes a Mitzvah object from which to learn. In our daily prayers we say that this world is filled with Kinyanecha which literally means “Your [Hashem’s] possessions”. Rav Quinn would quote [his mentor] HaRav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, Z’tl, who said that the word Kinyan is a method by which to acquire something. By pondering the wonders of creation, we acquire love of Hashem. Accordingly, the intent of the prayer is, ‘How manifold are Your works, Hashem…the earth is filled with ways by which to acquire love of You, Who has created this amazing world’.”

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

61.  After a woman finishes getting her children off to school and is exhausted, can she lie down and rest or does she need to daven first?

 

It is said in the name of HaRav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg, Z’tl,  that a woman should try to daven at least Shemone Esrei. If she is so exhausted that she cannot function, then she can lie down and daven Mincha. If she is usually able to daven Shacharis, then she should daven two Shemone Esreis by Mincha, with Ashrei in between. The first Shemone Esrei is for Mincha and the second is for Shacharis.  

 

62.  What is a husband’s obligation with regard to his wife’s davening?

HaRav Shach, Z’tl, stated in a letter that every husband has an obligation to help his wife (in the morning and by lunch) and ensure that his wife is able to daven with Kavannah at least the minimum amount.

 

63.  Can a woman daven Shemone Esrei even though that she knows that she will not be able to have proper Kavannah for the whole Shemone Esrei?

HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, stated that she should daven and try to have Kavannah for at least the first Bracha.

 

64.  If a woman has no time to daven during the day but is able to daven Ma’ariv, what should she do ?

HaRav Scheinberg held that she should follow the Rambam and daven Tefillah Ketzarah

in the morning and daven Ma’ariv at night. The definition of Tefillah Ketzara is davening Birchas Hashachar, Birchas HaTorah, Netilas Yadayim, and if possible the first Parasha of Shema.

 

65. What priorities of the davening should a woman raising children use to determine what she should daven?

She has seven choices and she should choose the one that works for her:

 

1.  She should daven a shorten version of Shacharis (Baruch Sheamar, Ashrei, Yishtabach, Birchos Kriyas Shema, Shemone Esrei).

2. Her husband or someone else watch the children while she davens

3.  Daven Mincha or Ma’ariv instead

4.  Daven Shemone Esrei even if you do not have complete Kavannah

5. Daven Shemone Esrei even after the zeman of Tefillah until Chatzos

6.  Wake up before the children get up

7.  Daven Shacharis while doing light housework but not during Shemone Esrei or Shema

 

If none of the above work, then she should at least daven according to the Rambam a Tefillah Ketzarah.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: As many may know, today is the Yahrzeit of the Arizal.  It is particularly noteworthy during this time of year that the Arizal is known for instructing us to be mekabel the Mitzvas Aseh of VeAhavta LeRayacha Kamocha before davening.  What greater Mitzvah can we be involved in on his Yahrzeit--knowing that our lack of brotherhood (Sinas Chinam) drove us away from meriting the Bais Hamikdash--and how its repair --through VeAhavta LeRayacha Kamocha -can bring us back home.  There is a fascinating Maharal at the outset of Sefer Gevuras Hashem, in which the Maharal explains that the word for exile (Golah--Gimel, Lamed, Heh), and the word for redemption (Goel--Gimel, Aleph, Heh) are different in that the word for exile contains a Heh, and the word for redemption contains an Aleph.  He explains as follows:  A Heh has the numerical equivalent of five--and this symbolizes the four corners of an object (such as the earth), together with its fifth point-- its center.  The letter Aleph has a numerical equivalent of one--symbolizing the center point which unites all else around.  In the Galus we are in, we are spread to the four corners of the world--but we have not lost the center--the power of unity that brings us all together.  We must always remember that our Galus is not marked by a Daled--with only four corners--but instead is made up of a Heh -- a fifth point at the center at which the four points can unite.  We have not lost this bond in thousands of years--as Jews from such diverse Galus-countries as Afghanistan, Argentina, Russia, France and the United States will all get together in camaraderie and to help each other.  This link has never been, and will never be, broken. Our role in Galus is to bring the four corners closer and closer towards the middle point--bonding closer and closer to achieve an Aleph.  When we have made sufficient gains with each other-- we will be zoche to bond with Hashem in the Bais HaMikdash again. When this happens and the Geulah Sheleimah comes--the Aleph will be permanent--and our bonds with Hashem will be unshakable, unbreakable, eternal and everlasting.

 

 

Special Note Two: HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, makes an essential point.  Chazal teach that when adding on to the Mikdash, one of the chapters of Tehillim that was recited was Tehillim Chapter 30, appropriately entitled “Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis LeDovid--a song for the inauguration of the Bais HaMikdash by Dovid HaMelech.”  We are all very familiar with this Kepitel, for we recite it in Shacharis every morning, and daily on Chanukah when we also commemorate the rededication of the Bais HaMikdash.  HaRav Elyashiv asks a pointed question--after we recite the first Pasuk of Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis--what does the rest of the Kepitel have to do at all with the Bais HaMikdash?  Take a look at the rest of the Pesukim, such as “Shivati Eilecha Vetirpa’eini--I cried out to You, and You healed me.”  “Histarta Phanecha Hayisi Nivhal--You conceal Yourself, and I am confounded.”  “Hashem Heyei Ozer Li--Hashem be my Helper.”  In looking at the Kepitel, it appears to be a moving and personalized plea for Hashem’s help.  So, once again, what does it have to do with the Bais HaMikdash?!  HaRav Elyashiv answers that Dovid HaMelech truly felt that as long as the Bais HaMikdash was not in a position of great prominence--he himself was suffering, he himself was in anguish and incomplete.  However, with a built Mikdash, he exclaims “He’elisa Min Sheol Nafshi--You have raised up my soul from the lower world!”  This, then is Dovid HaMelech’s lesson to us from Tehillim Chapter 30.  Because we lack the Bais HaMikdash in all of its splendor--we must inwardly feel the full measure of the Yiddish expression:  “Se Gait Mir In Laiben--it troubles me terribly, it troubles me personally.”  Please look at the Kepitel again and envisage how your need for the Chanukas HaBayis bothers you as much as your own predicaments and circumstances, your own troubles and difficulties--and how the Chanukas HaBayis itself will usher in the utmost personal joy and joy for the world at large.  Every time we recite this Chapter (for Nussach Ashkenaz it actually inaugurates the Pisukei DeZimra)--we should have in mind not only our own trials and tribulations, but also how much the absence of a Bais HaMikdash personally means--after all it is the Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis.  With this zechus of a true and proper recital of this Kepitel daily, we come to its last, concluding and climactic Pasuk--”LeMa’an Yezamercha Chavod VeLo Yidom, Hashem Elokai LeOlam Odeka--so that my soul might sing to You and not be still-- Hashem I will thank You forever!”

 

 

Special Note Three: Important reflections for the days before Tisha B’Av:

 

PART 1

 

1.  What does the lack of a Bais Hamikdash mean?  We are taught (see for example Divrei HaYamim 1:25 and Rashi there) that the Chapters of Tehillim were so inspirational that their recitation by the Levi’im in the Bais Hamikdash brought them to Ruach HaKodesh.  How can we live with such a stark void?  How can we live without Nevi’im to guide us and Kohanim to teach us?  How can we live without Korbanos which by its very meaning teaches us that our bringing them is a guaranteed means of coming closer to Hashem?  The holiest place in the world is the Kodesh HaKedashim--how can we allow the world to continue to exist--without its holiest place? 

 

2.  How deadened have my senses become in Galus?  How can I be content with what my eyes see around me?  How can I be used to the words that my ears hear?  What parts of Western civilization are emblazoned in my home, on my clothing (even glasses and sneakers!), and worse yet--in my heart?! 

 

3.  The Shechina is out of its home.  It is in Galus!  Dovid HaMelech cried out to Hashem that he could not live like that--without the Shechina in its resting place.  How could we then be complacent, and look away at the Tza’ar HaShechina?  Shouldn’t we at least feel the Tza’ar three times a day, every day when reciting the bracha of V’Lirushalayim Irecha BeRachamim Tashuv? 

 

4.  Do I realize what the world will be like when the Geulah finally comes?  As we have noted in the past, HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, taught that there will even be four brachos that are recited when the Moshiach comes.  The Mishna (Brachos 9:2) itself teaches that when we see Avodah Zara uprooted from Eretz Yisrael we will be able to recite the bracha of:  Baruch She’akar Avodah Zara MeiArtzeinu”!  Oh, how we must await the Geulah!  Chazal teach that the Ananei Kavod--the cloud of glory will even return to transport us, that the sick will be healed, that the agony and groans of this world will be no more--and that we will live in eternal happiness.  Moreover, if one truly mourns the destruction of the Mikdash, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, [Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Ettel] adds that he will be zoche to a Techiyas HaMeisim which precedes the general Techiyas HaMeisim--so that he can truly see the Bais Hamikdash being rebuilt with his own eyes!

 

 

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4 Menachem Av

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We continue our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes. In the alternative, one can chart his own improvement course on a weekly basis as well.

 

WEEK 6--PARASHAS DEVARIM

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Change your siddur, or your seat, or some other aspect of the way you daven in order to gain a freshness in your Tefillah.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

The story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza teaches us that every single interpersonal relationship is important, and that we can never, ever go beyond Halacha and hurt another--for this constitutes sinas chinam. Especially in this week before Tisha B’Av, we must be extra vigilant to avoid any taint of undue or unjust sinah. Remember that the Halacha is very, very limiting in permitting sinah of any kind. If you must act with emotion--act with ahava.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Every day, for at least a minute, think about what life will be like in the times of the Third Beis HaMikdash, with Moshiach--picture yourself there, and think about the spirituality--what an elevated existence! Long for the Geulah!

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80,000! The Chofetz Chaim provides the following stark words: “If someone is not as careful as he should be and speaks ‘only four or five’ words of Lashon Hara in a day--then over the week that will be 30 words of Lashon Hara. Over the year, the Chofetz Chaim continues, this will aggregate 1,500 words of Lashon Hara. Over 60 years, this will result in 80,000 words of Lashon Hara. Since Chazal (Avos 4:13) teach that one who does an aveirah creates an accompanying kateigor (prosecuting Malach)--one will have r’l created an astounding legion of 80,000 mekatregim against him. This would occur if r’l one is not careful with four or five words every day. Imagine, then, if one is not careful with 15 or 20! On the other hand--if those very same words were used as words of Torah, Tefillah or Chesed--in their place there would be 80,000 malochim who are saneigorim--who will eternally benefit the one who created them. A little laxity could be a terrible thing--while just a small amount of Mitzvos in their place can bring everlasting gain!”

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NINETEEN WEEKS! We are now in the twelfth of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In past years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha. This week’s Bracha is… Velamalshinim!

 

Birkas HaMinim is really the 19th Bracha of Shemone Esrei, as it was instituted after the Churban, in Yavneh (Brachos 28B).  Thus, it seems to directly relate to our condition post-Churban, during which we are inundated by heretical thoughts and philosophies, and face enemies from within and without.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that we accordingly first begin with Velamalshinim Al Tehi Sikva--may all of those who are antagonistic to Torah, who falsify reports against us and who antagonize or act with hatred towards us, have no success or hope in their endeavors.  Furthermore, Vechol HaRisha KeRegah Toveid--we do not daven necessarily that the evildoers be eradicated, but that the evil itself will be eliminated not over time--but K’Rega--immediately.  Our plea for the immediate destruction of evil, HaRav Friedlander writes, exactly parallels our Tefilla on the Yomim Noraim of ‘Vechol HaRisha Kula KeAshan Tichleh’--i.e., that Risha be destroyed immediately--going up in smoke so that the world at large will acknowledge its fallacy. We have needed this Bracha over the last 2,000 years--and we most certainly need it now.  Think of our current enemies all across the globe. Perhaps when the Beis HaMikdash is rebuilt…we will revert back to 18 Brachos.  May we find out in our day.  In the interim, let us be sure we impart all of the Kavannah that we can into this timely Bracha!

 

In addition to the above note, we provide by the following link additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the Praying with Passion Series (available at www.prayingwithfire.org), the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer, the Tefillah Tapes of Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, or other wonderful resources), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week!

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

61.  After a woman finishes getting her children off to school and is exhausted, can she lie down and rest or does she need to daven first?

 

62.  What is a husband’s obligation with regard to his wife’s davening?

 

63.  Can a woman daven Shemoneh Esrei even though she knows that she will not be able to have proper Kavannah for the whole Shemone Esrei?

 

64.  If a woman has no time to daven during the day but is able to daven Ma’ariv, what should she do?

 

65. What priorities of the davening should a woman raising children use to determine what she should daven?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

------------------------------------------------

 

 

Special Note One:  Today is marked on the Jewish calendar in an incredible way.  On the Fourth Day of Av, Nechemiah, the leader of the Jewish people who had returned from Galus Bavel, began to repair the broken walls of Yerushalayim. Indeed, portions of this rebuilt wall can still be seen today.  The repair process took 52 days, and was completed on the 25th of Elul.  Thus, the 'repair' of Yerushalayim began during the very Nine Day Period in which we commemorate and commiserate over its destruction and loss. There is no doubt that the time period we are in reverberates with our relationship to Yerushalayim and the Bais HaMikdash.  It is up to us to steer it away from the direction of destruction and ruin and towards the course of an everlasting rebuilding and rededication.

 

 

Special Note Two:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the Maharam MiPanu (R’Menachem Azarya ben R’Yitzchak Berechia), Z’tl.  The Maharam taught that the word Tzedaka in "Aat Bash" (equating the first letter and the last letter of the Aleph Bais, the second letter with the second to last letter, the third letter with the third to last letter, through the whole Aleph Bais ) also spells Tzedaka --with the tzadik (the fifth letter from the end of the Aleph Bais) being the equivalent of the hey (the fifth letter from the beginning of the Aleph Bais), and the daled (fourth letter from beginning)being the equivalent of the kuf (fourth letter from end), and the same analysis continuing for the final two letters of Tzedaka--the kuf and the heh.  Tzedaka is thus Tzedaka--no matter which end of the Aleph Bais you start from!  The great lesson is that one who gives Tzedaka in the beginning (represented by counting from the beginning of the Aleph Bais)--loses nothing, for Hashem ensures that in one way or another he receives it all back (represented by the counting from the end of the Aleph Bais).  Let us remember these words as we prepare to give Tzedaka over the next several days in order to fulfill the words of the Navi Yeshaya--“VeShaveha BiTzedaka--and those who return…with acts of charity!”  If you need an important Tzedaka address to help feed the poor in Eretz Yisrael--we refer you to yadeliezer.org

 

 

Special Note Three:  If we take a moment to engage in a Reality Check we will note that two months from today’s date will be the fourth day of Tishrei--almost the middle of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah!  Of course, another aspect of the Reality Check is that we are in the Nine Days.  Rather than being depressed or gloomy, we should recognize the current daily situation as a series of opportunities--opportunity after opportunity for growth and advancement.  In last week’s Haftarah, the Navi exhorted us with the words “Vayeilchu Acharei HaHevel Vayehebalu--they went after nothingness, and they became nothing.” (Yirmiyahu 2:5)  If we can make the effort to recognize and act upon opportunity after opportunity, we can convert nothingness into something very, very huge and important.  HaRav Avraham Davis, Shlita, (of Metsudah Publications) said in the name of HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, Z’tl, that if an adult would play ball like a child, he would be unfortunately viewed as an adult playing like a child.  However, if he would have continuously developed his talents since childhood, he could even become a professional.  Lehavdil, the same is also true in everything that we do.  It is up to us to determine whether, as adults, we are just playing like children in the way we learn, the way we daven, the way we speak, and the way we behave towards others.  In which direction are we moving--are we moving away from nothingness, are we using our opportunities--are we trying to grow (up)? Let us learn from the Navi--and make something of ourselves.  HaRav Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Shlita, in a Shiur on the Three Weeks, taught that Hashem leaves His palace during the Three Weeks looking for us--may He find us and be happy with His find!

  

Hakhel Note One:  It may be right for us to buy a small notebook, and write on the outside “Sefer HaTeshuva.”  In there, one can jot down the items he senses that he is doing wrong either on a consistent basis or whenever he gets into this kind of situation or that kind of discussion--and ultimately (after thinking about it, and trial and error) how he can fix what he writes about.  Similarly, he could write down where he may have not acted honorably or befittingly (how did he show honor to the elderly person, how did he eat that food or drink that drink).  Writing this down is the indication that one feels that it is important enough for him to deal with, and is an important step in the improvement process.  Each and every one of us is far, far from nothingness, as Yirmiyahu teaches--for one has to travel (Vayeilchu Acharei HaHevel) to get there.  Our own personal Sefer HaTeshuva will lead us farther and farther away from that nothingness, and closer and closer to the highroad to greatness! 

 

Hakhel Note Two:  HaRav Chaim Volozhiner's teaching in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim regarding Titus HaRasha should especially reverberate within us during this time of year.  As many know, HaRav Chaim teaches that, unlike Titus' action of stabbing the Paroches, which was limited to Olam HaZeh and had no effects in Shomayim--when a Jew sins in  this world, it not only creates after-effects and after-shocks in the person's self and in the world in general, but it creates reverberations in the upper worlds as well.  This is not meant to be allegorical.  Although we cannot see it with our naked eye, it is real, very real.  We have the power to literally shake worlds for the bad--or for the good.  Let us wisely utilize our daily opportunities! It is up to us to make this day--and every day--a successful one!

 

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1 Menachem Av

TODAY--REMINDER:

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 5--PARASHAS MATOS-MASEI

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Among the first words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch are Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid…for one’s actions and business when he is ‘alone’ are not the same as one who conducts himself in front of a great king…most certainly when one is in the presence of the Great King HaKadosh Baruch Hu Whose Presence fills the earth and Who stands and watches him. When sitting down at one’s table or desk one should try to conduct himself for a few moments, feeling that he is in the Presence of the Great King with the thought of Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Make a conscious effort not to ‘steal’ one’s sleep or time, by being especially quiet, or by not engaging in needless conversation with him.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Make an effort to treat your clothing with special respect--not throwing any article down or across the table or room, if disposing of it--wrapping it up, and in any event making sure that it is not stained or dirty.

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STARTS TODAY! In our Sha’arei Teshuvah pre-Rosh Hashana calendar, Sha’ar Gimel starts today! If you have not yet begun the Sefer--you may begin today with Sha’ar Gimel, which contains the main body of the Sefer. We provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/qcnq3u6 the calendar for you for the next two months--from Rosh Chodesh Av to completion of the Sefer on Rosh Hashana. 

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IT IS WAR AGAINST THE YETZER HARA:  Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita, in last week’s Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Torah Video Shiur, made the following significant points:  

 

1. Chazal teach that a person should be margiz his Yetzer HaTov over his Yetzer Hara. The term margiz is intended to emphasize that we must excite ourselves, and act passionately against the Yetzer Hara. We cannot live on cruise control, nor rely on our ‘good instincts’.

 

2. Just as a nurse in a hospital, dealing with all kinds of illnesses, must be extremely careful to protect her own health--and cannot say: “No, nothing will happen to me”--so too, must a person be so careful to protect his spiritual health by using recognized protective measures. These include the study of Torah, and sincere Tefillos to Hashem to save you from the Yetzer Hara’s deceit and trickery (‘V’Hatzileini HaYom U’vechol Yom MeYetzer Hara’).

 

3. A person must realize that the war is a life-long one--and it is a person’s job to win the battles--which take place in different situations and events--on a daily basis.

 

4. Why is the Yetzer Hara compared to a zevuv--a fly, and not a hornet, scorpion or rattlesnake? It may be because it is only the fly that keeps on coming back--no matter how many times you brush it away!

 

Hakhel Note: Some add that the fly has no real power to hurt the person--it only annoys and distracts, if the person allows himself to be annoyed and distracted. This too is true of the Yetzer Hara.

 

5. Of special importance to the Torah Jew is that Chazal teach that if a person repeats an aveirah, it becomes like a heter to him. What does this mean? It means that it doesn’t overly bother a person if he can go through an entire davening without thinking much about Hashem, if he recites a bracha as a formula by rote before being allowed to put something in his mouth, if he gets angry ‘once in a while’, if he misses a Seder ‘only once every few weeks’, or if he is not overly concerned about negative facial expressions, disturbing someone’s sleep, or saying something that is hurtful in a discreet way.

 

6. Hashem created the Yetzer Hara with only one purpose in mind--for us to defeat it--at each and every turn! 

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THE MONTH OF AV: The Ben Ish Chai explains that one of the reasons that our month is called “Av” is because it will be the Av, the Father, of a new joyous period which will commence in Av, and continue for a long period thereafter.  May it commence this Av!

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PESAKIM OF RAV SHMUEL KAMENETSKY ON THE NINE DAYS:

 

A. One should not have ‘body work’ done on his car during the Nine Days, if its purpose is to enhance the car’s appearance.

 

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

 

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

 

[Sefer Koveitz Halachos, by Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita]

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IMPORTANT REMINDER FOR THE SHABBOS LEINING: The Sefer Talelei Oros relates that on Parashas 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 Yisrael, 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”).

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Special Note One:  One of the rare dates mentioned in the Torah is today’s date, the first day of Av (in this week’s Parasha of  Masei!)  What happened on this date?  It is the day of the petira, the passing of Aharon HaKohen.  Chazal teach that the Ananei Kovod, the protective clouds of Glory, which surrounded us in the desert (and will once again surround us in the future) were in the Zechus of Aharon HaKohen (see Rashi on Bamidbar 33:40).  Once the Ananei Kavod left us, the initial reaction of the outside world was to attack us, as is described in the Torah there (Bamidbar 33:40).  What did Aharon HaKohen do for which he merited the protective clouds both for himself and for the rest of Bnei Yisrael?  We may suggest the following:  The Mishna in Avos ( 1:12 ) teaches that he was an Oheiv Shalom V’Rodef Shalom- that he loved peace and pursued it.  The midah k’neged midah--the measure for measure reward becomes very evident.  Because Aharon made peace among people, he merited peace being brought upon all of Klal Yisrael with the Clouds of Glory.

 

Indeed, Hillel in the aforementioned Mishna, enjoins us all to “Be among Aharon’s students” in this regard--to learn the value of peace among brothers. 

 

PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  It is essential that we take the lessons of Aharon HaKohen very much to heart.  We may even posit that the petira of Aharon HaKohen comes out at the beginning of the Nine Days to remind us that if we could rid ourselves of machlokes, of causing pain to others, and of the need quite to the contrary to love and pursue peace between and among ourselves, we can go a long way to bring immediate and long lasting Yeshuos.  Let us at the very least focus on one or two people over the next few days and try to promote a peaceful or more peaceful relationship with them.  Peace brings peace, for as Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (121:5)--”Hashem is your Shadow.”

 

 

Special Note Two:  Chazal teach us that once Av enters, we are to reduce the amount of our joy.  Many have pointed out that the context Chazal use, even in Av, is one of joy.  We are not instructed to “increase our mourning,” but to “decrease our joy.”  This thought fits in beautifully with the commentary of the Tiferes Yisroel to this week’s Perek, Chapter 2 of Pirkei Avos: Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai asks his five primary talmidim, “What is the proper way to which a man should be “Yidbak”--to which he should cling?”  The first four primary talmidim each responded in his own way.  Rebbi Elazar then responded that one should cling to “a Lev Tov--a good heart.”  Rabban Yochanan then said to his students, “I prefer the words of Elazar to your words, for your words are included in his words.”  What is so all-encompassing about the words “Lev Tov” that it per se includes the other responses of Rabban Yochanan’s other four top students?!  The Tiferes Yisroel explains that the phrase “Lev Tov” means “Leebo Tomid Sameach, U’mezuman L’Heitiv Lakol--that one’s frame of mind is a happy one, and that he is ready to help everyone.”  It is this middah that Rabban Yochanan and Rabbi Elazar instruct us is so primary and all-encompassing.  Accordingly, even in these days of Av, and even as we approach Tisha B’Av, we should not forget these six Hebrew words as the attitude and approach to life that our Sages teach us to cling to.  We especially note that the Hebrew word “Yidbak” (cling) is utilized by Chazal--it is not simply a nice approach or a good thing, but something we should not deviate from--but practice sticking to--as if it were with glue or honey.  “Leebo Tomid Sameach U’Mezuman L’Heitiv Lakol” let us live with these precious by-words, even in these difficult times.

 

 

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

 

A. We have been advised that the Halacha Hotline of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway (under the leadership of Rav Binyomin Forst, Shlita) is available for those who may be stuck in traffic on Erev Shabbos, and for other emergencies. The Hotline also has regular hours. The Hotline’s number is: 516-239-2500.

 

B. We have referred in the past to the great zechus one engenders by being mekabel Shabbos early for the sake of bringing Kedushas Shabbos into one’s life sooner. If at all possible, consider bringing Shabbos in ten minutes (at least) early this week--as a zechus for Acheinu B’nei Yisrael!

 

C.  We remind everyone of the importance of having Kavannah when reciting Al Naharos Bavel (Tehillim 137), on weekdays, and Shir HaMa’alos BeShuv Hashem Es Shivas Tzion (Tehillim 126) on Shabbos and Yom Tov, in each case before bentsching. Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Shlita, in his classic Tehillim translation (Artscroll), points out the great difference between Al Naharos Bavel and Shir HaMa’alosAl Naharos Bavel reminds us of our entering into Galus, as we are exiled into Babylonia The Shir HaMa’alos, on the other hand, provides detail as to how our final redemption will appear to be a dream because the wonders that will accompany it will exceed our greatest expectations.  Shabbos, which is May’ein Olam Haba, is a perfect time for us, as exiled Jews, to get a glimpse of our future elevation and glory, as Hashem returns us to Tzion.  Let us appropriately regale--as we sing the words with Kavannah!

 

D.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 270) writes that on Friday evenings in Shul it is the custom to recite the Perek of BaMeh MadlikinBaMeh Madlikin is the second Perek of Mesechta Shabbos, which describes the Halachos of Erev Shabbos (mostly of lighting candles), through the point of the Ba’al HaBayis gently directing that the candles be lit.  There is a stark and obvious question.  Of all Chapters of Mishnayos in Shas--this Chapter seems to be the least practical to be recited--as, after all, all of the Erev Shabbos preparations including Hadlakas Neiros have just been completed--and will not be applicable again for seven days hence!  We suggest that the reason it is our Minhag to recite this particular Chapter is in order to emphasize the importance of Torah study on Shabbos--not only for the practical aspect of the review of Hilchos Shabbos, but also as Torah study for its own sake--even if it may not have any practical and immediate application!  

 

E. In last week’s Parasha, we learned that the Korban Mussaf of Shabbos consisted of two kevasim, both brought as a Korban Olah, and not as a Korban Chatas. A Korban Olah is typically brought for the violation of a Mitzvas Asei in some form, or for an improper thought. The Ba’alei Mussar derive from the fact that the Korban Mussaf of Shabbos is only Olos--that one must especially focus on having proper thoughts on Shabbos. Even if we begin to think about financial or business matters in a positive way which may be technically permissible (the nice amount of money one made in the previous week, how much money one has in the bank, or how successful one was in a business meeting or a business relationship in the previous week)--he should nevertheless try to banish business and financial thoughts from his mind on Shabbos--as they can easily move into an area which is not permissible on Shabbos because it causes distress--such as what one forgot to do on Friday, what one needs to order on Monday, how that supplier shouldn’t have done that, what new advertising needs to be done …. Shabbos is a wonderful time for one to work-on thought purification!

 

 

Special Note Four:  We provide points and pointers on this week’s Parashios of Matos and Masei:

 

A.  In this week’s Parasha of Matos, we learn about the importance of making promises and the dangers involved in breaking them.  Indeed, the Torah goes out of its way to add that if a person merely thinks they are breaking their promise, even if he is not in fact doing so, he still requires a “V’Hashem Yislach Lah”--Hashem’s direct forgiveness--a phrase not often mentioned in the Torah.  Accordingly, while we learn from many instances in last week’s large Parasha how careful we have to be about our speech in general, we learn in particular how vigilant one must be about using words like “promise,” “commit,” “swear,” or “guarantee,” all of which indicate an absolute commitment to act in a particular way.  In the Sefer Derech Sicha, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that it is not sufficient to respond on a wedding or bar mitzvah invitation that you are coming “Im Yirtze Hashem”--one must specifically add the words “Bli Neder”.  He adds that if one stated that he was coming to a simcha (without saying bli neder) and could not attend, he should ask mechila from the baal hasimcha.  Remember--Hashem holds us to a gold standard--because we are his gold!

 

B. From a reader:  “Regarding the Parasha of Nedarim--where the Parasha 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--a holy utensil.  Just as a Kli Sharais in the Beis HaMikdash 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!

 

C. 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:    We emphasize that it is not only the soldiers and generals 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 tefillos such as “Re’eih VeAnyeinu”, “VeLirushalayim Irecha”, “Es Tzemach”, “Shema Koleinu”, and the like, with sincerity of heart, we are fighting--and defeating-- those who mean us harm from Kuwait to North Korea, and from Iran to the United States.  Incredibly, Chazal teach that Nevuchadnezzar did not allow the Jewish people to rest upon exiling them, until they got to Bavel (“Al Naharos Bavel Sham Yashavnu…”) 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 Chasman, Z’tl, teaches “KeSheko’eiv 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, from a time of terror to a time of love and peace, from a time of mourning over the Galus to celebrating the Geulah!  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!

 

D. When Moshe Rabbeinu becomes upset at the officers who returned from the battle with Midyan, 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 Parasha.  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!

 

E. Perhaps the most famous words in this week’s Parasha of Matos (32:22) are “V’Heyisem Nekiyim MeiHashem U’MeiYisrael--and you shall be clean in that which you do both to Hashem and to K’lal Yisrael. Especially in these dangerous and trying times--let us be above all suspicion and question in all of our thoughts and all of our deeds!

 

F. At the beginning of Parashas Masei, Rashi teaches us that all of the travels of Bnei Yisrael are listed in the Parasha to show us the great Chesed of Hashem, in that the Bnei Yisrael 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 “V’haMerachem 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 at that time 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 Shechinah!

 

G. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that the word ‘Rotzeiach’ is mentioned exactly 17 times in the Parasha 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.

 

 

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29 Tammuz

IT IS YOM KIPPUR KATAN TODAY! The Chofetz Chaim was once speaking to someone about the importance of Yom Kippur Katan and the prayer service of that day.  But the person replied that he was a chassid of a well-known Rebbe, who did not place much emphasis on Yom Kippur Katan.  “Let me tell you a story that I saw with my own eyes,” the Chofetz Chaim then told him. “Some time ago, I was traveling by train from Russia to Warsaw .  Near me was an empty seat, and when I saw another Jew board the train, I invited him to sit near me in that seat.  When he sat down, I asked him where he was heading, and he replied that he was heading to Warsaw .  Several stops later, I noticed that he was preparing to get off the train, even though it was still a long way to Warsaw . ‘Why are you getting off now?’ I asked him.”The man answered, ‘I am a pauper, and 1did not have enough money to buy a ticket to Warsaw . I therefore bought a ticket that is valid until this station. 1will leave the train here and collect charity, until I have enough money to buy a ticket to take me a few more stops. I will continue to do this until I arrive at my destination.” The Chofetz Chaim then turned to the chassid and said, “Your Rebbe is a wealthy man, in the spiritual sense, and he can therefore afford to ‘travel’ the entire distance from one Yom Kippur until the next in one journey. His spiritual reservoirs are so full of holiness and fear of Heaven that he does not need to ‘stop’ on the way.  Other people, however, have to get off the train at the stops along the way, and observe a Yom Kippur Katan every Erev Rosh Chodesh.” Hakhel Note:  It is Yom Kippur Katan today --let us do what we can to prepare--as the Chofetz Chaim did! [Excerpted from The Sefer Aleinu L’Shabeiach by HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, and written by Rabbi Moshe Zoren (Artscroll)]

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TODAY--REMINDER:

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 5--PARASHAS MATOS-MASEI

 

Bli neder, at least one time today, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Among the first words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch are Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid…for one’s actions and business when he is ‘alone’ are not the same as one who conducts himself in front of a great king…most certainly when one is in the presence of the Great King HaKadosh Baruch Hu Whose Presence fills the earth and Who stands and watches him. When sitting down at one’s table or desk one should try to conduct himself for a few moments, feeling that he is in the Presence of the Great King with the thought of Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Make a conscious effort not to ‘steal’ one’s sleep or time, by being especially quiet, or by not engaging in needless conversation with him.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Make an effort to treat your clothing with special respect--not throwing any article down or across the table or room, if disposing of it--wrapping it up, and in any event making sure that it is not stained or dirty.

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A RAV’S SUGGESTION: As we continue to reel from the ‘deal’ struck between the Western world and the Iranian regime, we recognize that the situation will not go away, and that no one is going to say: “Sorry, Children of Israel, we made a mistake.” Instead, we must carefully study and implement the words of Chazal who teach that in order to be saved from the Chevlei Moshiach one must be oseik in Torah and Gemilas Chasodim. One wonders, however: “I am really oseik in Torah and Gemilas Chasodim every day on my own--what more can I do?  What did Chazal mean--were they talking to the more low-level person?” A Rav advised us that Chazal were talking to each and every one of us-- and suggested that each person should do something more daily in Torah and Chesed--for the express purpose of being saved from Chevlei Moshiach. He explained that with regard to Torah--it could be a few more minutes of something that you had been previously learning, or a new Sefer, or a new Chavrusah--once again, for the express purpose for you to be saved from the Chevlei Moshiach. Similarly, with respect to Chesed, the Rav recommended that one consciously do a particular act of Chesed for the express purpose of being saved. “Doing so is not a selfish or a ‘prize-seeking’ act” he continued. “It is quite to the contrary, recognizing and fulfilling the words of Chazal.” The Rav urged each person to write down on a daily basis in a special Chevlei Moshiach Notebook (or file) what his extra Torah study and extra Chesed was.  May the person who does so see with his own eyes how he is saved--and HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s return to Tzion and Yerushalayim--speedily and in our day!

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PRE -WEARING CLOTHING TODAY: With regarding to ‘pre-using’ articles before the Nine Days so that they may be worn during the Nine Days, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, held that one should wear them to the extent that it is clear that they have been used, which should be approximately for one-half hour.  Children above the age of 9 should likewise wear pre-used clothing.

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NOTICE FROM THE CENTER FOR JEWISH VALUES: “We understand that some of your readers would like to sign up for our daily Bein Adam L’Chaveiro  email.

The most updated link to sign up is: http://jvalues.ohrsites.com/subscribe.php

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AIR CONDITIONERS AND YOU: In the Northern Hemisphere, we approach the hottest point of the summer. Many become accustomed to use of air conditioning, and in many situations outside the home people may be left with the air conditioning vents open directly over them or blowing directly on them. Chazal teach “HaKol BeYedei Shomayim Chutz MeTzinim U’Pachim--everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for colds…”. We should avoid any unnecessary illness, and should help others by directing them to move-away from and avoid any unnecessary illness. Remember--love yourself….and V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha!

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

56.  It is well known that the wife of the Chofetz Chaim did not daven when her children were small. Why was this?

There is a principle known as Osek B’Mitzvah Patur Min HaMitzvah. If someone is busy with one Mitzvah, he or she is exempt from performing another Mitzvah. The Chofetz Chaim held that due to the fact that a woman is in constant involvement with raising the children she is exempt from davening. However, HaRav Mendel Zaks, Zt’l, son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim said that his mother-in-law said that the Chofetz Chaim held that she should nevertheless make every effort to daven at least one Shemoneh Esrei a day.

 

57. Is a woman raising children exempt completely?

No, many Poskim rule that she should at least recite the Brachos in the morning, Netilas Yadayim, Asher Yatzar, Birchas Hashachar, Birchos HaTorah and the first Parasha of Shema.

 

58. Does a woman who usually davens every day, but now had her first child and finds that she cannot daven need to perform hataras nedarim?

No, because she is not removing her obligation, she is only not davening at this time because she is taking care of her baby.

 

59. Is the concept that a woman raising children is exempt apply all the time--even when she is on vacation or her children are in camp?

This exemption only applies when the mother is with the children and busy taking care of their needs. If she has time e.g. on vacation etc., then she is not exempt from davening.

 

60. Is a woman who needs to take care of a sick person also exempt from davening?

Yes, under the same principle. She has to make a judgment call. If she can find some time, then she should daven. A woman should not try to find an excuse not to daven,

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One:  We approach Rosh Chodesh Av tomorrow, with a little more than two months left to the year.  Taking a momentary, just a momentary, look back we realize that there have been painful and pain-filled moments, times of difficulty and tribulation, of tzaros and tza’ar.  Indeed, the Three Weeks and Nine Days--until such time as they are reversed to days of great joy, may it occur today--are days of consternation and unease.  The year, however, has also brought some successes and joys, some smiles and some cheer.  There has also been a measure of expected and unexpected simchas and news of nachas from family and friends, of new friends and special accomplishments.  On top of the special events, many have been blessed with the ability to continue their daily activities for weeks and months at a time--going to Minyan and starting Shemone Esrei together with the Shatz, getting to work and keeping a job, helping someone in need (including one’s own parents or children) day-in and day-out.  Then there is having food and being able to eat, having clothing and being able to put it on by yourself, taking a hot shower or a cold shower depending on the need, taking care of bodily needs in the comfort of one’s own home, seeing a hospital, ambulance or rows of medications (over the counter and not over the counter) and not needing any or many of them, benefiting from all sorts of appliances, and other technology and machines to help make things easier and more pleasant throughout the day, pocket-sized Seforim and CD’s for the road, a free live video or audio Shiur available in the neighborhood or any daf or almost any subject online at any time--you know, in the end, it is going to be incredible to finally discover what more Gan Eden has to offer.  Certainly, the English term ‘paradise’ can apply to many of the pleasures and benefits we have been blessed with.  Obviously, everyone experiences different kinds of benefits -- more or less, and qualitatively different, than his next door neighbor, or even his sibling or spouse.  But it is all measured, and all with discreet and exact purpose in mind.  What we can begin to do about all of this is to recognize the benefits and blessings--and renew our awareness and thanks daily.  In the Chazaras Hashatz, there are two highlights which involve the entire Tzibbur (aside from properly responding to each bracha)--they are Kedusha in which we sanctify the name of Hashem in public,-and Modim in which we reiterate and, if one carefully notes the words, actually amplify and extend the thanks we express to Hashem for all He does for us.

 

While there is something in between, much of life can be categorized either r’l in the trials and tribulations category, and, on the other hand, much can be placed into the tangible benefits section. The entire range of life’s experience comes directly from Hashem--as Chazal demonstrate with both the bracha of Shehechiyanu and the bracha of Dayan HaEmes.  To most, experiencing the benefits and having and maintaining the ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ abilities and benefits that we are given is much more appealing than experiencing suffering, pain, or anguish.  How can we better recognize these pleasures--and show Hashem our appreciation of them? May we suggest that, from now until the end of the year, one keep a daily log, if you will, of some of the things you really feel thankful about on that day--the mazel tov event, the successful encounter, the good food, the particularly meaningful Devar Torah you thought of or heard, the good or improved health, the good friend, the way you saved a lot of money, or that unbelievable Hashgacha Pratis story you just experienced.  There is really plenty in each and every day.  As the year 5775 draws to its close, many of those who took us up on our suggestion last year to count the number of Asher Yatzars they recite a day--thanking Hashem for the unfathomable miracles of the body -- are now at over 1,000 brachos of thanks for this renewing daily (hourly) miracle alone.

 

If we can appreciate what we have--if we record and thank Hashem for those things we perceive as good (although everything is good because it comes from the Source of all Goodness), we will most certainly be zoche, middah k’neged middah, to more of the very same kind of good--the good that is tangible and palpable--and ultimately to the everlasting and supernal good that will come with an end to the Three Weeks as a time of travail --and its commencement as a time of Shiros and Tishbachos in a rebuilt and eternal Mikdash where we all can jointly exclaim --”Tov LeHodos LaShem!”

 

 

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28 Tammuz

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 5--PARASHAS MATOS-MASEI

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Among the first words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch are Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid…for one’s actions and business when he is ‘alone’ are not the same as one who conducts himself in front of a great king…most certainly when one is in the presence of the Great King HaKadosh Baruch Hu Whose Presence fills the earth and Who stands and watches him. When sitting down at one’s table or desk one should try to conduct himself for a few moments, feeling that he is in the Presence of the Great King with the thought of Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Make a conscious effort not to ‘steal’ one’s sleep or time, by being especially quiet, or by not engaging in needless conversation with him.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Make an effort to treat your clothing with special respect--not throwing any article down or across the table or room, if disposing of it--wrapping it up, and in any event making sure that it is not stained or dirty.

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THIS IS MUCH MORE THAN ‘CURRENT EVENTS’! With the great threat posed to the lives of millions by the new ‘deal’ with the Haman-like Iranian regime and the  extreme danger facing our brothers in Eretz Yisrael, and really all of K’lal Yisrael and the world at large, we must take a special look inward as to what each and every one of us can do. The Ba’alei Mussar teach that we should not allow serious world happenings to be ignored--just as one riding on a ship does not blow off a storm at sea with the words ‘this too shall pass’.  Firstly, we are to commiserate with the people who have suffered or are suffering--for even if not your brothers--they are Hashem’s creations and your co-habitants in this world.  Secondly, all that we learn of or experience is BeHashgacha sending us a meaningful message from which we are to improve and grow, in only a way we know that we can (and must).  Incredibly, HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl, H’yd, teaches that the words “Nachamu Nachamu Ami” refer to a double nechama--one for the disasters and suffering experienced by the world at large that we live through and experience together with them, and a second nachamu for the punishment meted out directly against us.  Living through these unparalleled times, where technological and scientific advances seem to be almost ironically accompanied by devastating incidents and occurrences, and the threat of cataclysmic event looms uneasily above our heads, we come back to important points relating to the three stalwarts of our existence--Torah, Tefillah, and Gemilas Chesed. 

 

Torah--the Navi (Yeshaya 26:20) teaches us “Leich Ami Bo Vachadarecha Chavi... Chemat Rega Ad Ya’avor Za’am--Go my people enter your room…hide for a brief moment until the danger passes.”  Chazal explain this to mean that we should “hide in the Batei Midrashim” and “Batei K’nessios”--in places of Torah study and Tefillah until the dangers pass.  We simply have to learn more.   Perhaps each and every one of us can still improve a bit in some way, either in our Daf Yomi or other study that constitutes our major study of the day. Even coming on time or early, reviewing for five minutes at the end, or learning one additional Mishna or commentary--is worth a tremendous amount.  Remember, there is no doubt about it--the world perceives the situation as a serious, extremely serious one--and we must take its lesson. Important Mashal: Google, let us say, charges $5.00 per year per email account for unlimited storage. How could it do so?  Because if it has 400 million accounts paying $5.00--it has made $2 billion! Lehavdil--each Mishna, each added minute of study, each search for an answer to a question--leads to a cheshbon gadol--to a great account, for all of K’lal Yisrael!

 

Tefillah--Especially during these days, where it is  a custom among some to recite Tikun Chatzos at midday--we should at least recite Tehillim Chapter 79, where we implore Hashem to bring an end to calamity of all kind...and as the Kepitel concludes--we will thank you forever, and will relate your praises for all ( calm and peaceful) generations to come. Additionally, we recall that in the Bracha of V’Lamalshinim in Shemone Esrei, the word V’Hazeidim refers to those who seek us harm.  There is certainly a place for us to daven for Hashem to do the following to the evildoers: Se’aker, Seshaber, Semager V’Sachniah --to uproot, smash, throw down, and humble the Zeidim.  If we will not have Kavannah now--then when?

 

Gemilas Chesed--Chazal teach that to be saved from the Chevlei Moshiach, one must be osek in Torah and Gemilas Chassadim.  The term osek refers to an act of involvement, just as one is osek in business to earn a living.  It does not mean to do Chesed as it comes, but to make it a constant and consistent part of daily life.  The Chofetz Chaim dedicated an entire Sefer to Chesed alone, the Sefer Ahavas Chesed (translated into English and published by Feldheim)--with remarkable need-to-know Halachos and Hashkafos.  The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has published the Sefer Loving Kindness, with daily short and practical lessons, which is based in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim.  What greater way to improve in Chesed than to learn how to do it from the Chofetz Chaim himself.  The daily study of the Sefer truly demonstrates a dedication to true improvement.  Even for those who feel that Chesed is their hallmark--an important role and goal in life is to improve further and further, attaining higher and higher floors in the ‘building’ of achievement. 

 

Hakhel Note:  May we suggest that each item above is for immediate action, as Chazal  (Shabbos 32A) teach--one should daven when he is still well that he not get sick--for he will need to demonstrate zechuyos to be healed. Let us do what we can -- NOW !

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NINETEEN WEEKS: As we especially dedicate ourselves to the eleventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week, we provide the following words of instruction from the great Praying with Passion Series (in order to go through this entire outstanding series on Tefillah, please visit http://prayingwithfire.org/archives.html):

 

“In this bracha, we ask Hashem, “Hashiva Shofteinu Kevarishona V’Yoatzeinu Kevatechila--restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first” [to their prior levels of

greatness]. Immediately thereafter we request “Vehaser Mimenu Yagon V’Anacha--and [Hashem] remove from us sorrow and groaning.” Yagon, sorrow results from actual want or pain, arising from difficulties like poverty, hunger or destruction. Anacha, groaning, refers to inner turmoil such as worry, depression or fear (Vilna Gaon, cited in The Complete Artscroll Siddur). The Sefer Abudraham writes that the juxtaposition between Hashiva Shofteinu Kevarishona, restoring our judges as in earlier times, and , Vehaser Mimenu Yagon V’Anacha--removing from us sorrow and groaning, teaches that with the return of the Judges of former eras, our “sorrow and groaning” will end.” Hakhel Note: Oh, how we should look forward to this day!

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

56.  It is well known that the wife of the Chofetz Chaim did not daven when her children were small. Why was this?

 

57. Is a woman raising children exempt completely ?

 

58. Does a woman who usually davens every day, but now had her first child and finds that she cannot daven need to perform hataras nedarim?

 

59. Is the concept that a woman raising children is exempt apply all the time--even when she is on vacation or her children are in camp?

 

60. Is a woman who needs to take care of a sick person also exempt from davening?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, the Mashgiach of Ponovezh, known as the Sifsei Chaim, whose pure and potent lessons in all areas of Torah have influenced thousands upon thousands throughout the world.  We provide below several points and pointers of HaRav Friedlander, Z’tl, relating to the Bain HaMetzarim period we are in, from the Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Middos V’Avodas Hashem I, p. 167 and Mo’adim 3, p.247-395):

 

A. The Galus is not our constant natural state.  Every day that we remain in Galus, we face a new day of unnatural living.  We are like a people on medicine.  If we must stay on medication for a long time, the longer the stay, the more potentially detrimental it is.  Chazal teach that what brought us into this unnatural state is Sinas Chinam.  One must therefore strive daily to battle Sinas Chinam in every way that he can.  It is important for one daily to show a pleasant countenance to one’s fellow, greet another with a smile and with warmth, and show love and concern. Hakhel Note: This is the source of our Sever Panim Yafos project!

 

B. How can we further promote Ahavas Chinam? HaRav Friedlander suggests that when meeting a person for the first time [or for the first time in a long time] the only thing one look for when meeting a person is the positive-- Dan LeChaf Zechus--judging the person in front of us only in a favorable light. In this way, the first questions--Why does he look like this?  Why does he speak like that?  Why does he act in that way?--are all answered! Furthermore, with this initial instinct, the Sifsei Chaim writes, we will personally grow immeasurably--for we will not only fulfill the Mitzvos of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha and B’Tzedek Tishpot Amisecha, but we will grow in the most essential Middos of not being haughty and  looking down at other people, and concomitantly being humble--recognizing that every man is simply the product of his Hashgacha Pratis and the specific and particular tests, challenges, wisdom, expertise and skill granted to him by Hashem.  If one can seriously master the skill to be Dan LeChaf Zechus--every time one encounters another person--he will be improving himself immeasurably! 

 

C.  Chazal (Sanhedrin 96B) say about Titus HaRasha that “Heichla Kalyah Kalis--you burned a burnt building.”  This means that the sins of K’lal Yisrael destroyed the Beis Hamikdash in Shomayim.  Because the upper Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, the Hashra’as HaShechina--Hashem’s Hashgacha could no longer be present in the Beis HaMikdash below.  When the inner Beis HaMikdash is destroyed, then there is no place for the Beis HaMikdash in the outside world below. 

 

D.  With the removal of the Shechinah and the Churban HaMikdash, Hashem became largely concealed in this world.  Even though we all have flashes of a sense of Hashgacha Pratis here and there--the clear and constant presence of the Shechinah being permanently with us is lacking to an unfathomable degree.  Hakhel Note:  It is said that HaRav Mordechai Gifter, Z’tl, asked some students who visited Eretz Yisrael where they felt more emotional--at the Kosel or at Kever Rochel.  The students said that truthfully they felt a greater connection at Kever Rochel.  HaRav Gifter told them:  “Let me explain why.  You do not know what Churban is--so you feel closer to your Mama Rochel.  I was in Telz, so I know what Churban is--the Churban of Telz.  When I go to the Kosel I feel a greater connection--I feel the powerful emptiness and agony of spiritual and physical destruction.”

 

E.  Chazal (Chagiga 13B) teach that before the Churban the Malochim in Shomayim had six wings, and that after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash the two middle wings were removed, and they were left with four.  The G’ra explains that the six wings correspond to the six words of “Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuso LeOlam Va’ed”.  The two wings that were thus removed were Kevod Malchuso--as Hashem’s revealed presence in the world has been covered.  This is why we daven that:  “Galei Kevod Malchusecha Aleinu--please reveal the Kevod Malchuso once again!”  Hakhel Note:  When reciting Boruch Shem at least twice daily, let us put particular feeling into the words of Kevod Malchuso

 

F.  The Beis HaMikdash was also the point that united all of K’lal Yisrael in an Avodas HaTzibbur.  The daily Karbanos, the special Mussafim--even the Avodah on Yom Kippur which brought a Kapparah for every individual--were all based on our unity as one whole.  In Galus, much of what we do is ‘on our own’.  Let us look at the difference:  When a person opens up a store by himself, his profits result only from those customers that come in.  On the other hand, if one invests his money in a large consortium of stores, his profits have the potential to multiply many times over.  The Beis Hamikdash was our spiritual consortium.  Moreover, because of our achdus, we all joined together as one--sharing the profits of each other together as well! 

 

G.  One significant way in which one can demonstrate his true desire for Kevod Shomayim to return to the world is to recite with focus and Kavannah: “Amen, Yehei Shemei Rabba Mevarach LeAlam U’LeAlmei Olmayah--may Hashem’s Great Name be blessed forever and ever.”  Indeed, we have so many opportunities during the day such as these moments to re-set our perspectives and realize what is important--we just have to think clearly and exercise the opportunities!” 

 

H.  The Three Week period is especially designated for K’lal Yisrael to be Misabel on Yerushalayim.  This is because during this period we can move to rectify that which we have lost in a more direct way than the rest of the year.  Now is the time when we can sense to a greater extent that Hashem is out of His palace--in Galus.  When a person senses this--he, in his Galus draws closer to Hashem in His Galus. 

 

I.  The Aveilus that we to feel is not only a Tza’ar on what we had and lost--but a desire to re-instill within us the ties and connections to the Beis Hamikdash and the Hashra’as HaShechina that we once had.  It is a feeling of emptiness and loneliness, recognizing that the daily miracles that  inspired us in the Beis HaMikdash, the Kadshim that we ate which was absorbed into our very being and fiber as man, our daily association with men of Ruach HaKodesh are all lacking--and that, in fact, we are not ‘big people’, but only shadows of the people that once lived--and who will be reborn with the Third Beis HaMikdash. 

 

J.  In one’s davening for Geulah, he can accomplish what his neighbor standing literally right next to him cannot.  We each are like separate bricks building the same building.  If one brick is left out, then it has to be made up in some other way, which could take longer or different planning.  In all events, one should strive to daven for the incredible Tza’ar HaShechina as it resides in such a troubled and such an incomplete world. 

 

K.  It may very well be that, because we are so far removed from the Kedusha and Tahara of 1,000 years ago, and certainly that of 2,000 years ago and 3,000 years ago--it becomes easier and easier for us to truly bring the Geulah.  Indeed, in the low level of the world around us may rest the secret of our Yeshuah--we need not reach the heights of the previous generations.  Instead, we simply need to use this time to once and for all recognize the emptiness and void of our surroundings--no matter how rich and complete they may appear--and look to a repaired, rebuilt and renewed world--a world that will exist forever Lifnei Hashem--with each man’s potential realized, and each person’s life full and complete!    

 

 

Special Note Two: Today is the third Yahrzeit of HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl. We provide below a brief excerpt of his rulings with regard to the Nine Days, as excerpted from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh. Of course, one must consult with his own Rav or Posek and receive a definitive p’sak with respect to his own personal Shailos, circumstances and situations:

 

A.  It is permissible to make reservations for a vacation after the Nine Days from Rosh Chodesh until Erev Tisha B’Av--the reason is that there may not be space available after then.  On Tisha B’Av itself, it is, of course, not permissible. 

 

B.  If a Bar Mitzvah occurs during the Nine Days, the Bar Mitzvah  Bachur and his parents can wear Bigdei Shabbos.  Only a limited number of those invited to partake in the Seudas Bar Mitzvah (when occurring on the actual day of the Bar Mitzvah) may eat meat.  All others may eat fish and the like. 

 

C.  It is permissible to make a Vort and to have refreshments available.

 

D.  A Siyum made by a child under Bar Mitzvah does not permit one to eat meat. 

 

E.  It is not appropriate to sing during the Nine Days--even in order to put a child to sleep.

 

F.  One should not purchase a home or enter a new home--or even sign a contract to purchase a home, for all of these involve Simcha (unless one may lose the home to another as a result).  One should not make improvements in his home, unless he started before the Nine Days and the improvements do not bring him joy. One should not paint or perform any type of all-inclusive clean up of his home.  One should also not plant flowers or beautify his garden. 

 

G.  One should not buy any type of new clothing--even if they do not require a Shehechiyanu such as shoes--even for children.  If one ordered a new bookcase or sofa and it is scheduled to be delivered during the Nine Days--it should be pushed off until after the Nine Days.  If it must be delivered, one should have in mind not to be zoche in it until after Tisha B’Av, and cover it up or put it away.  One may buy Tzitzis and put it into a garment.  Although it is permissible to purchase new Seforim if necessary, it is better to do so before the Nine Days.  One is permitted to purchase very small or insignificant objects, such as pens and pencils.  One is permitted to buy shoes for Tisha B’Av if he does not have any.

 

H.  It is inappropriate to take group pictures or engage in similar activities of Kalus Da’as during the Nine Days. 

 

I.  With respect to eating meat, one should eat meat on Shabbos and should not be machmir not to.   For health purposes, one may eat meat, and a weak child may do so for health reasons even if he is not sick. 

 

J.  Nails of adults should be cut only for Shabbos; but the nails of children may be cut during the week.

 

K.  Not only grape juice, but grape juice concentrate is prohibited.  Therefore, soft drinks which have grape juice concentrate in them are not permitted.  When making Havdalah, it is best to give the wine/grape juice to a child who can make a bracha but has not reached the age of understanding the aveilus on Yerushalayim.  If the katan is older than this age, it is still better to give the wine or grape juice to him than for the adult to drink it himself.  If there is only a young girl present at Havdalah, then the man making Havdalah should drink the wine himself.  When drinking by himself, he should be careful to drink a Revi’is--so that he is sure that he can make a Bracha Achrona. 

 

L.  The prohibition against freshly laundered items also applies to towels, tablecloths, sheets (unless one is a guest in someone else’s home or a hotel, in which case the freshly laundered sheets placed down for him may be used), and applies even if the clothing is only washed and not ironed.  Undergarments and socks that are not clean may be changed.  For shidduch purposes, freshly laundered garments or Bigdei Shabbos may be worn, if necessary.    If one needs to wash the frequently soiled clothes of children, it should only be done for children up to the age of 5/6. One does not have to buy new clothing for these children, if one can wash clothes instead.  If there is a stain on one’s garment, one can wipe the stain clean, but if one has something else to wear and one will need water to remove the stain--it is better to wear something else.  One can wash clothing that will become moldy unless washed.  One may dry clothing in a dryer.

 

M.  On Erev Shabbos, it is permissible to shine one’s shoes.  If one regularly shines his shoes even during the week, he may continue to do so.  

 

N.  One may wash floors, unless one is not usually accustomed to doing so--but for Shabbos it is permissible in all events.  One should not have a carwash done, unless he otherwise does so every few days. 

 

O.  One can brush the dust out of a hat, but one should not set a shaitel (which typically involves washing it). 

 

P.  On Erev Shabbos it is permissible to put on Shabbos clothes after Chatzos.

 

Q.  One who is accustomed to washing his hands four times each upon arising or taking care of his needs may do so on Tisha B’Av itself, but should wash the fingers only.  However, if a person entered the bathroom but did not take care of his needs, he does not wash his hands.  One who touched a covered area of his body should wash only the part of the hand that touched the covered area. 

 

R.  It is proper to wear shoes which are not so comfortable and which one feels that he is walking on the street.  There is no prohibition against wearing shoes that look like leather, if they are not leather.  One should not wear leather inserts in his shoes. 

 

S. One may sit on a low stool even if it may be more than three tefachim above the ground, as long as it is clear that it is close to the ground.  If one is traveling in a car or in a bus, he may sit in the regular seat, even though he could otherwise stand on the bus. 

 

T.  Although one cannot say “Good Morning” or “Shalom” on Tisha B’Av, one may wish another “Mazal Tov”. 

 

U.  One may read Seforim which will bring him to do Teshuvah and to correct his ways such as Sifrei Mussar and the Agados of Chazal. 

 

V. Remembering The Churban:  The immediate Kosel Ma’aravi area has the Din of Kedushas Beis Haknesses in all aspects.  However, the upper Plaza does not, and one should not daven there unless the Kosel area is filled.  As far as washing the stones of the Kosel so that the dirt is removed and they appear clean, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, said that it is better to leave the Kosel the way it is--for the aged stones and the grass sprouting out brings agmas nefesh to those who see it, and through this they will remember that there was once a glorious Bais HaMikdash built in this place--and sincerely daven for mercy that it be rebuilt Ad Sheyikshav Hashem V’Yishmah--until the time that Hashem listens to our prayers…Bimheirah Veyameinu!

 

 

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27 Tammuz

SUMMER ABOVE THE EQUATOR!  Summer is a time when one leaves at some time and in some way his regular routine and course of events and travels to new places, does new things, meets new people, and may even eat new foods, and ‘try this’ or ‘try that’. However, it is extremely urgent for one to recognize that summer is not intended to be a time of laxity, or a time ‘when Hashem understands’ that we are more prone to sin or to acting in a lighter manner than we would the rest of the year.  The Yetzer Hara, is, of course, happy to see when one picks up a kula here and does an unexpected aveirah there in the summer--because he can then argue that the individual really is generally not so good--and it is just because he is in the habit of doing all of those Mitzvos during the rest of the year that he does them.  The Yetzer Hatov therefore beckons us--please strengthen yourselves, so that you rise to the occasion of the summer months.  It is, in fact, in the Three Weeks of summer that we pine spiritually for the Third Beis HaMikdash to come--from nowhere else other than to drop Shomayim itself--and for it to rest among us.  Let us be realistic, let us be clear. In two months from now it will be only a few days before Rosh Hashana.  We will be looking back at our accomplishments, or r’l our failings over the summer. Two months is a very short time.  We all know that Chacham Ainav B’Rosho--the wise person’s eyes are not directed at this desire or that one--but look into the future and realize that in one’s decisions it is literally eternity at stake.  Let us bli neder make the commitment not to fall, even ‘just here’ or ‘just there’--but to remain true and steadfast to who we are--whether it be winter, summer, spring--or summer.  In two months let us look back at the successes of our summer and kvell--not only in what we accomplished for ourselves--but even more so at the great Simcha that we have brought to our Father and Maker--fulfilling our purpose in creation!

 

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 5--PARASHAS MATOS-MASEI

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Among the first words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch are Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid…for one’s actions and business when he is ‘alone’ are not the same as one who conducts himself in front of a great king…most certainly when one is in the presence of the Great King HaKadosh Baruch Hu Whose Presence fills the earth and Who stands and watches him. When sitting down at one’s table or desk one should try to conduct himself for a few moments, feeling that he is in the Presence of the Great King with the thought of Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Make a conscious effort not to ‘steal’ one’s sleep or time, by being especially quiet, or by not engaging in needless conversation with him.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Make an effort to treat your clothing with special respect--not throwing any article down or across the table or room, if disposing of it--wrapping it up, and in any event making sure that it is not stained or dirty.

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FROM A READER: This morning while shopping in the ShopRite located on McDonald and Ave I in Brooklyn, I saw Dorot Farms carrots from Israel on sale.  I can only assume that these carrots are being sold in other Shoprite stores in the area. See http://www.dorotfarm.com/img/Dorot_Kosher_Certificate.pdf  for the Teudah Kashrus where it says among other things that the product is classified as “Heter Mechira”. I have no idea if the supervising agency is reliable or not. It seems to me that those who do not rely on the Heter Mechira should not purchase these carrots. I think one has to be on the lookout for other produce from Israel being sold in the US .

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ROMEMOS KEIL BIGRONAM!  Every day in Shacharis, we recite the Pasuk near the end of Tehillim (Tehillim 149:6) “Romemos Keil Bigronam V’Cherev Pifiyos B’Yadam--the praises of Hashem are in their throats and a double-edged sword is in their hand”. Rashi (ibid.) remarkably writes that the Pashut P’shat in the Pasuk is that the praises of Hashem in their Tefillos become the double-edged sword in our hands. Simply stated--our victories, whatever the ‘battlefield’ may be--are based on the Romemos Keil Bigronam! As we have noted in the past--”Hodu Lashem Ki Tov Ki L’Olam Chasdo” is the Pasuk that appears not only in Tehillim but even in Divrei HaYamim as well. Let us keep this Pasuk constantly in our hearts and on our lips!

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ONE ’S OWN LITTLE CHASUNA! 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 weekday meal in our own home.  The Mishna Berurah (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 Berurah 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!

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ONE PERSON CAN’T FIGHT! The Chofetz Chaim notes that if one is subjected to yelling, screaming, put-down and the like, and does not answer back but instead keeps his mouth closed--he has created an extremely effective method of reversing the entire situation. The person who is yelling or otherwise engaging in derisive behavior will be forced to stop--because at some point he simply cannot go on and on and on. A few words of retort or explanation here or there could keep the matter going for a very long time--but with no response at all, the one person--simply can’t fight on his own!

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A GREAT CHESED--ESPECIALLY AT THIS TIME!  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches in Mishlei ( 15:30 ) that Shmuah Tovah Tidashein Atzem--good news fattens the bone.”  One would think that only the ear, or perhaps the brain, would rejoice with good news--but in truth, Shlomo HaMelech advises us--the good news has a much greater impact on one’s body--even to the extent of fattening the bone.  As many may know, this teaching is not allegory--but was used by Rebbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai in explaining to Aspasyanus why he could not put on his shoe--for his foot had swelled after he learned that he had become emperor of Rome! (Gitten 56B).  Shlomo HaMelech is thus teaching us all a very practical lessonOne should try his best to relay good news to others when one hears of it.  By doing so, one does not only demonstrate a refined level of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha--feeling so good about someone else’s tiding that he relates it to others--but one also performs a tremendous Chesed--as he can very well make the person whom he is relating it to feel good--not only in mind--but in body as well!  A Chesed many times over!

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

51.  The Halacha is that one cannot daven when one feels the need to go to the bathroom. What is the shiur for this--what does this mean?

Before commencing to daven, one should check his bodily needs. Although it is a good practice to do so, one need not do so if he does not then feel the urge to go to the bathroom, and does not reasonably expect to feel the need for 72 minutes.

 

52.  What does one do if he is in the middle of Pesukai D’Zimra and needs to use the bathroom?

If one does not feel an immediate urge, then he may finish davening until Yishtabach. If one has a strong urge, then he should stop where he is (if possible, finishing the Pasuk), take care of his needs and continue from the point that he had stopped.

 

53.  What should one do if he is in the middle of Shema and needs to use the bathroom?

If he can wait until after the third parasha (Vayomer), he should complete Shema through emes. If he cannot wait, then he should finish that Pasuk. In any event, Asher Yatzar should not be recited until after Shemone Esrei.

 

54.  What should one do if he is in the middle of Shemone Esrei?

If possible one should finish Shemone Esrei, even if he know that he will not be able to restrain himself for 72 minutes. If one cannot wait, then he should complete the piyut or bracha they he is reciting. When he returns, he should continue Shemone Esrei from the point he had left off. However, if the interruption to go to the bathroom was longer than the time it takes for him to daven the entire Shemone Esrei then he must start from the beginning of Shemone Esrei. One must not talk at all during this time. Asher Yatzar should be recited after Shemone Esrei.

 

55.  What is the dispute between the Rambam and Ramban regarding the obligation of a woman to daven?

According to the Rambam, a woman can fulfill her obligation by expressing any verbal praise and thanksgiving (shevach and hoda’ah) and request (bakasha). According to the Ramban, Chazal instituted Tefillah every day and a woman is required to daven, just as a man is.

The Mishna Berurah says that a woman should follow the Ramban and daven Shacharis and Mincha (Ma’ariv is a Reshus). HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt’l, held that a woman should daven Shemone Esrei at least once a day.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 9

 

The Eleventh Middah we are to emulate is Chesed L’Avrohom--Hashem provides a special degree of Chesed to those who act like Avrohom Avinu. HaRav Salomon points to an important distinction between the previous Middah of Emes L’Yaakov and this Middah of Chesed L’Avrohom. That is that Hashem acts towards ‘beinonim’ through Emes--but acts Lifnim Meshuras Hadin with those who are Tovim V’Chasidim. It is not so, continues Rav Salomon, that Hashem treats all people equally--for not everyone is to be treated equally. Communism and socialism are absolutely incorrect in this regard. Instead, the Middos of Emes L’Yaakov and Chesed L’Avrohom importantly (and perhaps to some, surprisingly) teach us that we too must act towards others in different ways, depending upon how they themselves conduct their lives and act towards others. We must be especially affectionate towards those who act with superior Middos and Lifnim Meshuras HaDin. When we do so, we follow in the ways of Hashem and fulfill the Mitzvah of V’Halachta Bidrachav!

 

 

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26 Tammuz

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We continue our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes. In the alternative, one can chart his own improvement course on a weekly basis as well.

 

WEEK 5--PARASHAS MATOS-MASEI

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Among the first words of the Rema in Shulchan Aruch are Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid…for one’s actions and business when he is ‘alone’ are not the same as one who conducts himself in front of a great king…most certainly when one is in the presence of the Great King HaKadosh Baruch Whose Presence fills the earth and Who stands and watches him. When sitting down at one’s table or desk one should try to conduct himself for a few moments, feeling that he is in the Presence of the Great King with the thought of Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Make a conscious effort not to ‘steal’ one’s sleep or time, by being especially quiet, or by not engaging in needless conversation with him.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Make an effort to treat your clothing with special respect--not throwing any article down or across the table or room, if disposing of it--wrapping it up, and in any event making sure that it is not stained or dirty.

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NINETEEN WEEKS! We are now in the eleventh of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In past years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha. This week’s Bracha is… Hoshiva Shofteinu!

 

In this bracha, we ask Hashem to return judges and our yoatzim to the prior levels of greatness, and immediately continue with the phrase “Vehaser Mimenu Yagon Va’Anacha--and remove from us sorrow and groaning.”  The Sefer Avudraham writes that the juxtaposition here teaches that with the return of the Shoftim and the Yoatzim, our Yagon and Anacha will immediately depart.  What is Yagon and what is Anacha?  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah brings that Yagon refers to De’agah B’Lev--sadness, or a troubled or worry-filled heart.  Anacha, on the other hand, refers to sadness that comes from physical strain and tzaros that actually occur.  When justice returns to the world, and the Shechina then has an ultimate place to reside, the world’s difficulties, and each and every person’s strains and worries along with it, will be no more.  The suffering vanishes--for it has no further place. We should remember that we are davening to Hashem here not only for removing one person’s pain and woes (even if it may be yours), but each and every person’s--and not only for a minute or a day or a year--but for eternity! Let’s Daven Well!

 

In addition to the above note, we provide by the following link additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the Praying with Passion Series (available at www.prayingwithfire.org), the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer, the Tefillah Tapes of Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, or other wonderful resources), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week!

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

51.  The Halacha is that one cannot daven when one feels the need to go to the bathroom. What is the shiur for this--what does this mean?

 

52.  What does one do if he is in the middle of Pesukai D’Zimra and needs to use the bathroom?

 

53.  What should one do if he is in the middle of Shema and needs to use the bathroom ?

 

54.  What should one do if he is in the middle of Shemone Esrei ?

 

55.  What is the dispute between the Rambam and Ramban regarding the obligation of a woman to daven?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: As we commence the second week of the Three Week period, we may address a fundamental question.  Every year, for almost 2,000 years, we have been observing the very same Three Week period, beginning with the calamities that befell us on Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, and ending with the catastrophes that occurred on Tisha B’Av.  There may be differences of Minhagim among the different communities, but the sullenness and solemnity of the days are common to them all.  True, one may ask his Rav whether it is permitted to eat a particular food or go to a particular place during the Nine Days, and even receive a definitive response that it is not prohibited.  However, a question of this sort emphasizes the ‘tofel, and disregards the ‘ikar’ of the period that we are in.

 

So here is the fundamental question:  Do we simply continue observing the period that we are now in the same way as we did last year--10 years ago and 20 years ago--or do we do something different?  After all, on the one hand, we have been and are doing everything that we thought was, and is, right according to Halacha during this time--to the point that when we are doubtful, we ask a Rav (as above).  On the other hand, it does not appear that we have succeeded, for the Beis Hamikdash is still in ruins and we find ourselves in a world pervaded by terrorism [and now almost sympathizing with it!] on the one hand, and materialism on the other, and with a value system so thoroughly incongruous to Torah that the supreme court of the greatest ‘world power’ has legalized the Sodom code of conduct.  So perhaps we should try something different, something else, and something we have not done before.  Perhaps we should approach the Churban and exile from a different angle.  After all, in the business and professional world, if something does not work one way, you try another way, before giving up.

 

In order to deal with this dilemma, in order to determine whether we should continue doing the same (proper) things we have always been doing, and that our fathers and forefathers have been doing for hundreds upon hundreds of years--or whether we should do something else--we look to the analogy of our Galus existence, as taught to school children.  You may recall being taught that while in exile, we rebuild the Beis Hamikdash brick by brick, with every Mitzvah that we perform being at least one brick in the new, magnificent, everlasting, Third Beis HaMikdash.

 

Thus, as we continue to do what we are supposed to do, and as our ancestors have done over all these years, we are continuously building and building and building an edifice that we can simply not currently fathom.  However, to continue the analogy, sometimes one can build faster if he has the right plans, the right equipment, and the right skill.  Yet at other times, the construction process may be quickened simply by pure effort, toil and exertion.  

 

It is no secret that Tisha B’Av always falls on the same day of the week as the Night of the Seder [although this year the fast itself is pushed from Leil Shabbos to Motza’ei Shabbos] (which is the reason, some explain, that we have the egg symbolizing mourning on the Seder Plate, and that some actually eat the egg at the beginning of the otherwise festive Seder Meal).  Obviously, we are to learn from the exodus from Egypt how we are to accomplish the Exodus from our current exile as well. In Egypt , for example, Chazal teach that the bitterness of our toil significantly curtailed the decreed term of our exile (the “quality” of the labor making up for the additional time that had to be spent there).  It is for this reason, many teach, that Maror, the bitter herbs, are eaten after the Matzah on the night of the Seder--for through the Maror the redemption was hastened.

 

We may therefore suggest that while we can and should continue to build the third and final Beis Hamikdash in the same manner as we have done in the past; there is room for us to perhaps further hasten the redemption by taking some new and different action so that those bricks are put up faster and faster.  Picture the difference between viewing a bricklayer building a wall in regular motion, and watching him build that very same wall in “fast-forward.”  It will most certainly take a much shorter time for the wall to be completed.

 

There are two items that we may readily suggest:

 

1.  Chazal (Nedarim 81A) teach that at least one reason we lost Eretz Yisrael was because: “They did not make the Bracha before studying Torah”.  Many find it difficult to learn that this means that the appropriate Bracha was not actually recited by the masses prior to Torah study.  Rather, it is suggested that the Bracha was not recited with the sufficient feeling and thought, as is befitting Torah and all that it is and that it represents.  After all, what makes me different from all of the nations, all other peoples, all of the beings around me?  It is the Torah--with its Divine source, and the Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim that emanate directly and unabatedly from it.  If we do not appreciate this, if we recite the brachos hastily and/or sleepily, while walking in the home or to Shul, and not from a Siddur, then perhaps we ought to go out to (or stay in) Exile--among the nations--to study and finally appreciate what makes us different.  Accordingly, one tikun, one improvement that we can undertake over the next two weeks is to recite Birchos HaTorah a little more properly--from a Siddur, slowly, understanding the meaning of the words, and with an appreciation for what the Torah means to each one of us individually, and to us as a people.  If we do, we may be laying some of those last rows of bricks--at a “fast-forward” pace!

 

2.  As Chazal teach that the Second Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam, and related Bain Adam LeChaveiro aveiros, it would seem appropriate for us to DO SOMETHING--to make a discrete effort in improving in this area.  Even for the “almost perfect” person, there is room to improve.  The Center for Jewish Values, under the auspices of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, Shlita, delivers a daily portion of Kitzur Mishpatei HaShalom--a guide to Hilchos Bain Adam LeChaveiro--into your email box free daily, in either Hebrew or English. By taking a few moments to read and apply the daily halacha--you are showing that you really want to do more than clean up this mess that we are in--but actually complete construction of a new and everlasting structure.  You may subscribe to this type of “Korban Tomid”-your daily commitment to learn and improve at interpersonal relationships--by turning to www.jewishvalues.us  If you already receive this publication, may we suggest that you today ask someone else to subscribe as well. You never know what that final brick will be, and who will be the exalted one to place it--put yourself in position for the golden opportunity!

 

 

Special Note Two: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 8

 

The Tenth Middah we are to emulate is Titein Emes L’Yaakov--Hashem associates the Middah of truth with Rachamim, in order for the Middash HaDin not to work on its own. HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, once related that when running away from Sonei Yisrael he ran to the house of a philosopher and hid under his bed. The philosopher’s shita was that he would never tell a lie. Accordingly, when the soldiers came to his house and asked whether someone had entered he responded: “Yes”. When they asked where he was, he responded: “He is under the bed”. Is this truth? No, HaRav Salomon writes, it more like murder than truth. Once Hashem merged the Middas HaRachamim with the Middas HaDin, truth is merged into mercy. We ask Hashem daily: “U’Meloch Aleinu Atah Hashem Levadecha B’Chesed U’V’Rachamim V’Tzadikeinu BaMishpat”. We must act likewise. One important example: When someone has wronged us and comes to ask mechilah, and we determine that he is not fully sincere--we too should nevertheless merge Rachamim and Din and be mochel!

 

 

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23 Tammuz

REMINDER--SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 4--PARASHAS PINCHOS

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Actively think of a way that you can make a Kiddush Hashem--and act on it! Remember, it does not have to appear to be something big--just a Kiddush Hashem!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Have someone join in a Mitzvah with you--it can include asking someone to answer Amen to your bracha.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Run to do a Mitzvah (or want to run).

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ANI HASHEM ELOKEICHEM: Rebbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, points out that in the last Pasuk of Shema begins with the words Ani Hashem Elokeichem, and ends with the words Ani Hashem Elokeichem (see Rashi there). Rabbi Reisman teaches that there is a great lesson here--as the words that separate the beginning and end of the Pasuk are Asher Hotzeisi Eschem Me’eretz Mitzrayim. This is to teach us that just as Hashem showed His great Hashgacha Pratis over us and saved us from Mitzrayim--the Ani Hashem Elokeichem continues afterwards as well! It is up to us to always bring Hashem into our lives--recognizing the Ani Hashem Elokeichem with us each and every day!

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MODIM AND THE THREE WEEKS: Except on Shabbos or under certain circumstances, it is an established custom amongst Ashkenazim that the bracha of Shehechiyanu not be recited within the Three Weeks. We do have the ability, however, to recite something very similar to Shehechiyanu three times a day even during the Three Week period--and even on Tisha B’Av! As a reader pointed out to us, in the Modim D’Rabbanan we essentially paraphrase the bracha of Shehechiyanu as we thank Hashem “Ahl Shehecheyisanu V’Kiyamtanu--for giving us life and sustaining us.” Moreover, we then add a wonderful request--Kein Techayeinu U’Sekayemeinu V’Se’esof Galuyoseinu Bechatzros Kadshecha…so may You continue to give us life and sustain us and gather our exiles to the Beis HaMikdash…!

 

Hakhel Note One: Practical Suggestion: Recite Modim D’Rabbanan from a Siddur--with Kavannah!

 

Hakhel Note Two: Fascinatingly, the Sefer Ishei Yisrael, which contains the Pesakim of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, writes that if the Shaliach Tzibbur mistakenly recited Modim D’Rabbanan in Chazaras HaShatz, rather than the regular Modim--he is Yotzei, and it is a valid Chazaras HaShatz.

 

Hakhel Note Three: In this week’s Pirkei Avos (1:2), Shimon HaTzaddik teaches that the world was created for the accomplishment of three goals: Torah, Avoda and Gemilas Chasodim. Rabbeinu Yonah (ibid.) explains that in the time of the Beis HaMikdash, Avodah means bringing Karbanos. At the current time, when there is no Beis HaMikdash, Rabbeinu Yonah continues, Tefillah takes the place of Karbanos. Indeed, Dovid HaMelech exclaims in Tehillim:  Hashem Sefasai Tiftach U’fi Yagid Tehilasecha--may my Tefillah stand in the place of a Karbon to effect forgiveness for me for intentional and non-intentional sins.” Oh, how we must appreciate the importance of our Tefillos--and if we find them lacking, make efforts to improve them in some way. Sincerely Davening for Teshuvah, for the Geulah, and having Kavannah in these words of Modim may be a wonderful place to begin!

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SELACH LANU! At the recent Hakhel Kinus, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Shlita, made the following remarkable comment: “We should try to at least have half the Kavannah that we have in the bracha of Shema Koleinu--when we recite the bracha of Selach Lanu!”

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KEDOSHIM AND KIDDUSH HASHEM: On the Project Witness video shown at the Hakhel Kinus, Chazan Moshe Kraus, an interviewee, recalled that he had asked one of his Rebbeim as he getting on a Nazi train: “Rebbi, how long does this Kiddush Hashem need to last?” His Rebbi responded: “We are Kedoshim, even though this is happening against our will. However, this is not Kiddush Hashem. The Kiddush Hashem will occur when after the war--of your own free will and choice--you keep Shabbos, Kashrus and do Mitzvos!” Chazan Kraus said that these words inspired him to continue Torah observance after the war.

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BE A CHOSID: We have noted that acting with Chesed overcomes the Midas HaDin. We may suggest that if one acts in a manner in which he is considered a Chosid (i.e., a man of Chesed)--he can save himself from Din. The Mishna in Avos teaches that there are four different kinds of people who study Torah: (i) those who study Torah but do not go to the Beis Midrash; (ii) those who go to the Beis Midrash but do not end up studying; (iii) those who do neither; and (iv) those who study in the Beis Midrash. Only the fourth category is called a Chosid. Accordingly we suggest that anyone who is unsure as to where he should study--or even feels a special need to stay home and study--should think again, for when he goes to the Beis Midrash and studies--he is a Chosid…and it very much behooves one to be considered as such!

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HAKARAS HATOV APPLIED! “As a rule, Rabbi Avraham Pam did not accept gifts and tried to avoid accepting favors from others. He usually made his own arrangements for traveling to Simchas, saying that he found it easier this way. If he needed to go somewhere for personal reasons, he preferred taking the bus or subway rather than asking someone to drive him. When, on occasion, Rav Pam did accept a favor, he felt indebted to the person. He therefore had a special notebook in which he would record information which he could use to “return the favor”. In one entry he wrote, “So-and-so gave me a ride today. He has a 21 year old daughter in need of a shidduch.” When the Shuvu organization, founded by Rav Pam, launched a fund-raising campaign by mail, the return envelopes came to Rav Pam’s house. Rav Pam himself opened these envelopes, and when he would meet someone who had sent a donation, he would thank him saying: ‘You’ve done something big!’” [Excerpted from the The Life and Ideals of Rabbi Avraham Yaakov HaKohen Pam (Artscroll/Mesorah), as brought in Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, Shlita, and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita (Artsroll/Mesorah)]

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FROM A READER: “Pinchos was given a ‘Bris of Shalom’ by Hashem.  I would like to suggest that everyone consider the absolute Pashut P’shat of these words--in reward for Pinchos acting in such a self-sacrificing way for the honor of Hashem, Pinchos was awarded the gift of peace--inner peace; this means tranquility and calmness in his personal life and his personal decisions.  If one acts with alacrity and unrelenting dedication towards the Torah and Mitzvos, his closeness to Hashem will build a great Emunah within him.  He will thus be at peace.  I think that this is a lesson that we can all internalize and aspire to.”

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Special Note One:  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.  In Chapter 4 of the Tomer Devorah, HaRav Cordevero writes: “A person can purify his Yetzer Hara by leading it towards good, and then even his Yetzer Hara becomes rooted in holiness.

 

Hakhel Note: In honor of the Yahrzeit of HaRav Cordevero, we continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 7

 

The Ninth Middah we are to emulate is Vesashlich BeMetzulos Yam Kol Chatosam--and send to the depths of the sea all of their sins. If HaKadosh Baruch Hu determines that He must punish us, He does so through enemies such as Paroh, Nevuchadnezzar [and more contemporary infamous Sonei Yisrael]--all of whom after ‘completing their task’ vanish into oblivion and live on only in infamy--they disappear, and we do not.” Although they were sent to fulfill Hashem’s mission, it was not their intent to do so, and what they did do was with personal hatred, cruelty, and vengeance. They therefore are obliterated. After our sin has been expunged by the punishment, however, we have become purified again and return to our initial relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Unlike someone who is imprisoned and has been set free--where everyone knows that he had originally been in prison--Hashem ignores the past and no longer looks back to the time of punishment, even though we had initially brought down ourselves and the world with our aveiros. The lesson to us is that we should not look at a person who was or is currently down with disdain or contempt, thinking that his sins brought him to his condition, and that he will remain in that state. Rather, we should recognize that he is a brother, and that he will arise from the situation, much as we as a people have so many times in the past. The yissurim will cleanse and purify him--and he will remain a member of K’lal Yisrael. We will then successfully ‘forget the past’--just as Hashem does!

 

 

Special Note Two:   For New York City Metropolitan Area Residents:  Tomorrow, Shabbos Kodesh,  is the 113th 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. For those who wish to visit his kever today or on Sunday, the address of the cemetery is Union Field Cemetery, 8211 Cypress Avenue, Ridgewood, NY.

 

 

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

 

A. The following is excerpted from Something To Think About by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, based upon the teachings of Rav Avraham Pam, Z’tl: “What is the big rush to escort the Shabbos out? In the Friday night zemiros of Kol Mekadesh, we praise those ‘who delay departing from Shabbos.’ Shabbos is a time of menucha. Rashi (Bereishis 2:2), says, “When Shabbos arrives, tranquility arrives.” Tur (295) writes that even the wicked who are experiencing terrible punishments in Gehinnom enjoy tranquility on Shabbos. Nonetheless, at the conclusion of Shabbos, the wicked return to their punishments and, as Rema (OC 295:1) notes, this is the reason we recite Vihi No’am on Motza’ei Shabbos--to extend for a few more minutes their reprieve by delaying Havdalah.

 

There are various opinions as to when Shabbos is over. Is it 45, 60, 72 or 90 minutes after sunset? What is the official time in Gehinnom to bring back the wicked for the resumption of the punishments. The Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah (8:1) quotes Sifrei Kabbalah which write that the wicked return to their punishments at the time when they (generally) held the conclusion of Shabbos during their lifetimes. If they were of those who impatiently waited for the earliest time to end Shabbos, their punishments resume at the earliest time as well. If they had tried to extend the Shabbos as long as possible, they receive the same courtesy from Heaven…. It is especially important to inculcate children with an appreciation that every minute of Shabbos one experiences is a prelude to the pleasure and happiness of the World-to-Come. It is unfortunate that many parents fail to convey the feelings of spiritual Oneg that a Jew should experience on Shabbos….”

 

B. It is reported by HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv’s daughter that a Shabbos preparation that he would not let anyone do for him in the ordinary course was shining his shoes for Shabbos!

 

C. The following Halachos are excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah:

 

1. An important Shabbos preparation is cutting one’s nails. One should wash his hands immediately after cutting nails (whether of the hands or feet). The Chazon Ish rules that if one bites off only one nail, netilas yadayim is not required. One may answer amen while cutting his nails, even though he has a ruach ra’ah on his hands while cutting his nails (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 260, Note 16).

 

2. If one was not able to eat a meal with bread on Leil Shabbos, then he should eat three bread meals during the day. If one does not have bread on Leil Shabbos, it is preferable to make Kiddush and eat a kezayis of cake or drink a revi’is of wine so that the Kiddush will be bemakom Seudah. If one does not do so, he would then recite the regular Leil Shabbos Kiddush before he eats the bread meal on Shabbos day itself (SH, OC 249, Note 15).

 

3. HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that one may put water in the freezer before Shabbos, even though it will freeze on Shabbos (SA, OC 252, Note 24). However, HaRav Auerbach rules that one cannot turn on a washing machine before Shabbos, so that it will continue to wash on Shabbos for this is a zilzul in the Kavod of Shabbos. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, rules that starting a dryer before Shabbos is likewise prohibited (ibid., Note 25).

 

4. If one does not like hot food during the summer, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, writes that one should nevertheless eat hot food on Shabbos--unless he would be hurt by it. His ruling is based on the words of the Mishna Berurah (SA, OC 297 seif katan 48). Additionally, HaRav Karelitz writes that because the ikar Seudah on Shabbos is by day, hot food should be eaten at the day meal, and that drinking a hot drink is insufficient. HaRav Karelitz basis his ruling on the words of the Ba’al HaMe’or in Meseches Shabbos: “HaMashmin Hu HaMa’amin Vezoche LeKeitz HaYamim”.

 

 

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22 Tammuz

FROM THINK HASHEM DAILY:Don’t despise small acts. Nothing is small, because everything you do for Hashem and for other people is forever! “ (HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl)

 

Hakhel Note: To subscribe to Think Hashem Daily email: ThinkHashem@gmail.com.

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AN AMAZING THOUGHT: HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, brings from HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl (Sha’arei Kedusha, Sha’ar Aleph) that one must be more careful to avoid Middos Ra’os than to perform Mitzvos Asei and Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh--for when one is a Ba’al Middos Tovos it is much easier for him to perform Mitzvos--for one who is a Ba’al Middos Tovos recognizes the goodness that Hashem bestows him with, and accordingly wants to give Hashem Nachas Ruach--which he recognizes is doing His will by the performance of Mitzvos!

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PERSONAL COMMUNICATION: In the Sefer Praying with Fire 2, Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, goes into detail to explain the great significance of personal communication with Hashem. The Chofetz Chaim, for instance, told one newly inducted soldier into the Russian army who would be taken far away from Yiddishkeit and its practice that the one thing that he must continue to do is speak to Hashem throughout the day. The Chofetz Chaim does not limit this suggestion, however, to one inducted into an army--but applies it to all. HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, similarly teaches that: (i) a businessman should daven to Hashem when a customer enters or when going to visit a customer; (ii) a patient should daven to Hashem before and after visiting a health care professional; and (iii) when entering one’s car, even when it isn’t for a distance in which Tefillas Haderech would otherwise be warranted--one should still daven to Hashem to have a safe and successful trip. As the Chernobler Rebbe, Z’tl, said: “Whom else should I ask?”

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

46. Should one recite Asher Yatzar if he feels that he will need to use the facilities several times (e.g. diarrhea r’l or the like)?

One should recite Asher Yatzar after each time he goes to the bathroom as long as he feels that he had completed relieving himself. If one feels that he was not completed, then he should wait and recite Asher Yatzar when he determines that he has completed.

 

47. Does one recite Asher Yatzar after a urine test?

Yes.

 

Hakhel Note: As we have learned in the past, if one sees lightning and hears thunder together, he recites only one bracha of Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis, although if he saw the two events separately he would make two separate brachos over the two wondrous ‘acts of nature’. With this, we can answer a question that presents itself: When one takes care of his bodily needs, the method of processing liquid waste is quite different than the method of processing solid waste. Yet, when one takes care of both needs at the same time he makes only one bracha of Asher Yatzar. Why would this be so--aren’t two separate miracles occurring? We now have precedent--we pair together lighting and thunder in one magnanimous bracha to Hashem--and we can do likewise with one Asher Yatzar. We add only that perhaps when one is making one bracha on two miraculous acts--that he should consider placing extra special Kavannah and thanks into the recitation of that bracha! 

 

48. The halacha is that one should not put on two articles of clothing at one time. Does this halacha apply to women?

No, it only applies to men.

 

49. Does the issur apply to putting on a shoe and a boot at the same time?

No

 

50. Does this issur apply to taking off clothing?

No.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: Additional points and pointers relating to the period we are in:

 

A. The Maharsha writes that just as the Three Weeks from Rosh Hashana until Hoshana Rabba bring Kapparah to K’lal Yisrael, so too, can the Three Weeks from Shiva Asar B’Tammuz to Tisha B’Av. Appreciate the times!

 

B. HaRav Naftali Kaplan, Shlita, teaches that in the Three Weeks we must work on feeling the Tza’ar HaShechina. In order to do so, as an introduction, one should study the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim (Sha’ar Beis, Perakim 11 and 12). One should also review the Seder Ha’avodah in the Yom Kippur Machzor which highlights what we are missing without the Beis HaMikdash and the Shechina’s special presence in Yerushalayim. We should also consider when reciting V’Lirushalayim Irecha and related Tefillos what we are asking for and why. Finally, we should put our special sentiment into the words Ahl Kein NeKaveh and the remainder of Aleinu. 

 

C. We are in good company. In Ahl Naharos Bavel (Tehillim 137) the Targum teaches that the Pasuk Zechor Hashem Livnei Edom was recited by the Malach Michoel, and the Pasuk of Bas Bavel Hashedudah was recited by the Malach Gavriel. We must appreciate the enormity of the destruction. We are so out of place in this Galus that not only do we and our friends weep--but the greatest of Malochim cry out in agony as well. The difference is--they cannot bring the Geulah, but we, through our Teshuvah and Tefillah--can. The time to act is now!  

 

 

Special Note Two: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 6

 

The Eighth Middah we are to emulate is Yichbosh Avonoseinu--He will quash our sins. Hashem does not allow aveiros to counteract or in any way derogate from the Mitzvos that we perform. For instance, Hashem does not say he did 40 Mitzvos and 10 aveiros--so he is left with 30 Mitzvos. He deals with the aveiros separately, pushing them aside and dealing with them elsewhere--thereby assuring a person full reward for the Mitzvos he has performed. We too must deal this way with others--not quashing the good that he does because of the not-so-good that he has done. Rather, one should recall the good about him, and not allow it to be affected by the negative--instead dealing with that separately. At this point, in order to emphasize the absolute and invincible nature of a Mitzvah, HaRav Salomon brings an amazing story that he himself heard from HaRav Shmuel Greineman, Z’tl (which we had once previously provided): There was once a gathering at the house of the Chofetz Chaim which was attended by the Roshei Yeshivos in order to find a way to fund the Yeshivos and provide food for the Talmidei HaYeshivos. Those gathered sat together for an extended period of time but could not come to any conclusion, and agreed to reconvene the next day. The Chofetz Chaim was very pained and remained sitting in his place. HaRav Greineman, who was in attendance, could not bear to see the Chofetz Chaim so pained, and decided to rest with the hope that he could come up with an idea. He came up with what he thought was a fantastic idea. He was going to put on Tefillin the next morning. Since Tefillin is such a great Mitzvah, it must be that the reward for it would be enough to support all of the Yeshivos on an ongoing basis. He was therefore prepared to give his reward for the Mitzvah of Hanachas Tefillin that day to the Yeshivos--so that they could sustain themselves on an ongoing basis. Before he did so, however, he wanted to make sure that this was the right thing to do, and went to the Chofetz Chaim--who was still sitting and thinking in the same place. He approached the Chofetz Chaim and told him: “Rebbi, I have found the solution!” The Chofetz Chaim’s face lit up and asked him what it was. HaRav Greineman answered that he was going to give his reward in the Mitzvah of Tefillin today to the Yeshivos, so that they could support themselves! The Chofetz Chaim looked at Rav Greineman, smiled and said: “Mein Kihnd--my son, the Ribono Shel Olam will not accept this.” The Chofetz Chaim then went on to explain: “If a small child found a check for a million rubles on the street, he would probably take it to the candy store thinking that he could obtain a bag of candy for it. What would a responsible storeowner do upon looking at the check--would he take it for a bag of candy?! Of course not--he must tell the child that the check is worth much more than a bag of candy, and that the child should take it to his father.” The Chofetz Chaim then powerfully advised: “If you would only know how much more putting on Tefillin just one time is worth than supporting all of the Yeshivos! Hashem will most certainly not accept your request! This is what Chazal mean when they teach that there is no reward that can be given for a Mitzvah in this world--the whole world is not enough to satisfy the greatness achieved by the performance of one Mitzvah!”

 

Hakhel Note: We too must not allow the goodness in others to be in any way impinged by a negative event or situation--and deal with the evil or the wrongs at another time, and in another way. The Alter of Slabodka, Z’tl, once met a bochur who was trapped by the haskala. To the shock of everyone, the Alter kissed him on his forehead, looked at the bochur and said: “You should know that I kissed your ma’alos--and not your chesronos!” HaKadosh Baruch Hu acts with an Ayin Tovah--and so must we! 

 

 

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21 Tammuz

REMINDER--SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 4--PARASHAS PINCHOS

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Actively think of a way that you can make a Kiddush Hashem--and act on it! Remember, it does not have to appear to be something big--just a Kiddush Hashem!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Have someone join in a Mitzvah with you--it can include asking someone to answer Amen to your bracha.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Run to do a Mitzvah (or want to run).

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NOTES FROM READERS:

 

A. “I wanted to share knowledge of a great book that I purchased last week on the Three Weeks called Why We Weep published by Israel Book Shops. It is a compellation of essays from leading Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshivas about the Churban and its relevance to us. It doesn’t say who the melaket is, but is put out by a Machon Alei Zayis apparently from Lakewood . I just wanted to spread the word.”

 

B. “On the point you made regarding the dove leaving the teivah on 17 Tammuz the Da’as Zekeinim (Bereishis, 8:3), explicitly writes that this is a remez to the fast of 17 Tammuz which would later be commemorated on that day.  This is because the Knesses Yisrael is likened to the dove (Shir HaShirim, 2:14), and the Pasuk (Bereishis, 8:9) states that the dove found nowhere to rest its feet – much like the Knesses Yisrael on 17 Tammuz when the walls of Yerushalayim were breached….” 

 

C. “In addition to the suggestions you provided yesterday regarding overcoming the Middas HaDin, I would like to add that I have learned that pure Tefillah and sincere Bitachon--even when one does not have sufficient merit--can also overcome din!” 

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NINETEEN WEEKS: As we especially dedicate ourselves to the tenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week, we provide the following words of instruction from the great Praying with Passion Series (in order to go through this entire outstanding series on Tefillah, please visit http://prayingwithfire.org/archives.html):

 

“In this tenth bracha of Tekah B’Shofar, we learn that there will be two means of spiritual redemption. One will occur through hearing the shofarTekah B’Shofar. Rav Tzadok HaKohen (Sefer Machshovos Charutz, Ose 13) explains that in the Final Redemption, when the exiles are gathered, a “great shofar” will be needed to awaken those who have become lost due to their total involvement in the pleasures and comforts of this world. As the Rambam (Hilchos Rosh Hashanah) says: “the sound of the shofar is intended to wake up [spiritual] slumberers from their slumber.” A second spiritual redemption will occur through seeing the banner held up high—V’Sah Neis L’Kabeitz Galuyoseinu. The Hebrew word for banner is Neis which is also the Hebrew word for miracle. These words express the spiritual heights we will reach when we witness the outstanding and extraordinary miracles that will occur in the process of redemption (Sefer Sifsei Chaim—Rinas Chaim, p 145).”

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

46. Should one recite Asher Yatzar if he feels that he will need to use the facilities several times (e.g. diarrhea or the like)?

 

47.Does one recite asher yatzar after a urine test?

 

48. The halacha is that one should not put on two articles of clothing at one time. Does this halacha apply to a woman?

 

49. Does the issur apply to a shoe and a boot at the same time?

 

50. Does this issur apply to taking off clothing?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: Some notes for the Three Week period we are in:

 

1. HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, was asked what one should think about in the Three Weeks. He responded that one could focus on three things:

 

A. KAVOD SHOMAYIM. The honor of Heaven has been brought so low, as we wallow in the values established by the lower elements of mortal man. Our everyday experiences would truly be difficult for us, but for the fact that we have become so accustomed to them. Imagine, then, the pain of the Shechinah as He sees His children as low as the dust, and not as high as the stars of the sky.

 

B. SO MUCH LIFE . Because of the Galus and persecutions, so many millions of lives have been lost--each and every one with such potential for growth and for life.

 

C. A PERSONAL LACK OF SHELEIMUS. Because we are not in our optimum state, we are simply incomplete. Nobody wants something that is broken or missing something. Certainly, then, when it comes to ourselves--we should yearn for the day of full accomplishment!

 

2. Technology seems to be so foreign to the world of the Beis Hamikdash as we picture it. Maybe in some way we can control ourselves during the Three Weeks for an hour a day--separating ourselves from our connection to the most modern of worlds--either our computer, our phone, or some other device--as we strive to connect to the Third Beis Hamikdash and the most modern world--the eternal world!

 

3. Another important project is for one to especially look out for how often he makes excuses for his conduct during the day:  “I usually would not eat this, but…”; “I do not get angry, but…”; “I am doing this now because…”; or “I have the right, since…”; etc.  Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, teaches that the Shevatim at the time of their ordeal with Yosef recognized their mistake and exclaimed:  Aval Asheimim Anachnu--but, we are guilty!”  This means, Rabbi Frand teaches--that the Shevatim recognized that what they had done to Yosef was full of inappropriatebuts’--”but he dreamt that…”; “but he said that…”; “but he wore that…”.  As we realize the ‘buts’ that brought us into Mitzrayim--let us reflect on how our reflection upon and Teshuvah from the ‘buts can bring us out of our current Galus! 

 

4. The Sefer Bnei Yissaschar (brought in the Luach Davar B’Ito) writes that the months of Tammuz and Av are called Dalim, or The Poor Ones. He continues that when reciting the words before Shemone Esrei V’Ozer Dalim, we should have Kavannah that Hashem will help these two poor months to be lifted up. Hakhel Note:  Once again, we know that Hashem has established this world on a Middah K’negged Middah basis--if we help the poor--then Hashem will also help the poor. Accordingly, especially in these days, when a poor person approaches us or knocks on the door, one should make the effort to be an Ozer Dalim--not hoping that the poor person goes away or doesn’t see him--but rather showing care and concern, and giving them whatever he can!

 

5. Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, Shlita writes in The Chofetz Chaim -A Daily Companion that “One can compare Lashon Hara to toxic waste, and the laws of Shemiras Halashon to the protective suit of people who must handle it. Properly protected--one can save others from harm--and not hurt oneself in the process!” As noted above, let us strengthen ourselves now and be especially vigilant to keep out even the harmful ‘second-hand Lashon Hara’--for if not now--then when?!  Hakhel Note: During the Three Week Period, let us take affirmative action to remedy the systemic state of Galus that we are in.  Our vigilance in the area of Shemiras HaLashon will certainly be a great and irreplaceable step in our healing. When we talk about vigilance in Shemiras HaLashon--it is not just ‘words’--it is ACTION!

 

6. Reminder--Sever Panim Yafos Calendar! If you haven’t started yet--start today! (calendar at the end of this email)

 

7. Reminder--Kavannah in the Yehi Ratzon at the end of Shemone Esrei and in the Tefillah Ahl HaGeulah!

 

8. At the Chanukas HaBayis of the Yeshiva in Radin, the Chofetz Chaim told those gathered that every Jew in every generation needs to have a part in the Binyan Beis HaMikdash. Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim continued, Chazal teach that when the Torah records V’Chein Ta’asu (relating to the construction of the Mishkan), this meant L’Doros Haba’im--for future generations. Incredibly, Shlomo HaMelech, with the wealth of the world at his reach, built the Beis HaMikdash out of wood and not out of stone or metal, in order to give the future generations an opportunity, from time to time to upkeep, repair and revitalize the Binyan Beis HaMikdash. Let us utilize our opportunities each day and every day to bring the final Geulah and Yeshuah--and the everlasting Beis HaMikdash--in all of its glory!

 

 

Special Note Two: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 5

 

The Seventh Middah we are to emulate is Yashuv Yerachameinu--when one does Teshuvah Hashem has an overwhelming degree of Rachmanus and affection for him. It would be common for a person who has been offended by another to begrudgingly accept an apology--and even if he is not begrudging the relationship does not continue in the same way. Hashem acts quite to the contrary--and seeks the same of us. When a person does Teshuvah, Hashem treats him in a way that He doe s not even treat a Tzaddik Gamur--with a greater love than ever before. [It therefore behooves the Ba’al Teshuvah to make the extra special effort not to allow himself to fall back to where he was--in order to demonstrate how he seeks HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s new and great love!] In turn, when one is approached for forgiveness by another who has wronged him--he should view him as the Ba’al Teshuvah--a person who is even greater than a Tzaddik Gamur--and show him greater love than before. We should appreciate the effort and the fortitude that it took for the person--albeit who had done wrong--to try to make amends, and show him greater love than before and deepen the relationship more than ever before. The average man cannot understand this--but it is a Middah of Hashem, and accordingly the Middah that a Torah Jew must strive for as well!

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SEVER PANIM YAFOS CALENDAR

 

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20 Tammuz

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

WEEK 4--PARASHAS PINCHOS

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Actively think of a way that you can make a Kiddush Hashem--and act on it! Remember, it does not have to appear to be something big--just a Kiddush Hashem!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Have someone join in a Mitzvah with you--it can include asking someone to answer Amen to your bracha.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Run to do a Mitzvah (or want to run).

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REMINDER TEFILLAH AHL HEGEULAH! Especially in this period, we must remember the words of the Mesilas Yesharim, who teaches that the Tefillos of each and every person for the Geulah make a difference and are important. By the following links we once again provide the Tefillah Ahl HaGeulah http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  (Hebrew version) and  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq  (English version). Let us remember that, in this week’s Haftarah, Hashem tells Yirmiyahu HaNavi (Yirmiyahu 1:7): “Ahl Tomar Na’ar Anochi--don’t say that I am unworthy; there is no reason for excuse.”

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

41. After one uses the bathroom one recites Asher Yatzar. What is the amount that one must expel in order to be required to recite this bracha?

There is no shiur even if a person expelled a drop of urine etc. one is required to recite the bracha.

 

42. Is one permitted to recite Asher Yatzar while drying one’s hands?

Some poskim are of the opinion that Asher Yatzar should not be recited while one is drying his hands. Preferably, one should wait to recite the bracha until after they are dried.

 

43. If one used the bathroom right before the meal and then wanted to wash for bread, what should he do first--wash for bread or recite Asher Yatzar?

Some poskim are of the opinion that one should wash his hands without a cup and recite Asher Yatzar and then one may wash with a cup for bread. An alternative would be for one to wash with a cup and recite Asher Yatzar. Then, one touches a part of his body that is usually covered or one’s leather shoes (requiring one to wash his hands) and then one can wash again for bread.

 

44. What should one do if he used the bathroom before reciting a Bracha Achrona or Birchas Hamazon?

One should recite Asher Yatzar first.

 

45. How long does one have in order to recite Asher Yatzar?

Lechatchila, Asher Yatzar should be recited as soon as possible after using the bathroom. Bedieved, one may recite it as long as one did not relieve himself again. Once one feels the need to relieve himself again, he should wait until he does so, and recites Asher Yatzar only once. Hakhel Note: What a lost opportunity--one should never allow himself to miss the ability to thank Hashem with a bracha for the great miracle!

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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OVERRIDING DIN : With the turmoil of Galus all around us, we experience a feeling of fear and strict justice. Bilam himself exclaimed, “Oi-Mi Yichyeh M’Sumo Kel-- OH! who will survive when He imposes these?” (Bamidbar 24:23)

 

It would seem appropriate, especially as we enter the period of the Three Weeks, for each one of us to do what we can to avoid this din, this strict justice, upon us individually and upon our families.  After all, Hillel teaches in Avos, “Im ain ani li mi li--If I am not for myself who will be for me?” (Avos 1:14) 

 

1.  The Gemara (Rosh HaShana 17A) teaches “For one who passes over his Middos (e.g., does not anger, does not take vengeance, and does not react--even when the situation may completely justify it)--Hashem will, in turn, pass over his sins.  The Cheshbon is simple-you control yourself even when justified, and Hashem likewise controls His anger against you--even when justified.

 

2.  The Gemara (Sotah 21A) teaches that the study of Torah does not only save one from punishment once punishment has commenced--but actually even shields and protects one before the onset of any new punishment, as well.  The Gemara explains (based upon the Posuk in Mishlei (6:23)), that Torah is compared to the light of the sun, which unlike the light of a candle that eventually is extinguished, successfully provides light for a person day after day.  In the summertime, when the Tinokos Shel Beis Rabban--the schoolchildren--study less than when in school, we should try to make up the slack by learning a little more ourselves.

 

3. See Special Note Two below for a third effective method of avoiding din and bringing rachamim upon ourselves.

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Special Note One: Additional notes for the Three Weeks:

 

1. Our Halacha teaches us as a people how we are to conduct ourselves during the Three Weeks, the Nine Days, Erev Tisha B’Av, and Tisha B’Av itself.  The Halacha does not, however, provide the ‘four corners’ of the law, and accordingly, we can each take our own individual, personal steps to evidence our feelings, and to show our personal disenchantment/misery with the Galus we are in. As we have noted in the past, it is a custom among some, for instance, not to eat meat or drink wine not only during the Nine Days--but even during the Three Weeks (except, of course, on Shabbos). Others may make their hot shower just a little less hot. Yet others may attempt to somewhat quash or limit their needs or desires in some way during this time--not putting on the mustard, ketchup or extra condiment, or perhaps, as we have noted in the past, by taking the second choice of food or drink--the roll instead of the bagel, the ginger ale rather than the coke--simply to demonstrate a recognition of Imo Anochi B’Tzarah with Hashem at least during this period--as the Shechina continues in Its tza’ar, exiled from Its home, and awaiting the return of His children. 

 

2. We provide the following Halachos from the Sefer Koveitz Halachos which contains the Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita on the Bain HaMetzarim Period, as written by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita:

 

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 should not begin painting his home during the Three Weeks. 

 

E. One should not purchase a new Tallis during the Three Weeks, as it would require a Shehechiyanu. However, if 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 is permitted to recite Shehechiyanu on Shabbos. If one was Mekabel Shabbos early, one can recite Shehechiyanu even if it is still daylight outside.

 

3. There is a custom to recite Tikkun Chatzos at midday on each day of the Three Weeks. If this is something we cannot do, perhaps we can recite Tehillim Chapters 79, 83 and/or 137, which are very much related to Tikkun Chatzos, preferably at Chatzos, or at least at some point during the day.

 

4. We remind our readers that at a Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Shmuel Dishon, Shlita, once posed the following question:  “What is the greatest Chilul Hashem in the world today?!  What is the one thing that we should be most ashamed of?!”  He answered that the greatest Chilul Hashem, the greatest shame to us today, is that we are still in Galus. The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah explains that the great remedy for Chilul Hashem is Kiddush Hashem.  Accordingly, it very much behooves us to focus on acts of Kiddush Hashem--which is the antitheses of the Chilul Hashem of Galus, and which will, in fact, constitute the essence of Geulah.  Let us each remember the teaching of Chazal--he who bothers to prepare on Erev Shabbos, will be the one who eats on Shabbos!  Remember our Summer Improvement Program above relating to Kiddush Hashem--work on it today--and every day!

 

 

Special Note Two: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 4

 

The Sixth Middah we are to emulate is Chofetz Chesed--desiring Chesed. The Tomer Devorah writes that in Shomayim there are Malochim whose job it is to hold on to the Chesed we do below, so that when the Midas HaDin cries out against us in Shomayim, the Malochim show our Chesed to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and Hashem has mercy upon us. One must, therefore, be especially careful to look for the Middos of Chesed and goodness in others (i.e., good that the person does to others) and exclaim: “The Chesed that he does (even if it is with someone else) is good enough for me and I will not look at his negative points or even what he has negatively done to me.” HaRav Salomon points out that Hashem’s Middah of Chofetz Chesed does not mean that Hashem loves to do Chesed (which is also true!), but rather that He desires for us to do Chesed so that Rachamim can override the Din that we might otherwise r’l deserve. In fact, it is really Middas HaDin at work when we perform Chesed--for the Middas HaDin is to repay Chesed with Chesed!

 

Hakhel Note: HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, (Sefer Ohr Yecheskel, Middos, p. 169) writes that a Ba’al Chesed is a Ma’aleh Ruchni in a person--and is not someone who performs disconnected acts of kindness. Avrohom Avinu, for example, looked for Orchim on a hot day after his Bris Milah because this is the spiritual level that he was on. Similarly, Rivka, when seeing Eliezer with ten able-bodied men available to draw water, did not even think of suggesting that one of them draw of the available water. Instead, Chesed was a part of her nature and being. When one develops his Middah of Chesed in this way, he quite literally, strives to the Middah of the Avos and Imahos!

 

 

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19 Tammuz

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We continue our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes. In the alternative, one can chart his own improvement course on a weekly basis as well.

 

WEEK 4--PARASHAS PINCHOS

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Actively think of a way that you can make a Kiddush Hashem--and act on it! Remember, it does not have to appear to be something big--just a Kiddush Hashem!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Have someone join in a Mitzvah with you--it can include asking someone to answer Amen to your bracha.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Run to do a Mitzvah (or want to run).

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NINETEEN WEEKS! We are now in the tenth of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In past years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha. This week’s Bracha is… Teka BeShofar!

 

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.  A reader once 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 greater?!  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!

 

In addition to the above note, we provide by the following link additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the Praying with Passion Series (available at www.prayingwithfire.org), the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer, the Tefillah Tapes of Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, or other wonderful resources), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week!

 

Additional Note: We once again emphasize the words of the Mesilas Yesharim (end of Chapter 19): “Im Yomar Adam Me Ani…She’espalel Ahl Yerushalayim--if a person will say who am I to daven for Yerushalayim?”  Will the Yeshuah come about because of my Tefillos? Yes! Man was created as an individual so that a person could exclaim: ‘Because of me the world was created!’, and even if the Geulah does not come because of your Tefillos, it still gives Nachas Ruach to Hashem that His children ask and daven for this. Indeed, it was because individuals failed to daven that the Navi cried out: “Tzion He Doresh Ein Lah--it is Tzion, and no one seeks it!” It must be sought after! Each and every one of us must plead for the Geulah and we cannot excuse ourselves based upon our lack of ability or strength, and we must remember that it is impossible for Kavod Shomayim to abound unless K’lal Yisrael is redeemed--for Kavod Shomayim is bound together with Kavod Yisrael!...

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

41. After one uses the bathroom one recites Asher Yatzar. What is the amount that one must expel in order to be required to recite this bracha?

 

42. Is one permitted to recite Asher Yatzar while drying one’s hands?

 

43. If one used the bathroom right before the meal and then wanted to wash for bread, what should he do first--wash for bread or recite Asher Yatzar?

 

44. What should one do if he used the bathroom before reciting a Bracha Achrona or Birchas Hamazon?

 

45. How long does one have in order to recite Asher Yatzar?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One:  HaRav Shlomo Mandel, Shlita, brings a Maharsha (to Bechoros 8), who compares the three week period between Rosh Hashanah and Hoshana Rabbah to the Three Weeks between Shivah Asar B’Tammuz and Tisha B’Av.  It is a twinship of process, and a twinship of culmination.  These are days of examination, thinking, repairing, changing one’s mindset and ways, a time in which one must put himself into his best working order.  HaRav Mandel teaches that much of what we must do during this period is to re-forge our relationship with Hashem.  Why?  Let us look at the words of the Navi.  In the Haftarah of Shabbos Chazon, Yeshayahu HaNavi (Yeshaya 1:3) laments:  “Yadah Shor Koneihu V’Chamor Eivus Ba’alav…--the ox knows its owner, and a donkey his master’s trough, Yisrael does not know, my nation does not perceive….”  If the animals recognize who provides them with their sustenance and enables them to live, function and achieve that which they are supposed to--then we, all the more so, must apply the lessons ‘a million times over’ and recognize HaKadosh Baruch Hu in all that we do.  HaRav Mandel brings an incredible Maharal (in Parashas Bereishis) who teaches that if a person is not a Makir Tovah, then it is forbidden to do him a Tovah.  HaRav Mandel explains that it appears a bit like Lifnei Iver for a person to do a good deed to someone who will not recognize it--for he will then be punished for being a Kafui Tovah--for denying the good(!).

 

In a similar vein, Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, Shlita, points out that it is not by coincidence that we are to recite the Birkos HaShachar--every day--at the top of the day.  These brachos should definitely reintroduce us to a Hakarah, to a recognition of what Hashem does for us on a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week basis.  It is also no coincidence, Rabbi Salomon adds, that the first bracha is Asher Nasan Lasechvi Vinah.  According to one interpretation, this refers to Hashem giving the rooster the understanding to distinguish between day and night.  What is the great understanding here?  After all, this is something that the rooster does day in and day out, when it senses the same thing that it sensed the day before?!  Rabbi Salomon answers that a true appreciation is one in which we thank Hashem for the daily abilities of our legs to walk together in the same direction, for our bodies to be able to be lifted out of bed, and for all of the senses, intellect and gifts that we are blessed with today.  It is not because we had them yesterday that we by any means or ‘automatically’ get them again today.  Will we eat good food today--or dog food?  Will we be able to articulate the words of our brachos and tefillos, the Torah thought and the compliment--or will the words not come out properly, or in disarray?  Will we be able to pass by aisles and aisles of over-the-counter medications in the pharmacy as we go to purchase a tube of toothpaste, without having to purchase any of them?  Will we be able to check “no” to the scores of health and illness related questions on the doctor’s questionnaire when seeing him for the first time?  Remember--when the Beis HaMikdash comes the foremost result will be that we will have an extremely direct and personal relationship with Hashem--if we work on that now, to the extent that we can--how the more ready we will be for the day when our Ruchniyus will be lifted further and our lives fully fulfilled!  Hakaras HaTov--let us work on it over the Three Weeks with focused Birkos HaShachar, an understanding in our brachos throughout the day--and by recognizing throughout the day how Hashem allows us, guides us and moves us through the circumstances, situations and events of each and every day!

 

 

Special Note Two: Some suggestions on how we can help bring the world’s daytime earlier:

 

1. At the end of Shemone Esrei every day, and at the end of each Kaddish, “Oseh Shalom Bimromav Hu Ya’aseh Shalom Aleinu V’Ahl Kol Yisrael V’Imru Amein” is recited. [The Meforshim on the Siddur explain that the V’Imru Amein in our silent Shemone Esrei is addressed to the Malochim who accompany us.] What a powerful phrase--especially at this time--to have Kavannah in, and to which to respond Amein (in Kaddish) with great Kavannah and fervor.

 

2. The Sefer Mesilas Yesharim teaches that a person’s ultimate and true goal should be to give Nachas Ruach to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Focus on what you are about to say or do several times a day--do I think that this is going to give Hashem true Nachas Ruach?

 

3. If K’lal Yisrael is in this desperate situation because Hashem is upset or angry with us, then we must act to others in a manner in which we are not upset or angry with them. Likewise, if it is Din that K’lal Yisrael is experiencing, then we are looking for Rachamim B’Din--which we can receive on a middah k’neged middah basis by our acting with mercy towards others. Remember--Hashem Tzilecha--Hashem is our shadow!  It is all very much related!

 

4. The Gedolim have suggested that one should try to study more Torah. The Steipeler Gaon would urge those seeking Kapparah to relearn things that they already knew--as this would bring about Kapparah, for a person wants to by nature learn something new--and that reviewing over again what one already knows can serve as ‘yissurin’ and bring about Kapparah!

 

5. Towards the end of Mesechta Ta’anis, we learn that Abba Umna was given Shalom by the Mesivta D’Rakiyah every day. The Gemara explains that this was largely because in treating his patients while bloodletting, he kept the men and women separate and gave the women modest garments to wear during the procedure. The Gemara then continues that Eliyahu Hanavi showed Rav Bruna a prison warden who would be a Ben Olam Haba because he kept the male and female prisoners separate, and did not let them co-mingle. In last week’s Parasha, we find that Bilam praised K’lal Yisrael with the words Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov--how beautiful is our modesty and privacy. In turn, last week’s Haftarah (Micha 6:8) concludes with the question: What does Hashem seek of you?: “…V’Hatznei’ah Leches Im Elokecha--walking modestly with Hashem.” We emphasize that both men and women must demonstrate their own unique and royal status and privilege by dressing themselves (and their children) appropriately when going out into the world, when in Shul, and when in the confines of one’s own home. Remember--V’Hatznei’ah Leches Im Elokecha--we must walk modestly with Hashem--that is what Hashem expects of us!

 

 

Special Note Three:  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 Bilam not to go with Balak's messengers, who requested that he accompany them to curse Bnei Yisrael.  Hashem later told Bilam 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, 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 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 the 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 be 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 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 Avrohom 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 Bilams 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!

 

 

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16 Tammuz

EXPANDED EDITION DUE TO TA’ANIS

 

HAIRCUT GUIDE: As many will be taking a haircut today, we once again provide an important link to The Kosher Haircut Guide Poster (available at http://tinyurl.com/yh2dqy6 ). We once again urge you to distribute this poster, in order to help many others in your community as well.

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QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Chazal (Sanhedrin 105A) teach that Bilam’s father, Be’or, was none other than Lavan himself.  What does that make the familial relationship to be between Bilam and the 12 Shevatim (and their descendants) that Bilam sought to curse?  What lesson can you derive from this important and incredible fact?

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LET’S GET THE MESSAGE! In Parashas Balak (Bamidbar 23:9), we find the prophecy of Bilam 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 (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 Parasha.  One thing is for sure, just as the foregoing Pasuk in the Parasha was fulfilled--so too will the later words of Bilam to Balak in the Parasha 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 Parasha!

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SEVER PANIM YAFOS! Over the Three Week period, one of a person’s great accomplishments would be true improvement in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. As the Chofetz Chaim outlines at the outset of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, the Second Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of the aveira of Sinas Chinam/Lashon Hara. HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim, writes that Sever Panim Yafos--meeting and reacting to a person with thought, care and pleasantness would be a great accomplishment resulting from the Three Week period. Even when not meeting someone in person, HaRav Friedlander continues, one should talk over the phone in a way in which the person on the other end feels the smile. To aid in the sometimes difficult task, no matter how busy or preoccupied you may be, we provide a check-off calendar for the Three Weeks, starting Sunday. If you feel that the constant obligation to do so is too difficult, may we suggest that you undertake this goal consciously, one or two or three times a day, or perhaps with one or two or three specific people a day (could be family members or difficult people to work or deal with!). We wish everyone Hatzlacha in this endeavor, and may the Geulah Sheleimah be before us all!

 

SUNDAY

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

SHABBOS

JULY 5

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JULY 6

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JULY 7

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JULY 8

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JULY 9

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JULY 10

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JULY 11

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JULY 12

o      

JULY 13

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JULY 14

o      

JULY 15

o      

JULY 16

o      

JULY 17

o      

JULY 18

o      

JULY 19

o      

JULY 20

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JULY 21

o      

JULY 22

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JULY 23

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JULY 24

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JULY 25

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      JULY 26

o      

 

 

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TZEDAKA! Please remember to give Tzedaka on the Ta’anis for as Chazal teach ‘Igra DeTa’anisa Tzidkasa’.  If you need an address--we provide yadeliezer.org --which has been helping the poor in Eretz Yisrael for decades with true honor and real distinction.  Add the Navi’s teaching that “Veshaveha BiTzedaka--those who return to Tzion will return with tzedaka” to the need to give on a Ta’anis itself --and we appreciate how much we can accomplish with some well placed funds on this very significant day!

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Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series: The following Halachos are P’sakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, which are excerpted from the monumental work, Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Hebrew) recently published by HaRav Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita. 

 

 

A.  In the Bracha of Mai’ein Sheva in Shul on Friday night, one bows at the outset as if he is beginning Shemone Esrei. 

 

B.  The Mishna Berurah brings two opinions as to whether women are obligated to Daven Mussaf.  The first opinion (T’zlach) brought by the Mishna Berurah is that women are exempt from Davening Mussaf.  The Mishna Berurah then continues with the words “but the Magein Giborim rules that women are obligated to Daven Mussaf.”  HaRav Elyashiv states that the rule of the Mishna Berurah is that when he first quotes one opinion, and then states ‘Avol’ or ‘Achein’ (but) and brings a second opinion, the Mishna Berurah rules in accordance with that second opinion.  Accordingly, women are obligated to Daven Mussaf (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 106; Mishna Berurah seif katan 4).

  

C. It is permissible to praise the Ba’las HaBayis for the Shabbos food that she prepared, even if it is not tasty, and it is indeed a Mitzvah to do so.

 

D.  If one does not have whole loaves of bread, he can take whole cakes.  If one has only pieces of bread, he should take two pieces, with each one being at least a K’zayis.

 

E.  It is permissible to use a frozen Challah for Lechem Mishna, even if it may not defrost during the Seudah.

 

F.  One should not discard a Havdalah candle directly into the garbage.  Rather, to show Kavod for the Mitzvah, one should first wrap it 9just as with the Shabbos candles, as we had mentioned last week). 

  

G.  If a lense or a sidepiece broke off one’s glasses, the glasses and the pieces are Muktzah, because one may come to fix them on Shabbos.  If, however, a piece broke fully or was totally destroyed, the glasses are not Muktzah if they can be otherwise used as is--because we are not worried that you will come to fix a piece that is totally broken or destroyed.

 

H.  A person can place a Siddur or Sefer on table in order to ensure that the table will not become a Bosis to the Shabbos candles.  However, it is a Bizayon to the Sefer if one takes it only for this purpose and puts it on the table.  Rather, one should learn from the Sefer a bit, and then one may leave it on the table.

 

I.  There is no problem utilizing thin, plastic tablecloths, plastic cups and other plastic utensils, or tissues, on Shabbos even though they are used once and discarded.  This is not considered to involve “Bitul Kli MeHeichano” because this is the object’s purpose to begin with.  However, an object that could be reused should not be used on Shabbos for something that will require it to be discarded.  For instance, a dirty diaper should not be placed into a bag that could be reused and was not otherwise set aside for this specific purpose.  Accordingly, it would be advisable to set aside bags for this purpose on Shabbos, so that there is no issue of “Bitul Kli MeHeichano”.

 

J.  A telephone book is not Muktzah, for it can be used to look up addresses.

 

 

 

Special Note Two:  Points and pointers on this week’s Parasha, Parashas Balak:

 

A.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, observes that Bilam is more severely criticized than Balak.  Why is this so?  After all, was it not Balak who started the whole process?  Was he not the one who instigated Bilam, inducing him to come, and moving him from one mizbe’ach to another?  Yet, Balak counts Rus as one of his descendents, while Bilam’s name lives in infamy forever.  HaRav Kanievsky explains that Balak acted in fear--having observed first-hand what happened as a result of the wars of Bnei Yisrael 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 or rotten Middos.  HaRav Kanievsky notes that all of those 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 (5:22--studied this week, the week of Parashas 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 this week.  Chazal are incredibly telling 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 (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 home.

 

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 does or accomplishes.  

 

c.  Nefesh Shefalah--deemphasizing the desires of this world.  Indeed, there is a story of one of the Gedolim, who tasted ice cream once and was so impressed with its good taste that he elected never to eat it again. 

 

B.  Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov Mishkenosecha Yisrael”.  We recite this Pasuk 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 appear to lose a tad of its sanctity, as he talks loudly across the Shul, walks around with 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--the place that he frequents.  It is for this reason, the Chasam Sofer continues, that we immediately recite the next Pasuk (from Tehillim 5:8) “Va’ani BeRov Chasdecha Avoh Vaisecha--Hashem, I know that it is only because of Your great Chesed 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 appreciation, and our inestimable value of the Makom that we are about to enter.  Hakhel Note:  As we have mentioned in the past, although Mah Tovu is only recited when one enters Shul in the morning, many recite the Pasuk “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 Mah Tovu is Bilam’s special awareness on how Klal Yisrael 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 entrance.  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 do so even absentmindedly. As noted in the past, in our day and age, we may also include 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 them--even if they have not asked you to leave so as not to shame you.  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in his Sefer Love Your Neighbor, adds: Because of our obligation to respect the privacy of others, Rabbeinu Gershom placed a Chairem on reading someone else’s mail without permission (Be’er HaGolah, Yorah Deiah 334:123).  Even parents should not read the mail of their children without permission (see Rav Chaim Palaji, p. 18). We update this a bit by adding finally that Mah 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 not start the Minhag now. 

 

D. In Parashas Balak ( Bamidbar 23:9), we find the prophecy of Bilam 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 (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 Kavannah.  Would we ever want to act like this?!  One thing is for sure, just as the foregoing Pasuk in the Parasha was fulfilled--so too will the later words of Bilam to Balak in the Parasha 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 Parasha!”

 

 

Special Note Three: We provide the following points and pointers regarding Sunday’s Ta’anis, as culled from the Mishna Berurah (Dirshu Edition). Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on any question of Halacha that he may have:

 

A. If a person wants to eat or drink by waking up early before the Ta’anis, he must so verbally state before going to sleep. It does not help for a person to make this verbal statement one time (such as at the beginning of the year)--and for it to work for many fasts. If a person recites Hamapil and then remembered that he did not so state, the Ohr L’Tzion rules that if it is necessary one may be lenient and so state even after reciting Hamapil (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 564, Dirshu Note 4).

 

B. The reason that the Shaliach Tzibbur recites Aneinu between the brachos of Go’el Yisrael and Refa’einu is because of the Pesukim in Tehillim which are juxtaposed: “…Hashem Tzuri V’Go’ali (end of Kepitel 19) and “Ya’anecha Hashem B’Yom Tzara…” (beginning of Kepitel 20) (ibid. 566 Mishna Berurah seif katan 1).

 

C. If the Shaliach Tzibbur forgot to say Aneinu between the brachos of Go’el Yisrael and Refa’einu, then he should recite Aneinu in Shema Koleinu (as an individual does at Mincha). If he did not remember to recite it then either--even if he did not yet begin Retzei, then he should not go back to recite it, but instead says it after completing Shemone Esrei and does not conclude with a bracha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 565, Mishna Berurah seif katan 3, Dirshu Note 4).

 

D. If an individual reciting Shemone Esrei mistakenly concludes Aneinu with the bracha of Baruch Atta Hashem Ha’oneh B’Eis Tzara rather than Baruch Atta Hashem Shomei’ah Tefillah--HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky rule that he must recite the bracha of Shema Koleinu again. HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Z’tl, rules that he does not (ibid. Dirshu Note 5).

 

E. The reason that we lein Parashas Vayichal on a Ta’anis is because the Inyan HaYom is to plead for Selicha and Rachamim, and in this Parasha Moshe Rabbeinu asked for Selicha and Rachamim on behalf of all of K’lal Yisrael. Additionally, we show our hope that just as Hashem forgave us for the Cheit Ha’eigel and gave us the Luchos Sheniyos--so too do we hope that Hashem will forgive us for our sins and return the Beis HaMikdash to us! We then repeat the leining again at Mincha because it is a special Eis Ratzon (ibid. 566, Dirshu Note 1).

 

F. In the course of the leining, the Ba’al Kriya stops and the Tzibbur begins to recite the 13 Middos, beginning with the words “Hashem, Hashem”, which is in the middle of a Pasuk. How can we start in the middle of a Pasuk? The Sha’arei Ephraim answers that we may do so because we are not reciting it as a Pasuk but as a Techina U’bakasha. The Chazzan does not, however, recite the words with the Tzibbur--but instead waits for the Tzibbur to finish, and then recites the Pesukim. This is because he is in the middle of leining--and it is inappropriate for him to make a bakasha at this time (ibid. Dirshu Notes 4 and 5).

 

G. The Shulchan Aruch expressly writes that one who is engaged in a Ta’anis should not conduct himself in a leisurely way, nor be lightheaded--rather, he should be solemn and serious, as the Pasuk says: “Mah Yisonein Adam Chai”. The Mishna Berurah adds that especially on a Ta’anis when one may be more on edge--he should be sure not to get angry, and if he must do business he should be sure to do so with faith and serenity--so that he does not come to anger at all (ibid. 568:12, Mishna Berurah seif katan 50).

 

H. In all events, as the Mishna Berurah expressly instructs: “Ve’ein HaTa’anis Elah Hachana L’Teshuvah--a Ta’anis is only a preparation for Teshuvah” (ibid. 549 Mishna Berurah seif katan 1). Let us remember this--let us prepare ourselves!

 

 

Special Note Four:    We typically remember that the first frightful event that happened on Shivah Assar B’Tammuz 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.

 

The Three Weeks in front of us should not be viewed as a burden to be overcome, evidenced 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 provide a suggestion that we have made in the past--If we can conclude the Yehi Ratzon at the end of Shemone Esrei with Kavannah 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 Five:  The following is excerpted from the foreword by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Yearning with Fire by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita:  “Who among us mourns for Yerushalayim? Who among us appreciates what we are missing? Who among us pleads with Hashem for a rebuilt Yerushalayim because he feels an aching need for it? Who among us exclaims in complete sincerity, “If I forget you, O Yerushalayim, may my right hand forget its power”? The Yerushalayim for which we long so desperately and whose loss we have mourned for thousands of years - it is not the land and the buildings of Yerushalayim that we miss. It is the supreme connection with Hashem that Yerushalayim represents. Recreating Yerushalayim in our imaginations as a conduit for our prayers is the best available to us right now, but it is no comparison to a rebuilt Yerushalayim, crowned with a shining Temple in which the Divine Presence will “dwell forever. Only when we appreciate what Yerushalayim represents and what we have lost can we grieve over its destruction….Deep in our hearts, we must recreate the exalted idea of Yerushalayim, of unity among all Jews in the quest for ever greater closeness to Hashem.  If only we can do this, Hashem may just decide to let us see Yerushalayim rebuilt speedily in our days!”

 

Hakhel Note: In the masterful work, Yearning with Fire, Rabbi Kleinman explains how one can do his part in fulfillment and accomplishment of Tzipisah LiYeshuah.  This clear and movingly written Sefer is divided into 5-minute a day segments, to study over an 89 day period. In all events--after 120 years one of the questions a person is asked is ‘Tzipisah LiYeshuah--did you anticipate the redemption?’  If one has read the Sefer, he certainly has the beginnings of a good answer…and if one applies what he learned from the Sefer--he will have even a better answer!

 

 

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15 Tammuz

TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

36. If one bites their nails do they have to wash negel vasser?

The Chazon Ish, Z’tl, held that one does not. Others are stringent and require one to wash.

 

37. One is required to wash one’s hands when going to a funeral or cemetery. Is one permitted to dry them?

The minhag is not to dry them. However, if it is cold then one may. Some permit one to dry them all the time.

 

38. Does one have to wash negel vasser after giving blood or taking a blood test?

One does not need to wash one’s hands after giving blood or taking a blood test.

 

39. Is one permitted to talk while relieving himself in the bathroom?

No, one should not talk in the bathroom when one is relieving himself. If there is no other choice, then one is permitted to as long as it is when he is not actually relieving himself at that moment.

 

40. Is one permitted to talk in the bathroom if he is using it for another purpose, e.g. washing one’s face, putting on makeup etc.?

Yes.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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A FRIGHTENING SOURCE FOR PERAH ADAM : HaRav Doniyel M’Kelm, Z’tl, H’yd, the last Rosh Yeshiva of Kelm, who was niftar Ahl Kiddush Hashem, explains why the Bnei Yishmael behave as a perah adam--in an abnormal, inhumane manner--[Hakhel Note: Especially during their ‘holiday’ season]. He posits that it is because Hagar, his mother, was mezalzel in the honor due to Sara Imeinu, her mistress, as the Torah expressly records (Bereishis 16:4): “Vateikal Gevirtah B’Eine’hah--and her mistress was treated lightly, or disgraced, in her eyes.” As a result--Hagar herself conceived a perah adam--a disgraceful person--b’li chashivus, b’li sechel, b’li da’as, bli kavod. Because she disgraced those who deserved respect--her progeny became a disgrace to mankind.

 

Hakhel Note:  Oh how we, being the descendents of Sara Imeinu--must emphasize and show the proper Kavod to all!

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A THREE WEEKS THOUGHT: Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Shlita, noted that we refer to the 21 day period between Shivah Asar B’Tammuz and Tisha B’Av more readily by the term the “Three Weeks” than by the term “The 21 Days”.  He explained that this may be to remind us that we must focus on seeking the Third Bais HaMikdash!  Hakhel Note:  It is well known that the Chofetz Chaim (in the beginning of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim) teaches that the Sinas Chinam that brought about the destruction of the Second Bais HaMikdash and keeps us in exile essentially refers to the Lashon Hara that is spoken.  The Chofetz Chaim (in the Sefer Shemiras HaLashon) writes that Yosef received twelve years in jail, which was comprised of one year for the Lashon Hara that he spoke against each of his ten brothers (Binyomin was not included), and two years for his apparent expression of non-Bitachon (on his level), by reliance of the Sar HaMashkim.  One year in jail per person--for the Lashon Hara spoken.  This important picture may be something to visualize--as you are about to speak what may be Lashon Hara--picture the Third Bais HaMikdash to your right side--and r’l prison bars to the left.  The choice is ours! 

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AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT POINT--from the extremely important Sefer Yearning with Fire:  “A person who is suffering ill health due to being overweight will go to the trouble of keeping a journal and involving people and so on if it means a longer, healthier life.  Someone who just wants to lose the weight for vanity’s sake, however, would find the routine onerous.  Likewise, for us, our willingness to make spiritual growth a serious, sustained effort depends on how keenly we feel its necessity and how motivated we are.” 

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AHAVAS YISRAEL CARDS: By clicking here for the Hebrew --and by clicking here for the English we provide special cards--a beautiful project promulgated by the Bostoner Kollel of Har Nof (Rosh Kollel, Rav Aschkenasy, Shlita).  This is the message that the Rosh Kollel conveys with the cards: “In the spirit of the Three Weeks we are sending out the attached “Ahavas Yisrael” cards.  Each individual creates a big zechus for all of Klal Yisrael when he takes note of the points and puts them into practice one by one, so valuable at this time of the year when we remember the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and particularly in these difficult days. Please feel free to print them and give them to others.

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Special Note One:  HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, provides the following Halachos for the Three Weeks period. As with all Halachos, in case of one’s particular circumstances, he/she should consult with his/her 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 Shivah Assar B’Tammuz (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 Tamid in last week’s Parasha].

 

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

 

4. Prior to the destruction of the second Bais Hamikdash, Apostomus, a Roman officer, r’l burned the Torah.

 

5. 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).

 

Since these five tragedies 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 ZT”L 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 one 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).

 

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 and 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 in the other prohibitions, 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 ZT”L held that if she is a little weak she does not need to fast on this day (Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 2 Page 127).

 

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 a child takes items by himself, then one is not required to stop him (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 Yitzchok Vol. 2-109).  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 one needs 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 then 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 Ephraim 602-23, Maharsham Vol. 4-20, MB 549-3 & 548-8, KH 549:7, YD, TV Vol. 1-328).

 

One should make the special effort not to get angry on a fast day (ER 568-18).

 

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14 Tammuz

REMINDER! SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Respond to a news item, objective situation or personal circumstance with the words “Ain Od Milevado”, and look up to Shomayim (as K’lal Yisrael did in last week’s Parasha)

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Perform an unrequested Chesed before breakfast

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Do not ‘lose your cool’ even though it appears justifiable and may be even correct to do so (as per Shimu Nah HaMorim in last week’s Parasha)

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

36. If one bites their nails do they have to wash negel vasser?

The Chazon Ish, Z’tl, held that one does not. Other are stringent and require one to wash.

 

37. One is required to wash one’s hands when going to a funeral or cemetery. Is one permitted to dry them?

The minhag is not to dry them. However, if it is cold then one may. Some permit one to dry them all the time.

 

38. Does one have to wash negel vasser after giving blood or taking a blood test ?

One does not need to wash one’s hands after giving blood or taking a blood test.

 

39. Is one permitted to talk while relieving himself in the bathroom?

No, one should not talk in the bathroom when one is relieving himself. If there is no other choice, then one is permitted to as long as it is when he is not actually relieving himself at that moment.

 

40. Is one permitted to talk in the bathroom if they are using it for another purpose, e.g. washing one’s face, putting on makeup etc.?

Yes.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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NINETEEN WEEKS: As we especially dedicate ourselves to the ninth Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week, we provide the following words of instruction from the great Praying with Passion Series (in order to go through this entire outstanding series on Tefillah, please visit http://prayingwithfire.org/archives.html):

 

“Of all the hishtadlus a person can apply toward earning a living, there is one ‘trick of the trade’ that helps to ensure success. That is to pray with sincerity for financial success (Maharsha on Kiddushin 29b). By praying with Kavannah, a person illustrates unequivocally that he knows to Whom he must turn to obtain his daily bread. Consider the following: The owner of a fast-growing business comes to the realization that he lacks the expertise to manage his company’s finances. He carefully researches the field and finds a highly qualified business manager to reorganize the business. However, the owner cannot bear to completely give up control of the finances. Therefore, he tells the manager, “You run half the business and I will keep control of the other half.” The manager consents to the arrangement, and watches in dismay as the owner’s half of the company’s affairs continue to descend into chaos. The manager realizes, however, that if the owner will not hand over control, he cannot help him. Bitachon in Hashem’s management of one’s livelihood operates much like the allegory above illustrates. Hashem manages, guides and protects the livelihoods of those who hand Him control. Those who imagine that they can succeed on the strength of their own ability, however, make a choice that subjects them to the rule of the natural forces Hashem has put into the world (Chovos Halevovos beginning of Sha’ar Habitachon). The bracha of “Bareich Aleinu” echoes the Gemara’s (Shabbos, 107b) description that Hashem, “sits [in Heaven above] and provides food and sustenance [for every living organism below], from the huge mammoths to the microscopic insect eggs”. In this light, it is fitting that the bracha concludes in the present tense, Baruch Atta Hashem Mevareich Hashanim, “Blessed are You, Hashem, Who blesses the years.” This expresses our firm belief that Hashem will not only bless us now--but will fulfill His promise to bless the years to come!”

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Special Note One: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 3

 

The Fifth Middah we are to emulate is Lo Hechezik La’ad Apo --Hashem quashes His anger, with the hope and anticipation that we do Teshuvah. An example of this Middah given by the Tomer Devorah is Hashem’s granting military success to King Yeravam Ben Yoash--even though the nation was actually worshiping cows at the time! HaRav Salomon points outs that after the Sinai Campaign in 1956 there was amazement over how the Israeli army led at the time by kofrim could be so victorious. HaRav Yecheskel Abramsky, Z’tl, pointed to this ma’aseh in Tanach as a source. When Hashem sees how desperately in need of Him we are--He reaches out even if we are undeserving and have not yet shown signs of true Teshuvah. Indeed, throughout history, Hashem has miraculously alleviated our Galus from time to time to give us a respite. We must take the lesson--even if one’s friend or acquaintance is undeserving, and in fact deserves to be punished, one should nevertheless overcome and stretch out his hand, giving that person the opportunity for making amends, at least at a future point. One who adopts this Middah, HaRav Salomon concludes, will be able to daven to Hashem with the words “K’Racheim Av Ahl Banim Kein Teracheim Hashem Aleinu”, with sincerity and veracity!

 

 

Special Note Two: The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah by Rabbeinu Yonah (which many have commenced studying on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz) provides the following extremely valuable insights:

 

A. “There are many people who are not committed to being heedful regarding known sins, throughout their lifetimes. Rather, they view these actions as permissible. Just relating to one sin in this manner is already a terrible malaise of the soul. Yet, they respond this way to all sorts of prohibitions, including some of the more serious ones, such as swearing in vain, cursing one’s fellowman or [even] oneself with Hashem’s Name, uttering His Name in vain or in an impure place with unclean hands, disregarding the poor, Lashon Hara, baseless hatred, arrogance, imposing one’s dread upon others, immodest gazing, neglecting Torah study (which is equal to all others), and many other such prohibitions….It is also worthwhile for all those who repent to keep a written record of their failures and of those Mitzvos they have not performed properly, and to review their diary daily.” [New Feldheim translation excerpted from The Gates of Repentance, by Rabbi Yosef Leibler, Shlita]

 

Hakhel Note: One should review the prohibitions that Rabbeinu Yonah puts together--cursing one’s fellowman with Hashem’s name and uttering His Name in vain--together with Lashon Hara, baseless hatred…!

 

B. If someone breaks a permitted physical desire, it will serve in his great stead when an impermissible desire arises--for he will say: “If I have not fulfilled my desire when permitted--how could I partake of that which is forbidden?!”

 

C. When one repeats a reprehensible act (such as a sin) then the second time around, Hashem considers it more reprehensible, for one having allowed himself to do it again. Moreover, although when one first thinks of doing a sin and ends up not doing it--he is not held accountable for the thought as if he sinned--nevertheless, if one has repeated his sin, Hashem will hold him accountable for the thought as well.

 

D. The more one washes an item, the cleaner it can become. The same is true of our Teshuvah in cleansing sin.

 

E. If a servant tells his master: “I will do everything you say--except for ‘just one thing’”, in effect he has told him that he is not his master.

 

F. The Navi Micha cries out (6:6): “BaMah Akadeim Hashem Ikaf Leilokei Marom--what can I offer before Hashem, how can I express my subservience to Hashem on high?” Micha is teaching us that the more we realize that Hashem is, [and refer to Hashem as] Elokei Marom--the G-d on high, the more we will realize His greatness, and our subservience to Him.

 

G. When one regrets his sin, recites vidui and davens to Hashem, it is as if he went to the Mikvah to purify himself!

 

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