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8 Menachem Av

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.


Hakhel Note: 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 Adam.  It is up to you to stand up and be counted--among those who will help bring the world to full and final fruition!



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?



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!



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....



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 Wednesday, 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 Tisha B’Av itself in some way, on a going forward basis, in the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah!





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.  We once again remind you of the Holocaust Survivor who had approximately 13 uncles and brothers who were murdered, and 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).  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 requests “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 then 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.





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, Z’tl, 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.





 1.  Who Wants to Eat? 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. The Letter of the Law. 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. The Remnants. 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!



THIS YEAR, CAN WE SHED A TEAR?! 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 murders in N’vei Tzuf, the Har Nof Massacre, 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 Merkaz HaRav murders, the knife attacks, the hundreds of other terrorist attacks, the murders and maimings, the mortars and bombs, the soldiers and the children all under attack

·                                The Sassoon children

·                                 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 last 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 on Tisha B’Av, 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.



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 Tuesday 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 5776 and 5777, 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’Av’s 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! 





5 Menachem Av

TIMELY QUESTION OF THE DAY: In this week’s Parasha (always read before Tisha B’Av), Rashi teaches us an incredible fact.  On the words “Ba’eir Es HaTorah--explaining the Torah” (Devorim 1:5), Rashi brings the Midrash that Moshe Rabbeinu explained the Torah to the Bnei Yisrael in 70 languages.  Why?  After all, the people in the desert knew Lashon Hakodesh and maybe a little Egyptian, but why teach them in 70 languages?!




MINDFUL MITZVOS LINK: By the following link, we provide a wonderful tool of inspiration to perform Mitzvos with proper Kavannah http://tinyurl.com/ybn8wxky



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!



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!



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!



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’.”



ON THE YAHRZEIT OF THE ARIZAL: 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.


Hakhel Note: 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 Al 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. 





1. The following important rulings are excerpted from the Kuntres Lev Ita, by Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita.  Of course, one should obtain a final ruling on all personal matters from his Rav or Posek: 


A.  BATHING.  According to many Poskim, one is not allowed to shower or bathe even with cold water for Shabbos. However, one is permitted to wash one’s face, hands and feet with hot water and soap if one is accustomed to do so every Erev Shabbos.  According to some Poskim, since in today’s time we shower or bathe frequently and many people are sensitive and cannot go into Shabbos without a clean feeling, one may be lenient Erev Shabbos Chazon for those that shower/bathe themselves every Erev Shabbos. Therefore, according to these Poskim one may shower or bathe with hot water, soap and shampoo.  According to all Poskim, one is permitted to bathe children under Bar Mitzvah.  If one bathes the children Thursday evening during the year, one may do so this week.


B.  MIKVAH.  It is permitted for a person to immerse himself in a cold/lukewarm mikvah Erev Shabbos Chazon if he is accustomed to do so every Erev Shabbos.  However, if one omits immersing in the mikvah on Erev Shabbos occasionally either because he is too busy or due to cold weather, then one should not immerse himself this week. Whenever one is permitted to immerse in a mikvah, one may not remain in the water longer than he needs to.  Furthermore, one may not immerse oneself in a hot mikvah.  One is permitted to immerse oneself Shabbos morning in a cold mikvah.


C.  CUTTING NAILS.  One is permitted to cut one’s nails in honor of Shabbos on Erev Shabbos.


D.  CHANGING INTO SHABBOS CLOTHING FOR SHABBOS There is a dispute among the Poskim as to whether one may change from his weekday garments into Shabbos garments for Shabbos Chazon. The Minhag is to follow the ruling of the G’ra and permit changing to Shabbos clothing. However, there are some who do follow the Minhag of the Rema and do not change into Shabbos clothing except for a clean shirt.  Some are stringent and do not permit putting on their Shabbos clothing until after Plag HaMincha. Others are lenient and permit one to change into Shabbos clothing after midday.  Note:  One is permitted to change the hand towels and tablecloths in honor of Shabbos.


E.  WASHING THE FLOOR.  One is permitted to wash the kitchen floor in honor of Shabbos.


F.  POLISHING SHOES, POLISHING SILVER.  One is permitted to polish or shine one’s shoes and/or polish silver in honor of Shabbos. However, one is not permitted to get a shoe shine.


G.  EATING OR TASTING MEAT ITEMS EREV SHABBOS.  One is permitted to give meat to small children after midday Erev Shabbos.  Some Poskim are of the opinion that it is permitted only one to two hours before Shabbos and only if one normally gives the children to eat at this time.  One is permitted to make Shabbos early and eat meat at the Shabbos meal even though it is not dark yet.


H.  NIGGUNIM One is not allowed to show public mourning on Shabbos Chazon; therefore the Minhag of changing the niggun for some of the tefillos on Shabbos is a matter of discussion among the Poskim. Some Poskim are of the opinion that one should sing all the nigunim that are sung in the davening with their regular tunes and not of those of Eicha etc. (e.g. Lecha Dodi, Kail Adon, Haftarah).  However, other Poskim permit one to change the niggun for these Piyutim. Hakhel Note: In all events, it would be very worthwhile for one to study the words of Lecha Dodi this Shabbos--as he recites them--especially as they relate to Churban and Binyan Yerushalayim. We add, however, that one is not generally permitted to engage in stressful or sorrowful thoughts on Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 306:8).


2. This Shabbos, Shabbos Chazon (as we eat meat and drink wine during the Nine Days), 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!  Indeed, even if Tisha B’Av would occur on Shabbos, 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 the Nine Days and 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!


3. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that the Havdala wine on Motza’ei Shabbos Chazon should preferably be given to a child--even if he is of age to understand about the aveilus of Yerushalayim--rather than one drinking it himself. However, if one does have to drink the cup one does not have to be makpid about drinking exactly a revi’is--and can drink the whole cup.





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.







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. .  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! 


5.  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!



REMINDER!  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?


Hakhel Note: 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!




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!



4 Menachem Av

FROM A READER: “In Show of Sensitivity to Yesomim and Others, Baltimore’s Vaad HaRabbanim Has Changed Avos Ubonim to Kol Hane’arim.”



THE YAHRZEIT OF THE MAHARAM MIPANU:  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



AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LIMUD ZECHUS!  To some, it may seem puzzling that suddenly during the Nine Days there are so many Siyumim which don’t appear to occur to this extent the rest of the year.  The Luach Davar BeIto, has a beautiful Limud Zechus in this area.  The outward appearance of the lower- level person craving meat during a time when it is otherwise forbidden should be largely overshadowed in our minds by two important purposes that are being accomplished simultaneously.  First, there is an increase in pride in Torah study.  As we know, after the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed what remains with Hashem is the “Daled Amos Shel Halacha--our world of Torah.  By studying and accomplishing a Siyum, we demonstrate to Hashem that we want to do our best with what He and we have left in these sorry circumstances of Galus.  Second, we invite others to join along with us in friendship and togetherness, thereby demonstrating the Ahavas Yisrael so necessary to extricate us from our Galus condition.  In most, if not all, events and circumstances, an act is really determined by the intentions behind it.  The turkey platter or corned beef sandwich can simply serve to satisfy one’s desires--or be a byproduct of Talmud Torah and Ahavas Yisrael!



CHESED IN GALUS:  Notwithstanding the current comforts that we may enjoy in certain countries, we are still very much in Galus--and we are reminded of it every day.  We cannot, and must not, however, ignore the reality of the relative comforts that we do experience--to the point that, Baruch Hashem U’Bli Ayin Hara, we cannot even fathom how one could survive though the Holocaust circumstances that our grandparents and parents actually lived through.  Just as we are reminded that we are in Galus daily, we must likewise remind ourselves of the Chesed that we are currently experiencing in this Galus.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches (Koheles 7:14) “Beyom Tova Heyeh Vetov… On a day of good, one should recognize and be happy with it.”  Particularly during this time of year, when we emphasize our lament over the Galus and take concrete steps to end it--we should also express our genuine and heartfelt Hakaras HaTov and thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, for His chesed in easing the pain of Galus for us.  May it get no worse--only better for us--until the Geulah.  One should think about this during Modim, at the end of Shemone Esrei, or in his personal conversations with Hashem.


Hakhel Note: As we have noted in the past, the Pasuk “Chasdei Hashem Ki Lo Samnu--Hashem--Your Chassodim do not cease”--is found in Megilas Eicha!



THE FOURTH DAY OF AV:  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.


HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, makes a wonderful point in this regard.  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 stark 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.  But, 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 Kepital 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 joy.  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, conclusory 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!”



3 Menachem Av

THE THREE WEEKS! By the following link  http://tinyurl.com/yae9jutg  we provide a kuntrus entitled MeiAfar Kumi, by Rabbi Ronen Shaharbany, Shlita, on The Three Weeks with outstanding insights. Please feel free to distribute further! 



PLEASE DAVEN! During the next week, we especially urge you to recite The TEFILLAH AHL HAGEULAH, which we have referred to in the past, and which is available in both Hebrew and English by the following links:


Hebrew - http://bit.ly/bZANrA

English - http://bit.ly/a1hRe3


Hakhel Note:  It would also seem appropriate to look for the terms ‘geulah’ and ‘yeshua’ in your davening and make them real-very real!










AN IMPORTANT GUIDELINE: Many Halachic issues arise during the Nine Days, and perhaps a Rav must be consulted more often than throughout the year.  At a Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, provided an important guideline in areas of doubt or in instances when your Rav is not reachable:  Remember, you are observing this period because of the “Shechinta DeGalusa--the Shechina is in Galus.”  If the issue at hand it is a question of your personal comfort, you should remember that the Shechina is also not comfortable.  He posited, for example, that while it may be permissible to sleep on freshly laundered linen in your hotel room--it would truly be better for you to bring your own linen from home, or at least try to make the linen not feel so freshly laundered. It is not a matter of how to treat yourself--but how you feel towards the Shechina, and the rest of us in Galus with you. 



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!”



AS WE WORK ON OUR BEIN ADAM L’CHAVEIRO DURING THIS PERIOD, 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!’



RECOMMENDATIONS: Set forth below are some of the suggestions provided by a noted Mashgiach in order to better appreciate the true feelings one should have during the Nine Days:


1. Study Sefer Nefesh HaChaim Sha’ar Beis Perakim 11 and 12.


2. Study the Rambam’s Mishna Torah, at the end of Hilchos Melochim relating to Biyas HaMoshiach--and what we are expecting when that happens.


3. Have Kavannah for the meaning of the words when reciting Ahl Kein Nekaveh three times a day.


The Mashgiach teaches that it is absolutely essential that we heighten our sensitivity, Kavannah and feeling to the realization of Churban, Galus and Tza’ar HaShechina--and what will be gained if the world can achieve what Hashem wants it to achieve--true normalcy, once and for all.



TZIPISA LISHUA:  Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita explains some of the basic parameters of Tzipisa Lishua--Anticipating the Redemption.  The term ‘tzipisa’ is especially used by Chazal because it describes someone looking out in search of something--such as someone standing on a mountain in anticipation of the caravan with the life-sustaining supplies (Har Hatzofim has the same root).  It describes a state of real eagerness, something that one really needs and has to have.  On a more advanced level, it is really an existential longing--as the longing of a parent, sibling or child who has not seen their beloved relative in many years.  As the feeling of what one is lacking continues to grow, so too does the intensity of his lacking.  Rabbi Kleinman very importantly teaches that we can demonstrate our earnest and true yearning not only in our Tefillos [as mentioned above] and in our tears, but also by our conduct in the world that we live in.  After all, our yearning is for the Shechina to return and for us to be closer to It.  We can bring the Shechina into our lives--in this world--through Kiddush Shem Shomayim, through the study of Torah, and through the care with which we undertake and perform Mitzvos.  If we can demonstrate to Hashem, and to ourselves, that we want to be closer to the Shechina in the very world that we live in--then Hashem will middah k’negged middah bring the Shechina closer to us in a grand and eternal way--speedily and in our days.


Hakhel Note: Rabbi Kleinman’s compelling Sefer--especially for this time of year-- Yearning with Fire (Artscroll), is on this very topic of practical fulfillment of Tzipisa Lishua, in which he develops and explains how we can do our part in this world in these the last throngs of our Galus--and thereby once and for all not only be zoche to the yeshua’s anticipation --but to its full and final fulfillment! 



VELIRUSHALAYIM IRECHA:  As we have noted in the past, in his explanation of the Siddur (in the monumental work HaRav Schwab on Prayer, published by Artscroll), HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, asks why the brocha of “Velirushalayim Irecha” begins with a Vav (“And”).  What is the meaning of “And” here--to what is the beginning of the bracha connecting?  HaRav Schwab suggests that the Vav alludes to the Yerushalayim Shel Ma’alah, where thousands, and perhaps millions, of Tzadikim who hoped and prayed for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim over the past 2,000 years now reside.  When the time comes for Yerushalayim to be rebuilt, these neshamos will experience it B’shamayim together with the people who are physically experiencing the rebuilding here on earth.  Moreover, HaRav Schwab teaches, although we do not really understand what it means at this time, Chazal teach that Hashem will return to the Yerushalayim Shel Ma’alah only after He has returned to the Yerushalayim Shel Matah, for He has been “absent” from the Yerushalayim Shel Ma’alah since the Churban, as well.  We are thus mispallel for Hashem to return to both cities of Yerushalayim.


HaRav Schwab concludes his explanation of the Bracha with the following comforting words:


“Just as a deep foundation must be placed in the ground before a very large structure can rise, so, too, have the historical events of the Galus been the foundation for the rebuilding of the future Yerushalayim.  Our entire Galus experience--and it is longer than we have hoped and thought it would be--is the deep, dark, underground pit into which the foundation of the future city of Yerushalayim is being placed.  This can be compared to a construction site of a large building, which is enclosed by a wall.  If a man manages to peek behind that wall, all he will see is a huge hole in the ground for the foundation.  The higher the planned structure, the deeper the foundation must be.  However, eventually the structure will begin rising above the wall until it reaches its completion.  Similarly, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the Boneh Yerushalayim, has been digging the foundations of the future Yerushalayim ever since the Churban Bais HaMikdash, and the rebuilding process has never ceased throughout the Galus. At the time of Bi’as HaMoshiach, the structure will be completed.”  May it be speedily and in our days!



2 Menachem Av

REALITY CHECK: If we take a moment to engage in a Reality Check we will note that two months from today’s date will be the second day of Tishrei, the second day Rosh Hashanah!  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’s 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:  The time may now 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 opportunities!



MERCY, MERCY: Chazal (Shabbos 151B) teach that “Anyone who has mercy on others, HaKadosh Baruch Hu will have mercy upon him, as the Pasuk says ‘...and He will give you mercy and be merciful to you’“(Devorim 13:18). The two phrases contained in the Pasuk quoted seem redundant--if Hashem gives us mercy--He is being merciful to us, so what does the second phrase come to add? HaRav Pam, Z’TL, explains that the Torah is teaching us that in order to be worthy of Hashem’s mercy, we must act with mercy ourselves. Hashem therefore gives us opportunities to act mercifully (“and He will give you mercy”). If we succeed at these G-d given opportunities by acting mercifully to others, then He, in turn, will be “merciful to you”. Mercy in our time is more than necessary. The Chofetz Chaim, at the end of Sefer Ahavas Chesed, writes as follows: “Nowadays we see with our own eyes that the attribute of strict justice is increasing in strength each and every day in the form of many types of sicknesses and strange types of death and there is a lack of Hashem’s influence in the world. Also, we have reached a point that there is not a day whose curses are not greater than the previous day’s. Therefore, a person should try to increase his acts of Tzedaka and Chesed all the more, and perhaps in that merit the strict justice will be overturned and the world will become filled with Hashem’s mercy.” (Translation from The Laws of Tzedeka and Ma’aser by Rabbi Shimon Taub (Artscroll) page 180).


With the tzaros we are facing in Eretz Yisrael and worldwide, it behooves us to feel, utilize and excel in the opportunities Hashem is surely giving us daily. It is important for us to realize that it is not only the dropping of a dollar into the Pushka, or the shiva visit that is important, but the manner, the way, in which the act of mercy is performed. The Navi (Hoshea 10:12) writes, “Sow for yourselves charity and you will reap according to the kindness.” There is a bold lesson here, for we all know that the act of sowing pales in its significance to reaping--which is the goal of the planting process. Yes, sowing is an absolute necessity in the food-making process. But, if one sows for weeks and weeks from morning to night, and very little rain falls, the crop will be ruined and all will be for naught, or something close to it. So, too, the Navi teaches, the act of tzedaka--the righteous act--is crucial, but the actual harvesting will be solely dependent on the chesed which nurtures the act to a successful reaping. Tzedaka with Sever Ponim Yofos, with a smile; chasing after the tzedaka collector who was walking away from your front yard as you pulled up; offering to help someone before they ask you for the favor or help; visiting a mourner when it will be best for them, not for you; reading up on a sickness or thinking about things that will cheer up a sick person before going to visit; spending time to find the right tutor for your child; going out of your way to make five phone calls to find a shidduch for one particular single you have in mind.... The list can literally go on and on and on. We must strive to infuse the Chesed opportunities we have--and that we perform many times daily whether we know it or not--with pure, down to earth, actual mercy.


As Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim 121:5) “Hashem is your shadow”--Hashem will reflect your actions by shadowing them. Now, we all know that shadows cast are much larger than the original image--our mercy, if it is strong enough to cast that original shadow can result in a much more magnificent mercy than was originally projected. We know what we have to do. We face the hard part--we have to do it. But it is worth it--it is really worth it, so let’s try.


PRACTICAL SUGGESTION: That next Chesed opportunity that Hashem gifts to you--that you KNOW Hashem gifted to you--infuse it with the thought, with the feeling, with the mercy, with the compassion, that you would expect from Hashem Himself.



FROM A READER: Rabbi Daniel Glatstein, Shlita (Morah D’asra of Kehilas Ahavas Yisroel, Cedarhurst, and Magid Shiur, Kollel Agra D’pirka, Kew Gardens Hills) points out an interesting theme in Rashi’s first comment on each sefer in Chumash.  At the beginning of Devarim, Rashi informs us that each of the “place names” mentioned are actually hints at the misdeeds of Bnei Yisrael in the Midbar, but in order not to embarrass them, Moshe merely hints at each one.  The Maharal asks if we are concerned with the honor of Bnei Yisrael, then why dwell on each of these at length later in Sefer Devarim?  The Maharal learns from this that if placed in the middle of the Sefer, it is not as damaging, but to start a Sefer with a non-positive event is more negative.  Similarly, Sefer Bamidbar waits to discuss the story of Pesach Sheni (involving tumah and not fulfilling the Korban Pesach on time) until later in the Sefer, the ninth perek, although it occurred before the events described in the first perek of Bamidbar.  Rabbi Glatstein points out that, not only in Sefer Devarim, is Hashem concerned with the honor of K’lal Yisrael, but we can see in Rashi’s first comment on each Sefer the kavod and dearness accorded to K’lal Yisrael.  In Bereshis, Rashi first mentions the world being created in K’lal Yisrael’s merit.  In Shemos, Rashi points out Hashem counts the Bnei Yisrael in order to show how dear they are to Him.  In Vayikra, Rashi points out that the word Vayikra is an expression of chibah, dearness.  In Bamidbar, Rashi says Hashem counted the Bnei Yisrael mitoch chibasan.  From this, we see Pesach D’vorecha Yair, how one approaches a matter from the outset is crucial...and how dear K’lal Yisrael is to Hashem!



1 Menachem Av




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’ another’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.



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.



CLARIFICATION:  In our Bulletin of 24 Tammuz, we had referred to HaRav Yaakov Yosef, Z’tl, as the only Chief Rabbi of New York City.  We subsequently received correspondence that Sephardic communities in New York have had their own Chief Rabbis, as well.



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!



TODAY--IN LAST WEEK’S PARASHA! One of the rare dates mentioned in the Torah is today’s date, the first day of Av (in last 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.”





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]



HAPPY OF HEART:  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 Yisrael to last 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 Yisrael 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.



IT IS WAR AGAINST THE YETZER HARA:  Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita, makes the following very significant points about the Yetzer Hara and how to most effectively deal with it: 


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!



27 Tammuz

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”).



WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES: The following Halachos are P’sakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, whose 5th Yahrzeit is tomorrow, which are excerpted from the monumental work, Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Hebrew) published by HaRav Yechezkel Feinhandler:


A.  If one must search for an article of clothing among articles of clothing, and one picks out the wrong article, he should put it back into the mixture--for when it comes to Borer in clothing, one can rely on the Maharshag, who rules that you can be lenient in this area.

 B.  One may walk on a wet mat in front of the house, and it is not considered Sechita.  Similarly, one may walk with socks which are wet from rain--for it is a Pesik Reisha Delo Neicha Lai, not a the Derech of Sechita, and for other reasons as well.

 C.  One should not drink water that has melted from ice, unless one has no other water.  However, if one has a cup of water and ice inside it, one may shake the cup so that the ice will melt more quickly, because it is already mixed with water.

 D.  One who follows the opinion that it is forbidden to open bottle caps on Shabbos cannot ask a person who does open caps to open the bottle for him.  If the bottle was already opened, it would be permissible to drink from it--for the one who opened it relied on his Rav who permits it, and so there is no reason to penalize anyone.  Additionally, since one could have opened the bottle in a permissible manner, this is not considered as if one is obtaining benefit from a Ma’aseh Shabbos.

E.  An Uvdah DeChol may be defined as either something that appears to be a Melacha, or something that involves a Tircha Merubah--excess effort.

 F.  A Ba’al Teshuva had a son, and the Bris was scheduled for Shabbos.  The Ba’al Teshuva’s father told him that if he would make him Sandek, he would observe Shabbos that week.  The Ba’al Teshuva wanted a Gadol to be the Sandek.  HaRav Elyashiv ruled that it was “Poshut” that the grandfather should be the Sandek, in order to prevent him from Chilul Shabbos for one week.

 G.  If one finds something on Shabbos which is not Muktzah, he can be zoche in the metzia on Shabbos, because it is Hefker and so there is no prohibition of Maseh Umatan, since it belongs to no one.

 H.  One may forgive a debt on Shabbos, because it is not considered a Ma’aseh Kinyan.  Similarly, one can be Mafkir an object on Shabbos if there is a purpose in doing so (such as using a Kli which has not been Toiveled).

 I.  When crossing the street on Shabbos, one may encounter a car which must stop or beep because of you.  One need not consciously avoid this, such as by crossing only when there are no cars.  However, one should not intentionally stand in the street with a car coming, which will result in the driver doing a Melacha DeOraysa.   

 J.  If a person is Mechalel Shabbos BeShogeig, he must bring a Korban Chatas.  Until the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt, one should read the Parashas Chatas (Vayikrah 4:27-35 and 6:17-23) and should make an effort to understand the way in which the Korban was brought.  If one was Mechalel Shabbos BeShogeig more than once, he should recite the Parasha separately for each time that he is aware of.



YAHRZEIT OF HARAV SHLOMO GANZFRIED, Z’TL: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yomi is one of the many daily Torah learning programs in the world today.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, Z’tl (whose Yahrzeit is tomorrow), is the classic compendium of Halacha, and it covers all areas of Halacha, not just the Orach Chaim section. Through this easy system of studying for 5 - 10 minutes a day, as provided on the www.kitzuryomi.org  website, you will complete the entire sefer in only one year.  In addition, you will learn the laws of each Yom Tov or season in its proper time.



YAHRZEIT OF HARAV CHAIM FRIEDLANDER, Z’TL: Tomorrow is the 31st 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!    





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. 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.


G. 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!



SUNDAY NIGHT IS YOM KIPPUR KOTON:  The following is excerpted from The Sefer Aleinu L’Shabeiach by HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, and written by Rabbi Moshe Zoren (Artscroll): “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. 1therefore bought a ticket that is valid until this station. 1will leave the train here and collect charity, until 1 have enough money to buy a ticket to take me a few more stops. I will continue to do this until 1arrive 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.”



26 Tammuz


This coming Monday will be Rosh Chodesh Av, the beginning of the Nine Days. A new round of Middos Challenges will begin this Sunday, focusing on Galus and Geulah. 


What does Hashem want us to be thinking about during this intense period of mourning for  the Beis Hamikdash? How can we make sure to grow in the way Hashem wants us to grow? Join this weekly email list to find out.


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START TODAY! If you start Mishnayos Middos TODAY and learn just three Mishnayos a day--you will finish learning many important Inyanim relating to the Beis HaMikdash contained in Mishnayos Middos--on Erev Tisha B’Av! May they all be practical Halacha L’Ma’aseh for us very soon! Join today!



CONTINUING THIS MOTZA’EI SHABBOS!  Hakhel, in conjunction with the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, will be continuing with its free Motza’ei Shabbos Torah Video Series in Flatbush, this Motza’ei Shabbos, July 22nd, and continuing through the summer.  The Series is part of a joint effort with over 70 communities and colonies throughout the United States and Canada.  This week’s Shiur will be What is Sholom Bayis? by Rabbi Leib Keleman and Rabbi Fishel Schachter--and will begin at 10:15P.M.  Host Location: Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin, 2913 Avenue L. Free Admission, for Men and Women. For more information please see the following link http://tinyurl.com/y76vqxdc



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 from 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!



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.  We would like to remind you, however, that you can experience some aspect of a wedding while eating a regular weekday meal in your 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!



WANTING TO HONOR THE KING: The following wonderful Mashal is provided by Rabbi Hillel Litwack, Shlita in his work The Amen Response:  “A great and joyous event! The king actually visits the city, and everyone lining the streets is shouting in unison “Yechi HaMelech”, “Yechi HaMelech”--Long live the king, as the king and his entourage pass through the streets .There was one person, though, who threw a small rock at the king’s carriage, and it actually landed near the king’s feet. The Secret Service immediately investigated, and without much effort found a young Jewish boy to be the culprit. The audacity! They wanted to execute the boy right then and there on the spot, but the witnesses standing there said that the boy had been shouting “Yechi HaMelech” in sincerity, together with everyone else. “He must have thrown the stone because that is what boys like to do when they are happy and playful. He obviously meant to hurt no one.” The Secret Service explained what had happened to the king, and he was exonerated, with a stern warning to ask adults how one should behave in the king’s presence. That is the Mashal. The Nimshal is that one who answers: “Ámen, Yehei Shemai Rabbah” with sincerity--with his Koach--Kavana and/or forcefully, demonstrates that he very much wants to honor the King, and the acts he may have done which appeared to dishonor the King were simply childish acts--like the child throwing the stone. For this, he will be exonerated--but he must remember that he is an adult and endeavor to behave accordingly!”



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!



AN IMPORTANT STUDY!  A student of human nature will notice that a clothier will look first at a person’s clothes, an optician will look first at a person’s glasses, a hatter will look first at a person’s hat, a shoemaker will look first at a person’s shoes….  What should the Torah Jew look for when first meeting a person?  The Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Middos V’Avodas Hashem I, p. 167) suggests that the first thing we look for is the positive only-- 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--he will be greater than the clothier, the optician, the hatter, the shoemaker…because every time one encounters another person--he will be improving himself immeasurably! 



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!



25 Tammuz

THE YAHRTZEIT OF THE HARAV MEIR MAI’APTA: As we noted yesterday, today, 25 Tammuz, is the Yahrtzeit of the HaRav Meir Mai’Apta, the Ba’al Ohr LaShamayim.  A reader has provided us with a beautiful copy of the Tefillah that the Ba’al Ohr LaShamayim composed, which would most certainly be appropriate to recite on his Yahrtzeit.  The tefillah is available by clicking here.  Also at the following link:  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/OhrLaShamayimTefillah.pdf



OHR HATESHUVAH: Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sha’arei Teshuvah (2:8) provides the following especially moving direction and advice--which should speak to each and every one of us: “There are many men from whom the light of repentance is withheld, for they are righteous and pure in their eyes and give no thought to the correction of their deeds. They consider their actions proper although they sin greatly to G-d. Is it not written, ‘For there is not a righteous man upon the earth, that does only good and does not sin?’ (Koheles 7:20). Such men, in that they hold transgressions lightly, will neither sense nor understand them; and if they are apprised of their sins, they will afterwards forget about them. They are like a sick man who is unaware of his illness and gives no thought to curing himself, so that he grows constantly worse and can no longer be cured. They are sometimes brought to this pass through their shortness of understanding. They do not come to inquire of G-d and do not desire a knowledge of His ways, and, therefore, do not pay faithful attendance upon the doors of scholars and disciples, as it said. ‘A scorner does not want to be reproved; he will not go to the wise’ (Mishlei 15:12).”


Hakhel Note: Perhaps we can identify at least one way in which we consider ourselves ‘self-righteous’--and determine how we will improve in that very area. Teshuvah Bechol Yom!



HALACHIC PYRAMID: One of the most successful marketing concepts in our time is the ‘legal pyramid’, in which sales representatives find other sales representatives who find other sales representatives to find clients for different products and industries (from cosmetics to energy services). Each person in the chain then earns something on the sale of the product or service to the ultimate consumer. Each sales representative in the chain also finds his own clients, thereby producing additional revenues to the sales rep above him.   We should take the dugma into our spiritual lives as well. For instance, if one performs a Chesed to someone who will then be able to perform a Chesed to another, who in turn will be able to do a Mitzvah--then the possibly long chain of Mitzvah events started with the original act of Chesed. A wise person should consider the further ramifications of his positive deed. Another example would be starting to learn with a chavrusah a few minutes before davening--another two people, or perhaps four or six might get the same idea…and perhaps someone will even start a Shiur for others before the Minyan as well. The possibilities are precious and boundless--how about asking a person to answer ‘Amen’ to your bracha over the food that you are about to eat? His ‘Amen’ will be a beautiful statement of pure Emunah--because he is not even partaking of the food--and he may in turn ask somebody to do the same when the time comes for him to eat as well! As we anxiously await the completion of the Third Beis HaMikdash--we can speed-up the process by doing more than adding one brick at a time-- instead acting dedicatedly and creatively-- having five or ten or more people adding bricks as a result of one’s original brick!



A RAV’S SUGGESTION: At this crucial point in world history, 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 each person should view Chazal as talking to each and every person individually-- 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!



NOTES ON THE THREE WEEKS:  In an outstanding Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Shlita, made the following extremely important points about what to think about and what to do during the Three Weeks. 


A.  We should think about the Beis HaMikdash--the majestic scene of the Kohanim doing the Avodah, the Leviim singing, every Yisrael present being like a member of the royal family, welcome in the palace.  If we cannot be in the Beis HaMikdash, let us at least bring the feelings to mind. 


B.  Chazal teach:  “MeiIgra Rama LiBira Amikta--from the high floor to the bottom of a pit.”  Despite the relative comfort of one’s particular Galus--with modern cars, modern appliances, modern conveniences, and Glatt Kosher foods from all over the world--the reality is that we are in the bottom of a pit.  Think about how many Mitzvos we can perform now--as compared to the Mitzvos we can perform in Eretz Yisrael with K’lal Yisrael together.  Think about the levels of Torah study that we cannot reach because of the cloudiness generated by Galus.  Think about how much higher you personally can go from a Bira Amikta to a Igra Rama!


C.  When eating, whether or not one is at a meal in which he washed, recite Al Naharos Bavel (Tehillim 137).  One should think about what he is saying--reciting it not only while sitting--but from a Siddur or a Tehillim, as well.


D.  Trying (perhaps at least once a day) to recite a bracha at which there will be someone there to answer “Amen”.


E.  In Galus, what Hashem has is the “Daled Amos Shel Halacha”--and as for us, “Ain Lanu Shiur Elah HaTorah HaZos.”  One should accordingly try learning more--and especially beretzifus (consecutively)-at least for an hour a day.  If we can demonstrate that we value the opportunities we have now--then Hashem will give us the opportunity to value even more later!


F.  “VeShaveha B’Tzedaka--we will be redeemed through Tzedaka”--give some Tzedakah every day for the sake of Geulah. 


G.  On Motza’ei Shabbos leading into Tisha B’Av, it is said that the Belzer Rebbe, Z’tl, waited and kept on his shtreimel, hoping desperately that the Geulah would come instead.  After waiting a long time, he sorrowfully exclaimed:  “Oy, Nach a Mal Tisha B’Av, Oy, Nach a Mal Tisha B’Av--again Tisha B’Av, again Tisha B’Av!”  We should not become complacent, feeling like we are going through a routine year in and year out.  We need to move ourselves to work on tikun, on repair.  You may want to repeat the phrase of the Belzer Rebbe throughout this period.


Rabbi Goldwasser noted that the Three Weeks is an auspicious time to not only take action--but to accomplish Geulah, for as some interpret the Pasuk in Eicha--Kol Rodefeha Hisiguha Bein HaMetzarim--all those who run after Tzion--will reach her during this time.  Let us take the steps that we can (perhaps one should read the above thoughts again, or put some of his own into place)--and may we reach Tzion speedily and in our days--this year!


Hakhel Note: To obtain Hakhel CD’s relating to the Three Weeks, please call 718-252-5274.



24 Tammuz

THE YAHRZEIT OF HARAV YAAKOV YOSEF: For New York City Metropolitan Area Residents:  Today, is the 115th Yahrzeit of HaRav Yaakov Yosef, the first and only Chief Rabbi of New York over 100 years ago.  His kever in Queens, 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.



TOMORROW--THE YAHRZEIT OF HARAV MEIR MAI’APTA: Tomorrow, 25 Tammuz, is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Meir Mai’Apta, the Ba’al Ohr LaShamayim.  A reader has provided us with a beautiful copy of the Tefillah that the Ba’al Ohr LaShamayim composed, which would most certainly be appropriate to recite on his Yahrtzeit.  The tefillah is available at http://tinyurl.com/25ngcr7



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.




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).



THE SECOND WEEK: 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 cookies and cream ice cream with chocolate fudge topping and colored sprinkles during the Nine Days (see the following Headnote on this), and even receive a definitive response that it is not prohibited.  However, a question of this sort emphasizes the “tofel” (even ice cream can be tofel, secondary), 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 Bais HaMikdash is still in ruins and we find ourselves in a world pervaded by terrorism on the one hand, and materialism on the other, and with a value system completely incongruous to Torah.  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 Bais HaMikdash brick by brick, with every Mitzvah that we perform being at least one brick in the new, magnificent, everlasting, Third Bais 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.  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.


It is no secret that Tisha B’Av always falls on the same day of the week as the Night of the Seder (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.


We may therefore suggest that while we can and should continue to build the Third and Final Bais 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.


Let us try to avoid the Maror, the bitterness, as the catalyst for a speedy redemption if at all possible.  Instead, perhaps we should look at what caused the initial walls to fall in such a short period. This is certainly one reason: Chazal (Nedarim 81A) teach that the reason we lost Eretz Yisroel was that “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 Brochos 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.

 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!





1. 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. 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.


3. 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!



23 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.




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).



TODAY--THE YAHRZEIT OF HARAV MOSHE CORDEVERO:  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.


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!



REMEMBER--IT IS A 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?”





A. 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. 


B. 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! 





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 it. 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--all 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:  We all 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!


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!



20 Tammuz

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.”



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!



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)]



VE’ROMAMTANU MIKOL HALESHONOS--You Exalted us Above All the TonguesThis important phrase from the Yom Tov davening is explained in a stunning way by HaRav Shlomo Mandel, Shlita (in the name, he believes, of the Bnai Yissaschar): One should understand the term as follows--there is not a single language in the entire world that can describe the beauty of K’lal Yisrael!  This being the case--we certainly must look within and see the beauty within ourselves--and the beauty of each other.  Even if another has hurt you, frustrated you, disappointed you, or not performed in a way that was expected of him--remember that you have probably disappointed others in similar ways as well--and you would not want to be remembered by these disappointments either. We are all uplifted and beautiful in a way that no language on earth can describe--let us be sure not to bring others down--for we bring ourselves down together with them!



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.”





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 all 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 rejoice--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. 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 must be eaten at the day meal, and that drinking a hot drink is insufficient. HaRav Karelitz bases his ruling on the words of the Ba’al HaMa’or in Mesechta Shabbos(end of Perek Kirah): “HaMashmin Hu HaMa’amin Vezoche LeKeitz HaYamin”--one demonstrates his Emunah and is zoche to merit participating in the end of days--through properly partaking of his Seudos Shabbos! (ibid. 257, Notes 47,49 and 50).


F. In this 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!



WHY IS HE THE BEST? HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, relates the following now famous story:   When HaRav Chaim was learning as a bochur in the Grodno Yeshiva, he once went to visit his uncle, HaRav Avraham Yoffen, Z’tl, the Rosh Yeshiva of Novardok.  While there, he asked his uncle who the “best” bochur in the Yeshiva was.  His uncle toured the yeshiva with him.  He pointed to one young man and said “He is the greatest in-depth studier we have.”  He pointed to another bochur and said, “He is our biggest masmid.”  About another bochur he said, “He is the sharpest that we have.”  About another, “He has the greatest body of knowledge.” Rav Chaim pressed his uncle--but in the end, who is the best bochur in the yeshiva?!  The Rosh Yeshiva pointed to another student whom he had not previously mentioned.


“Why is he the best?!”


“Because he is the greatest ‘mevakesh’--the greatest seeker in his service of Hashem.”  This young man turned out to be the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl.


Thus, we see, that even if we may not be blessed with the greatest memory, the most proficient skills, or even simply the most dedicated hasmada, each and every one of us still has the ability to be the best, if we would only excel in the aspect of personal bakasha--in our sincere quest and drive to fulfill our potential in this world.


When we look around at others in this world, we can see the failed lives of those like Bilam, in last week’s Parasha, who had such capabilities of greatness, yet squandered them over temporal and fleeting desires.  On the other hand, there are people like Pinchas who rise above what others, and perhaps even they, perceive as their limitations, and reach greatness through their actions.


Now, while there is a concept of “Yesh Koneh Olamo B’Shaah Achas”--one can acquire greatness in one hour, as Pinchas initially did (and went on from there), there is a second, more paced road which the mevakesh can follow.  It is the serious and deliberate growth in areas which one has not previously developed.  We find this in this week’s Parasha as well--with the life of Yehoshua Bin Nun.  There are those who may have been stunned with his selection to be the next leader--were there not other, more recognized and great personages of the generation?  Yehoshua’s bakasha--his drive to stay associated and learn from Moshe Rabbeinu on a day-in, day-out basis--his relentless quest--made him the next leader over and above everyone else.


Indeed, In Parsha Thoughts, Rabbi Aron Moshe Jacobsohn, Shlita points out that Pinchos was an ‘ordinary citizen’-- NOT a Kohen--and BECAME a Kohen because of his action! 


Each one of us can and should demonstrate to Hashem--and to ourselves--that we are also a mevakesh.  Our measured steps need not necessarily demonstrate anything superlative, they need only show our desire to grow bigger and better.  Ask yourself at the end of the day--was I a mevakesh today?


We can be like Yehoshua Bin Nun, we can be like the best bachur in the Yeshiva--no special skills are necessary--other than to be a mevakesh!



THE PARASHA’S ENDING:  The Parasha last week ended with the sad event of Bnei Yisrael falling prey to the Bnos Midyan and their deceit.  This week’s Parasha begins with the after-effects, and the vengeance taken by Bnei Yisrael against the Midyanim.  As with all sin--we must get to its root, its source.  What caused this sin?  How did the Bnei Yisrael get involved with the Bnos Midyan at this late stage of their encampment in the desert, after so many years of extraordinarily miraculous living in the Midbar--as they were soon to approach their destination-- Eretz Yisrael?  Rabbi Shmuel Smith, Shlita, brings the words of the Pasuk (Bamidbar 25:1) “Veyeishev Yisrael BaShitim…--and Bnei Yisrael camped in Shitim”.  This can be interpreted to mean, Chazal teach, that they went out into the foreign environment (Shatu) of the gentile nations to see how they lived.  Rather than appreciating the extremely important lessons that Hashem taught them--how they could be successful and live an extraordinary existence if they remained separate and distinct--they ventured out to see how the people around them lived--what these people did and how they did it.  The tragedy that resulted was transgression compounded by transgression--as they first sinned with the daughters of Midyan and went on to worship Avodah Zara.  Incredibly, what Bilam could not accomplish with his expertise and mastery at sorcery and cursing--the people brought upon themselves by leaving the protection and confines of their Torah environment. This is truly a great lesson for us during the Three Week period, as the outdoors becomes a more enticing environment and ‘enjoyable’, fun-filled vacations become the standard that one is expected to be guided by.  We must take the lesson from the Bnos Midyan event--and lean much to the side of Pinchas Ben Elazar--who went far out of his way to combat what had quickly become the ‘acceptable’ standard.


Sometimes a little bit of something is good.  Here, however, the Vilna Gaon (Even Shelaima 1:7) in his great wisdom notes: “A man should never say, ‘I will follow my physical lust and inquisitive desires a little and afterwards will withdraw from them.’  For as a man begins to draw toward them he becomes busy and forfeits his eternal life completely.  For it is very difficult to withdraw from them.  Even the man who fears Hashem, who is versed in the Torah, and observes the mitzvos, when he draws toward lust, he will lose all.”


 As HaRav Yisrael Belsky, Z’tl, once told men walking on the streets of New York City, “To the extent possible, put your head down, and walk in a determined manner to your destination.”  One cannot argue that what is around us is the “normal” way of the world, and that we cannot get around it.  What is--or should be--considered normal is the way Hashem wants us to conduct ourselves. Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, reiterates this with the following essential teaching:  A Kiddush Hashem is not doing what people like or think is right--but what Hashem says is right.


 The task is a difficult one--both from the Yetzer Hora within, and the Yetzer Hora without.  Chazal teach that according to the effort is the reward (Avos: 5:26). We are in Galus, a bitter Galus.  Rabbi Smith concludes that the Three Weeks are positioned right here in these summer months as if to teach us that if we really want to leave this Galus and achieve Geula, we must demonstrate that we are different, and that we conduct ourselves by a different set of rules.


 It is “hand-to-hand combat” out there for each and every one of us--but what greater victory can there be than each of us doing more than our part in bringing the Geulah!



19 Tammuz

A THREE WEEKS THOUGHT: Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Shlita, notes 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 on 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 yours! 



THE COMPARISON:  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, as we have noted in the past, Rabbi 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 of our bodies to be able to be lifted out of bed, of our legs to walk together in the same direction, 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!





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. As K’lal Yisrael is in this last Galus (which, as Rabbi Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita points out, we referred to as a Tzara Gedola in the Tefilla of Aneinu just two days ago) 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 Baa’lei Mussar write 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!



18 Tammuz

UPDATED APP FOR Z’MANIM WHILE IN FLIGHT MyZmanim Air V2--This app, which provides halachic z’manim for those traveling on an airplane, has been expanded and upgraded, for greater speed, ease of use, and to handle higher altitudes, date line issues, and bi-directional flights.  Midnight and earliest Maariv times have also been added to this version. The app provides a PDF of all relevant time periods for viewing on one’s phone during the flight.  The app is available at http://tinyurl.com/y7wr73e5




FROM A READER: “Rabbi Munk, Zt’l, founder of Camp Munk, used to encourage the staff and campers to end their letters written during the Three Weeks with the notation, “Nechomas Tzion”.  We should undertake this meaningful hanhaga in our correspondence, including emails, to remind ourselves and others of the import of the period of bain hametzarim. Nechomas Tzion.”



HAVE A PLAN! It is essential that we not let the Three Weeks pass without a plan. On Monday, we presented the Sever Panim Yafos Calendar--we provide it again at the end of this Bulletin.  In Bein Adam LaMakom, we had suggested a special emphasis on the final words of Shemone Esrei--Yehi Ratzon Milefanecha....  One may also place special emphasis on the bracha of V’Lirushalayim Irecha--thoughtfully pleading with Hashem to return Yerushalayim to its status of glory. In all events, we must not allow this crucial period to pass with a ‘summer’ attitude.



PESAKIM RELATING TO THE THREE WEEK PERIOD: In order to begin to appreciate the great number of issues that these times generate, we once again provide below several Halachos from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh, written by Rabbi Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita, containing the Pesakim of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl, and 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:


Pesakim of HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv:


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


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


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


Pesakim of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky:


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


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


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


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


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


F. One should not begin painting his home during the Three Weeks.



IMPORTANT HALACHIC OVERVIEW OF THE THREE WEEKS:  We now provide greater specifics as to Halachos of the Three Week Period from HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan--Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, who gives a Hakhel Halacha Shiur in Boro Park.    As with all Halachos, in case of one’s particular circumstances, he/she should consult with his/her own Rav or Posek:


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

A) From the Seventeenth of Tammuz

B) From Rosh Chodesh Av

C) The week of Tisha B’Av

D) Tisha B’Av


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


Why are there so many restrictions such as not reciting Shehechiyanu on new fruits, buying new clothing or making a wedding in the weeks preceding Tisha B’Av?


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




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


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


Engagements or Tenaim are permitted throughout the Three Weeks including the nine days; however, one should refrain from dancing at the affair (SA 551-2, MA-6, MB-16, KH-44). A festive meal is permitted only until Rosh Chodesh, during the nine days refreshments may be served (MA-10, MB-16 & 19, KH-38). Some Poskim are of the opinion that one should refrain from making an engagement during the nine days (Ben Ish Chai Parashas Devorim-4, See TE Vol. 13-60).





Dancing and playing musical instruments are prohibited during the Three Weeks (MA 551-10, MB-16, KH-39), this includes music tapes (Simlas Chaim 29-1, Halachos Moshe (Mamon) 43, Kapi Aharon 52, Igros Moshe Vol 6 OC 21-4, YD Vol. 6-32). However, one may sing without any musical accompaniment (Sedai Chemed 1-10, Yalkut Yosef Daf 561 (5)).


A musician who earns his living by playing for a non-Jew may play the instrument until Rosh Chodesh (PM Eshel Avraham 551-10, KH-39, Mahram Shick YD 368, Zachar Simcha 67). A music teacher who earns his living by giving lessons may do so until Rosh Chodesh (PM 551, TE Vol. 16-19, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 2-155 & Vol. 6-291(1), Chai Halavi Vol. 2-40).


A child may practice playing a musical instrument until Rosh Chodesh (S.B. 122-2, Igros Moshe OC Vol. 4-21, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 2-155:2,Vol 3-334, Am Kilavi Vol. 1 OC 305 not like Bitzel Hachachma Vol 6-61). Some are lenient and permit the child to practice until the week of Tisha B’Av (Zacher Simcha 67). Accordingly, one should consult a Rav.


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


One is permitted to sing without a musical accompaniment, only if it does not bring one to an over joyous mood (Sedei Chemed Vol. 6 Pas Hasaday 1-10). One is permitted to sing zemiros songs on Shabbos during the entire Three Weeks (Igros Moshe OH Vol. 4-112:1, KH-41, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 6-291(1)).


One is permitted to teach new songs to others, however, they should not be overly joyous tunes (KH 551-41).


It is permissible for one to play music in one’s office for their non-Jewish workers until midday on erev Tisha B’Av (Eshel Avraham (Butshasha) 554, Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 15-33 & appendix).


One is permitted to play a musical tape for small children until Rosh Chodesh e.g., Uncle Moshie etc. (See Marshag Vol. 2-125, Kol Sinai Daf 146, S.B. 122 Kunt. Ach. 2).


It is permissible for one to exercise to a music beat.


One is permitted to sing a tune while learning (YD Vol. 6-32, Shevet Hakahati Vol. 1-189).





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


The Sephardic community is lenient and does not start this prohibition until the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (SA 551-3 & 12). Others are more stringent and start the prohibition from Rosh Chodesh Av, while others are not lenient and conduct themselves like the Ashkenazic community from the seventeenth of Tammuz (Yaskil Avdi Vol. 7-35).]


Although haircutting (the head, beard and the rest of the body) is forbidden to Ashkenazim for the entire Three Weeks, one is permitted to cut one’s nails until the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (MA-11, MB-20, KH-48). A woman before her ritual immersion may cut her nails the entire Three Weeks. Similarly, it is permissible for a mohel to trim his nail in preparation for a circumcision (KH-49,182).


If one has a hanging nail or one’s nails are so long that they are causing one discomfort, one may cut them even during the week of Tisha B’Av; however, one should bite them and not use a nail clipper or scissors if possible (Ben Ish Chai-13, KH-49).


One is permitted to trim one’s mustache the entire Three Weeks if it interferes with one’s eating (SA-13, MB-80). Some poskim are of the opinion that it is permissible only until Rosh Chodesh (KSA-4, see Shar Hatzion-90).


One is permitted to tweeze one’s eyebrows (Nitai Gavriel 8-4 in the name of HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Zt’l and Rav Shmuel Wozner, Z’tl, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 5-376(3)).


Combing one’s hair is permissible throughout the Three Weeks (MB-20, AH-15, see KH-46 & 47).


A married woman may cut her hair around her temples or in the back of her head for modest reasons the entire Three Weeks. MB-79, Igros Moshe YD Vol. 2-137 & OC Vol. 4, KH-47, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 4-135(8)). A married woman or a girl of marriageable age may shave her legs the entire Three Weeks (HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L see Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 5-376(2) & Vol. 6-291(2) HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT”L see Halichos Baisoy 25- note 70).


A person who shaves daily and by not doing so may jeopardize his job should refrain from shaving from Rosh Chodesh or at least during the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (SMB 122-2, Igros Moshe CM Vol. 1-93 OC Vol. 4-102, Yaskil Avdi Vol. 5-55).


An adult may not even give a haircut to a child under the age of chinuch during the Three Weeks (SA 551-14, MA-38, ER-31, CA 133-18, MB-81& 82, KSA -4). Some poskim state that the prohibition starts only the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (CA). In case of great necessity one should consult a Rav.


A mourner whose thirty days of mourning over a relative was completed during the Three Weeks may shave and take a haircut until Rosh Chodesh Av (SA 551-15, Bach). However, after Rosh Chodesh he may only trim his hair with a knife or razor and not with scissors unless it is necessary, but it is permitted only until the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (KSA 122-5, CA 133-20, MB-87).


In honor of a Bris, the Mohel, Sandek and the father of the infant may take a haircut and shave, but only until the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (Nodah Biyehudah OC Vol. I 28 & Vol. II YD 213, KSA 122-15, see Sedai Chemed ). Some poskim permit one to take a haircut and shave even during the week of Tisha B’Av (Chasam Sofer OH 128). Accordingly, one should consult a Rav.


There is a dispute among the poskim whether a child that has his bar mitzvah during the Three Weeks may take a haircut. One should consult a Rav. (MH Vol. 6-45, Devrei Shalom Vol. 3-6, Bais Avi Vol. 2-58, SMB Kunt. Ach. 120-8, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 1-237 Vol. 2-155).


A Sefardic boy who is studying in an Ashkenazic yeshivah is permitted to take a haircut or shave according to his minhag. However, if he follows the minhag of the Ashkenazim and does not shave or take a haircut from the seventeenth of Tammuz, he should preferably state that it is without a neder-vow (YD Vol 3-39 & Vol. 4-36, see Yaskil Avdi Vol. 7 OC 35).





The minhag is to refrain from wearing new clothing, eating a new fruit or buying new items during the Three Weeks that require a bracha of Shehechiyanu, so as not to require the recital of the bracha of Shehechiyanu which is recited over a joyous event (SA 551-17, MB-99, KH-207, Igros Moshe OC Vol 3-80). Therefore, one should not buy or wear a new garment or eat a new fruit that requires a Shehechiyanu (MB-99, KH-210).


Many poskim are of the opinion that those that recite the Shehechiyanu at the time of circumcision (as in Eretz Yisrael), or at a Pidyon Haben, may recite the Shehechiyanu  (SA-17, DT 551-17).


Many poskim are of the opinion that one may recite the bracha of Shehechiyanu on Shabbos (ER-42, CA 133-8, KSA 122-2, MB-98) until Rosh Chodesh Av (AH 551-38, Toras Chaim 551-35, Kinyan Torah B’Halacha Vol. 6-32). Therefore, if the new fruit can last until Shabbos, one should wait until Shabbos, otherwise it may be recited during the week (Rama, MB-101). Some poskim are of the opinion that one may wear a new suit or dress on Shabbos if there is a special occasion such as a bar mitzvah or bris milah, until the week of Tisha B’Av (YD Vol. 1-37). Others are stringent and permit this only with regard to a fruit but not with regard to clothing (ER-17, CA-14, KSA).


A pregnant woman or a person who is ill and desires this new fruit, may eat it even during the week (MB-99, KH-211). Preferably, however, she should wait to eat it on Shabbos and recite the bracha of Shehechiyanu. Some poskim are of the opinion that she should eat the fruit without the bracha of Shehechiyanu and after Tisha B’Av eats another fruit that requires a Shehechiyanu (Birkai Yoseph 551); however, one may rely on the lenient view (KH-211, Tosfos Chaim on CA 133-13).


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


If there is a big sale, one may purchase the garment although it would require that one recite a Shehechiyanu when worn for the first time; however, it may not be worn until after Tisha B’Av (MB-11, Shar Hatzion-12, KH-21).


If a person wore a suit or dress once, it is not considered as new anymore and it may be worn during the Three Weeks (KH-90).


One should refrain from looking at or buying a house or apartment, during the Three Weeks unless one is in need of it desperately (MB 551-12, Chazon Ish, Z’tl, see Archos Rabbeinu Vol. 2 Daf 129-15, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 2-155 & Vol. 3 341, Nitai Gavriel 7-9). Similarly, one should not move into a new apartment, or house during the Three Weeks.


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


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


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


One is permitted to recite Hagomel during the Three Weeks (Sidai Chemed 2 note 3. Yad L’Yoledes).




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


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


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


Some Poskim are of the opinion that one should not go swimming in a pool during the Three Weeks unless they went swimming prior to the Three Weeks. Most Poskim state that there is no basis for this and it is permissible to go swimming in a pool (Sedai Chemed Pas Hasada 1-1, Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 4-135(14) & Vol. 6-285, Avalos Hachurban Page 133, Hilchos U’Minhagim Bein Hamitzarim Page 34, TV Vol. 2-263). However, many Poskim agree that one should not go swimming in the deep parts of a lake or river (Mikor Chaim-16, Steipeler Rav Zt’l Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 2 Daf 129, Rabbi YS Elyashiv Z’tl see Hilchos U’Minhagim Page 34).


Some Poskim in Eretz Yisrael are of the opinion that one should not fly by plane during the Three Weeks from Eretz Yisrael to America (Availus Hachurban Page 134). However, many are lenient.


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





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


Written in loving memory of my Mother in-law Channa Sara Bas R’ Pesach A”h niftera 13th of Tammuz 5756 (1996), and my daughter Ita Tzipporah A”h niftera 23rd of Menachem Av 5753 (1993).


REMEMBER--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 once again provide a check-off calendar for the Three Weeks, starting Tuesday. 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!



17 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.




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


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 you feel it may be even correct to do so




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!



HOW TO OVERRIDE DIN: Bila’am 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 din, 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)  The following are three recommendations--life vests supplied in turbulent waters:


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--Hashem will, in turn, pass over his sins.”  The cheshbon is simple-Middah K’Neged Middah at its finest!


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.  It is said in the name of Gedolim, that one should make Brachos aloud in order to cause others to answer “Amen.”  This special level of gratitude and faith serves as an affirmation and reaffirmation of Hashem’s control over the world, obviating the need for Hashem to remind us personally in other ways.  For an excellent review of this concept, you can order the tape “Attitude of Gratitude” (Rabbi Jonathan Rietti and Rabbi Yechiel Spero) from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation at 845-352-3505. 


As is evident from all of the above, Hashem is not asking that we stand on our hands, stretch or shrivel, or do 180 degree flips!  Some nicely-made Brachos, some additional Torah study, some self-control in situations which last only a fleeting moment anyway, can be literally life-saving--as we light up the darkness long enough and strong enough for us to survive until daybreak.



A NOTE FOR SHIVA ASAR B’TAMMUZ:    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, focused thought that lies ahead.



HALACHOS OF FASTING:  HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan--Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Halacha Shiur in Boro Park. We provide below a review by Rabbi Webster of the Halachos of fasting. As with all Halachos, in case of one’s particular circumstances, he/she should consult with his/her own Rav or Posek:


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 learn of the Korban Tamid in this 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).



16 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.




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


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




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


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


From here Chazal derive 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 a way of a strong will. There are many things that you may wish for half-heartedly, but when you strongly set your mind on a particular goal, you will have the strength and abilities necessary to meet that goal. What a person truly wants in life, he will usually obtain (Alei 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: Yes you can!



REMEMBER--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 once again provide a check-off calendar for the Three Weeks, starting Tuesday. 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!





















JULY .17




































PRACTICAL NOTES IN PREPARATION OF TOMORROW’S TA’ANIS: We provide the following points and pointers regarding tomorrow’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!



13 Tammuz

AN OUTSTANDING QUOTE (IN YIDDISH): HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, is quoted as follows: “Zerizus is Nisht in De Fis, Zerizus is in De Kup--the middah of alacrity is not based on the reaction of one’s feet--but on that of one’s mind.”  HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, explains that Zerizus is really an attitude--it is a mental alertness to accomplish one’s mission and goals expediently and efficiently. Hakhel Note: Everyone can work on Zerizus--it is an attitude!



YOU WILL AFFECT HIS FUTURE!  The Chofetz Chaim writes that if one listens to Lashon Hara--even with the specific intent not to believe it--he is Nosein Yad L’Poshim--he is spreading intentional sin.  Why?  Because if a person speaking sees that his Lashon Hara is being listened to today, then he will try again tomorrow--with you or someone else.  On the other hand, one who responds by saying:  “I do not want to listen to this” or “This is not for me” will discourage the speaker from speaking Lashon Hara in the future--to you and to others.  Thus, by stopping the wrongdoer--you are not only protecting yourself with the proper response, the Chofetz Chaim teaches, but you may be helping the person who started to speak improperly--for the rest of his life--and all to your credit!  Hakhel Note:  We remind our readers that if one has heard Lashon Hara before he had the chance to stop it, or before he realized what was coming--he still has a way out of the issur.  One should immediately search for a zechus regarding the one spoken about--which has the effect of undoing the Lashon Hara that was theretofore spoken.  This is one of those rare instances--like Teshuvah--in which one can actually undo that which may have been done.  Remember to use it--and to tell others about it!



EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES: We continue our annual review of Summer Shabbos Shailos, with the Teshuvos of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Ztl, to us:




QUESTION: On Shabbos my bungalow colony makes kiddush after davening. Can we make it on the grass?

ANSWER: The Shulchan Aruch says that you shouldn’t drink water on Shabbos near where there are plants growing, because it might fall upon and nurture them, thus constituting toldos of zore’ah and choresh. But, drinking wine is acceptable, because it doesn’t help the grass or growing plants.


QUESTION: What about other drinks?

ANSWER: They should be treated as water. Since most of the drinks that we have fall into that category, one shouldn’t have a lawn kiddush on Shabbos.


QUESTION: What about drinking over lawns where one doesn’t care about the grass or the grass is half dead anyway? Or if it has just rained?

ANSWER: This is a strange question. As far I know, in most places, people do pay a lot of attention to ensure that the patches of ruined grass are re-seeded or patches of sod are put on them. It is the wish of each individual or bungalow colony committee to see that the place looks nice. Whenever there is a drought for a period of time and grass begins to turn yellow, people do worry. Therefore, it is practically never true that people are not concerned about the condition of the grass. You will see directly before and after the summer season, large amounts of money are spent on improving or restoring the grass. If we just had a heavy rain outside and the grass was soaked, it would be permitted to have a kiddush on the grass. However, I don’t think that people would really want to attend such a kiddush on unpleasant, heavily rain-soaked grass.




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

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




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

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




QUESTION: Are you allowed to ask a non-Jew to turn on the air conditioner on Shabbos?

ANSWER: I remember when air conditioning was non-existent. However, today, it has become such a necessity. I imagine that if the situation was very uncomfortable, one could ask a non-Jew to turn on the air conditioner, especially as air conditioners work on electricity. Unlike creating heat, creating electricity that runs the air conditioner is not a Melacha DeOraysa. It is probably even less problematic to ask a non-Jew to turn off the air conditioner if the room is too cold. Just as you can ask a non-Jew to put on the heat in winter in order to prevent people from becoming sick, you can similarly ask a non-Jew to turn off the air conditioner if you are trying to prevent people from getting sick from the extreme cold generated by the air conditioner.


QUESTION: If the circuit breaker went off on Shabbos, is one allowed to ask a non-Jew to restore it?

ANSWER: Simply put, there are times at night when if you don’t have electricity, it constitutes Sakanos Nefashos. It is simply dangerous, especially if you have children who are going around at night without light.  In such a dangerous situation, you can certainly ask a non-Jew to restore the electricity.


QUESTION: Are you allowed to ask a non-Jew to restore the electricity merely in order to save the food from spoiling?

ANSWER: The answer is yes. However, if the food is not endangered, but it is a question of just keeping the soda colder, you should not ask a non-Jew to fix the circuit breaker. If you had cholent in an electric crock pot when the circuit breaker went out, the cholent is still hot and the electricity, if restored, will stop other food from spoiling, as before, you may ask a non-Jew to restore the electricity




QUESTION: If I notice a bee or wasp flew into my home, can I close the window if that will cause the bee or wasp to be trapped in between the window and the screen?

ANSWER: The Klal is that if you have a little creature that can sting you and you are afraid that it will sting you, then you are allowed to capture it. The reason is because it is something that you really don’t want to capture for any use or purpose. Indeed, you would like it to just go away and escape to the wilds of Australia. Therefore, you are allowed to trap it on Shabbos, but you should try to avoid trapping it directly.




QUESTION: I have an electric water cooler. Is it a problem to use on Shabbos? If not, am I permitted to change the empty bottle?

ANSWER: A water cooler is like a refrigerator. In fact, it is a refrigerator. It contains a chamber with five, six, seven or eight cups of water. You take a cup of water and another comes into it from the bottle. The temperature rises by a couple of degrees and after a while, a mechanism will trigger the thermostat to start the compressor, kicking in the cooling system again.  With a refrigerator, there are many people who are machmir not to open it in order to take something out (or return a food item) unless the motor is running. If the motor is running, you will not trigger the thermostat to turn it on.  It is possible that with a water cooler, there is less stringency involved than with regard to a regular refrigerator, because the hot air that comes in when you open a refrigerator, is going to result in the release from the refrigerator itself of a lot of cold air into the room, because it is a very large appliance. The release of the cold air from the refrigerator will result in the influx of warm air from the room into the refrigerator, which will surely trigger the compressor to start within a very short period of time. The water cooler on the other hand is a closed system and only that one cup that you take will be replaced by another cup. Maybe five or six cups are required to trigger off the system. Regarding replacing an empty bottle of water into a water cooler on Shabbos, doing so would surely trigger the thermostat and compressor to initiate the cooling system and should not be done, if you are machmir about opening refrigerators when the motor is not running.




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

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





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 descendants, 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) 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. 



THE PARASHA’S ENDING: The Parasha this week ends with the sad event of Bnei Yisrael falling prey to the Bnos Midyan and their deceit. As with all sin--we must get to its root, its source.  What caused this sin?  How did the Bnei Yisrael get involved with the Bnos Midyan at this late stage of their encampment in the desert, after so many years of extraordinarily miraculous living in the Midbar--as they were soon to approach their destination--Eretz Yisrael?  Rabbi Shmuel Smith, Shlita, brings the words of the Pasuk (Bamidbar 25:1) “Veyeishev Yisrael BaShitim…--and Bnei Yisrael camped in Shitim”.  This can be interpreted to mean, Chazal teach, that they went out into the foreign environment (Shatu) of the gentile nations to see how they lived.  Rather than appreciating the extremely important lessons that Hashem taught them--how they could be successful and live an extraordinary existence if they remained separate and distinct--they ventured out to see how the people around them lived--what these people did and how they did it.  The tragedy that resulted was transgression compounded by transgression--as they first sinned with the daughters of Midyan and went on to worship Avodah Zara.  Incredibly, what Bilam could not accomplish with his expertise and mastery at sorcery and cursing--the people brought upon themselves by leaving the protection and confines of their Torah environment. As we reel from the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States, requiring its residents (as preeminent representatives of the western world) to legalize immorality, and combine this with the summer months (in the northern hemisphere), in which we are subjected to terribly inappropriate settings, surroundings and atmospheres--we must take the lesson from the Bnos Midyan event--and lean much to the side of Pinchas Ben Elazar--who went far out of his way to combat what had quickly become the ‘acceptable’ standard.


Sometimes a little bit of something is good. Here, however, the Vilna Gaon (Even Shelaima 1:7) in his great wisdom notes: “A man should never say, ‘I will follow my physical lust and inquisitive desires a little and afterwards will withdraw from them.’ For as a man begins to draw toward them he becomes busy and forfeits his eternal life completely.  For it is very difficult to withdraw from them.  Even the man who fears Hashem, who is versed in the Torah, and observes the mitzvos, when he draws toward lust, he will lose all.”


To reiterate the practical teaching HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, to those working in the city:  “To the extent possible, put your head down, and walk in a determined manner to your destination.” Similarly, for women, extreme caution must be exercised as to where one goes, what one sees, and how one dresses. One should not allow himself the excuse that what is around us is the “norm” way of the world, and that we cannot get around it. It cannot be a ‘norm’--if it is not acceptable. Instead, what is--or should be--considered normal is the way Hashem wants us to conduct ourselves. Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, reiterates this with the following essential teaching:  A Kiddush Hashem is not doing what people like or think is right--but what Hashem says is right.


The task is a difficult one--both from the Yetzer Hara within, and the Yetzer Hara without.  Chazal teach that according to the effort is the reward (Avos: 5:26). We are in Galus, a bitter Galus.  Rabbi Smith concludes that if we really want to leave this Galus and achieve Geula, we must demonstrate that we are different, and that we conduct ourselves by a different set of rules.


It is “hand-to-hand combat” out there for each and every one of us--but what greater victory can there be than each of us doing more than our part in bringing the Geulah!


Additional Note:  On Motz’ai Shabbos, we recite the words of Havdala:  “HaMavdil Bein Kodesh Lechol, Bein Ohr Lechoshech Bein Yisrael La’Amim Bein Yom HaShevii LeSheishes Yemei HaMa’aseh--Who separated the holy and the profane, the light from the darkness, Yisrael from the other nations...”. Rabbi Smith said that he heard from a Rav that these words teach us that the same Havdala---the same separation--that exists between the holy and the profane, between the light and the darkness--is the separation that exists between K’lal Yisrael and the nations. It is our mandate and our duty--to live it on a daily basis--until the Geulah Sheleima may it come speedily and in our day--today!



12 Tammuz

12 TAMMUZ: According to the daughter of HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl, H’yd, he was killed Ahl Kiddush Hashem on either the 12th or 13th of Tammuz in 5701 (1941). HaRav Elchanan teaches that the words “Nachamu Nachamu Ami” refer to a double nechama--the first nachamu 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.  Let us daven to Hashem that He provide the double nechama that we all need without the need of any further reminders, tribulations or harm.



FROM A READER: “The Sefer Shulchan Gavo’ah brings from the Chofetz Chaim that one who recites the bracha of Asher Yatzar with Kavannah has the ability to quash many sicknesses. A Talmid Chochom of a previous generation relates that he once visited the Chofetz Chaim and noted that when the Chofetz Chaim recited Asher Yatzar he did so from a Siddur, moving his finger from word to word as he recited it.”



A WONDERFUL TEACHING FROM RABBEINU YONAH: “An advantage accruing to one who breaks a physical desire is that if at a later time his Yetzer Hara urges upon him the commission of a wicked deed or transgression, he will reasonably think to himself: ‘I did not grant my desire for what is permitted; how, then, could I stretch forth my hand for what is forbidden?!’” (Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah 1:32)



WITHIN 30 DAYS: The following is excerpted from the foreword by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Ettel L’Refuah Sheleimah), 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:  Chazal teach that within thirty days of a Yom Tov, we are to begin learning about that Yom Tov.  As we know, Tisha B’Av is referred to as a ‘Mo’ed’--and it would behoove us to begin thinking the thoughts during these thirty advance days of Yerushalayim and the need for our Geulah.  In his masterful work, Yearning with Fire, Rabbi Kleinman explains how one can do his part in fulfillment and accomplishment of Tzipisah LiShuah.  This clear and movingly written Sefer is divided into 5-minute a day segments, to study over an 89 day period.  If one starts today, he will finish approximately on Yom Kippur.  Hopefully our Geulah will have taken place well before then--while one is in the process of longing for it!  In all events--after 120 years one of the questions a person is asked is ‘Tzipisah LiShuah--did you truly 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



THE KNOCK AT THE DOOR: HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl was well known for the famous Mashal of a very ill person in the home for whom the doctor had been summoned. Every time there was a knock at the door, every time the phone or doorbell rang, the family members jumped--was it the doctor?! Even though it turned out to be a well wishing neighbor, a repairman, or someone else, the family was courteous and did not despair—the doctor would still come with the next knock—and would come in time, for he had to, they knew it because they believed it. This, HaRav Levenstein taught, should be our anticipation for Moshiach--even though the knocks on the door until today have not been what we have been waiting for--the real knock will most certainly come--and hopefully at the earliest possible next moment. The Six-Day War and no Moshiach, the Yom Kippur War and no Moshiach, the Lebanese War and no Moshiach, the Gaza War and no Moshiach--and now a new Gaza War is before us--is this it?!


It is very well known that the Brisker Rav was heard to say the three-word Pasuk---LiShuasecha Kivisi Hashem (Bereishis 49:18) …For Your salvation do I long—several times throughout the day. It is no coincidence (as it never is) that this Pasuk is placed in the Siddur at the end of the 13 Ani Ma’amins that we recite daily.


We all know that the redemption will come—this is part of world history, established by Hashem at the time of the world’s creation. Our thoughts and our Tefillos should be permeated by a sincere and unrelenting want and desire that we ourselves be zocheh to see it—”Bechayechon U’Vyomeichon”—in your lifetimes, and in your days. We owe it to ourselves and to our destiny to be able to answer the Question:  “Tzipisa LiYeshua?” with a clear and truthful--better yet--a resounding and resourceful: “Yes –LiShuasecha Kivisi Hashem!!”


Hakhel Note: We don’t know when the knock will be the real one. B’EH if we are at that point--here is our reminder as to the four brachos that (it is said in the name of HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl) are said upon the arrival of Moshiach: (i) Baruch Chacham Harazim (over the 600,000 that will be present); (ii) Shechalak Meichachmaso LiReiav (over the Moshiach as Gadol HaDor); (iii) Shechalak MiKevodo LiReiav (over the Moshiach as king); and (iv) Shehechiyanu (over reaching the Moshiach’s arrival). We note that according to HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, the bracha of Shehechiyanu over the arrival of Moshiach is mei’ikar hadin.



11 Tammuz




TESHUVAH HIGHLIGHTS! The following is gleaned from the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah:


A.  It is proper for all who are involved in Teshuvah to keep a written record of those areas in which they believe they have gone astray, and of those Mitzvos in the fulfillment of which they have fallen short, and to review these memoranda daily.


B.  There are many levels of Teshuvah, in accordance with which one draws near to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. One may understand it in the same manner as a garment that needs washing. A little washing will suffice to remove the surface dirt, and with more and more washing will it become cleaner, until it becomes entirely clean.


C.  The Pasuk in Mishlei (20:17) teaches: “Areiv LeIsh Lechem Shaker VeAchar Yimalei Fihu Chatzatz…bread of falsehood is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth will be filled with gravel.” The lesson of the Pasuk applies not only to falsehood and truth, but to all iniquities of impulsiveness and desire.


Hakhel Note: The Chofetz Chaim writes that the first place to start with Teshuvah is with dibbur--as the Kohen Gadol on Yom Hakippurim demonstrates by bringing the Ketores (which Chazal teach is mechaper on Lashon Hara b’chashai) upon entering the Kodesh HaKedoshim!



VISITING ERETZ YISRAEL? If one intends to visit Eretz Yisrael this summer and davens Nusach Ashkenaz in Chutz La’aretz--does he recite Morid HaTal in Shemone Esrei like the Bnei Eretz Yisrael--and does he skip Boruch Hashem LeOlam Amein V’Amein at Ma’ariv?





A. An employer who entirely refuses to pay, or deducts even one perutah (the smallest coin of value) from the money he owes his workers, is considered a thief and is invalid to testify in court; In doing so, the employer violates five Torah prohibitions and one positive commandment.


B. When hiring a worker, one should set a price before the worker begins the job. Otherwise, the worker might finish the job and demand a price higher than the employer is willing to pay. The employer will then face a difficult choice between risking cheating his worker, who does not wholeheartedly agree to compromise, or paying whatever a worker asks.


C. A Torah scholar should certainly be careful to set a price with his workers, since a chillul Hashem could arise if there is a debate about payment.


[Excerpted from The Concise Ahavas Chesed The Classic Work of the Chofetz Chaim Adapted to a Daily Learning Schedule in English by Rabbi Asher Wasserman, Shlita]





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


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


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



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



THOUGHTS ON LIFE! The Chofetz Chaim presents the following essential thought on daily life and living:


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


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


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



10 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.




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


Bein Adam LaMakom:

HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, writes that when one recites a bracha, he can consciously perform four Mitzvos: Ahavas Hashem, Yiras Hashem, U’Le’avdo Bechol Levavchem and U’Ledavka Vo. Before reciting a Birkas HaNehenin have in mind these four Mitzvos!


Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Look at another person whom you are familiar with, and think about how much behind him there is that you really do not know--his Mitzvos, his life’s experiences, and the reasons he may react to situations and circumstances in ways that are different from you. Then, judge him favorably in something particular that occurred (or keep it in mind for the future).


Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Before reciting Shema at night, make sure your last activity of the day is one of Ruchniyus--either the study of Torah (even for only a short while), an act of Chesed, or the performance of a Mitzvah.



IT’S NOT JAIL--IT’S PARADISE! It has been said of some of the anti-Chareidi element in Eretz Yisrael that they are doing so in order to ‘liberate’ the Chareidim from the ‘jail’ that they are in. According to their perverse understanding, Torah Jews do not live a life of pleasantness and joy in Olam Hazeh, but instead one of restraint and constriction. HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, teaches that these inciters do not realize that Yaakov Avinu and Eisav fought over Nachlas Shnei Olamos--the inheritance of both worlds. This means that Yaakov Avinu has an Olam Hazeh as well--and truth be told, we enjoy Olam Hazeh more than they do! Indeed, as brought in the Sefer HaKuzari, the king asked the chacham: Why Jews are so restricted in matters of Olam Hazeh to the point that they even have to recite brachos before they eat--why this yet ‘additional ‘burden’?! The chacham answered that the king was oh, so mistaken. A bracha makes a person realize how much he has been given and how much he has to appreciate--making the object all the more pleasure-filled. Man is not just a physical being--but has a spiritual essence, and seichel which is intended to elevate the mundane and the material to a higher level--which in turn increases one’s enjoyment and gratification in this world. Certainly, then, when it comes to the study of Torah which in and of itself is Mesameiach Es Halev how joyful and elated we are and should be.  We are not in jail as the uneducated and misguided would have it--but enjoying Gan Eden in this very world!



AN INTERNET THOUGHT:  At a Shiur in Flatbush, a Rav who realized that most if not all in his audience were in some way utilizing the Internet and its services advised that while the Internet can be an extremely valuable and even at times necessary tool, one should be careful that his Internet usage not become Intercheit. When does it become Intercheit? This is a fine line which one can easily step over as the use of this amazing technology becomes abuse--either because of the content, the addiction, or simply the wasted time in searching, reading and rereading, and of the misinformation that one may come across. One of the great rules of the Chofetz Chaim’s in the area of Shemiras HaLashon was--if one is unsure whether to say something or not--the proper choice is not to say it, for which one would not be faulted for in the next world. Applying this thought, may we suggest that before going on to the Internet, or moving from one site to another, one ask himself the question: “Is this Internet or Intercheit?”, and if one is not sure….



THE GREATEST TEACHER: Although each of us should have his Rosh Yeshiva, Rav, Posek, Rebbe, whom he closely follows and whose guidance he adheres to, Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, points out in the name of Gedolim that our first and most prominent teacher is Avraham Avinu himself--as the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:22) teaches: “Whoever has the following three traits is among the disciples of Avraham Avinu--Ayin Tovah, Ruach Nemucha V’Nefesh Shifalah--a good towards others, a humble spirit and one who does not pursue desires.” It behooves us greatly to follow the teachings of our first and foremost Rebbi!



THE DAN L’CHAF ZECHUS IMPERATIVE: Rashi in this week’s Parasha (Bamidbar 24:1) gives us a very important lesson: Bilam wanted so badly to curse K’lal Yisrael, but was unable to. He realized, however, that there was one way in which he could ‘sneak-in’ a curse. That was “Azkir Avonoseihem V’Haklalah Ahl Hazkaras Avonoseihem Tachul--I will mention their sins, and the curse will be able to affect them through the portal of their mentioned sins.” There is a great lesson here. When we judge another unfavorably, viewing that which he has done in a negative light, we are allowing r’l for Klalah to make its way in. As a zechus for all of K’lal Yisrael we should focus strongly and well on being Dan L’Chaf Zechus in all situations--from the average Jew through the Talmid Chochom and Tzaddik.



REACTION! At the Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, pointed out that a striking fault of Bilam was his shocking inability to be moved by the events around him. Bilam had so many indications that Hashem was displeased with his intentions, yet in one way or another Bilam continued to resist and ignore the lessons. His failure to be moved, to be inspired by the messages around him to modify his intentions and goals--ultimately resulted in his death at the hands of Pinchos. Rabbi Reisman called this a Lev Ha’even--a stone heart, which becomes a person’s own self-imposed punishment upon himself. There are times every day, Rabbi Reisman explains, which a person should utilize to assist himself and be inspired to modify his thinking, change his behavior--and do what is right under the circumstances.


Indeed, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, in his Shiur on Keeping the Faith in Troubled Times, brings the ma’aseh of Rebbi Chananyah Ben Tradyon who asked Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma whether he would be a Ben Olam Haba.  Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma asked Rebbi Chananyah to describe something he had done so that Rebbi Yosi could make the determination. Rebbi Chananyah told him that he had once mistakenly mixed Purim Tzedakah money together with his other money and as a result he gave the whole amount to Tzedakah. Rebbi Yosi thereupon responded that he would be a Ben Olam Haba. Let us take a step back for a moment, Rabbi Frand suggests. What was the greatness in Rabbi Chananyah’s deed that earned him great, everlasting reward? Rabbi Frand suggests that it was not simply giving a nice amount of Tzedaka one time, and the avoidance of any doubt as to how much he should give. Rather, it was Rebbi Chananyah determining that the monies got mixed together for a reason, and that Min HaShomayim he was being told that he has to give it all away to Tzedakah. It was this sensitivity, this understanding that demonstrated the personality of Rebbi Chananyah that made him a Ben Olam Haba. Rabbi Frand notes therefore that we too must look at daily events and understand their messages--we must be sensitive, open and ready to respond to the tap on the shoulder.


As a primary recent example of this, Rabbi Frand cites the Chofetz Chaim who, when hearing thunder would exclaim: “Vus Vill De Tatteh--why did this happen?” The Chofetz Chaim realized that thunder is not simply a ‘natural’ phenomenon, but that if he heard it--there was a reason and purpose for this.


Likewise, Rabbi Frand learned from HaRav Elyah Svei, Z’tl, that this reaction need not be limited to the great Tzaddikim of the world--but to the average man as well. HaRav Svei recalled that when he was a young boy in the Lithuanian town of Poltava he walked into the Shul and heard Tehillim being recited with tremendous fervor and cries. Stunned, he asked one of the participants what had happened. A person told him that they heard that there was an earthquake somewhere on the other side of the world and that people were killed. They knew this meant that the Ribono Shel Olam was upset and that they needed to do Teshuvah and sincerely plead with Hashem for Rachmanus.


On the other side of the spectrum, Rabbi Frand added, was the famous encounter between HaRav Chatzkel Levenstein, Z’tl, and the chiloni cab driver. The cab driver, seeing that HaRav Chatzkel was obviously a chashuve Rav asked him if he could tell him a story. HaRav Chatzkel [realizing that everything was B’Hashgacha] responded that he surely could. The driver said that after he finished the Israeli army he backpacked with two of his friends across Africa. At one point he heard shrieks in the middle of the night at a close distance which woke him up. As it turned out--one of his friends was being squeezed to death by a python. No amount of beating would help--so one of the three recalled the Pasuk of Shema Yisrael, which they all exclaimed together. The python promptly released his hold and scurried off into the night. “My friend then took upon himself to become religious upon his return to Eretz Yisrael, which he did--and he now lives a fully religious life.” HaRav Chatzkel turned to the driver and said: “…and what about you?” The driver said: “Kevodo Aino Maivin--Rabbi--you understand the story. The snake was wrapped around him--not around me!”


We have to make sure that we do not make the grievous mistake of this foolish cab driver, as world shaking events unfold around us on a daily basis. For those who do not know, residents all the way in Ramat Beit Shemesh were forced into bomb shelters yesterday. The situation cries out for our action--not only the action of those living in Sderot, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, motorists in Yehudah and Shomron or Yerushalayim. In Kelm, the students were urged not to have Kelbene Hispa’alus--a calf’s reaction. What is that? It is that of a young cow eating grass in the field who hears a tremendous roar above, lifts up its head for a moment to see a jet streaking by and then quickly lowers its head to continue eating the grass.


React we must in our thoughts, in our Tefillos, in our Tehillim and in our change!



9 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.




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


Bein Adam LaMakom:

HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, writes that when one recites a bracha, he can consciously perform four Mitzvos: Ahavas Hashem, Yiras Hashem, U’Le’avdo Bechol Levavchem and U’Ledavka Vo. Before reciting a Birkas HaNehenin have in mind these four Mitzvos!


Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Look at another person whom you are familiar with, and think about how much behind him there is that you really do not know--his Mitzvos, his life’s experiences, and the reasons he may react to situations and circumstances in ways that are different from you. Then, judge him favorably in something particular that occurred (or keep it in mind for the future).


Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Before reciting Shema at night, make sure your last activity of the day is one of Ruchniyus--either the study of Torah (even for only a short while), an act of Chesed, or the performance of a Mitzvah.



FROM A READER:  “Regarding last week’s Parasha, Chukas, Rabbi Menachem Zupnik, Shlita, Rav of Bais Torah U’Tefilah of Passaic, asked why B’nei Yisrael waited forty years to praise the well that followed them during every one of their travels in the Midbar.  Although Rashi explains the relation between the miracle that Hashem performed regarding the Emori and how the well was the means by which Hashem made the miracle known to B’nei Yisrael (Rashi on Bamidbar 21:16), nonetheless, the Shir (Bamidbar 21:17-20) praises the water-giving aspects of the well and contains no mention of the death of the Emori.  Rabbi Zupnik stated that a lesson to be learned from the Shir is that, although Hashem is constantly performing miracles for our good, sadly, it is only momentous occasions (such as His bringing two mountains together to crush our enemies) that ultimately spur a recognition of all the good He has bestowed upon us in the past, and for which we should have constantly sung His praises.”



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


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


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




SUMMER SHAILOS:  Now that the summer is very much upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, we provide the following Shailos and Teshuvos are questions that we had asked Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, in the past, and his responses are either taken from his handwritten responses to us or from recordings of Hakhel Shiurim at which the questions were asked.  If one needs further clarification, he should consult with his Rav or Posek, who in any event should be the final decisor for any person’s particular Shailah.




Calling Someone Else’s Spouse by Their First Name

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

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

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


Use of One Sink for Both Milk and Meat


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

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


Yichud Issues


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

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


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

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


Am I Required to Help a Stranded Motorist?


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

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


Removing Yarmulkes and Tzitzis


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

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


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

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


Food-Related Items Under Bed


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

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



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