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19 Menachem Av

A TESHUVA MOMENT: Although one may acknowledge that the path of Teshuva is the correct one, one must also establish safeguards, i.e., make ‘personal fences’ in those areas in which the Yetzer Hara has been entrapping him. One must recognize that sin makes his soul sick, and when a sick person begins to recover he must take special care to avoid those things that could lead to a relapse of the sickness.



DID YOU KNOW? L’Halacha, if you sign an agreement, you are bound by its terms even if you do not fully understand what it says, such as portions written in a different language or in fine print. For more information, please speak to your Rav, or you may contact The Business Halacha Institute: ask@businesshalacha.com or 718-233-3845 x 201.



REMEMBER! Every day in Ashrei, three times a day, we recite the Pasuk “Zecher Rav Tuvecha Yabi’u…--a recollection of Your abundant goodness they will utter.” HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, notes that by this Pasuk teaches us that we are not only instructed to remember the Churban (Zecher L’Churban)--but that we must also remember the abundant goodness that Hashem performs for us on a daily basis. Perhaps at the very least--as we recite the Pasuk, we should recall a new and different kindness of Hashem to us.



PARASHAS HAYIRAH:  This week’s Parasha contains within it what is known by many as the Parashas HaYirah. The Parashas HaYirah, together with a short and powerful Tefillah, is found in many Siddurim after daily Shacharis. Even if we may not have enough time after Shacharis to recite the Parashas HaYirah every day, it would certainly behoove us to do so at least today.  We add that if the Parashas HaYirah is in THIS WEEK’S PARASHA we should view it, BeHashgacha Pratis, as a wake-up call for us to elevate ourselves in our personal Yiras Shomayim.  In this regard, we note that the Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah at the outset of Mesechta Brachos teach that essential to Yiras Shomayim is Lizaheir MaiHasefeikos  Vesheloh La’asos HaMitzvos Ahl Derech Hahergel--to stay clear of doubtful actions and not to do Mitzvos out of habit.’  Every day this week --one can apply this definition whenever he can--and see how he climbs the ladder of Yiras Shomayim!



TWO CHESED QUESTIONS: We present below two Chesed questions from the  Sefer Chashukei Chemed  by HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, Shlita:


A.       What is a more preferred merit for someone to achieve an “Iluy Neshama” for a departed relative(s)--to have a Sefer Torah written in their zechus--or establish a Gemach?


Answer: HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah is a great Mitzvah, but is fulfilled with its one-time writing. On the other hand, one fulfills a Mitzvas Asei every time his Gemach lends out money. Accordingly, this would appear to be a greater zechus—especially  when the Gemach lends out money to  Bnei Torah-- which results in more Torah being studied as well!


B.       Is it a mitzvah to visit a choleh, who is in a coma, especially if the doctors claim that it is not reversible?


Answer: Yes, for even if you seemingly cannot cheer him up or assist him with his needs, there is still a mitzvah of Bikur Cholim. With respect to davening for the choleh, which is otherwise an essential aspect of Bikur Cholim—one must first consult with the choleh’s family who will know what to be mispallel for. In all events, the fact that the hospital  staff sees  that visitors care ,  will  bring them to treat the choleh with better care. Moreover, we really don’t know what the choleh understands, how the visit makes him feel, and what your visit really accomplishes.


Hakhel Note: It is said that the Chasam Sofer was asked: How could Hashem ‘delay’ reward for the Mitzvos that we do until Olam Haba? Isn’t there a Mitzvah in the Torah for a Ba’al HaBayis not to delay payment to his workers?! The Chasam Sofer answered that our Mitzvah may not, in fact, be completed by its mere physical performance on a particular day or at a given or set time, because the  ramifications and results, the  emanations  and after-effects of the Mitzvah can  and do very well continue. Accordingly, only when we finally get to Olam Haba 120 years later can we receive the true, actual and  full payment for our accomplishment!



CHANGE YOURSELF AND YOU WILL CHANGE THE WORLD! Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, makes a great observation: When one person has a complaint against another person, he wants that person to change. In his eyes, that person is doing something wrong or inappropriate.  In reality, if you simply complain directly to the person about his attitude or conduct, in all likelihood he will not modify his conduct, for people resist challenge and change in a negative or confrontational setting. Indeed, when was the last time that you told a person to change to meet your ideas about what was right--and he listened to you  simply because of your demand or request?!  Rabbi Rietti therefore suggests a wholly different approach to an adverse situation or feeling: Rather than being upset with the person, recognize that Hashem has sent the person or situation into my life--not to change him or it--but to change you! I have to learn from the experience to grow personally. If I change...that is the way the other person may change as well!



FROM THE CHAZON ISH: The following is excerpted from the Sefer Emunah U’Bitachon of the Chazon Ish, Z’tl, as meaningfully translated under the title Faith and Trust, by Rabbi Yaakov Goldstein, Shlita:


“The Teachers of Morals have declared the ways of perfecting character traits a chapter in itself in the discipline of perfecting one’s service of Hashem, and have even worked on breaking up the traits into separate ones such as anger, pride, craving, love of honor, love of dispute, vengefulness, spite etc. As this system of thinking has become common, many people have become convinced that perfection is made up of different parts. True, this is so when it comes to illness of the spirit, and when it comes to finding ways to combat corrupting elements, but at the root of all the character traits there is only one good trait and one bad one. The bad trait is that of leaving natural life to its natural processes. If a person makes no efforts to the contrary, he will become skilled in all the bad traits. He will be irascible, vengeful, prideful etc. - all to the extreme. He will not lack even one of the bad traits enumerated by the sages.


The good trait is the absolute determination to put moral feeling above that of desire, and from that starting point a person can fight against all the bad traits together. This determination cannot be partial, for a person whose intellect and high quality of soul have awakened him and influenced him to choose the good - when he is feeling elevated he strives for endless good and cannot be satisfied with the good he does. He sees in front of him an eternal and infinite world, and hates all the bad traits together.


Indeed, if we sometimes find individuals whose various traits are not on equal footing, as we have seen that a person might not be led astray by his desire for delectable foods, but will be influenced by love of honor and so on, the reason for this does not lie in his essence and is not due to his original nature being in favor of only one trait, but rather to the fact that since this war is extremely difficult, complete victory is not guaranteed. Rather, it is a lifelong struggle. This person has not yet reached a high level of achievement; all he can do is withstand the easier tests and not the greater ones. The tests themselves differ from person to person, though the two people might be of the same age and on the same general level. One may have a nature tending more towards anger than towards cravings for food, and therefore his refraining from delicacies precedes his being able to refrain from anger. In a person who tends more towards indulging in delicacies than towards getting angry, refraining from anger will precede refraining from such foods, and so on with other traits. Usually, these people are not among those who are struggling to achieve perfection as they should be, but rather are naturally inclined to the partial good that is convenient to them, leaving the rest to human nature - which is like that of a wild beast.”


Hakhel Note: What an essential point to reflect upon!



18 Menachem Av




A TESHUVA MOMENT: The Chofetz Chaim writes that once one realizes that he has done something wrong, he should immediately have charatah and do Teshuvah for it. Through this, the Chofetz Chaim continues, one will not fall into yeiush--despair, for he recognizes that his misdeeds can be corrected. One must always remember that Hashem is not looking to ‘catch’ a person--rather, Hashem is an “Oheiv Chesed V’Rotzeh L’Zakos L’Briyosav”. Yes, Hashem is All-Knowing. Nevertheless--He wants us find our Zechusim and perform Chesed on our behalf!



KAROV HASHEM LECHOL KORE’AV: Every day, three times a day in Ashrei we recite the Pasuk “Karov Hashem Lechol Kore’av Lechol Asher Yikre’uhu B’emes--Hashem is close to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Tehillim 145:18). Yet, in last week’s Parasha, the Torah records “Ki Me Goy Gadol…KaShem Elokeinu Bechol Kore’einu Eilav--for which is a great nation that has G-d Who is close to it, as Hashem is whenever we call to Him” (Devorim 4:7). The Pasuk in last week’s Parasha appears not to require the ‘calling out in truth’ that the Pasuk in Ashrei requires. How can we reconcile these Pesukim? The Eitz Yosef on the Siddur suggests that ‘calling in truth’ simply means that as a prerequisite to legitimately calling out, our mouths must be truthful. If we want Hashem to be attentive to our call to Him, we must excel in the Middah of Emes. He would seem to learn that the Pasuk in Devorim assumes the Middah of Emes as well. The Radak (on the Pasuk in Ashrei) writes that ‘calling out in truth’ means that one’s mouth and heart are equal--Hashem will listen to one who cries out with Kavannah. We can assume that the Pasuk in Devorim also implies this requirement--after all, why would anyone [certainly, Hashem, as the One Who Knows all thoughts] pay attention to a creation who is not being sincere in his pleading to Him. The Malbim (on the Pasuk in Ashrei) writes that, in fact, there are two different kinds of callers--one calling out of yirah, and the other out of Ahava, and they receive qualitatively different responses as well (see there). Truth, Kavannah, and Ahavas Hashem--to be sure to have Hashem as close as possible to us and our prayers--let us excel in all three!



REMINDER--TZION BAMISHPAT TIPADEH: Yeshayahu HaNavi (1:27) reveals to us:  “Tzion BaMishpat Tipadeh VeShaveha B’Tzedakah--we will be redeemed through justice and through Tzedakah.” We are all familiar with the importance of giving Tzedakah for the sake of Geulah. But how does the first part of the Pasuk relating to ‘judging’ apply to us on a daily basis as well? Every day, we are engaged in the process of judging other people. Let us be sure at the outset to judge them favorably. Imagine the Moshiach telling you that you fulfilled your part--in both parts of the Pasuk!  



INSTEAD OF TALKING POLITICS: Rabbeinu Yonah in the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:54) writes: “VeChayav Adam Lachshov Machashavos LeHa’alos Eitzos Hagunos U’Mesukanos L’Chaveiro--a man is obligated to think about how he can give befitting and appropriate counsel and advice to his friend.”  Rabbeinu Yonah continues that this is one of the “Ikarei Darchei Gemilus Chasodim--this is one of the essentials of Chesed”. Let us not squander these essential opportunities to do Chesed with discussions that are not meaningful, and by spending time giving advice and opinions regarding social order, politics, the economy and the world--which really don’t count or matter. 



COUNT YOUR WORDS--42!  We may all be familiar with the fact that there is a 42-letter name of Hashem, as most widely evidenced by the abbreviations of Ana B’choach contained in most Siddurim. It is certainly no coincidence (as it never is) that the first Parasha of Shema--beginning with V’Ahavta Es Hashem Elokecha through the end of the Parasha contains 42 words--and that the first bracha of Shemone Esrei also contains 42 words! Hakhel Note: The easy lesson is that each and every word of Tefillah is important and has much deeper meaning to it--if we can have Kavannah at least for the simple meaning, then everything else will come along with it! One who davens with Kavannah, by analogy, thinks he is driving a car--but in actuality is leading a locomotive (or a 747) filled to capacity!



AVOID ADDICTION: At a Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita once explained what an addiction is.  “People tell me that they are not addicted because they can stop the thing they are doing (smoking, drinking, habitual texting) at any time. When I ask them why, then, that they don’t do so--they respond: ‘Because I just don’t want to now’.  That is addiction!”  Hakhel Note:  Can we each rid ourselves of at least one addiction before Elul?



TORAH STUDY: As the Fifteenth of Av has passed, Chazal urge us to spend more time with Torah study, with the longer nights. A Maggid Shiur pointed out that ultimately, on the Fifteenth of Av, the day only became a minute shorter (in the Northern Hemisphere). Chazal are teaching us the importance of one minute of Torah study--every minute adds up! A few important related notes: 


A.  It is said that the Ponovezer Rav, Z’tl, stated that he wanted to build his Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael to have 1,000 students.  A non-believer asked him:  “What will you do with 1,000 Rabbis?!”  He responded:  “I am not looking to produce 1,000 Rabbis, I am looking to produce 1 Rabbi and 999 Ba’alei Batim who will know what the term ‘Rabbi’ means!”  Hakhel Note:  Those who study the Torah and realize how profound and expansive it is, and how privileged one is to be able to swim even a bit in its sea, can truly understand the Ponovezer Rav’s comment! 


B.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that a ba’al habayis is not obligated to learn all day and all night, but instead should engage in business and set specific time aside for Torah study.  When he does engage in business, however, it must be with honesty and trustworthiness--as the first question that is asked of a person after 120 years is:  “Nosata V’Nosota B’Emunah--was it evident in your business dealings that you believed in a Creator, and did you follow the Torah’s dictates in monetary matters?”  The Chofetz Chaim continues that the Yetzer Hara will work hard on the person who knows that as a ba’al habayis  his primary obligation is only to establish set times for Torah study.  The Yetzer Hara will gnaw as follows:  “You cannot possibly keep those times (let alone for 7 1/2 years, but even for the daily study of a Mesechta).”  What the Yetzer Hara does not tell the person, however,  is that even when one fails in his daily studies here or there, Hashem looks at the person who is trying to do His will with mercy, and allows him to make amends--and most certainly welcomes Teshuvah in any and every way--whenever necessary!


C.  Chazal teach that while the Beis HaMikdash is not standing what remains for Hashem is the Daled Amos Shel Halacha--our study as to how to properly live by and perform the words of the Torah.  It is essential that with whatever we study--whether it be Daf Yomi, Amud Yomi, Parashas HaShavuah, or any Sefer Mussar, we walk away in some way knowing better what to do in a practical situation or in a meaningful way.  As the Ramban writes to his son in the Igeres HaRamban:  “Tichapeis BaAsher Lamadeta, Im Yeish Bo Davar Asher Tuchal LeKayemo--when you are about to get up from your Torah study--look into it to see if you can fulfill something that you did not know or properly understand before.”  Before closing our Gemara, our Chumash, or other Sefer, spend a few moments thinking about (or even writing down) something that you have learned during the study session that you can apply or improve upon in your daily life!  



DON’T BRING IT IN! This week’s Parasha contains the famous phrase “VeLo Savi So’eiva El Baisecha--do not bring something abominable into your home (Devorim 7:26).  The Torah is of course referring to Avodah Zara related matters.  We can take the hint, though, as to other related various and sundry to’eivos which confront us.  Perhaps THIS IS THE WEEK to go through our homes and see if there is something there that should not be there.  Improper reading or viewing material is what first comes to mind even if in the guise of children’s books or educational materials, and even if it is only intended to reflect the current world environment rather than be overtly obscene.  If some of those magazines or circulars that are dropped at your doorstep never make it into the house--you may literally be fulfilling the sacred words “do not bring them into the house”.  You may have some other ideas as to what to purge from your home (even if it is only for the news and sports).  The Sefer HaChinuch adds on this very Mitzvah (Mitzvah 429), that money gained improperly or inappropriately falls within the definition of to’eiva as well.  We should take a good look around the house--does everything here really belong to me--and even if it does belong to me --does it really belong here with me?





As it is now a full week since our observance of Tisha B’Av, we provide some important thoughts regarding our transition from a downtrodden Galus mode of existence to one of inspired and everlasting Geulah.


1. The Sefer Chaim Sheyeish Bahem brings the words of HaRav Baruch Ber Lebowitz, z’tl.  “After 120 years I will be asked what I accomplished in this world. I will say that I learned Torah.  But what if they say --you call that Torah?  Then I will say that I had some Yiras Shomayim.  But what if they say--you call that Yiras Shomayim?  I will still be able to say that I had some Ahavas Yisrael--for when another Yid would be near me on the street I would say--”Brachos Ahl Rosho--may brachos come upon his head!” This will certainly serve as  some kind of limud zechus for me....  Hakhel Note:  At least in this regard--we too can be like Reb Baruch Ber!


2.  At the outset of Kinah 24 over the Churban Bais HaMikdash ,we recite that ‘Espod Bechol Shona VeShona Misped Chadash’--we lament with a new elegy every year.  If this year’s Tisha B’Av is different than last year’s, than this year’s post-Tisha B’Av has to be different as well.  This year, being one step closer to Geulah puts us in a different position, and we must be up to the task.


3.  The Kinos refer to Chavetzeles HaSharon--the rose of Sharon.  Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita, points out that a rose must be attached to the ground to live--in water it eventually wilts and dies.  So too, our life is our connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and we must strive to keep the connection vibrant and lasting.  One way to do this is by not faltering in Kavannah in our daily Shemone Esrei--no matter how tired, harried, frazzled, or side-tracked you really think you are.


4.  The damage, death and destruction perpetrated to us over the years as reflected in the various Kinos demonstrate how unfulfilling the pursuit of Gashmius, in the long run, really is.  When people’s lives were at stake or even sacrificed, the earthly possessions turned out to be inconsequential.  If an anti-semetic tyrant would take power in any country even today, our first reaction would be to flee for our lives to a safer haven.  Now take a look at the so-called great and powerful King Nevuchadnezzar.  His temporal grandiose palace is another old ruin in Iraq, and there is not even a surviving likeness that we are sure is him.  When you feel too involved in gashmius, look at the world around and realize that life has much more to offer.  When stretching to look for the next bus, or for your luggage on the baggage carousel, think about the other, more needed and more permanent things we search for as well.  As the Navi in Eicha bemoans--Betzipisiyaseinu Tzipinu--we longed for the aid of the Egyptians-when we should have been stretching out our necks--and longing for the Shechina!



15 Menachem Av

THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF AV!  Today, joyously, is the 15th day of Av, Tu B’Av.  We are all too familiar with the five major tragedies that occurred on Tisha B’Av through the fall of Beitar and the plowing over of Zion (succeeded by other later tragedies as well).  We may be equally as familiar with the five corresponding great events of Tu B’Av: 


Very briefly:


1.  It was finally determined that the final group of men aged 20-60 (previously part of the decree to pass away in the Midbar) were allowed the privilege of entering Eretz Yisrael. 


2.  The shevet of Binyamin was saved from extinction by the shevatim being permitted to marry their daughters to the few hundred men left---so that there would be a kiyum of the shevet forever. 


3.  The guards posted by the Kings of the Aseres Hashevatim for hundreds of years, which prevented the ten tribes from freely traveling to the Beis Hamikdash, were removed--and all were allowed to make their way to the Mikdash.


4.  The scores of thousands of people of Beitar who were murdered by the Roman legions, and whose bodies miraculously did not decompose for years, were finally allowed by the Romans to be buried (and as a result the bracha of HaTov Vehameitiv was composed).


5.  The people would no longer cut firewood for the Bais HaMikdash commencing on this date, because the sun’s rays had begun to weaken, and the people celebrated the completion of the Mitzvah (which also allowed for more time for the study of Torah, as explained by the commentaries). 


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


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


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



QUESTION FOR SHABBOS: Rashi (Kiddushin 29B) brings a Pasuk from this week’s Parasha which is not in Shema as the source of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. What is the Pasuk?



AIN OD MILEVADO! This week’s Parasha (Devorim 4:35) contains these three words--a true essence of Yiddishkeit. By the following link http://tinyurl.com/5a6qmy we once again provide the excerpt from the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim on Ain Od Milevado. This should certainly be an essential topic at this week’s Shabbos table!



TESHUVA MOMENT: Before reciting Shema Yisroel, remember that you about to fulfill the Mitzvos of Kabalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim, Shema, and Ahavas Hashem (to begin with!)


THE ANSWER IS IN THE PARASHA! How can we break our enemy? The Pesukim in the Parasha (Devorim 6:18,19) provide a direct response: “Ve’asisa HaYashar VeHatov B’Einei Hashem LeHadof Es Kol Oyevecha MePanecha”. What is HaYashar VeHatov? The Ramban (ibid.) explains that it is Peshara U’lifnim Mishuras Hadin--being compromising and acting in a manner which is beyond what the law requires. Rabbosai, this is certainly our Avodas Hayom-- Peshara and Lifnim Mishuras Hadin!



THE ULTIMATE IN CLEANLINESS!:  In this week’s Parasha, we find that the Beis HaMikdash is referred to as HaLevanon. Rashi explains that it is referred to in this way because it is “Melabein Es Ha’adam Min Ha’aveiros--it directly cleanses and purifies a person from the aveiros he had committed”. Oh, how we should pine for the Beis HaMikdash to cleanse us again!



SHABBOS NACHAMU IS UPON US!  We now approach Shabbos Nachamu, after having just attempted to appreciate the enormity of the devastation of our Galus.  Shabbos Nachamu is intended to enlighten us as to how great the consolation will be.  There is no Pasuk that says “Eichah, Eichah.”  There is, however, a Pasuk which repeats “Nachamu, Nachamu--be consoled, be consoled...!”


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


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


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





1.  Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, Shlita, points out that this Shabbos is not called Shabbos Nachamu because it is a time of relaxation or comedy--but because it is a time to appreciate your closeness to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  The notion of laxity associated with this Shabbos, and its related Motza'ei Shabbos, is immediately dispelled by the words of the Aseres HaDibros (coincidentally?--never!) in this week’s Parasha!


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


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

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

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


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


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


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



SHEMA YISRAEL!:  Tomorrow, we will read in the Torah the first Parasha of Shema, the cornerstone of our faith.  It is certainly an extremely auspicious time now to review and renew our connection to the Shema, both as to its proper recitation, and the Halachos and Hashkofos which are associated with, and emanate from, its holy words. Yeshaya HaNavi (29:13) exhorts us not to perform Mitzvos in a manner which is “Mitzvas Anashim Melumada--by habit or rote.” Because we recite Shema so often we could, c’v, fall into this trap--and especially in light of the Kedusha of Shema we must make special efforts to invigorate our Shema daily. Indeed, Rashi in this week’s Parasha (Devarim 6:6) writes that it should be viewed as a new proclamation from the King each and every day. One can visualize the King’s messenger or royal crier unrolling the King’s message on parchment each and every time that he reads the Shema. Helpful Reminder: One way to maintain appropriate Kavannah while reciting Shema is to find the allusions to each one of the Aseres HaDibros in the Shema every time that one recites it (they are brought by the Mishna Berurah from the Talmud Yerushalmi, in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 61 seif katan 2).


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


1.  Before reciting Shema, we should have in mind that we are fulfilling the Mitzvah of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shomayim, and the separate Mitzvos of Kriyas Shema, and Ahavas Hashem (please recall our Teshuva Moment above!).


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


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


4.  When reciting Hashem’s names--especially in the first two pesukim--we should understand what each name--i.e., “Hashem” and “Elokeinu,” mean and represent.  This can be accomplished quickly once you know the meanings well. See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 5 and/or ask your Rav.


5.  When saying “VeAhavta (careful--emphasis on last syllable when pronouncing),” one should truly feel love for Hashem in his heart--at least for all the kindness that He bestows upon us!  See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 25, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 14.


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


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


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


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


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


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



MEZUZAH REMINDER!  The last Pasuk of Shema contains the Mitzvah of Mezuzah.   The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 285) writes that when a person enters and leaves his home, he should place his hand on the Mezuzah, to remind what is written in the Mezuzah, and that Hashem is watching over him at all times. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita notes that he observed that the Chazon Ish (at least in his older years) would look at the Mezuzah, rather than touch it, as he entered and exited, because by looking at it his mind was  also directed to the Mezuzah, its content and its meaning. 


Hakhel Note: As we enter a room or leave it, Let us remember to touch (or at least look at) the Mezuzah that we are blessed with on our doors--so that the two Parshios of Shema contained within it are with us not only at Shacharis and Ma'ariv but through the entire day!



ON THE PARASHA--FROM THE SEFER HACHINUCH!: We provide the following fundamental insights from the Sefer Hachinuch (English translation from the five volume masterpiece Sefer HaChinuch, Feldheim Publishers):


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


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


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


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



14 Menachem Av

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



CORRECTION--CONTINUING THIS MOTZA’EI SHABBOS!  Hakhel, in conjunction with TorahAnytime.com, will be continuing with its free Motza’ei Shabbos Torah Video Series in Flatbush, this Motza’ei Shabbos, July 28, and continuing through the summer. This week’s Shiur will be on Practical Guidelines for Self-Improvement by Rabbi Paysach Krohn and will begin at 10:15P.M.  Host Location: Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin, 2913 Avenue L. Free Admission, for Men and Women.



ON ASHER YATZAR:  Reb Elya Roth Z’tl, often stressed the importance of reciting 100 brachos each day…Regarding the bracha of Asher Yatzar, Reb Elya would say: “Do you know what Asher Yatzar really is? It is a ‘Thank You’ for 6 wonderful reasons.

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

2. The process is not complicated.

3. It is [usually] painless.

4. It does not require anesthesia.

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

6. It does not cost a cent.

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

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





A. The Chofetz Chaim teaches that the aveira of sinas chinam is inescapably bound to Lashon Hara. If a person at a particular moment does not feel that he is up to speaking Lashon Tov, he should do his utmost to at least remain silent. The Chofetz Chaim points out that in the merit of Lot remaining silent when Avrohom said that Sara was his ‘sister’, he became through his child Mo’av--an ancestor of the Moshiach!


B. Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita teaches that one explanation of the importance of being ‘Nosei B’Ohl Im Chaveiro’--being genuinely concerned for another’s needs and well-being--is that the gezeirah against another may be that he has to undergo a certain degree of suffering or amount of tribulations, and that when another is Nosei B’Ohl--genuinely feeling the other’s needs or pain, he actually steps into the shoes of that person, and is able to alleviate his situation more rapidly--for the gezeirah has been allocated over the people feeling for him--and need not only be experienced by himself.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



13 Menachem Av




TESHUVA MOMENT:  Recognize that  one should not look at the seeming insignificance (one extra word, being a little late,  development of a passing thought) of the aveira, but of the greatness of the One who commanded not to do it.


QUESTION OF THE DAY: Yoshiyahu HaMelech believed that everything was perfect in Eretz Yisrael--yet he hid the Aron and the Mahn because of the impending Churban, how do we reconcile the two?




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


2. The term Kina (lament)  sounds  dangerously close to Kinah (jealousy)--do we get the message?


3. There are two days in the year in which we do not eat for a 25-hour period, and upon which we undergo the five afflictions. Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita points out that just as after Yom Kippur, our life is not supposed to be the same, so too, with Tisha B’Av!


4. After reading from the Torah during the entire year, we return the Sefer to the Aron, and conclude by reciting the penultimate Pasuk of Eicha--why?


5. Perhaps a reason the Kinnos are not in chronological order, jumping back and forth through different parts of our bitter galus is to emphasize to us that our lives are not currently in order, despite the mirage of being so.


6. The Navi teaches that we were punished ‘ahl asher azvu es Torasi’--for not properly regarding the Torah. Perhaps this is another reason that we cannot engage in our regular Torah study on Tisha B’Av--middah k’neged middah for our inadequate regard. We then can better understand what we are missing! In fact, the  Divrei Siach  reports that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita teaches that one’s Teshuva resulting from Tisha B’Av should be in area of Torah study.


7. Many do not realize it, but reciting the paragraph of the Korban Tomid in Schacharis every morning is a chiyuv, an obligation in Shulchan Aruch, for both men and women (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 47,48). With this, we fulfill “Uneshalma Forim Sefaseinu”--our words temporarily replacing the great accomplishment of the Karbanos!


8. The Chovas HaLevavos in the Sha’ar HaBechina writes that the miracle of how we have survived and even thrived in Galus in ways even greater than our enemies is a miracle at least equal to Kri’as  Yam Suf. Every day, when reciting the Shira--one can indeed truly consider that he himself is going through the Yam!


9. Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita commented that Sinas Chinam very definitely includes--’If I can’t have it, you shouldn’t have it either.’ Om the other hand, being mevater,  giving in even when you are right goes to the essence of Ahavas Yisroel.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


19. Do you recall the four brachos that HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Z’tl rules that we will recite when the Mashiach comes? In the Divrei Siach  mentioned earlier, the possibility of other brachos to be recited when the Mashiach comes, including Birkas HaGomel, Meshane HaBrios, Baruch She’Petaranu, and Go’al Yisroel, is discussed. An important lesson--stay around Talmidei Chachomim, and daven that you will be in a Shul, Beis Midrash or other good place when the Mashiach comes--so that you will know just exactly what Brachos to make!


20. Why do we celebrate Shabbos Nachamu if we are still in Galus?  Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, Shlita, teaches that we celebrate the fact that we have not forgotten the Bais HaMikdash and where we really belong--and personally strive to get home as soon as possible! Each one of us is duty-bound to ensure that his celebration on Shabbos Nachamu will be a true and real one!



12 Menachem Av

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: Ponder the fact that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed through the ma’aseh of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza--the wrongful interaction of two people, and consider how you can rebuild it with a positive interaction in a similar or related situation!



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



WHAT THE CHOFETZ CHAIM DID: HaRav Dovid Yosef, Shlita, writes: “The Chofetz Chaim kept his Shabbos clothing next to his bed every night so that if Moshiach came in the middle of the night, he would be able to greet him dressed properly, and would not have to spend time looking for his Shabbos clothing.”  (From the Sefer Why We Weep)


Hakhel Note: Do you know where your Shabbos clothing is?



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


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






We know that 

Hashem takes every good deed we do 

and transforms it into the building of the Bais Hamikdosh. 


In fact, when Mashiach comes, 

each of us will actually see 

the individual bricks or stones

 that were added because of our Mitzvos.


(Divray Yechezkal - Shiniver Rebbe


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TODAY--13 YEARS SINCE THE GUSH KATIF TRAGEDY:  Although 13 years have passed since the Gush Katif expulsion, we are still numbed by the devastating consequences wrought on its inhabitants and the surrender of Batei Midrashim and Batei K’nesios to sonei Yisrael y’s whose first actions upon taking the land was chilul and zilzul--may Hashem avenge their actions speedily and in our day. It is a day of shame and of reflection for us--another day where we hope and daven that the tza’ar will be turned into a Yom Tov in only a way that HaKadosh Baruch Hu can. Let us recite Tehillim Chapter 83 now as a zechus for those expelled and the troubles they face as a result even until today, and as a zechus for K’lal Yisrael that we never witness a brother against brother action such as this ever, ever again.


Hakhel Note:  Although Tisha B’Av 5778 is over, let us bli neder resolve this year to truly keep the Kedushas Eretz Yisrael, Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash close to us every day of the year. It is very important to note that immediately after teaching us the Halachos of Tisha B’Av, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 560) provides us with the Halachos of what we must do Zecher L’Churban, in remembrance of the Churban--every day.  Our lives are not regular; and we once again emphasize the crucial point that we are not now ‘back to normal’. A normal, regular life for us is a life with  a Yerushalayim as the spiritual, focal point of the world, and with the Shechina in all of its glory on earth resting in the Beis HaMikdash. Accordingly, it is not enough to say that we believe in Moshiach. We must anxiously await Moshiach. The phrase in Ani Maamin of ‘Achake Lo’ is not a figurative expression but a literal one. Thus, once again, when we recite the words “Velirushalayim Irecha”--we are pleading that Hashem finally get back to His Home in His City [will you join our “Less Than Sixty-Day Program”?; when we recite the words “VeSechezena Einainu” we are davening that our very eyes actually see the Shechina’s  return; when we say the words “Vesain Chelkainu BeSorosecha” we are imploring that the Torah  finally return to its former glory by our reaching levels in Torah Study that we cannot achieve in Galus. These special times in Shemone Esrei when we daven for our lives to really return to normal should not be brushed over, c’v. Instead, truth be told, they should be one of the main areas of our life’s focus, one of the highlights of our day!





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


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


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


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


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



11 Menachem Av

TESHUVA MOMENT: Be mekabel, bli neder, from now until Rosh Hashanah to read the Yehi Ratzon...She’Yiboneh Bais HaMikdash Bimheyrah V’Yameinu after Shemone Esrei word for word from the Siddur at least once a day.



FROM A RAV! By the following link we provide (in Hebrew) words of instruction from a Rav as to the lessons to be taken on Tisha B’Av--and from Tisha B’Av.  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/PostTishaBAvHisorerus.pdf





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


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


C.  A Rav had once asked us to convey that we can bring the Geulah even if we are not deserving. How so?  In every Shemone Esrei, in the first bracha of Avos, we state that Hashem will bring the Go’el to the descendants of the Avos--LeMa’an Shemo b’Ahava--for the sake of His Name with love. This is our OPPORTUNITY to daven to Hashem to bring the Geulah even if we are undeserving--so that the Chilul Hashem of Galus stops and is replaced with the Kiddush Hashem of Geulah--and all of this with love!


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


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


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


G.  Based on the calculation that it has been 1,948 years since the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, this amounts to more than 710,000 days and over 17,050,000 hours.  This is an extremely, extremely long time.  As we heard in the Haftara read on Tisha B’Av morning (Yirmiyahu 8:13): “Ein Anavim BaGefen V’ein Te’einim BaTe’einah--there are no grapes on the grape vine and no figs on the fig tree.”  What we live in is an illusory world--not the world in the state that it is supposed to be, and K’lal Yisrael in an unnatural habitat wherever its people may be scattered in the world.  Even in a time such as this, in which people can enjoy special comforts including Glatt Kosher international cuisine, the latest model cars and conveniences, and all kinds of medicines and therapies which help us feel better, we truthfully live in a stormy calm. The fear of terrorism and crazed human beings horrifies us in a way that mankind has never before known.  So, with all the comforts and conveniences, our times are nevertheless fraught with unrest, turbulence and confusion. Rabbi Yoni Zakutinsky, Shlita, explains our situation with the following Mashal:  One is in attendance at a huge Chasunah at a prestigious hall, with prominent rabbinic and lay leaders, an outstanding Chosson, the finest delicacies, a large band--there is just one thing missing--the Kallah.  Without the Kallah, all of the above simply does not get us to a true wedding.  In fact, all of this without a Kallah--could end in disaster.  We really have to recognize that we once and for all need the Geulah, and take steps to achieve it.  Whatever daily act (or two, etc.) it may be, we should try to do it for thirty days in a row, so that it ‘sticks’. We have to take the Galus out of us--daily--so that we can attain the Geulah! 


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



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



THE INSPIRATION OF KINOS:  As we have noted in the past, in the unparalleled Artscroll Kinos, by Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer, Shlita, Rabbi Feuer writes the following in the course of his introduction:


“The tears of Kinos are a never-ending stream.  When I began to translate and elucidate the Kinnos on the day after Succos, I called my Rebbi, HaRav Mordechai Gifter, [Z’tl], and asked, ‘How can I get into the mood of writing about Kinnos just a day after Simchas Torah, while all the happy tunes of joy still resonate in my ears and Tisha B’Av is still so far off in the future?  Who can think of Kinos now?’


He replied, ‘You are mistaken. Kinos are not only for Tisha B’Av, they are for the entire year, except that throughout the year we recite Kinos in a whisper, while on Tisha B’Av we shout them out loud!  Whoever neglects Kinos all year long and attempts to start reciting them on Tisha B’Av will not succeed in saying them even then, because he will recite the verses without any feeling and he will become bored.  We must cry and mourn over the Churban all year long, in every season, and then our Kinnos will reach their climax of pain on Tisha B’Av.’


This concept of regular mourning over the Churban is codified in the very first chapter of Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 1:3).  It is proper for every G-d-fearing person to feel pain and anguish over the destruction of the Holy Temple.


The Sefas Emes was once asked, ‘And what should someone do if he feels no anguish over the Churban of the Temple?’  The Rebbe replied, ‘Then he should be consumed with pain and anguish over his own personal Churban.  If a Jew doesn’t feel real pain over the Churban, it shows that his soul is in a wretched, abysmal state!’


True, Kinos are for all year round--but when does one begin to develop a feeling for them?  On Tisha B’Av.  If one truly comprehends and feels the Kinos he recites on this day, he will be inspired to refer back to them throughout the year….”


 Hakhel Note:  On a daily basis, we must remind ourselves of our status of Churban, of Yerushalayim physically and spiritually not rebuilt in the way it should be. Our lives are not normal, and we must not forget it. We need the Geulah--so that Ruchniyus can come back to the world, and the world will finally be as it should be. Both HaKadosh Baruch Hu and we will cherish the moment of Moshiach’s arrival, for we will then be--and forever remain--oh, so close. We must keep our yearning, our striving, our goal with us and make it a part of us--each and every day.





8 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?!





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. Hakhel Note: One should consult with his Rav as to the practice he should follow, as well as whether one should shower before or after Chatzos.


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 SHABBOSThere 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!





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 VEs 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.



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



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!



REMINDER--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:  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.



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

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


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


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


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


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



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?





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


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


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


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


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



HOW CAN WE NOT 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

·                                Those who are victims of terror on an almost daily basis in the area of Gaza

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



ONE FINAL, VERY IMPORTANT POINT: The experience of Tisha B’Av should not be one of Yei’ush--despair, combined with a feeling of hypocrisy--knowing that one will eat on Sunday night and have Shabbos Nachamu in a week.  No, Tisha B’Av is quite to the contrary a time for us to revitalize our Achakeh Lo--our anticipation, our outstretched hope, our true yearning that the Moshiach really finally does come, and mankind reaches its final goal.  It is one of the most basic tenets of Torah belief, as told and retold by our Nevi’im, that the Geulah will come.  As to why the Moshiach did not come in the times of Rav and Shmuel, in the times of Ravina and Rav Ashi, or those of Rashi, the Rambam, the Ramban, the Bais Yosef, the G’ra, Rebbi Akiva Eiger, the Belzer Rebbe, the Ben Ish Chai or any of the outstandingly great Gedolei HaDor we have had in the past, it is simply not something we can understand at this moment.  Furthermore, for all of those who thought that it would be the Chofetz Chaim, the Chazon Ish, the Baba Sali, the Steipeler, HaRav Shach, or HaRav Elyashiv that would lead us to Moshiach, this is also, devastatingly, not the reality now.  Nevertheless, we must intensely believe, and intensely demonstrate, that we know that the Geulah will come.  We must bring home to ourselves that it is not another Tisha B’Av because it was so last year, the year before, or a hundred years before.  It is another Tisha B’Av because in the stretch between Tisha B’Av 5777 and 5778, 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! 




7 Menachem Av

NOW AVAILABLE: We provide by the following link important excerpts relating to the Halachos of Erev Shabbos Tisha B’Av, Shabbos Tisha B’Av, and the Ta’anis as observed on Sunday, as authored by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita.  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TishaBAvHalachos2.pdf  For those who want to look into any topic further, Rabbi Webster provides extensive Hebrew footnotes in the link. We thank HaRav Webster, for making this extremely important resource available to our readers. Of course, one should obtain a final ruling on all personal matters from his Rav or Posek. 



A TESHUVAH MOMENT: Reflect upon the time and effort that goes into a Rav’s drasha and resolve, bli neder, to take at least one action as a result of a drasha. Remember that words of mussar are words of instruction, and should be viewed as precious words of Hashgacha directed to you.








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



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


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



PISKEI HALACHA OF HARAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, SHLITA: The following are Piskei Halacha from HaRav Chaim Kanievksy, Shlita, as published in the Divrei Si’ach relating to Tisha B’Av, and the Churban:


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


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


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


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


E. Halachos which are Zecher LeChurban:


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


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


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





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.



6 Menachem Av

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: One should have a fall-back Pasuk which he comes to when he finds his mind blank, wandering, or thinking inappropriately. One example would be: “Horeini Hashem Darkecha Aahaleich Ba’amitecha, Yacheid Levavi Leyirah Shemecha.” We each obviously have thousands to choose from.



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



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


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


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


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







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


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


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



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


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


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



5 Menachem Av

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: That one item that you were meaning to get to--improving your Kavannah in Pesukei D’Zimrah or Shema; 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!



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 VDorappears: (1) Bechol Dor VDor 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 VDor Omdim Aleinu Lechaloseinu-- in every generation our enemies attempt to destroy us (whether blatantly or not). Chazal, by putting both phrases of Bechol Dor VDor 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 VDor!



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!



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, Lamed) 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.  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!



A TEN MINUTE NOTICE!  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

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: Before beginning Shemone Esrei, visualize a malach reminding you that you are about to stand ‘face to k’veyachol face’ with the Shechina, and try to keep yourself in that mode for at least the first bracha. What a special ‘Magen Avraham’ it can be!



FROM A READER: “The Imrei Emes [one of the great Gerrer Rebbes] describes the scenario of a person who is suspected of having tzara’as. If the Kohen is not sure – the person must be secluded away for a week to be checked again to see if it is in fact tzara’as or not. Let’s say that in the end it wasn’t tzara’as. So the Imrei Emes asks, what is going on? There is no happenstance or coincidence and this person went through a lot of inui – a lot of pain, being by themselves for the week, basically in solitary confinement. and in the end, it wasn’t tzara’as – so why did all of that happen?


His answer is astounding! He says that he had all of that affliction for words not spoken.


Things that he should have said to someone ……..and didn’t. Words of encouragement and care, a compliment, a thank you, something that could help a person, give them some kavod, build them up in some way, or something that would be meaningful for them. These things went unsaid. For this he was meant to sit for a week by himself and contemplate life and what could have happened and what he could have said.


We are talking about the concept of Lashon Tov. We always speak about the seriousness of Lashon Hara – but what about the flip side??”



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!”



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


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


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



1 Menachem Av

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: Think about one person with whom your relationship could be strengthened or improved, and resolve bli neder to follow Hashem’s path of V’Halachta B’Drachav--and improve that relationship



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.



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”).


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


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





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 this week’s Perek, Chapter 2 of Pirkei Avos: Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai asks his five primary talmidim, “What is the proper way to which a man should be “Yidbak”--to which he should cling?”  The first four primary talmidim each responded in his own way.  Rebbi Elazar then responded that one should cling to “a Lev Tov--a good heart.”  Rabban Yochanan then said to his students, “I prefer the words of Elazar to your words, for your words are included in his words.”  What is so all-encompassing about the words “Lev Tov” that it per se includes the other responses of Rabban Yochanan’s other four top students?!  The Tiferes 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!





. 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).





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 he is breaking his 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 this 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!



29 Tammuz

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: Think of one thing that you know you need to do Teshuvah in--and ask Hashem for His help and His mercy in guiding you through it.



PLEASE NOTE: As tomorrow is Erev Shabbos, we would otherwise cut our nails L’Kavod Shabbos. However, as it is also Rosh Chodesh, many have the custom not to cut their nails on Rosh Chodesh, superseding their regular Erev Shabbos conduct. Accordingly, we suggest that those with the custom not to cut their nails on Rosh Chodesh--cut them today!



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



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



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



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


While there is something in between, much of life can be categorized either r’l in the trials and tribulations category, and, on the other hand, much can be placed into the tangible benefits section. The entire range of life’s experience comes directly from Hashem--as Chazal demonstrate with both the bracha of Shehechiyanu and the bracha of Dayan HaEmes.  To most, experiencing the benefits and having and maintaining the ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ abilities and benefits that we are given is much more appealing than experiencing suffering, pain, or anguish.  How can we better recognize these pleasures--and show Hashem our appreciation of them? May we suggest that, from now until the end of the year, one keep a daily log, if you will, of some of the things you really feel thankful about on that day--the mazel tov event, the successful encounter, the good food, the particularly meaningful Devar Torah you thought of or heard, the good or improved health, the good friend, the way you saved a lot of money, or that unbelievable Hashgacha Pratis story you just experienced.  There is really plenty in each and every day.  As the year 5778 draws to its close, many of those who took us up on our suggestion last year to count the number of Asher Yatzars they recite a day--thanking Hashem for the unfathomable miracles of the body -- are now at over 1,000 brachos of thanks for this renewing daily (hourly) miracle alone.


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





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


2. 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!



28 Tammuz

A TESHUVA MOMENT: When waking up after reciting Modeh Ani every morning, bli neder, reflect for a moment on your Hakaras Hatov to Hashem for giving you another day of opportunity to draw closer to Him with your thoughts, your words and your actions--and achieve your purpose in life!



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 today), 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: Today is the 32nd 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!    



YAHRZEIT OF HARAV YOSEF SHALOM ELYASHIV, Z’TL: Today is the 6th Yahrzeit of HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl. We provide below a brief excerpt of his rulings with regard to the Nine Days, as excerpted from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh. Of course, one must consult with his own Rav or Posek and receive a definitive p’sak with respect to his own personal Shailos, circumstances and situations:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



27 Tammuz

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!



TESHUVA MOMENT: To reinforce your Emunah and share it with others, try to make at least one bracha a day to which another person will answer Amen.



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



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!



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!



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!



26 Tammuz

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!



A TESHUVAH MOMENT: Improve in the Mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha. Before taking leave of anyone, rather than saying ‘Bye’ or ‘Take Care’, make the conscious effort, bli neder, to give him/her a sincere bracha --’Be Well’, ‘Be Matzliach’, ‘Bracha V’Hatzlacha’, ‘L’Chaim U’L’Shalom’, or the like.



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 our own home.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 170, Seif Katan 45) brings from the Shelah HaKadosh that one should be glad of heart at all of his meals, whether large or small, and eat “b’simcha” in happiness [reflecting upon all of the goodness from Hashem, that the simple meal involves].  Moreover, the Mishna Berurah continues, if one eats and drinks in a healthy manner, with the purpose of energizing his body for the sake of his soul, then his Seudah, his meal, is actually L’Halacha, deemed a “Seudas Mitzvah.”  Thus, just as at a wedding one is happy and partakes in a Seudas Mitzvah, one can make his own little “chasunah” at home at every meal!



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! 



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


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


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


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


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


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


Here is one suggestion:


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



23 Tammuz

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: At this week’s Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, HaRav Fischel Schachter, Shlita, said in the name of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, that if we recognize and apply the opportunities for Teshuvah as they present themselves in our lives, then the entire world becomes a k’li shareis for us.



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.


TOMORROW--THE YAHRZEIT OF HARAV YAAKOV YOSEF: For New York City Metropolitan Area Residents:  Tomorrow, Shabbos Kodesh,  is the 115th Yahrzeit of HaRav Yaakov Yosef, the first and only Chief Rabbi of New York over 100 years ago.  His kever in Brooklyn, New York is known as a remarkable makom of Tefillah. For those who wish to visit his kever today or on Sunday, the address of the cemetery is Union Field Cemetery, 8211 Cypress Avenue, Ridgewood, NY.



SUNDAY--THE YAHRZEIT OF HARAV MEIR MAIAPTA: Sunday, 25 Tammuz, is the Yahrzeit of the HaRav Meir MaiApta, the Baal Ohr LaShamayim.  A reader has provided us with a beautiful copy of the Tefillah that the Baal Ohr LaShamayim composed, which would most certainly be appropriate to recite on his Yahrtzeit.  The tefillah is available at http://tinyurl.com/25ngcr7



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.”



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. In this week’s Parasha, we learn that the Korban Mussaf of Shabbos consists 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!


B. We conclude 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.



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!



22 Tammuz

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Orchos Chaim L’Rosh (Paragraph 100) writes three words: “Ahl Tevahel Ma’asecha”--rather than acting in a disturbed or impulsive manner--act with calmness and serenity. When about to do something, stop and think--am I doing this with aforethought or acting (or reacting) too quickly?



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! 



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 Tongues This 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!



21 Tammuz

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that if a servant tells his master: “I will do everything you say--except for ‘just one thing’”, in effect he has told him that he is not his master.





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


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


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





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


6. Reminder--Sever Panim Yafos Calendar! If you haven’t started yet--start today!

























































7. 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!



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:






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).



20 Tammuz

7-ELEVEN SLURPEES: The COR of Greater Detroit (Vaad Harabbonim) recommends that slurpees be bought only at stores that have store-level Kashrus supervision of their slurpees, to be assured that the syrup box that feeds the machine is actually Kosher and pareve. The flavor cards on the machine cannot be relied upon, even if they bear a Kosher symbol, because stores sometimes use syrups that do not correspond with the brand or variety posted on the machine. [Just recently, due to a syrup shortage, some 7-Elevens brought in non-certified generic brands of syrups, but still had the brand name flavor cards posted on the machines.] In addition, when changing flavors, stores generally do not clean the machine in-between, and during the transition there can be a significant mixture of flavors, one of which may be non-Kosher or dairy.



TISHA B’AV & YOM KIPPUR ALERT: The COR of Greater Detroit (Vaad Harabbonim) also reminds us that TOMS SHOES canvas and material styles contain a suede leather insole, which may not be worn on Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur. Only Toms special “Vegan” line of shoes are free of leather.


A TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that when one regrets his sin, recites vidui and davens to Hashem, it is as if he went to the Mikvah to purify himself!





1. “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.”


2. “I think that during the Three Weeks it would be appropriate, helpful and a chizuk to everyone to especially have extra Kavanna and have in mind Binyan Beis HaMikdash when Yerushalayim is mentioned when bentsching and reciting Ahl HaMichya.”



HAVE A PLAN! It is essential that we not let the Three Weeks pass without a plan. As to Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, we presented the Sever Panim Yafos Calendar. 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, Z’tl:


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, Shlita:


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


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


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


D. One 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).



19 Tammuz

A TESHUVAH MOMENT: The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that if someone breaks a permitted physical desire, it will serve in his great stead when an impermissible desire arises--for he will say: “If I have not fulfilled my desire when permitted--how could I partake of that which is forbidden?!”



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



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





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


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


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


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


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



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, which started yesterday. 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!

























































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