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28 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT: How can we further promote Ahavas Chinam? HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl (whose Yahrzeit is today) 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.


Hakhel Note: See below for several more points and pointers of HaRav Friedlander, Z’tl.



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


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

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



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 33rd 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.  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. 


C.  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.”


D.  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


E.  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! 


F.  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!” 


G.  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. 


H.  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. 


I.  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. 


J.  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 seventh 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

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



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



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



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



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



AN IMPORTANT STUDY!  A student of human nature will notice that a clothier will look first at a person’s clothes, an optician will look first at a person’s glasses, a hatter will look first at a person’s hat, a shoemaker will look first at a person’s shoes….  What should the Torah Jew look for when first meeting a person?  The Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Middos V’Avodas Hashem I, p. 167) suggests that the first thing we look for is the positive only-- Dan LeChaf Zechus--judging the person in front of us only in a favorable light. In this way, the first questions--Why does he look like this?  Why does he speak like that?  Why does he act in that way?--are all answered! Furthermore, with this initial instinct, the Sifsei Chaim writes, we will personally grow immeasurably--for we will not only fulfill the Mitzvos of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha and B’Tzedek Tishpot Amisecha, but we will grow in the most essential Middos of not being haughty and  looking down at other people, and concomitantly being humble--recognizing that every man is simply the product of his Hashgacha Pratis and the specific and particular tests, challenges, wisdom, expertise and skill granted to him by Hashem.  If one can seriously master the skill to be Dan LeChaf Zechus--he will be greater than the clothier, the optician, the hatter, the shoemaker…because every time one encounters another person--he will be improving himself immeasurably!



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



26 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT: When Shaul was to be anointed as king, the Pasuk states that Shmuel HaNavi told the people to go to Gilgul, “U’nechadeish Sham HaMelucha—let us inaugurate the king there” (Shmuel Aleph 11:14). The Chofetz Chaim teaches that there is a profound lesson to us here for use on a daily basis. Every day, before we recite Shema, we should not view it as a repetition of the previous Shema or the previous day, but rather as a new proclamation of Hashem’s Kingship. One should not c’v view Shema as a rote rededication—but instead as a new and invigorated privilege to be at the inauguration! Before Shema think-- U’nechadeish Sham HaMelucha!



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


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


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



SECOND OF THE THREE WEEKS: As we have commenced 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.


There are two items that we may readily suggest:


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


2.  As Chazal teach that the Second Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam, and related Bain Adam LeChaveiro aveiros, it would seem appropriate for us to DO SOMETHING--to make a discrete effort in improving in this area.  Even for the “almost perfect” person, there is room to improve.  One possibility may be to study Loving Kindness, daily lessons based on the Sefer Ahavas Chesed of the Chofetz Chaim, published by Artscroll. You never know what that final brick will be, and who will be the exalted one to place it--put yourself in position for the golden opportunity!



23 Tammuz

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.”



TESHUVAH MOMENT: 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 bring others down--for we bring ourselves down together with them!



THIS WEEK’S FOCUS: This week we focused on the Tenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Kibutz Galios--Gathering in our Exiles!  The bracha concludes with the words Baruch Atta Hashem Mekabeitz Nidchei Amo Yisrael--Who gathers in the dispersed of His people Yisrael. HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, teaches that this bracha ends in the present tense because we have such Emunah that the Geulah take place--we can ‘taste’ the ingathering of the exiles!  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, teaches that the term Nidchei--the dispersed--is a crucial one, for it is based in the Pasuk of “...U’va’u HaOvdim B’Eretz Ashur Vehanidachim B’’Eretz Mitzrayim...--and those who are lost in Ashur and dispersed in Mitzrayim will return to Yerushalayim (Yeshayah 27:13).  This means that even those who may have been previously ‘lost’ their Yiddishkeit may be gathered in as well (obviously based upon factors beyond our understanding). One thing is for sure though--those who will meet the criteria of Amo Yisrael (those who do Hashem’s will show that they want to be his nation)--as the bracha concludes--they will all surely be gathered in. What gives us even additional hope and aspiration is that, as the Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah teaches, when the Geulah comes, Yisrael--including the Aseres HaShevatim will be reunited--this time inseparably and invincibly!  The conclusion of this bracha spirits us to pray for the day!



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, HaRav Avraham Pam, Z’tl, 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)]



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 117th 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





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


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


C.  We remind everyone of the importance of having Kavannah when reciting Al Naharos Bavel (Tehillim 137), on weekdays, and Shir HaMa’alos BeShuv Hashem Es Shivas Tzion (Tehillim 126) on Shabbos and Yom Tov, in each case before bentsching. Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Shlita, in his classic Tehillim translation (Artscroll), points out the great difference between Al Naharos Bavel and Shir HaMa’alosAl Naharos Bavel reminds us of our entering into Galus, as we are exiled into Babylonia .  The Shir HaMa’alos, on the other hand, provides detail as to how our final redemption will appear to be a dream because the wonders that will accompany it will exceed our greatest expectations.  Shabbos, which is May’ein Olam Haba, is a perfect time for us, as exiled Jews, to get a glimpse of our future elevation and glory, as Hashem returns us to Tzion.  Let us appropriately 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. In this week’s Parasha, we learned that the Korban Mussaf of Shabbos consisted of two kevasim, both brought as a Korban Olah, and not as a Korban Chatas. A Korban Olah is typically brought for the violation of a Mitzvas Asei in some form, or for an improper thought. The Ba’alei Mussar derive from the fact that the Korban Mussaf of Shabbos is only Olos--that one must especially focus on having proper thoughts on Shabbos. Even if we begin to think about financial or business matters in a positive way which may be technically permissible (the nice amount of money one made in the previous week, how much money one has in the bank, or how successful one was in a business meeting or a business relationship in the previous week)--he should nevertheless try to banish business and financial thoughts from his mind on Shabbos--as they can easily move into an area which is not permissible on Shabbos because it causes distress--such as what one forgot to do on Friday, what one needs to order on Monday, how that supplier shouldn’t have done that, what new advertising needs to be done …. Shabbos is a wonderful time for one to work-on thought purification!


F. If one recites or is yotzei Havdala before davening Ma’ariv, he nevertheless still later recites Atta Chonantanu in Shemone Esrei (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 294, Mishna Berurah, Seif Katan 1).




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

TESHUVAH MOMENT: 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! 



REFLECTING UPON TODAY’S TIMES: For the current Ikvasa D’Moshicha, we provide the following possible suggestions:


A. Dovid HaMelech, who lived through so much in his lifetime, provides a Pasuk in Tehillim which we can use to guide us. This Pasuk is recited every day, twice a day, from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Shemini Atzeres--a period when we know that our lives, and indeed the whole world around us, hangs in the balance.  The Pasuk is the climax--the final and concluding Pasuk of LeDovid Hashem Ori--it is “Kavey El Hashem, Chazak V’Yaametz Libecha V’Kavey El Hashem--Hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage, and [once again] Hope to Hashem!”  (Tehillim 27:17)


The Pasuk’s lesson is clear: An important part of our nisayon in life (especially during these days of Chevlei Mashiach) is that our Emunah is confronted and challenged.  When this happens, after our initial hoping to Hashem, which may in the ordinary course be followed by feelings of weakness to cope, we must strengthen ourselves and hope to Hashem again.  Of course, improving one’s Tefillah (especially Shema and Shemone Esrei), one’s regular brachos (especially when reciting the word “Ata” and Hashem’s Names), and feeling Hashem’s actual Presence at times of challenge, helps one to reinforce and ignite the initial hope--and obliterate depression and despair.


We may additionally suggest that even reciting this very Pasuk when one experiences confusion, dejection or despondency can help a person get back on track to refocus--there is Divine Purpose, and Ani Maamin--I believe with all my heart in the details of the Shelosha Asar Ikarim--the Thirteen Principles of Faith (which can also be recited more than once a day!).


When we strengthen ourselves, we should not forget to strengthen others as well.  Remember--Kavey El Hashem…V’Kavey El Hashem--with Faith--and Joy!


B. Let us also look at the last three Pesukim of Tehillim Chapter 6, which is the Chapter which forms the integral part of Tachanun every morning and afternoon. How powerful and timely these Pesukim are!:


Suru Mimeni Kol Po’alei Aven Ki Shamah Hashem Kol Bichyi. Shamah Hashem Techinasi Hashem Tefilasi Yikach. Yeivoshu Veyibahalu Me’od Kol Oyevai Yashuvu Yeivoshu Ragah--depart from me, all evildoers, for Hashem has heard the sound of my weeping. Hashem has heard my plea, Hashem will accept my prayer. Let all my foes be shamed and utterly confounded, they will regret and be shamed in an instant.” [Artscroll translation]


Perhaps we can recite this Kepitel with special fervor.


C. In his Sefer Tiv HaEmunah, HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, brings the words of Tehillim 20:6: “Neranenah Bishuasecha--we will sing for joy at Your salvation.” Based upon this Pasuk, HaRav Rabanovitch teaches that when one faces a situation of tzara and needs a yeshuah--he should proceed to thank Hashem now for the Yeshuah that is to come.


D. In a related vein, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that when one is in a difficult situation, he can be mekabel upon himself to do something upon his being saved from it. For instance, one can be mekabel to give a certain amount of Tzedakah when the Yeshuah comes, or to recite Nishmas in the presence of a Minyan. For other examples of Kabalos, one should consult with their Rav or Posek.


E. As Chilul Hashem is perhaps the gravest offense, as is evidenced by its uniquely severe punishment, the converse--the performance of Kiddush Hashem should engender great zechusim for us. We should be especially cognizant and sensitive to perform acts of Kiddush Hashem--especially this week as an integral part of our Summer Improvement Program. The following event is brought in the outstanding work Touched by a Story, by Rabbi Yechiel Spero, Shlita:


Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin lived in Yerushalayim. Once, in his old age, a new shamash came in the morning to bring him to Shul. When Rav Yehoshua Leib emerged from his house, instead of setting out for Shul, he made his way to a stairway outside his house that led up to the roof. He climbed the stairs slowly and painfully, looked around for something, then came downstairs with a sigh. The shamash could not help but ask-the Rav for the reason for his peculiar behavior. Rav Yehoshua Leib explained, ‘The first two Batei Mikdash were built by human hands, but the third Beis HaMikdash is going to descend from Heaven in fire. That is something that could happen even overnight. I wanted to check if the Beis HaMikdash came last night. But it didn’t,’ he concluded with tears in his eyes, and turned to make his way to Shul.”


Hakhel Note: The Bais HaMikdash does not have to be built at night--it can most certainly be built during the day as well. May the current galus be our final taste of this long and bitter galus--and may we be zoche to the Geulah Sheleimah!



21 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT: As we don’t want to let the meaning of the recent fast fade away, we must keep Teshuvah, the ikar of the fast, in the forefront. Set forth below is the English translation of the last paragraph in the First Gate of the Sha’arei Teshuvah (English translation by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein, Feldheim): “


“I shall mention to you what our Teachers have said concerning this. Our Teachers of blessed memory have enumerated twenty-four deterrents to repentance: Tale-bearing, slander, succumbing to anger, entertaining evil thoughts, associating with the wicked, habitually partaking of the meals of those who lack enough for themselves, immodest gazing, theft-sharing, saying, “I will sin and repent”…aggrandizing oneself through the discomfiture of one’s neighbor, disassociating oneself from the congregation, shaming one’s ancestors, shaming one’s teachers, cursing the populace, preventing the populace from performing a mitzvah, causing one’s neighbor to deviate from a good to a wicked path, making use of a pauper’s pledge, taking a bribe, to pervert judgment, finding a lost object and not returning it to its owner, seeing one’s son corrupting his ways and not protesting, eating the spoils of paupers, orphans, and widows, contesting the words of sages, suspecting the innocent, scorning reproof, and scoffing at the mitzvos.”





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 compilation 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!” 



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


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





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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






















JULY .27






























     AUGUST 11






20 Tammuz







TESHUVAH MOMENT: Especially in this period, we must remember the words of the Mesilas Yesharim, who teaches that the Tefillos of each and every person for the Geulah make a difference and are important. By the following links we once again provide the Tefillah Ahl HaGeulah http://tinyurl.com/2u3l4e  (Hebrew version) and  http://tinyurl.com/3ybyxq  (English version). Let us remember that, in this week’s Haftarah, Hashem tells Yirmiyahu HaNavi (Yirmiyahu 1:7): “Ahl Tomar Na’ar Anochi--



A FOLLOW UP! In following up on our Summer Improvement Program Bein Adam LaMakom suggestion this week, to “actively think of a way that you can make a Kiddush Hashem--and act on it! Remember, it does not have to appear to be something big--just a Kiddush Hashem!”, we provide by the following link Kiddush Hashem Kavannos  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/Kavana8Balak.pdf . We note that Kavannos is a short new email publication distributed weekly on Erev Shabbos. To subscribe, email 613kavana@gmail.com



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


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


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


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


3. We must realize that the penultimate pasuk of Eicha (5: 21) is--Hashiveinu Hashem Eilecha V’Nashuva…. One important thing we can do during this time is to review the Ahl Cheits, and focus upon any areas in which we have become, or currently are, lax or lacking. Teshuva--now is the time!





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



19 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT: 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! 



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


When we recite the three key terms Shofar Gadol, Sa Neis, and Kabbtzeinu Yachad, we should put our hearts into it, and visualize the enormity and significance of the Geulah--which will come, but which we want to come now.  A reader once commented that the Shofar Gadol may allude to the similar Kol Gadol of the Shofar of Mattan Torah which did not weaken.  So too, the Geulah that the Shofar will herald will be forever and ever--is there anything greater?!  Similarly, the Neis, the banner will be high enough for the world to see as our exiles are ingathered from Johannesburg and Buenos Aires, from Vancouver and Stockholm, and from New York and London as well.  What an event--what a happening--and it could be before our very eyes!  Finally, we will be gathered Yachad, all together--side by side in ultimate peace and harmony.  Let us focus on the sheer enormity of the event--and give these unparalleled requests the heartfelt clear Kavannah that they, very literally, so greatly deserve!


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


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



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!



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



16 Tammuz





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



TESHUVAH MOMENT: In this week’s Parasha we learn of Bilam’s special awareness as to Klal Yisrael’s treatment of the right of privacy of others—focusing on how the entrance ways to each person’s tent was carefully positioned not to face another’s entrance.  There are many ways that we can inculcate this into our daily lives:  When walking by a house with a door open or the shades up, one should not look in simply based upon the theory that they have left their door open or windows uncovered--so they must not care so much about it.  Indeed, one should be careful not to do so even absentmindedly. As noted in the past, in our day and age, we may also include peeking in to someone’s car as they are driving (even if they have pulled up next to you at a light).  We can also add to the list listening in to the conversation between two people which is obviously between them--even if they have not asked you to leave so as not to shame you.  Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in his Sefer Love Your Neighbor, adds: Because of our obligation to respect the privacy of others, Rabbeinu Gershom placed a Chairem on reading someone else’s mail without permission (Be’er HaGolah, Yorah Deiah 334:123).  Even parents should not read the mail of their children without permission (see Rav Chaim Palaji, p. 18). We update this a bit by adding finally that Mah Tovu also reminds us not to look at the emails of others without their permission--and all the more so when you have received an email for someone in error.  Curiosity was never claimed as one of the great Jewish traits, and we should not start the Minhag now. 



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





















JULY .27






























     AUGUST 11






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





A. The following is excerpted from Something To Think About by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita, based upon the teachings of Harav Avraham Pam, Z’tl: “What is the big rush to escort the Shabbos out? In the Friday night zemiros of Kol Mekadesh, we praise those ‘who delay departing from Shabbos.’ Shabbos is a time of menucha. Rashi (Bereishis 2:2), says, “When Shabbos arrives, tranquility arrives.” Tur (295) writes that even the wicked who are experiencing terrible punishments in Gehinnom enjoy tranquility on Shabbos. Nonetheless, at the conclusion of Shabbos, the wicked return to their punishments and, as Rema (OC 295:1) notes, this is the reason we recite Vihi No’am on Motza’ei Shabbos--to extend for a few more minutes their reprieve by delaying Havdalah. There are various opinions as to when Shabbos is over. Is it 45, 60, 72 or 90 minutes after sunset? What is the official time in Gehinnom to bring back the wicked for the resumption of the punishments. The Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah (8:1) quotes Sifrei Kabbalah which write that the wicked return to their punishments at the time when they (generally) held the conclusion of Shabbos during their lifetimes. If they were of those who impatiently waited for the earliest time to end Shabbos, their punishments resume at the earliest time as well. If they had tried to extend the Shabbos as long as possible, they receive the same courtesy from Heaven…. It is especially important to inculcate children with an appreciation that every minute of Shabbos one experiences is a prelude to the pleasure and happiness of the World-to-Come. It is unfortunate that many parents fail to convey the feelings of spiritual Oneg that a Jew should experience on Shabbos….”


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


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


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


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


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





A.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, observes that Bilam is more severely criticized than Balak.  Why is this so?  After all, was it not Balak who started the whole process?  Was he not the one who instigated Bilam, inducing him to come, and moving him from one mizbe’ach to another?  Yet, Balak counts Rus as one of his descendants, while Bilam’s name lives in infamy forever.  HaRav Kanievsky explains that Balak acted in fear--having observed first-hand what happened as a result of the wars of Bnei Yisrael against Sichon and Og.  Bilam, on the other hand, was a non-party to all of this, and joined in only because of his Middos Mushchasos--his destructive or rotten Middos.  HaRav Kanievsky notes that all of those listed in the Mishna in Sanhedrin (90A) as not having a portion in the World to Come, lost their portion because of Middos Mushchasos.  With this, we can understand the great contrast provided in the Mishna in Avos (5:22--studied this week, the week of Parashas Balak!) between the students of Avraham Avinu and the students of Bilam HaRasha.  The differences:  Ayin Tova vs. Ayin Ra’ah, Ruach Nemucha vs. Ruach Gevoha, and Nefesh Shefalah vs. Nefesh Rechava should therefore be especially focused upon this week.  Chazal are incredibly telling us that above and beyond their differences in Torah, Tefillah, and Emunah, what rests at the heart of the distinction between Avraham Avinu and his future generations, and Bilam HaRasha and his followers are (as explained by Rabbeinu Ovadia M’Bartenura):


a.  Ayin Tova-- being satisfied with what one has and not desiring the money or possessions of others.  Example:  You do not need a summer home, and if you have one, you do not need his or her summer home.


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


It is the custom of some to recite “Tikun Chatzos” during the Three Week period--some even in the middle of the day.  We may not as yet be on this level. However, we provide a suggestion that we have made in the past--If we can conclude the Yehi Ratzon at the end of Shemone Esrei with Kavannah during these three weeks, three times a day, we will have sincerely davened for the Beis Hamikdash and our redemption more than 60 times during this short period!  Rather than wallowing in self-pity, we will demonstrate a renewal of our faith and have beautifully affirmed our supreme goals.


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



15 Tammuz

HYDRATING!  Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brachos, advises as follows: Drinking water to hydrate creates questions as to whether brachos are applicable. The best advice is to drink juice and recite a bracha rishona and achrona. A better suggestion from a practical as well as halacha standpoint is for one to drink his favorite flavored sport drink (e.g., Gatorade) with electrolytes before a fast. It will hydrate, and there will not be any bracha shailos as a bracha rishona and achrona will definitely be required.



TESHUVAH MOMENT: When Bnei Yisrael approached Edom and asked to travel through the main road of their country and pay nicely for it, Bnei Yisrael attempted explained to the people of Edom that Hashem loved His people, and listened to their cries and took them out of Egypt. Rashi (Bamidbar 20:16) writes that, by ‘listening to their cries’, Bnei Yisrael were telling the people of Edom that when we cry out we are answered. This is an extremely important lesson for us--HaKol Kol Yaakov does not only mean that we are a people who pray--it also means that we are a people whose prayers are answered! As we begin to focus on the period of time ahead of us with a special yearning for the Beis HaMikdash--let us remember that we are the people whose prayers are answered!



BE FIRST! Chazal provide us with an astonishing way in which we can defeat our enemies. In this week’s Parasha (Bamidbar 22:21), we find that the highly-respected Bilam saddled his own donkey, demonstrating his alacrity in Sinas Yisrael. Rashi (ibid.) writes that in response to this alacrity, HaKadosh Baruch Hu stated: “Rasha--Avraham their forefather already demonstrated his love for Me by arising early and saddling his donkey.” Likewise, we find that Hashem told Mordechai (Megillah 16A): “Your Shekalim previously given to the Mishkan upended the monies I tendered to Achashveirosh in my zeal to destroy your people.” The key, then, is for us to act first--simply stated, our acts of good thwart and supersede over our enemy’s planned act of evil!



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


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



AHAVAS YISRAEL CARDS: By the following links - http://tinyurl.com/oq8ez5b  (Hebrew version) and http://tinyurl.com/pgkm6wh  (English version), we provide special cards--a beautiful project promulgated by the Bostoner Kollel of Har Nof (Rosh Kollel, Rav Aschkenasy, Shlita).  This is the message that the Rosh Kollel conveys with the cards: “In the spirit of the Three Weeks we are sending out the attached “Ahavas Yisrael” cards.  Each individual creates a big zechus for all of Klal Yisrael when he takes note of the points and puts them into practice one by one, so valuable at this time of the year when we remember the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, and particularly in these difficult days. Please feel free to print them and give them to others.



IN PREPARATION FOR THE THREE WEEKS:  HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, provides the following Halachos for the Three Weeks period. As with all Halachos, in case of one’s particular circumstances, he/she should consult with his/her own Rav or Posek:


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


Five tragedies occurred on Shivah Assar B’Tammuz (Ta’anis 26b, Rambam Hilchos Ta’anis 5-2):


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


2. The two daily sacrifices (Korban Tamid) ceased during the first Bais Hamikdash because the Kohanim were unable to find a lamb to offer as a Korban. 


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


One is permitted to brush one’s teeth with a dry toothbrush on all minor fast days except Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av. If this causes discomfort, it is permissible to brush one’s teeth with toothpaste and water, (except for Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av). However, one must be careful not to lean one’s head back so as not to swallow any water (MB 567-11, AH-3, BM Vol. 8-94, Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 2-109).  One is permitted to swallow one’s saliva (MB 567-13, see CA 132-22, Bais Meir, ME 612-7).


It is permissible for an ill person to take medication on minor fast days. A pill or bitter-tasting liquid medicine should be taken without water, if possible. If one needs water, only a small amount should be taken. Some add salt or other substance to the water to make it somewhat bitter (Halachos Ketanos Vol. 2-97, KH 554-34, Igros Moshe OC Vol. 3-91, TE Vol. 10-25 Chap. 22, Yalkut Yoseph, Daas Torah 567-1).


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


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


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



14 Tammuz

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



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



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



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


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



AN ADDITIONAL THOUGHT--ANA HASHEM HATZLICHA NAH: The following essential teaching is excerpted from Growth Through Tehillim by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, on the Pasuk of Ana Hashem Hoshiah Nah, Ana Hashem Hatzlicha Nah--please Hashem save now, please Hashem bring success now (Tehillim 118:25): 


“The two halves of this verse are separated in Hallel, and are usually said with great fervor.  Let these two phrases be on your lips whenever you need Hashem’s help. When you are faced with a difficulty of any kind, call upon Hashem to save you.  Even when you need fellow human beings to come to your rescue, ask Hashem to send the right help at the right time. A fire engine or ambulance needs to arrive at the correct destination safely, to be of help. If you ever need their services, say this short prayer. If you need to ask someone for financial assistance, say this short prayer. If you are in a highly challenging situation, remember to ask Hashem for help. You might have an emergency that needs immediate attention. The words of this verse take only a brief moment to say with feeling. Call upon the Omniscient and Omnipotent One to save you.


When you repeat the second half of this verse--Ana Hashem Hatzlicha Nah, you are asking Hashem to make your efforts successful. We may say what we think needs to be said for success. We may take the actions we think need to be taken for success. We may make great plans and have ambitious goals. We may mentally visualize ourselves being successful.  We may use affirmations and auto-suggestion. We may learn from the most successful role models that there are. We may hire a personal coach. We may network and gain rapport with all the right people. We may read the best-selling books on success, and listen to the latest audio programs. We may attend success seminars. Ultimately, however, whether or not we will be successful will depend on the Almighty’s Will. If He wishes, we can be successful even if we do not do everything that success experts advise us to do, and if Hashem does not want us to succeed, we will not--even if we make all the proper efforts.  We need to do our part, and we should take the advice of experts and learn from those who have been successful--but uppermost in our minds should be our connection with our Father, our King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Repeat this verse whenever you need success: “Please, Hashem, bring success now.” Together with whatever else you are doing, you are adding the most important ingredient for success. Throughout your life you will strive for major goals. Your entire future may seem to depend on whether or not you will be successful. Ask Hashem for success.  In addition, there are relatively minor goals where you will want to be successful. Even a relatively mundane thing like going to the store to buy groceries, needs success. The same applies to many things that we often take for granted: Making a routine telephone call. Asking someone for directions to get somewhere. Buying or selling any item. Requesting a small loan. Arriving on time for an appointment-- even getting the appointment in the first place.  The impact of many of these things might not be great, but your success in your endeavors will enhance your life, while not being successful could cause distress. When you realize that your success is absolutely dependent on the will of Hashem and you connect with Him by asking for His blessing of success, the spiritual impact of what you are doing increases the value of your success.  You are already successful, regardless of how the specific details ultimately unfold!


I was talking with someone who tended to panic easily. When faced with difficulties, he generally lost all sense of perspective. He viewed molehills as mountains, and as soon as anything would go wrong, he immediately pictured the worst possible outcome. His extreme anxiety prevented him from thinking clearly. When he was calm, he was able to come up with highly creative solutions. But his intense stress created such static, that his thinking process shut down. Anxiety blocked his ability to use his common sense, and he certainly could not think creatively - even obvious solutions were overlooked. I suggested that he pray to Hashem for Divine assistance. Simply knowing that he had dialed the number for emergency help was likely to help him become calmer. Then he would be able to think more clearly. Even if he himself couldnt think of what to do, Hashem has many ways to assist him. “But when I am in my panic state, I cannot pray,” he said. I recommended that he recite this verse, as his prayer. I told him he should practice saying it, when he is calm, and then, he could visualize himself being in his panic state. As soon as he was aware that he was experiencing panic, he should repeat this verse a number of times, and then he should see himself becoming calm. Keep imagining this, many times. Every time you visualize this, you are making these pictures stronger and stronger in your brains neurons. Be patient. With enough practice, eventually - without any conscious effort: on your part-- you will automatically start asking Hashem to save you and make you successful. With your calmer state and with the power of prayer, you will find solutions faster than ever before. This has worked for many, and it is very likely that it will work for you.


Whether or not he persisted until this worked for him, you, the reader, can choose to put this into practice. All those who have done so - since the first time these words were written in Tehillim --have benefited spiritually, emotionally, and practically!”


Hakhel Note:  Let us review this teaching a second and a third time--and strive to implement it in the most practical ways in our daily lives!



13 Tammuz

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



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



NAH, NAH: The Chida writes in the name of Kadmonim writes that when Moshe Rabbeinu was Mispallel for Miriam in Parashas Beha’alosecha , he recited the words ‘Kel Nah Refah Nah Lah’--with the word ‘Nah’ twice in his Tefillah, because he had learned from the Malochim that doing so makes Tefillos effective. We fascinatingly add that in the next week’s Parasha of Shelach, after the Meraglim came back with their horrific report, Moshe Rabbeinu was Mispallel to save K’lal Yisrael. There too, he used the word ‘Nah’ twice (see Madibar 14:17, 19). In perhaps one of our most powerful Tefillos at the end of Hallel, we exclaim: “Anah Hashem Hoshia Nah, Anah Hashem Hatzlicha Nah” (Tehillim 118:25)--once again, utilizing the word Nah two times.


Hakhel Note: We obviously do not know the deeper meaning behind mentioning the word Nah twice. It is, however, noteworthy that there are 51 days (the Gematria of Nah) from the onset of Pesach to Shavuos, and 51 days from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Hoshana Rabba--certainly two periods of Ruchniyus elevation!



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



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



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





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


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


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


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






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


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


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


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


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


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



12 Tammuz

TO OUR COMMUNITY: Our community is aware of the State Education Department’s recent attempt to seize control of our Yeshivas’ curriculum, schedule and staffing. There was a public outcry from our community, which has been felt politically. In April, to our relief, the State Supreme Court ruled that the SED had no authority to impose these regulations.


The SED is trying again. Because of the April court ruling, the Commissioner has had to follow the legal path of establishing regulations. On July 3rd, while private schools were on their summer break, the Commissioner proposed regulations, which are identical to those put forth earlier.


These rules would require a 4.4 hour secular studies day, the inclusion of subjects that are inconsistent with our beliefs and lifestyle, as well as monitoring of our Rebbeim. 




What can we do? These regulations must be reviewed and approved by the Board of Regents before they can become law.


The law calls for a sixty-day period for the public to submit comments to the Board of Regents before they will be considered. The SED scheduled the sixty period for the summer vacation season, making it difficult to marshal the private school community to comment.


We will not be silenced. It is vitally important that all yeshiva parents and yeshiva graduates make their voices heard and submit their opposition.


Torah Umesorah, Agudas Yisroel and PEARLS have set up portals that make it quick and easy for yeshiva parents and graduates to submit comments.  It takes only two minutes to fill out a form and have your comment submitted.  Just click here https://pearlsny.org/ and submit your comments as soon as possible.


We need to make our voices heard, and to let the members of the Board of Regents know that we cannot accept these proposed regulations.


With our tefilos and Siyata D’shmaya, we will be successful in defeating these proposed regulations. But we need to do our part.


Rabbi Elya Brudny

Rabbi Yisroel Reisman



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


One must seriously contemplate how to accomplish this. Here is one important suggestion: Begin the study of Yearning with Fire, especially written to develop a yearning for the Yeshuah. This clear and movingly written Sefer is divided into 5-minute a day segments, to study over an 89 day period.  If one starts today, he will finish approximately on Yom Kippur.  Hopefully our Geulah will have taken place well before then--while one is in the process of longing for it!  In all events--after 120 years one of the questions a person is asked is ‘Tzipisah LiShuah--did you truly anticipate the redemption?’  If one has read the Sefer, he certainly has the beginnings of a good answer…and if one applies what he learned from the Sefer--he will have even a better answer




12 TAMMUZ: According to the daughter of HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl, H’yd, he was killed Ahl Kiddush Hashem on either the 12th or 13th of Tammuz in 5701 (1941). HaRav Elchanan teaches that the words “Nachamu Nachamu Ami” refer to a double nechama--the first nachamu for the disasters and suffering experienced by the world at large that we live through and experience together with them, and a second nachamu for the punishment meted out directly against us.  Let us daven to Hashem that He provide the double nechama that we all need without the need of any further reminders, tribulations or harm.



THE REALITY: When a community of Jews is in distress, this is a great chillul Hashem because the non-Jews say. “Where is the Jewish G-d, Who allows His chosen people to suffer?” A frequent taunt of many a Nazi murdered mercilessly beating a Jew was, “Jude, vou iz dein Goit?” (“Jew, where is your G-d?”). When a Jew prays for a yeshuah (salvation) from his tzaros, his intention should be to remove the chillul Hashem that such suffering brings in its wake, and the aspect of “Imo Anochi B’tzara, I am with him in his suffering”, that this causes Hashem. By davening for a Yeshuah, one is attempting to reduce this Divine pain, as it were. Such Tefillah is not only permissible, but is an essential aspect of Ahavas Hashem. [From A Miniature Sanctuary: Practical Thoughts and Insights from Moreinu HaRav Avrohom Pam, Z’tl, In Appreciating and Upholding the Kedusha of our Shuls and Batei Medrashim by Rabbi Sholom Smith]



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


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


In addition to the above note, we provide by the following link additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html (or the entire archive in one PDF file at http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/FocusOnTefillah.pdf )  Additional sources for study are the Praying with Passion Series (available at www.prayingwithfire.org), the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer, the Tefillah Tapes of Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita.





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


B. Before reciting the Birchos HaShachar every morning, one should recognize that he is not simply reciting the same Brachos as he did yesterday morning, and the morning before, and the morning before. Rather, each bracha, each and every day--is a ‘new and fresh bouquet of flowers’ being handed to him by none other than Hashem Himself--each and every morning as he arises! (based on the Sefer Praying with Meaning, by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita)


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


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


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



ESSENTIAL ADVICE FROM THE CHOFETZ CHAIM IN BEIN ADAM L’CHAVEIRO:  Set forth below, we provide some essential points of advice from the Chofetz Chaim in areas of Bein Adam LeChaveiro:




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


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


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



9 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT: “Today is 30 days before Tisha B’Av. The general principle is that we begin to ask and learn about a Chag 30 days in advance. What should we do in preparation for Tisha B’Av--should it be Hilchos Ta’anis, the laws of the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av--or Hilchos Yom Tov as Tisha B’Av is to be a day of Sason and Simcha? The most appropriate suggestion would appear to be--to learn Hilchos Teshuvah, which is applicable in either event, and most certainly something that we can benefit from over the next 30 days!” [Quoted in the Luach Davar B’Ito]



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



YES--YOU ARE WHAT YOU WEAR! In this week’s Parasha, we are taught that when the Amaleikim went to war against Bnei Yisrael, they tried hiding themselves by speaking not their language, but the language of the Kena’anim.  Nevertheless, the Bnei Yisrael realized that something was awry when they saw their antagonists with Amaleiki clothing.  Accordingly, Bnei Yisrael davened a general Tefillah that Hashem save them from the enemies--a Tefillah that worked beautifully.  Rebbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, Z’tl, asked:  “Why did the Amaleikim dress in their own clothing--whom did they think they were fooling?!”  He answered that their clothing was obviously so important to them that they would not give it up for any reason--even at the expense of their not being able to fool the Bnei Yisrael!  With this, he teaches, how important it is for us, as the Mamleches Kohanim V’Goi Kadosh to keep our clothing special, holy, and separate.  It is not coincidence, as it never is, that this teaching comes to us with the summer months upon us.  We must be exceedingly careful to keep our standards of dress when davening, when learning, and when among the nations on the streets and when on vacation--and even in the privacy of our own home!  Amaleik, as the lowest of nations, did not change their dress.  We, as the most royal most certainly cannot and must not change ours!



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


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


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





The following Halachos are P’sakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, which are excerpted from the monumental work, Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Hebrew) published by HaRav Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita. 


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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





A.  At the outset of this week’s Parasha, the Torah writes “Zos Chukas HaTorah Asher Tzivah Hashem…this is the law of the Torah which Hashem has commanded,”--and then the Torah adds, “Laymor, to say.” The Chasam Sofer teaches that there is a remarkable lesson here.  The chok--the decree--of the Torah is Laymor--to say it, repeat it, tell it over.  Whatever Hashem commands, Laymor, say it, tell it, and proclaim it to others.  We are taught to not sit quietly at home and worry only about our own personal spiritual elevation--but instead to aid and guide those who transgress, and to assist others in coming closer to the words of Hashem.


Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Z’tl, of Yeshivas Toras Emes, writes: “American people love to say: ‘Mind your own business.’  Our business is the spread of Torah and Mitzvos.  Accordingly, mind the Torah’s business as well.  You dare not and must not keep quiet if you can rectify a wrongdoing.  Help someone become a better person.  Remember—Laymor--spread Ruchniyus by constantly talking about it to others.”


B. The Chasam Sofer in this week’s Parasha also reminds us that Miriam was nifterah on the tenth day of Nissan, and calculates that because the be’er in her zechus continued to provide water through the shivah period. The day that Moshe Rabbeinu was supposed to talk to the selah after Bnei Yisrael thirsted for water was actually the twenty-first day of Nissan. Taking a step back, then, the twenty-first day of Nissan was also the day of Kriyas Yam Suf (the seventh day of Pesach)! Thus, Hashem was going to demonstrate to the people that just as He could take water and turn it into dry land, so too, could He take a rock and turn it into water. The resulting Kiddush Hashem would have wondrously demonstrated to the people Hashem’s utter Omnipotence in the extremes of nature and everything in between. Hakhel Note:  Even though our ancestors were not zoche to actually witness the great contrast they could have experienced--nevertheless, we should take the lesson and appreciate the infinite vastness of Hashem’s might and glory, and remember that we can become close to Hashem, as Dovid HaMelech teaches (Tehillim 145:18):  “Karov Hashem Lechol Kore’av Lechol Asher Yikre’uhu Ve’Emes--Hashem is close to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely!”


C. Who had the power of speech and lost it?  If you answered the Nachash, the snake, then you of course responded correctly.  The Middah K’neged Middah is obvious--since he falsely and mockingly asserted to Chava that Hashem ‘ate from the tree and created you’--he simply did not deserve to have the power of speech--that had been given to him by Hashem!  The Meforshim explain that in this week’s Parasha, after complaining against so much--against Hashem, against Moshe Rabbeinu and against the Mon, those who were afflicted with the Nechashim HaSerafim were told to look at the Nechash HaNechoshes in order to be healed and live. By understanding the error of their ways in following the Nachash’s evil speech against Hashem, they would realize never to do so again.  The Meforshim (brought in the Sefer Talelei Oros) add several other extremely important points relating to the Nechash HaNechoshes, and its placement on a pole for K’lal Yisrael to look up to: 


1.  The Maharal writes that just looking up to Shomayim itself creates a feeling of awe and recognition of our Creator.  Indeed, the Sefer Chareidim writes that one should look up to Shomayim from time to time and recite the Posuk “Ki Ereh Shamecha Ma’asei Etzbe’osecha Yare’ach V’Chochavim Asher Konanta” (Tehillim 8:4). 


2.  The Sefas Emes writes that the snake was known as a ‘Segulah Refuis’, something which provided (perhaps through its venom) special healing medicines or potions.  [We note that it is perhaps for this reason the symbol of a pharmacist or apothecary is a snake on a pole or stick.]  By lifting the snake high up, Hashem intended for the people to understand that even when being osek in medicines or therapies, they should lift their eyes up to Heaven, and realize that everything is up to Hashem--there are no real Segulah Refuis!  Thus, when taking a medicine, even it be an aspirin for a simple headache, or when undertaking physical therapy for a broken arm, one ‘should look to Heaven’, affirming that one recognizes where the Refuah is truly coming from. It is for this reason that the Yehi Ratzon: “Yehi RatzonSheyehei Aisek Zeh Li LeRefuah Ki Rofeh Chinam Attah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 230:4) is recited before taking medicine, going to a doctor, and the like.    


3.  Finally, it is fascinating to note that perhaps the famous piece of the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim relating to Ain Od Milevado is immediately followed with the description from this week’s Parasha of the placement of the Nachash on the pole.  The Sefer Nefesh HaChaim then explains “K’Shehistaklu Klapei Ma’alah LeHaNachash HaSoreif Hisbonenu Kocho HaRah, Im Kol Zeh Batluhu MiLibam…”-- When the Bnei Yisrael looked to the Heavens and saw the snake on the pole they understood its evil strength but voided it from their hearts and were not concerned with its awesome power, and instead, truthfully subjugated their hearts only to their Father in Heaven, and with this they were healed.  Hakhel Note:  What a paradigm lesson for each and every one of us in the world that we live in and the items, tests, and difficulties that we encounter on a daily basis! 


Additional Note One:  Let us review a second time each and every one of the above teachings and inculcate them into daily life!


Additional Note Two: Because the event of the Nechashim HaSerafim is mentioned in the Tefillas Chofetz Chaim, we cannot let the occasion pass without at least providing a few Lashon Hara Stoppers [we look forward to your providing us with your Lashon Hara Stoppers as well!]:


“I don’t like to talk about controversial things.”


“I hope you don’t mind--I don’t want to talk about this now.”


“People said similar things about me and it hurt.”


“My father always taught me not to talk about people--and at the very least I can listen to him about that!”


“Let’s help build the Beis HaMikdash now instead.”


D. In the Parasha, the Pasuk writes:  “Al Kein Yomru HaMoshlim Bo’u Cheshbon (Bamidbar 21:27)--therefore the ones who relate parables say:  ‘Come to Cheshbon….’”  Chazal teach that this Pasuk refers to one who wants to rule--be moshel over his Yetzer Hara.  How does he do so?  He must be a ‘Bo’u Cheshbon’--do a constant Cheshbon HaNefesh.  The Chofetz Chaim explains that if a person in business does not review and update his books constantly, he will have no idea if he is making money or losing money--and, moreover, the extent of his gain or loss.  Additionally, when one reviews his accounts receivable, he will notice those who have not paid in months and realize that they are having financial difficulties or are bankrupt.  On the other hand, one who constantly pays something every month--even if only in small amounts is clearly still in business, and trying to remain an active customer.  The Chofetz Chaim writes that our spiritual practices deserve no less attention than our business practices.  We have to review our books and records in order to determine how our spiritual business is running.  Moreover, we have to note where we have stopped ‘making payments’--has our davening come to a standstill in terms of improving our Kavannah?  Is our learning routine and uninspired?  Are we making no new inroads in Chesed?  These are the spiritual accountings to which we must turn.  On the other hand, even if we make ‘small payments’ then we should recognize and encourage ourselves--for Hashem certainly notes and records them.  We emphasize that Chazal teach that the Cheshbon we are referring to regarding each and every one of us is not a small matter or an individual Cheshbon--it is ‘Cheshbono Shel Olam’--accounting for the world.  One can explain this to mean that each person is a world onto himself, an Olam Katan--and that accordingly every person’s Cheshbon is a Cheshbono Shel Olam.  However, there is an aspect that is even more significant--the thoughts, words and deeds of one person can constitute the zechus that tips the scale and sways all of K’lal Yisrael and indeed the world to continued life--and to Geulah!  Every time one undertakes to do a Cheshbon--he should remind himself that he is doing so not only for his personal spiritual benefit and reaching his potential--but for the benefit of his family, his friends, his community, K’lal Yisrael--and very literally, the entire world!  Remember this--and keep us all in mind--with your Cheshbono Shel Olam!


E. Towards the end of the Parasha (Bamidbar 21:34), on the Pasuk “Al Tirah Oso--do not fear [Og]”, both Rashi and the Ramban highlight Moshe Rabbeinu’s fear of Og in contrast to his telling the Meraglim not to fear and not to tremble (Devarim 1:29). How is it that when it comes to Og Moshe Rabbeinu is afraid, and yet he expects fearlessness when it came to the Meraglim? Rashi explains that Moshe Rabbeinu was afraid of one kind deed that Og did to Avraham Avinu--he informed Avraham that Lot was captured. This teaches us the amazing power--and the amazing effects--of even one Chesed! Let us get to work!



THIS WEEK’S PIRKEI AVOS:  In this week’s Pirkei Avos (5:10), we learned “Arba Middos Ba’Adam--there are four character types among people:  one who says ‘What is mine is mine, and what is your is yours’, is an average character type, but some say this is the characteristic of Sedom....”   Chazal teach us that if someone wants to keep to himself, because he is a ‘private’ person, or has a lot of his own issues to work on, or many different items on his own plate, and even if willing to forego the camaraderie and assistance of others simply because he wants to be left alone and take care of his own matters--this is at best ‘average’, and at worst ‘Middas Sedom’--for the people of Sedom also obviously recognized that nobody would help them because of the way they treated others--but it just did not matter because they wanted to help only themselves.  Hopefully, this attitude does not represent the vast majority of us. No person who strives to reach his potential can be satisfied with being average, and will most certainly not be happy with the character of Sodom.  Let us demonstrate how far away we really are from the Middos of Sedom--and how very, very close we are to the Middos of the B’nai Yisrael as Rachmonim, Baishonim and Gomlei Chasodim!



8 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT: “The greater the person is, the more humble he should be. He should say to himself, “Look at the potential that Hashem has endowed me with. Am I using my capabilities to their fullest extent? Am I deserving of honor for my many achievements if I am only working at 75% of my potential? It could be that the town water carrier deserves more honor and respect because he struggles to attain 95% of his limited potential!” The Chofetz Chaim was once overheard talking to himself: “Yisroel Meir, look how much Hashem has given you. He gave you the privilege to write a Sefer Chofetz Chaim, a Shemiras HaLashon, an Ahavas Chesed and a Mishna Berurah. He has given you a large yeshiva with hundreds of students. He has done so much for you and what have you done for Him?” The Chofetz Chaim did not congratulate himself on his many accomplishments and the monumental Seforim which he authored. He was humbled by the realization that his prodigious achievements meant that a great deal more was expected of him. This prodded him to undertake new projects and write more Seforim for the benefit of K’lal Yisrael and the glory of Torah!” [Excerpted from A Humble Spirit--Practical and Down-to-Earth Insights and Ideas from the Teachings of HaRav Avrohom Pam, Z’tl, by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita]



THOUGHTS ON GALUS FROM HARAV CHATZKEL LEVENSTEIN, Z’TL: “On the way to Japan, HaRav Chatzkel expressed to the Mirrer Talmidim the following thoughts about the impending exile: The decree of exile is an unnatural state that was expressly created for K’lal Yisrael. When we consider its consequences, we find that no nation other than K’lal Yisrael remains in existence after an appreciable time in exile. The Midrash relates that Hashem asked Avrohom Avinu what punishment he chooses for his children when they sin and there is no Beis HaMikdash to atone for their wrongdoing: exile or purgatory? According to one opinion quoted in the Midrash, Avrohom was unable to answer. In practical terms, the consequences of exile and purgatory are strongly equated. Contrary to our understanding, its deleterious effect upon our spiritual growth and well-being cannot be overstated, we have no appreciation of the great measure of Divine mercy needed as we pass from one regime to the next….” [Excerpted from Rav Chatzkel, by Rabbi Yitzchak Kasnett, Shlita (Artscroll, p. 142)]



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




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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



Overcoming Summer Time Nisyonos


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

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



Calling Someone Else’s Spouse by Their First Name

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

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

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


Use of One Sink for Both Milk and Meat


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

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


Yichud Issues


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

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


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

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


Am I Required to Help a Stranded Motorist?


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

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


Removing Yarmulkes and Tzitzis


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

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


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

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


Food-Related Items Under Bed


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

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



7 Tammuz

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


“Why is this blessing the only one in Shemoneh Esrei in which we declare Ki Sehelaseinu Attah, You are our praise? The reason is to counteract the belief that doctors have the power to heal us. We clearly and emphatically state: Ki Sehilaseinu Attah, You are our praise, to confirm that a doctor is only Hashem’s messenger. We can also impress upon our hearts the reality that Hashem is the only true source of healing by following the Mishna Berurah’s (Siman 230:6) dictate to recite a prayer before taking medication or seeing a doctor. The patient should say, “May it be Your Will, Hashem, my G-d, that this undertaking should be a cure for me, for You are a Free Healer”. Afterwards he should say “You are Blessed, Healer of the sick”. In doing so, we “connect the dots” between the healer in Heaven and His tools in this world. We can grasp the assistance that comes our way, and still perceive our healing as the Divine gift it is. In that case, it would seem that any doctor would do. However, in Shomer Emunim (Cited in Ma’amar HaBitachon V’Hischazkus, Chapter 5), a letter sent to a seriously ill patient offers this advice: “If your intention is to seek help from a doctor, make sure you search for the best one available... This is because the best doctor has much heavenly assistance, which is the cause of his success.”



TESHUVAH MOMENT: As we begin more intense hirhurei Teshuvah in the three month period prior to Rosh Hashana, we provide the following background to Teshuvah, digested from thoughts of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Etel L’Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chelko (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita.  By way of introduction, we point out that HaRav Mattisyahu teaches that the details of Teshuvah have already been provided to us by our Nevi’im.  The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah itself, HaRav Mattisyahu teaches, is ‘Divrei Nevi’us’--because it explains the words of the Nevi’im, often mentioning several Pesukim in each paragraph: 


A.  The Mitzvah of Teshuvah is a special gift given by Hashem to His creations, and accordingly when one does Teshuvah he should be in a state of Simcha.  Teshuvah is not an Ohl Kasheh (a difficult burden)--but quite to the contrary is an extra-ordinary gift from Hashem afforded to us so that a person can still reach his full potential in spite of past sins.  People are mistaken when they think that the approach to Teshuvah is one of sullenness--after all, do we not recite a Shehechiyanu on the night of Yom Kippur in celebration of the outstanding ability we have to return to Hashem!  True, there are aspects of Teshuvah such as Charata--feeling bad over what one has done, and Yagon--truly appreciating the depth of one’s aveirah--but nevertheless, one’s Simcha Gedolah in returning to the will of his Maker should never be attenuated.  If one is in the process of healing, he may have to do strenuous exercises to get there--but still does them with the realization that they will lead to a sweet and much sought after outcome! 


B.  The real time to do Teshuvah is immediately after one recognizes that he has done something wrong.  Any delay is a delay in the Zeman HaEmes--the true time to accomplish one’s Teshuvah.  The Sefer Michtav MeiEliyahu (I: p. 240) brings from Radvaz that one violates the Mitzvas Asei of Es Hashem Elokecha Tirah if he does an aveirah and does not immediately attend to doing Teshuvah.  On the other hand, one who does Teshuvah promptly--even if it is out of fear of sin--fulfills the Mitzvah of Es Hashem Elokecha Tirah(!).


C.  If a person repeats an aveirah, Chazal teach that it is Na’aseis Lo K’heter--he views the aveirah as if it is really something permissible.  If he indeed views it as something permissible--then how can he do Teshuvah--for one cannot do Teshuvah on a permissible act?!  The only eitzah, HaRav Mattisyahu teaches, is that one who finds himself prone to a particular aveirah must first view it as Ois Heter--no longer permissible’, in order for him to do Teshuvah.  For instance, one cannot say: ‘I will do Teshuvah--I will not eat chazir today’.  Rather, one must recognize that chazir is always treif and put himself in the mindset to always stay away from it.  The same would be true, for instance, for one who has found himself speaking or listening to Lashon Hara on more than one occasion.  It is not the acceptance of a temporary respite or provisional inaction that effects Teshuvah--it is a clear and dedicated mindset on a going forward basis that elevates one’s body and purifies one’s soul--for now, and for eternity! 




FROM THE SEFER SHAILOS U’TESHUVOS YAD MOSHE: The Sefer Shailos U’Teshuvos Yad Moshe contains the questions asked by Rabbi Yaakov Dardac to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl.  The questions were presented both in personal meetings, and in letters.  Set forth below is a sampling of the questions and answers presented. Once again, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 


1.                  Q:  If one came late to Shul, and skipped some of Pesukei DeZimra, can he recite the Pesukei DeZimra that he missed during Chazaras HaShatz, if he is worried that later he will not remember to recite the Pesukei DeZimra that he skipped?

A:  It is better to listen to Chazaras HaShatz than to recite the Pesukei DeZimra that was skipped.   Hakhel Note:  It is, of course, always best to simply come on time--or early!


2.                  Q:  How should a Shaliach Tzibur recite the words in Kedusha of ‘Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh’ and ‘Boruch Kevod Hashem Mim’komo

A:  He should recite them loud and clear enough for the people not yet finished Shemone Esrei to hear--as they will be Yotzei Kedusha by listening to his Kedusha, based upon the principle of Shome’ah K’oneh.  If necessary, he should delay his recitation of these words so that his recitation can be heard.


3.                  Q:  If a guest comes into Shul, and the Gabbai does not know whether he is Shomer Shabbos--can he be given an Aliyah without asking him whether he is Shomer Shabbos? 

A:  Yes, one does not have to ask--and, in fact, if the person says he is a Kohen or Levi and there are no other Kohanim in Shul, one is obligated to give him an Aliyah.  However, if, r’l, it is known that he is not Shomer Shabbos he should not be called to the Torah even if he is a Kohen or Levi. 


4.                  Q:  Should a Ba’al Kriah look carefully for mistakes in the Sefer while leining?

A:  The Ba’al Kriah should read regularly without focusing on finding mistakes.  He should not, however, intentionally gloss over matters and must act with sechel


5.                  Q:  Because traveling by air is so common today, should one still recite Birkas HaGomel after a flight?

A:  Yes, one should--for Chazal instituted Birkas HaGomel to be recited when one had been in a circumstance in which under ordinary circumstances he cannot live--in the desert, in the water, and certainly in the air!  Hakhel Note:  At this point, Rabbi Mordechai Tendler, Shlita, adds that HaRav Moshe traveled to Montreal to his grandson’s Chasunah by plane--and recited Birkas HaGomel upon his return to New York, as he considered the round trip as if it was one flight.


6.                  Q:  The Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 2:17) rules that a Siddur that was printed involving Chilul Shabbos is Ma’us L’Dvar Mitzvah and should not be used.  Does one have the duty to investigate if the printer of his Siddur/Sefer is Shomer Shabbos?

A:  No, there is no obligation, as it is not common for a printer to be open on Shabbos--even if the owner is Mechalel Shabbos.  Moreover, even if the printer is open on Shabbos, perhaps the Siddur being used was not printed on Shabbos and we can apply the rule of Kol D’Parish Mei’Rubo Parish--that the Siddur was printed as the majority of Siddurim were--on a weekday. 


7.                  Q:  Does one recite a bracha of Tevilas Keilim on aluminum pots--as after all ‘aluminum’ is not mentioned in the Pasuk?

A:  Yes, one makes a bracha of Tevilas Keilim on all metals--as they should be no worse than glass, on which a bracha is recited. 


8.                  Q:  If one is unsure whether the factory that produced utensils is owned by Jews--should he recite the bracha of Tevilas Keilim?

A:  One can assume that any utensils made in Japan, China or Europe should be toveled with a bracha, because most factories are owned by non-Jews. If one is unsure about a utensil (for instance, made in America) he should try and find out--but if he cannot, he should tovel it without a bracha [or, tovel it at the same time with another utensil that definitely requires a bracha and have it in mind as well].


9.                  Q:  When one borrows money from a bank [or credit card company], and then lends it to someone else, can one pass along the interest as a ‘pass along charge’--or does one need a Heter Iska? 

A:  One cannot charge the borrower even the ribis that he is being charged--and accordingly must prepare a Heter Iska. 


10.             Q:  Must one leave his Mezuzos for the next resident (tenant or new owner who is Jewish), even if he knows that the next resident will promptly take them off in order to paint or do construction?

A:  Yes, one must leave them up, but prior to leaving he may take off the expensive Mezuzos that he was using in his home and replace them with less expensive Mezuzos--provided that he immediately puts up the expensive Mezuzos in his new residence.   Of course, it is best to discuss and resolve the situation with the new tenant or owner directly--as a new resident may not want the Mezuzos, or may want to pay for the more expensive Mezuzas.



6 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT: One of the top students of HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, HaRav Yitzchak Blazer, Zt’l (known as R’ Itzele Peterburger), in his Sefer Kochvei Ohr (Os 36) writes as follows (paraphrased):  Our master and teacher provided us with a very important piece of information.  He taught us that the body is not simply a garment or covering, and that a person’s feelings of pleasure and pain continue to exist and live on after the he passes on from this world…for at first glance, one would think that the body and soul are two distinct entities, and that the body goes to the earth and the punishment is received by the soul.  This is a mistake!  It is the same person who remains, with only his outer covering removed when he passes away from this world.  Thus, it is not an ‘unknown’ Neshama that will receive punishment if it sins--but the person himself will feel the pain of that very punishment…and the person himself--and not just a ‘foreign soul’--will imbibe the rewards of Torah observance and Mitzvah performance.  There is something more as well.  HaRav Eliyahu Dessler, Z’tl, explains that a person may feel that if he must be punished in Gehenom, that too shall pass, and may not be overly worried about it.  HaRav Dessler proves why this attitude is incorrect from the following simple analogy:  A person wakes up in the middle of the night with a terrible toothache, and cannot fall back asleep.  He has no painkillers available, there is no pharmacy around and there is no doctor to contact--he will have to wait until morning!  The pained individual continues to lie in bed and believes hours have passed and daybreak is almost here--but then looks at his watch and sees that only a few minutes have passed.  Every minute of pain feels like eternity!  That is how the ‘short’ time span of punishment in Gehenom should be properly viewed by us--now!  Importantly and to the contrary, our experience of Simcha passes by quickly in this world.  When we are at a Chasunah and enjoying it-- seems to pass by so quickly!  However, in Gan Eden, the Simcha--will never, ever cease!  Plan your life appropriately! 



SUMMERTIME SHEMIRA:  The Chofetz Chaim brings the Midrash that when Yaakov Avinu davened to Hashem as he was running away from Eisav (Bereishis 28:20):  “U’Shemarani BaDerech Hazeh--and you guard me on the road that I am taking”--that it refers to Hashem saving him from Lashon Hara along the way. The Chofetz Chaim adds that it is pashut that when a person travels he needs an extra level of shemira--and that the way to attain that extra level of shemira is to have Hashem accompany the person. When Lashon Hara is spoken, the Shechina leaves us--and we are in greater sakana. It is for this reason that Yaakov Avinu davened that he be saved from the cheit of Lashon Hara--so that he be protected in the difficult situation that he faced. We may apply Yaakov Avinu’s teaching to our increased summer travel --so that the Shechina remains with us to give us that extra level of protection that we may very well need!



WHAT’S THE ANSWER? A non-observant woman visits a local religious neighborhood to go shopping and asked the following question: “Why can I not go around in my uncovered hair? These wigs are so gorgeous I am sure they must be much more beautiful than the woman’s natural hair!” This is a question which we must be prepared to answer to our non-religious colleagues. If you are unsure of how to answer, please consult with your Rav. For a thorough explanation of the concept of “sheitel,” see Oz V’hadar Levusha pages 241-254. This is an English sefer written by Rabbi Falk of England and published by Feldheim Publishers.



DAILY KIDDUSH HASHEM: Each one of us is given the opportunity to sanctify our
existence by being M’Kadesh Shem Shomayim in our daily life at home, on the street, while shopping and while at work. We heard of one baal habayis who kept his own private “Kiddush Shem Shomayim Log”. Men have two additional, special opportunities to be M’Kadesh Hashem every day. The Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 125:4) writes “One must apply his mind ardently when he says Kedusha to sanctify
Hashem … through the merit of this, Hashem will rest His Holiness upon him from Above. (During Kedushah,) one should have in mind to fulfill what is stated ‘…And I will be sanctified among the Children of Israel (“V’nikdashti b’soch B’nei Yisrael”).’ The Arizal would urge this strongly.” Translation courtesy of the Feldheim edition, Volume1(D), page 345. We urge those who can, to read the electrifying original Hebrew text of the Mishna Berurah relating to Kedusha (125: 4,5).



PISKEI HARAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, SHLITA, ON HILCHOS TEFILLAH: We provide several pesakim from the Sefer Da’as Noteh (Volume 1), of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son Rav Yitzchok Shaul Kanievsky, Shlita.  Every person should consult with his own Rav or Posek as to the application of these Halachos on a personal basis:


1.       The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 90, seif katan 8) writes that if one finds that his Kavannah is faltering, he should raise his eyes to Shomayim (through the windows in Shul or at home) to arouse one’s Kavannah. May one also study an Adam Gadol (such as a Rav) while he is Davening, in order to arouse one’s Kavannah.  A.  This appears to be appropriate.


2.      What is the difference between the word ‘Elokeinu’ and ‘Elokim’?  A:  The Kavannah one should have when reciting ‘Elokim’ is explicitly stated in (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim Chapter 5).  When reciting ‘Elokeinu’ one should additionally have in mind that that we have accepted His kingship (Malchus) over us.  Similarly, when one recites “Elokai’ he should have in mind that he is accepting Hashem’s Malchus over himself.  Reciting “Hashem Elokeinu” in the first Pasuk of Kriyas Shema is Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim.  When we recite the words “Elokai Avraham, Elokai Yitzchak” (such as in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei) we likewise should have in mind that they accepted Hashem’s Malchus as well


3.      Can one make a personal request two times in Shemone Esrei--for instance once in Shomea Tefillah and once in Elokai Netzor?  A:  It is not proper to do so, for one would not ask something of the King, and then go back and ask it again later in the same audience, however, within one bakasha, one can engage in continuous entreaty, just as Eliyahu HaNavi exclaimed “Aneini Hashem Aneini”.


4.      When reciting the word ‘Modim’ in Shemone Esrei what Kavannah should he have?  A:  The word ‘Modim’ indicates HaKaras Hatov, and this is the Kavannah one should have.


5.  When one recites Tehillim should he have in mind as if he is ,making personal requests, or that these are the words of Dovid HaMelech?  If a Tzibur is reciting Tehillim, is it better to recite with them Pasuk by Pasuk, or to recite another Pasuk on your own?  A:  He should have both his personal; requests, and that these are the words of the Mechabrei Tehillim in mind.  There is a special Ma’aleh when a Tzibur recites a Pasuk together. 





A.  Ben Azai (Avos 4:2) instructs:  “Hevei Ratz LeMitzvah Kallah--one should run after an easy-to-perform or ‘minor’ Mitzvah--and not only after a difficult or ‘major’ Mitzvah.” The Rambam in his Peirush HaMishnayos (ibid.) provides an enlightening insight here. He shows how Moshe Rabbeinu selected the three Arei Miklat on the other side of the Yarden, even though they could not be used until the three Arei Miklat in Eretz Yisrael were actually designated as well. Why, then, did Moshe Rabbeinu the ‘Shalem Shebesheleimim--the greatest and most complete of men’--bother to do a Mitzvah which was incomplete and could not even be utilized. This is to teach us, the Rambam explains, that if Moshe Rabbeinu yearned to do a ‘half a Mitzvah’, then all the more so should we, and we should not be put off by our inability to do the Mitzvah in its entirety, and certainly not as completely or as beautifully as others. It is the willingness, the effort, the desire, and the drive of one to attach himself to Hashem and His Mitzvos to which one must aspire!


B.  The Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 1, Middah 2), teaches that just as when a person performs a Mitzvah he creates a Malach who acts as a defender, so too, when a person transgresses, a destructive creature is r’l created. This is based squarely on the Mishna (Avos 4:13), which states: “Ha’over Aveirah Achas Koneh Lo Kateigor Echad--he who commits a single transgression acquires against himself a single accuser.” The Tomer Devorah, however, frighteningly adds that this kateigor stands before Hashem and proclaims:  “Ploni Asa’ani--so and so made me!” What a powerful lesson this is to us--every day, throughout the day we are literally creators! Perhaps we can visualize what we are creating as we do so--hopefully with the result that we will smile and rejoice many, many times during the day!



5 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT! In English, the first two letters of Shemiras HaLashon spell SH!... In Hebrew, the first two letters spell SHA! Isn’t that enough for us to get the message?!


Hakhel Note: HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, points out that Emunah needs chizuk every day, and if one is not mechazeik himself in it, then his faith is weakened. We may suggest that this is true because of the great need for Emunah in one’s spiritual life--and the consequent Yetzer Hara attack against it. In the Bein Adam L’Chaveiro realm, Shemiras HaLashon may be of similar high level of importance. It is certainly essential for us to be mechazeik ourselves in this every day as well. Even after reading the Sefer Chofetz Chaim or Sefer Shemiras HaLashon, we need to resolve not to fall prey to the Yetzer Hara’s thrusts and guile!



NINETEEN WEEKS! We are now in the eighth of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In past years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha. This week’s Bracha is… REFUAH! Rabbi Eliyahu Roman, Z’tl, pointed out to us in the past that we refer to Hashem in eight different ways in the bracha--Hashem, Sehilaseynu, Atta, Kel, Melech, Rofeh, Ne’eman and Rachaman.  Certainly NO COINCIDENCE, but also highlighting for us how important it is for us to have Kavannah in this bracha--we are seeking Refuos for ourselves and others, and we have the opportunity to implore Hashem, pleading with Him based on various aspects of His attributes!  HaRav Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash adds the following three pointers when reciting the bracha:


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


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


C. One should especially daven for Talmidei Chachomim who are weakened and suffer through their studies and support of K’lal Yisrael. 


D. The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 115: seif katan 1) brings from the Sefer Seder HaYom that the Ikar Kavannah in Refa’einu is our pleading with Hashem that He heal us so that we will be healthy and strong to learn Torah and perform all of the Mitzvos--enabling us to fulfill our role--and our potential--in this world!  What can be more important-more crucial?!  Let us truly focus this week!


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



ALLOWING HAKARAS HATOV TO PENETRATE: The following story is excerpted from the The Maggid at the Podium, by Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn, Shlita (Artscroll/Mesorah). The story and its lesson is brought in Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, Shlita, and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita (Artsroll/Mesorah):


“An owner of a major construction firm charged one of his employees with the task of submitting a bid to a city council for a major project. The bid was the price the company would charge to undertake and complete the project. This company submitted a bid that was two million dollars less than that of any other company, and was hired by the city.


The estimator was troubled by the fact that his bid was so much lower than the others…and then he realized why. He had submitted a price for an incomplete project. The bid could not be rescinded. He had cost the company a two million dollar loss.


He was sure that his boss would be furious, and rightfully so. The next day, he tearfully told the boss what he had done, and submitted his resignation.


But the boss would not accept it. He said, “Yes, you made a serious error, but you’ve been a great worker since you joined our company, and I am positive that you will never again make such a mistake. So I want you to stay on.”


If we used this approach in our personal relationships, especially within the home, our lives would be tranquil and free of strife.


Let’s keep Hakaras HaTov in our subconscious so that we will focus on the good in others and recognize the good in our lives.



2 Tammuz

IT’S NOT TOO LATE! THE FIRST DAY OF TAMMUZ!:  As B’EH we will soon begin the period of Tammuz/Av/Elul, we remind our readers of a noble and important project.  By the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/Sha’areiTeshuvahSchedule.pdf  we provide a Three-Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva by the Rabbeinu Yonah.  With these short daily installments over a three month period--one will actually conclude the Sefer in graduated steps and in time for Rosh Hashanah!  Your undertaking this Program indicates a real degree of sincerity in your Teshuva process this year.  Please spread the word…and the link!


Hakhel Note: This Program is for women as well--and there are fine English translations of the Sha’arei Teshuva readily available in Seforim stores.



TESHUVAH MOMENT:  This week’s Parasha teaches us the horrific effects of machlokes--of arguments and battles which are not L’Shem Shamayim.  This Shabbos, it would seem especially appropriate to conduct oneself with calmness and Nachas Ruach, avoiding disagreements, disputes, or conflicts of any kind, and emphasizing compliments, peace, harmony and friendship with all whom you encounter--especially your own family and friends!





We continue our annual review of Summer Shabbos Shailos, with the Teshuvos of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, to us: 






QUESTION:  May children play with toys that make noise on Shabbos? 

ANSWER: Many poskim are of the opinion that any child above the age of four or five should be taught not to play with toys that make noise on Shabbos. Those children under this age are permitted to play with such noise-making toys (e.g., talking dolls, talking games, etc.). However, one should not hand it directly to the child. If the child is crying, one is permitted to give the toy to him directly. However, care should be taken that when one gives it to the child, one should not cause the toy to make noise. 


QUESTION:  Is a child permitted to play in a sandbox on Shabbos?

ANSWER: Normally, it is prohibited to play with sand on Shabbos, as it is muktzah. However, sand that is in a sandbox is not deemed muktzah because it has been designated for this type of play. Therefore, a child may play in a sandbox on Shabbos. However, water should not be used in the sand due to the issur of Losh.  


QUESTION:  Is a child permitted to play with Erector sets, Legos and other construction-type toys and games? 

ANSWER: Any toy that needs to be screwed together is prohibited because of the issur of Boneh. Therefore, one may not play with a construction set on Shabbos. On the other hand, because one merely sticks together the pieces, one is permitted to play with Legos, Tinkertoys and the like on Shabbos. 


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


QUESTION:  Is it permissible for me to spread a fly net over the hood of the baby carriage or play pen because of the prohibition of forming an Ohel on Shabbos? 

ANSWER: On Shabbos one is forbidden to cover a crib, playpen or carriage with a mosquito net. However, if the net was placed on the crib, playpen or carriage before Shabbos and the net was extended at least a tefach (approximately 3 ¾ inches) over the crib, playpen or carriage, one may extend it on Shabbos. If the hood of the carriage was extended a tefach as stated above, then one may place a mosquito net over the carriage on Shabbos since it is considered as an extension to the canopy hood which is already in place. However, if the hood was not opened a tefach before Shabbos then one may not place a mosquito net on it on Shabbos.  If the hood was not opened before Shabbos or the mosquito net was not placed on the crib or playpen before Shabbos then one should get two people to hold the net open and then one should push the carriage, crib or playpen under it, for in such a case, one does not transgress the issur of erecting an Ohel. 


QUESTION:  If one forgot to put on the hood of the baby carriage before Shabbos, may one put it on Shabbos if it locks into place? 

ANSWER: On Shabbos one is forbidden to open a canopy. Therefore, one cannot attach a hood of a carriage on Shabbos to protect the child. If the hood was attached to the carriage before Shabbos, some poskim are of the opinion that the hood may be opened. Other poskim disagree and permit the hood to be opened only if it was already opened approx. 3.75 inches and a person is only extending it further. The same applies in regard to folding the hood back up. 


QUESTION:  May one open a playpen or portable crib on Shabbos? 

ANSWER: One is permitted to open a playpen, crib or carriage on Shabbos as long as one does not need to tighten any screws or bolts to hold it open. However, one may not open a portable crib that needs to be interlocked on Shabbos. It is permitted on Shabbos to open a portable crib that does not interlock. Regarding the models of portable crib which have a removable bottom, one should hold the bottom of the crib in the air and get someone else to push the crib under it, because of the problem of Ohel. 


QUESTION:  May one bathe his/her child who got dirty on Shabbos? 

ANSWER: One is permitted to wash or bathe a child who became dirty, in warm water that was heated before Shabbos. However, a washcloth may not be used. 


QUESTION:  A child refuses to walk on his own. Can one carry the child if there is no Eruv? 

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





Vayichar LeMoshe Me’od--and Moshe was very wroth and he said to Hashem: Do not turn to their offering”(Bamidbar16:15). 


Rabbi Miller, Z’tl, writes: 


“This seems to be an entirely unnecessary request.  Why would Hashem honor the offering of those that rebelled against Moshe the servant of Hashem?  But we must note that the usual ‘Vayiktsof-And he was angry’ (Shemos 16:20, Vayikra 10:16, Bamidbar 31:14) is not used.  Because ‘Vayiktsof’ expresses a superficial anger which Moshe displayed externally.  However, ‘Vayichar’ expresses genuine distress because these opponents were men of worth and good deeds.  Accordingly, Moshe actually feared lest Hashem might respect their offering. 


We see that Korach and his party were sterling personalities.  And here we learn an invaluable lesson.  Not as generally thought by most men, that if they would be convinced of the truth by open miracles, they would surely be perfectly righteous men.  But here we see that even more than the test of belief in Hashem and in His management of men’s lives, there is still a more difficult test of overcoming one’s own character traits such as jealousy and the desire for glory. 


Korach saw all the miracles.  He stood on the shore of the Sea as it was split and sang together with the entire Nation.  At Har Sinai he heard the Voice of Hashem and had shouted ‘We shall do and we shall listen!’ together with all of K’lal Yisrael. 


Belief was no obstacle. 


“But the test of Kinah and the desire for Kavod, this was overpowering.”


Hakhel Note:  These two related Middos--Kinah and Kavod seeking--comprise some of the core character traits we are tested on in this world.  The Torah, by presenting them in such a stark and powerful way in the Parasha, is reminding us to work on them now.  In the coming week, we should try to work on these two allied flaws of character.  The Torah is presenting them to us--not only to read and be shocked by--but in order to improve ourselves in our personal lives in ways we are truly capable of.  Of course you believe in Hashem--but this belief must be evidenced and enhanced by how you view the wealth and talents of others--and of your own! 



SAY NO TO…! This week’s Parasha provides a permanent lesson on the shock and after-shock of machlokes--to a family, to a tzibbur, to K’lal Yisrael...and to all future generations. The following notes from this week’s Parasha on machlokes, are excerpted from Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita: 


A.  It is a very important Mitzvah to stop a feud.  Do not be discouraged even if you tried to do so and your efforts have been fruitless.  There is always the possibility that your next attempt will be successful. (Sefer Shemiras Halashon 1:15) 


B.  If two people quarreled and afterward made peace, neither should later say to the other: “The reason I behaved as I did is because you did this and this to me.”Even if the person saying this does not intend to resume the quarrel, such a remark is apt to rekindle the dispute, since the other person will probably retort, “No, it -was your fault.” (Orchos Tzadikim, Chapter 21) 


C. If someone insults a man or fails to honor him properly, the man should not relate this to his wife when he comes home (Avos D’Rebbe Noson 7:3).  Relating such an incident would be Rechilus and will most likely cause a dispute. (Chofetz Chaim) 


D. A person should train his children at a very young age to avoid quarrels. Young children have a tendency to grow angry and fight over trivial matters, and if a parent will not correct this fault, it can easily become ingrained. (Ma’aneh Rach, pp. 69-70) 


E.  If two members of a family have become estranged by insults or other grievances, their reconciliation is often very difficult to achieve. Mishlei ( 18:19 ) compares it to “entry into a fortified city,” and the discord between them is likened to the bolts of a castle, which are hard to move. (From the Wisdom of Mishlei, p. 190).  In fact, very often, disputes begin over matters that are entirely irrelevant and insignificant. If you find yourself arguing with someone, ask yourself (and the other person), “Does it really make a difference?”  Hakhel Note:  Even if it does make a difference--does it make that much of a difference? 


Additional Note: We received the following thought from a reader:  “In Parashas Korach, we see how horrible the punishment can be for spreading Machlokes in K’lal Yisrael.  We know that Hashem’s measure of reward is at least 500 times as great as His measure of punishment.  Imagine the reward of those who spread shalom and achdus among their brothers.  If those involved in dispute sink so, so low into the abyss--think about how high the peace-lovers and peace-makers soar in Hashem’s Heaven!”





A.  Korach is not the first person called by this name in the Torah.  See Bereishis 36:5 and Rashi there.  Based upon this nefarious predecessor to the name, why/how could Yitzhar have given this name to his own son? 


B. The Torah teaches us that “U’Vnei Korach Lo Maisu”(Bamidbar 26:11)--the sons of Korach did not die in the unique earthquake of Korach.  It is interesting to note that this Pasuk--distinguishing them from their father and his followers is not found in Parashas Korach at all but later in Parashas Pinchos, and that the actual names of  Korach’s sons, Asir, Elkanah and Aviasaf, are found back in Parashas Va’eira (Shemos 6:24).  What is the Torah teaching us by this? 


C. Moshe Rabbeinu composed several of the Kepitelech--Chapters of Tehillim, and the sons of Korach composed several Chapters, as well.  Who composed more Chapters found in Tehillim, Moshe Rabbeinu or the sons of Korach?  Which Chapters did the sons of Korach compose?  What does this teach us about the power of Teshuva and Tefillah?! 


D. Chazal teach us that Korach was extremely wealthy.  His followers had also obviously brought much wealth with them from Mitzrayim.  Why was Kol HaRechush--all of this great wealth--(Bamidbar 16:33) swallowed up in the earthquake?  After all, the wealth didn’t sin--couldn’t it have been given to Tzaddikim, to the Mishkan, or used as a fund for a very good purpose?! 


E. Towards the end of the Parasha, the Torah introduces us to the 24 Matnos Kehuna--the 24 different gifts given to the Kohen (Bamidbar 18:8-20), 10 of which were in the Beis HaMikdash, 4 in Yerushalayim, and the remaining ten in Eretz Yisrael and some even beyond in chutz la’aretz.  Immediately following the Matnos Kehuna, the Torah teaches us that the Leviim also receive a gift in consideration for their service in the Beis Hamikdash--Ma’aser Rishon, or 10% of the crop left over after Terumah has been given to the Kohen (Bamidbar 18:21-24).  However, this appears to be the Levi’s entire gift--in comparison to the 24 gifts to Kohanim, the Torah immediately provides us with only one gift to be given to the Leviim.  The disparity appears very stark--both the Kohanim and the Leviim receive gifts from the people in recognition and in payment for their services in the Mikdash on behalf of the people, yet the Kohanim’s benefits appear much more diverse, if not much greater. How can we explain this apparent contrast between the Kohanim and Leviim?



SHEMIRAS HAMIKDASH: In this week’s Parasha, we find a series of remarkable Mitzvos relating to Shemiras HaMikdash--guarding the Bais HaMikdash.  To the uninitiated, the concept of a frail human being watching or guarding the House of Hashem, the earthly Abode of the Creator of this World, a Building which is actually mechuvan, parallel, to the Bais HaMikdash Shel Ma’alah, would seem superfluous and unnecessary.  Yet, we find no less than two Mitzvos (a positive commandment and a negative commandment)--in our Parasha relating to its absolute necessity.  The Sefer HaChinuch explains that watching or guarding something is a clear indication that the item has value to you.  The vigilance and attention you give to a place or thing attaches special importance and significance to it.  In the case of the Bais HaMikdash, it is actually Kohanim and Leviim who are given the noble task of providing the appropriate dignity and stateliness to the Holy Place .  They are obviously unarmed, boasting not even a bow or arrow, but Chazal teach that if they were caught asleep on their job at night they would be corporally punished (Mesechta Middos 1:2). 


There are practical and important lessons for us here. 


Firstly, we know that our own Shuls are referred to by the Navi as a Mikdash Me’at--a form, a sample, a replica, of the Bais HaMikdash itself.  It is our job to ensure that this Mikdash Me’at is accorded the Shemira--the honor, dignity and distinction it deserves.  Does it have to be the janitor who picks up tissues or papers from the floor?  Is it only the fanatical fellow who puts together papers strewn over the tables?  Isn’t it very wrong to yell across the Shul to a friend even when it isn’t so full--or to telling a joke after davening?  Guarding the Palace--being vigilant to safeguard its sanctity and to display its uniqueness and holiness--would seem to dictate otherwise.  The person caught sleeping on the job was not given an automatic “second chance,” because a lapse in sanctity is a void in sanctity.  We have a special relationship with Hashem, and a special place to especially forge that relationship.  We should not allow ourselves to forfeit it to indiscretion, carelessness, and failure to appreciate and make the most of our opportunities.  Could you imagine one of the Queen of England’s Honor Guard yawning in front of a huge crowd?  Even if it only happened once, where do you think he would be the next day?  We are honoring Royalty of an infinitely greater nature, and we are more significant and capable than any man with a rifle in his hand. 


Secondly, let us consider how we treat our wallets, our jewelry, and our “special papers” like birth certificates, passports and the like.  They are safely placed away in a specially-considered, or otherwise secure, place.  No one is spilling coffee on them, and no one is leaving them in his car unattended, or at least carefully locked away.  We should consider, in this vein, how our Shemira is for our spiritually valuable items.   How do we treat our Seforim--are they spotted and stained, are the covers or bindings ripped or frayed from use--or from abuse?  How do we pick up a Siddur or Chumash, and how and when do we put them away?  Do we allow Seforim to be strewn about or interspersed with secular books or objects?  Do we leave our Tallis and Tefillin in our cars, or overnight in Shul, exposed to any character or situation? In all of the above situations--let us remember that a Shomer is responsible for the precious items he is entrusted with--he wouldn’t have been hired if he wasn’t capable of performing the job! 



ESSENTIAL LESSONS FROM THIS WEEK’S PEREK:  In this week’s Perek (4:1), the Mishna teaches “Who is a Gibor?  One who quashes his Yetzer Hara.”  Rashi to Sanhedrin (111B) provides a great insight as to the higher form of Gibor one should strive for.  Although one can simply deflect the Yetzer Hara--much like one distracts a baby in order to get him to stop crying, one can also channel the Yetzer Hara’s seemingly patented drive and desire to sin into zerizus and hiddur in the performance of a mitzvah--just as the baby may be led to stop crying not by a petty distraction but by giving it a challenging, new or more interesting or learning experience.  With this approach, the legs which arerunning to do an aveira-- rather than simply stopping in their tracks--instead run to do a chesed or to get to Shul early; the tongue ready to speak sharp or biting words instead recall a D’var Torah from the previous week’s Parasha or speak gentle and calming words; the mind pondering something waste-filled or evil instead contemplates redting a Shidduch or figuring out how one can best help a neighbor or friend in need with a thoughtful measure of dignity and respect.  In all of these circumstances, the vanquished Yetzer Hara is not merely put into prison to rot--but instead is used to build the very fort and castle of the Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim so necessary for one to realize his potential.  It’s great to beat the Yetzer Hara--it’s even greater if you take his assault and turn his plans into a part of your offensive and success!  If you are already ready to be a Gibor--why not try taking it to the higher level suggested by Rashi -- not only subverting the sin-- but converting it into your Neshama’s delight! 


Hakhel Note:  Chazal teach us as well in this week’s Perek (4:21) that one hour of Teshuva and Ma’asim Tovim in this world is “yofeh”--better than all of Olam Haba.  Let us contemplate the awesome nature of this statement.  One hour of good deeds in this world is greater than the goodness of a World to Come that is so great that our corporal being cannot even fathom or imagine.  The Mishna does not qualify its reference as to an hour of good deeds by clarifying that it is referring to one hour of Rashi or the Ramban’s life, or the good deeds of Rebbe Akiva Eiger, the Vilna Gaon or the Chofetz Chaim.  Rather, it clearly refers to any one’s hour and any one’s good deeds.  Here, one is on common ground with the Gedolim of all previous generations and of his generation--he has the same potential to make the next hour shine more brilliantly than, using the Tanna’s words, “all of Olam Haba’.  Can we find at least one hour a daywhich we consciously choose to make more “yofeh” --better than all of Olam Haba?  The greatness resounds within us --as we hoist up and elevate an Olam Hazeh that is sinking so low to all the world all around us to a very, very special place in the Highest of Heavens above.  Each and everyone can be--the man of the hour!



1 Tammuz

STARTING TODAY! VERY IMPORTANT PROGRAM FOR MEN AND WOMEN--THE FIRST DAY OF TAMMUZ!:  As B’EH we begin the period of Tammuz/Av/Elul, we remind our readers of a noble and important project.  By the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/Sha’areiTeshuvahSchedule.pdf  we provide a Three-Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva by the Rabbeinu Yonah.  With these short daily installments over a three month period--one will actually conclude the Sefer in graduated steps and in time for Rosh Hashanah!  Your undertaking this Program indicates a real degree of sincerity in your Teshuva process this year.  Please spread the word…and the link!


  Hakhel Note: This Program is for women as well--and there are fine English translations of the Sha’arei Teshuva readily available in Seforim stores.







EASY QUESTION OF THE DAY:  Which animal had the power of speech and lost it? The Chofetz Chaim urges us to learn from its mistake--so that we will not be stifled in our Olam Haba or in any manner lack the power to communicate--instead being proud bearers of the Torah’s words: “HaKol Kol Yaakov!



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



IMPORTANT TEFILLOS!  A reader supplied us with a moving message and reminder of the short but powerful Tefillos from the Talmud Yerushalmi that the Chofetz Chaim (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 1:1 Biur Halacha dh Sheyehei) urges us to recite prior to Shacharis, Mincha and Ma’ariv. We provide them by the following link: http://tinyurl.com/kd6qbos


Hakhel Note: We had asked HaRav Binyomin Zilber, Z’tl, many years ago whether the Yehi Ratzon before Ma’ariv could be recited even on Shabbos, and he replied in the affirmative.  As always, everyone can check with his own Rav or Posek for a final p’sak.



THE CHESED OF KIRUV: “A Jew’s trait of chesed should be related to his desire to spread Emunah among his fellow human beings. It should pain him to see the vast majority of mankind living their lives in spiritual darkness, totally unaware of Hashem. His middah of Chesed should compel him to devote time to spreading belief in a Creator, thereby pulling people out of their spiritual darkness. Rav Pam recalled a news article he had seen in his youth. It depicted the awe-inspiring scene of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A man stands at the crest of the canyon, surrounded by stunning scenery; the reflections of the rays of the setting sun, the spectacular changing colors, the breathtaking view of the mountains in the distance. However, the man sees nothing. His back is turned from this awesome scene and he is totally engrossed in reading the comic strips of the Daily News ... In a world filled with myriad examples of the Hand of Hashem, people are totally oblivious to G-dliness. What could be a greater chesed than to remove the shutters of spiritual blindness that engulf the world and allow the brilliant light of the Creator to shine on His creations? In our time there are countless opportunities to bring the light of Torah to those living in spiritual darkness. It is the task of this generation to do so.” [Excerpted from Kiruv Begins at Home And Other Insights On Kiruv Kerovim And Kiruv Rechokim From Moreinu Harav Avrohom Pam, Z’tl, by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita]



THOUGHTS ON THE NEW MONTH: Welcome to a new month, with new potential for incredible growth. As we all know, if the Meraglim would have come back with the proper report, Tisha B’Av would have been marked as a day of eternal celebration, rather than a day which now lives in infamy. In the time of Bayis Sheni, Tisha B’Av was, in fact, celebrated. As it is referred to as a “Mo’ed”, it will be certainly celebrated again—may it be this year!


As we previously noted, the Targum Yonasan on last week’s Parasha explains that the Meraglim set out on their journey on 29 Sivan—just two days ago.  These very days—i.e., the next 38 days ahead of us until Tisha B’Av are full of the potential to bring us a happy Tisha B’Av, if we reframe and recharacterize these days into building rather than destruction; days of finding the positive instead of the negative; days of compliments and not of snide or hurtful remarks; days where we show our love towards Eretz Yisrael and its inhabitants in some unique and special way. We know better. We know what we have to do. Like the Meraglim, we have a mission. Let’s succeed with flying colors—it is well within our capabilities, and the benefits and rewards will far exceed the investment and effort—as we will see when the Moshiach comes, Bimheira V’Yameinu.


Hakhel Note: To get us started in the proper framework of appropriate speech, we once again provide below the following stark excerpts from The Power of Words, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


Ona’as Dvorim: “So your teeth hurt you, big deal. Stop complaining. You called the dentist and he gave you an appointment, now be quiet about it. You’re an adult already, why do you keep asking for sympathy?”


Positive Approach: “I’m very sorry that your teeth hurt you. A toothache can be very painful. It’s a good thing that the dentist was able to give you an early appointment. Is there anything I can get you that might make you feel better right now?”


Ona’as Dvorim: “You’re making a big fuss over nothing. So what  if the meal you cooked was ruined and the guests had to eat something else. They still had something to eat. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”


Positive Approach: “I realize how frustrating it must have been to have made an entire meal and then had it ruined because someone forgot to turn off the oven. Most people would feel upset. But I noticed that the guests still enjoyed. Nobody went hungry--the substitute food was fine. For sure, it wasn’t as good as your cooking, but it served its purpose. Everyone had a very pleasant evening. I even heard a few people comment on what a fine hostess you were. They were impressed by how well you dealt with the entire situation.”


Let’s get going—we have 38 days to move ourselves—and, quite literally, change the world!



30 Sivan

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


“In this seventh bracha of Shemone Esrei, we pray for redemption from everyday troubles and request that Hashem relieve hardships which come our way. Rashi (Megilah 17b) explains that the reference to “redemption” in this blessing does not refer to the ultimate Redemption. It is in the later brachos of Shemone Esrei that we ask Hashem to gather the exiles (blessing 10), rebuild Jerusalem (blessing 14), and bring Mashiach (blessing 15). In fact, Bais Yosef (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 115) writes that this bracha of redemption refers to each and every difficult situation from which we beseech Hashem to redeem us. HaRav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch, Z’tl, explains that with the phrase Re’eih V’Anyeinu, “behold our affliction,” we ask Hashem to save us from tzaros which are not caused by other human beings (such as floods, economic downturns, diseases and so forth). In V’Riva Riveinu, “take up our grievance,” we ask Him to redeem us from the tzaros caused by human beings (criminals, terrorists, enemy forces, etc.). The bracha concludes in the present tense—Go’el Yisrael, Redeemer of Yisrael—because we truly experience some form of geulah every day.”

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TESHUVAH MOMENT! As we enter the portals of Tammuz tomorrow, we recognize not only that ten months of this year have passed, but that there are still three months left to go! We each can accomplish so much in the coming 3 months.  For instance, the entire book Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, published by Artscroll, 2005), can be studied over its five-minute a day, 89-day cycle which begins tomorrow the first of Tammuz and concludes on Erev Rosh Hashanah.  Uplifting and upgrading your davening, and improving upon your bond with Hashem, is a great way to concomitantly conclude this year, prepare for the Yomim Noraim and grow in the coming year!  Praying with Fire, is one of Artscroll’s bestselling Seforim ever, and is available in large and even pocket-sized copies in your local Jewish bookstore.  Even to the many who have gone through the Sefer once and more than once, perhaps do it with some family or friends, or others, and try to discuss with them the short five-minute segments presented daily.



A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM THE CHOFETZ CHAIM: Chazal teach that one should weigh the ‘loss’ one may suffer in performing a Mitzvah against the reward to be received, and the immediate ‘reward’ of an aveirah against the loss for performing it. The Chofetz Chaim provides a practical and meaningful explanation on these famous words of Chazal: The reward for a Mitzvah is not immediate, but instead will be eternal--and that eternal reward will not be a status of minimal bliss, but instead a Ta’anug Norah--awesome pleasure in Olam Habba which outweighs all of the luxuries and pleasures of this world. In contrast, the ‘reward’ for an Aveirah is short-lived in Olam Hazeh and trifles in significance to the eternal punishment that one may receive for its performance. Picture, for instance, a scale in front of you--on one side of the scale is written the words: ‘Loss from Mitzvah Performance’, and on the other ‘Reward for Mitzvah Performance’. The scale will be so uneven that one will not even be able to recognize it as a scale. The opposite is true of the Aveirah Performance Scale--where one side is labeled ‘The Pleasure from the Aveirah’, and on the other side stand all of the Mashchisim who have been created as a result of the Aveirah to attack and hurt the one who performed it. We simply have to use our common sense to make the right decision--each and every time!


Hakhel Note: The Chofetz Chaim points to the Pesukim in Nechemia (Chapter 3) which provide specific names of the men who helped build the wall around Yerushalayim at the time of the Bayis Sheini. If the builders of the temporary wall around the City are named--all the more so the builders of the Third and Everlasting Beis HaMikdash itself!

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1.  Chazal (Megillah 28A) record that Rebbe Nechunia ben HaKanna (the author of the Tefillah that we recite daily before we begin to learn  and after we complete our learning--Brachos 28B), was asked what he did to merit long life.  His first response was “Lo Niskabadati Biklon Chaveiri--I did not take honor at the expense of a friend.  While this Middah Ra’ah --to in some way derive benefit from the shame or disgrace of others--may be a favorite of the Yetzer Hora, we must combat it--remembering that HaMekabel Pnei Chaveiro KiMekabel P’nei HaShechina--the feelings of honor to be accorded to others should in our minds resemble the honor that we would want to give to the Shechina itself!  Hakhel Note:  HaRav Kanievsky adds that when one accords respect even to those who are clearly ‘ketanim mimenu’--he performs an act of Kiddush Hashem (as the Rambam describes in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah (Chapter 5)).


2.  On top of all of the other Issurim that one may be oveir by speaking without thinking, he also is considered to have the Middah Ra’ah of laitzanus. Chazal (Devarim Rabbah 6:10) teach that Malachim escort every person and write down kol dibbur vedibbur--every single thing he says--and one is really held accountable for it. Indeed, the Sefer Chassidim (162) writes that when a person is born, it is decreed how many words he will speak--and after 120 years an accounting is done--were they words of mitzvah or....HaRav Kanievsky cautions that one should not think that any words of Chazal are exaggeration--and, unless one does Teshuva, he must recognize that real reward and real punishment await him--for this is the foundation of our faith.


3.  It is one thing to get hoodwinked by the Yetzer Hora based upon a momentary lack of proper discretion, but it is another to specifically set aside time for inappropriate recreation in which one simply puts Hashem out of his mind in that time--ignoring that Meloh Kol Ha’aretz Kevodo--Hashem’s  glory fills the universe--all the time! 


4.  Fortunate is the person who is Ma’avir Al Middosav--who overlooks what others have done to him, and overcomes a hakpada that he has, or other insult, hurt or injury of any kind.  Chazal record that Rav Huna brei deRav was very seriously ill (perhaps not alive) for several days.  Upon his return to ‘this world’, he related that Malachei Shareis were able to be successfully Melameid Zechus on him because of his unyielding dedication to being Ma’avir Al Middosav--in no uncertain terms... it had saved his life!


5.  Kinah or jealousy is a Middah Ra’ah Me’od--Chazal (Shabbos 152B) explain that it is the one Middah that causes one’s bones to rot in his kever. Even when kinah is used positively--as in Kinas Sofrim Tarbeh Chochma, this does not mean that one should actually be jealous of someone else who is greater spiritually.  Rather, it means that one should learn from his deeds, and do as he does....


6.  Every mitzvah opportunity that one has is a gift Min HaShamayim.  If one truly appreciates this, his Mitzvos should be marked by a recognizable Simcha Shel Mitzvah.  Indeed, in accordance with the Simcha one truly feels, will he receive an Or Elyon.  HaRav Kanievsky concludes (in the name of HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl) regarding one who accustoms himself to performing Mitzvos with this appreciation and joy:  “Ein Safek She’yashreh Alav Ruach Hakodesh”--there is no doubt that such a person will be zoche to Ruach Hakodesh!  We all can move ourselves in this direction--let’s feel the joy--each and every time!



29 Sivan

PLEASE GET READY!  SPREAD THE WORD! VERY IMPORTANT PROGRAM FOR MEN AND WOMEN--THE FIRST DAY OF TAMMUZ!:  As we begin the period of Tammuz/Av/Elul, we provide our readers with a noble and important project, which was provided last year as well, and for which we received an enthusiastic response from those who participated.  By the following link http://tinyurl.com/pyhvfxp we provide a Three- Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva by the Rabbeinu Yonah.  With these short daily installments over a three month period--one will actually conclude the Sefer in graduated steps and in time for Rosh Hashanah!  Please spread the word…and the link! 


Hakhel Note: Be mezakeh your Shul by printing this out in card form.



FROM RABBI AVIGDOR MILLER, Z’TL:  “Man’s mind is only a vessel by which Hashem transmits knowledge to the world. It is not an independent source of wisdom. Hashem is the Source of all understanding and wisdom.” (Ohr Avigdor, Sha’ar HeBechinah)



AMAZING RESOURCE! The Torah Communications Network provides an outstanding array of Shiurim over the phone including Dial-A-Shiur in Halacha, Parashas HaShavuah, Tefillah, Tehillim, Mishna Yomis, Mishna Berurah and has the Daf Yomi available both in one hour per-Daf format and B’Iyun. For further information please see a flyer available at the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TCNFlyer.pdf   To sample a program, please call 718-436-3846.



TESHUVAH MOMENT!  The Vilna Gaon writes to his close family in the Igeres HaGra:”Kol Regah V’Regah She’Odom Chosem Piv--every moment that a person keeps silent” (i.e., in a situation where he would/could speak up), entitles him to bask in a Hidden Light that no angel or other creation could fathom.


While we all may be very familiar with this quote, we should make an extra special effort to energize the quote and actually apply it in everyday life.  Imagine enjoying and benefiting from a light that even an angel cannot appreciate and attain.  If we do not use this phrase to combat our Yetzer Hara at least once a day in an at-home or at-work situation, we may be acting in a very remiss manner--against ourselves!  The 40-day preparatory period which led to the Meraglim’s world-wrenching and generation-affecting Loshon Hara on Tisha B’Av, commences today, on the 29th day of Sivan (the day the Meraglim left for Eretz Yisrael).  Now is the time to prepare for a positive turn of the tongue.  Today especially, is a particularly propitious time to undertake this new, fresh attempt in the area of Shmiras HaLashon.  If the Malachim have no part in this reserved Hidden Light, then let us at least consider and act upon the special opportunities we have at certain moments during the day!







A.  One who is careful not to speak any sheker, any falsehood, will merit having his brachos fulfilled--for just as he is careful not to speak falsehood, Min HaShomayim they will be careful that any bracha that he gives will be truthful and will be fulfilled.


B. Most Machlokes would never occur if one would realize that he, in fact, achieves greater success by being mevater, by giving in, than by ‘winning’. Chazal (Bava Kamma 93A) teach that a person should always be among those who are the chased and not the ones doing the chasing--for there are no birds more pursued than the turtledove and the pigeon, and these are the only birds that are Kosher for the Mizbe’ach.


C. One who makes it his practice to be mevater, spares himself from sinah, machlokes and tzaros.


D. On  the Middah of zerizus--The Chazon Ish would say that a Segulah not to forget to do something--is to do it immediately!


E. The Torah is the gate to Yiras Shomayim--if one does not have Yiras Shomayim, what purpose will the Torah serve?


F.  The more Yiras Cheit that a person has, the more Siyata Dishmaya he will have not to fall prey to sin. Simply stated, if one is Shomer himself, Min HaShomayim they will be Shomer him as well.


G.  The golden rule in Kibud Av V’Eim is:  The way in which one would want his children to treat him, and what he would like them to do for him--is the way he should treat his parents and the acts he should undertake on their behalf!


H.  Chazal (Brachos 19A) teach that Tzurba MaiRabbanan HaKadosh Baruch Hu Tiba’i Yakrei--When it comes to a Talmid Chochom, Hashem cares about and seeks out his honor. HaRav Kanievsky teaches that this is because ‘Kol Kiyum HaTorah Talui BiShemiya LeChachomim, VeIm Ain Mechabdin Ossan, Batel Mora’an Ve’asida Kol HaTorah Libatel Chas Veshalom--the continuance of Torah among our people is dependent on our following the words of our Chachomim, and if we do not honor them properly, we will not have the proper reverence for them and the entire Torah c’v would be voided.’ HaRav Kanievsky goes on to explain that this is the very reason that Moshe Rabbeinu in this week’s Parasha asked for Korach and his cohorts to be punished. It was not c’v  any vindictiveness--it was simply necessary for the Kiyum HaTorah itself


Hakhel Note: As Torah Jews, it is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE, as HaRav Kanievsky teaches,  that we not be guided by “it’s my opinion”, and “this is how I view it and that’s it “--but by the direction of our Torah Scholars, who are our living embodiment of the Torah itself!


Additional Note:  Rabbi Kanievsky also brings Chazal (Koheles Rabba 1), who teach that “Yiheye BeEinecha Dor Sheba Kedor Shehalach --one must view the leaders of his generation as equal to the  leaders of the prior generations--and one simply cannot say “if Rebbe Akiva or Rebbe Yochanan...or the Rashba, or the G’ra or the Chasam Sofer had said it, I would surely listen, but....”--because our  Gedolim were placed into this world at this time for this reason--to be OUR gedolim!



28 Sivan

FOR THE SHLIACH TZIBBUR!  We provide by the following link a concise summary of pertinent Halachos for the Shliach Tzibbur, which Hakhel prepared in conjunction with The V’Ani Tefillah Foundation.  You will note that all of its contents have been approved by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl.





TESHUVAH MOMENT: When one learns twenty words of Torah, he has learned Torah. Likewise, when one learns just one word of Torah, he has learned Torah as well. Conversely, when one speaks twenty words of Lashon Hara, he has spoken Lashon Hara, and when he speaks just one word of Lashon Hara, he has spoken Lashon Hara as well. Quantitatively, the Mitzvah (or Aveirah) is different by the amount of time, actions, words or efforts put into it--however, qualitatively, in all events the Mitzvah (or Aveirah) has occurred by virtue of even the smallest of thoughts, words or actions--albeit limited in scope. The concept of ‘this will only take me ten minutes’; ‘I will only make one biting comment and stop’, or ‘I won’t come late to Shul (or to a Shiur, or to a Chavrusah) more than three times a week’, is certainly limiting the scale or extent of the indiscretion--but the ugly stain of the Aveirah has nevertheless been lodged and embedded in the person’s neshama and being. One must never, ever, make light of a ‘limited’ Aveirah for that one minute, one sentence, one act of anger, one desire…has made its mark--which will in any and all events require bleaching and cleansing to expunge. Of course, as we began above, the very same moment, very same sentence, very same action could have been used for Torah, Tefillah, Chesed, and self-improvement--and the smallest of any of these will create an indelible badge of honor that will remain forever and ever!




NINETEEN WEEKS! We are now in the seventh of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In past years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha. This week’s Bracha is… GEULAH! We begin asking for Geulah [both on a personal and tzibbur basis] with the words Re’eih VeAnyeinu. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that this is based both on the Pasuk of Eicha (1:9) “Re’eih Hashem Es Anyi--Hashem see my affliction”, and the Pasuk in Tehillim (25:18): “Re’eih Anyi V’Amali--see my affliction and toil”. HaRav Kanievsky adds that for those who recite Re’eih Nah--the word Nah here means ‘please and not ‘now’ as the Pasuk in Shmuel II (7:2) teaches: “Re’eih Nah (please) Anochi Yoshev Biveis Arazim VeAron HaElokim Yoshev Besoch HaYeriah….” HaRav Chaim adds that we ask Hashem not only to look at Anyeinu but Ve’Anyeinu--into our afflictions--because after all these years of Galus we do not even know how great our affliction is and how much we are missing!


Hakhel Note: This bracha contains very powerful requests--and the Kavannah that we have should match the inherent potency of the bracha! We provide by the following link our additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html   For a link of all of the notes on the Nineteen Brochos in one PDF document, please see this link  http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/FocusOnTefillah.pdf  May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the Praying with Passion Series (available free by email by contacting us), the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer, the Tefillah Tapes of Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, or other wonderful resources), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week.



THEY ARE YOUR YEARS! Rashi teaches about the Meraglim that Reshaim Hallalu Ra’u V’Lo Lakchu Mussar--they saw what had happened to Miriam but disregarded it. HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita brings from his father-in-law HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, that what we possess as human beings is ‘yahren’--the years that Hashem graced us with in this world.  When we fail to take heed and to take action on that which occurs around us, we demonstrate a lack of concern, a lack of care for our precious possession. Just as a man who colors his hair to appear younger subverts the value and goal of his life, so too does one who does not try to take the lessons of life to heart obfuscate his life’s purpose and meaning. Hakhel Note:  When one specifically learns of a news item, he should not let it pass--but realize that it is Hashgacha Pratis --for him to learn from, and to act upon!



TZITZIS! As they take leave of the parasha of Tzitzis, men should be especially enthused going forward by how we are given the opportunity in such an easy way to perform such a sublime and pervasive Mitzvah--a Mitzvah that brings us to remember (U’Zechartem) and to perform (Va’Asisem Osam) ALL of the other Mitzvos. As just a taste of the depths behind the otherwise ‘easy’ Mitzvah to perform, the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 11, Dirshu Note 71) brings that the 32 Tzitzis strings represent the 32 Nesivos Hachochma. In the bracha of Lehisateif BaTzitzis, the last two words begin with Lamed and Veis--32 as well--representing the 32 teeth. The Sefer Kaf HaChaim brings that having Kavannah in the Lamed and the Vais is accordingly a segulah against toothaches. Indeed, if one needs to cut his Tzitzis, he should do so with his teeth (Machatzis HaShekel). Hakhel Note: Who could have imagined that there was such a relationship between one’s Tzitzis and one’s teeth in terms of the true profundity of the Mitzvah. This is undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg!



GRASSHOPPERS? In last week’s Parasha, the Meraglim depict: “And we were in our eyes like grasshoppers, and so were we in their eyes” (Bamidbar 13:33).


Rav Eliyahu Mann, Shlita, asks the following--What is the point of all of the “sheva brachos” Divrei Torah in which we praise the chosson, the kallah, the families.... where is the tznius and the anava, the modesty and the humility?  Rav Mann answers, in the name of his father, that these words of chizuk are actually very important.  His father explains as follows:  After 24 years of uninterrupted study with his students, Rebbi Akiva told his students “All that we have comes from [Rochel--Rebbi Akiva’s wife]”.  Why was this so?  Because Rochel, as the daughter of one of the wealthiest men of the generation, could have literally married the most eligible bochur in the world.  Instead, she saw, and brought out, in Rebbi Akiva (then a 40 year old Am Ha’Aretz) his great kochos--his ability to be one of the supreme leaders in Klal Yisrael’s decorated history.


We learn from this history-changing incident that it is imperative that we point out, bring out and build up our friends’ strengths and attributes so that they will be encouraged to work on their G-d given gifts, and realize their potential and tafkid, or purpose, in life.  Whether it be a particular clarity of either oral or written expression, a beautiful voice, a keen sensitivity, a strong willpower, an ability to sit and study, a charismatic Tzedakah-raising personality, or an unusually pleasant nature--these strengths should be used for their benefit, and the benefit of others.  It goes without saying that we need not love our friends more than ourselves (Love Your Neighbor AS YOURSELF).  Thus, if we know that Hashem has given us certain special abilities or talents, we should not brush them under the rug, ignore them or even wait to develop them--rather, we should try our utmost to use these gifts in our daily activities.  Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, advises “Honor Hashem with your wealth” (Mishlei 3:9).  Rashi (ibid) writes that the wealth referred to by the wisest of all men is not limited to money--but most definitely includes whatever Hashem has graced you with.


Rav Dessler, Z’tl (Michtav M’Eliyahu 4:98) writes that “Mazal” is a person’s utilization of his “nature and nurture”--his innate talents and particular surroundings-- to realize and fulfill his mission in life.  Rav Aryeh Carmel, Shlita, in his gloss there, notes that when we say “Mazal Tov” we are providing a very meaningful bracha--that Hashem bless the young couple (or the bar mitzva bochur or the newly-born baby, etc.) with those very talents needed to fulfill their purpose without difficulty.


When we help others (and ourselves), work on developing and encouraging capabilities and strengths, we are literally helping to fulfill their and our purposes in life.  Could anything be more important than to provide the necessary direction and encouragement to a chosson or kallah, and to help guide the new mates to help each other?


As we noted at the beginning of this writing, the Meraglim, the spies, stated “We were in our eyes like grasshoppers...”  When you feel like an insect, you do not feel like you have much potential.  The resulting report that the spies came back with, and its effect on K’lal Yisrael then, and for eternity, is history.


Far be it from us to repeat this great mistake.  Perhaps each one of us should take a pad out and begin listing those attributes, those traits, those capabilities, those strengths that we and our best friend(s) really do have, and begin to make sure that they are properly utilized, so that we, like Yehoshua and Calev, will be among those who readily realize their ultimate purpose and mission in life!


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