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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin





Special Note One:  The Kan Mefureshes Gemach in Brooklyn has notified us that the Sefer Kan Mefureshes is available for two week lending periods, and that the Sefer is not provided for free as we had previously mistakenly reported.  In fact, the Gemach advised us that borrowers have also been mistaken about this, and that their original supply of 20 Seforim has been reduced to 6.  There is a great lesson here when borrowing any item from any person, or from any Gemach.  Every borrower must be especially circumspect and diligent regarding anything borrowed--making sure that it is promptly returned to its lender, and not become a book that he finds on his bookshelf years later, money that is never returned because it is forgotten about, or an object originally borrowed for a Simcha that becomes a fixture at the borrower’s Shabbos table.  Care in borrowing not only encourages lending by others, but also prevents the violation of Torah prohibitions against using another’s objects against his will (akin, of course, to stealing).  We are moving very close to the three month period prior to Rosh HaShanah--now is an especially important time to clean-up these kinds of iniquities of the past--writing things down to make sure that it doesn’t happen again!



Special Note Two:  As we speak and think about the period of Tammuz/Av/Elul, or the last quarter of the year, 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 clicking on this link we provide a Three-Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sharei Teshuva by the Rabbeinu Yona.  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 project may indicate a real degree of sincerity in your Teshuva process this year.  Please spread the word…and the link!



Special Note Three:  An important follow-up to yesterday’s note on Seyag LaChochma Shesika:  The Vilna Gaon writes to his close family in the Igeres HaGra:  “Kol Rega V’Rega 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 Hora 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 Hora on Tisha B’Av, commences tomorrow, on the 29th day of Sivan (the day the Meraglim left for Eretz Yisroel).  Now is a particularly propitious time to undertake this new, fresh attempt in the area of Shmiras HaPeh.  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!



Special Note Four:  Dovid HaMelech provides the following remarkable teaching “Ki Ya’amod LeYimin Evyon-- Hashem stands to the right of a poor person (Tehillim 109:31).”  The Chofetz Chaim explains that we should always envision the Shechina itself standing to the right of the indigent individual in his support.  Accordingly, we should always give with a greater level of respect, and an enhanced level of giving.  The next time a poor person appears at your door or in front of you in Shul--realize that the Shechina itself is to his right! 



Special Note Five:  We continue with this week’s focus on the Bracha of Selach Lanu, with the teachings today excerpted from the Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah by Rabbi Meyer Birnbaum, Shlita:  The Sefer Orchos Chaim of the Rosh (36) writes--”What good is it to ask for Selicha in Selach Lanu--if one does so without having Kavanna?”  Indeed, HaRav Yecheskel Sarna, Z’tl, writes that asking for forgiveness without Kavanna ridicules the concept of asking for forgiveness.  On the other hand, the Sefer Olas Tomid concludes if one does recite Selach Lanu with a feeling of remorse over specific sins that he has done in the past, and with a Kabbala not to do so in the future-- then he has fulfilled the Mitzvas Asei in the Torah of Teshuva within his daily Shemone Esrei!



Question of the Day:  Where in davening do we ask Hashem to help us avoid Machlokes?


Hakhel Note:  We received the following valuable thought from a reader:  “In Parshas Korach, we see how horrible the punishment can be for spreading Machlokes in Klal Yisroel.  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!”



Special Note One:  We continue with our review of the Bracha of Selach Lanu. It is important to note that this is the only bracha in Shemone Esrei (at least in Nusach Ashkenaz) that has the word Ki--because in the bracha three times.  This brings to the fore Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s superlative thought on Teshuva in one of his classic Teshuva Shiurim (all of his must-listen-to Teshuva Series is available through yadyechiel.org).  Rabbi Frand points out that we begin our Vidui with the phrase ‘Aval Anachnu Va’Avoseinu Chatanu--but we and our fathers have sinned.  What is the ‘but’ all about in Vidui?  Why is Aval an essential part of our Teshuva?  Rabbi Frand brings that the essence of Aval is taken from Yosef’s brothers--who upon being accused of being spies, exclaimed ‘Aval Ashaimim Anachnu...--but we are guilty....’The ‘but’ there conveys the brothers’ stark realization that all that they had done until that point was based upon excuses--But this, But that--while in real truth the test of Yosef coming to them alone should have been handled otherwise--and he should have not been thrown into the pit, nor sold into slavery.  With the words Aval Anachnu Va’Avoseinu Chatanu we honestly convey that our sins are also based in excuses--but I had to look at that, but I had to say this, but I had to go there, but I had to eat something, but I didn’t have time, but I couldn’t do it....  the beginnings of Vidui are admitting the excuses--and ridding yourself of them.  One should look out for the word ‘but’ in anything that you are about to rationalize or justify--to make sure that you won’t have to Teshuva for that ‘but’.   In the Bracha of Selach Lanu- with the word Ki  mentioned three times we suggest that we ask for pardon and forgiveness--BECAUSE we realize the foible of the ‘but’ syndrome, and BECAUSE we recognize that Hashem is Pardoning and All-Forgiving despite the pretexts and excuses. When saying the word Ki--remind yourself of the ‘buts’ of the past--and concomitantly plead and rejoice in the way out of the ‘Aval’s--the Ki’s that Hashem so graciously provides us with!



Special Note Two:  Rebbe Akiva (Avos 3:17 ) teaches that “Seyag LaChochma Shesika--a protective fence for wisdom is silence.”  This closely follows the teaching of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel (ibid. 1:17):  Kol Yomai Godalti .Bain HaChachamim...All my days I have been raised among chachomim and I have found nothing better for oneself than silence...and one who talks excessively brings on sin.”  The Bartenura on Rebbe Akiva’s teaching explains that Rebbe Akiva is not talking about sinful speech such as Lashon Hora or Ona’as Devorim which is in any event forbidden.  Rather, he is speaking about permissible speech, which is still hurtful if left unchecked.  HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, accordingly teaches that one should practice every day refraining from saying something (permissible) that he was otherwise going to say.  This, HaRav Miller teaches, demonstrates a level of Yiras Shomayim, recognizing that one is not in control of his power of speech--but that it is HaKadosh Baruch Hu who opens our minds and our mouths.  This level of Yiras Shomayim, in turn, will help prevent one from sin.  Indeed, Dovid HaMelech reaches in Tehillim (111:10):  “Raishis Chochma--Yiras Hashem”--the Chochma referred to by Rebbe Akiva could be the Yiras Shomayim referred to in the Pasuk.  In a similar vein, it is well known that HaRav Pam, Z’tl, even for the most obvious or simple response would typically wait for a moment or more--so that the word or words uttered were uttered with awareness and care.  We should take the lesson to heart--we start off the day with Raishis Chochma--can we try and follow HaRav Miller’s suggestion-and work on our Chochma and Yiras Shomayim-by keeping our lips sealed--not making the added comment or excessive statement, not providing the additional opinion or witticism--just one time a day?   One may never know when and where the fruits of this Avodah will blossom and appear!



Special Note Three:  We present below several Shailos from the Sefer Da’as Noteh, containing the P’sokim of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son Rav Yitzchok Shaul Kanievsky, Shlita:

1.  Is your davening considered to be Tefillah BeTzibbur if you do not begin Shemone Esrei simultaneously with the Shalich Tzibbur?  A.  LeChatchila, one should start simultaneously with the Tzibbur.  Bedieved, if the Tzibbur is still within the first bracha of Shemone Esrei when one begins, one still will have the ma’aleh of’ ‘starting’ with the Tzibbur.

2.  Is the concept of “Sechar Pesiyos” (being rewarded for the extra steps of going to a farther place) limited to walking to a farther Shul to daven--or does it apply for learning Torah as well?  A.  It should apply when going to study as well--although one should not waste time from Torah learning in going to a farther away place to daven or to study.

3.  If there was a minyan in Shul before the one you are attending--can you still be considered to be ‘within the first ten in Shul’  if you are one of the first ten at the second minyan?  A.  Yes--for it is not dependent on the first ten in Shul-but on the first ten who are actually davening at that minyan.

4.  In davening Shemone Esrei--one’s feet should be together.  Does this apply to men and women equally?  Is it sufficient if one’s heels are touching?  If one’s feet got separated can he put them back together?  A.  Yes--it applies equally to men and women; the entire foot should be next to the other foot and not just the heels adjacent; and one can place his feet back together if they became separated during Shemone Esrei.



Question of the Week:  The Mizbe’ach is 32 Amos by 32 Amos.  Thirty-two is, of course, the Gematriah of Lev.  Why do you think that the Mizbe’ach is 32 by 32?



Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Sixth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Selach Lanu.  The following is excerpted from the monumental work Rav Schwab on Prayer, the teachings of Rabbi Shimon Schwab, Z’tl:  “…Boruch Attah Hashem Chanun HaMarbeh LiSloach--Blessed are you Hashem, the gracious One who pardons abundantly.  Chanun, as opposed to Chonein, is the pu’al form, and means “You graciously grant the requests that are made of You.”  If we pray for forgiveness, HaKadosh Baruch Hu ‘allows Himself to be entreated’, and even adds to the forgiveness, He is HaMarbeh L’Sloach:  He increases His forgiveness to the point that He considers the aveiros that we have done B’Shogeig to have been Zechuyos.”  Hakhel Note:  The more we focus on the exact wording implanted in the Shemone Esrei by the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah the more we can appreciate its explosive potency.  We need not have the in depth and hidden meanings at our finger tips or on our minds--but we most definitely should have the powerful plain meaning of the words focused in on the 5-10 minute Shemone Esrei that we pray.  Over the course of a day, this amounts to approximately a half hour or less of paying good attention to what you are saying--in your audience with the King of Kings .  Oh, how worthwhile it is and will be o have that focus!  (As to the singular importance of the ‘plain meaning’ of the words, see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 98, Mishna Berurah seif katan 1).



Special Note Two:  One other point we may lose sight of in the course of Tefilla BeTzibbur is what a Minyan praying together really means.  The Mishna Berurah (ibid. 55, seif katan 34) reminds us that when ten (10) adult men pray together “Shechina Sharya Beineihem--V’Nekdashti BeSoch Bnei Yisroel Karinan Behu--the Shechina dwells among them and Hashem’s name is publicly sanctified by us.”  In short, it is an absolutely incomparable daily opportunity.  We should not gloss over this great privilege--for it occurs and reoccurs each and every time we participate in such a gathering.  The Shechina is very much there--as the nine other men together with you!



Special Note Three:  Another example of the power of Shemone Esrei is the phrase ‘Elokai Netzor Leshoni Merah’--which introduces our personal requests after the Nineteen Brachos.  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that there is potential for a person to violate up to 17 Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh and up to 14 Mitzvos Asei by speaking Lashon Hara.  Thus, when we ask Hashem to help us guard our tongue from evil, we are asking Him to help us with 31 Mitzvos! 

Hakhel Note:  The Chofetz Chaim writes that it is really not sufficient for one to have a general attitude of being careful with his tongue.  Rather, the Chofetz Chaim urges that we be a Shomer of our mouths--making it a life guiding project.  We are accustomed to a Shomer being accorded only minimum wage.  This kind of Shomer, however, is much different--he is at the pinnacle of wealth.  The Chofetz Chaim posits that if an announcement went out that ‘monies are now being accepted to build the third and final Bais Hamikdash--how we  would hurry to pledge whatever we could--$100,000, $50,000, $10,000, each person in accordance with his  capabilities.  However, this is not the ‘currency’ that will be accepted for the Binyan HaMikdash.  After all, Hashem has all the cash and treasures needed--and has, in fact, had them for the last two thousand years since the very moment that the Bais Shaini was destroyed.  The currency that is needed to build the Bais HaMikdash--and the announcement has been out from Chazal for so very long--is our care, our concern, our dedicated Shemira of the words that we speak and the way that we behave to our fellow man.  In this regard--we are all exceedingly wealthy.  Nobody--nobody--has to put himself into the $1,000 category--for he can absolutely be in the $100,000 category, notwithstanding the standing of his savings bank account.  Remember--the donor’s wall here doesn’t last for ten, twenty, thirty, or even a hundred years--you will have made your mark forever and ever!



Special Note Four:  Is there actually an Aveirah of Gezel Sheinah--stealing someone’s sleep?  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, opines that since sleep is not tangible one cannot really be over stealing sleep, which requires something tangible. It is theft, but more as a Mussar concept--demonstrating middos ra’os which need to be expunged.  Rabbi Dovid Castle , Shlita, however, notes that the Lo Sa’aseh of Lo Sonu Ish Es Amiso --not hurting or aggrieving our friend would include stealing his sleep as well, for by doing so one is upsetting or distressing his friend or colleague.



Special Note One:  We all face the shame and ignominy of last week’s vote by the New York State government.  It is no secret that this disgrace took place in a state where a good part of the Jewish World (and even Torah world) reside.   Woe to us who live in a generation in which immorality is legislated.  The same actions listed as crimes in the State penal codes a few short years ago have become legalized and even legitimated in a hideous and dreadful way--utilizing the term of marriage--which to us is synonymous with holiness.  Indeed, the Torah sternly warns us KeMa’aseh Eretz Mitzraim ...U’CheMa’aseh Eretz Canaan Lo Sa’asu--do not follow in the immoral acts of Mitzraim and Canaan (Vayikra 18:3)--and this teaching is so essential and core to our belief that Chazal instructed us to read this Parsha as the Kriyas HaTorah at Mincha on Yom Kippur itself.  So what are we to do now?  Should millions of Jews put up “For Sale” signs in protest and to avoid c’v any other Sodom-like repercussions.  As we look at the horrible galus around us, we realize that there is no where to find refuge among the nations--as they spiral downward in morality and decency.  This should certainly serve as one more important reminder to us to daven deeply and well f or Ge’ulah.  As we had asked HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita after the 2001 WTC Massacre--what should we be davening for--for things to get back to normal?  He responded--Yes--that is exactly what we should be davening for-- AND NORMAL TO US IS FOR THERE TO BE A BAIS HAMIKDASH AND FOR US TO BE IN OUR LAND .  As we shudder over these events--we should, we must be moved to more Kavana in the brachos of Geulah in Shemone Esrei--where we can find the true answers to this untenable situation. To demonstrate how powerful Tefillah is --we need only look at last week’s Parsha.  Regarding the congregation of Korach, Moshe Rabbeinu had to ask Hashem Ahl Teifen El Minchasam--do not turn to their offering....Would there be any thought that Hashem would pay any heed to their scandalous, scoundrel activity?!  Yes, the commentators explain--Hashem pays attention to sincere requests.  There is something else we can do--a suggestion given to us by a concerned Rav.  He noted that this act of Government is an act of impurity, of defilement.  What we should do, in turn, is with every small act that we do TRY TO ADD TAHARA into the world.  Our dedication to Shemiras Ha’Ainaim, to Tznius (both men and women), to not going after the Chukos HaAkum in attitude, style, dress and thinking is our demonstration that even if we are not physically moving far away from the repulsiveness--in our mindset, in our everyday thinking and way of life--it and they are as far away from us as the North or South Pole.  We are so far removed from them--that THEY are in Sodom , and WE are together with Avrohom Avinu--spiritually and thoughtfully with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  Our goal then is to add Tahara--by remembering that we will lead our lives with circumspection, with dveikus, with care.



Special Note Two:  We now incredibly begin the sixth week in our focus upon a bracha of Shemone Esrei in the nineteen weeks before Rosh Hashana.  This week, we reach the bracha of Selicha.  In this bracha, we ask Hashem for selicha (Selach Lanu) and mechila (Mechal Lanu).  HaRav Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, explains that selicha refers to the complete extinguishment of the sin, while mechila still requires yissurim.  Accordingly, HaRav Eibeschutz continues, one should sincerely plead for selicha in this bracha--so that his sins are forgiven without having to suffer through difficult yissurim which would cause bitul Torah or Tefillah.  As in the bracha of Hashiveinu discussed last week, we plead with the words Selach Lanu Avinu--asking Hashem as our Father to mercifully wipe away our iniquity entirely so that we can begin our lives again without the hurt of yissurim and with fresh resolve and new dedication.  This bracha contains very powerful requests--and the kavana that we have should match the inherent potency of the bracha!



Special Note Three:  The following is excerpted from Journeys To Virtue: The Laws of Interpersonal Relationships by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita (Artscroll, pp. 80-81):  “How can we know if a machlokes is genuinely for the sake of heaven? The most reliable test is to examine how the parties to the dispute relate to each other in matters unrelated to their disagreement.  If in all other areas they treat each other with sincere love and respect (as Jews are required to relate in all circumstances), we may conclude that their motives in disagreeing are genuinely for the sake of Heaven.  If, however, they treat each other with hatred in other areas as well, as would true enemies, this is a clear sign that the Machlokes is not for the sake of Heaven, and that the Satan is at work.  Rabbi Ehrman continues that he heard in the name of a Gadol that Rebbi Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, appeared in a dream many years after his death and revealed that although others involved in their machlokes were in Gehinnim, HaRav Eibeschutz and his well-known Bar Plugsa--HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, were dwelling together in Gan Eden.


Hakhel Note: Gehinnom or Gan Eden...the choice is...ours!!



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


A.  The Sefer Matei Moshe (Siman 445) writes that we recite Nishmas on Shabbos to thank Hashem for our Neshama YeSeira, through which we attain Chochma Yeseirah, on Shabbos. 


B.  Every Wednesday, HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek , Dayan Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended by approximately 100-125 woman.  This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions.  Questions 1-30 were covered in previous weeks.  We now continue with a summary of those questions:


31. If one needs to wash a baby on Shabbos, what is the best way to make a warm bath?
    One can fill the bassinet with cold water and than add hot water from a kli rishon  to it.


32. Is one permitted to pour hot water into a wet cup to make a tea?
    One should not pour hot water from a kli rishon into a wet cup due to the fact that there is some cold water that is in the cup that will become cooked upon contact with the hot water. According to HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein, Zt’l, if the cold water was previously cooked (e.g., a glass of tea and you want a refill) one is not obligated to dry the cup first.  However, the Chazon Ish was of the opinion that one must dry the cup first. Preferably, one should dry the cup first.


33. Is one permitted to add spices to a second vessel?
    Any spice that was cooked in the factory may be added to a kli sheni (e.g., salt, sugar). Any spice that was not cooked may not be added to a kli sheni if the liquid is yad soledes bo. If the liquid is not yad soledes bo, then even though the liquid is warm it is permitted. One is permitted to add the uncooked spice to a liquid that is in a kli shelishi. However, one should not add uncooked spices to a solid food as long as the solid food is yad soledes bo.


34. Is one permitted to pour cold water to a cup of coffee that is too hot in a second vessel?
    See # 31


35. Is one permitted to add cold gravy to hot gravy that is in a second vessel?



Special Note Two:  Two pivotal notes from the Mishna Berura:


A.  One should be sure to recite Birchas HaTorah every morning BeSimcha Gedolah.  With this, we show our appreciation and thanks to Hashem for choosing us and giving us His greatest treasure.  In layman’s terms, if you won the lottery, wouldn’t you thank Hashem with great joy? Every morning, every day--you win much, much more than the lottery--you receive Hashem’s Prized Possession!  Appreciate it--and express it--that is what the bracha is for! (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 47, Mishna Berura, seif katan 2).


B.  The Mishna Berura refers to Ashrei Yoshvei Veisecha and the Halellukas that follow in Pesukei D’Zimra with the words ‘Haim Haim Ikar Pesukei D’Zimra (ibid: 52, Mishna Berura, seif katan 4).  Accordingly, it especially behooves us to have real Kavannah as we recite this most essential portion of Pesukei D’Zimra. 



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the Fifth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Hashiveinu: HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, in the monumental work Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll), provides the following clarity for us on the words ‘VeKarveinu Malkeinu LaAvodasecha--and bring us close Hashem to your service.’:  “Help us to become aware that we are serving You in our Avodah.  This refers both to Tefillah and the observance of Mitzvos.  Here we ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu for help in elevating our Tefillah to the level of Avodasecha--Your service, in which we are clearly aware that we are communicating directly with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  The same thing applies to Kiyum HaMitzvos, which are often performed perfunctorily without the awareness that by these acts we are fulfilling the will of HaKadosh Baruch Hu and thereby serving Him.  We therefore must ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu for His help in elevating our Avodah to the level where it becomes Avodasecha.  Rav Schwab continues: “May I suggest the following parable for this.  There was a son who embezzled a huge amount of money from his father and then disappeared.  After many years of not communicating with his father--during which time the son had lost all of this ill-gotten money--he tearfully telephoned his father begging for forgiveness and for permission to return home.  The father, having compassion for his long-lost son, readily welcomed him back.  However, said the son, “Unfortunately, I am penniless, Dad, so could you please send me a ticket to come home?”  Similarly, we too are asking HaKadosh Baruch Hu for help in coming ‘back home’ to Him.  We want to make our Torah and Tefillah meaningful and come close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, but we need help from Him to bring us back. We cannot do it on our own.  Hakhel Note:  With the powerful three words of VeKarveinu Malkeinu LaAvodasecha, we cry out for help and draw closer to Hashem--as we ask Hashem to draw closer to us!



Special Note Four:  This week’s Parsha provides a permanent lesson on the shock and after-shock of machlokes--to a family, to a tzibbur, to K’lal Yisroel...and to all future generations. The following notes from this week’s Parsha on machlokes, are excerpted from Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


1.  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)


2.  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)


3. 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)


4. 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)


5.  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:  At a recent Hakhel Shiur, HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, related the following Mashal:  “Reuven wanted to get from Brooklyn to New Jersey and drove his car to the Verrazano Bridge .  Upon arriving at the toll booths, he was stopped and told that he could travel no further.  Looking around, he saw people dressed in funny garb, and noticed a friend of his in the distance.  “Chaim, what is this all about?!”  Chaim responded:  “Don’t you know, today is the New York City marathon--I am running today, after having practiced for years, and intend run for miles and miles until I reach my destination at the finish line on Henry Street.”  Upon hearing the words ‘ Henry Street , Reuven was elated and exclaimed:  Henry Street !  I can’t believe it! Do you know, Chaim, that my great-aunt lives on Henry Street .  She is homebound and I meant to get a couple of bags of potatoes to her so she could make latkes before Chanukah.  Incredibly, I even have the bags of potatoes in my trunk.  Would you mind taking them with you and bringing them to her after you reach the finish line?  Chaim, shocked at the request, had to advise Reuven that he wouldn’t even make it over the bridge carrying two bags of potatoes...


HaRav Belsky explained that people unnecessarily go through life with bags that weigh them down and so disturb them that it does not permit them to properly lead their lives.  They do not make it through the race for no good reason at all.  We have to know better--and not carry those bags of potatoes with us for the rest of our life!



Special Note Five:  Because the Parsha teaches how horrible negative character traits are, we would like to conclude with just a few thoughts on where positive traits can lead:


A.  At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, brought a beautiful teaching from HaRav Yitzchok Hutner, Z’tl:  “The Mishna at the end of Masechta Brachos teaches that Boaz used Hashem’s name in greeting people, as the Posuk states in Rus ‘Vayomer LaKotzrim Hashem Imachem’.  Rav Hutner explains that Boaz was so excited to see another Tzelem Elokim that he felt compelled to bless him with Hashem’s name.  In a sense, he was making a Bracha over seeing another person created with Hashem’s image!  Oh, how we should value the worth of our fellow man! 


B.  HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita, brings Chazal that teach that the Torah begins with Chesed and ends with Chesed.  Where does it begin with Chesed?  Chazal say it is with Hashem’s clothing of Adam and Chava after their Cheit.  HaRav Scheinberg pointedly asks:  “Wasn’t there so much chesed before Hashem clothed Adam and Chava?  After all, didn’t Hashem just create a whole wide world, with everything that Adam and Chava needed to live for free within it--and with them at the top?  Wasn’t that an infinitely greater Chesed?!  HaRav Scheinberg answers that the chesed of clothing them came after the stark and shocking rebellion of Adam and Chava against Hashem.  Even after this great offense, Hashem nevertheless bestowed chesed upon them, covering their shame-- a disgrace which was the direct result of their rebelliousness!  We, too, HaRav Scheinberg teaches, should also be sure to do Chesed to those who do not appear at all to deserve any Chesed from us as well.  By doing so, we will follow the FIRST chesed attributed to Hashem in the Torah!  


C.  What caused Gideon to become a Shofet for all of Klal Yisroel?  Chazal teach that it was his Limud Zechus on the people of his generation.  The Chofetz Chaim (in the name of the Sefer Chareidim) explains that one who is Melameid Zechus on others is zoche to the light of a Heichal HaKedusha called the Heichal HaZechus--a place on Shomayim where the Zechusim of Yisroel are mentioned.  Be one of those who bask in this light!


D.  The Sefer Ahavas Chesed (Chapter 21) writes that by hiring Torah Jews to perform tasks in and about one’s home or business, or for any other service, one fulfills the Mitzvah DeOraysa of ‘VeHeChezakta Bo’.  Moreover, the Chofetz Chaim adds, that one with Bitachon in Hashem should realize that Hashem will give him special Hatzlacha in the house that he is building or fixing, or in the trip that he is taking, utilizing this worker, which is far over and above the Olam Haba that he will earn for this thoughtful and care-filled deed.



Special Note One:  REMINDER!  The “Kan Mefureshes” Gemach has issued the following notification to the public:


“The Kan Mefureshes Gemach lends copies of the Sefer Kan Mefureshes for individual study.  Study of the Sefer is a Segulah that can be used for all issues--minor to serious issues in which one needs a Refuah or a Yeshuah of any kind.  Some background to the Segulah:  Rav Elya Guttmacher’s son wrote a Peirush on Maseches Kinnim called Kan Mefureshes.  He passed away at a young age, and when he was niftar, Rav Elya promised that whoever learns his son’s Peirush will not need the care of a doctor.  Rav Chaim and Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky give copies of this Segulah to those who come to them for a Bracha for a Refuah.  For this Segulah, one learns the very first Mishnah of the Mesechta with the Rav, Tosafos Yom Tov and the Peirush of Kan Mefureshes and then says the Tefillah printed in the Hakdamah of the sefer.  Follow the instructions printed there.  For women who wish to use this Segulah and do not have anyone who can learn for them, we have arranged with several Bnei Torah to learn the Mishnah for a nominal fee on short notice.  For further inquires, you may call us at 732-370-2673.  In Brooklyn , you may call 917-573-925l, or email chinuchlist@gmail.com  If you know of Gemachim of this sort elsewhere, please let us know so that we can be mezakeh the Rabbim.  We wish all of K’lal Yisroel only Gezunt!”


Hakhel Note:  One of our Poskim has recommended that we find someone who would be kind enough to translate the Sefer into English, to help those less familiar with Lashon HaKodesh learn this Sefer.  This would be an incredible Zechus for others!  If you would, or know of someone that could, PLEASE contact us.



Special Note Two:  Chazal teach (Kesuvos 105B) that “Kol HaMeivi Daron LeTalmid Chochom Ke’ilu Hikriv Bikkurim--one who brings a present to a Talmid Chochom is considered as if he has brought Bikkurim.”  We are now, of course, in the optimum time of bringing Bikkurim--immediately following Shavuos.  Since at this moment we are not capable of bringing Bikkurim, let us at least show our desire to do so by trying to obtain what Chazal teach is a ke’ilu of bringing them!  Do it today!



Special Note Three:  We provide below two of the answers to the questions we had raised on Monday from Parshas Shelach: 


1.  The Chazon Ish was asked by a person how he could help resolve his Middos Kashos--his bad Middos.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, reports that the Chazon Ish gave him three pieces of advice-one relating to this week’s Parsha--can you identify them? 


Answer:  The Chazon Ish advised as follows:


A.  The person should not touch covered areas of his body, such as the areas above the elbow, for this may cause a person to act in an abnormal manner (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 4:18). 


B.  One should be careful with the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, for through Tzitzis one remembers the Torah, which is filled with Middos Tovos.


C. One should Daven for the tzara of his friend, and in that zechus he will be saved from his own tzara.


(Sefer Derech Sicha, Vol. 2, page 171).


2.  Chazal teach that one who is careful in the Mitzvah of Tzitzis will have 700 servants on each corner of his beged--for a total of 2,800.  Why does one need so many servants? 


Answer:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shilta, answers that in this way one will be able to fulfill the Mitzvah of Shevisas Avdo 2,800 separate times!  What a wonderful perspective of looking at how a Jew is to utilize his material benefits--for the sake of his spiritual life--2,800 avodim means 2,800 Mitzvos weekly! (ibid.)



Special Note Four:  We continue with our focus on the Fifth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--HaShiveinu:  Chazal (Brachos 12B) teach that “Kol HaOseh Devar Aveirah U’Mesbayeish Bo Mochlin Lo Al Kol Avonosav--one who does an Aveirah and is ashamed of it is forgiven for his sins.”  When reciting HaShiveinu one should feel true remorse and shame for an iniquity that he knows that he has committed.  Clearly, Hashem wants our sincere feelings for His mercy to be aroused.  The Bracha of HaShiveinu concludes with the unique words: “HaRotzeh BiTeshuva--Hashem wants, Hashem yearns for our Teshuva”--we have to want it at least as much!



Special Note Five:  Chazal teach that when one Mishmar in the Bais HaMikdash was departing, and the next Mishmar was to enter, the departing Mishmar provided the following Bracha to those entering:  “…Hu Yashkin Beineichem Ahava V’Achvah V’Shalom V’Reius--May Hashem Who dwells in this House cause love, brotherhood, peace, and friendship amongst you.”  Thus, even in the Bais HaMikdash, the pinnacle point of Avodas Hashem--we need to be joined together with the same bond, with the same unity, with the same purity that we actually wish each and every Chassan and Kallah as they join together to build their own Bayis.  The message to us is pellucidly clear--if this is the Bracha that must be given in the Bais HaMikdash to achieve proper Avodas Hashem there--all the more so must we give, share, and bring the Bracha of Ahava, V’Achva, V’Shalom, V’Reius to our family, to our friends…and wherever we go!  Give the Bracha to others--and live it yourself!



Special Note One:  One other point from the wonderful Sefer by Rabbi Castle we referred to yesterday:  Rabbi Castle emphasizes that according to the majority view, the Mitzvah of VeAhavta LeReiacha Kamocha is not only fulfilled in deed, but in attitude.  This means that by feeling the love and the oneness with another, at any time of the day or night, which can be done even in unclean places, he has fulfilled a Mitzvah Keyumis of the Torah.  One need not waste his time anywhere--he can be thinking of Shidduchim for another, how he can help his friend or neighbor--or even simply feel the pain or enjoy the happiness of your friend or acquaintance.  As the Sefer Ha’Ikrim concludes--loving your fellow is like loving yourself, for the Gematria of the word Ahava (love) is 13, which is the same Gematria as the word Echad (one)!



Special Note Two:  Today (the 20th of Sivan) is the very day, described in Parshas BeHa’alosecha, that the 30-day stay at Kivros HaTaava ended.  We might think, then, that it is an auspicious time for great events to occur.  And it most likely is.  However, to date, two great tragedies are marked by this date.  First, the Second Crusades in France took place.  More recently, the 1648-1649 Cossack Massacres (known as the Gezeiros Tach V’Tat) in the Ukraine/Poland are specifically marked on this date.  The Rabbonim of the time required all able-bodied women over 15 and men over 18, to fast and recite special Selichos known as the “Selichos of the 20th of Sivan.”  In fact, it is recorded that this day was especially chosen because it can never (under our current calendar) come out on Shabbos, and the Rabbonim wanted to make sure that a year did not go by without properly remembering and repenting on this date. 


It is well known that the Tosfos Yom Tov, HaRav Yom Tov Lipman Heller, Z’tl, attributed the Cossack Massacres to talking in Shul.  He accordingly composed a special Mi She’Berach to be recited on behalf of those who refrained from talking in Shul, which is recited to this very day.


A true story which we have repeated in the past, and which should trouble us every time we read it:  A young man had arrived early to shul, and, realizing that there was not yet a minyan, he took out his cell phone and began to have a friendly telephone conversation.  When an onlooker said, “Shmoozing--in Shul--on a cellphone?!?”  He responded, “What’s the difference between talking to a friend, and talking on the phone?”  The absurdity of talking on the cell phone in Shul did not strike him, but then again, he seemed pretty comfortable with engaging in ordinary conversation with his friend there, as well.  The young man did, however, comport with the onlooker’s request.  In this regard, we suggest that every reader take part in helping build a new or higher level of decorum and respect in his/her Shul.  Perhaps one can begin with a sincere remark (NOT “SHUSH”) to a thoughtless congregant, or requesting the institution of the Tosfos Yom Tov’s bracha, given by the Rabbi or Gabbai.  Let us never forget that, according to the Tosfos Yom Tov, one of the Gedolei HaDor at the time of the Gezeiros, the direct result of Shul talk was (if you have learned only a little bit about the calamity) literally ravage and massacre in its grossest form.


Let us return for a moment, however, to our departure from Kivros HaTa’ava on this day--why did it not become an auspicious time forever?  Why is this very day marked by such suffering, such torture, such pain?  Perhaps the answer belies the question.  It may simply be that we have not sufficiently left the taavos--the improper desires--that we began with.


The story is told of a formerly wealthy man who was so beset by creditors that he could not leave the confines of his home for fear of his well-being.  His Rabbi came to visit and comfort him while the man was eating dinner, and noticed the finest French wine on the table.  When asked about the wine, the man replied, “Rabbi, I crave it.  I simply crave it.  I cannot be without it.”  In truth, it is not the fine wine of this once-wealthy individual that should concern us, but our own behavior.  The Ra’avad writes that breaking a desire is a key factor and display of Teshuva.  From that extra helping of unhealthy food, that tempting smorgasbord, that unnecessary electronic (adult) gadget (no, there is no Mitzva to discover every last trick your cell phone can do), that extra measure of honor... even that extra pair of shoes are really serious mistakes, as they could (and probably will) mean the stunting of both one’s physical and one’s spiritual growth.  As Akavya ben Mehallel taught, “I would rather be a fool in the eyes of all my entire life, rather than a Rasha in the eyes of Hashem for one moment.”  Even the adage: “A second on your lips, forever on your hips” should ring true to our ears at the moment of temptation.  It would seem that if we can consciously combat one temptation daily--we will be on the road of taking ourselves out of the graveyard of temptation and its historic tragic aftermath--to the pinnacles of success.  How our world would have been different if Adom and Chava did not fall prey to the one temptation of the Eitz Hadaas.


One last point. The Parsha teaches (Bamidbar 9:23 ) that “Al Pi Hashem Yachanu, V’Al Pi Hashem Yi’sawu--by the word of Hashem they encamped, and by the word of Hashem they traveled.”  If we can remember that Hashem is always with us, we would sincerely feel the uncontrollable desire to do, or take, or go…  In fact, HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Shlita, provides the following mashal:  A baby is in its mother’s lap on the bus ride from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim.  At any one point in the trip, where would you say the child is?  Near Motza, Telz Stone, K’far Chabad?  No, you would say that the child is in its mother’s lap.  We are always in Hashem’s embrace--whether we in a restaurant, ice cream store, dress store, home ...  If we can remember and appreciate this--why would we go after that second scoop?



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the Fifth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Hashiveinu.  Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Avos 2:13) teaches that one’s Tefillos should not be uttered as ‘keva’ (routine), but rather are uttered in a tone of Tachanunim--one pleading for mercy, for the Posuk (Yoel 2:13) states ‘Ki Chanun VeRachum Hu Erech Apayim…’--meaning, the Bartenura explains, that sincere supplication immediately arouses Hashem’s mercy.  Incredibly, after providing this important teaching, Rebbi Shimon concludes with the words ‘VeAl Tehi Rasha Bifnei Atsmecha.’  The Rambam explains that this means that a person should not be a Rasha in his own eyes, thinking that he cannot avoid doing this, or stop from doing that….  If we are to sincerely daven with Tachanunim in this Bracha for Hashem to accept our Teshuva, we must believe and, in fact, know, that we can truly act as Tzaddikim going forward in respect of any aveirah that we have fallen prey to in the past.  Whether it be Shemiras HaEinayim, Shemiras HaLashon, Shemiras Kashrus, or Shemiras HaGuf VeHaNefesh, we must recite the Bracha of HaShiveinu with the conviction that we will be better in an area in which we have previously faltered, then sincerely plead with Hashem for his assistance, which will hopefully then be immediately answered. 


The Bracha of Hashiveinu is extremely and pivotally important at this time--as we reach a period of the year in which the Yetzer Hara will attempt to upend us, and make us become lesser people, as we move closer to Elul and Rosh Hashana.  The Parshios of this time BeHa’alosecha, Shelach, Korach, Chukas… all demonstrate the foible, folly, flounder, and failure of sin.  We can, we must take the lesson--a great place to start is with our sincere conviction and sincere supplication in the Bracha of Hashiveinu!



Special Note One:  The following are excerpted from the treasured work To Live Among Friends--Laws and Ethics of Everyday Interactions by Rabbi Dovid Castle, Shlita (Feldheim):


1.  The Chazon Ish was asked to describe the highest spiritual level a person can attain in this world.  He replied, “Going through life without ever hurting another Jew. 


2.  In 1914 there was an important meeting in the home of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Z’tl, who was the Rav of the area.  The Rebbetzin served tea and cookies to all the very distinguished guests.  Among the distinguished guests was Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, Z’tl.  When he lifted his cup of tea, his son quickly reminded him that he was in the middle of a Yahrtzeit fast, but the saintly rabbi seemed to ignore the reminder.  After leaving, Rav Yosef Chaim explained, “Since Rav Kook and his Rebbetzin were receiving guests, which is considered even greater than receiving the Shechinah, how could I refuse and not taste anything?  It is likely that this would have slighted their honor.  Therefore, I permitted myself to taste the tea on the fast because I tasted less than the amount that would be considered breaking one’s fast.”


A genuine sensitivity to people’s feelings sometimes calls for passing up other acts of service to Hashem, which may be classified as spiritual luxuries by comparison.  One must be careful though, because only a true talmid chacham is capable of properly weighing and measuring such things.  This is included in what Chazal have said: “An ignorant person (in Torah) cannot be extremely pious.  Hakhel Note:  Accordingly, it is important for us to consult with Talmidei Chachomim not only with Shailos in Halacha, but also with proper modes of conduct and behavior--especially in particular situations that one finds comes up from time to time.


3.  Hashem gives priority to Mitzvos between man and his fellow, and we should too.


Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Z’tl, the Alter of Slobodka, kept a personal diary which included a list of resolutions.  The first resolution on his list was:  To be as careful as possible about the honor of my friends, (to treat them) with patience, with soft speech, and never once with agitation, and to be careful to the utmost degree never to embarrass anybody.


The Mitzvah of Lulav and Esrog on Sukkos is truly one of the dearest mitzvos to most observant Jews.  Even many nonobservant Jews enjoy and respect this Mitzvah.  Since the Esrog represents the heart, we look for an Esrog that is free of even the slightest blemish.  We are prepared to invest much time and effort in finding the most beautiful Esrog without the slightest blemish.  The Esrog only “represents” our heart.  Perfecting our real hearts is more important and dear, and is a lifelong project that requires much investment and effort.



Special Note Two:  Rabbi Avi Shulman, Shlita, in Pathways in Tefillah writes as follows:  “In the mid 1900’s, there was a composer whose symphony was being played on the radio.  At the time, the composer was in a distant country and could only listen to his symphony on a short-wave radio.  He listened intently, and when it was over commented to a reporter who had joined him that a violin was missing!  The reporter was amazed and wondered, how anyone could discern--especially over a short-wave radio that one musician was missing!  He did some research and found to his amazement that one of the violinists had indeed taken ill at the last minute, and there was no one to replace him.  The reporter went back to the composer to tell him of his findings and asked him how he had been able to notice the missing musician.  The composer responded, “I created it, I am its master.  The master can recognize every single note!”  So too, with respect to Tefillah.  There may be those who sometimes feel, “What difference does it make if I daven or don’t, answer ‘amen’ or don’t?”  This true story may help remind us that it does make a difference, because the Master knows!”


With these words of introduction, we note that the Fifth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Hashiveinu is not a broad, general call to Hashem to bring us back to Teshuva.  Rather, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 115, seif katan 1) writes that the Bracha is intended for each and every one of us to ask Hashem for him to humble and bring down his own particular Yetzer Hara, and together with it to bring down each and every member of Klal Yisroel’s own unique Yetzer Hara.  Indeed, the Tur (ibid.) writes that there are fifteen words in the Bracha corresponding to the fifteen words of the Posuk (Yeshaya 55:7):  Ya’azov Rasha Darko, VeIsh Aven Machshevosav…--Let the person who has done evil forsake his way and the sinful man his thoughts, let him return to Hashem and He will show him mercy, for Hashem is abundantly forgiving.’ 


Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, adds that the first words of this Bracha are ‘HaShiveinu Avinu LeSorasecha.’  This means, he writes, that for one to indicate that he really wants to do Teshuva he must increase his Torah study.  After all, if one does not know what is right and what is wrong, how do they know whether to do Teshuva or not--and how to do so?  Accordingly, in an area in which one feels he is weak (such as Hilchos Brachos, Hilchos Shabbos, Hilchos Shecheinim) one should invest additional efforts to put himself on the path to Teshuva-- and this will make his Tefillah all the more meaningful--and all the more sincere!



Questions of the Week:  As we continue to quiver from the details of last week’s Parsha, we provide several questions, and would very much welcome your responses:


1.  Rashi brings that Moshe Rabbeinu changed Yehoshua’s name from Hoshea to Yehoshua davening for him “Kah Yoshiacha Mai’Atzas Meraglim--Hashem should save you from the Meraglim’s plot.”  If Moshe Rabbeinu knew of the plot--why did he send the Meraglim out?  Also, why did he only daven for Yehoshua--and apparently not even for Kalev or anyone else?


2.  The people admitted that they sinned with the word “chatanu”-and even were apparently ready to be moser nefesh and battle their way into Eretz Yisroel, going up the mountain to do so.  Why was their Teshuva not accepted?


3.  From A Reader:  According to the Arizal, which Mitzvah helps serve as a kapparah to the chait of the Meraglim?  Hint:  The answer is based upon the fruits mentioned in the Parsha.


4.  Why do Chazal learn out that for a Davar She’Bikedusha we need a Minyan of 10 men from the 10 Meraglim--who are called an Aida Ra’ah--an evil congregation?  why do we learn good from evil?


5.  Why did Yehoshua send out Meraglim to Yericho after the horrific result of the first Meraglim--especially since he was so directly familiar with what happened ?


6.  Why was Rochov zocha to house the Meraglim, save herself and her family and even eventually marry Yehoshua Bin Nun?


7.  The Chazon Ish was asked by a person how he could help resolve his Middos Kashos--his bad Middos.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita reports that the Chazon Ish gave him three pieces of advice-one relating to this week’s Parsha--can you identify it?


8.  Chazal teach that one who is careful in the Mitzvah of Tzitzis will have 700 servants on each corner of his beged--for a total of 2,800.  Why does one need so many servants?


9.  In the Parsha of Tzitzis, we are taught VeLo Sosuru Acharei Levavchem (as we discussed last week), and in this past week’s Perek we are Non-Coincidentally taught that the most important Middah to cling to (as taught by Rebbe Elazar ben Arach and approved by Rebbe Yochanan ben Zakkai is a Lev Tov; while the Middah to stay furthest from (once again, as concluded by Rebbe Yochanan ben Zakkai)  is a Lev Ra.  Why is this so--what does this mean?  Hint:  You may start with the commentary of the R’ Ovadiah MiBartenurah and the Tiferes Yisroel--and take their meaningful thoughts with you not only when reciting the Parsha of Tzitzis in Shema through the week--but through all of your waking hours in the day!


10.  What additional halacha, stringency or path will you now follow to do your part in ridding us of the continuing after-shock of the chait hameraglim--and bring Hashem and us home?



Special Note One:  We continue now in the fifth week of our focus on Shemone Esrei--with the fifth bracha of Teshuva.  How fortunate we are that we think of Teshuva every day --at least three times a day--and that we can actually ASK FOR HASHEM’S ASSISTANCE in doing Teshuva!  The Sefer Olas Tomid notes that both in this bracha and in the next bracha of Selach Lonu-we approach Hashem as Avinu--asking for that extra level of mercy that a Father can grant.  Accordingly, we should be sure not to skip over the word quickly--but instead stop and recite it with the kavannah that it deserves!  Rebbe Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash writes that when reciting this bracha, a person should ask Hashem to extend ‘His hand--His sharvit hazahav’ to accept one’s Teshuva, and plead that even if one’s Teshuva is tested, Hashem will assist him the second time as well.  The Ya’aros Devash adds the Teshuva we are being mispallel for is not only our own--but that of all of K’lal Yisroel.  Let us think of our brethren--relatives and friends and those across the globe who have to be brought closer to Avinu--our Father--each in his own way.



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


1.  By clicking here, you will find the proclamation of a good number of Rabbanim several years ago relating to the use of single faucet sinks on Shabbos.  Those who have seen how some people use the single faucet can very well understand the cause for concern.  If this is an issue in your home, you may want to discuss the matter with your Rav or Posek. 


2.  The following points are excerpted from the Sefer BeRumo Shel Olam by Rabbi Mordechai Potash, Shlita:


a.  The Malbim writes that because of the preparations that we make for Shabbos, Hashem causes the rest of the week to be sustained and blessed.


b.  The Taz (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 267, seif katan 1) writes that in Ma’ariv on Leil Shabbos, we do not recite ‘U’Shmor Tseiseinu U’Voeinu’, because it is the Shabbos itself that watches over us [Rabbi Potash explains that, in fact, the Kedusah of Shabbos provides a Shemira MeYuchedes].


c.  The Sha’arei Teshuva (ibid., seif katan 2) writes that in Ma’ariv, when reciting the words ‘U’fros Aleinu Sukkas Shelomecha’, one should rise to accept upon himself the additional Neshama Yeseirah that he receives at night. 


d.  The Levush (ibid, Siman 281) writes that the Mizmorei Tehillim that we recite Shabbos morning are added because they relate primarily to the Ma’asei Bereishis which concluded on Shabbos, or to the giving of the Torah, which was on Shabbos.  The Levush also provides the reasons for the specific order of why each Kepitel follows the next, even though they are not in the order of Tehillim itself.  Fascinatingly, the Levush also writes that the Kepitel of LeDovid BeShanoso occurred on Shabbos, and that Dovid was saved in the Zechus of Shabbos.  See the Levush there for greater detail. 



Special Note Two:  With Chasuna season upon us, it becomes necessary to review the Halachos of Sheva Brachos, so that we can be better guided when attending a Sheva Brachos Seudah, or being asked to be the “Panim Chadoshos”. We present below several such Halachos, as excerpted from the Sefer Oholei Yeshurun by Rabbi Aharon Felder, Shlita.  As always, one should consult with his Rav or Posek for a final P’sak or in the case of any doubt:


1.  If a Chasuna occurs near sh’kia and the meal cannot begin on the same day (before sunset), then the seven days begin on the following day (i.e. the day of the actual Chasuna meal).


2.  If the final meal on the seventh day concludes after sunset, Sheva Brachos may still be recited.


3.  It is preferable that Sheva Brachos be recited each day.  Therefore, a Chassan and Kallah should not travel to places where Sheva Brachos cannot be recited.


4.  Sheva Brachos may be recited at a meal in any place--as long as the meal was prepared specifically for the Chassan and Kallah.  Therefore, Sheva Brachos could not be recited if the Chassan and Kallah enter a restaurant to have a private meal.  Rather, if Sheva Brachos are to be recited in a hotel, restaurant or other place where people are otherwise served meals, then the people who will participate should be notified ahead of time that the meal is in honor of the Chassan and Kallah.


5.  Sheva Brachos would not be recited if a Chassan and Kallah are attending a Bris, unless special food was added in their honor.


6.  Both Chassan and Kallah must be present both at the meal (even if they arrived late), and at the Sheva Brachos.


7.  Sheva Brachos is recited only once, even if there are several Chassanim and Kallos at the same meal.


8  A minimum of seven males above Bar Mitzvah must recite Birkas Hamazon in order to recite Sheva Brachos.  The remaining three people needed for the minyan may eat a kezayis of any food or drink a revi’is of any liquid (except for water).  If one had started his meal elsewhere (such as Friday night), and was asked to Bentsh with the Chassan and Kallah for Sheva Brachos, he must eat a kezayis of bread at his own meal, and he must then eat a small portion of food with the Chassan and Kallah--unless he is one of the seven people required to eat bread--in which case he must eat at least a kezayis of bread at the Sheva Brachos location.  However, if he is one of the other three people needed, then he may eat a kezayis of any food or drink a revi’is of liquid (except water), as above.


9.  The Panim Chadashos cannot have been present at a previous meal tendered in honor of the Chassan and Kallah, but may have attended the wedding ceremony itself.


10.  If the two Kosos are not the same size, the larger Kos should be used for Bentshing, which is more chashuv.  Both cups should be filled before washing Mayim Achronim.


11.  If one of the Brachos was temporarily skipped by mistake, it should be recited despite the fact that it will not be in the proper order.


12.  The person Bentshing should have kavana to be motzi others with his Borei Pri Hagofen, and those intending to drink (such as the Chassan and Kallah) should also have in mind that they are being yotzei with his bracha.  He should drink at least an ounce of wine--and preferably a revi’is--so that he can make a bracha achrona on the Kos Shel Bracha.


Hakhel Note:  Whether or not you were honored with one of the Sheva Brachos--don’t leave without your own personal bracha to the Chassan and Kallah!



Special Note Three: In this week’s Parsha, Shelach, Rashi teaches us that the Meraglim began their argument with something true (the land is “zavas cholov u’devash”), for without some truth the falsity could never have taken root (Bamidbar 13:27 ).  If only the Meraglim had continued with the truth…world history would have been so different--imagine (in fact, it is beyond our imagination) all the wars, tzaros, strife and travail we have gone through for over 3,300 years.  What can we do now to stop it?  Many things are possible.  Here is a simple suggestion which you may not have tried before--pick a day (today or tomorrow, so as not to forget) in which you will be especially careful to speak the truth--and only the truth--no exaggerations, no stretches, no “you know what I mean,” and certainly no white-lies.  Perhaps we can do our part to demonstrate to Hashem that, once and for all we want to overturn the Chait HaMeraglim--and get us all out of this Galus.  See how you do--and--thank you from all of us!



Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parsha, we learn of various Karbon Chattas offerings that are brought.  The Chofetz Chaim teaches that we would spend thousands of dollars to bring a Karbon Chattas if we would have to, traveling to Yerushalayim, and spending much money on the Karbon.  Our Chessed, he continues, takes the place of bringing a Karbon today.  Accordingly, concludes the Chofetz Chaim. one should be prepared to be generous in spending monies to do Chessed--which will hopefully bring Kapparah to himself--and to all of Klal Yisroel!



Special Note Five:  We have previously received interesting and important comments from readers relating to the words found at the end of this week’s Parsha, Shelach, which many of us recite two and even three times a day: “VeLo Sosuru Acharei Levavchem V’Acharei Eineichem--And do not go after your hearts and your eyes” (Bamidbar 15:39).  Here is their food for thought:


1.  One reader commented that she heard in a Shiur that the Mitzvah of not following your eyes applies only to men.  She added on her own--that is why this Mitzvah is in the Parsha of Tzitzis, which applies to men.  Perhaps she did not hear correctly, or the speaker was making a different point, but the Mitzvah of not following and falling prey to the desires of your heart and eyes applies **EQUALLY** to men and women, as the Sefer HaChinuch clearly writes in Mitzvah 387.  We all must control ourselves, and nobody can make an exception of himself--or herself!


2.  Another reader commented that it is “no coincidence” (obviously, one of our avid readers!) that these words--enjoining us from following our hearts and eyes--are taught immediately before the summer when the desires and temptations of the world around us come more to the fore.  The Torah tells us that if others are sinking, it is a time for you to raise yourself up.  Look in to yourself and not out to the mistakes of those around you. 


Hakhel Note:  The Torah, in fact, takes it a step further.  The next Pasuk after Lo Sosuru continues with “LeMa’an Tizkeru Va’Asisem es Kol Mitzvosai--If you control yourself you will remember and perform all of the Mitzvos, and will be holy to Hashem”.  Controlling passions and drives is not only an end in and of itself--it is the path to all of the other Mitzvos--and to your being considered holy by Hashem, even if you are not a Kohen, Levi, Rosh Yeshiva or Posek!


3.  Another reader wrote that the Mitzvah of Lo Sosuru is actually not written in the Lashon Yachid--the singular, but in the Lashon Rabim--the plural (Sosuru, Levavchem, Eineichem) to teach us that one cannot justify his actions because “everybody eats there, says that, or thinks those thoughts.”  Your Creator, through the Torah, tells you that you cannot lose yourself in the crowd and that Hashem thinks very highly of you individually and knows your capabilities.


4.  Finally, a reader wrote that he had read in the name of the G’RA that the reason the heart is mentioned before the eyes in the Pasuk is because when it comes to Arayos (forbidden relationships), the Yetzer Hora in thought is working even before the eyes see anything.  Accordingly, the first step is to control the thoughts in this area--even before the eyes.


Hakhel Note:  We only would like to point out that our thought process could be replaced and filled with proper thoughts of Avodas Hashem in lieu of the inappropriate thoughts that could creep in.  Accordingly, it would seem especially appropriate to have a Pasuk or thought ready when one senses the wrong environment or feeling entering his thought process.  As Hashem separates the pure from the impure, so must we.



Special Note Six:  We provide the following important points relating to Tefillah, as excerpted from the Mishna Berurah, and the recently published Dirshu commentaries:


1.  When reciting the Posuk “Pose’ach Es Yadecha”, one should have in mind that Hashem is the ‘Mashgiach Al B’riosav U’Mefarnisam’ (M.B. 51: s.k. 15).  The Dirshu commentary brings from Rabbeinu Bachya that one should also recognize the Niflaos HaBorei and His Chassadim when reciting these words.


2.  It is more important to recite Kriyas Shema and Shemone Esrei with Tefillin on than to daven B’Tzibbur without Tefillin (M.B. 66: s.k. 40).


3.  If two Chazzanim are otherwise equal, than a Kohein comes before a Levi, a Levi before a Yisroel, and a Talmid Chochom comes before an Am HaAretz, even if the Am HaAretz is a Kohein (M.B. 53: s.k. 36).


4.  A Ger can recite Elokei Avoseinu because Avrohom Avinu was the ‘Av Hamon Goyim.’  Fascinatingly, the Mishna Berura explains that he was called the Av Hamon Goyim, because he taught the entire world Emunas Hashem (ibid.: s.k. 50).  Hakhel Note:  Can we not follow in Avrohom Avinu’s footsteps?


5.  If there is a Machlokes as to who should be the Sheliach Tzibbur, one should not Daven even if someone who is not haggun will Daven instead (M.B. 581: s.k. 11).  Hakhel Note:  !!!


6.  The Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 2:17 ) writes that the Siddur one uses to Daven with makes a difference in one’s Tefillos and their acceptability.  Accordingly, he warns against utilizing a Siddur for which there was even a suspicion that it was printed on Shabbos, even if by non-Jews.


7.  We pronounce the last two words of Yishtabach as ‘Chei HaOlamim’.  The Tosfos Yom Tov (at the end of Mesechta Tamid) writes that the word ‘Chei’ actually means that Hashem not only lives in the world, but He is the MeChayeh--He instills life--into all worlds!


8.  Finally, we conclude with our review of Atta Chonein:  The Mishna Berura to Orach Chaim 115: s.k. 1 writes, that this bakasha is the Ikar HaShieilah that a person should ask of Hashem--that Hashem give him the sechel and da’as yashar to shun evil and choose good.  The Sefer Baruch SheAmar adds that the word Haskeil is intended to denote not only knowledge but success at attaining the knowledge.  We can now better understand, why, in Nusach Ashkenaz, Haskeil is our final request prior to concluding the Bracha--we need the success of making our intellect work for us as well!



Special Note One:  Read the label!  One may be surprised to find “White Wine” on the ingredient panel of Marzetti’s or Ken’s OU-certified dressings, almost hidden among the long list of other ingredients.  We called the OU, who advised us that the wines used are indeed OU certified-mevushal wines!  No matter what the product (especially if one is not so well-acquainted with the brand), one should familiarize himself with the ingredient panel--and ensure that what he is about to consume has ta’am--not only for the guf--but for the neshama as well!



Special Note Two:  Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl.  We provide by clicking here one of his most famous writings in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim --a Segula Gedolah VeNifla’ah on the topic of Ain Od Milvado.  Try to go through the day today with a special emphasis on everything happening around you based only in Ain Od Milvado--it is all Hashem’s Will and No One Else’s, no one else, no other consideration, no other force--not an army, not a dictator, not a pronouncement, not a decree is of any consequence!



Special Note Three:  In furtherance of the previous Note, we provide by clicking here a wonderful teaching by the Chazon Ish regarding the proper hashkafa we should have in hishtadlus.  One may do well to place it in special and constant view on his desk or tabletop!



Special Note Four:  With the summer fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, the heat and humidity could pose a challenge to the most basic standards of Tznius.  We asked Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, who has given outstanding Shiurim for Hakhel and Bnos Melochim on the topic of Tznius, whether he could provide us with the minimum rules so that no one was nichshal c’v due to lack of knowledge, by regarding a real halacha as ‘only a chumra’.  By clicking here we provide the basic rulings of our Gedolim, and a previous appeal issued by the then Va’ad HaRabonim of Far Rockaway.  Any help you can provide in spreading the word (and giving chizuk to others) would most certainly serve as a Torah counter-measure to the to’eva law referred to above.



Special Note Five: One More Reminder--you owe it to yourself!  With the occurrence of Shavuos, Bikkurim can now be brought in the Bais HaMikdash!  Accordingly, it is a particularly propitious time for the daily study of Mishnayos Mesechta Bikkurim.  Mesechta Bikkurim is a short Mesechta (only Three Chapters), actually the last Mesechta in Seder Zeroim--and one can demonstrate his real will and desire to bring Bikkurim today (u’neshalma parim sefaseinu, as well) by learning the Mesechta.  Moreover, since one has until Sukkos (or, the latest, Chanukah) to bring the Bikkurim--and we certainly hope the Bais HaMikdash will be here by then--we will each know much more about what we have to do and how we have to do it--and it is always better to be learned than (unnecessarily) unlearned!  Let’s do it--Zerizin Makdimin!



Special Note Six:  In the Bracha before Shema every morning, very close to the end of the bracha and immediately prior to Shema we recite the words “Lehodos Lecha--to offer praiseful thanks to you “(Artscroll translation).  The Magen Avraham (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 60) brings from the Sefer Kavanos that “HaPeh Lo Nivra Rak Lehodos Velo LeDaber Lashon Hora VeZehu Zechiras Ma’aseh Miriam--the mouth was created only to give thanks and not to speak Lashon Hora”--so with these words we remind ourselves --right before our recitation of Kriyas Shema that we are to keep our mouths Lashon Hora free--and use our mouth only for its truly intended, real purpose!  The Chofetz Chaim similarly writes that on Yom Kippur--prior to the Kohen Gadol doing the great Avodos Hadam in the Kodesh HaKodoshim and in the Kodesh--he first had to bring the ketores in the Kodesh HaKodoshim to attain Kapara for Lashon Hora--and only then begin the Avodos Hadam.  The unified message is clear--we must first be clear, very clear about the role of our mouths in our lives--and we can then take the next step on the road to greatness.  As we move towards Parshas Shelach and its poignant message, let us jump ahead and remind ourselves--Lehodos Lecha!


Special Note Seven:  We continue with our focus on the fourth bracha of Shemone Esrei--Atta Chonen.  The Sefer Baruch She’amar (the Torah Temimah) notes that Atta Chonen is the only bracha of bakasha in Shemone Esrei that does not immediately begin directly with a request.  Rather, it begins with a statement--Atta Chonen L’Adam Da’as--you grant a person knowledge. The Baruch She’amar writes that this may be because “Im ain da’as--Tefillah minayin--without the power of knowledge there is no initial opportunity for any Tefillah”.  Thus, these four words in a sense serve as an introduction to all of the bakashos of Shemone Esrei--clearly expressing that our power of Tefillah can only arrive through Hashem’s initial gift of precious knowledge to us .  How powerful should our recitation of this bracha be!


Hakhel Note: The Baruch She’amar notes that the proper pronunciation of the word ‘bina’(understanding) in the bracha is not BIna--but biNA--with the emphasis on the second syllable.  Emphasizing the first syllable would put it into the imperative form, whereas the word is truly a noun.  Please Practice--biNA!



Special Note One:  We received the following from a reader:  “The Shelah Hakadosh wrote a statement about the importance of pronouncing each letter and vowel correctly when saying Tehillim, especially in Chapter 119 distinguishing between “Aidvosecha” and “Aidosecha”.  He also stressed the importance of saying Tehillim with Kavannah and concentration rather than rushing through and saying lots of Tehillim without Kavannah.  This statement from the Shelah Hakadosh was in my Tehillim book but now we need it and that Tehillim book is lost.  Can someone tell me where to find the source or email it to me?  Please reply to keytfilla@gmail.com



Special Note Two:  As we are in-between the Parshios of the chait of Miriam last week, and of the Meraglim this week, we note the powerful words of the Chofetz Chaim in the name of Rebbi Chaim Vital, Z’tl:  BeHazkircha Ro’as Chavericha Yisapru Avonosecha--when you mention the bad in your friend, they will speak in Shomayim of your sins as well.”  Moreover, the Chofetz Chaim adds that the Aveirah as recorded in Heaven is proportionate to the person’s Neshama.  In all events, all Jews who sin bring Tumah into the Kodesh in the Bais HaMikdash above.  A person should, the Chofetz Chaim continues, quiver at the thought that the mention of his sins could even reach the Kodesh HaKodoshim.  Let us take the remainder of this week to be especially vigilant with our tongues to demonstrate how seriously we take the lessons from the Parshios in front of us!



Special Note Three:  We continue our discussion of various Brachos issues:


1.  We asked the following two questions to Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, the author of the Sefer Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim):


A.  Question:  What would the Bracha be on Viennese Crunch?  Answer:  The majority of the volume comes from Shehakol ingredients thus the correct brocha would be Shehakol.

B.  Question:  On page 113 of the Sefer, it states “A Bracha on cookies made of oats would not cover cookies made of wheat.”  This would seem to mean that if a person made a Bracha over Cheerios in the morning, and then wanted to have a piece of cake with his coffee, as he does every morning, he would have to make a separate Bracha.  In the footnote on page 114, it appears that there is a limud zechus for people who do not do so, based upon the Ba’al Ha’itur--but would this work for oats and wheat?  Answer:  There are two issues involved in your case (Cheerios, and later, cake).  First issue is giving priority to products made from wheat flour over products made from oat flour.  In your case one would not have to take the cake ahead of the Cheerios because the Cheerios are the first course of a meal while the cake is the last course – explained on page 181 (based on Ritvo’h in footnote 56).  The second issue is not being able to apply a Brocha made on a less choshuv food to a subsequently eaten more choshuv food unless one had specific intent when making the Mezonos on the oats to cover the cake.  When a person’s usual practice is to have cake every morning, we can impute that it is tantamount to having had specific intent for the second item.  Thus he would be correct in making the Mezonos on the Cheerios and it would cover the cake, as if he had specific intent to do so. (See page 119).


2.  Are the Birchos HaTorah that we make every morning a Birchas HaMitzvah, or a Birchas Shevach VeHoda’ah?  This is, of course, a source of lively discussion.  We bring here the opinion of the Levush (as quoted in the Mishna Berura, Dirshu Edition, Siman 47, footnote 8), who beautifully teaches that the Brachos over the Torah are actually Birchos HaNehenin--Brachos over the Hana’ah that we have over Torah!  Accordingly, we must make a Bracha both before and after our learning.  How do we do so?  The first Bracha of “La’asok BeDivrei Sorah” is really the After-Bracha for the Torah that we completed yesterday.  We could not make the Bracha right before we went to sleep, because we may still be thinking of Torah after we made the Bracha, but before we actually went to sleep.  The second Bracha of “Asher Bachar Banu” is a Bracha Rishona on the Torah we are about to learn throughout the day! 


3.  We continue with our study of the Bracha of Atta Chonen.  The Siddur Yaveitz writes that if a person had a special insight in his Torah study or even while at work, he should think of it during the Bracha of Atta Chonen and think of thanking Hashem for the endowment.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, likewise points out that when one is Mechadeish something in learning, he should recognize that what he has just experienced is a gift from Hashem.  We suggest, then that this Bracha be made with a high degree of Simcha and appreciation.  HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, (in the monumental work Rav Schwab on Prayer), provides a different insight to heighten our level of appreciation for this Bracha:  “Throughout the ages, each generation has inherited the knowledge of the previous one and added to it.  In our times this process has proceeded very rapidly.  Today, one can see in his own lifetime the rapid and momentous strides that human intelligence has made in physics, technology, computer science….  One hundred years ago people were simply not aware of certain forces in nature that have been discovered and utilized by our generation.  One hundred years from now the knowledge that we possess will be considered primitive.  This is an ongoing process, because HaKadosh Baruch Hu has given man the ability to rise to higher and higher levels of knowledge and understanding.”  Ultimately, we will attain the highest level of understanding through our closer association with Hashem!


Especially in our generation, we should have a great feeling and real Kavannah when reciting this Bracha!



Question of the Week:  In what situation can one become Tameh as the direct result of his going to the Mikva?



Special Note One:  From PROJECT KAVEY (Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita):  “There are times when we must tell our children no.  When something they are doing or something they want is not good for them, we should not give in to them, and when we say no we need not worry about their displeasure.  Still, just as it not good for a child to be given something that is bad for him, it is also not good for a child to be told no too often, even if the no is always justified.  If we are constantly saying no, it conveys the message that we are not on our children’s side.  This will distance them from us and will prevent our forming the close bond with them that is so necessary in raising today’s children successfully.”  If you would like to join a live parenting line or would like more information, contact tips@kavey.org, or call 646-504-1016 ( US ), 020-7043-5619 ( UK ), 082-441-2713 (SA), 052-769-7588 (IL)



Special Note Two:  On the topic of ikar and tofel in Brachos recitation, the following summary is provided in Guidelines to Brachos (Volume 2, Questions 341-342) by Rabbi Elazar Barclay, Shlita and Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, Shlita.


341.  Must the tofel be present when starting the ikar?

           No. The tofel does not require a bracha if any one of the following conditions is fulfilled:

·         1)  The ikar and tofel were together at the beginning.

·         2)  The tofel was in front of him when he began.

·         3)  He intended from the outset to bring the tofel.

·         4)  The tofel was brought after starting the ikar, but he regularly eats the ikar with this.

Note: One must not leave the room before eating some of the tofel, since doing so may necessitate a separate bracha.

A person started eating plain cereal and then poured milk on it. He should not recite a bracha for the milk if he intended to do this, if he regularly has milk with cereal, or if the milk was on the table when he began.


342.  What if none of the above conditions applies?

He must recite a separate bracha for the tofel, but it is questionable which bracha is required. According to some opinions, the regular bracha is appropriate, but according to other opinions, one must recite shehakol for this tofel, irrespective of its usual bracha. This situation should preferably be avoided unless the regular bracha for this tofel is shehakol in any case.

A person started eating a vegetable salad and then decided to add a few nuts. He must recite a bracha for the nuts, but it is unclear whether the bracha is ha’eitz or shehakol. If instead he decided to add some mayonnaise, a bracha of shehakol is required, unless it was on the table or he regularly adds it to his salads.



Special Note Three:  We introduce each Shemone Esrei recitation with the words Hashem Sefasai Tiftach U’Fi Yagid Tehilasecha (Tehillim 51:17).  In the past, we have noted that this Pasuk serves as a particularly appropriate portal into our Meeting with Hashem, because a) with the first word ‘Hashem’ it reminds us that we are standing and addressing the Almighty himself, b) with the words ‘Sefasai Tiftach’ we acknowledge Hashem’s greatness--for it is only by his making and allowing my lips to open that I can pray, and c) by the phrase ‘U’Fi Yagid Tehilasecha’, we demonstrate our own humility, and that we recognize our place--we are not the kings of the universe--but the servants of the one Who Is.  We now add an extremely important thought.  This Pasuk is found in the Chapter of Teshuva--Chapter 51.  Before beginning Shemone Esrei, we recite a Pasuk which reminds us that we should have at least a hirhur, a thought, of Teshuva prior to being zoche to enter the Holy of Holies in prayer.  With this gateway into Tefillah, we properly ready ourselves for a truly meaningful Shemone Esrei.



Special Note Four:  Before leaving the Shemone Esrei as an important highlight of our day, we continue with our focus on the bracha of Atta Chonen.  The Sefer Yaaros Devash by Rebbi Yonasan Eibeshutz, Z’tl, teaches that Atta Chonen is the FIRST of our bakashos, our personal requests, because the creation of man and his distinction from all other land and sea creatures truly lies in his unparalleled capabilities in knowledge, wisdom and understanding.  This is why the bracha states Atta Chonen LeAdam Da’as--for it is to man alone that these abilities were awarded, and it is for your ability to achieve the most that you can that you pray.  During this bracha, one should especially think about his desire for success in Torah study--and that one uses his wisdom LeShaim Shomayim and for Emes.  Essentially, then, you are pleading that you attain your Tachlis HaChaim. When the Moshiach comes, we will be blessed with the times of “U’malah Ha’aretz De’ah Es Hashem K’Mayim LaYam Mechasim”--the importance of knowledge and its proper use is so pervasive--that it is our final hope for all of mankind.  As we recite these few powerful words, let us think of ourselves, our families, our friends, Bnai Yisroel, the world--asking Hashem to provide this FIRST of all gifts to us--not because we deserve it--but because we need and want to reach our own potential, and mankind’s potential--in this world, and the next!



Special Note Five:  The Chofetz Chaim was once asked why the Navi teaches us that the B’nai Yisroel had to spend time and money in the maintenance and upkeep of the Bais Hamikdash.  After all, this is Hashem’s House--He could keep it in a perfect state of repair without the need for painting, re-facing or anything else.  Clearly, just as the B’nai Yisroel did not need new clothes in the Midbar because they were kept beautifully clean by the Ananei Kavod, so too the Bais Hamikdash could have remained perennially immaculate and pristine.  The Chofetz Chaim answered that this was of course most certainly true, but that Hashem wanted to provide B’nai Yisroel with zechusim of being involved in beautifying the Mikdash, Hashem’s dwelling place.  Our own personal involvement most certainly demonstrates our own care and love for the One Who Dwells there.  Even in our times, we have this opportunity in our own Shuls and study halls--where items need fixing, repair, a better idea, or something new--but don’t seem to be getting done.  To take the initiative in this area indicates that you want to have a part in beautifying Hashem’s sanctuary.  Indeed, HaRav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita asks that if the Third Bais Hamikdash is to come down already built directly from Shomayim--what part at all will we have in its rebuilding?  He answers with the words of Tefilas Mussaf--’VeSamcheinu Besikuno’--we will be happy to put on the ‘finishing touches’ to the Mikdash that Hashem will leave for us.  We may suggest that those concerned with the Tikkunim needed in our current Mikdashei Me’at may be in an especially good position to be involved in the Tikkunim then--may it be speedily and in our days.  Everyone--younger and older, man and woman, can identify something in their Mikdash Me’at that needs some additional attention or care--and get going at fixing it--utilizing the G-d-given opportunity--to edify His House!



Special Note One:  Reminder from a reader:  “On the topic of Birchos HaTorah, we should make sure to pronounce the words properly. It is BAW.char BA.nu and not Baw. CHAR Baw.NU. It is NAW.san LAW.nu, and not Naw. SAN Law.NU.



Special Note Two:  We are in the Shivas Yemei Tashlumim--commemorating all of the Karbanos that would be brought BiZ’man HaMikdash--for which there was no time on Yom Tov itself--Let us take just one example of how everything will be different when the final Geulah comes.  One of the vestiges of the service in the Bais HaMikdash practiced even today to some extent in Eretz Yisroel and Chutz La’Aretz is Birkas Kohanim, which we caught a glimpse of over Shavuos.  The Mishna in Sotah (37B), however, provides a list of differences between the Birkas Kohanim as we know it today and the Birkas Kohanim in its pristine form in the Bais Hamikdash:


1. Outside of the Mikdash, they are three separate Brachos--whereas in the Bayis it is one uninterrupted bracha.


2. Outside of the Mikdash, the Shem Hashem is pronounced in the same manner as when we make all other brachos, whereas in the Mikdash the Ineffable Shem is used.


3. Outside of the Mikdash, Kohanim lift their hands to shoulder height, whereas in the Mikdash the hands are raised above their heads with the Shechina above their fingers.


Thus, even what we can do now will simply be performed on its own and special level when the Bais Hamikdash returns.  We have a lot to look forward to!



Special Note Three:  In last week’s Parsha we find that after complaining bitterly, the people are provided with ‘slav’ in a miraculous way.  It is interesting to note that the word ‘slav’ is related to the word ‘Shalev’ and ‘Shalva’, or peace, serenity and tranquility (see Iyov 16:12 ).  The slav thus appeared to serve as its own form of Mussar Haskeil to the people as to how they really should have conducted themselves.  This, of course, can serve as a message for each and every person--that in lieu of complaints and quarreling--which can lead to the unwanted result of ‘slav’--one should instead pursue the proper and appropriate counterpart, ‘Shalev’ and ‘Shalva’--serenity and peace.  What a difference it could have made then--and what a difference it can make for us each and every day!



Special Note Four:  With the new cycle of Pirkei Avos commencing last Shabbos, we provide a thought for the coming week:  Firstly, we remind everyone of the wonderful thought from the Sefer Mincha Chadasha: The meaning of ‘Kenai Lecha Chaver’ is not necessarily limited to spending money to acquire a good friend--but can also refer to purchasing a ‘Chibur’ or seforim from which to learn.  The Mincha Chadasha also learns that because the Mishna (Avos 1:2) teaches that the world stands on three pillars--Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasodim--one should try to accomplish all three as soon as possible every morning to do his/her part in keeping the world going!  One’s ‘Avodah’ can be accomplished by his/her Avodah *of the heart*--i.e., davening, the pillar of ‘Torah’  is accomplished by especially learning even if only for a few moments before or after davening--and the pillar of Chesed can be performed by *making sure* to perform some act of Chesed (for an individual or if you are in Shul for the Tzibur) before you leave your ‘davening time’ or otherwise start your day.  Avos teaches us at its very outset (Perek 1, Mishna 2) that each and every person should keep the world going --and we can all easily do our part as we start the day ahead of us!



Special Note Five:  We continue with our quest towards improvement in Shemone Esrei--Bracha by Bracha, culminating with the 19th Bracha in the week of Rosh Hashana.  This week’s Bracha is ‘Atta Chonein’.  The Sefer Olas Tamid (by Rabbi Shmuel Hominer, Shlita) writes that it is important for us to realize that the Bracha is in the present tense, for we must realize that Hashem heaps Da’as and Sechel upon us each and every minute in all aspects of our existence.  Whatever Hashem gives us is via Chonen, i.e., it is a free gift and is not based upon our great Zechuyos.  When we recite the word Chaneinu we should intensely feel our direct receipt of this precious gift as Hashem takes wisdom, insight, and understanding and instills them within us every hour, every minute, and every second of our existence.  Oh!  How we should appreciate it!



Special Note Six: We received the following from a reader:  “I hope you can help me with the following question:  My grandson and I, B”H, learn Mishne Berurah together.  Here is the situation that we discussed:  If one is eating a salad, where the Bracha is Ha’adamah, and you eat it with dressing there is no bracha on the dressing because it is a tofel.  Question:  What if you begin to eat a salad without dressing, and then, a few minutes later, you decide it needs dressing and you bring dressing from the fridge to the table.  My grandson thought it is still a tofel and therefore requires no Bracha.  I’m not so sure.”  Answer:  In The Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, (Feldheim), Chapter 4, begins with a discussion of this very topic:  Rabbi Bodner writes that the ikar only exempts the tofel when the tofel is present at the time of the Bracha or when he at least had it in mind at the time of the making of the Bracha.  Otherwise, a separate Bracha would be required on a ‘tofel’ that is later added (Rabbi Bodner refers to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 177:5 and Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:42 and 1:74, and provides additional references as well).



Special Note One:  Isru Chag means that we are still tied to the Chag--that we simply don't want to let go.  In fact, when it comes to Shavuos, we are blessed with Shivas Yemei Miluim--seven days *after the Chag* in which to bring the Karbanos that could not be brought on the Chag.  There are obviously very many great lessons here. To name but a few--(1) Shavuos is only one day and all of the effort  to be Oleh Regel for a man and his family was worth it to come for one day if one could accomplish his tasks--but if he couldn't or didn't Hashem understands and gives him the opportunity to make it up;  (2) When it comes to the primacy of Torah in our lives, we need only one day to learn, appreciate and understand it--but we need the next seven days to solidify and bolster that knowledge--and bring it to ongoing reality; and (3) One really only had to stay in Yerushalayim one day (and overnight) and then could go home--and once his Mitzvos were accomplished any remaining stay was 'voluntary' or 'optional'.  A great secret of success in Torah study is learning not because you have to--but because you want to. You want to accomplish; you want to know; you want to bask in Hashem's wisdom; you want to do what Hashem says is the right thing to do.  It is not only Shavuos night--but the week after Shavuos that is an important in demonstrating the new and renewed verve and vitality that you have for Torah study.  You have just received your annual recharge at the power station --but must realize that every time you engage in Torah study--you are, in fact and indeed,  re-charging your very life!


Additional Note:  The Chidushei HaRim explains that the reason Shavuos is called Z'man 'Matan' Toraseinu, and not Z'man 'Kabbalas' Toraseinu--the day that the Torah was 'gifted' to us, and not the day that we 'received' the Torah--is because this indicates that the gift began on that date--and the actual *receipt* of the gift continues to take place daily --day after day, every time we learn we learn another pasuk, another perek, another daf...another word of Torah--the Streaming Heavenly Flow of Torah continues!



Special Note Two:  Erev Shabbos Reminder!  Please remember to check your pockets and to make sure that you have enough Shabbos items left after the Yom Tov--such as opened tissues and diapers, grape juice and gefilte fish!  Today is Isru Chag in Chutz La'Aretz--building a beautiful bridge between Shavuos and Shabbos. We should feel like this is our first day of Sheva Brachos after the Chasuna--and that we are getting ready for tomorrow's Shabbos Sheva Brachos....for, after all, it is the Kallah's side that traditionally makes the Shabbos Sheva Brachos! 



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


A.  A typical Shabbos greeting is 'Shabbos Shalom' or 'Shabbat Shalom'.  One thing we must remember in this Shabbos after Shavuos is that Chazal  (Brachos 64A) teach that Talmidei Chachomim increase peace in the world.  One way we can certainly accomplish this is through the "Deracheha Darchei Noam " of the Torah--doing Mitzvos and speaking in a pleasant manner.  We recall that, especially when learning--"Divrei Chachomim BeNachas Nishma'ain--wise people communicate pleasantly".  This Shabbos, a time of peace, is a time when we should refresh the way we learn and 'talk in learning' all the time--pleasantly, with Derech Eretz, and with Ne'imus.  Remember--when you speak with nachas--you bring nachas to all around you--and you most certainly give the ultimate 'nachas' --to Hashem!


B.  Every Wednesday, HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek , Dayan Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended by approximately 100-125 woman.  This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions.  Questions 1-20 and 25-30 have been covered in previous weeks.  We inadvertently skipped Questions 21-24, and provide them below!


21. Is one permitted to take a piece of boiled chicken from a pot of soup that is on the blech and put it into a different pot without soup and put it on the blech?
 Yes, unless by doing so the chicken will become roasted.


22. If one would like another bowl of soup is one permitted to add hot soup from a pot of soup that is on the blech?
 If the soup in the bowl is warm, then one is permitted to add from the hot soup pot.


23. Is one permitted to take hot soup that one put into a soup tureen and put it back into the soup pot that is on the blech?


24. What is the difference between a first vessel, a second vessel, and a third vessel?
Keli Rishon
A Keli Rishon is the first vessel, i.e., the vessel in which the food or liquid was heated on the fire. Even if the pot has been removed from the fire, it still retains its status as a Keli Rishon as long as it is Yad Soledes Bo.
Irui Keli Rishon
Hot liquid poured from a Keli Rishon is called Irui Keli Rishon. Since the liquid is being poured from a Keli Rishon, it still has some cooking power.
Keli Sheni
A Keli Sheni is the second vessel. If hot water was poured from a kettle into a cup, the kettle is a Keli Rishon and the cup is a Keli Sheni. Although the water in the cup may still be very hot, the transfer of water from one vessel to another decreases its cooking power.
Irui Keli Sheni
Liquid poured from a Keli Sheni is called Irui Keli Sheni.
Keli Shlishi
A Keli Shlishi is the third vessel. If water from a kettle is poured into a cup, and then the contents of that cup are poured into another cup, the second cup is called a Keli Shlishi.

For most practical applications, one can divide the above into three categories:
Keli Rishon and Irui Keli Rishon, which basically have the same halachic status;
Keli Sheni;
Irui Keli Sheni and Keli Shlishi, which basically have the same halachic status.

Another concept that we must discuss is
Kalei Bishul - Easily Cooked Foods.  Some foods require an intense degree of cooking. These foods are called Keshei Bishul. Water is an example of Keshei Bishul. Most foods require a moderate amount of cooking. A few foods are considered Kalei Bishul, i.e., very easily cooked. Under this category are included eggs, salted herring, sardines and tea-leaves.



Special Note Four:  Many reasons are given as to why we read Megilas Rus on Shavuos.  HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, in his Siddur Bais Yaakov writes that the preeminent lesson of Megilas Rus is the tremendous Chesed of Rus.  With this, HaRav Emden writes, we can appreciate the tremendous Chesed of Hashem in giving us the opportunity to study Torah and perform Mitzvos--an opportunity not afforded to more than 99% of the universe.  In fact, to further appreciate Hashem’s great gift to us, the Sefer HaKuzari writes that we should consider each and every mitzvah as a personal invitation by Hashem to enter into His very palace.  If one could take a moment to visualize every mitzvah prior to its performance as a palatial invitation, we would have a more refined appreciation of the Chesed of Hashem, and certainly in our attitude and approach towards mitzvah performance.


Let us take making Brachos as an example.  Do we make a bracha over food simply in order to allow us to eat without being considered a thief, or perhaps over a mitzvah as a necessary portal required by Chazal in order to perform a mitzvah?  Here is how Chazal teach what Avraham Avinu taught his guests (Sotah 10B):


“[After they were satiated, Avraham Avinu would say] Why do you need to thank me?--Have you then eaten of mine?!  You have eaten from that which belongs to the Elokai HaOlam--the G-d of the World.  Accordingly, [do not just mouth thanks or even just a brocha but] Hodu V’Shibchu U’Borchu--Thank and Praise and Bless--the Creator of the World…!”


What a wonderful approach to Brachos.  A Bracha is not just a verbalization of a necessary statement, but rather an opportunity for “Hodu V’Shibchu U’Borchu”--true appreciation and exultation of Hashem for the Chesed He provides you with--whether it is food, a Mitzvah, or any of the miracles of nature over which a Brocha is made.  For those who may not have yet chosen what to do especially during these Seven Days following Shavous, may we suggest the “Hodu V’Shibchu U’Borchu” feeling as often as one can during the day, whether it is before learning, performing a particular mitzvah, or, indeed, making a brocha!


Special Note Five:  In order to further appreciate the power of Chesed taught to us by Rus, we provide below five important and remarkable points made by the Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Ahavas Chesed (Part 2, Chapter 6):


1.  When one performs an act of Chesed, he is rewarded not only for the check he wrote, coin he gave, or favor in time or effort that he performed, but he is actually rewarded for all of the direct consequences of his action as well.  For instance, if as a result of charity given, a person was healed, or someone’s Shalom Bayis improved, one will be rewarded in kind for--the results of his action--almost always unknown--and not only for the action itself.


2.  If a person acts in a kind way to others, Hashem will reward him so that when he needs kindness from others, he will find those who extend themselves to him, as well.


3.  When one is Gomel Chesed to another, he will even be rewarded for the indirect effects of his Chesed.  For instance, if through a loan which helps put someone into business he is able to hire previously unemployed workers, the loan is deemed extended not only to the borrower, but to all the workers who now have jobs as a result.


4.  One davens daily for Hashem’s continuing Chesed.  For instance, we ask: “Sim Shalom Tova…Chayn V’Chesed”--since Hashem rewards measure for measure, if one acts with Chesed, Hashem will respond favorably to our requests for Chesed for our people, as well.  Indeed, both Rebbe Akiva and Ben Azai (Medrash Shochar Tov, Chapter 65), based on Pesukim in Tanach, both openly teach that if one is Gomel Chasodim, his Tefillos will be answered.


5.  Finally, when one is Gomel Chesed with a Talmid Chacham in the manner which permits him to study Torah, he will merit sitting in the Heavenly Yeshiva and is considered as if he is attaching himself to the Shechina Itself, which is the great goal of mankind--dveikus in Hashem.


One must realize that all of the above is not simple allegory.  It is based on Pesukim in Tanach and the words of Chazal.  You can close your eyes and picture yourself cleaving to the Shechina as a result of your Chesed.  Think about the Chesed of Rus which was performed primarily to one unfortunate person…it lead to a dynasty of Kings for hundreds of years…and will lead straight to the Moshiach speedily and in our day.


Now--it’s your turn!



Special Note Six:  Today, we conclude our review of Atta Kadosh. Having just left Shavuos through which we became a Goy Kadosh, we realize that our relationship with Hashem is based solidly in and on Kedusha--and that even the seemingly physical and personal requests that we are about to begin with Atta Chonen are truly supernal and sublime.



Special Note One:  We continue our review of the Third Bracha of Shemone Esrei--HaKel HaKadosh.  The following dynamic message is excerpted from the monumental Sefer Rav Schwab on Prayer:  “Just as HaKadosh Baruch Hu is Kadosh above and not bound by His nature, He has imbued the human being with a similar power of Kedushah, that of being able to transcend his own urges and inclinations, and separate himself from them.  And we thank HaKadosh Baruch Hu for giving us this ability of transcending our animal urges, and thereby assuming an aspect of Kedushah, by saying, ‘Baruch Atta Hashem HaKel Hakadosh.’  The name ‘Kel’, Almighty, denotes the Middas Harachamim of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. The greatest Rachamim that HaKadosh Baruch Hu has shown us is that He gave us the ability to become Kedoshim.  And this is true even if someone has already succumbed to his desires and tasted the aveiros, and has developed a desire to do more aveiros; he still has within him the capacity for Kedushah that HaKadosh Baruch Hu granted to him, to overcome his nature, and to become a person whom the Torah can call Kadosh.”



Special Note Two:  The Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer Ahavas Chesed is dedicated to the need to do chesed and provides us with needed details as to how to properly perform such mitzvos as tzedaka, maaser, lending money and objects, bikur cholim and nichum aveilim.  Accordingly, it is very significant that near the conclusion of this sefer (Section 3, Chapter 4), the Chofetz Chaim writes:


“There are three precious and honorable matters which a person must constantly seek to fulfill in this World, in descending order of priority:


1)       The study of Torah, which is greater than them all, with a reward which is greater than all of the other mitzvos, and which has a punishment for failure to study that is greater than all other sins, as we all know;


2)       Teshuva, which is also very precious and beloved before Hashem Yisborach; and


3)       To search for and run after mitzvos and Maasim Tovim (good deeds), and this, too, is an honorable matter.”


Thus, even among honorable and proper pursuits, there are priorities to follow.  The study of Torah takes precedence over all.  In fact, the Chofetz Chaim near the conclusion of the very same sefer on chesed  writes, “And you should know further, that the study of Torah in a group is a mitzvah fourfold-for Hashem’s house is sanctified through learning with the public…as Chazal teach, one cannot compare one person performing a mitzvah to a few together performing the same mitzvah.  Additionally, when learning in a group, the Shechina dwells between its members.”  To reiterate, let us focus on the order of our priorities—(1) the Study of Torah, (2) Teshuva, and (3) Mitzvos and Maasim Tovim.



Special Note Three:  We provide below several notes relating to Erev Yom Tov and Yom Tov:


a.       A few simple reminders:

·        Don’t forget to buy wine for Simchas Yom Tov, and also those special last minute dainties and surprises, to make your immediate family members happy for Yom Tov!


·        Remember that those very issues involved with moving mail are no different on Yom Tov than on Shabbos.


·        For those who have trash pick-up over Yom Tov, please review with your Rav or Posek the permissibility of bringing trash cans out to the front of your home, or of bringing them back, on Yom Tov.


·        The Sefer Mincha Chadasha writes that the teaching in Avos: “Knei Lecha Chaver”--usually translated as acquire a friend for yourself, could be interpreted to mean “Purchase for yourself a Chibur, a Sefer.”  Today, Erev Shavuos, is an especially auspicious time to purchase a new Sefer or set of Sefarim for yourself--or for your Shul!


b.      If you have not yet done so, please remember your Yom Tov donation to assist poor families in celebrating the Chag.  Please reach out to  yadeliezer.org.


c.       The Ya’avetz writes that the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov on Shavuos is greater on Shavuos than on all the other Chagim, as it is the day that we received the world’s Prized Treasure--the Torah.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah powerfully comments that it is fitting for every member of Klal Yisroel to bring “Simcha Atzumah--great Simcha” into his heart and mind, and to remember to give thanks to Hashem for giving us a portion and lot in the Holy Nation. 


d.      It is the custom among many to eat honey (such as Challah dipped in honey, or foods with honey) on Shavuos because the Torah is compared to honey, as the Pasuk in Shir HaShirim teaches, “D’vash VeCholov Tachas Leshoneich--honey and milk (the Torah) is under your tongue.”


e.       Since we are judged on fruits of the tree on Shavuos, many have the custom to daven for a beautiful Esrog on the Chag.


f.        As for Ashkenazim in Chutz LaAretz, until the Moshiach comes, Shavuos is the last time Birchas Kohanim is recited in 5771.  We wish to remind our readers that the Bi’ur Halacha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim: 128, Introduction) brings from the Sefer Chareidim that just as the Kohanim fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh when they bless K’lal Yisroel, so, too, do the Bnei Yisroel have a part of the Mitzvah when they stand in silence and have Kavanna to receive the Bracha from the Kohanim!


g.   Remember when making She’hechiyanu tonight to have in mind that you are reciting it over the Mitzvah of Yom Tov, the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov, and the completion of the Mitzvah of Sefira (which is like the building of the Sukkah before Sukkos!).  If you can, focus on the difference between those three precious words--Shehechiyanu, Kiymanu and Higianu!



Special Note Four:  Additional related points as we approach this Awesome and Joyous Chag:


a.  In one of his shiurim, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Shlita, explained that his father-in-law, Maran HaGaon Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, Shlita, on Erev Shavuot would visit the sick, remembering that we learn that prior to giving Bnei Yisrael the Torah on Shavuos, Hashem healed all the sick, including the blind, deaf and mute - all were healed.  Rav Elyashiv explained to a sick man that every year, on Shavuos, this power is renewed.  This is a time when one may call upon Hashem and asked to be healed; even for such illnesses that we generally feel there is no cure.  It was asked at what time on Yom Tov may one ask for a refuah.  Rav Elyashiv pondered for a moment and stated the time is when we read the Aseret HaDibros in the torah reading.  A Rav advised us that he feels one can actually think about the Refuah Sheleima needed at the time the Aseres HaDibros are themselves being read.  If you would like to utilize the Eitzah of a Gadol HaDor, you may want to consult with your Rav or Posek in advance as to his opinion on the optimum time and method of accomplishing this great task!  Bracha VeHatzlacha!


b.   Let’s make sure that we remember to have special Kavana when reciting Birchos HaTorah.  The Shulchan Aruch actually teaches (Orach Chaim 47:1): “One must be very careful with Birchos HaTorah.”  The Mishna Berurah explains that, according to many Rishonim, Birchos HaTorah is Mid’Oraysa, and that one must make the Brachos “BeSimcha Gedola--with great happiness,” recognizing that Torah is not just another study--and adds that we must  be sure to express our special thanks to HaKadosh Baruch Hu in choosing *us*  to be the recipient of His “Clei Chemdoso”--His treasured possession.


Additional Note:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, urges us all to pay attention in our daily davening for the times we ask Hashem for His assistance in learning Torah.  Clearly, we need Siyata DiShmaya to reach our life’s potential in Torah studies.  Accordingly, let us pay needed attention to these special requests found throughout Shacharis (starting with Birchas HaTorah)--and sincerely ask Hashem for His help--so that we can reach our own unique and individual chelek in Torah that we are supposed to.  Remember--”Ata Chonen LeOdom Da’as” is the VERY FIRST unique bracha in the weekday Shemone Esrei for good reason!


c.  Since the term “Bais Yaakov” is first mentioned right here at Kabbalas HaTorah, women must also be astute to study that which they especially need to know as the Mitzvos of women.  We may add that one of these crucial areas--as learned from Rus on Shavuos--is Tznius.  Women may not realize this--but *men, whether or not justifiably, may not know the Halachos of Tznius*--and rely upon women (including their wives and daughters) to be doing the right thing.  As all kinds of exercise garments worn under or with clothing become more prevalent, as shorter and closer fitting becomes more in secular vogue making it difficult to obtain other styles, and as the warmer summer months approach--every Jewish women as a charter member of the Bais Yaakov--should view it as *her* responsibility to know what to do, and to help others that she is close to as well.  The Halachos that she knows and practices--(from age 5 to age 120) have an impact not only upon her--but LITERALLY on all of K’lal Yisroel--for as we know in the order of the Pasuk (Shemos 19:3), FIRST the Bais Yaakov is addressed...and only afterwards do we get to the Bais Yisroel!  It is the Bnos Yisroel who start the rest of us on the track of Kedusha and Kabbalas HaTorah.  Accordingly, perhaps now is the special time to likewise be mekabel bli neder something new and special in the area of Tznius!  May the zechus stand by and for you, your family and k’lal Yisroel in its stead.


d.  In keeping with at least one lesson that we can take from the previous week’s Pirkei Avos for the coming week--we quote the following from last week’s Perek (6:2):  “VeChol Mi She’Osek BeSalmud Torah Harei Zeh MisAleh--and anyone who engages in the study of Torah becomes elevated.”  Let us remember these poignant words of the great Rebbe Yehoshua Ben Levi before we study or listen to a Shiur by really feeling elevated!  We certainly shouldn’t have our elbow on the table with our head perched in the cup of our hand anymore--for instead we are perched together with something the Malachim didn’t want to give up--right here in front of us!



Special Note Five:  We provide the following important Yom Tov Halachos, as excerpted from the essential Sefer-”Guidelines-Yom Tov” (part of the Guidelines Series) by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita.  We highly recommend the study of practical Hilchos Yom Tov, and this Sefer is an excellent resource.  Of course, every person should consult with his own Rav if he/she has a particular shaila, and most certainly where one realizes that his practice/minhag does not comport with the Halacha, as set forth below.


Should one open food packages and bottles before Yom Tov?

Yes, since the rules of opening these items are the same as on Shabbos.  Similarly, since tearing is forbidden, it is advisable to prepare pieces of aluminum foil, paper towel, etc., which may be required when cooking on Yom Tov.


Should any other precautions be taken before Yom Tov?

One should check one’s pockets, a baby stroller etc., before Yom Tov to ensure that one will not carry any unnecessary items, and to remove any Muktzeh items in one’s pockets.  If the municipal garbage collection will take place on Yom Tov, the garbage cans should be moved to the sidewalk on Erev Yom Tov.  Many people prepare a 24-hour Yahrzeit-type candle to light, so that a flame is available on Yom Tov.


Is it permitted to measure the ingredients for baking/cooking?

One may not measure precisely, but rather estimate the amount required.  If a person wishes to use the same measuring utensils that he uses during the week, he should take more or less than usual.  Similarly, one may not weigh meat to know how much to cook.


Are there any exceptions?

The addition of too much spice to a food may ruin its taste.  Therefore, if a person usually measures the spice exactly on a weekday, he may also do so on Yom Tov.  However, if he usually estimates the quantity, he must do the same on Yom Tov.


Are there any foods that should not be cooked on Yom Tov?

Foods that are equally tasty if cooked before Yom Tov, e.g., gefilte fish, compote, instant pudding, jello, ice cream, etc.  If one left these foods to cook on Yom Tov, one should use a shinuy.


What is regarded as a shinuy?

The empty pot should be placed on the fire, and then the ingredients should be poured in.


May one light a Yartzheit candle?

A person who has Yartzheit, or wishes to light a Yartzheit candle on the days when Yizkor is recited, should do so before Yom Tov begins.  If he forgot, he may do the following: light the candle in Shul or light it in a dark room in the home where it will provide illumination.  (Another alternative for those who live in Chutz La’Aretz where Yizkor is recited on the second day of Yom Tov is to light a 48-hour candle before Yom Tov.)


May one lower a gas flame?

The gas may not be turned down in order to save money or to reduce the heat in the kitchen.  However, one a may lower the gas in certain situations connected to cooking (see below).


In which situation may a flame be lowered?

a.  When the recipe calls for a low flame to be used for cooking a particular food.

b.  To prevent a cooked food from burning considerably, but enable it to keep hot.

If the pot can be partially removed from the fire or placed on a Blech, this should be done rather than lower the flame.


May one carry a key chain if not all of the keys are needed?

It is preferable to remove the unwanted keys.  According to some opinions, one may carry a key chain, even if it contains keys that have no use on Yom Tov.  Keys that are Muktzeh, e.g. car, safe, must be removed before Yom Tov.


May one carry a house key if someone is staying home?

No.  Similarly keys to a hotel room must be left at the reception desk.


May one do Borer on items other than food?

According to most opinions, this is forbidden.  Therefore, when sorting clothes, silverware, dishes, etc., one must use the rules of Borer that apply on Shabbos.


How should a fly or dirt be removed from a drink?

It must be removed with some of the surrounding liquid, as on Shabbos.


Is the Melacha of Dosh permitted?

No, the restrictions of Shabbos apply also on Yom Tov.  Common examples include:

It is forbidden to squeeze juice from fruit, even if one wishes to drink it immediately and it could not have been done before Yom Tov.  The remaining tea may not be squeezed from a teabag into a cup.  Dishes may not be washed with a sponge.  Baby-wipes may not be used.  [Hakhel Note:  Similarly, when eating a grapefruit, one should one not deliberately squeeze the juice out of the grapefruit with a spoon or any other eating implement.]


May one mash or grate foods that are not products of the earth?

Yes.  However, if the food was cooked before Yom Tov, a shinuy is required when using a grater or mincer.  A fork, knife, or potato masher may be used without a shinuy.  If the food was cooked on Yom Tov, one may even use a grater or mincer without a shinuy.  Examples include eggs, fish, cheese, meat, chicken, liver.  A shinuy would be grating the food directly onto a table or cloth, or holding the grater upside down.


May one grind or mash foods that are products of the earth?

Food that would spoil if it was ground or mashed before Yom Tov, may be prepared on Yom Tov in the usual manner e.g. banana , potatoes, apples.

Food that would be partially reduced in quality if ground before Yom Tov, may be ground on Yom Tov with a shinuy, e.g., spices.

Food that could be ground before Yom Tov with no reduction in quality should be ground before Yom Tov.  If left until Yom Tov, it should be ground with a shinuy, e.g., nuts or rock salt.


Which dishes may one wash?

Any that may be needed again that day.  It is forbidden to wash dishes for the following day.


May one heat water to wash dishes?

Yes, but only for the dishes that became dirty on Yom Tov.  One may use hot water from the boiler if the system is not controlled by an electronically operated thermostat.  Dishes that were dirty before Yom Tov may be washed only with water that was heated before Yom Tov.


In which cases are the laws of Muktzeh more lenient on Yom Tov?

Raw food is not Muktzeh.

Candles are not Muktzeh, even when lit.

It is permitted to move Muktzeh to be able to access food items.  For example one may:

Move an electric mixer that is blocking access to food;

Move Muktzeh items that are lying on the table and preventing one from eating;

Remove Muktzeh items from a mixture.

Items used in food preparation are not Muktzeh, e.g. matches, a strainer, a grinder.


May one melt liquids?

Yes. Although on Shabbos one may not create a new entity, this restriction does not apply to food preparation on Yom Tov.  Therefore, one may defrost frozen liquids by placing them on a fire, and one may use butter or margarine when frying, although this causes them to melt.  Similarly, one may pour hot water over greasy plates when washing them.


Is it permitted to make ice cubes?






Prominent Rabbanim are urging Torah Jews living in New York State to take action and contact elected officials to voice out against legislation which would redefine marriage.  We are being asked to call the offices of Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos, and our state senator and assemblyman, and tell them respectfully and firmly that you object to any attempt to redefine marriage.  Please tell them that this issue is important to you, that it is obvious what marriage is, and attempt to include a new definition of marriage is immoral and shameful.  The State Senator operator phone number, who can connect you to majority leader Skelos, as well as your state Senator is 518-455-2800.  The number to contact your assemblyman is 518-455-4100.  Please remember to tell your state representative that this issue of is very great concern to you.



NEW GEMACH FOR CAMPS AND YESHIVAS!  A Bobby Pin Gemach has been formed as per the words of HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita: “…and while one is playing ball or engaged in any sport, c’v that he should remove his Yalmulke, for doing so leads to lightheadedness and stems from a lightheaded attitude.  One who fears that his Yalmulke might fly off should attach it with a bobby pin.”  To order bobby pins, including a pouch to hold them, which can be placed in the sports equipment room, and all courts or fields (free of charge) from the Bobby Pin Gemach call 718-744-4360 or mlebovits@kof-k.org.




Special Note One:  We continue our goal for increased Kavannah in Shemone Esrei.  This week, the third week (with 16 weeks left until Rosh Hashana), we focus on the Third Bracha of ‘Atta Kadosh’.  The Bracha of Atta Kadosh teaches us that not only is Hashem Himself inherently holy, separate and distinct from all other holiness we can fathom, but also that ‘Shimcha Kadosh’-- in the way Hashem conducts the affairs of the world we can discern His Holiness as well.  It is for this reason that ‘U’Kedoshim Bechol Yom Yehalilucha Selah--the Malochim and the Bnei Yisroel--both of whom are Kadosh--will forever praise Him.’  It is with these awesome thoughts that we conclude the Third Bracha of Shemone Esrei, now mentally aware and prepared to make our requests of Hashem! 



Special Note Two:  With Sivan, as our tenth month this year, we arrive at the tenth Ani Ma’amin which teaches that Hashem knows all of our personal deeds, and all of our personal thoughts.  This is the only Ani Ma’amin which actually quotes a Posuk in order to bring home the precept.  The Posuk is “HaYotzer Yachad Libam HaMeivin El Kol Ma’aseihem--He fashions their hearts all together, He comprehends all of their deeds” (Tehillim 33:15).  May we suggest that the Posuk is provided in this Ani Ma’amin in order for us to latch on to it, and keep it in mind, so that we can help ourselves from our thoughts running astray and our deeds running away.  Committing the Posuk to memory for use during the day would certainly be a fine application of this Ani Ma’amin!



Special Note Three:  Important advice from a reader:  Modern technology brings with it innovations in communications unthinkable just a generation ago.  We can text to a friend instantaneously.  We can send an email to anyone in the word.  Email, plain vanilla email, is fraught with dangers to the Ben Torah.  Most email programs contain spam filters.  This spam is generally mass-generated email that senders deliver for commercial gain.  When spam “builds up” in an email account, one can scan through the spam to see if anything worthwhile is there, especially, if any “good” email was directed to the spam folder.  However, one should take pause, step back, on what spam is.  It could and does contain messages, in their subject line alone that is anathema and purely foul to the Ben Torah.  A mindful person should consider what he does when he is going through spam, even just quickly scrolling down the many emails he gets.  He is going through the garbage piece by piece.  It is aseptically “clean” garbage.  He won’t get his hands dirty.  But his hands are not what gets dirty from this garbage.  Imagine if one were in your kitchen and he thinks: “Perhaps there is a cookie or piece of potato kugel that I want to enjoy that is in the bottom of the kitchen garbage container.”  Would he go through the oily pan that the salmon was cooked in?  Would he submerge his hands through the gooey cracked eggshells?  Would he dirty his hands from the pasta sauce left over from supper?  I don’t think he would.  He would wait for the next cookie to come.  Don’t open spam.  Don’t even look at spam.  Spam is garbage.  We just need to throw garbage out.



Special Note Four:  A few parting notes as we take leave of Parshas Naso:


1.  Rebbe Tzadok HaKohen asks a simple but perplexing question.  Why is it that in the Torah She’Bichsav, in the written Torah, the Parsha of Sotah is placed before the Parsha of Nazir, but that in the Torah She’b’al Peh, Mesechta Nazir precedes Mesectha Sotah--why the juxtaposition?  He beautifully answers that the written Torah teaches us that we must realize that the events that we witness  or experience have occurred in front of (or to) us because of hashgacha pratis--with Hashem especially placing them there for us to learn from--because we simply need the lesson.  If someone sees the sad and difficult Sotah procedure--it will leave a real impact upon him, and he will learn to better quash and regulate his own desires going forward.  The Oral Law, however, which places the Nazir ahead of the Sotah teaches us that while indeed we must learn from the events around us--it is truly better to be in control before the event even happens--be a Nazir, so that you don’t have to get to the step in which Hashem must show you the Sotah to learn from.  In fact, this is what Chazal often look to accomplish with their Gezairos and Takanos--avoiding the temptation and keeping that extra step away from the Yetzer Hora’s stretching grasp.  Of course, it is our sacred duty to learn from our experiences, because it demonstrates our Bitachon in Hashem’s watchful eye and guiding hand--but it would be better yet if we taught ourselves the personal lessons we need to be successful at our own lives.  As Hillel taught in last week’s Avos ( 1:14 )--”If I am not for myself--who is for me?!”  before taking that extra helping at the smorgasbord, before engaging in an extra indulgence or purchasing that item that you “really don’t need”--remember that Chazal recommend that you put yourself first--the Nazir staying one step ahead of the Sotah!


2.  Chazal teach that if a person undertakes to be a Nazir and does not provide a time frame for his nezirus--then “Stam Nezirus, Sheloshim Yom--a standard Nezirus is 30 days”.  After spending much effort in contemplating the source of this Halacha, Chazal conclude that the source is the term “Kodosh Yiheye--he shall be holy” (Bamidbar 6:5)--in which the gematria of ‘Yiheye--he shall be’ is 30.  How long ‘shall he be’ a Nazir unless he specifies otherwise--30 days.  The Chofetz Chaim points to how precious one word of Torah is--the mere numerical value of a word comprised of only four letters teaches us the laws of Nazir for all of time!  We must accordingly take and treat each and every word of Torah with the utmost consideration and regard--each and every word is a spiritual atom from which great kedusha can be infused and processed into our lives and being.  Look at a single word of Torah--think about it and contemplate it--there is absolutely nothing that can compare!


3.  Finally, there is a wonderful lesson learned from the fact that Birkas Kohanim was first recited in the desert--before the Aharon and his sons received Terumos, Bikkurim and the like as the Matanos Kehuna.  If they would have already been receiving these gifts, then in blessing the people they would also be blessing themselves--for when the people had more bounty, so would they.  This is not the optimum way of giving a bracha--blessing someone else with one’s personal interests in mind as well.  Rather, the Torah teaches--when giving a bracha give it with a full and selfless heart--focusing exclusively and entirely on what is best for the recipient of the bracha, and not regarding for the moment how you could ‘also’ benefit from the very same blessing.  Be effusive in your bracha--but also make sure to make it pristine, wholesome, untainted and pure!



Special Note Five:  With the occurrence of Shavuos, Bikkurim can now be brought in the Bais HaMikdash!  Accordingly, it is a particularly propitious time for the daily study of Mishnayos Mesechta Bikkurim.  Mesechta Bikkurim is a short Mesechta, actually the last Mesechta in Seder Zeroim--and one can demonstrate his real will and desire to bring Bikkurim today (u’neshalma parim sefaseinu, as well) by learning the Mesechta.  Moreover, since one has until Sukkos (or, the latest, Chanukah) to bring the Bikkurim--and we certainly hope the Bais HaMikdash will be here by then--we will each know much more about what we have to do and how we have to do it--and it is always better to be learned than (unnecessarily) unlearned!  If you learn just two (2) Mishnayos a day of Bikkurim--you can still make a Siyum this month!  Let’s do it--Zerizin Makdimin!



On special request, we repeat the following Note--especially for today:


It could happen to any one of us.


Someone taps you on the shoulder and, in an inquisitive tone, asks, “Are you excited?”  Perhaps you are tired, but you cannot put your finger on what he is talking about.  In your mind, you quickly scan through what is happening at your job, at home, perhaps it is the Mazel Tov of a friend that you forgot about.  However, your unstated slight bewilderment leads him to state, “I mean Kabbalos HaTorah--it’s almost here!  The count-up is almost over!”  Slightly impressed at his idealism, and not terribly troubled by your oversight, you smile politely, and eke out a “Well, we’re trying!”


Today, we inaugurate the “Sheloshes Yemei Hagbala”--the three-day preparatory period before Shavuos in which we surrounded Har Sinai to begin to appreciate and inculcate within us the enormity of the Event we were about to experience.  We celebrate this very same period today.  Just as the days before Pesach and before Sukkos are full of their particular Pre-Yom Tov preparations, and the days before Rosh Hashana and then Yom Kippur have their special meaning, so too do we have the three designated days prior to Shavuos to “surround the mountain”, in order to ensure that when Shavuos arrives, we will absorb the Event in all of its holiness and meaning.


Indeed, Chazal (Shabbos 129B) teach that it is prohibited to be “makiz dam”--to let blood for healing purposes, on Erev Shavuos, lest the person put himself in sakana--in danger, by letting blood while not having properly prepared for his receiving of the Torah on Shavuos.  This is by no means homiletics.  The Rema in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim (468:10) brings this Chazal l’halacha--and the Mishneh Berurah there even explains that it is forbidden to let blood on every Erev Yom Tov, so that he does not forget and let blood on Erev Shavuos.  (See Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 4:109 for a further discussion.)  While we may not let blood as a matter of course, the importance that even the halacha attaches to proper preparation of each and every one of us to receive the Torah on Shavuos is self-evident.  Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus Z’TL explains the Posuk which states that the Torah was given in front of “Kol Yisroel” teaches us that even if one member of K’lal Yisroel had been missing, the Torah would not have been given(!).


So what are we really to do?  We could try to review the 48 ways to acquire the Torah found in the last chapter of Pirkei Avos (6:6), and select at least one way to work on.  HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z'tl, suggests the following, as well:  Work on the honor due to Torah study.  He explains that the reason the Torah was given “B’Kolos U’Verokim”--with loud noise and thunder--is to forever instill within us the attitude and approach that one should not learn Torah with his face leaning on his elbow, or slouched over, head back, sefer on lap....you get the picture(s).  This could be a very significant Kabbala--resolution, for a person to monumentally increase the quality of his Torah study.



One other point:  Chazal (yesterday's Avos--6:9) bring the story of Rebbe Yosi ben Kisma who was asked to take a lucrative position in a city devoid of Torah scholarship.  The person making the offer was obviously doing so not because he wanted Rebbe Yosi to become mayor or chief of police--but because he wanted Rebbe Yosi to bring some level of Torah into the town.  Yet, Rebbe Yosi insisted that he would only live in a place of Torah.  Undoubtedly, Rebbe Yosi knew enough to learn and grow on his own in a distant city, and could have probably used the endowment he would have received to write dozens of seforim and learn on his own 24/7 for the rest of his life, yet none of this--**none of this**--could replace being in a Torah atmosphere.  Of course, Rabbonim, teachers and Kiruv professionals fulfill their roles and goals in far-flung places in fabulous and unfathomable ways, but there is a special lesson here from Rebbe Yosi for each and every one of us in our daily lives.  We must endeavor to the extent that we can to put ourselves in a Torah atmosphere.  We must make the effort to acquaint ourselves with those above us in Torah scholarship…to sit in the right locations, to stand among the right people in Shuls, at Simchas, where shopping, when commuting or traveling.  We must make sure we are “living” in a place of Torah when we have the choice between this block and that block, this friend or that friend, this conversation or that conversation, this situation or that situation.  A very important part of the Torah is our Torah atmosphere.  We should recognize the situations in life--and they come up often enough--where we have the choice--and make the right one.  At any such time or occasion, we need only think--what does the Rebbe Yosi ben Kisme within me say?!



Special Note One:  Today is Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the day upon which Bnei Yisroel entered Midbar Sinai, and changed the history of the World.  This month’s mazal is Teumim (Gemini, or twins).  The Sefer HaTodaah by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, suggests that the reason for this is that both Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen were together essential in bringing the Torah to our people.

The following is excerpted from the sefer Let My Nation Serve Me by Rabbi Yosef Deutsch, Shlita, (Artscroll) a wonderful work which provides both depth and feeling to the events in the Midbar leading up to Mattan Torah, and to Mattan Torah itself, as culled from Chazal in the Medrash and Gemara, and from the Rishonim.  It is highly recommended for all in proper preparation for Shavuos.  Rabbi Deutsch writes as follows:


“There is a special significance to the Torah being given in the month of Sivan.  The astrological sign for Sivan is Gemini, twins.  The gentile nations would one day have to give an accounting for their rejection of the Torah when Hashem offered it to them, and Hashem wanted to anticipate the arguments they would offer in their own defense and refute them from the very beginning.  He knew that the gentile nations would say that they thought that the Torah did not relate to them. It was designed for the Jewish nation, a nation with which they has no kinship or connection.

Therefore, Hashem chose to give the Torah in the month of Sivan, a month characterized by the sign of twins, as if to say, “The Jewish people are not, from their origin, a nation apart.  They are descended from Yaakov, who had a twin brother Eisav, and the gentile nations, at least those descended from Eisav, cannot claim that the Torah is not destined for them.

The sign of twins is also especially propitious for the Giving of the Torah.  Hashem did not want to give it in Nissan, whose sign is Aries, the sheep, because the Egyptians worshipped sheep.  He did not give want to give the Torah during Iyar, whose sign is Taurus, the bull, because the Jewish people would worship the Golden Calf, a young bull.  Hashem did not want an everlasting association between the idol and the Torah.  Therefore, he chose to wait until Sivan, whose sign is the twins, a symbol of fraternal love and solidarity.  These are virtues that qualified the Jewish people to receive the Torah.

There is also a special symbolism in the Torah being given on the sixth of Sivan rather than any other day of the month.  The original creation of mankind took place on the sixth day of Creation.  The Giving of the Torah would be the act of national creation for the Jewish people, and therefore it, too, was to take place on the sixth day.  Furthermore, that year, 6 Sivan fell on a Shabbos, which was also significant.  Just as Shabbos provided the spiritual protection of the newly-created Adam, so did the Shabbos on which the Torah was given provide the spiritual protection for the newly created Jewish nation.”


Hakhel Note:  These thoughts help us focus on the profundity of Mattan Torah.  When one has an audience with the King, he prepares well in advance for the occasion. Unlike other audiences, where the commoner gives the King a gift, on Shavuos, Hashem will be giving us a remarkable, life-giving and life-sustaining, infinite and irreplaceable gift.  We would do well to begin preparing for this incredible event--at least by studying about it from a beautiful sefer such as this--or from the original sources--today!


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

  A.  Tomorrow, Shabbos Kodesh, is the Yom HaMeyuchas--the day upon which Hashem told Bnei Yisroel V Heyisem Li Segulah Mikol Ho Amim (Shemos 19:5, and Rashi there)--You shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples.  What a great day--to be declared the greatest treasure of all peoples by the Creator of all!  Accordingly, especially this Shabbos, we should try to perform at least one Mitzvah with at least a little more preparation, kavannah, and zeal glowing--while knowing and showing that you are--literally--Hashem s prized possession!


Additional Note:  Some say that the second day of Sivan is known as the Yom HaMeyuchas because it doesn t have its own Segulos, but rather because it views itself as having a relationship with the day before (Rosh Chodesh) and the days after (the Sheloshes Yemei Hagbalah).  This is a tremendous level--looking to and joining together with-- the Ma'alos of others, and it is this that we must emulate!


B.  Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Vorki, Z tl asked if Shabbos HaGadol is the Shabbos before Pesach and Shabbos Shuvah is the Shabbos before Yom Kippur, what is the Shabbos before Shavuos known as?  He answered that it is Shabbos Derech Eretz--a Shabbos in which one works on his Middos--because Derech Eretz is Kadma L Torah!


C.  Every Wednesday, HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek , Dayan Shaarei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended by approximately 100-125 woman.  This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions.  Questions 1-24 have been covered in previous weeks .  We now continue!


25.  Is one permitted to take uncooked food and place it into an empty kli rishon--first vessel?



26.  Is one permitted to put cold gravy into a hot pot of cholent that is taken off the blech in order to warm up the gravy?


 No, however, one may reheat the gravy in a kli sheni.


27. Unexpected guests arrive to one’s home Fri. night. Is one permitted to add water to the soup in order to expand the soup?


 Adding cold water to a kli rishon is prohibited. However, one may take cooked water that is at least yad soledes bo and add it to the hot soup that is preferably not on the fire. One is permitted to add cold water to a hot soup that is in a kli sheni.


28. Is one permitted to heat up a baby bottle in a first vessel that is off the fire?


 One may not heat up a baby bottle in a pot of hot water-kli rishon that is yad soledes bo and has been removed from the blech because the milk will be cooked by the heat of the kli rishon. However, one is permitted to heat up the bottle in a kli sheni.


29. Is one permitted to take a cold piece of chicken taken from the fridge and put it into a first vessel that is on the blech?


 No, because of the prohibition of chazarah.


30. In # 29 is there a difference if the pot is on the fire or off the flame?


 Yes, one is permitted to put the cooked meat into a kli rishon that has been removed from the blech.


Special Note Three:
Rav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, notes that the Torah expends many infinitely valuable words on describing the scene at Har Sinai as the Torah was being given.  Indeed, while the Event may not now be in the forefront of our short term memory, the Torah teaches that the covenant was made with us all there (See Devorim 5:3).  What was the scene like?  Rather than obtaining some third party account, we urge you to refresh your recollection, either before or on Shavuos, by reviewing the Pesukim describing the Ma’amad, which powerfully describe the surroundings.  Specifically, we refer you to Shemos 19: 9, 16, 18, 19, and 20:15 , and then to Devorim 5:19 -26.  The world never before, and never again, would witness such awe, as the Torah itself testifies (Devorim 4:32 -34).  Moreover, Rashi (Devorim 4:35) brings Chazal who describe that the seven heavens, and the deepest depths, all opened wide on this day--specifically in order for us to get a once-in-a-worldtime full view!


The opening of the Heavens and the Earth--the resounding noises and thunder--the blasting Shofar-- the great fiery fire--the fearsome darkness!!!  And then, as Dovid HaMelech writes in Tehillim (114:4--part of the Hallel we will recite on Shavuos)--even [the mighty] "mountains trembled like rams, the hills like young lambs."  It is no small wonder, then, that the millions of people present recoiled a great distance.  Why is the giving of the Torah a day of such literally unparalleled trepidation?


Rav Salomon answers that, when we receive the Torah, it is not a stand alone.  It is not simply "lamdus", or a body of halacha, a guidebook to success in life, a set of eternal instruction, an inspired and meaningful life outlook, an all-encompassing world philosophy, or any one more of the myriad aspects of its Divine wisdom--a wisdom so beyond us that Chazal teach that there are 600,000 explanations to each Posuk in the Torah (!) (cited by the Chofetz Chaim in the introduction to Etz Pri).  So, what is it that must stand side-by-side with the Torah--it is Yiras Shomayim--the enveloping, inspired awe of Hashem that must accompany the study and observance of Torah if one is to succeed (Shabbos 31A-B).  As the Navi teaches (Yeshaya 33:6)--"Yiras Hashem HE OTZARO"--it is the fear of Hashem that precedes and is the storehouse of Torah, for without a treasure house, there is no treasure--at least for very long.


With this we can understand why the bracha one makes over a Torah Scholar is "...Who gave of His wisdom to **THOSE WHO FEAR HIM** (L'YEREIOV)".  For it is a profound and powerful awareness of Hashem that must accompany our Torah study and our Torah observance.  Indeed, the Torah itself commands us (Devorim 4:9-10) that we MUST REMEMBER ALL THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES the day that we stood before Hashem at Har Sinai.


Rav Salomon therefore concludes that it would be a mistake to think that the proper observance of Shavuos is limited to total immersion in Torah study, without a rededication to the ever-necessary Yiras Shomayim that is the Torah's special partner in our life.  The Shofar, the thunder, the fire--they must all accompany our Torah study daily.


It is told that HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz Z’TL, Rosh Yeshivah-Mir Yerushalayim, once noticed two chavrusos who continued to learn Gemora, even though Mussar seder had begun.  He approached them and asked that they now study Yiras Shomayim.  “Rebbe,” they asked, “if the study of Mussar is so important, why do we study Gemora for ten hours a day, and Mussar for only twenty minutes during the same day?”  He responded--“The study of Mussar may be likened to the Kadosh HaKadoshim.  One need only enter for a few moments for it to have a very lasting impact upon him.  So, too, if we study the Mesilas Yeshorim, or the Orchos Tzaddikim, or the Shaarei Teshuva, or other similar classic works for only a few minutes a day, it will leave an indelible impact upon our Torah study, and raise us to new heights, as we not only observe what happened at Sinai, but actually climb the mountain ourselves!


Special Note Four:  The Sefer Kav HaYashar (Chapter 92) poses the question: If the Yomim Tovim of Pesach and Sukkos span seven days, why is it that Shavuos, over which there is so much to celebrate, is observed for only one day?  The Sefer brings an answer, “Al Pi Kabala”, that Shavuos is rooted in Hashem’s oneness, and that our oneness as a “Goy Echad Ba’Aretz” then stems from Hashem’s oneness, all of which is symbolized by the oneness of Shavuos.  Of course, the profundity of this concept is enormous, and we are already ahead by just acknowledging its depth.  We may add an additional simple suggestion as to the one day nature of our beloved Zeman Matan Toraseinu:  It teaches us the power of One Day.  In just one day, one can go up to Shomayim and receive a Torah--in only one day one can accomplish so much in Torah study, and yes, just one day can mean the difference between you and billions of others on this planet--so how can we let **even one day** go by without some kind of meaningful Torah study?


Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim (Chomas HaDas, Chapter 8) writes that through Torah study, each person in accordance with his potential, one builds his palace in Olam Haba, day by day, brick by brick.  Have you ever noticed houses undergoing construction which stop and start, stop and start, stop and start, their construction?  Some days there are no workers there, some days just a few. The building process seems almost endless, and, in some cases does not get completed, or at least completed properly, because of all the inconsistency, the delays, the jumps and reversals, otherwise absent in the day-to-day consistency to completion.  You do not need 20 workers there, if everyone has his job, and knows what to do--DAILY, until completion.


A wise person once noted that the last posuk of the second parsha of Shema states: “LeMaa’an Yirbu Yemeichem....Kimei HaShomayim Al Ha’Aretz...--[In the merit of Mitzvah observance your days will be] increased like the days of the Heavens on the Earth--what does this mean?  What do increased days have to do with Heavens on the Earth?  The answer may be that if we look up to the Heavens for our days, if we make each day heavenly, by learning and living what Moshe Rabbeinu was able to wrest away from the angels on high, then our days are literally Heaven here on Earth.


We must always remember that the Torah especially uses the word “simcha”  in discussing the holiday of Shavuos.  Our joy is truly twofold, for we not only received the Torah on that great day more than 3300 years ago, but we commit to take this remarkable gift, compared to water and fire, to bread and wine, to milk and honey, and use it as our daily guide to navigate the pathways of Heaven on Earth.  A real Shavuos inspiration should bring us to remember this primacy throughout the year--especially at those very times when the Heavens feel oh so distant.  A Torah bite at lunch, a shiur on CD in the car between errands, a vort before going to sleep, sharing a Torah thought with a friend while exercising, all serve to remove those roadblocks, eliminate the weighty sandbags, and raise us up very high--as we see the Earth meeting our Heaven!



Special Note Five:  We are all familiar with perhaps the most pronounced question in this week’s Parsha--why does the Torah spend so many Pesukim on the Karbanos of the Nesiim, when instead the Torah could have simply stated: “These are the Karbanos that each and every one of the Nesiim brought…”, and save scores of Pesukim?  After all, every tip of a Yud in the Torah requires investigation--all the more so an additional 65 Pesukim?!  An original and beautiful lesson is taught by the Alter of Kelm, Z’tl.  The Alter teaches that if a person does something together with the community, he may justifiably feel that he is simply part of a communal mitzvah, a most noble group effort, but that neither he, nor his mitzvah is separately identifiable within the Tzibbur’s wonderful actions.  However, the Alter teaches, this is not so at all.  While one may have performed a mitzvah in a more beautiful way by being part of a group, he, in fact, still retains his individuality in the mitzvah’s performance.  His mitzvah is not clustered together with that of others in a huge, undefined forest, but rather the tzibbur is viewed by Hashem as a gathering of distinctive trees making up a wonderful forest together.  Hashem does not only love the group as a whole for what they have done, but, the Alter says, **He loves each one individually** for his effort and participation.  To Hashem, it is not a large crowd, but a gathering of His “Ben Yachids,” who not only share Hashem’s love together, but get a full measure of it separately and individually.  Whether one davens in a Shul with 500, 100 or 10; whether one learns in a shiur with 20, or with 2, and whether one is part of a large Chesed organization, or has a Gemach in the privacy of his own home or with a friend or family member--Hashem identifies you and loves you for what **you** are doing.  Just as no one can hide from Hashem when doing an Aveira, for His glory fills the world, so, too, must one realize that his doing what other people are doing  together with him is clearly and uniquely recognized and cherished by his Father in Heaven.  Your Shemone Esrei counts, your staying up and thinking at a late night or early morning Daf Yomi shiur counts, the $100.00 that you put into your Shul’s Gemach counts…it all counts.  It is all individually treasured by Hashem.  And, if you think this is a small matter, the Alter of Kelm tells you that 65 Pesukim in the Torah teach you that it is something very important to remember.  We each receive unique and individualized attention, appreciation and love from the Master of the Universe…as if we were His only son!



Special Note Six:  In the remarkable Haftorah of the week, we learn of the preparations that Manoach and his wife had to make to have a son like Shimshon, who was destined to be a Shofet BeYisroel.  The very obvious lesson is that we must all recognize that every person that we encounter has a specific task in this world, and, by virtue of Hashem having put us in contact with them, we should attempt to help them in fulfilling their life’s mission.  If it is not so clear to us as to what that may be, we can in all events help them perform Mitzvos in which they may need help, guidance or assistance--as Mitzvos are our collective duty--each person in his own way (as above).


We would like to briefly highlight another point, however.  Within the Haftorah, you may have noticed two words that are familiar to you, but in a totally different context.  The Pasuk states that, upon hearing the news from the angel that Shimshon would be born, Manoach brought a Korban.  The Pasuk continues “U’Mafli La’asos--and a wondrous thing happened,” as fire came out of a rock to consume the offering that Manoach had brought (Shoftim 13:19 ).  The Metsudos and other Meforshim there explain that the word Mafli is rooted in the word Peleh--an amazing and phenomenal event had just occurred--something shocking, astonishing and miraculous--fire out of a rock!!  Chazal then remarkably “borrow” this two word phrase “UMafli La’asos,” as the conclusion and climax of the Asher Yotzar Bracha, which we recite several times a day in recognition of Hashem giving us the capability to take care of our needs.  By using this phrase, Chazal may want us to understand that it is the same “Mafli La’asos” that Manoach and his wife witnessed as they saw fire coming out of a rock to consume a Karbon--as we witness every time we successfully take care of our bodily needs.  It is a Peleh--wondrous and extraordinary--like fire out of a rock!


We should not, chas veshalom, have to wait for an occasion when it is difficult or temporarily impossible for us to witness the daily Peleh we experience in ourselves in order for us to appreciate the miracles inherent in the Asher Yotzar.  Each and every time we conclude Asher Yotzar, it should not be with a feeling that we are just about ready to move on to something else….  Rather--it should be with a huge acknowledgment--with a climactic recognition and blissful declaration--“UMAFLI LA’ASOS!”


 With this--we bring especial attention to the second bracha of Gevuros in Shemone Esrei-during which we should take relief, pleasure and pride--and gain serenity--with the knowledge that awareness that Hashem is in complete control of the World--and every part of its existence!



Special Note Seven:  One final point on the Parsha.  In carefully following the Kriyas HaTorah, one may have recognized that the Nasi of Shevet Gad was Elyasaf ben Deu’el (Bamidbar 7:42 ).  Elsewhere, the Torah refers to his father’s name not as Deu’el, but as Reu’el (Bamidbar 2:14 )--with the Raish and Daleth being interchanged.  If one follows the Raish-Daleth interchange elsewhere--then what word would one discover within the word Torah?  Todah—Thanks--for ultimately the Torah teaches us the Great Thanks we owe to Hashem for each and every moment of opportunity in our lives--and for the Torah itself which guides us through each and every step of the way!



Special Note One:  As we arrive at Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan, we provide our readers with the special Tefillah brought by the Shelah HaKadosh to recite for one's children on this very special day.   You may have received the Tefillah from many other organizations--but if you have not yet had the opportunity to recite it as of yet, we urge that you take the time now--and click on this link   

Note:  The Luach Davar B’Ito, however, writes that in fact, the Tefillah was composed by HaRav Shabsai Sofer, Z’tl, from Premishla.  The Shelah HaKadosh then gave this Tefillah his endorsement by placing it into his Sefer.



Special Note Two:  As today is Yom Kippur Katan, even if you will not be able to recite the special Yom Kippur Katan Tefillos--may we urge and recommend a primary element of every Rosh Chodesh--Teshuva--and all the more so as we approach the giving of the Torah!  The Chofetz Chaim writes that a King's treasure house can be filled with priceless rubies and diamonds--but that if it is also inundated with soiled diapers and decayed fruits, the entire treasure house will be greatly degraded.  The Chofetz Chaim continues that a person may have so many Mitzvos to his credit, but if they are sullied with Lashon Hora and other kinds of aveira-impurities--his royal treasure of Torah and Mitzvos is substantially debased and despoiled.  We must, accordingly, be very much involved NOW in the SUR Mai'RA, cleaning up our dirty laundry --so that when we receive the Torah anew next week we will be able to receive the Torah focused on the ASEH TOV!  The time is now!



Special Note Three:  Because Rosh Chodesh Sivan is tomorrow, on Erev Shabbos, many will follow the Tzava'ah of Rebbe Yehuda HaChassid and not cut their nails on Rosh Chodesh even though it is Erev Shabbos.  You may want to cut them *today* instead.



Special Note Four:  As a pre-Shavuos new simple and direct Torah undertaking, we proposed the study of Mishna Yomis--Seder Moed, which began Seder Moed with Mishnayos Shabbos on May 27th. YOU CAN STILL EASILY CATCH UP!  We now provide below calendar (and a chazara calendar--both calendars from the wonderful dafyomireview.com) for the entire Seder--you will already be making the Siyum next April!  What a wonderful bli neder commitment and accomplishment! 

Regular calendar available by clicking here

Calendar with review available by clicking here


Hakhel Note:  HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z tl, provides the following fantastic Mashal:


A young man, eager to have a successful future, is advised to go to the local gardening store, and to purchase all kinds of fruit tree seeds.  Even though he may not see the benefits of his investment immediately, over the years those handfuls of seeds will produce many trees and a wonderful abundance of fruit for consumption and sale.  The young man eagerly purchases many different kinds of seeds.  Upon realizing how easy and cheap they were to buy, and how the profits to be reaped are geometrically proportional to the investment of time and physical effort, the young man was not as careful as he should have been.  He lost some seeds here, threw some seeds at some birds there, planted some seeds too close to each other, and then did not properly take care of the trees that did eventually begin to grow.


The easy, almost sure investment, was nearly squandered largely due to a lack of use of his intelligence, a simple failure of adequate care and an almost surprising degree of flippancy.  True, a small part of his final relative failure may have been due to bad weather, occasional illness and other factors, but they were minor compared to his carelessness, inattention and perhaps even negligence.


That is the Mashal.  The Nimshal is clear.  Each one of us is given the incredible opportunity to harness our unique and individual portion in Torah during our lifetime.  The little seedlings with which we begin--Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe, Shema Yisroel, Beraishis Bora--must be wisely planted and nurtured.  Even when they grow into full-sized trees, they must be properly watered, pruned and harvested.


Yet, many unfortunately do not follow the road to personal success.  A person drops seeds here, needlessly throws away seeds there, and does not take care of the tree when planted--by failing to keep his daily study commitment; not buying or reading a new Torah book or Sefer even if it is of interest to him; not joining a new shiur in Shul or watching a Shiur on www.torahanytime.com when he has some time at his computer and not progressing (or feeling advancement) on a yearly basis in the Parashas HaShavua or in other topics of Torah study.  There are other examples--a five-minute Chavrusa, a telephone shiur (718-906-6400 is one example), Shmiras Halashon HaYomi, etc.  The possibilities are almost endless.  So much of our opportunities are free, and much of our learning can be done in a group setting, which also makes it easier.  We just have to be diligent, and care.


  Chazal (Chagiga 3A) actually provide one definition of a shoteh  (an insane person) as one who loses what is given to him.  We should not, Chas V Shalom, place ourselves anywhere near that category--squandering those seedlings which can be nurtured into such big and beautiful fruit-bearing trees.


Rabbi Pincus actually teaches that we should view every five or ten minutes as one seed.  That is literally how powerful and meaningful every short period of Torah study can be.  If one throws away a seed of his time, then he has discarded not only the seed, but all of the neutrons, protons and electrons within it, the entire DNA, all of the life-filled potential bound within.


Just five minutes a day is 1,825 minutes a year.  Over twenty years, this amounts to 36,500 minutes, which is more than 600 hours.  According to the Vilna Gaon s calculation, as explained by the Chofetz Chaim (see Shenos Eliyahu to Peah 1:1), if one would have been learning during these five minutes every day, he would have accumulated over 7 million mitzvos!  We now can appreciate how taking care of that seedling could produce such a beautiful and glorious tree.


Let us make the commitment--Bli Neder--to especially and intentionally study--whether it is the Mishna Yomi--or just an additional five minutes of Torah a day--just so that we show how much we care about that seedling--no--that tree!



Special Note Five:  A brief next-step--How can one retain his Torah learning? The following is based upon the Piskei Teshuvos (Volume 2, p. 305) who provides sources in detailed footnotes:


a.          Simply putting in the time to toil and review, as Shlomo HaMelech (the wisest of all men) teaches in Mishlei ( 16:26 ) “Nefesh Amel Amalo Lo--the soul of a laborer labors for his needs….”  Nothing, absolutely nothing, can replace one’s own efforts;


b.          Having Kavannah in “Ahava Raba/Ahavas Olam” every morning--especially as we recite the words “V’Seyn B’libeinu…”--instill in our hearts [the ability] to understand and clarify, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform, and fulfill all the words of Your Torah’s teaching with love.  And enlighten our eyes in your Torah…(translation from the Complete Artscroll Siddur);


c.  Voicing the words of the Torah you are studying, rather than only reading them;


d.  Learning in a set or designated place especially in the Bais Medrash, and even in one’s home;  


e.  As a Segulah, kissing the Sefer when opening and closing it; and


f.  Avoiding actions and items which Chazal/Halacha teach cause forgetfulness, which are enumerated in the Piskei Teshuvos (ibid. p. 486-487), and which include leaving a Sefer open on the table and walking out of the room.



Special Note Six:  We continue with our goal to increase Kavannah in the second bracha of Shemone Esrei.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah by Rabbi Meyer Birnbaum, Shlita helps us understand that when we recite that Hashem is a Someich Noflim we mean that not only does He support those who have physically fallen, but also those whose spirit has fallen or who are down financially.  Rofeh Cholim then refers to Hashem's healing of those who are sick with all kinds of ailments--including those to which doctors nay have thrown their hands up.  Matir Asurim teaches that Hashem helps those who may be bound in all kinds of ways--limbs which are now able to move and then remarkably sit up after having been in a lying position for hours, a child out of its mother's womb, a person out of jail, a person assisted to freedom from improper passions, a single person released from his status--by getting married!  The bracha of Gevuros then is so wonderfully encompassing--we should not let it get by us so easily as we move from the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei to the upcoming great Brachos of personal requests!



Special Note One:  In one week from today, we will celebrate Matan Torah with Shavuos.  Much in the same way as we get closer and closer to Yom Kippur do we feel a need to do Teshuva, or as we get closer and closer to Pesach do we feel a need to rid ourselves of our Chometz, so too, should we demonstrate our recognition of the advent and approach of Matan Torah.  One should not take lightly the need to ready himself for receiving the Torah.  Indeed, Chazal (Pesikta D’Rav Cahana, Piska 12) teach:


“HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to Klal Yisroel--when you read this Parsha [of Ma’amad Har Sinai] to me every year, I will consider it as if you were standing before me on Har Sinai and receiving the Torah.”


So, we must do something: waiting on line in the bakery for cheesecake (and reflecting on how many reasons you know for why we eat cheesecake on Shavuos) or even setting up a Chavrusah for Shavuos night, should not satisfy us.  Just as B’nei Yisroel were conscious that they were traveling directly from Egypt to Har Sinai, and that they required several days of further preparation upon their arrival at Har Sinai, so, too, must we begin to sense the need to draw near and experience and inspire ourselves with Torah anew.


One easy method to accomplish this is simply take the time out in the week before Shavuos to learn an extra ten to fifteen minutes a day.  If one were told that he was going to be receiving the Crown Jewels as a gift in one week, he would most certainly begin to demonstrate a newfound special love and care, a unique concern and appreciation--and a desire to learn more about them!


A second, more difficult, but likewise more rewarding and lasting, manner of demonstrating awareness of the time period that we are now in, is a point we have touched on in the past--properly fulfilling what Chazal describe as one of our important purposes in life--setting aside time for Torah study (Shabbos 31A).  Indeed, every night in Maariv we recite “Ki Heym Chayeinu--for they are our life”…  Likewise, Shlomo HaMelech (the wisest of all men) writes in Mishlei (3:18) “Eitz Chaim Hi…”--it is the Tree of Life for those who grab hold of it.  So, just as one may need, on a daily basis, to imbibe oxygen, to take a particular treatment, to ingest a particular medication, in order to remain alive, we, too, must be sure--very sure--that we, too, are dutifully taking our daily dosage of Torah study, as well.  There are several important points made by the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 155) relating to Kevius Itim--designating those special times during the day.  These are the Mishna Berura’s recommendations:


1.  One should set aside time for Torah Study immediately after davening in the morning and the in the evening so that he is not sidetracked (or hoodwinked) by the Yetzer Hara and his emissaries;


2.  One must be sure that in addition to any daily study of Tanach/Mishna/Gemara, to study Sefarim of Halacha.  In fact, if one does not learn several hours a day, it is proper for one’s “Ikar Limud”--primary study--to be in Halacha L’Maaseh, in a way that he will understand and practically apply his studies;


3. If something happened which prevented him from his regular designated time of study, he should make it up as soon as possible, but the latest before going to sleep.  Even if one cannot study at all, because of some event beyond his control, he should not depart from his place after davening until he has at least learned one Pasuk or one Halacha;


4.  It is recommended that the set time for Torah study, if at all possible, be in a particular, designated place, and that the place should preferably in Shul;


5.  If one learns as part of a group of people, it brings greater Kavod Shamayim (Biyur Halacha there); and


6.  The Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 238) writes that one should be even more careful with this set time for Torah study at night than by day (see Mishna Berurah there for a detailed explanation).


Let us take the time out to rededicate and reinvigorate ourselves with our Tree of Life, as we properly utilize this wonderful preparatory period for our very own, our very personal, Kabalas HaTorah!



Special Note Two:  We are all familiar with the Chazal that teaches: “If the Yetzer Hara attempts to take hold of you, pull him into the Beis HaMedrash” (Kiddushin 30B).  This tactic should not necessarily be viewed as some form of circumvention or defensive maneuver.  Rather, the Maharal (Tiferes Yisroel, Chapter 25) explains, your action is a positive and productive one--for you are drawing your body and Yetzer Hara towards their purpose and mission in life--to be sanctified.


This is why, explains the Sefer Sifsei Chaim (Moadim 3, p. 76), that the korbon brought on Shavuos, the holiday of Matan Torah, was uniquely made of chometz (representing gashmius), and also the reason that all agree that on Shavuos we are required to celebrate with “Lochem”--we are enjoined to rejoice with food and drink, and are forbidden to fast (Pesachim 68B).  Shavuos, then, is a holiday which requires no other or additional symbols or Mitzvos, for it is the Yom Tov of the person himself--the soul and body united in holiness!


With this realization, we can likewise understand why Shavuos (unlike Pesach and Sukkos) is only one day--for it unites the neshama and the guf, and as such, nothing further is necessary.  We can likewise better understand why Megilas Rus is so essential to Shavuos.  When Elimelech and his family leave Eretz Yisroel (i.e., their ruchniyus) in order to protect their wealth, and in search of their physical needs in a foreign land, they failed in a horrible way.  However, when Naomi and Rus (a scion of Moav royalty) bring their bodies “back to the Beis HaMedrash”--to Eretz Yisroel, to once again subjugate the physical to the spiritual, they are incredibly successful.  Their road back leads to the Malchus of Beis Dovid--and to the ultimate achievement of Moshiach!


We each have the power within us to fulfill our purpose in this world.  Sometimes, it may appear that all fingers point in the direction of Moav.  We must realize that it is to the Torah--its study and performance--that we must constantly turn to in order to be steered in the right direction—not only for the soul’s good, but for the body’s good, as well!



Special Note Three:  Dovid HaMelech teaches us in Tehillim (119:59): “Chishavti Derachai…”--I had many things to do, when I was unsure what to do I would go to the Beis Medrash and study.  (Translation based upon the Alter of Novordak).  When we are unsure what to do, Dovid HaMelech teaches us, we turn to Torah--we allow the physical to be guided by the spiritual and not vice versa.


We are probably all familiar with the stories told by Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, about his predecessor at the OU, Rabbi Alexander Rosenberg.  The stories go something like this:  “I remember how Rabbi Rosenberg would just sit there and silently listen to the latest proposals which the salesmen claimed would enhance Rabbi Rosenberg and the stature of the OU, in addition to being a great boon to civilization.  Rabbi Rosenberg would patiently wait for the salesman to make his spiel and then he would just peer at him with those hooded blue eyes.  Then he would pounce, falcon-like and ask just one question that was comprised of but four words--’Und Vos Zugt Gott? (and what does G-d say?)  Would you tell the IRS such a story?’“


Throughout the day we must make decisions, some more difficult, and some less problematic.  In all instances if we reflect for a moment, and pull ourselves into our Bais HaMedrash before we make the decision--before we decide what to do or which way to turn, we will be looking at what G-d has to say, and will be following the path of Royalty--of David HaMelech…and ultimately of Moshiach!!



Special Note Four:  We continue with our goal to improve Kavannah in the second bracha of Shemone  Esrei.  HaRav Schwab, Z’tl teaches (Rav Schwab on Prayer, Artscroll, p.424) that Techiyas Hameisim is the ultimate yeshua--and accordingly at the end of the bracha, we recite that Hashem is Matzmiach Yeshua. He writes that HaRav Shimshon Refoel Hirsch, Z’tl explains that the root of yeshua is yesh---which means ‘something’ or ‘existence’--and is meant to convey that HaKadosh Baruch Hu grants everlasting existence to those who merit it--based on their Emunah and conviction during their lifetime that Yesh Techiyas Hameisim Min HaTorah.  The Sefer Ya’aros Devash adds that one should await this BeTachlis HaSimcha--for at this time man will be brought to his Shleimus--fully and yes, finally realizing his potential! Have the Kavannah--it really makes the difference!


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