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9 Tammuz 5772


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


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


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



Special Note Two:  We continue with our focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Refaeinu.  The Bracha concludes:  Baruch Atta Hashem Rofei Cholei Amo Yisroel--Who heals the sick of His nation, Yisroel.”  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, notes that the bracha is in the present tense, because Hashem is constantly and continuously healing us--without interruption--as He provides us with protection from illness--preventing us from the sicknesses which abound, and heals us from illness when it has affected us.  HaRav Friedlander then adds that we specifically refer to ourselves as ‘Amo’--highlighting our special relationship and closeness--in order to be me’orer Hashem’s love for us and our love for Him.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that the conclusion of Rofei Cholei Amo Yisroel is different than the conclusion of Asher Yatzar, where we state “Rofei Chol Basar”.  This is because we are now emphasizing the unique and personalized Hashgacha Pratis inherent within the Refuos that Hashem grants the individual members of K’lal Yisroel.  The following additional notes relating to Refuah are brought in the Siddur Tefillah L’Moshe, based upon the teachings of HaRav Chaim:


A.  Chazal (Brachos 60A) teach Baruch Rofei Chinam--Hashem heals for free and it is a complete healing. We recite these words after we have taken medication or a treatment. 


B.  Chazal (Brachos 10A) also teach that even if a sharp sword is placed on a person’s neck, one should still daven for mercy, and that even if one saw in a nevuah at first that he was going to pass on--this could be reversed (Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 10:2).  Such is the power of Tefillah!


C.  Chazal (Bava Basra 116A) teach that if there is a sick person in the house, one should go to a Chochom and ask him to beseech Hashem for Rachamim.  The Nemukei Yosef (ibid.) writes that this means that one should go to a Tofes Yeshiva.  HaRav Chaim explains that a Tofes Yeshiva is someone who is Marbitz Torah B’Rabim.


D.  We daven for Talmidei Chachomim who are weak in the Bracha of Al HaTzadikim when we recite the words Yehemu Rachamecha. 


Hakhel Note:  There is a special nexus to Refuah, Davening and the Nechash HaNechoshes in this week’s Parsha--see the next Note!



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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



Special Note Five:  We continue our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series.  Today, we review our Summer Shailos, with the Teshuvos of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, to us:




QUESTION:   On Friday when is the latest that one may leave the City for the mountains, on account of the inevitable heavy traffic?

ANSWER: One who leaves the City for the Mountains with less than four (4) hours to spare should take along Shabbos supplies, such as food, wine, tallis, appropriate clothing, and be prepared to stop at a motel when conditions warrant it.


QUESTION:   If a family takes on Shabbos early, when does a woman have to light her candles?

ANSWER: Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’TL, writes (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim, 3:38) that if, as in most cases, the husband makes an early Shabbos because of convenience, not because he wants to add to the kedusha of Shabbos, then the woman is not bound by the kahal’s or the husband’s Kabbalas Shabbos and may light the candles later or even at the time the husband comes home. When an entire community inaugurates the Shabbos early, such as in a bungalow colony, regardless of their rationale, no one in the community is exempt from the kahal’s Kabbala. If there are a few minyanim and people alternate from one to the other as the need arises, then there is no tzibbur and no Kabbalas HaTzibbur. If there is indeed one monolithic community, but a few stragglers continue to ride around in their cars while everyone else is greeting the Shabbos, these people are being mechalel Shabbos and should be admonished. If, as the question suggests, the particular family has decided to honor the Shabbos by adding to its kedusha, then all agree that every family member is bound by one Kabbalas Shabbos.


QUESTION:   During the summer, Plag Hamincha on some Shabbosim is after 7:00PM and the Mincha minyan is at 7:00PM. What is the proper time for women to light?

ANSWER: When Plag Hamincha is at 7:00PM, Mincha should be davened before then and Maariv afterwards. There is an (important) opinion which allows for both Mincha and Maariv to be davened after Plag Hamincha on Friday, but the Mishne Berurah frowns upon it and thus, it should be avoided. If no one in shul knows how to calculate the time of Plag Hamincha and no chart is available for guidance, expert help should be sought.  Licht bentchen must be done after Plag Hamincha. In case candles were lit before then, the brocha is considered levatola and candles must be lit again with a brocha. Consult with a Rav for guidance in such situations, if possible.


QUESTION:   If my husband goes to the early minyan can I still do Melacha? If so, until when?

ANSWER: Even where a woman may do melacha after her husband was mekabel Shabbos, she may not do melacha for her husband. Please note that a wife is never bound by her husband’s personal Kabbalas Shabbos, only by the kahal’s Kabbala where both husband and wife  belong to the same kehal or by the family’s Kabbala as explained above.


QUESTION:   If my husband returned home from shul after attending an early Kabbolas Shabbos minyan, can I still light the candles since it is still not sh’kiah?

ANSWER: It can be argued that licht bentchen is a melacha done for the husband to ensure Shalom Bayis and thus should be prohibited as above. You can rely on the lenient opinion but you should strenuously avoid lighting candles after the people come home from shul. This is an affront to kedushas Shabbos and surely not conducive to Shalom Bayis as it belittles your husband. Will the malochim given their brocha when they accompany your husband home from shul and find chol there instead of Shabbos? Take your guess. Never, ever allow for that sort of occurrence.


QUESTION:   If we make early Shabbos, am I permitted to finish the meal before nightfall or do I have to finish it after nightfall? Do I have to eat a K’zayis after nightfall?

ANSWER: You should preferably eat at least a K’zayis of challah after tzais hacochavim and do not rely on leniencies, as explained in the Mishne Berurah. There is something else to consider when addressing this question. If one began his early Shabbos davening at 7PM as mentioned earlier, he should be making Kiddush around 8PM. What will be taking place at his Shabbosdike tisch? Torah? Zemiros? A joyous, sumptuous family meal in an atmosphere of relaxed happiness and Shabbos holiness? The very question suggests a desire to rush, that the Shabbos seudah is being treated as an interference which must be over and done with as quickly as possible, R’L. In that case, a K’zayis after tzais hacochavim will not do the trick (unless we are speaking of merely ensuring that challah is eaten at the end of a properly-conducted meal). Think about it.


QUESTION:   How many candles should my wife light if she normally lights seven candles in the City?  Is there a difference if my kitchen is small or if I rent a bungalow?

ANSWER: If there is room for setting up the full measure of lights, it should be attempted. On the other hand, many lights in cramped quarters with a bunch of small children K’EH running around is both impractical and downright dangerous R’L. Safety is also kavod Shabbos. Be careful!




Generally, parents are obligated to teach their children over the age of chinuch to refrain from performing all prohibited activities on Shabbos. Shabbos is a special day that one should spend immersed in Torah learning and davening. Therefore, it is not proper for one over Bar Mitzvah or Bas Mitzvah to occupy themselves with toys or games. Children under Bar/Bas Mitzvah are permitted to play games. However, not all games are permitted to be played on Shabbos. A parent’s obligation of chinuch is to teach one’s children not to play with toys and games. Young children below the age of chinuch are permitted to play with all types of toys and games. However, an adult is prohibited to give toys or games directly to the child, but may place it in front of the child, whereupon the child will take it himself.



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


QUESTION:  May I bathe my child who got dirty on Shabbos?

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


QUESTION:  My child refuses to walk on his own. Can I carry my child if there is no Eruv?

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




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

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


QUESTION: What about other drinks?

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


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

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




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

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




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

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




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

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


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

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


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

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




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

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




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

ANSWER: A water cooler is like a refrigerator. In fact, it is a refrigerator. It contains a chamber with five, six, seven or eight cups of water. You take a cup of water and another comes into it from the bottle. The temperature rises by a couple of degrees and after a while, a mechanism will trigger the thermostat to start the compressor, kicking in the cooling system again.  With a refrigerator, there are many people who are machmir not to open it in order to take something out (or return a food item) unless the motor is running. If the motor is running, you will not trigger

the thermostat to turn it on.  It is possible that with a water cooler, there is less stringency involved than with regard to a regular refrigerator, because the hot air that comes in when you open a refrigerator, is going to result in the release from the refrigerator itself of a lot of cold air into the room, because it is a very large appliance. The release of the cold air from the refrigerator will result in the influx of warm air from the room into the refrigerator, which will surely trigger the compressor to start within a very short period of time. The water cooler on the other hand is a closed system and only that one cup that you take will be replaced by another cup. Maybe five or six cups are required to trigger off the system. Regarding replacing

an empty bottle of water into a water cooler on Shabbos, doing so would surely trigger the thermostat and compressor to initiate the cooling system and should not be done, if you are machmir about opening refrigerators when the motor is not running.




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

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



8 Tammuz 5772


BRACHOS ALERT--ONIONS:  To avoid confusion relating to the brachos on onions, we provide the following summary from Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita (Feldheim):


A.  Raw Onions.  The bracha on raw onions is Shehakol/Borei Nefashos.  Onions are not normally eaten raw (except when eaten together with bread or mixed into a salad).  If used to enhance other foods, the onions are covered by the bracha on the food being enhanced.


B.  Fried Onions.  The bracha on fried onions is Ha’Adama/Borei Nefashos.  Once again, if the fried onions are eaten to enhance meat or another food, the onions are covered by the bracha on the food being enhanced.


C.  Onion Rings.  The bracha on onion rings is generally Borei Minei Mezonos, because they are usually made with a substantial batter coating made from grain flour [if in doubt, one should show the onion rings in question to a Rav or Posek].  The Bracha Achrona will depend on the amount of grain flour consumed with the onions.  If a K’zayis of the coating is eaten within K’dei Achilas Pras, the Bracha Achrona would be Al Hamichya.  If not, the Bracha Achrona would be a Borei Nefashos, provided that a K’zayis of onion and coating is eaten together within K’dei Achilas Pras.


D.  Onion Soup (from sautéed onions). The Bracha Rishona on this type of onion soup is Ha’Adama.  As far as the Bracha Achrona, clear soup is considered a liquid with regard to the shiur for Bracha Achrona.  Accordingly, one would have to consume a revi’is in the time it takes to drink revi’is, which is only a few seconds.  Generally, when soup is eaten hot this will not occur--unless one leaves a good amount of soup to eat once it has cooled off.


E.  Onion Soup (from dehydrated soup mixes).  These soups are usually made from flavorings and a small amount of dehydrated onion solids.  The onion solids are added merely to enhance the liquid.  Thus, the Bracha Rishona is Shehakol.  The Bracha Achrona is Borei Nefashos if a shiur is consumed within the time span described in the previous paragraph. 


IMPORTANT INFORMATION!  One of the top students of HaRav Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, HaRav Yitzchak Blazer, Zt’l (known as R’ Itzele Peterburger), in his Sefer Kochvei Ohr (Os 36) writes as follows (paraphrased):  Our master and teacher provided us with a very important piece of information.  He taught us that the body is not simply a garment or covering, and that a person’s feelings of pleasure and pain continue to exist and live on after the he passes on from this world…for at first glance, one would think that the body and soul are two distinct entities, and that the body goes to the earth and the punishment is received by the soul.  This is a mistake!  It is the same person who remains, with only his outer covering removed when he passes away from this world.  Thus, it is not an ‘unknown’ Neshama that will receive punishment if it sins--but the person himself will feel the pain of that very punishment…and the person himself--and not just a ‘foreign soul’--will imbibe the rewards of Torah observance and Mitzvah performance.  There is something more as well.  HaRav Eliyahu Dessler, Z’tl, explains that a person may feel that if he must be punished in Gehenoim, that too shall pass, and may not be overly worried about it.  HaRav Dessler proves why this attitude is incorrect from the following simple analogy:  A person wakes up in the middle of the night with a terrible toothache, and cannot fall back asleep.  He has no painkillers available, there is no pharmacy around and there is no doctor to contact--he will have to wait until morning!  The pained individual continues to lie in bed and believes hours have passed and daybreak is almost here--but then looks at his watch and sees that only a few minutes have passed.  Every minute of pain feels like eternity!  That is how the ‘short’ time span of punishment in Gehenoim should be properly viewed by us--now!  Importantly and to the contrary, our experience of Simcha passes by quickly in this world.  When we are at a Chasunah and enjoying it--it seems to pass by so quickly!  However, in Gan Eden, the Simcha--will never, ever cease!  Plan your life appropriately!  (based upon the Sefer Sifsei Chaim,Middos VaAvodas Hashem I, pp.76-77)


SUMMERTIME SHEMIRA:  Many of us will travel the roads more this summer than we do the rest of years--to camps, on trips, for Shabbos, etc.  How can one protect himself from the dangers of the road?  A defensive driving course is definitely in order.  We additionally provide significant words of the Chofetz Chaim in this regard:  “It is obvious that when a person travels in a dangerous place, he needs extra Shemira.  The Torah (Devorim 23:15) writes:  Ki Hashem Elokecha Misshalech BeKerev Machanecha LeHatzilecha--for Hashem travels within your camp to save you….’  It is known that the sin of Lashon Hara causes the Shechina to depart from amongst us and there is no one to watch over us.”  Hakhel Note:  The converse, is, of course, also true--that Shemiras HaLashon brings the guard of the Shechina upon us.  Especially when traveling with others--one should make sure that the need to keep ‘a conversation going’ in a car does not override the need for the Shechina to dwell amongst those in the car.  Imagine the incredible benefits reaped when in lieu of improper or hurtful--really dangerous--words, the Parsha, a Halacha one has just learned or discovered, or other Torah thought becomes the topic of a lively and important conversation!



Special Note One:  We continue our Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 31 and 32:


31.  Lishbos BeYom HaKippurim--this is the Mitzvas Asei to rest from work on Yom HaKippurim, as the Pasuk states:  Shabbos Shabbason He Lachem”--and one who does work on Yom Kippur nullifies this Mitzvas Asei, and violates a Lo Sa’asei for which he r’l receives Kareis if the Melacha was done intentionally, and must bring a Karbon Chatas if the Melacha was done unintentionally (B’Shogeg).  Every Melacha that is prohibited on Shabbos is prohibited on Yom Kippur. This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 


32.  Ve’Inisem Es Nafshoseichem--this is the Mitzvas Asei to fast on Yom Kippur.  One must fast from evening to evening and add to his fast from the weekday to Yom Kippur.  Additionally, one who eats more on Erev Yom Kippur is considered as if he fasted both on the Ninth and Tenth day of Tishrei.  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 



Special Note Two:  We continue with our focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Refaeinu.  The next phrase in the Bracha is “VeHa’aleh Refuah Sheleima LeChol Makkoseinu--bring complete recovery for all of our ailments”.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that the word VeHa’aleh--and bring upon us, indicates that the Refuah is not being created now, but that it is already in existence, and now just has to be brought to its current location.  This is absolutely the case, he notes--for Hashem does not bring any makkah upon us unless He has already has a Refuah prepared.  Furthermore, HaRav Chaim notes, we ask here for a Refuah Sheleima--so that there is no aftermath or after-effects from the treatments or medication itself.  We also ask for a Refuah not only from sicknesses, but also from all makkos--which are the other things that can do us harm [as the Pasuk (Devarim 28:61) teaches, “Gam Kol Choli VeChol Makkah”].  We then implore Hashem to heal us as a ‘Melech Rofei Ne’eman V’Rachaman’--for a king must heal his subjects just as he must feed them--and in our case, moreover, Hashem is not only the King--but the expert Rofei as well, Who knows exactly how to heal us!  What is the meaning of the words ‘Ne’eman’?  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky teaches that it likely means that when Hashem heals, it is a healing that will last.  The term ‘V’Rachaman’ (Especially Merciful One) teaches us that Hashem can heal the sickness earlier than was expected and additionally that Hashem can arrange for one to experience less pain than what might have otherwise been ‘naturally’ anticipated.  The term ‘Ah-ta’ teaches us that despite Hashem’s Greatness as a Melech, Rofei, Ne’eman and Rachaman--we still have a personal and direct relationship with Him, and He allows us to refer to Him as ‘You’!



7 Tammuz 5772

Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Refaeinu.  The next phrase in the Bracha is “Ki Sehilaseinu Atta--for You are our praise”.  The obvious question is:  “What does our praise have to do with our beseeching Hashem for Refuos?!”  Firstly, we note once again that the source for these words are Yirmiyahu HaNavi (17:14), who exclaims Refaeini Hashem VeEirafei Hoshi’einu VeIvashe’ah Ki Sehilasi Atta.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that we are asking for a Refuah--in order for us to sincerely praise Hashem.  Indeed, the Siddur Tefillah L’Moshe (which presents HaRav Kanievsky’s notes on Tefillah) brings a Midrash which states that one who desires to relate the praises of Hashem will be granted additional years of life.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, expounds upon this theme from a slightly different perspective:  A classic question asked by many commentators is--how can one daven to be healed from illness as, after all, everything that Hashem does is for our good--and the illness has come as a punishment to expunge sin, or for some other meaning-filled purpose.  HaRav Friedlander brings the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim (II:11), in which HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, writes that the one who is ill is essentially, when praying for a Refuah in the most pristine form, davening that the Tza’ar HaShechina--the Tza’ar that Hashem feels when the human being feels pain, be relieved by the healing of the human being.  In a remarkable sense, then, the person is being mevater the illness which is best for him in order to relieve the Tza’ar HaShechina (see Sanhedrin 46A).  Why is the choleh then, in fact, healed?  It is because he feels the Tza’ar HaShechina to such a great extent--that the Kavod Shomayim which was impinged by his aveirah is now rectified.  Moreover, when people see that he is healed, they will recognize Hashem’s Chesed to him, and a Kiddush Hashem will result.  With this uplifting background in mind, we understand Ki Sehilaseinu Atta as--‘it is a praise to Hashem for all those around the ill person to raise their voices in song and thanks for the Chesed He does with the person who was ill.’  The Rabbeinu Yonah provides the following Mashal to better understand this:  A doctor sees someone who, because of his personal negligence, was critically injured, and severely reprimands the person for bringing himself to such a serious state.  The sick person responds--“You are very right, and I was very wrong--but you now have the opportunity to show everyone what an excellent doctor you really are.  Through my own fault, all will recognize your greatness and expertise.”  With the words Ki Sehilaseinu Atta, we humbly admit to Hashem that although we may have brought ourselves to a sorry state--all know that only You can bring a Refuah--and all will then recognize Your unparalleled greatness.  Please--from my past misdeeds--may there come out a Kiddush Shem Shomayim--causing those around me to praise You!



Special Note Two:  From a reader:  I just wanted to share with your readers a powerful thought that I learned from the scheduled daily learning of Sefer Shaarei Teshuvah.  When a person wants to do Teshuvah for a particular sin, he should first figure out which type of sin it was.  Was it a sin that he only did this one time, or does he fall into the habit of doing this sin on a frequent basis?  If this was only a one-time sin, then Rabbeinu Yonah advises him to start with Charatah, bitter regret over the sin that he did.  However, if this is a sin that he does repeatedly, then he cannot just start with Charatah  right away - he must first do Azivas HaChait - leaving the sin, forming a practical plan for how to break the habit - and only then can he move on to focus on the Charatah.  The reason why I think this is such a powerful thought, is that I often find myself thinking about sins that I do frequently (such not having kavannah when I say Hashem's name) and my mind automatically jumps into Charatah-mode "Oy, I did it again... I can't believe I keep doing this..." and once I start with thoughts of Charatah, it feels overwhelming. The reason why it feels overwhelming is that I am still engrossed in the sin, have not yet formulated a plan for breaking the habit, so I cannot envision myself being better, and so the Charatah just drowns me in a sea of hopelessness.  However, Rabbeinu Yonah is telling us explicitly that for this type of sin - a habitual sin, Charatah is not the right thought to have right now!  The first thought you need to have after doing a habitual sins is "I must stop this right now!" and make a practical plan for how you are going to break the habit.  Only after you have formulated a plan for breaking the sin, and you can envision yourself acting properly in the future, and you feel hope for how you can improve - Then you can turn around and look at your past and say "Oy, what have I done!" without drowning in a sea of hopelessness.  May Hashem help us all do Teshuvah Shelaima B'karov!”



Special Note Three:  In honor of this meaningful comment from our reader, we BE’H and bli neder will begin periodic thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, on the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chelko (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita.  By way of introduction, we point out that HaRav Mattisyahu teaches that the details of Teshuvah have already been provided to us by our Nevi’im.  The Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah, HaRav Mattisyahu teaches, is ‘Divrei Nevi’us’--because it explains the words of the Nevi’im, often mentioning several Pesukim in each paragraph: 


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


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


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




6 Tammuz 5772


Special Note One:  We provide the following brief glimpse of the recently published biography “In His Ways: The Life and Achievements of HaGaon Reb Dov Schwartzman, Z’tl”, by Rabbi Shmuel Wittow, Shlita.  HaRav Schwartzman was very well known as the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Bais HaTalmud in Yerushalayim.  The Sefer is available in Seforim stores:


1.  Reb Chaim Yehuda [a student of the Rosh Yeshiva], who would teach the shiurim to the younger bochurim, said that for a period of time he had a chavrusa with the Rosh Yeshiva before davening that began at 5:00 in the morning.  The first day he was surprised to see the Rosh Yeshiva close his Gemara at 6:30, as davening did not start until 7:00.  When he asked the Rosh Yeshiva to explain, Rav Schwartzman answered that he had a Kabbalah to do a Chesed before davening; so each morning he would take that portion of time to go home and prepare chocolate milk for his children’s breakfast.


2.  One of his Talmidim saw the Rosh Yeshiva himself picking up cigarette butts that were left on the floor of the Bais Midrash (this was in the days when smoking was common and not yet discouraged).  When the bochur complained it was below his Rosh Yeshiva's dignity, Rav Dov simply answered, “This is the King's palace.  How can I allow it to be dirtied?”


3.  Once very late at night a bochur found the Rosh Yeshiva putting away all the seforim in the Bais Midrash, a seemingly menial task.  When the Rosh Yeshiva saw the confused expression on the bochur’s face, the Rosh Yeshiva explained that was this was a sacred duty, an act of Avodas HaKodesh, and by doing so one is actually being Mekadesh Gufo-- sanctifying his physical body.


4.  The Rosh Yeshiva also had the utmost sensitivity for every word he spoke, choosing each word meticulously.  This was in effect the way he had of being Mekadesh his tongue.  In addition to the constant words of kindness that he uttered to build people up, it was said that he took great care never to use the expression "Ani Ohev" (I love) for any material thing; he would only apply it to Torah or to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  If someone would offer him a particular food and inquire:  “Atta Ohev Et Zeh?” (Don't you love this dish?), he would always respond, "Ani Lo Ohev--Ani Ochel" (I do not love food, I eat food). 


5.  He formed within himself a Tzuras HaAdam at an unparalleled level.  Rav Schwartzman would often refer to a p'shat from the Kotzker Rebbe: Hashem said to Avraham, “Lech-Lecha--Go into yourself”--delve deeper and deeper into yourself.


6.  Reb Avraham [another Talmid] reminisced about the Rosh Yeshiva’s shiur given each Friday night; after Kabbalas Shabbos he would speak about the Kepitel recited in Friday night davening, Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos.  The shiur never lasted less than one hour and ten minutes.  For seventeen years the Rosh Yeshiva would speak weekly on this Kepitel,, and never once repeated the same material!   


7.  Veshinantam Levanecha VeDibarta Bam…U’vlechticha VaDerech--and you shall teach Divrei Torah to your children, and speak Divrei Torah…and as you walk on the way.  The Rosh Yeshiva explained that the words U’vlechticha VaDerech, that you shall learn Torah when you walk on the way, actually refer to one's daily hanhagos, actions; “to walk on the way” is to take a path of action.  When one's actions are entirely according to the Torah, that conduct is itself considered the fulfillment of "Veshinantam"--learning and reviewing Torah!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Refaeinu.  The next phrase in the Bracha is “Hoshi’einu VeNivashe’ah--save us and we will be saved”.  How does salvation fit into the Bracha of Refaeinu?  We provide two approaches.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that, as we noted yesterday, one interpretation of Refaeinu Hashem VeNeirafei is that we ask Hashem to prevent us from becoming ill.  This is because the most chashuv of those involved in medicine search for ways and means for their patients not to get sick--preventive medicine; setting a person on the path of continued healthy living.  The second step, if needed, is Hoshi’einu VeNivashe’ah--if we c’v do become ill, please heal us from the illness--for only if You heal us will we be truly healed.  HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, in Rav Schwab on Prayer, provides a second perspective on Hoshi’einu VeNivashe’ah.  He writes that we ask Hashem with these words to save us from the non-physical or spiritual diseases of which we are aware:  Emotional disturbances such as fears, apprehensions, frustration and bitterness.  These illnesses are the result of one's lack of Bitachon in HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  If a person does not have Emunah in Hashgacha Pratis (that HaKadosh Baruch Hu knows him personally and watches over him) he can be beset with all kinds of fears and worries.  The cure for this disease is Emunah and Bitachon.  It is for this reason that we turn directly to HaKadosh Baruch Hu in this Tefillah of Hoshi’einu VeNivashe’ah--please help us bolster our Emunah and Bitachon.  If someone has true Bitachon, he will lose all his fears and apprehensions.  When one realizes that whatever happens to him is not an accident, but rather, the will of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, his fears and worries dissipate.  If he is convinced that HaKadosh Baruch Hu has a purpose for any difficulty that he may face, he will be totally accepting of it, as this is a part of the educational process that he must go through.  The Navi (Yeshayahu 33:14) declares in the Name of Hashem that only the sinners will tremble, but those who have Bitachon in HaKadosh Baruch Hu will not fear.  Reinforcing one's Emunah and Bitachon requires a great deal of help from HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and for this we are Mispallel: Just as Yirmiyahu HaNavi was Mispallel Refaeini Hashem VeEirafei Hoshi’einu VeIvashe’ah” (Yirmiyahu 17:14) for his own Refuas Hanefesh for known and unknown spiritual ailments--so too, do we, each and every member of Klal Yisroel, ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu to cure us of them!”



Special Note Three:  We continue with our summer Shailos and Teshuvos--questions that we asked Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, in the past, and his responses, which were either taken from his handwritten responses to us--or from recordings of Hakhel Shiurim at which the question was asked.  If one needs further clarification, he should consult with his Rav or Posek, who in any event should be the final decisor for any person’s particular Shailah.




Calling Someone Else’s Spouse by Their First Name


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

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

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



Use of One Sink for Both Milk and Meat


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

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



Yichud Issues


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

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


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

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



Am I Required to Help a Stranded Motorist?


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

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



Removing Yarmulkes and Tzitzis


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

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


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

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


Food-Related Items Under Bed


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

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




5 Tammuz 5772


Special Note One:  We continue our Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 29 and 30:


29.  Lishbos BeYom Aleph B’Tishrei--this is the Mitzvas Asei to rest from work on the first day of Tishrei, which is Rosh Hashanah.    If one violates this Mitzvas Asei, he will also violate a Lo Sa’aseh--of not doing Melacha on Yom Tov.  One may, however, perform the Melachos of Ochel Nefesh for himself and other Jews.  Chazal teach that two Melachos are permissible even if not for Ochel Nefesh purposes--kindling a fire and carrying.  MiDivrei Sofrim, we observe two days of Rosh Hashana even in Eretz Yisroel.  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 


30.  Lishmoa Kol Shofar--this is the Mitzvas Asei to hear the Shofar on the first day of Tishrei, as the Pasuk teaches:  “Yom Teruah Yiheyeh Lachem”.  The Shofar must be the bent horn from a sheep, and the horns of other animals may not be used.  We are obligated to hear the sounds of Tekiya-Teruah-Tekiya, three times, for a total of nine blasts.  It is because we do not know what the sound of a Teruah is that we blow Tashrat (Tekiya-Shevarim-Teruah-Tekiya) three times, Tashat (Tekiya-Shevarim-Tekiyah) three times and Tarat (Tekiya-Teruah-Tekiya) three times--to remove all doubt.  This Mitzvah applies to men but not to women. 



Special Note Two:  We continue with our study of the Nineteen Brachos of Shemone Esrei.  This week we focus on the Eighth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Refaeinu--heal us of our physical ills.  We have just completed asking Hashem to heal our spiritual ills with the Brachos of Hashiveinu and Selach Lanu.  Although our physical sickness arises from spiritual reasons (whether as a test, punishment or purification for the next world), we still must ask for a separate physical healing from Hashem--over and above our previous spiritual requests.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that there are particular times when yisurim leave a person (citing Avodah Zara 55A), and that the timing of their removal is affected by our zechuyos and tefillos.  The first phrase of our Bracha, Refaeinu Hashem VeNeirafei is based directly upon the Pasuk:  “Refaeini Hashem VeEirafei” (Yirmiyah 17:14).  HaRav Chaim notes that we repeat the term of VeNeirafei to remind ourselves that if Hashem Himself does not heal us--all of the doctors in the world cannot heal us, and nothing that they do can effect our complete Refuah without Hashem’s gifting it to us.  In each Tefillah, each and every one of us asks for Refaeinu--even if we may not feel sick at the moment--because: (a) we are davening for all of K’lal Yisroel; (b) we are davening that we not get sick; and (c) there is no one who does not have some kind of health issues--and all health issues--from the most minor and on--can be healed by Hashem and only by Hashem! 



Special Note Three:  We received the following keen thought from a reader, as excerpted from Journey Into Greatness based upon the teachings of HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl:  “We see that Korach and his party were sterling personalities.   Moreover, Korach saw all the miracles.  He stood on the shore of the Sea as it was split and sang together with the entire Nation.  At Har Sinai he heard the Voice of Hashem and had shouted ‘We shall do and we shall listen!’ together with all of Klal Yisroel.  Belief was no obstacle.  But the test of Envy and the Desire for Glory, this was overpowering.”

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



Special Note Four:  We provide the following Halachos from Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 173-174 [Hilchos Seudah], as excerpted from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu edition:


1.  If one would like to eat both fish and meat in the same meal, he should wash his hands between the two if he touches the food with his hands.  The Pri Megadim writes that even if one is using a fork or a spoon, it is appropriate to be Machmir and wash if it is not burdensome.  In all events, one should eat something and drink something in between the fish and the meat.  This is referred to as kinuach v’hadacha.  Indeed, if one is used to drinking a little schnapps after fish, the Sha’ar HaTzion (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 174:46) writes that perhaps the schnapps is considered tofel to the fish and does not require a separate bracha.  HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, adds that if this schnapps is consumed during a meal--even if one makes a “LeChaim” over this schnapps, he does not make a separate bracha over it--for the schnapps is in all events considered part of the meal.   


2.  If one touched meat after fish and did not wash his hands, the meat does not become prohibited based upon a mere touch alone--for one can assume that there was a very small amount of fish that remained on the person’s hand. 


3.  It is permissible for one person to eat fish and another person to eat meat on the same table; however, if only one person is eating at the table alone, it is best that the fish and meat not be placed on the table at the same time, in order for him not to inadvertently eat of both without washing his hands (if necessary), and eating and drinking after the fish.   


4.  If a person would like to make a bracha, he should make sure that his hands are clean and not dirty--even if they had become unclean from the food that he was previously eating. 


5.  One makes a separate bracha of Borei Pri HaGafen on wine during the course of a seudah--because of the chashivus of wine, the HaMotzi simply does not cover it. This means that a separate bracha over wine is required--even if one specifically had in mind for his HaMotzi to cover the wine that he intends to drink at the meal.  Once the bracha on wine has been made at a seudah, it will cover any wine that one drinks at another location during the course of the meal--i.e., even if he moves his seudah elsewhere.  Additionally, if one makes a Borei Pri HaGafen at Kiddush before a meal, it would cover wine in the course of a meal if one had in mind to drink wine during the meal as well.  Note:  LeChatchila one should drink wine in the course of his Shabbos and Yom Tov Seudos, because of Kavod and Oneg Shabbos and Yom Tov (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 250:2 and 529; Mishna Berurah, seif katan 11). 


6.  The bracha over wine (for instance at a Kiddush) also covers all other drinks one intends to drink at the time; however, the Chofetz Chaim writes that in order to cover the other drinks  one should LeChatchila drink a Melo Lugmav of the wine--otherwise he runs into Halachic issues.  It is also best for all the other items that one intends to drink (besides the wine) to be on the table when he makes the bracha over the wine.  In cases of doubt, it is best to make a Shehakol on a solid food (such as sugar), having in mind that he would like the Shehakol to exempt the other drinks. This is, of course, a practical eitzah for one who heard Kiddush, drank less than a Melo Lugmav of wine, and now wishes to drink some soda.  It is questionable whether the bracha on wine exempts ice cream and ices as 'drinks'.  Accordingly, one should likewise make a Shehakol on something else, having the ice cream or ices in mind.  Note:  Various beautiful reasons are given as to why wine exempts other drinks (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 174, Dirshu Note 4).


7.  If one drinks coffee at the end of the meal, the Mishna Berurah is in doubt as to whether a Shehakol is required, and writes that it is proper for one to make a Shehakol on something else (once again, such as sugar).  However, on Shabbos and Yom Tov--where one has already made Kiddush on wine immediately prior to the meal or made a bracha on wine during the meal (and drank a Melo Lugmov), the bracha over the wine will exempt the coffee at the end of the meal as well. 


8.  Will a Borei Pri HaGafen over grape juice (rather than wine) also exempt other drinks?  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that it does.  HaRav Elyashiv is choshesh that it does not--and definitively rules that if one drinks less than a Melo Lugmav of grape juice he would make a Shehakol on the other drinks.


9.  If one makes a Bracha Achrona of 'Al HaGefen' on the wine, he would not make a Bracha Achrona of Borei Nefashos on the other drinks that he subsequently drank (as the Bracha Achrona on the wine would exempt them).  


10.  If one drank wine immediately before a meal or during a meal, the bentsching will serve as the Bracha Achrona for the wine as well--as the wine is considered part of the meal for this purpose.  We note, however, that if one simply drank water before a meal--it is considered unrelated to the meal itself and one would be required to make a Bracha Achrona of Borei Nefashos on the water before the meal.  Even if he had not recited Borei Nefashos before the meal--the bentsching cannot serve as the Bracha Achrona over the water--and a separate Borei Nefashos is required. 



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






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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



Overcoming Summer Time Nisyonos


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

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




2 Tammuz 5772

CHAVILOS--NOT CHAVILOS, CHAVILOS.  Chazal teach that we are not to do Mitzvos Chavilos Chavilos, in bundles, in bundles--meaning that we are not to ‘overdo’ our Mitzvah performance by bunching together different Mitzvos into one object (See Pesachim 102B--it is for this reason that, for example, that we use separate cups of wine for bentsching and sheva brachos, and for kiddushin and nisuin under the chupa).  The implication, however, is that we are to do Mitzvos Chavilos--in one bundle.  What it the difference between one bundle and many bundles here?  Let us take an example of one who is bringing five bags from the supermarket in from the car.  In the course of doing so he is juggling, changing arms, half-holding onto a bag here, and perhaps dropping some items out of the bag there.  On the other hand, one who carries in one bag with five dozen eggs in it will do so very carefully.  It is our job to view Mitzvos as the truly precious commodity that they really are.  If we are sloppy, in a rush, trying to do too many things at once--not everything ends up being brought home.  If we proceed with aforethought, proper attention and loving care--then we have brought home something necessary, important--and complete--to ourselves and to our families! 




Special Note One:  We conclude our focus on the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Re’eih Ve’anyeinu, with the words of HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, in the monumental work, Rav Schwab on Prayer, relating to the importance of praying for Geulah in our lives:”When I came to America [in December 1936], this country was known as the “Goldene Medinah.”  However, today, we realize that it is not “golden” at all, but rather, it is based on “paper money.”  As free as we seem to be here, nevertheless, we should know that here too, in America, we are living in galus.  There is hate all around us.  We now realize that even here in America we are not secure.  We came here because we were disliked in Europe, and if we were suddenly forced to leave America, where would we find security?  In Eretz Yisrael?  There we are faced with the so-called “Palestinians,” a relatively new entity, who don’t like us there either, and who want the land for themselves.  Who says we will be secure there?  Where shall we go?  To the moon?  There is no place on earth where Jews are “erwuensched” (welcome), where the general population desires and would welcome an influx of Jews.  Therefore, as long as we are in galus, we ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu to protect us from the danger that lurks all around us, although such danger may be quite unbeknownst to us.”


Hakhel Note:  With this in mind, please proceed to Paragraph A of the next Special Note!



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


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


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


C.  The last Mishna in Mesechta Shabbos (157A) teaches us that measuring on Shabbos for the sake of a Mitzvah is permissible.  Examples of measuring for a Mitzvah (provided by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita in his Sefer The Shabbos Home, Vol. I) include measuring a cup to determine whether it can hold a sufficient amount of wine for Kiddush, measuring a Matzah to determine if it is the proper shi’ur, measuring a proper dose of medicine, taking one’s blood pressure in order to determine whether one is ill, using a mercury thermometer (which may be shaken down before use, but not after use) to determine whether one has a fever.  We can infer from the fact that measuring only for a Mitzvah is permissible, that there must be a good reason why other measuring is prohibited.  Many explain that the reason for the prohibition is that measuring is an uvdah d’chol--a weekday activity, even if not done in a commercial setting, but in the comfort of one’s home or kitchen.  In The Shabbos Home, Rabbi Cohen provides the following important additional detail (ibid., p. 24-25):  “It is forbidden to measure or weigh with a specialized instrument, such as a ruler, tape measure or scale, as well as with a non-specialized object, such as a stick of a certain length, or a stone of a certain weight.  It is also forbidden to measure without using any instrument, for example, to measure the size of a room by counting paces or tiles.  Additionally, except in the case of illness, as mentioned above, it is forbidden to weigh food on a kitchen scale to determine the proper size of a serving (this would apply to a healthy person on a weight reduction diet as well); it is forbidden to weigh oneself or measure one’s height; and it is forbidden to hang a thermometer outdoors in order to determine the temperature.  One may, however, use a measuring cup to pour ingredients if one does not measure them precisely, but utilizes the cup merely for approximation purposes only.” 


D.  Next week, we hope to provide certain Shabbos Halachos for the summer.  If you have any particular Shailos, please feel free to send them to us. 



Special Note Three:  We provide the following points and pointers on this week’s moving Parsha: 


A.  As an introduction to Parshas Korach, we present the teaching of the Chachomim at the conclusion of Mesechta Edyos (Chapter 8).  The Chachomim teach that Eliyahu HaNavi will not come ‘to distance those who were brought close’ or to ‘bring close those that were distanced’--but to bring Shalom to the world--as the Pasuk (Malachi 3:23, 24) teaches:  Hinei Anochi Sholeiach Lachem Ais Eliya HaNavi…ViHeishiv Lev Avos Al Banim, V’Lev Bonim Al Avosam--behold I send you Eliyahu the Navi…he shall restore the heart of fathers to children and the heart of children to their fathers.”  The obvious question on this proof of the Chachomim from the Pasuk is that the Pasuk does not refer to peace among nations, or even amongst the people of K’lal Yisroel--but, read literally, between a father and his children.  How, then, does this prove that the role of Eliyahu HaNavi is to bring peace to the entire world?!  In looking more closely at the cheit of Korach--it was a cheit against blood relatives--Moshe and Aharon.  It then spread to the neighboring Shevatim and princes of the people--until it devastatingly impacted upon all of K’lal Yisroel.  It is familial disputes that are so devastating that they not only work at destroying the family, but spread impact on so many others as well.  When Eliyahu HaNavi comes, we suggest, he will brings peace within families--parents and their children who are so disconnected that the father’s heart has to be ‘restored to the son’[note the problems of our generation]--will be reunited by Eliyahu HaNavi.  This will be the job and purpose of Eliyahu HaNavi!  When the families are reunited, then peace will thereafter reign in the world as well.  Before the wolf can live with the sheep, and the leopard with the goat--we have to reconcile and overcome the differences and disputes within our families--no matter how principled or important they may be.  Let us now consider what we can do within our own family.  If we give Eliyahu HaNavi a jump-start--it will be that much easier for him to come! 


B.  On a very related 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!”


C.  The following notes from this week’s Parsha on machlokes, are excerpted from Love Your Neighbor, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


1.  It is an extremely 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 afterwards 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’Rebbi 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.  Very often, disputes begin over matters that are, from a greater perspective, 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?


D.  We present several questions relating to Parshas Korach, and welcome your thoughts and responses:


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


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


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


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


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


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


There are practical and important lessons for us here.


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


Secondly, let us consider how we treat our wallets, our jewelry, and our ‘special papers’ like birth certificates, passports and the like.  They are safely placed away in a specially-considered, or otherwise secure, place.  No one is spilling coffee on them, and no one is leaving them in his car unattended, and are instead carefully locked away.  We should consider, in this vein, how our Shemira is for our spiritually valuable items.  Do we leave our Tallis and Tefillin in our cars, or overnight in Shul, exposed to any character or situation [there has, indeed, been a rash of recent robberies of silver Ataros from Shul’s in Flatbush]?  How do we treat our Seforim--are they spotted and stained, are the covers or bindings ripped or frayed from use--or from abuse?  How do we pick up a Siddur or Chumash, and how and when do we put them away?  Do we allow Seforim to be strewn about or interspersed with secular books or objects?  A Shomer is responsible for the precious items he is entrusted with--he wouldn’t have been hired if he wasn’t capable of eminently performing the job!  Until we are soon zoche to the Shemiras HaMikdash once again by our Kohanim and Levi’im--let us do our part for Shemiras HaMikdash in the very many ways that we can!



1 Tammuz 5772

Special Note One:  We continue our Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 26, 27 and 28:


26.  Sefiras HaOmer--this is the Mitzvah to count seven complete weeks from the day the Korban Omer was brought in the Beis HaMikdash.  It is a Mitzvah to count both days and weeks.  The count begins on the night of the Sixteenth of Nissan and is performed with a bracha.  The count should be done with a bracha (although one is still yotzei if he counted without a bracha) and should be done while standing (although one is still yotzei if he made the bracha while sitting). This Mitzvah applies to men and not to women.


27.  BaYom HaShevi’i Mikrah Kodesh--This is the Mitzvah to rest from Melacha on the last day of Pesach, except that one may perform the Melachos of Ochel Nefesh for himself and other Jews.  If one violates this Mitzvas Asei, he will also violate a Lo Sa’aseh--of not doing Melacha on Yom Tov.  Chazal teach that two Melachos are permissible even if not for ochel nefesh purposes--kindling a fire and carrying.  MiD’Rabanan, outside of the borders of Eretz Yisroel, two days of Yom Tov are kept. This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 


28.  B’Etzem HaYom Hazeh Mikrah Kodesh--This is the Mitzvah to rest from Melacha on Chag HaShavuos.  See Mitzvah 27 above for further detail as to the Mitzvas Asei of ‘rest’.  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 



Special Note Two:  We continue our focus on the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Re’eih Ve’anyeinu.  The Bracha culminates with: ‘Baruch Atta Hashem Go’el Yisroel--the Redeemer of K’lal Yisroel’, in the present tense.  The Rashbam (Pesachim 117B) explains that unlike the bracha of Ga’al Yisroel, which is recited in Birchos Kriyas Shema in the morning and in the evening, in the past tense--here we ask for Hashem’s Mercy now, pleading that just as He saved us in the past, so too, should He save us today.  In fact, HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, brings the Sefer Ya’aros Devash who asks--if we are praying that Hashem save us from tzaros on an ongoing basis, then why does the Bracha not conclude Yigal Yisroel--the One Who continuously redeems K’lal Yisroel?  The answer is that in this Bracha we are davening to be saved from the potential daily tzaros that face us before the Geulah Sheleima--and so we are very much referring to the present, asking for redemption from the events of the day.  Hakhel Note One:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, rules that if one mistakenly ended the bracha Ga’al Yisroel (past tense) rather than the present tense of Go’el Yisroel, it is likely that he is not yotzei the Bracha!  Hakhel Note Two:  As one recites the word Go’el--one should have in mind the specifics of the Geulah that he personally seeks!  



Special Note Three:  Notes on the Portals of Tammuz, and the 40 day period we begin today: 


A.  With the commencement of Tammuz, we recognize not only that nine months of the year have passed, but that there are still three months left to go (as is evidenced by the great Sha’arei Teshuva Program above)!  Indeed, as some write, “Tammuz” is an acronym (juxtaposed) for “Zeman Teshuva Mimashmesh U’Ba”--and likewise for “Zerizim Makdimim V’Osin Teshuva”--both spell “Tammuz” in the Hebrew, and both mean that our feelings towards drawing closer to Hashem should begin to intensify at this time.  We provide another possible outstanding accomplishment.  For instance, the entire book Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, published by Artscroll, 2005), can be studied over its five-minute a day, 89-day cycle starting today, the first of Tammuz and concluding on Erev Rosh Hashanah.  Uplifting and upgrading your davening, and improving upon your bond with Hashem, is a great way to concomitantly conclude this year, prepare for the Yomim Noraim and grow in the coming year!  Praying with Fire, is one of Artscroll’s bestselling Seforim ever, and is available in large and even pocket-sized copies in your local Jewish bookstore.  Even to the many who have gone through the Sefer once and more than once, perhaps do it with some family or friends, or others, and try to discuss with them the short five-minute segments presented daily.


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


C.   As we all know, if the Meraglim would have come back with the proper report, Tisha B’Av would have been marked as a day of eternal celebration, rather than a day which now lives in infamy.  In the time of Bayis Sheni, Tisha B’Av was, in fact, celebrated.  As it is referred to as a “Mo’ed”, it will be certainly celebrated again--may it be this year.  The Targum Yonasan on last week’s Parsha explains that the Meraglim set out on their journey just two days ago, on the 29th day of Sivan.  Thus, these very days--i.e., the next 40 days ahead of us until Tisha B’Av, which parallel to the Meraglim’s 40-day trip (as Rav Dessler, Z’tl, explains, they are more than points of recollection in time, but an actual reliving of these times), are full of the potential to bring us a happy Tisha B’Av, if we reframe and recharacterize these days into days of building rather than days of destruction; days of finding the positive instead of the negative; days of compliments and not of snide or hurtful remarks; days in which we show our love towards Eretz Yisroel and its inhabitants in some unique and special way.  We know what we have to do.  Like the Meraglim, we have a mission.  Let’s succeed with flying colors--it is well within our capabilities, and the benefits and rewards will far exceed the investment and effort--as we will see when the Moshiach comes, Bimheira V’Yameinu!



Special Note Four:  We conclude our series on the notes of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, as published in the Sefer Matnas Chelko by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita:




1.  At the end of Chapter 19, we find perhaps one of the most famous passages of the Mesilas Yesharim, in which the Mesilas Yesharim implores us to daven for the Geulah not only for our own sake, but for the sake of Kavod Shomayim, and to once and for all bring the splendor of Kiddush Shem Shomayim to and throughout the world.  HaRav Mattisyahu adds that there is an additional, personal reason for one to daven for the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash.  Chazal teach that Kol HaMisabeil Al Yerushalayim Zoche V’Roeh BeNechemasah--one who mourns for Yerushalayim will see it as it is comforted.  How?  There are really two stages to Techiyas HaMeisim--the first stage which will occur at the outset of the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, and the second stage which will occur later--after the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash.  Those who properly mourned over Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash will be zoche to the first stage of Techiyas HaMeisim and actually see Yerushalayim in its rebuilding and in its comfort!


2.  While we are in Galus, we must be careful to act as defense attorney for our people, to constantly be Melamed Zechus on them, and to plead to Hashem that our misdeeds are the result of the weight of Golus, and the pressures of the surrounding nations.


3.  As part of our Avodah, Hashem wants us to withstand our daily  tirdos, and act with Menuchas HaNefesh.  In fact, it is our Menuchas HaNefesh that exhibits our true bitachon in Him.  This means that although we must act with Hishtadlus in earning our Parnassah, we should not feel harried or pressured by it.  The Hishtadlus itself that we must engage in should be viewed as a fine or tax.  We know that no one wants to pay more taxes than he has to, and hires an accountant to help him fulfill his tax obligation, and yet achieve the greatest tax savings.  We should always remember the Pasuk that teaches:  LeMa’an Yevarechicha Hashem Elokecha Bechol Ma’asei Yodecha--so that Hashem will bless the work of our hands.”  We are only working so that Hashem’s Bracha--which is what really accomplishes everything for us--can rest upon us!


4.  On Shabbos Kodesh, all of us reach the Madreiga of complete understanding that our Parnassah comes from the bracha of Hashem.  We do not involve ourselves in Parnassah at all--and we know that Hashem’s blessing will sustain us! 


5.  A person must recognize that he is not a borei, but a nivrah--not a creator, but one who is created.  This is especially so in davening, if one is to make sincere requests from his Maker.  A wise person will readily be reminded of the true source of his wisdom--when he makes a mistake or a misstatement, a child teaches him something, or someone reminds him of something he previously said that he now strongly disagrees with.



6.  One should recognize his strengths as the means for fulfilling his obligations and his potential in this world.  Just as a bird knows that he is to fly with his wings, and an eagle knows that he is to fly higher than other birds, so too, should one who studies Torah give its teachings to others, and a wealthy person be sure to give his money to others as well. 


7.  When HaRav Mattisyahu is asked whether someone has Yiras Shomayim, he responds that he does not know.  What in reality is Yiras Shomayim?  The term is actually not found in Tanach, where the term ‘Yiras Hashem’ is used, but finds its source in Chazal.  HaRav Mattisyahu explains that Yiras Shomayim does not mean that one fears Hashem Who is in Shomayim, but rather it means the fear engendered by the recognition that everything one does has its effects in the Heavens themselves--and will build or destroy worlds.  If a person can properly fathom the importance and ramifications of his actions--then he has Yiras Shomayim!


8.  The penultimate Pasuk with which the Mesilas Yesharim concludes is:  Yehi Chevod Hashem LeOlam Yismach Hashem BeMa’asav--the honor of Hashem should continue and endure forever, let Hashem rejoice in His works.”  When is it that Hashem is honored?  It is when we act to give Hashem Nachas Ruach.  Thus, the Pasuk of Yehi Chevod is really a Tefillah, a prayer, that we merit giving Hashem honor, doing His will properly and bringing Him Nachas Ruach.  The more one fulfills his Shleimus in this world--the more one brings Nachas to Hashem.  When this happens-- Yismach Hashem BeMa’asav--Hashem rejoices together with us!



30 Sivan 5772

Special Note One:  From a reader:  “In response to your Note yesterday on not eating in the middle of the street, I heard the following story: Once a talmid of HaRav Moshe Schneider, Z’tl, was eating an apple in the street so HaRav Moshe rebuked him and told him: ‘HaOchel Barechov  Domeh Lekelev’.  The talmid answered:  ‘But, Rebbi I am only eating a small apple.’  HaRav Moshe answered to him…’So, Ata Domeh Lekelev Katan!’



Special Note Two:  We continue our focus on the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Re’eih Ve’anyeinu.  We continue with the phrase ‘Ki Go’el Chazak Atta’.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, brings the Siach Yitzchok, who explains that there are prosecuting angels who argue against our Geulah.  Indeed, Hashem created the Midas HaDin and the Satan, whose role it is to judge us with disfavor, and to attempt to bring regular Din upon us.  At Kriyas Yam Suf, for example, there were those ministering angels who exclaimed:  “They [the Mitzriyim] are ovdei Avodah Zara and they [the Bnei Yisroel] are ovdei Avodah Zara.”  Accordingly, we needed the Yad Chazaka of Hashem to take us out.  With Hashem’s incomprehensible strength, He overcomes the seemingly incontrovertible Midas HaDin that He has established in this world, and through this His Name is sanctified--as He shows that he is not limited by the world’s ‘rules’.  The Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah adds that when Hashem saves us He does so in ways which evidence His Hashgacha Pratis over us--ways that are beyond Tevah--the natural course of events, which also demonstrates that Hashem is the Go’el Chazak.  HaRav Feivel Cohen, Shlita, once explained during the Intifada in Eretz Yisroel that although the situation seemed impossible of rectification as crazed bombers appeared out of the wood work seemingly everywhere--Hashem can be there to help overcome all of the impossible situations to bring us a Yeshua--this is the nature and reality of ‘Ezri Mai’im Hashem, as the Oseh Shomayim VaAretz’.  We add that we are privileged to address Hashem here as Go’el Chazak Atta--not as One Who is removed, foreign, or distant from us--but as One Who is close to us, Whom we speak to, and with Whom we have a direct and personal relationship!



Special Note Three:  We continue our series on the notes of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, as published in the Sefer Matnas Chelko by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita:




1.  One can speak to his friend on the telephone for several hours, although he does not see his friend at all.  However, once one party hangs up, the connection has been broken and one cannot continue to speak--although both parties could continue to hold that same piece of plastic in their hand.  How does one know that he should stop speaking?  It is when he realizes that his friend is not on the other end anymore, listening to him.  This is our Avodas HaTefillah--to know that Hashem is listening to us, no matter who we are, and no matter what we have done. 


2.  One of the requisites in Tefillah is our Yiras HaRomimus, our recognition of the Greatness of Hashem.  HaRav Mattisyahu points out that when one entered into the Chofetz Chaim’s presence, he would sense great fear and awe--not because he was afraid of punishment, as all knew the Chofetz Chaim was so full of pleasantness, compassion and Ahavas Yisroel.  Rather, the fear and awe came solely from an appreciation of the greatness of the Chofetz Chaim.  All the more so, when we are in the presence of Hashem--especially in Tefillah!


3.  In our daily lives, we have an obligation to exhibit Kavod in various ways--Kavod Shomayim, Kavod HaTorah, Kavod Chachomim, Kavod Horim, and Kavod HaBriyos in general.  HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, teaches that the yesod of Kavod is that by our display of Kavod to Hashem, to the Torah, to another, we will accept upon ourselves the Hashpa’ah, from Hashem, from one’s parents, from the Torah, etc. It is we who grow from the honor and respect we are bestowing!  Just as our Mitzvos are privileges more than obligations, so too, is our display of Kavod to others intended to develop and enhance our own lives--and reach our potential by learning and growing from all those we are supposed to learn and grow from! 


4.  When a person has a fleeting thought to do an aveirah, he should immediately recognize that this is a test to him Min HaShomayim--in order for him to determine what he will do with the thought.  If he allows the aveirah thought to develop--to go beyond that initial second--that is where the aveirah sets in. On the other hand, if he quashes the notion and clears his mind--such as by replacing it with a Torah or Mitzvah thought--he has succeeded.  Indeed, the fleeting aveirah thought is to serve as a jolt to us--reminding us to put our minds back to the right place--Torah and Mitzvos!  Hakhel Note:  It is definitely advisable for one always to be working on a question or idea on the Parsha or on what he is learning--something which requires additional thought, that one could come back to until it is resolved, and then move on to the next Torah idea....


5.  When someone does not reprimand those who are doing an aveirah, Chazal teach that if his words could have had an influence, he is actually deemed guilty of the aveirah as well.  HaRav Mattisyahu explains that this is so because if he was not mocheh, then it is a sign that he too has some connection to the cheit--it is not so bad in his eyes. One truly hurt by a family member or friend doing something wrong would stand up and take action--just as someone who saw his friend being embarrassed or disgraced would not simply let it go--but stand up and take action! 


6.  Mishkal HaChassidus involves an important determination on a case-by-case basis as to whether what one is about to do is an act of true piety, or misplaced piety.  The way that one must make this determination, once again, on a case-by-case basis, it by truthfully considering which way will give Hashem more Nachas Ruach.  If one cannot decide, he should take an Eitzah from those who are capable of giving one.


7.  Sefer Tehillim is a Sefer of Chassidus--for in it, one finds Dveikus, Ahavah, Emunah, Bitachon and Middos Tovos.  If a person would study just a Pasuk of Tehillem a day--he could gain so much out of Dovid HaMelech’s great work.  HaRav Mattisyahu specifically adds that if one studies Kepitel 119 (the longest Chapter in Tehillim), one Pasuk a day, he will develop a strong love for Torah, for the entire Perek is full of Ahavas HaTorah!




29 Sivan 5772

WORTH REMEMBERING!  The Chofetz Chaim writes the following (Sefer Shemiras HaLashon 2:4):  “…It is all dependent upon how a person conducts himself in his lifetime in this world.  If he is Dan LeChaf Zechus--judges others favorably, he will be judged favorably (Shabbos 127B), and if he is Dan LeChaf Chovah--judges others in a negative way, then the Malochei HaShareis will speak of him in a similar fashion in Shomayim.  So, a person should know that in the manner that he judges his friend in this world will be the manner in which his judgment is set in the Heavens above.”  Hakhel Note:  We have the secret of success--all we have to do is use it--on a daily basis!




Special Note One:  We continue our focus on the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Re’eih Ve’anyeinu.  We continue with the phrase “Ve’Riva Riveinu--and battle our battles for us.”  By asking Hashem to fight our battles, we demonstrate our unity with Him.  For His enemies are our enemies, and in fact, our enemies despise us so greatly because we are the Am Hashem.  Moreover, we emphasize that it is Hashem Who is the Ish Milchama--and not us.  He therefore can defeat our enemies of any size and with any advantage.  Additionally, He can defeat any of these enemies in a second, in a minute, in an hour, in a day, in a week or in a year.  We therefore plead “U’Gialeinu Miheira Lema’an Shimecha--please redeem us in the quickest possible manner--without delay, even if we are currently undeserving, for it is Kiddush Shem Shomayim at stake--our enemies are battling Your Name as well.  Thus, with these words, we express to Hashem, an essential element of why we seek Geulah--LeKadesh Sheim Shomayim!



Special Note Two:  What is the difference between a Ta’anug Kalush--a weak pleasure, and a Ta’anug Norah--an awesome pleasure?  The Chofetz Chaim explains that any pleasure we experience in this world is a Ta’anug Kalush--a pittance of Ta’anug.  Whereas, the Ta’anug of Olam Haba is a Ta’anug Norah, an awesome pleasure, with the Ta’anug of “one hour in Olam Haba equal to all of the Ta’anugim ever of Olam Hazeh”.  Hakhel Note:  When about to overindulge in a pleasure of this world--stop and think for a moment--is this miniscule Ta’anug Kalush worth losing even a bit of my Ta’anug Norah?



Special Note Three:  In his Hakdama to the Mishna Berurah, the Chofetz Chaim writes that one who studies just two Halachos in the morning and two Halachos in the evening has succeeded in the basic fulfillment of the Pasuk (Tehillim 1):  U’Vesoraso Yehegeh Yomam VaLayla”.  To get us jump-started today, we provide the following brief Halachos from Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 170 [How to Conduct Oneself While Eating], excerpted from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu edition:


1.  LeChatchila, one should even drink sitting down, and not standing up.


2.  Even though it may be common for people to eat in the street today, the Halacha follows the rule that one who eats in the street is Pasul L’Eidus (Choshen Mishpat 34:18).


3.  It is not proper for a guest to ask for food, but once it is placed in front of him, he need not wait to be told that he may eat.


4.  Although one should listen to whatever a Ba’al HaBayis requests, if one does not wish to eat or drink anymore he does not have to--even if the Ba’al HaBayis insists.  One need not hurt himself when listening to the Ba’al HaBayis.


5.  One should not take a bite out of a food and place it back on the table.


6.  A person should not say to his friend:  “Come and eat with me, just as you fed me”--for this appears as if he is repaying a loan and he may repay his friend with a nicer meal--which would be ribis.  However, one could say:  “Come and eat with me and I will eat with you another time”--for in that case he is not ‘paying him back’--but rather offering a gift.


7.  The Magen Avrohom writes that it is Derech Eretz for a host to pour drinks for his guests (Kiddushin 32B). 


8.  A person should not drink from a cup, and then give it to his friend to drink from, for it may be ma’us to his friend, and his friend could get sick as a result.  Wiping off the affected area or washing it off may resolve this issue.  Hakhel Note:  This topic is particularly pertinent at Kiddush, where some have the custom to drink from the becher, and then pass it around.  One should consult with his Rav as to the proper practice in this area--particularly when guests are present. 


9.  One should not give the piece of bread that he made HaMotzi on, or the piece next to it, to an animal, because it is not Kavod for the Mitzvah.  There is discussion as to whether food fit for human consumption can be given to animals.  If food is about to spoil, there is a greater Heter to give it to animals, rather than it going to waste.  The Mishna Berurah brings from the Machatzis HaShekel that if one has nothing else to feed an animal, he can give him food that is edible to humans--and it perhaps for this reason that it is the Minhag HaOlam to give bread (other than the HaMotzi pieces) to birds.


10.  Whether one recites Shir HaMa’alos or Al Naharos Bavel, he should recognize that he is saying these words in order to recite a minimum amount of Torah at the table and should accordingly recite them with Kavannah. 



Special Note Four:  We continue our series on the notes of HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, as published in the Sefer Matnas Chelko by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita:




1.  A person should endeavor to reduce his Nisyonos in whatever way he can.  When, for example, faced with something tempting, he should say to himself that it is ‘not as geshmak’ or not as good as it appears, or even try to find something ma’us about it in order to get it off his mind--so that the temptation weakens and hopefully disappears. 


2.  In the last Pasuk of Sefer Koheles, Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men teaches:  Sof Davar HaKol Nishma--in the end all will be revealed.”  The famous Targum on these words explains to us that after 120 years our whole life is replayed and everything which one thought he was hiding from Hashem and everyone else becomes known to all.  HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, asks:  Being that this is the case--all of Koheles can be taught in one Pasuk:  ‘We will be brought to judgment for everything, for everything is known’.  It simply does not pay to sin and if one does an aveirah, he should, for his own sake, do Teshuvah immediately.  So, why do we need all of the recitations of ‘Hevel Havalim’ and indeed all of Sefer Koheles--if in one Pasuk we understand it all?!  HaRav Lopian answers that this too is to teach us that we must attempt to minimize each and every Nisayon, for it is much easier to do battle against the Yetzer Hara with this perspective.  How?  As the urge, desire or attraction presents itself, one should bring up the thought that this is Hevel Havalim--a mere lure of what is much vanity and emptiness! 


3.  How does one avoid Kavod when performing a Mitzvah--such a beautiful act of Gemilas Chesed in front of others?  A person should avoid letting the praise sink in, and instead should think about the depth of what he is doing, before Whom he is doing it, and recognizing that it is Hashem Who is allowing him and empowering him to do the Mitzvah.  With this in mind, one should realize that it is Hashem Who is the One Who deserves all of the praise--for giving him the Mitzvah and for allowing him to perform it--thereby fulfilling his Shleimus as a person!




28 Sivan 5772

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In last week’s Parsha, we learn of the Menachos and Nesachim--the meal and wine offerings that must accompany every Korban.  The Seforno (Bamidbar 15:3) explains why the Halachos of the meal and wine offerings are placed in the Parsha--it is because after the Cheit HaEgel, every Korban Tzibbur was required to have these offerings accompany them, and after the Cheit HaMeraglim every Korban Yachid was required to have the meal and wine accompaniments.  What is the connection between the meal and wine offerings and these two great sins--how do the Menachos and Nesachim of a Korban Tzibbur help to effect a Kappara for the Cheit HaEgel and how do the Menachos and Nesachim of a Korban Yachid help to effect a Kappara for the Cheit HaMeraglim?




Special Note One:  We continue our Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 24 and 25:


24.  VeHigadeta Levincha--this is the Mitzvah to relate the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim on the night of the Fifteenth of Nissan--to every child on his own level; if one does not have a child he should nevertheless speak about this story, and the more one does so, the more praiseworthy he is.  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 


25.  BaYom KaRishon Mikrah Kodesh--This is the Mitzvah to rest from Melacha on the first day of Pesach, except that one may perform the Melachos of Ochel Nefesh for himself and other Jews.  If one violates this Mitzvas Asei, he will also violate a Lo Sa’aseh--of not doing Melacha on Yom Tov.  Chazal teach that two Melachos are permissible even if not for ochel nefesh purposes--kindling a fire and carrying.  MiD’Rabanan, outside of the borders of Eretz Yisroel, two days of Yom Tov are kept, except for Rosh Hashanah, which is a two day Yom Tov even within the borders of Eretz Yisroel. This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 



Special Note Two: We continue with our study of the Nineteen Brachos of Shemone Esrei.  This week we focus on the Seventh Bracha of Shemone Esrei--Re’eih Ve’anyeinu.  We begin asking Hashem to See our affliction.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that this is based both on the Pasuk of Eicha (1:9):  Re’eih Hashem Es Anyi--Hashem see my affliction”, and the Pasuk in Tehillim (25:18):  Re’eih Anyi V’Amali--see my affliction and toil”.  HaRav Kanievsky adds that for those who recite Re’eih Nah--the word Nah here means ‘please’ and not ‘now’ as the Pasuk in Shmuel II (7:2) teaches:  Re’eih Nah (please) Anochi Yoshev Biveis Arazim VeAron HaElokim Yoshev Besoch HaYeriah….”  HaRav Chaim adds that we ask Hashem not only to look at Anyeinu but Ve’Anyeinu--into our afflictions--because after all these years of Galus we do not even know how great our affliction is and how much we are missing! 



Special Note Three:  After having experienced the sorrow-filled Cheit HaMeraglim, we conclude our thoughts on strengthening our resolve and observance of Shemiras HaLashon with the following thought of the Chofetz Chaim (paraphrased):  “When I write about the Halachos and the words of Chazal relating to Shemiras HaLashon--I am not writing to the person on the street who does not care to know what the Halachos and details of Shemiras HaLashon are all about.  I am writing to the Ben Torah--to the Torah Jew who has a concern for Shemiras HaMitzvos.  Let me ask you--if one of the great Rabbonim of our generation stood up and advised that he was collecting money for the Third Beis HaMikdash and that all monies given would be inscribed in a donor’s book to be placed in the Beis HaMikdash, and perhaps even on a donor’s wall--wouldn’t we extend and overextend ourselves to give all that we could and more to the Third Beis HaMikdash?  After all, this donation is going to last for ever and ever--it is for eternity!  Well, Chazal teach that through our Shemiras HaLashon we are doing just this--this is the way to build the Third Beis HaMikdash!  With our words, we are acquiring that which silver and gold simply cannot buy--it is the Ruchniyus that emanates from our mouths that will build the everlasting Ruchniyus that we all hope will come speedily.  So, I am writing to you--please--for your sake, for the sake of K’lal Yisroel, and for the sake of the entire world--give the most sizable donation that you can--to the building of the Third Beis HaMikdash!”



Special Note Four:  Special Note Six:  We continue our series on the notes of HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, as published in the Sefer Matnas Chelko by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita:




1.  After a Nazir completes his nezirus and brings his Karbanos, the Pasuk (Bamidbar 6:20 ) teaches that “VeAchar Yishteh HaNazir Yayin--and afterwards the Nazir may drink wine.”  The Ba’alei Mussar ask--what does it mean that afterwards the Nazir will drink wine.  After all he is no longer a Nazir?!  They explain that the Pasuk teaches us a great lesson--once the Nazir has gone through the process of Nezirus he will ‘remain a Nazir’--for he will view all of the illusionary delights and pleasures of this world in their proper light.  Whenever he drinks wine--it will be with the knowledge and awareness of what it is and why he is drinking it.  We, too, with our own thorough reflection can attain a similar awareness!


2.  One should take the lesson from attractive plants and foods which are indeed poisonous.  It is not what we see that should determine the item’s importance to us--but rather what is behind that which we see.  Even the secular governments today recognize this, by requiring ingredient disclosure and nutritional value on food products that one may consume. 


3.  The daughter of Rebbi Chanina Ben Tradyon was praised by the way she walked.  Chazal (Avodah Zara 18A) teach that when she heard the words of praise she was even more careful in the way she walked.  The Mesilas Yesharim explains this to mean that she now walked with even more Tznius than she had walked with before--as her Tznius in the way she walked was what she had initially been praised for.  If so, why was she punished?  HaRav Mattisyahu explains that this was not Tznius at all--as Tznius means to conduct oneself in a manner in which people will not especially sense one’s conduct and will not take another look at what he is doing.  For instance, a Kallah under the Chupah has her face covered and one cannot see it.  But, if she begins swaying her body back and forth as she davens, she becomes very noticeable and this is a lack of Tznius, as people notice her and the ‘elevated manner’ in which she davens….


4.  Without doubt, there is a ‘heter’ for one to do Mitzvos She’lo Lishma--but before undertaking his Mitzvos She’lo Lishma, one should at least have Kavannah that through the Lo Lishma he will get to the level of Lishma!  HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, provided the analogy of a king who told his servant to bring something up to the highest floor in the palace.  As the servant goes from floor-to-floor he is fulfilling the words of the king in his endeavor to get to the top floor--even if he is stopped by others from making it to the top.  However, if he takes the item from floor-to-floor and then brings it down to the bottom floor--then the servant is considered as one who has rebelled against the king--and was never involved in properly serving him. 


5.  The Rabbeinu Yonah (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:17) teaches that if a person is in doubt as to whether something is prohibited and he avoids it, he fulfills the Mitzvas Asei of U’Vacharta BaChayim--and you shall choose life.  One who is consistent in this approach--in recognizing that making the right decision is a matter of choosing life--has achieved a level of Prishus described in the Mesilas Yesharim! 


25 Sivan 5772

Special Note One:  The recently published Sefer Shailos U’Teshuvos Yad Moshe contains the questions asked by Rabbi Yaakov Dardac, Zt’l, to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl.  The questions were presented both in personal meetings, and in letters.  Set forth below is a sampling of the questions and answers presented:


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

A:  It is better to listen to Chazaras HaShatz than to recite the Pesukei DeZimra that was skipped.

Hakhel Note:  It is, of course, always best to simply come on time--or early!


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



Special Note Two:  We conclude our focus on the Sixth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Selach Lanu.  We conclude the Bracha by praising Hashem as the Chanun HaMarbeh L’Selo’ach.  HaRav Chaim Kaniesvky, Shlita, explains that the term Chanun means that Hashem ‘gifts’ forgiveness to us--for free, and is based on the Pasuk in Yoel (2:13): “Ki Chanun V’Rachum Hu V’Nicham Al HaRa’ah”.  The final phrase of HaMarbeh L’Selo’ach--Who pardons abundantly, reminds us that not only does Hashem forgive us once or twice, but time and time again.  He does not lose patience with us, nor does He ever, ever cease heeding our sincere Tefillos.  This last phrase, too, is based on a Pasuk (Yeshaya 95:7) “V’El Elokeinu Ki Yarbeh LiSeloach”.  Time after time after time, Hashem wipes out the hurtful and dangerous sin that had actually once been in existence in this world--oh, how we must at least recognize and appreciate this Great Gift--when reciting these words! 



Special Note Three:  We continue with our Erev Shabbos Halachos of Shabbos Series.  Today, we present several notes relating to Nedarim (promises or vows and nullifying them) on Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 341), as excerpted from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu Edition:


A.  It is permissible to make Nedarim on Shabbos, as is evident from the Mishna in Nedarim (76B). 


B.  However, one may only nullify those Nedarim through Hataras Nedarim which have a Shabbos need, or are otherwise being nullified for the sake of a Mitzvah (ibid., Mishna Berurah, seif katan 1).  In such event, the Meleches Shlomo writes that it is not only permissible to be Matir the Neder for a Shabbos need --it is a Mitzvah to do so for the sake of Kavod Shabbos.  For instance, if one makes a Neder on Shabbos that he ‘will not eat Challah’ or that he ‘will not learn’, he can/should be Matir his Neder because of the Oneg or Kavod Shabbos involved.  One should not otherwise be Matir any other Neder--for it appears that the ‘Bais Din’ that is being Matir the Neder is sitting in judgment on Shabbos, which is not permitted (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 339:4).  Based upon this reasoning, if one was Mekabel Shabbos, and he finds three people who were not yet Mekabel Shabbos, he can ask them to be Matir a Neder even not for a Shabbos need--as the prohibition is on the three people acting as a Bais Din not on the individual person asking for Hatara--and they have not yet been Mekabel Shabbos. 


C.  Generally, one should avoid Nedarim, and if one had made a Neder, he should seek to be Matir it at the earliest possible time (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 203, 1-3 and Taz there).  This being so, why can’t one be Matir any Neder on Shabbos?  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, explains that in this event it is not one’s fault for not being Matir the Neder immediately--as Chazal have forbade it if not for a Shabbos or Mitzvah purpose. 


D.  If one mistakenly performed Hataras Nedarim on a non-Shabbos need or non-Mitzvah need, then B’dieved the Neder has been nullified. 


E.  If a person vows to do something which cannot be done on Shabbos by a particular date, and the last day to do so falls out on Shabbos, and he has not yet annulled his vow, he may be Matir Neder so, so that he is not oveir the Lav of Lo Ya’achel Devaro--as this is the last day he can do the act, and the act is not otherwise permissible on Shabbos. 


F.  A husband can be Meifer, or annul the Neder of his wife that he heard about on Shabbos--even if it is not L’Tzorech Shabbos or L’Tzorech Mitzvah--because the Halacha is that Hafara must take place by Shekiyah after the husband hears of the Neder.  However, on Shabbos he should not recite the words ‘Mufar Lach’, but instead should think in his heart that he has annulled her promise and then indicate to her that it has been annulled by saying:  ‘Take something to eat’ (if she has vowed not to eat), or ‘Go there’ (if she has vowed not to ‘go there’), or ‘Do this’ (if she has vowed not to do something), etc.  The commentaries explain that the reason we modify the language and the husband does not state ‘Mufar Lach’ on Shabbos is L’Kavod Shabbos. 


G.  Finally, because the Halacha is that a husband must annul a vow made by his wife before Shekiyah of the day that he hears of it, it is better not to tell him of a vow that his wife made on Shabbos (that is unrelated to a Shabbos need), so that he will not have to be Meifer Neder on Shabbos.



Special Note Four:  During this pivotal week between the misdeed of Miriam and the cheit of the Meraglim, we continue with our thoughts on strengthening ourselves in Shemiras HaLashon:


A.  Yesterday, we presented the words of the Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar HaKeni’ah, Chapter 7) which teaches that one who speaks Lashon Hara against another, forfeits his Mitzvos to the one who had spoken about, and in their place takes on the aveiros of that very same person.  The Sefer Marpei L’Nefesh on the Chovos HaLevavos records that the Maggid (the Malach who learned with the Bais Yosef), advised the Bais Yosef that one gains the zechuyos of the person who spoke Lashon Hara against him, and added:  “If a person would know this, he would be happy that Lashon Hara was spoken against him--just as he would be happy if someone had given him a present of silver or gold!”  [See also Sefer Shemiras HaLashon of the Chofetz Chaim, Sha’ar HaZechira, Chapter 7.]


B.   From the Sifrei Chofetz Chaim:


1. The Chofetz Chaim relates that he had heard of a group of people who printed the following on little cards and kept the cards with them on their tables:  Mah Yitein Lecha U’Mah Yosif Lecha Lashon Remiyah--what will misuse of the tongue really gain for you?!”  The Chofetz Chaim recommends this Eitzah--and adds that he feels that the better place to keep the Pasuk is in one’s pocket, as one constantly puts his hand into his pocket and will pull it out often.


2.  Millions of people were forced to stay in the desert for 38 years only because of the fact that the Meraglim spoke Lashon Hora against the land of Eretz Yisroel.  Oh--how we must learn the lesson!


3.  Dovid HaMelech asks:  “Who is the one who wants life and loves his days to see good--one who is Netzor Leshonecha Mai’rah--guards his tongue from evil.”  The Pasuk specifically mentions guarding--for that is the key.  If one only tries to protect his speech at the time he is speaking, he may readily fail.  The key is to be on-guard.  We are handsomely paid for being on-guard--just as a security guard is paid for protecting the bank or the house--in order to make sure that it does not get robbed!


5.  The Segulah which is ‘Tova Mekol HaSegulos’--the best of all Segulos for Hatzlacha--is Shemiras HaLashon! 


6.  When one quashes his speech from speaking negatively about others, then:  BeVadai Zoche BaZeh Lechol Dorosav Habaim Acharav--he will certainly bring merit to all generations that come after him.


7.  A person can also merit the whole world remaining in existence because he had remained silent during the time of dispute--as the Pasuk teaches:  Toleh Eretz Al Belimah”--Chazal interpret to mean that the world exists (Toleh Eretz) in the merit of those who do not speak when they otherwise could justifiably have done so (Al Belimah--because they swallow their words).  Moreover, writes the Chofetz Chaim, by one remaining silent, he silences those who want to prosecute against K’lal Yisroel in the Heaven’s above.



Special Note Five:  Some notes on the Parsha:

a.  The Torah teaches us that the Meraglim took from the fruit of Eretz Yisroel and brought it with them to show the B’nei Yisroel.  This appears problematic--did not Avrohom Avinu separate from his student and close family member,
Lot , because Lot ’s shepherds were grazing on land that would belong to Avrohom--but did not belong to him yet?  How could the Meraglim have the license to do so?  One cannot simply answer that what they did was wrong--for Moshe Rabbeinu himself had advised them--”U’Lekachtem MiPri Ha’Aretz (Bamidbar 13:20 )--and you shall take from the fruit of the land.”  How was this possible--it was not ours yet?  Your insights are always welcome!

b.  Chazal teach that the basis for a Minyan consisting of ten adult Jewish males for a Davar SheBekedusha is from this week’s Parsha.  The Meraglim who came back with negative findings were ten adult Jewish males whom the Torah refers to as an Aidah, a congregation.  Through a Gezerias Shaveh, Chazal learn that any time Hashem’s Name is--to the contrary--to be sanctified Besoch Bnei Yisroel then the same number and kind of people are required.  There are great lessons that may be learned from this teaching.  To name just a few:  Firstly, one should learn the lessons from his negative experiences and apply them in a positive way going forward.  Secondly, it is really just as easy to do a good a thing as a bad thing.  It is the Yetzer Hara that convinces you otherwise.  Thirdly, we can learn something from everyone--even those who may be erstwhile reshaim.  Almost everyone has some redeeming qualities--”Aizo Hu Chochom HaLomeid Mikol Adam.”


c.  Chazal teach that while the Meraglim were gathering their information, Kalev went to be ‘Mishtateiach’--spread himself out on the Kevarim of our Avos.  HaRav Chaim Boruch Faskowitz, Z’tl, teaches that Kaleiv spread himself out on the land so that he could get a greater appreciation of it--so that he could develop a Chiba --an endearment--of it in a way which was more than that of a spy or just a visitor.  He thus demonstrated to us for all time that we should develop a special love for Eretz Yisroel--seeing only its goodness, as the Pasuk teaches “ U’Re’ah BeTuv Yerushalayim--and you should see the good of Yerushalayim.”  Especially in our time when Eretz Yisroel and its residents are maligned and scorned, we must strengthen ourselves in always feeling its goodness, and projecting this steadfast and unwavering feeling to others.

d.  The Parsha concludes with the Mitzvah of Tzitzis.  We provide below several reminder notes with respect to this wondrous Mitzvah (based upon Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 24):

1.  Before putting on one’s Talis or Tzitzis, he should have in mind (better yet, express) that he is doing so in order to remember all of the Mitzvos of the Torah and perform them--as the Pasuk itself says “Leman Tizkeru Va’Asisem Es Kol Mitzvosai--one should wear them in order to remember the Mitzvos and perform them.”  When making the Bracha over the Tzitzis, one should be looking at the Tzitzis.

2.  When reciting the Shema one should hold the two front Tzitzis  in his left hand between his pinky and his ‘ring-finger’ opposite his heart.  This is true for a lefty as well.  Some take all four Tzitzis in between their fingers (Al Pi Kabbalah).  According to the Mishna Berura (ibid, seif katan 5), holding them opposite the heart is a unique Segulah to be saved from the Yetzer Hara.

3.  When beginning the Parsha of Tzitzis , one takes the Tzitzis  into his right hand as well.  Upon reciting the phrase “Ureisem Oso--you shall see them” there are those who pass them in front of their eyes and then kiss them.  This is a Chibuv Mitzvah.  It is brought in the name of Kadmonim that one who performs this Chibuv Mitzvah will not become blind.  According to other authorities, it is actually a Mitzvas Aseh, upon reciting the words Ureisem Oso, to look at the Tzitzis with the intent of remembering the Mitzvos and performing them, for you are directly fulfilling the very words you are reciting.  The two Tzitzis that one looks at have sixteen strings and ten knots--which equals the Gematria of the name of Hashem of Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay.

4.  Some have the custom to kiss the Tzitzis every time the word Tzitzis is recited. The Tzitzis should be kissed and placed down upon saying the word Lo’ad (before Uleolmei Olamim) after Kriyas Shema.

5.  One makes the Bracha of Shehechiyanu over a new Talis Gadol, if it is a new important garment to him.  It is forbidden to sew or weave Pesukim onto one’s Tallis.

6.  The Piskei Teshuvos cites the opinion of many Rishonim who rule that one fulfills a Mitzvas Asei *every time during the day* that he looks at his Tzitzis, having in mind that he is looking at them in order to remember the Mitzvos and perform them.  The Shulchan Aruch concludes Hilchos Tzitzis  with the words of Chazal: One who is careful with the Mitzvah of Tzitzis  will be Zoche to see the ‘face’ of the Shechina!  Let us learn more and more about this Mitzvah and its proper performance and hiddurim--and may we all bask in the Shechina’s Light!



Special Note Six:  We continue our series on the notes of HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, as published in the Sefer Matnas Chelko by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita:




1.  In this week’s Parsha, the Pasuk teaches, VeLo Sasuru Acharei Levavechem V’Acharei Eineichem--we should not be swayed by our desires, or by what we see.  This means that our mindset should be that ‘just because foods or fruits look beautiful and tasty, does not mean that they are not poisonous or dangerous to one’s physical or spiritual health’.  We are blessed with a mind behind our eyes which should make the final determination as to the benefits of what one sees and what one feels. 


2.  One of the great deceits of the Yetzer Hara is to make a person believe that he should earn money in order to attain hana’os in this world. 


3.  If one desires to experience a fleeting pleasure--he should recognize that in the end, even if it does not hurt him physically--it may hurt him spiritually. 


4.  The Shelah HaKadosh brings in the name of the Sefer Chareidim that a person should spend one day a week in hisbodidus and speak to Hashem as a son to his father.  Even if we are unable to do this, we should attempt to do so even an hour a week, for without hisbodidus one cannot attain Ma’alos in Avodas Hashem. 


5.  The Ikar Taharah or purity of a person is not his Taharas HaGuf, but rather the Taharah of his Machshavos.  The more we focus on mind over matter, the more we will be able to attain our life’s purpose--which is not to attain the glimpses of our eyes and the desires of our heart--but to purify our thoughts and give Nachas Ruach to Hashem--as often as we can!




24 Sivan 5772

FACE THE FACTS!  The Chofetz Chaim (Sefer Ahavas Chesed, Chapter 12) brings from the Zohar HaKadosh that the days of a person’s life in this world do not disappear into the next day--but remain alive forever--meaning that each and every day that a person lives in Olam Hazeh creates a Briah Ruchnis--and in the future each day will live on as to the accomplishments attained that day.  Accordingly, the Chofetz Chaim implores everyone to make sure that he infuses every day with Torah and Mitzvos.  Unlike money, the Chofetz Chaim writes, where today’s loss can be made up tomorrow--the Briah Ruchnis of each day has its own independent and eternal worth and existence--it is not only invaluable, it is irreplaceable!




Special Note One:  We continue our Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 22 and 23:


22.  LeHashbis Chometz--this the Mitzvah to eliminate Chometz from one’s possession on the 14th of Nissan.  Any unknown Chometz should be nullified in one’s heart.  MiDivrei Sofrim, we search for Chometz on the night of the 14th, which is when people are home, and the search will go well with the light of the candle.  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike.


23.  Achilas Matzah B’Leil Pesach--this is the Mitzvah to eat Matzah, as the Pasuk specifically requires--B’Erev Tochlu Matzos.  Matzah may be made only from barley, rye, oats, wheat or spelt.  A child old enough to eat a Kezayis should be given a Kezayis on the Leil HaSeder.  It is forbidden, MiDivrei Sofrim to eat Matzah on Erev Pesach, so that the Matzah on the Leil HaSeder is eaten with an appetite.  The Chofetz Chaim adds here that Maror and Charoses are also Mitzvos MiDivrei Sofrim on the Leil HaSeder, and that the bracha on Maror is Al Achilas Maror, while there is no bracha on Charoses.  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our focus on the Sixth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Selach Lanu.  There are four brachos which ‘explain’ why we plead to Hashem for assistance:  Ki Mochel V’Sole’ach Atta, Ki Go’el Chazak Atta, Ki Kel Melech Rofei Ne’eman V’Rachaman Atta and Ki L’Yeshuasecha Kivinu Kol HaYom--then in the broad-based Bracha of Shema Koleinu, we find a double emphasis on the explanation of why we come before Hashem--Ki Kel Shom’ea Tefillos VeSachanunim Atta and Ki Atta Shome’a Tefillas Amecha Yisroel B’Rachamim.  Hashem, of course, needs no explanation as to why we come before Him!  We should take each of these points in Davening as directed to us--to awaken us as to why we are standing before Hashem and making this specific request--and be inspired to sincerely plead our request before Him!  In the context of our Bracha here--we humbly admit that we have sullied ourselves with sin--and now approach Hashem to actually clean up the mess that we have made--and He does so!



Special Note Three:  During this pivotal week between the misdeed of Miriam and the cheit of the Meraglim, we continue with our thoughts on strengthening ourselves in Shemiras HaLashon.  The Chofetz Chaim calls the power of speech:  Chaviv MiKol Chaviv’--the most precious of the precious, because with the power of speech Hashem’s creation of man was completed.  Accordingly, just as someone with silver, gold and precious jewels provides the greatest security possible for them--so too, must one provide the highest level of security for his speech.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that the Meraglim were held accountable even for speaking ‘Al Eitzim V’al Avanim’--even against the sticks and stones of Eretz Yisroel--so all the more so must we display the greatest of care when speaking about others.  There is a fascinating teaching brought in the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar HaKeni’ah, Chapter 7), which teaches that one who speaks Lashon Hora forfeits his Mitzvos to the person he spoke against and assumes the aveiros of that very same person.  What happens, in the event that the offended is mochel the perpetrator for having spoken against him, or if the perpetrator actually does Teshuvah for having spoken Lashon Hora?  HaRav Kanievsky teaches that in the event Mechila is given to the transgressor, the situation will likely revert to what it was originally--with the Mitzvos returning to the speaker, and the aveiros returning to the offended party.  However, in the event the transgressor actually does Teshuvah--his Mitzvos will return to him--and once the aveiros have left the person who was spoken against, they will mistama not return!  Hakhel Note:  Do Teshuva--it benefits everyone!



Special Note Four:  We continue today our series on the notes of HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, as published in the Sefer Matnas Chelko by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita:




1.  The Middah of ga’avah is that a person views himself as one deserving of honor and praise--because of the importance he has personally achieved.  The opposite of ga’avah is anavah.  People sometimes misinterpret anavah. Anavah means that a person does recognize himself and his strengths--but knows that all of his importance is attributable not to himself--but to Hashem.  The Chazon Ish would say:  “I know that I am the Chazon Ish--but I am not deserving of anything for this, Ki LeKach Notzarti--because this is why I was created!”


2.  A number of people can be standing on line in order to pay the proprietor.  The first person gives him $10, the second gives him a $100, and the third $20,000.  To the bystander, it may appear that the last person is the richest--but in truth the last person may have only paid a small part of a much larger amount that he owed.  Hashem gives each one of us his own strengths--spiritually and physically, and no one can or should compare himself to another.  Instead, the Talmud Chochom must realize that it is Hashem Who is the Chonen L’Adom Da’as; the healthy person must realize that it is Hashem Who is the Rofeh Ne’eman; and the wealthy person must realize that it is Hashem Who is Me’varech HaShanim.  It is truly Hashem Who is the Provider of our accomplishments! 


3.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches (Mishlei 16:5) “Toavas Hashem Kol Gevah Lev--one who is haughty in his heart is an abomination to Hashem.”  The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 188) explains that when someone is an abomination to Hashem, it means that Hashem removes His Hashgacha from him.  What does Hashgacha mean?  A Mashgiach in Yeshiva closely supervises his students; a Mashgiach in a store closely supervises the food products.  So, when Hashem views the haughty person as an abomination and removes His Hashgacha from him--it means that He distances Himself from the person.  Hakhel Note:  It would indeed seem that this is a Middah K’Neged Middah--for the person pushed away Hashem--as he credited himself for all of his talents and accomplishments!


4.  A man is walking on the street on Shabbos and sees a bag full of cash.  Understanding that it probably fell from a thief who was on the run, the person begins thinking of all kinds of ways and means of how and why it would be permissible for him to take the money on Shabbos (he will carry the bag backwards, it is only a karmelis, there is great loss involved, etc.).  As he is concluding his thoughts, a passerby taps him on the shoulder and says:  “Don’t even bother looking at that bag--it is full of counterfeit money!”  All of a sudden, all of the clever excuses fall by the wayside.  When we begin feeling ga’avah, we should recognize that it is all counterfeit--not real at all and forget all of the misplaced designs, chicanery and illusions.  One must recognize that whenever he gives misplaced Kavod to himself--he is detracting from Kavod Shomayim.  It simply does not make sense!


5.  If a Mitzvah is easily performed because the person has trained himself well in his Avodas Hashem--this does not mean that the person will not be rewarded as if it was truly difficult and painstaking to accomplish the task.  Rather, Lefum Tza’ara Agra means that even when one does a Mitzvah out of Ahava or out of Simcha--with pleasure and joy, he will get the same reward as if he struggled with it.  Therefore, a person should not feel content when he struggles in the performance of Mitzvos because of the ‘greater reward’ he will receive from this difficulty.  It is simply not so--for a Mitzvah performed with Ahava and Simcha will merit the very same reward--and one will enjoy the Simcha Shel Mitzvah--which he will carry with him for ever and ever! 



23 Sivan 5772

Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Sixth Bracha of Selach Lanu.  The next phrase in the Bracha is:  Ki Mochel V’Sole’ach Atta”.  The Eitz Yosef points out that in the order here we now mention Mochel before Sole’ach, even though previously in the Bracha we asked for Selicha and then Mechila.  The Eitz Yosef explains this reversal of order here as follows:   We want Hashem to downgrade our intentional sins to unintentional sins because of the Teshuvah MeYirah that we do.  When Hashem does this, He is Mochel--reducing the seriousness of the sin and rendering it a shogeig, an unintentional sin.  Once we are left with the unintentional sin, then through our Teshuva we look to Hashem to be a Sole’ach--removing the sin completely.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, echoes this thought by explaining that we are now describing how Hashem is not only a Mochel--but even a Sole’ach--completely eradicating the sin and its effects.  HaRav Friedlander adds that the words Mochel and Sole’ach are in the hoveh--present tense, in order for us to emphasize that Hashem always conducts Himself with such Chesed--pardoning us and forgiving us--not only annually, not only monthly, not only daily--but at each and every one of our Tefillos! 



Special Note Two:  Next week, we will celebrate Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, inaugurating the last three months, or final calendar quarter, of the year.  In a financial framework, the last quarter of the year is a time when people begin a review of the year, think about tax planning techniques, and consider what they can do to improve the year’s final quarter, so that it ends more successfully, and they can start the next year off on the right footing and in a positive mode and direction.  All the more so, of course, should we prepare ourselves for the last quarter of the pivotal year we are living in.  We have a week to ponder and reflect--what have we accomplished thus far; where our goals are; what can/should we attain in the coming months.  It is no coincidence (as it never is) that as the world slackens off in the summer, we energize ourselves and achieve--for our calendar--and our agenda, is simply very different!



Special Note Three:  Today, the 23rd day of Sivan, is one of those special days especially mentioned in Tanach.  Many of you may remember where.  In Megillas Esther (8:9), the Pasuk records that on the 23rd day of the 3rd month--”Hu Chodesh Sivan” (which is the month of Sivan)--the king’s scribes wrote all that Mordechai had dictated to them.  While we may not have the exact text of what was written other than that the Jews could destroy their enemies, we do know that Achashveirosh had permitted them to write in the letters--”Katov Bi’Eynechem--whatever is favorable in your eyes, in the name of the King...”

The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes the following about this very special day:

One should try to recite the relevant Pesukim in Esther (Esther 8:3-17).

In the name of the Makover Rebbe, Zt’l, the day is Mesugal for nisim v’niflaos, as implied by the Pasuk referred to above--”Now, write [on this day] about the Jews what is favorable in your eyes in the name of the king”--which also refers to the King of the World.  Thus, just as Mordechai subsequently left the King with many royal garments (ibid.,
8:15 )…so can we!

In 1940, the Russian Government told thousands of Jewish refugees in Eastern Galicia that they could register as Russian citizens.  Rebbe Itzikel of Antwerp, Z’tl, advised them not to register.  On the night of the 23rd of Sivan, the Russians exiled to Siberia all those who had not registered as Russian citizens.  The exiled thought this to be a horrible decree, but the Rebbe told them that the 23rd of Sivan is “Muchan L’Tova--prepared for the good,” and that no bad would come out of their exile.  A year later, in Sivan 1941, the Nazi’s YM’S, invaded Eastern Galicia and killed the Jews who remained--the exiles to Siberia remained alive.

Let us harness the powers inherent in this day, through our own personal Torah, Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka so that the King writes beautiful letters on our personal behalf, and on behalf of all of K’lal Yisroel!


Special Note Four:  During this pivotal week between the misdeed of Miriam and the cheit of the Meraglim, we continue with our thoughts on strengthening ourselves in Shemiras HaLashon.  The Chofetz Chaim (Sefer Shemiras HaLashon II, end of Chapter 6) writes that when a person watches his words, he profits continuously--for each time that he wants to speak, he considers for a moment whether what he is about to say is or includes Lashon Hora, Ona’as Devarim, Leitzanus and the like, and he quashes his desire to so speak.  When this happens, in Shomayim it is considered as if he fulfilled a Mitzvah with his actions, as Chazal (Makkos 23B) specifically teach:  Yashav Adam V’Lo Avar Aveirah Ke’sheh Bah L’Yado, Nosnin Lo Sachar Ke’Oseh Mitzvah--when one has the opportunity to do an aveirah and does not do so, Hashem credits him with having fulfilled a Mitzvah by his inaction!  The Chofetz Chaim concludes:  over the year, by inaction, one will amass several thousand more Mitzvos to his credit! 



Special Note Five:  We continue today our series on the notes of HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, as published in the Sefer Matnas Chelko by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita:




1.  Chazal (Eruvin 65A) urge us to consider ourselves as ‘Agirei D’Yoma’--workers who are here to perform important tasks that the Ba’al HaBayis needs urgently.  The similar analogy, explains HaRav Matisyahu, is to that of a trustworthy soldier who listens to the instructions of his superior down to the finest detail--for the soldier recognizes that there is a greater, well-thought through plan for victory, and that every person has an exact role in that plan which he must properly perform as especially directed and requested. 


2.  One should recognize that it is one’s personal desires that lead him to find heterim, or leniencies, which he can rely upon and by which he can conduct himself.  In contrast, Chazal referred to the righteous people of Yerushalayim as the Neki’ei HaDa’as SheB’Yerushalayim, because it was truly their Da’as--their control over their desires--that made them righteous. 


3.  With this in mind, we should understand that when a person wants to steal or violate one of the Halachos involving arayos, it is almost never because he maliciously and wantonly wants to violate a Torah precept, but rather it is his desire in charge--as one convinces himself that ‘this is not really stealing’, or that ‘this is not arayos’--using this excuse or that excuse, this heter or that heter.  Temptation overcomes sound thinking, and covers up the issur with justifications, rationales and reasoning which are deceptive ‘heterim’--of the Yetzer Hara!  Hakhel Note:  Can you recall a ‘heter’ that you used today--was it sound, and if so--why?


4.  Reuven enters his home after a long trip in great heat, and to say that his throat is parched is an extreme understatement.  He sees a large bottle of water and glass on the table--seemingly all ready for him!  As he takes running strides towards the table--his friend Shimon advises him that the glass and water bottle have been on the table for quite some time, and that a while back he saw Nimrod near the water with a small vile of poison in his hand.  Shimon then relates that he was distracted for an important reason--and was unsure what Nimrod ended up doing with the vile of poison before he left the scene.  Let us think for a moment--would a sane Reuven, no matter how thirsty he may be, drink the possibly poisoned water--even if it was ‘batel b’shishim’?  This is how we must view a situation that presents itself before us of potentially forbidden foods.  HaRav Matisyahu teaches in the name of ‘one of the Gedolim’ that one who is not careful for his family with potentially forbidden foods subjects his children to a greater potential to r’l go off the derech.  HaRav Matisyahu also brings the Chasam Sofer (Parshas Kedoshim) who teaches that most apikorsus comes from eating forbidden foods.  It is for this reason that the non-Jewish world cannot properly serve Hashem and perform Mitzvos--even though the ‘forbidden foods’ are not assur to them--it is simply a metzi’us--a reality that forbidden foods do not allow for Avodas Hashem! 


5.  Many people view the issur of Ona’as Devarim as applying directly to colleagues at work, acquaintances, and others--but not to close friends, and one’s wife and children.  This is not true at all, and the issur of Ona’as Devarim applies even to the most immediate of family members and to the closest of friends.  Chazal (Bava Metziah 59A) teach that all the gates are closed, except the gates for those who cry out because they have been hurt by words.  This means that Hashem hears the cries of one who has been pained by words, and Hashem will personally punish the afflicter of the painful words.  Do not allow yourself to fall into the terrible pit of Ona’as Devarim--even to family, and even to friends!  Hakhel Note:  This is one area in which a person can take the special trouble to check himself at the end of the day in order to ensure that he has not fallen prey to this dangerous deed, and if he has--to attempt to clear himself of it as quickly as possible!


6.  We should recognize that nobody has the Yetzer Hara to cause or commit a Chilul Hashem.  It is only by Hesech HaDa’as--not carefully paying attention to one’s words and actions that Chilul Hashem is brought about.  One is responsible to provide the proper attention that is needed to bring Kavod (and not c’v disgrace) to Hashem--just as when one drives a car, he must pay true attention to the road, and make sure that he does not veer, or become drowsy at the wheel.  In a word, each one of us is personally responsible for Kavod Shomayim.  Chazal (Yoma 86A) bring famous examples from the Amoraim as to what examples of Chilul Hashem would be for them [Rav not paying for his food immediately, Rebbi Yochanan walking four amos without learning and wearing his Tefillin…].  What we must learn from these Amoraim is how Chilul Hashem could come from situations that we find ourselves in and not only avoid them--but turn them into Kiddush Hashem!


7.  The S’mag (Mitzvas Asei 74) brings the Pasuk (Tzefanya 3:13 ) of “She’eiris Yisroel…the remnants of K’lal Yisroel [at the time of Moshiach] will be those who did not act perversely or speak deceitfully.”  Why will these people specifically survive?  The answer is that a Kiddush Sheim Shomayim must take place through the final Geulah and the Bi’as HaMoshiach--in which the entire world recognizes Hashem, and that His people are a Mamleches Kohanim and a Goy Kadosh.  How can the entire world realize this--after all they do not know whether the Jew put on Tefillin in the morning, or properly observed any of the other Mitzvos.  The other nations will only recognize us as a Mamleches Kohanim by our interactions with them--our honesty and integrity and our truthful speech.  So, when the Geulah comes, only those who were reputable and truthful, those who ‘left money on the table’, those who display their truthfulness and uprightness--will be there to greet the Moshiach!



22 Sivan 5772

Special Note One:  We received the following comments from readers: 


1. In the post-Asifa era, I recall that when I had the great zechus to take Harav Hagoan Rav Ruderman, Z’tl, for walks he always took off his glasses--mind you he was 80 years old and we were walking on the Yeshiva campus.  I asked my cousin why and he said that was the Rosh Yeshiva’s level of Shemiras Einayim.  I also had the zechus to speak with the Skulener Rebbe, Shlita, who told me some wonderful advice on this topic.  He said one should picture oneself standing at the edge of a cliff.  If there is a fence, even if you fall--you fall against the fence.  The same holds true with the Shemirah of Kedushah--by setting fences the fall will be protected.


2.  I read recently a story of Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, talking to a talmid about trying to keep his eyes from looking at nivul.   The talmid answered:  “I know how to look after myself.”.  Rabbi Lopian answered to him:  “I am over 80 and blind in one eye and I am scared when I walk in the street!”


3.  I can tell you from personal experience that the first Asher Yatzar I said after being on dialysis for close to three years was said with a Kavannah that was unimaginable.  I try to recapture that as much as possible even now, close to two decades later.  Aside from concentrating on Peirush Hamilos (Hamilim-it is one of those words that swings both ways like Tehillim and Tehilos).  I find that standing still and not moving when reciting this special bracha makes that possible.  I see people walking and moving about while saying Asher Yatzar and have to smile (I don't want to cry or even yell at them), because it is obvious that they have no concept of the bracha and are just reciting it by rote.


4.  I was especially moved by the words of HaRav Schorr at the Flatbush Asifa, who said that one of the main things to avoid with our access to the Internet is wasting time.  HaRav Schorr said that he had heard of an important person who once had six hours by himself on a plane without any distractions.  What happened on that plane ride?  The person said that if you have that kind of time with yourself, you are going to think--and when you have time to think--you do Teshuvah!



Special Note Two:  Last week, we mentioned the importance of Tehillim Chapter 23--Mizmor L’Dovid Hashem Ro’ee Lo Echsar--as a source of both Torah and Tefillah at our meals.  We noted that it would seem appropriate to especially study the meaning of this Chapter because of its recitation so many times during a week, and during the year. Rabbi Baruch Hilsenrath principal of the Magen David Yeshiva in Brooklyn, has developed an important concept based on a phrase in this Kepitel:  Al Mei Menuchos Yenahaleini--Hashem will lead me on the calm waters.”  Metzudas Dovid (ibid.) explains the importance of ‘calm waters’:  Mayim HaNachim Heimah Tzelulim, Mah She’ain Kain HaRodfim Ki Yegreshu Meimav Refesh Vatit--still waters are clear, while running waters draw up dirt and mud”.  It is, therefore, extremely important that we recognize that Hashem leads us on calm waters--for He wants us to be clear and not harried or hassled which has the affect of only muddying the waters.  To bring the point home, Rabbi Hilsenrath has coined the term ‘Pausitive’--meaning that one should take a step back in a calm and collected manner, rather than reacting hastily and in a literally ‘quick and dirty’ fashion.  If you can’t remember the word when you need to, think of the word ‘positive’--and remember there is no such thing as coincidence!   Remember, Hashem is leading us on these calm waters, we must take the lesson and follow His lead!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our focus on the Sixth Bracha of Selach Lanu.  The Sefer Olas Tomid writes that one should actually express his Viduy in this Bracha--and by doing so he fulfills a Mitzvas Asei of the Torah.  When expressing one’s Viduy, one should have in mind two distinct thoughts:  (i) that one regrets what he has done in the past, and (ii) one accepts upon himself to be careful going forward regarding this sin.  The Olas Tomid provides specific examples to jar one’s thinking:  one should express his Viduy on any Bitul Torah, Lashon Hora, jealousy and the like that he has sinned with that day.  Moreover, because the word chait really means chisaron, or lacking--one should express in his Viduy any Mitzvah or good practice that he has skipped over and not done, and take upon himself to be more careful with it in the future.  We now continue with the next phrase of the Bracha:  Mechal Lanu Malkeinu Ki Fashanu--Forgive us King because we have rebelled against You.”  The Avudraham points out that a sin which a father may consider to be unintentional may leave a king with no choice but to deem it intentional--because after all, any infraction is pogem the Kavod HaMelech.  Accordingly, we ask Hashem, as the King of the universe, to forgive us for these serious offenses.  The term Mechila itself, writes HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (in the name of the Sefer Nachal Eshkol) is based in the word chalal--meaning that we ask Hashem to weaken, reduce and downgrade the extent of what we have done.  In a related explanation, HaRav Friedlander brings the Radvaz to the effect that Mechila means a cleaning-out--we ask Hashem to clean out the aveirah, just as a pipe filled with garbage and gook is emptied out as much as possible.  If we picture our aveiros for what they really are--garbage and gook--we could perhaps save ourselves many times from having to ask for the Selicha and Mechila we so importantly request in this Bracha.



Special Note Four:  We continue with our thoughts this week on strengthening ourselves in Shemiras HaLashon--as we seek to demonstrably indicate to Hashem that we have learned the lesson of the bridge from Miriam to the Meraglim--and will instead build a different bridge connecting ourselves together as one.  At the end of last week’s Parsha, Hashem reprimands Aharon and Miriam for speaking against Moshe Rabbeinu with the words (Bamidbar 12:7):  Lo Chein Avdi Moshe BeChol Beisi Ne’eman Hu--How could you have spoken against Moshe Rabbeinu--after all, in My entire house he is the trusted one?”  The question on this Pasuk is blatant.  Why did Hashem have to give Aharon and Miriam a reason for not speaking Lashon Hara--after all, we cannot speak Lashon Hora--even if the person we are speaking about falls very far short of Moshe Rabbeinu?!  Would it not have been sufficient (and at first blush more appropriate) for Hashem to say:  “Why did you speak against Moshe Rabbeinu--when you know you are not permitted to do so against anyone?”  Indeed, the prohibition of Lashon Hora applies to speaking about a child in grade school as well!  We may suggest that the Torah is teaching us to remind ourselves before we speak how important each and every one of our friends is to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  You may be upset, angry, insulted, you may feel you have to teach him a lesson, or you may feel that because you are tired you are entitled to have a little less control--but ultimately, remember that the person you are about to speak about is someone loved by Hashem.  As the Pasuk (ibid. 12:9) continues:  U’Madua Lo Yireisem L’Daber B’Avdi V’Moshe--How could you not have feared to speak about My servant, Moshe?”  We are all Hashem’s beloved creations--Hashem is a loving Father of us all--so how could we think or express anything against His children?!  Let us think of Hashem’s powerful words--Hashem’s explanation as to why Lashon Hora should absolutely and positively be far removed from our thoughts--let alone our tongues, lips and mouths! 



Special Note Five:  We BE’H begin today a series on the notes of HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, to the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, as published in the Sefer Matnas Chelko by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita:


1.  Zerizus means that when the moment comes to do a Mitzvah, or when an opportunity for Chesed or the like arises, or when the thought to perform a good deed enters one mind--one does not leave it, but rather one begins to undertake the Mitzvah or the Chesed.  One should recognize that the thought itself comes from Hashem--and it is as if Hashem is telling him:  “This Mitzvah is for you.”  A person should view a Machshava Tova as a Hisorirus from Hashem--in which Hashem advises him that he now will have Siyata D’Shmaya to do this Mitzvah!


2.  If a person would conduct a Cheshbon HaNefesh, he would note that most times that he does not do a Mitzvah or good deed, is because of atzlus, or laziness.  A person will extend efforts to do an aveirah out of desire, but will hesitate to do a Mitzvah out of lethargy or languor.  HaRav Salomon teaches that atzlus is a most severe Middah--for it brings about the Churban HaAdam and the Churban HaOlam, whereas Zerizus is so great--for it produces Shleimus HaAdom and Shleimus HaOlam.  Indeed, it is for this very reason that one can run to do a Mitzvah on Shabbos, even though Shabbos is a day of Menucha--for by running, he is accomplishing Shleimus within himself--which is the greatest Menucha possible! (Maharal, Nesiv HaTorah, end of Chapter 17) 


3.  Each one of our actions really do count.  Hashem has established exactly, for example, how many Tefillos would be necessary to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash.  The Tzaddikim of prior generations have laid down the large stones of the walls with their Tefillos.  We, in turn, are putting down the small stones with our Tefillos--the Kosel HaMa’aravi as seen today depicts exactly this picture!  The more we daven for the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, the faster we will be able to witness its full glory!



21 Sivan 5772

QUESTION OF THE DAY :  If one experienced a stomach ache or other difficult form of pain related to digestion--and the pain is relieved or healed--should he not then recite the bracha of Asher Yatzar with more Kavannah--especially the words ‘U’vara Vo Nikavim Nikavim, Chalulim Chalulim, Galui V’Yaduah Lifnei Chisei Chevodecha She’im Yipase’ach Echad MeiHem O Yisasem Echad Meihem!’   Perhaps one should have his commitment for Kavannah in mind when experiencing this pain and execute on the commitment when his pain is relieved.  Remember, even the most minute amount of pain is by Hashgacha Pratis--and hopefully your commitment for more Kavannah will help indicate that you received a message!  




Special Note One:  We continue our Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 20 and 21:


20.  Lishbos B’Shabbos--this is a separate Mitzvah (aside from Zachor Es Yom HaShabbos L’Kadesho) to rest from Melacha, and the Mitzvah includes our animals resting as well.  MiDivrei Sofrim, it is not permissible to ask a non-Jew to do Melacha, and this is called a Shevus.  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 


21.  Lismoach B’Regalim--this is the Mitzvah to rejoice on festivals, as the Pasuk states:  VeSamachta BeChagecha”.  When the Bais HaMikdash stands, this Mitzvah includes bringing special Karbonos known as Shalmei Simcha, and women are obligated in this Mitzvah as well.  At the current moment, without a Bais HaMikdash, the Mitzvah of Simcha is fulfilled by men through eating meat and drinking wine, and a husband is obligated to make his wife happy by buying her nice clothing, and a father his children happy by buying them treats.  This Mitzvah also obligates one to cause poor people to rejoice, for if one gladdens himself without gladdening the poor, it is only a ‘rejoicing of the stomach’, and a disgrace.  Although eating and drinking on the Mo’adim is part of the Mitzvas Asei, one should not draw himself into drinking too much wine, and into engaging in lightheadedness and jest.  The Mitzvah of Simcha is a Mitzvah in which there is Avodas Hashem--and not one of frivolity.  The feeling of Simcha that one experiences should be one of Simcha Shel Mitzvah--and this is an Avodah Gedolah to Hashem!  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 



Special Note Two:  We continue with our study of the Nineteen Brachos of Shemone Esrei.  This week we focus on the Sixth Bracha of Selach Lanu.  The Machzor Kol Bo teaches that this bracha begins with a Samech and ends with a Ches which in Gematria totals 68--the Gematria of Chaim, and this is to teach that one can be forgiven for his sins in the zechus of his Torah--which is called Chaim (“Toras Chaim”).  How exact are the Brachos of Shemone Esrei--even the first and last letter of our Bracha is especially determined to convey a message!  We note that, just as in the prior Bracha of Hashiveinu in which the terms Avinu and Malkeinu were used in the first two phrases of the Bracha, so too, do we follow the same order again in the first two phrases of this Bracha--”Selach Lanu Avinu Ki Chatanu, Mechal Lanu Malkeinu Ki Fashanu.  We begin with asking for Selicha.  What is Selicha?  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, brings two approaches: (i)  the Ramban (in this week’s Parsha!, Bamidbar 14:17) writes that Selicha refers to Hashem dropping the punishment that was otherwise deserved;  (ii) the Malbim (ibid.), however, writes that Selicha means the actual erasure of the sin (mechikas hacheit) from Hashem’s records--and this is even  greater than Mechilah.  One final thought for today:  We ask Hashem, as ‘Avinu’, to forgive us for our chataim--which are usually taken to mean unintentional sins.  By this, we ask Hashem to look upon our sins--no matter how they may have originated--as unintentional--just as a father looks with a loving eye upon his children.



Special Note Three:  In last week’s Parsha (Bamidbar 9:23 ), we learned that “Al Pi Hashem Yachanu, V’Al Pi Hashem Yi’sa’u--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 could quench that so-called ‘uncontrollable’ desire to do, or take, or go…  The renowned Mashal of HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Shlita, is as follows:  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, one would say that the child is in its mother’s lap.  We are always in Hashem’s Embrace--whether we are in a restaurant, ice cream store, dress store, home...  If we can remember and appreciate this--would we go after that second dress, second helping--and yes even second scoop?!



Special Note Four:  We are now in the week which bridges the end of Parshas Beha’aloscha--the sin of Lashon Hora against Moshe Rabbeinu, with Parshas Shelach--which contains the words of the ten Meraglim--one of the most diabolical acts of Lashon Hora that the world has ever known or ever will know.  This week accordingly, must be a week in which we take special strides to demonstrate that we recognize the importance of our words, our speech, our writings, and our gestures--so that we bond and unite rather than disassociate ourselves from one another.  The Chofetz Chaim brings from the Zohar that our Tefillos in Shul cannot rise up to Shomayim if they are uttered by mouths which speak Lashon Hora.  The story is told of a Rav who wanted to enter a Shul where there was barely a Minyan.  However, he advised the Mispallelim that he was unable to enter because the Shul was too crowded.  One of the Mispallelim pointed out that there were many empty seats and that he could certainly enter.  The Rav responded that the Shul was filled with Tefillos which were trapped within its four walls and ceiling--and he therefore had no room to daven!  Our Yetzer Hara constantly bombards us with thoughts like ‘This time it’s OK’ or ‘Say it, just say it!’ or ‘You have the right to get angry at this, and once you do, say whatever you want’….  This week, it is certainly a time for us, each person in accordance with his own battlefront, to begin to make a special effort to triumph over the Yetzer Hara of Improper Speech--battle after battle after battle.  As the Gra teaches, each victory is of such great proportions that even the Malochim in Shomayim cannot fathom the reward!



18 Sivan 5772

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In this week’s Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu is described as “Anav Me’od MeKol HaAdam” (Bamidbar 12:3)--Moshe was very humble, more than any other person on the face of the earth.  Mesechta Avos (4:4), however, teaches that:  Me’od, Me’od Hevei Shefal Ruach--one should be very, very humble.  Why was Moshe only very humble, while Chazal implore everyone to be very, very humble? 




Special Note One:  We conclude with our focus on the Fifth Bracha of Teshuvah.  We conclude the Bracha with the words:  Baruch Atta Hashem HaRotzeh BisShuvah”.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that we do not conclude the bracha with the term HaMachazir  BisShuvah (Who brings us back in Teshuvah), which is the phrase immediately preceding the conclusion of the Bracha (VeHachzirein BisShuvah) because Teshuvah has to begin with us.  It is indeed for this reason, he continues, that Teshuvah and Selichah are two different brachos--as we must first accomplish repentance, and only afterwards can we be forgiven and avoid punishment.  Hashem is thus urging us to begin--so that he can help us through and complete the process.  If Hashem wants us to do Teshuvah--should we not have a Hirhur Teshuvah in the same way?!  With each undertaking to do Teshuvah in a particular Mitzvah, Middah, or in the avoidance of a particular Aveirah--we are not only bringing Nachas to ourselves forever--but to HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself for eternity as well-after all, this is the only time in all of Shemone Esrei that we find what Hashem wants!  Let’s get going!  Hakhel Note:  With the Bracha of Teshuvah, we have a wonderful opportunity, three times a day, of accomplishing our life-giving mantra:  Teshuvah BeChol Yom!



Special Note Two:  In the Navi (Hosheiah 2:22) we find the following touching Pasuk:  V’eirastich Li BeEmumah VeYada’at Es Hashem…[Hashem says:] ‘I will betroth you to Me with Emunah, and you will know Hashem’.”  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, brings a fantastic Malbim to explain just exactly what the Pasuk means:  The Malbim teaches that as a direct result of our Emunah in this world, we will be zoche to ‘know Hashem’ in the future--for He will reveal to us signs and wonders, and will cause the Shechina to dwell amongst us, so that we will no longer believe in Hashem, but rather will have a Yedi’ah Berurah of Hashem--a tangible awareness--actually felt and understood by our senses!  We will no longer have a kabbalah, a centuries old tradition, regarding Hashem’s existence.  Instead, we will have a personal, clear and supernal awareness of His presence with us at all times.  Let us daven that we need not wait much longer! 



Special Note Three:  Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita, related that he was once in the presence of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, when HaRav Moshe was reciting an Asher Yatzar.  He noted that HaRav Moshe recited the words:  Afilu Sha’ah Achas” at the end of his bracha.  Rabbi Weiss questioned him as to why he did so--was this our Nusach?  HaRav Moshe responded that these words express unequivocal thanks to Hashem for one’s continued existence by the virtue of his being able to take care of his needs.  Rabbi Weiss asked:  “But don’t the words mean that we would not be able to exist even for an hour without taking care of needs--when in fact we can?”  HaRav Moshe responded that yes, one could physically exist--but that to him true life is only with Torah--and one cannot learn if he is occupied or distracted by the pain and difficulties associated with the inability to take care of bodily functions.  To HaRav Moshe, it was literally Afilu Sha’ah Achas!  Hakhel Note:  Why should we be any different? Even if it is not our custom to recite these words--let us appreciate the Afilu Sha’ah Achas inherent in the bracha described in Asher Yatzar.



Special Note Four:  At the recent Torah U’Mesorah convention, HaRav Aharon Feldman, Shlita, explained the difference between the world’s idea of Chesed and the Torah’s concept of Chesed.  To the world--we ‘share’ what we have with others.  To the Torah, however, our Chesed is not ‘sharing’--it is outright giving!  Hakhel Note:  In the Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim (Sha’ar HaNedivus), we learn that there are three types of giving--BeMamono--with one’s possessions; BeGufo--with one’s body, and BeChachmaso--with one’s wisdom.  Whatever the Nedivus, the Orchos Tzaddikim continues, the true Nadiv or the ‘Nadiv HaShaleim’ is the one who gives before being asked.  To test oneself in this area, at the end of the day, one should review whether he gave of his money (to a collector, for example), of his body (as a favor), and of his wisdom (as in teaching someone Torah)--before being asked! 


Additional Note:  At the Torah U’Mesorah convention as well, Rabbi Dovid Ordman, Shlita, related a wonderful story that occurred to him with HaRav Berel Povarsky, Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Ponovezh Yeshiva.  Rabbi Ordman was driving on the street in Bnei Brak when he saw the Rosh Yeshiva walking in the other direction.  He quickly turned around and motioned for the Rosh Yeshiva to come in.  The Rosh Yeshiva objected, explaining that he saw Rabbi Ordman traveling in the opposite direction.  Rabbi Ordman, however, insisted.  Within just several minutes Rabbi Ordman had brought HaRav Povarsky to his home.  Rabbi Povarsky then explained to Rabbi Ordman the impact of his action based upon the passage in Yigdal that we recite every day:  Gomel LeIsh Chesed KeMifalo, Nosein LeRasha Rah KeRishaso”.  The passage does not say Gomel LeIsh Chesed KeChasdo as it says by a Rasha Nosein LeRasha Rah KeRishaso.  What is the difference for Hashem’s payment for an act of Chesed and Hashem’s payment for an act of wickedness?  HaRav Povarsky explained as follows:  Rabbi Ordman only went a few minutes out of his way, but saved HaRav Povarsky a five minute walk to the bus, waiting for the bus, a fifteen minute ride on the bus, the starting and stopping and perhaps pushing and shoving, paying for the bus, walking home from the bus and the time it would take to settle down after all of the movement of travel.  Because it was now easy, he would be able to continue his studies almost immediately at home.  So, for what was to Rabbi Ordman five minutes out of the way was much, much more to the Rosh Yeshiva.  Rabbi Ordman would not be rewarded for the five minutes of his time but for KeMifalo--for all he had done for the Rosh Yeshiva physically and mentally in time, in money…and in Torah!



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


Today, we conclude our discussion on practical situations which could involve the Melacha of Lisha, or combining substances to form a new mass.  There are two types of possible combinations, which depends upon the thickness and consistency of the mass. 


A.  The first is know is a Belilah Rakah, or a relatively loose mixture.  The Poskim write that a Belilah Rakah is evidenced by the easy pouring of the mixture from one container to another.  In layman’s terms it is not as liquidy as a drink would be, but it is not a thick mixture.  Although a combination of this kind is not Lisha Mid’Oraysa, the Poskim nonetheless require two Shinuyim if one intends to combine such items on Shabbos, as follows:  (1) when mixing the two items, they should be mixed in the reverse order that they would be mixed during the week (if during the week, one would usually put in a liquid item and then put in the solid item and mix the two together, he should switch the order on Shabbos).  Moreover, at whatever stage the liquid is put in (first or second, whatever the opposite of one’s weekday practice would be) it should quickly be poured in all at once--so that the mixture is always a loose one; and (2) the mixing itself should be done with a shinuy (for instance, with a finger instead of with a spoon or a fork, or by merely shaking the objects together in a container, or if a utensil is needed--by mixing only a crisscross motion, taking the utensil out between each horizontal and vertical move)  (Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa 8:9). 


B.  A Belilah Avah, or a thick mixture is not generally permissible, but may be created under certain circumstances--where the mixture is necessary for a child, for a sick person, or there is some special need for this food, and one did not prepare it on Erev Shabbos.  In such event, the food could be prepared with the two shinuyim described in the previous paragraph (ibid. 8:11).


C.  If one wanted to mix one Belilah Rakah with another Belilah Rakah, he may do so if the two shinuyim above are met--as the two mixtures together are not deemed to constitute a Belilah Avah (ibid. 8:14).


D.  Very practical situations arise in a Shabbos home relating to Lisha--making a child’s bottle of formula; preparing baby cereal; making salad dressing; mixing chrain, mayonnaise or ketchup with another item, are just a few of the more common examples.  We must remember that if improperly executed, c’v, Lisha is a Melacha D’Oraysa.  Accordingly, the practical weekly situations that arise in mixing substances (whether in the kitchen or at the Shabbos table), should be carefully reviewed with one’s Rav or Posek.  We are careful for ourselves, for our guest and for our children with Bishul, Borer and Tochein--Lisha deserves the very same scruples and attention. 



Special Note Six:  At the end of this week’s Parsha, we learn of the incident of Miriam and Aharon speaking about Moshe Rabbeinu.  It is obviously the time to inspire ourselves in the area of Shemiras HaLashon--for our reading this Parsha now is obviously with great Hashgacha.  Accordingly, we provide a few simple, but important points:


A.  Firstly, it is important for us to review and review again that which we have previously learned. The Sefer Chofetz Chaim (Asei 1), notes at least ten defenses and strong mitigating factors in Miriam’s situation, but concludes that none alone, nor even all together, could save her--and Bnei Yisroel--from their difficult punishment.  The defenses and mitigating factors included:

  1. Moshe was her younger brother;

  1. She loved him dearly;

  1. She actually raised him;

  1. She endangered her life waiting to see what would happen to him as a baby at the Nile River, and spoke to Paroh’s daughter as to how he could best be saved and raised;

  1. When speaking of him, it was not in a degrading fashion, as she simply compared him to all other Nevi’im (including herself and Aharon);

  2. She did not speak in front of him to embarrass him, nor did she speak about him in public;

  3. Instead, she spoke to her Holy brother, the Kohen Gadol, privately;

  1. Moshe Rabbeinu was not makpid--i.e., he did not care;

  1. Her intention was for Kinas HaEmes--for the sake of what was proper; and

  1. Likewise, her intention was for Binyan HaOlam--for Moshe Rabbeinu to have more children.

The Chofetz Chaim concludes that it is for this reason that we have a Mitzvas Asei of the Torah to remember what happened to Miriam--in order to remind ourselves to do our utmost to avoid and greatly distance ourselves from the far baser acts of Lashon Hora which involve no such justifications or defenses.

B.  Lashon Hora can easily arise because one feels that the other party has hurt him physically, emotionally, monetarily, or in some other manner.  One must always remember that one’s offender is not different than Shimi Ben Geira--whom Dovid HaMelech recognized was simply Hashem’s agent, and not the true perpetrator against him.  We should not think and react like dogs--who believe that it is the stick hitting them--while, of course, in truth it is the person holding the stick who is doing so.  Chazal teach that an important Middah is ‘Nosei BeOhl Im Chaveiro--to carry a yoke with one’s friend.’  What yoke are we referring to?  We suggest that the Ohl may be ‘Ohl Malchus Shomayim’--realizing and recognizing that whatever burdens or demands one’s friends is placing upon him--is really Min HaShomayim.  One should thus demonstrate his Ohl Malchus Shomayim--by working with and for, and being especially content and understanding with one’s friend--no matter what the situation, no matter what the circumstance!


C.  An immediate way to rectify an act of Kabbolas Lashon Hora is to reverse the kabbalah by being Dan LeChaf Zechus.  This means that one must change his understanding of the facts, of the words, of the event--so that what had previously been Lashon Hora is redirected to an unpainful and perhaps even positive direction.  If the damage had not been done--you can still undue it!


D.  In the Sefer Shemiras HaLashon (II:3), the Chofetz Chaim writes that after 120 years, the Parshios of the Torah will be reviewed together with a person.  Because many Parshios speak about the depravity or effects of Lashon Hora and the sins that relate to it, the person will truly be called to task for having c’v seemingly ignored such significant portions of the Torah.  Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim writes that every time these Parshios are studied in Shomayim and others will bask in the light of their Torah, the one who has ignored the lessons from the Parsha will sit shamefaced instead.  The Chofetz Chaim concludes with the words:  Ashrei LeAdam SheMisbonen BeChol Zeh BeOdo BaZeh HaOlam, VeAz Ashrei VeTov Lo Bazeh U’vaBah--fortunate is the person who reflects and acts upon this when he is of sound mind while still in this world--and then it will be good for him in both this world and the next!


Hakhel Note:  We urge you to make good use of the Chofetz Chaim’s Heritage Foundation’s Shemiras HaLashon Shaila Hotline, in which expert Poskim answer your real-life Shailos relating to Shidduchim, business, neighbor relations, etc.  The phone number is 718-951-3696 between the hours of 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM Eastern Time.  Avoid any doubt--say it right!




17 Sivan 5772

Special Note One:  We continue our Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 18 and 19:


18.  U’Mikdashi Tira’u--this is the Mitzvah to be in awe of the Bais HaMikdash.  The Chofetz Chaim adds that the Mitzvah also includes awe of our Bais Haknesses and Bais HaMidrash, which are referred to by the Navi as  our ‘Mikdash Me’at’.  One must be especially careful to avoid joking, lightheadedness and needless talk in a Makom Kadosh.  One must also not make private calculations, nor sleep there.  The Chofetz Chaim concludes:  U’Kedushasam Chamur Me’od--and  their Kedusah is a very serious matter.”  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike.

Hakhel Note:  The Mitzvah would certainly appear to eliminate calling our across the Bais Haknesses, speaking loudly, verbosely or extraneously, and talking on a cell phone.


19.  LeKadesh Es Yom HaShabbos--this is the Mitzvah to sanctify the Shabbos as it enters with Kiddush, and as it departs with Havdalah.  MiD’Rabanan, the Kiddush should be made on wine or Challah, and the Havdalah should be made on wine or chamar medina.  It is forbidden to eat or drink anything after the onset of Shabbos and before Kiddush,  nor after Shabbos departs before one recites Havdalah.  The Navi taught us the concepts of Oneg and Kavod Shabbos.  Kavod includes washing one’s face and hands in warm water and dressing L’Kavod Shabbos, and Oneg includes food and drink--one is obligated to have three Seudos on Shabbos.  The more money one spends for Shabbos, the more praiseworthy he is, provided that it is within his means.  Chazal expressly teach that one who is Me’aneg the Shabbos is given immeasurable reward and is saved from Shibud Malchiyos.  It is also a Mitzvah to set one’s table on Motza’ei Shabbos to escort the Shabbos out, even if one will eat only a Kezayis.  The Ramban writes that it is a Mitzvas Asei to remember Shabbos every day; therefore, when one mentions the days of the week, he should refer to the as:  “Echad B’Shabbos”, “Sheini B’Shabbos”, “Shelishi B’Shabbos” and he thereby fulfills a Mitzvas Asei…. Additionally, when one finds something special he fulfills a Mitzvas Asei when he designates it for Shabbos and verbally declares:  Harei Zeh L’Shabbos--this is for Shabbos!”  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike.



Special Note Two:  We continue with our focus on the Fifth Bracha of Teshuvah.  We continue with the phrase “VeHachzireinu BiShuvah Shleimah Lefanecha--and help us return in complete repentance before You.”  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, notes that the term Hachzireinu is similar to the term HaMachazir in the bracha of HaMachazir Shechinaso L’Tzion.  In both cases, we are asking Hashem to bring something back to where it was originally.  In our Bracha, we acknowledge that we have distanced ourselves from Hashem through sin--and that Teshuvah will bring us back--close to Hashem--to where we were before the chait.  Indeed, the Mabit writes that Teshuvah means: ‘Kreiva LeHashem Mei’richuk Hachait--coming closer to Hashem after having been distanced because of a sin.  Moreover, we do not ask that Hashem assist us with minimal Teshuvah--which one may do simply to free himself of punishment--but rather we ask Hashem to help us with Teshuvah Shleimah--which is Teshuvah so complete that he will not fall backwards again.  This level of Teshuvah reaches the category of ‘Lefanecha’--i.e., a Teshuvah in which Hashem Himself can testify that a person will not revert to his previous sins.  Today’s phrase is especially powerful for us, for Chazal teach:  Habah L’Taheir MeSayin Oso--of one wants to purify himself, he is assisted in doing so.”  With these words of VeHachzireinu BiShuvah Shleimah Lefanecha recited sincerely and meaningfully, we are exclaiming:  We want to purify ourselves!”  Hakhel Note:  Rabbosai--Kavannah!



Special Note Three:  The following powerful and practical guidance is provided by HaRav Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, in Chapter 2 of the Sefer Tomer Devorah.  The English translation is by Rabbi Dov Fink and Rabbi Shimon Finkelman (Tomer Publications): 


1.  Ears.  One’s ears should always turn to hear good, while false or despicable reports should not enter them at all.  Just as in the essence of Supernal “listening”, any cry for strict judgment or any blemish of evil gossip does not enter there; so, too, one should not listen to anything other than good or of practical use.  To other things, which intensify anger, he should not listen at all.  Just as the  words and speech of the Nachash have no entry Above, so, too, no despicable thing should have any entry in him (in his ears).  This is the meaning of the phrase Lo Sisah Sheima Shav--you shall not accept a false report” (Shemos 23:1).  How much more so, does this apply to other despicable things, which should not enter one’s ears at all; as one should turn his ear only to good things.


2.  Eyes.  One’s eyes should not gaze at all at anything despicable.  Rather, they should always be open to watch over unfortunates and have as much mercy on them as possible.  When one sees the suffering of the poor, he should not close his eyes at all.  Rather, he should give as much thought to their predicament as possible, arousing the mercy of both Heaven and man upon them.  He should distance himself from noticing evil, just like the Supernal Eye which is open, and forever sees only good.


3.  Nose.  Regarding the nose, a breath of wrath should never be found in it.  Rather, it should constantly contain the breath of life, good will and patience, even toward those who are unworthy.  One should always want to fulfill the desire of others, to satisfy every request, and to revive the broken-spirited.  One should always breathe forth from his nose forgiveness of iniquity and pardon of transgression.  One should not be angry with those who offend him; rather, he should constantly be willing to be appeased, and he should be desirous of kindness, pleasing everyone.


4.  Face.   One’s face should always shine, and he should receive an people with a cheerful countenance.  For regarding the Supernal keser, it says, Be’Ohr Pnei Melech Chaim--the light of the King’s countenance is life.” (Mishlei 16:15).  Just as no flush of anger or strict judgment enters there at all; so too, the light of his countenance should be unchanging, and all who look into his face should find nothing but joy and cheerfulness.  No factor should distract him from this at all.


5. Mouth.  One’s mouth should express nothing but good, and the content of his words should be Torah and constant expression of good will.  No despicable words, curses, rage, anger, or frivolous talk should escape his mouth.  Rather, it should resemble the Supernal ‘Mouth’ which is never sealed and never refrains from speaking good at all times.  Therefore, one must not silence himself from speaking well of everyone, expressing good words and blessings constantly.



Hakhel note:  Perhaps we can print out these guides, and keep them near us throughout the day!




16 Sivan 5772

Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Fifth Bracha of Teshuvah.  The Sefer Olas Tomid explains that there are two types of Avodah referred to in the phrase V’Karveinu Malkeinu La’Avodasecha:  (1) Our fulfillment of the entire Torah--and in this Bracha we ask that Hashem bring us closer to fulfillment of the entire Torah with a full heart; and (2) The Avodah of Tefillah, and we ask for Hashem to help us so that our Tefillah will originate not from our mouth--but from our heart.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, adds that the depth of the term V’Karveinu--bring us close--to is our request that we be brought back to our original Avodah of Karbonos in the Bais Hamikdash, which we painfully feel oh so far away from!  In all events, whether we are serving Hashem with our Tefillos, in the Bais Hamikdash, or through our other Kiyum HaMitzvos, we always remember that we are privileged to always stand before Malkeinu--in the presence of our King!



Special Note Two:  We provide below several points and pointers relating to the Halachos of a meal--including Netilas Yadayim and HaMotzi, as excerpted from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu Edition:


1.  If one intends to eat with only one hand, he nevertheless must wash with both hands, as this is the Takanas Chachomim (Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim 23 seif katan 13).


2.  Seltzer is kosher for Netilas Yadayim, because the appearance of the water has not changed, nor has the taste been ruined (S’u’T Ohr L’Tzion 46:4). 


3.  If one initially uses water to clean dirty hands--or even only one finger which is dirty, the water can no longer be used for Netilas Yadayim (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 40:9).  Similarly, if a dog drank from the water, the Mishna Berurah rules that the water is pasul because it is ma’us.  However, b’sha’as hadechak one can rely on the opinions that permit it (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 160, Mishna Berurah seif katan 23). 


4.  Vaseline on one’s hand is considered to be a chatzizah and must be removed prior to washing.  Similarly, a clear glue which is otherwise unnoticeable is considered a chatzizah--for it too has substance (Chut HaShanim, Niddah p.279). 


5.  When washing Netilas Yadayim, it is extremely important that one pour at least a revi’is (approximately 3 ounces) at one time on each hand.  This avoids many issues of ‘yadayim temei’im’, and the revi’is, the Mishna Berurah writes then becomes a ‘mikvah metaheres’ for Netilas Yadayim purposes (Orach Chaim 162, Mishna Berurah seif katan 21).


6.  If one cannot wash his hands because he has no water, he can wrap his hands in a towel or cloth.  It is the hands that are wrapped--and not the bread, because if the bread is wrapped we are still concerned that the hands may touch the bread.  It is for this reason that eating the bread with a fork would not help as well (Avnei Yosphei 2:11, anaf 6).


7.  One should ask a Shailas Chochom if he will be in a situation in which non-frum individuals will be offered bread or other food products, and they will not wash or make brachos upon them.  Even though one may believe that it is mutar for kiruv purposes, and in order to avoid a Chilul Hashem, different facts and circumstances may nevertheless require different responses (see, for example, Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 5:13; Minchas Shlomo 1:35; and Shevet HaLevi 4:17). 


8.  The Zohar HaKadosh teaches that it is a Mitzvah for a person to daven for his Parnassah every day before eating.  By reciting Mizmor L’Dovid (Tehillim 23) after HaMotzi--one has both prayed for food, and learned Torah at the table (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 170, Mishna Berurah seif katan 1).  Hakhel Note:  It would certainly seem appropriate to know this chapter of Tehillim very well, as it is a mainstay of the Torah and Tefillah at our meals!


9.  One should cut the bread at the place where it is best baked (hardest), but not the place that it is burnt.  Cutting the bread in the best possible place is, the Mishna Berurah writes, Kavod for the bracha (ibid., 167, Mishna Berurah seif katan 1).  Hakhel Note:  Even when cutting bread--we can have the right Kavanos!  Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu!


10.  It is appropriate for a person to eat a Kezayis of bread at the time that HaMotzi is made (ibid. Mishna Berurah seif katan 15). 


11.  If one recited HaMotzi, he should not hum a tune before partaking of the bread, but BeDieved if he did, he does not need to make a new bracha (Minchas Yitzchak 7:9 and Shevet HaLevi 5:16).  Likewise, after making HaMotzi, one should not motion with his eyes or snap his fingers--and even answering ‘Amen’ to someone else’s HaMotzi is a matter of dispute.  HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that if one answers Amen to the HaMotzi of another, then it is not a hefsek BeDieved, but answering ‘Amen’ to any other bracha would be a hefsek (Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa 48:7 and footnotes 38-39). 


12.  Unlike other brachos over food, in which one holds the food in his right hand (or left hand, if he is a lefty), when making HaMotzi, he should hold the bread with both hands.  The Shulchan Aruch itself explains that by this his ten fingers are holding the bread, which represents the ten Mitzvos which could be performed in order to prepare bread, and the ten words in various apropos Pesukim, including “Einei Chol Eilecha Yesabeiru” and “VeYitein Lecha”--both relating to one’s Parnassah.  It is no small wonder then that the bracha of HaMotzi itself has ten words! (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 167:4). 


13.  The Mishna Berurah brings in the name of the Mekubalim that one should dip the piece he made HaMotzi on three times in salt (ibid. seif katan 33). 


14.  Although everyone is familiar with the requirement to feed his animal before he feeds himself, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, adds that one’s young children who cannot take food on their own do indeed come before one’s animals (Igros Moshe 2:52).


15.  If one makes a bracha and then realizes that there may even be a suspicion of the food not being permissible--he should not eat it even though he will have made a bracha levatalah--for it is forbidden for one to eat something that may be prohibited in order to save himself from a bracha levatalah.  However, if one made a bracha on a dairy product and it was more than four hours after he ate meat, he should eat a little bit of the dairy product to avoid the bracha levatalah, and rely on those who rule that four hours is a sufficient time period to wait between milk and meat.  The same would be true if one made a bracha on pas akum by mistake--he should eat a little bit, even though he is machmir the rest of the year (Shevet HaLevi 1: 205 and note to 206).


16.  A Ba’al HaBayis takes precedence even over a Kohen in making HaMotzi, because he will hand out the bread “BeAyin Yafeh--with a good eye” (Shulchan Aruch 167, Mishna Berurah seif katan 73).  Nevertheless, the Ba’al HaBayis should give the first piece of bread to the Kohen (ibid. 128, Mishna Berurah seif katan 175).


17.  If there is no Ba’al HaBayis or Kohen present, it is appropriate to allow a Levi recite the HaMotzi or lead Birkas HaMazon, if the Levi is equal to the Yisroelim present in Torah knowledge (ibid. 201, Mishna Berurah seif katan 13).


18.  The Rema writes that when one is being Motzi others, he states:  B’Rishus Morai V’Rabosai” (ibid. 167, Mishna Berurah seif katan 14).


19.  An adult can make a bracha with the child of another (i.e., even not his own child), if they do not know how to make a bracha on their own--and even if the adult will not be eating (ibid. 167, Mishna Berurah seif katan 73).


20.  The Shelah HaKadosh writes that one should leave a little bit of bread from his HaMotzi to eat at the end of his meal so that he is left with the taste of the ‘HaMotzi’ in his mouth (ibid. 167, Mishna Berurah seif katan 97).  Hakhel Note:  On Pesach there is the taste of the Afikoman, the rest of the year there is the taste of the HaMotzi.  What a great lesson!  For the Torah Jew--the taste we are to be left with--is the taste of Mitzvos!



15 Sivan 5772

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:  Often while studying, listening to a shiur, or perhaps thinking while walking, one may think of a question or even a question and answer, which he forgets within the next few hours or days as life moves on--and the next matter or challenge takes up one’s focus.  May we suggest that one have a notebook or other vehicle upon which he records these questions, or questions and answers--so that they remain with him, and do not become locked up somewhere deep in one’s neurons.  In this way, when he has an opportunity to discuss the question with a Rav, Posek or other Talmid Chochom whom he encounters or can spend some time with--he will be able to further discuss and develop at least some of the items to their real and practical conclusions!




Special Note One:  We continue with our focus on the Fifth Bracha of Teshuvah. 


A.  From a reader:  “I heard from Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Shlita, that all Nusachos have the same word-for-word Nusach for this bracha, Ashkenaz, Sefard, Sefaradi, Ari, Teimani, etc., and that this is the only Bracha in Shemone Esrei for which this holds true.”  Hakhel Note:  Astounding, Absolutely Astounding!


B.  We continue the bracha with the words V’Karveinu Malkeinu La’Avodasecha.  The term Malkeinu here is in contrast to the term Avinu in the first phrase of the Bracha.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that Rebbi Akiva established the Nusach of Avinu Malkeinu and that his prayers were answered with this Nusach (Ta’anis 25B).  Accordingly, we continue in the same manner with Avinu and Malkeinu!


C.  The Levush comments that our Bakasha for Teshuva follows our Bakasha for Binah, because Binah--our understanding--causes us to reflect upon our actions and deeds--and to do Teshuvah. 


D.  The Tur writes that there are 15 words in the Bracha--representing the seven Reki’im (heavens), the seven spaces (six between them and one above them) and the Kisei HaKavod--for our sincere Teshuvah reaches the Kisei HaKavod itself!  Let us make sure that each word in this Bracha counts for us--so that our Teshuvah reaches the highest point possible!



Special Note Two:  Some parting thoughts as we leave Parshas Naso: 


A.  The Pasuk (Bamidbar 7:1) teaches:  Vayehi BeYom Kalos Moshe LeHakim Es HaMishkan--on the day that Moshe Rabbeinu completed the Mishkan….”  Rashi points out that it was Betzalel, Ahaliyav, and the Chachmei Lev who actually effectuated the teachings of Moshe Rabbeinu--but Moshe Rabbeinu is nevertheless credited with the building of the Mishkan, because of his mesiras nefesh in making sure that what he learned from Hashem was properly conveyed to and implemented by those who were performing the work.  Similarly, Rashi (ibid.) points out that the Bais HaMikdash is named as ‘Dovid’s House’ (Melochim I, 12:16), because of Dovid HaMelech’s great undertakings-- his mesiras nefesh in having the Bais HaMikdash built and completed--even though it did not happen in his lifetime.  We should take a great lesson from this--when we study a Torah topic, we should proceed with zeal and drive to implement and effectuate that which we have learned--for ourselves and for others.  It is the mesiras nefesh which is necessary to complete the job.  After learning a Halacha which you did not know, or which you know others did not know--what steps will you take to ensure that the new knowledge is properly applied and bears fruits?  What will be your mesiras nefesh to bring the Mitzvah to a new level in your life, and in the lives of others?  We too, can be like Moshe Rabbeinu and like Dovid HaMelech--it is our own personal mesiras nefesh which can get us there!


B.  The Karbonos of the Nesi’im described at the end of the Parsha reached such a high level that they were able to each bring a Ketores (which does not otherwise exist as a Karbon Yachid), and they were even able to bring it on the outer Mizbe’ach, where the Ketores is not otherwise brought.  Yet, these were the very same Nesi’im who ‘delayed’ in bringing their donations to the Mishkan.  Now, the Torah seemingly goes out of its way, to provide for us in great detail, the great Kavod afforded to the Nesi’im and their extraordinary Karbonos.  There is an extremely powerful lesson here.  The Nesi’im fell badly in delaying their donations, yet they did not allow themselves to ‘fall by the wayside’ and wait for another, different or later opportunity to pick themselves back up after they had learned their lesson.  Rather, as soon as possible in whatever way they could, they came back to the very Mishkan where they had fallen and glorified it in a manner which is recorded for eternity.  We must always take this lesson to heart as the Yetzer Hara tries to push our recovery to ‘next time’, ‘tomorrow’ or ‘next week’.  The key is to bounce back--as quickly and as powerfully as possible!


C.  By popular request, we provide a thought we had previously published on U’Mafli La’asos. Within the Haftarah of Parshas Naso, 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!



14 Sivan 5772

Special Note One:  We continue our Monday/Thursday listing of the Mitzvos Asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times, as set forth in his Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar.  Today, we present Mitzvos 16 and 17:


16. U’Vo Sidbak--this is the Mitzvah to cling to Chachomim and their students, for if one clings to Chachomim it is considered as if he clings to the Shechina.  One should therefore marry the daughter of a Talmid Chochom and marry off his daughter to a Talmid Chochom.  One should eat together with and benefit with Talmidei Chachomim one’s money.  One should also follow closely with them where they go (V’Hisabek Be’Afar Ragleihem), and thirstily drink their words (Veyishte BeTzamah Es Divreihem).  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike.


17.  MiP’nei Seiva Takum VeHadarta P’nei Zakein--this is the Mitzvah to stand before one who has reached the age of 70 [some say 60] and to honor Talmidei Chachomim and stand before them, even if they are young.  If one is older [70 or 60], one must rise before him even if he is not a scholar and even if the one rising is a Chochom who is young.  In this case, one need not stand to full height, but can raise himself up enough to clearly demonstrate Kavod.  On the other hand, one must stand up for one who is actually a Chochom (whatever the age) to full height when he reaches within 4 amos until he passes by completely.  One must also give Kavod to his Rebbi, even if he has not gained most of his wisdom from the Rebbi.  A Rebbi, may, however, forgive any honor due him.  As part of this Mitzvah, we must recognize that it is a great sin to disgrace or disparage Chachomim or even to dislike them, and that one who disgraces a Chochom does not have a Chelek in Olam Habah.  This Mitzvah applies to men and women alike. 



Special Note Two:  We continue with our study of the Nineteen Brachos of Shemone Esrei.  This week we focus on the Fifth Bracha of Teshuvah.  As we draw closer to Rosh Hashana, we are aptly reminded about the need to do Teshuvah!  We begin with the plea of “Hashiveinu Avinu LeSorasecha--Hashem return us to Your Torah [the basis of all Teshuvah].”  The Tur (Orach Chaim 115) writes that the term ‘Avinu’--our Father is used here, because a father is obligated to teach his son Torah--and we ask Hashem as our Father to please do so.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that we specifically ask for ‘Hashiveinu LeSorasecha’--to return to Torah, because we were initially taught Torah in our mother’s womb so that we would be able to better study the Torah once we are born (Niddah 30B).  Moreover, with the term Hashiveinu, HaRav Kaniesvky teaches, we are especially pleading for ‘Hashiveinu’--for Hashem to return all of K’lal Yisroel back to their knowledge of Torah.  Finally, HaRav Kanievsky teaches that the order of the two brachos of Hashiveinu followed by Selach Lanu requires explanation.  After all, should we not first ask for forgiveness of the past, and then to be brought back to Torah for the future.  The explanation may be, he concludes, that when we return to Torah--Hashem will forgive us!  Hakhel Note:  With this thought in mind, and with the end of the Shivas Yemei Tashlumin, we provide the following concluding words on Shavuos:


A.  For those who wish to obtain a tape or CD of Rabbi Jonathan Rietti’s recent Hakhel Shiur on Rebbi Akiva and his greatest lessons to us, which we had briefly digested last week, one can contact 718-252-5274. 


B.  As many know there is a Tefillah based on the Mishna (Brachos 4:2) to be recited before one begins to study.  We should remember that there is also a Tefillah to be recited when one leaves the Bais Midrash after he studies (based on the very same Mishna), in which one thanks Hashem for giving him the opportunity to be among those in the Bais Midrash--at least for a part of the day (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 110:8).  One should make it a point to recite this Tefillah of thanks with true feeling--for when one leaves the Bais Midrash he is making a type of ‘Siyum’ for the day (the actual text of the Tefillah that we commonly recite is part of the text recited at a Siyum). 


C.  We should always remember that Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, taught us that Torah Ohr--that Torah is light--and that even a little bit of Torah can drive away the darkness and provide illumination for oneself and others in his proximity.  Every additional Pasuk, every additional Mishna, every additional Rebbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish and every additional Abayei and Rava brings more and more light to us and those around us--and will allow us to see further and further--both now and for eternity!



Special Note Three:  One additional point on showering that we were reminded of:  In today’s day and age [as we have actually referred to in the past] many soaps, shampoos and conditioners contain non-Kosher ingredients--and there is definitely at least a preference to the avoidance of non-Kosher items from entering one’s body, albeit entering through the pores of one’s skin.  Some of the non-Kosher products are simply of non-Kosher animal origin, while others may have their source in milk/meat combinations.  We asked the OU whether they had done any research in this area to determine which, if any, shampoos have a milk/meat combination issue, but they had not.  One could avoid the non-Kosher soaps and shampoos by simply purchasing natural, animal-free products, and there is at least one brand from Eretz Yisroel which actually has a Hashgacha.  Utilizing this stringency of using shampoos and soaps of ‘plant origin’, we may also be avoiding the long listing of complex and unrecognizable chemicals set forth as the ingredients of many shampoo products.  The basis for the Halachic stringency as to soaps and shampoos is Chazal on Yoma, who teach that the reason that we cannot anoint ourselves on Yom Kippur is because the Pasuk actually compares anointing one’s body with oil to drinking water (Tehillim 109:18):  Vatavo Kamayim BeKirbo VeChashemen B’Atzmosav--it has come like water into his innards, and like oil into his bones….” 



Special Note Four:    Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, the awesome founder of Yeshivas Volozhin, and Mechaber of the classic Sefer Nefesh HaChaim, among other works.  In honor of HaRav Chaim, we present several of his teachings below:


1.  Please click here for one of his most famous writings in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim--a Segula Gedolah VeNifla’ah on the topic of Ain Od MilvadoTry 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!


2.  A person must always know and appreciate that his deeds are not ‘shefalim’--low and unimportant.  Rather, every part of one’s life is consequential and important in this world and to this world, and has far-reaching in the heavenly spheres as well.  A person is not ‘a world onto himself’ only in an allegorical sense-but in a literal way.  His heart, as the source and place of his thought, is the Kodesh HaKodoshim--the epicenter of his world, which acts in tandem with all of the other worlds around him.  Accordingly, if one allows anger or desire to enter his being even temporarily--it is as if he is, c’v, setting a fire, albeit only temporarily, in the center of his world--in the Holy of Holies.  On the other hand, of course, performance of Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim bring unimaginable (because it is not physical) Kedusha into oneself, the world at large--and actually raise the level of Kedusha of the heavens!  Indeed, even the Malochim benefit from a person’s proper actions through a ‘Tosefes Kedusha al Kedushasom’-- their Kedusha actually becomes increased as well.  It is especially appropriate for a person to have in mind when learning Torah or performing a mitzvah that he intends to bring Kedusha into himself and into all worlds through his actions.  This teaching may not appear to be very light--but it is very real.


3.  Following from the previous point:  Some raise themselves up when reciting Kedusha.  The reason for this may be that one is in effect demonstrating that he is connecting to the upper worlds, and raising their level of Kedusha (which they themselves cannot do)--by and through his *earthly* words and actions of Kedusha.


4.  Through the recitation of Perek Shira, one enables the Malochim and the Sarim of these creatures to sing their respective Shiros, and these heavenly beings are thereby enabled to continue influencing the lives and continued existence of each of the creatures they were created to represent.  Hakhel Note:  It is perhaps for this reason that the Torah teaches us that the animals will fear us--for they may especially recognize that their survival is dependent on our actions!


5.  Chazal do not teach that everyone has a part “BaOlam” Haba--but rather “LaOlam” Haba.  BaOlam Haba would indicate that there is a set and designated place which one goes to if he earns it.  That is not the case, however.  One’s Olam Haba is ‘Ma’aseh Yedei Adom Atzmo’--the handiwork of the person himself--who actually constructs his own personalized Olam Haba through the quantity and quality of his individual and specific Ma’asim Tovim.


6.  Conversely, when one sins he creates a Ruach Hatumah which one does not sense but remains present with him until the aveira is completed.  [If one does not undo what he has done in his lifetime] the Ruchos Hatumah will be fully sensed upon death, and their envelopment of him will be real punishment.  These Ruchos Hatumah will not exist eternally, however--whereas the Kedusha created by Ma’asim Tovim will benefit the person forever and ever.


7.  The word “Baruch” at the outset of a bracha is translated by many as a word of tribute or praise.  The word actually means ‘Tosefes Ve’ribui’--addition and increase.  Through our bracha, we express our awareness and appreciation that Hashem is the ultimate source of all influence and the absolute cause of all existence in all worlds. We do not understand His limitless powers or His infinite strength--but we know enough to recognize that the item or event upon which we are reciting the bracha emanates only from His utter graciousness and goodness to us.  Through our proper expression and recognition of this, we can hopefully bring more shefa--more of His Divine Influence into the world around us.


8.  When Chazal teach that Moshe Rabbeinu (in this week’s Parsha--Bamidbar 11:2, as explained in Brachos 31B), or Eliyahu, or Chana cast words ‘against the heavens’ when they davened to Hashem for a Yeshua--it does not mean that they complained or were even perplexed by Hashem’s actions.  Rather, it means that they davened to Hashem not out of concern for their own tza’ar-- but ‘against the heavens’--out of concern for the tza’ar of the Shechina which was suffering along with them.  One must look beyond himself when davening to the much broader picture of all that he is really davening for.  Moreover, one is mechuyav--obligated to find eitzos as to how he can fight the ‘Milchemes Mitzvah’ of having Kavannah while davening.  Our tefillos take the place of Karbanos--the effectiveness of which were wholly dependent on the Kohen’s thoughts.  Through his thoughts--the Korban could become permanently disqualified as ‘pigul’--or rise-up gracefully as a ‘Reiach Nichoach’. We must also remember that each one of our Tefillos constitutes its own stand-alone Korban--creating its own benefits and tikunim which had previously not been brought into the world from the time of the institution of tefillah --and will never be replicated again in the future.  Accordingly, we should treasure each irreplaceable Tefillah for what it really, truly is--something that is ‘Omed B’rumo Shel Olam--standing at the height of the world’--ready and able to bring holiness and light into the world through the proper recitation of its purified and refined words!



11 Sivan 5772

Special Note One:  We conclude with our focus on the Fourth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Binah.  Sometimes we lose sight of just how beautifully precise the words of our Tefillah really are.  The Siddur Otzar HaTefillos brings that (in Nusach Ashkenaz) there are seventeen words in the bracha of Atta Chonen, which number corresponds both to the number of times that the term Chochom is used in Koheles and the gematria of the word Tov--(it is good).  Additionally, the Otsar HaTefillos notes that we recite Atta Chonantanu within the bracha (for, as Chazal explain--if we do not have the understanding to distinguish between Kodesh and Chol--how can we make Havdalah?)  The Havdalah in the bracha is incredibly symbolized by the word Binah itself which is an acronym for Besomim, Yayin, Ner, Havdala!  With all of this preciseness, we note that the verb of Chonen--to please grant us for free is used three times in this short bracha in order to emphasize and reemphasize that all of our knowledge, insight, perception and understanding is an absolute gift from Hashem.  Indeed, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, teaches that upon one’s attaining a Torah insight, or successfully explaining a difficulty, he should exclaim:  “Thank you, thank you Hashem!” 



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


A.  On Erev Shabbos, one of the most common aspects of preparation for Shabbos is cleansing oneself LeKavod Shabbos--as the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 260:1) writes:  “It is a Mitzvah (Shabbos 25B) to wash oneself with warm water [the Rema adds one’s entire body, and if one cannot, then his face, hands and legs], and it is also a Mitzvah (Shabbos 31A) to shampoo one’s head as well.  When taking a shower on Erev Shabbos, there are several items that one can remember which would help to distinguish the shower of a Torah Jew--from the shower of others, and even of animals who find ways of cleaning themselves.  Beyond the Mitzvah of Kavod Shabbos, any time one takes a shower or bath, one is taking good care of his Tzelem Elokim--and is thus demonstrating Kavod Shomayim as well.  Moreover, one showering or bathing should remember his Ruchniyus in other areas as well:  (1) As the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 2, seif katan 7) writes, one washes his head first as the melech or king of the other limbs of the body, and then his right side first, as the side that is more chashuv;  (2) One should appreciate the ability to become clean, and the pleasure of feeling clean--which are great gifts; (3) One should remember that just as we wash our bodies, we must cleanse our souls--as we should use the lessons of Olam Hazeh for everlasting purposes.  Indeed, the Sefer Tomer Devorah in commenting on the Pasuk Ki Imcha HaSelicha teaches that [with our Teshuvah] Hashem Himself washes away the filth of our sins; (4) It is a wonderful time for Hisbodidus--and need not as a matter of course and habit be frittered away with ‘waste of time’ thoughts.  Indeed, as we had noted in the past, HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl, would urge his students to think Torah thoughts while taking a shower (if the shower room is clean), rather than allowing important time every day get wasted away.  If one thinks about it, 10 or some minutes a day in the shower amounts to approximately an hour a week--more than 50 hours (or two full days) a year!  Yes, to the Torah Jew--even a shower can and should be a Torah experience!


B.  We continue to discuss practical situations which could involve the Melacha of Lisha, or combining substances to form a new mass: 


a.  If combining the two items together simply results in a complete liquid, then it is considered to be a davar hanozel--a liquid substance, which is not a solid mass at all.  Accordingly, one can mix two drinks together. 


b. When one takes a drink while food is still in his mouth, the combination of the solid and liquid within the mouth is considered to be derech achilah--in the course of eating, and not a Lisha issue. Note:  There was a gum produced several years ago in which the object of the gum was to produce a type of Lisha in the mouth through its combination with one’s saliva.  The gum, which was especially produced in this way for this reason, did raise a Lisha MiD’oraysah issue according to some Poskim. 


c.  Although Borer and perhaps Tochen are permitted close to the Seudah, the Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa (8:2) rules that there is no such Heter relating to Lisha. Thus, it would be prohibited to mix honey and cheese together, even if one intends to serve the mixture immediately.  (ibid., 8:16)


d.  It is permitted to mix cinnamon together with rice to make the food tastier--for this is not a new combination but just a better tasting rice dish. This is considered to just be only a tikun ochel--an improvement to the original food. (ibid., 8:25)


e.  If one had previously cooked potatoes and mashed them (mashed potatoes), one can pour gravy on them and mix the gravy with the potatoes--as this will have the effect of softening the mixture rather than turning it into a new mass, provided that one does so le’at, le’at--in small quantities at a time, so as to clearly distinguish it from an act of Lisha [one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to what a small quantity would be considered in this context]. (ibid, 8:24)



Special Note Three:  Several post-Shavuos points and pointers: 


A.  It is reported that the Gerrer Rebbe provided a remarkable contrast between Pesach and Succos, on the one hand, and Shavuos on the other.  At the conclusion of Pesach, we immediately begin to eat Chometz again (although, contrary to popular opinion, the Halacha does not require that pizza be consumed on Motza’ei Pesach).  When Succos ends, we promptly leave the temporary booths and snuggle-up in our homes for the Winter.  When it comes to Shavuos, however, we do not conclude, end, or terminate anything.  Quite to the contrary, we all know that we are ** TO CONTINUE** that which we began on Shavuos, which is to dedicate and rededicate ourselves to Torah study and a refined Torah lifestyle.


B.  Chazal (Shabbos 88B) teach that the Malochim protested Hashem’s gift of the Torah to mankind, for the Torah was so divine, it belonged only in Heaven.  Moshe Rabbeinu was able to best them by showing that the Torah’s Mitzvos and prohibitions were (at least on a simple level) directed to human beings--do not steal, do not kill, do not speak Loshon Hora, etc…  The Malochim knew this, but they still believed that there was no place for the holy among the profane.  So how was Moshe Rabbeinu able to win his debate?  The Sefer Darchei Mussar explains that Moshe Rabbeinu was able to convince them that while the Torah remaining in Heaven would make Heavenly life more beautiful, the Torah on Earth was much more than that--for it was as essential to life on this planet as the very air we breathe.


In fact, the Gemara (Pesachim 112A) relates that Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai visited Rebbi Akiva in jail and asked Rebbi Akiva to teach him Torah.  Rebbi Akiva refused to do so flagrantly in the presence of the Roman authorities, fearing for Rebbi Shimon’s well-being (Rebbi Akiva was already incarcerated for the very teaching of Torah).  Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai, unbelievable as it may sound, threatened his Rebbi with trumped-up charges against him to the government (apparently even worse charges than he had been jailed for)--unless he would teach him Torah!  What was this all about?  After all, Rebbi Akiva was only trying to protect Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai from the authorities!  And how could Rebbi Shimon threaten his Rebbi in this gross way?!  The answer seems to be that Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai was complaining to Rebbi Akiva that, without Torah to breathe, he faced such lowliness, such decadence, such a meaningless life, that he could actually become the lowest of lows-a moser--an informer--against his very own Rebbi!


Moshe Rabbeinu gave the Malochim an understanding of how the Earth--whose creation was also Hashem’s will--simply could not function without the life breath of Torah.  As we study Torah daily, we should really take a moment before, and/or during and/or after our study to recall Moshe Rabbeinu’s debate with the Malochim--and realize that we have Torah’s precious words because it is our air, our joy, and because it put us on the road to our glorious destination!


C.  Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, teaches us in the last, ultimate, chapter of Mishlei, known to us as Aishes Chayil, that the key, perhaps concomitantly most elusive and elevating, element of Torah study, the aspect that brings one to the height of service, is “Chayil”, valor or strength, in Torah learning.  We must put our efforts, our strengths, our wherewithal into Torah study in no less measure than into our business goals, monetary objectives and anything else in life that is very important to us.  It is no coincidence (as we know, there is never a “coincidence”, and there never can be one) that the Gematria of Chayil is equal to 48, symbolizing the need to strive for all 48 Ways.  Moreover, the number 48 (Mem Ches) spells Mo’ach, indicating the necessity of seriously putting one’s entire mind to attaining Torah knowledge and practice.  Chazal teach that “Torah weakens the strength of a person”.  In truth, most activity weakens a person, whose soul is housed in flesh and blood.  If something is to weaken a person, it is certainly much more preferred that it be Torah then...


D.  As we approach the first Shabbos away from Shavuos, we note that the Parshas HaShavua is Parshas Naso.  Among other mitzvos, the Parsha contains some enormous lessons on why and how to control the Yetzer Hora, and the kinds of brachos we should look to give and to receive.  We would like here to only point to the fact that this Parsha is almost always read on the Shabbos after Shavuos, and that it is the longest Parsha in the Torah.  Part of the reason it is the longest Parsha is that each of the 12 Nesseim’s private donations to the Mishkan is separately detailed, notwithstanding that the donations are otherwise fully identical in object, kind and amount.  Chazal (at length in Bamidbar Rabba on these Pesukim) teach that this individualized detail was not done so that we can simply stay more attached to Yom Tov by reading more and more Pesukim of Torah right after Shavuos (although this, in and of itself, would be a sufficient reason).  Rather, the Midrash teaches that behind the otherwise identical and seemingly (c’v) repetitive Pesukim is a lesson for eternity--that they all looked the same, but that they were all very different, because each Nassi had his own Kavanos, his personal thoughts, when he brought his Korban. We can derive a very important lesson from this relating to the study of Torah itself.  While many people may appear to learn similar Torah topics, as they may be among the tens of thousands who study the Parsha with Rashi weekly, or who the thousands who learn two Halachos of Shmiras HaLashon every day, or part of the 15 people attending a local Daf Yomi shiur, there really is a difference, because the manner of study of no two are the same--and we need each and every one of them!  My Torah Study, your Torah Study, his Torah Study--it is all essential for oneself, and for K’lal Yisroel!


E.  HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, explains why the particularly moving Niggun for Mussar is different than the tune that we otherwise use when studying.  The Niggun for Mussar is intended to especially penetrate into one’s heart so that the Yiras Shomayim is deeply implanted there.  The Yiras Shomayim generated then serves to open one’s heart to his Torah studies. 


F.  The Yiras Shomayim so necessary for learning by no means detracts from the Simcha we are to experience over Torah Study--as the privilege of eternity.  A wonderful way to inspire one’s learning Torah B’Simcha is to recite or sing the words “Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkenu U’Mah Na’im Goraleinu--How fortunate is our portion, How fortunate is our lot!”--with sincerity and feeling, before beginning to learn!


G.  We have entered the period between Shavuos and Rosh Hashana, which is our next Yom Tov, pending the Bais HaMikdash being rebuilt.  Fascinatingly, the Torah, in the Parshas HaMoadim (in Emor 23:22) presents the following singular Pasuk as the bridge Pasuk between Shavuos and Rosh Hashana:  U’Vekutzrechem Es Ketzir Artzechem…LeAni VeLaGer Ta’azov Osam, Ani Hashem Elokeichem--when you reap the harvest…for the poor and the Ger shall you leave them, I am Hashem your G-d.”  Rashi (ibid.) brings Chazal who explain that the reason this Pasuk (which seemingly related to charity) is precisely placed here in the Parshas HaMoadim is to teach that if one gives gifts to the poor properly, it is considered as if he himself had built the Bais HaMikdash and brought Karbanos in it--he has in a sense made his own Mo’ed!  Let us take this great lesson from Chazal--and ensure that this period between Shavuos and Rosh Hashana is marked by proper Tzedaka giving--so that we will in all events build our own Bais HaMikdash and bring our own Karbanos--well in advance of Rosh Hashana!


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