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23 Tammuz

REMEMBER-- BRACHOS ON HYDRATING:  During the hot summer months one may make it a point of drinking water before he ventures out and after he comes back into his home or office.  One may similarly drink several cups of water both before and after a Ta’anis--even if he does not feel especially thirsty.  Would one make a bracha on the water that he drinks--or not, as he just forcing himself to drink, and gaining no pleasure?  In the past, we had asked HaRav Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, a similar question, as to whether one could drink water on Shabbos morning before going to Shul (i.e., before a chiyuv of Kiddush set in)--not because one was necessarily thirsty, but because one was worried that he would not make Kiddush before Chatzos--and one is not allowed to fast on Shabbos beyond Chatzos.  You may recall that Rabbi Bodner had responded as follows:  I do not have a good proof, but m’svorah, since he is definitely having hana’ah from the water, even though the primary reason he is drinking is not to be considered fasting, or to hydrate himself, nevertheless, he should make a bracha.  There is somewhat of a proof from the ruling of HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, who writes that someone who drinks a large amount of water before Yom Kippur just to hydrate himself for the fast makes a bracha--because it is not possible that he has no hana’ah from the water.”  Hakhel Note:  If one has any particular circumstances or conditions, he should consult with his Rav as to the Bracha Rishona/Achrona when ‘hydrating’--this summer, or any other time.



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



FROM A READER: “Pinchas was given a ‘Bris of Shalom’ by Hashem.  I would like to suggest that everyone consider the absolute Pashut P’shat of these words--in reward for Pinchas acting in such a self-sacrificing way for the honor of Hashem, Pinchas was awarded the gift of peace--inner peace; this means tranquility and calmness in his personal life and his personal decisions.  If one acts with alacrity and unrelenting dedication towards the Torah and Mitzvos, his closeness to Hashem will build a great Emunah within him.  He will thus be at peace.  I think that this is a lesson that we can all internalize and aspire to.”




Special Note One:  HaRav Shlomo Mandel, Shlita, brings a Maharsha (to Bechoros 8), who compares the three week period between Rosh Hashanah and Hoshana Rabbah to the three weeks between Shivah Asar B’Tammuz and Tisha B’Av.  It is a twinship of process, and a twinship of culmination.  These are days of examination, thinking, repairing, changing one’s mindset and ways, a time in which one must put himself into his best working order.  HaRav Mandel teaches that much of what we must do during this period is to re-forge our relationship with Hashem.  Why?  Let us look at the words of the Navi.  In the Haftarah of Shabbos Chazon, Yeshayahu HaNavi (Yeshaya 1:3) laments:  Yadah Shor Koneihu V’Chamor Eivus Ba’alav…--the ox knows its owner, and a donkey his master’s trough, Yisrael does not know, my nation does not perceive….”  If the animals recognize who provides them with their sustenance and enables them to live, function and achieve that which they are supposed to--then we, all the more so, must apply the lessons ‘a million times over’ and recognize HaKadosh Baruch Hu in all that we do.  HaRav Mandel brings an incredible Maharal (in Parshas Bereishis) who teaches that if a person is not a Makir Tovah, then it is forbidden to do him a Tovah.  HaRav Mandel explains that it appears a bit like Lifnei Iver for a person to do a good deed to someone who will not recognize it--for he will then be punished for being a Kafui Tovah--for denying the good(!).


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



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


A. From the Conference of Synagogue Rabbonim of Agudath Israel of America :  By clicking here, we provide an outstanding Halachic summary entitled Guidelines For Travel on Erev Shabbos published by Agudath Israel . It is available in hard stock card format by contacting torahprojects@agudathisrael.org.


B. It is reported by a daughter of HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl, that a Shabbos preparation that he would not let anyone do for him in the ordinary course was shining his shoes for Shabbos!


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


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


2. If one wears his Shabbos clothes during the week, he is misma’et, or reduces, his Kavod Shabbos (ibid. 262, Note 6).  However, when a woman puts on her jewelry on Shabbos, she should nevertheless leave one thing that she does not wear, Zecher LeChurban. This would not be considered aveilus befarhesya, because people would not be able to tell that she is missing an item of her jewelry (ibid., Note 9).


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


4.  It is a Mitzvas Asei Min HaTorah to add on to Shabbos both before and after Shabbos (SA, OC 261, Mishna Berurah seif katan 19). The Shevet Halevi rules that if one follows the Rabbeinu Tam’s shita at the end of Shabbos, he cannot ask his friend who had made Havdala earlier to do melacha for him; however, if one follows the Rabbeinu Tam’s shita only as a chumra than it is tzarich iyun whether he can ask one who has made Havdala to perform a melacha for him (ibid, Note 67).


5.  HaRav Eliashiv rules that a woman should light the electric lights and also the regular Shabbos Neiros at the table where the seudah will be eaten.  Her husband can perform a hiddur mitzvah by lighting an additional candle, or the electric lights in other rooms.  If the woman of the house cannot light, HaRav Eliashiv rules that a girl over bas mitzvah who lives in the house (not a married daughter who is only visiting) has priority over the husband/father, although HaRav Karelitz is mistapek as to who has priority. If only sons and daughters are home for Shabbos, HaRav Auerbach rules that a girl who is bas mitzvah should light (ibid. 263, Notes 16, 17).


6.  The candles at the Shabbos Seudah are the Ikar Oneg Seudas Shabbos, and one is accordingly obligated to eat the Seudah on Leil Shabbos by the neiros (ibid. Mishna Berurah 263, seif katan 10, and SA OC 264, Note 8)


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


8. If one does not like hot food during the summer, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, writes that one should nevertheless eat hot food on Shabbos--unless he would be hurt by it. His ruling is based on the words of the Mishna Berurah (SA, OC 297 seif katan 48). Additionally, HaRav Karelitz writes that because the ikar Seudah on Shabbos is by day, hot food must be eaten at the day meal, and that drinking a hot drink is insufficient. HaRav Karelitz bases his ruling on the words of the Ba’al HaMa’or in Mesechta Shabbos(end of Perek Kirah): “HaMashmin Hu HaMa’amin Vezoche LeKeitz HaYamin”--one demonstrates his Emunah and is zoche to merit participating in the end of days--through properly partaking of his Seudos Shabbos! (ibid. 257, Notes 47, 49 and 50).



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


“Why is he the best?!”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




19 Tammuz

THE DAILY CROWN: The Chofetz Chaim writes: “Take the following words of the Rambam (Hilchos Dei’os 7:5) as an ‘Atara LeRoshecha--a crown to your head’--and remember it at all times--anything that you say which could cause damage to another, whether physically or monetarily, or which could cause him pain or scare him, is Lashon Hara!” Hakhel Note: We should be especially careful to make sure that the crown is on securely during the Three Week Period!




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 156 and 157:


156. Shelo Sasur Achar Machshevos HaLev U’Re’ias HaEinayim--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from having thoughts which could lead to the denial of the basic tenets of the Torah, and which also prohibits allowing one’s eyes to lead him to immorality. Included in this prohibition is thinking about and pursuing the pleasures and desires of this world. The Chofetz Chaim adds here that a person must try to be mekadeish and metaher his thoughts with all of his might, and should utilize the pleasures of this world to strengthen himself to serve Hashem. The Chofetz Chaim continues that if one had inappropriate thoughts or pursued physical desire for its own sake, it is an aveirah chamurah which literally pushes him away from Olam Haba and defiles his entire body and his entire soul--‘Lachein Yezaher Me’od Bazeh--therefore one must be very careful to guard against these thoughts!’ This prohibition applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.



157. Shelo Le’abeid Shum Davar Kadosh--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from destroying holy items, including causing the erasure of one of Hashem’s Names. If even one letter is erased from one Name--the punishment is makkos. However, if an apikores writes a Sefer, then the entire Sefer--including the Names of Hashem--is to be burned. This prohibition applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.



Special Note Two: In order to begin to appreciate the great number of issues that these times generate, we once again provide below several Halachos from the Sefer Ashrei HaIsh, written by Rabbi Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita, containing the Pesakim of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl, and from the Sefer Koveitz Halachos which contains the Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita on the Bain HaMetzarim Period, as written by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita:


Pesakim of HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv:


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


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


C. During the Nine Days, it is permissible to travel to relatives for Shabbos, and this is not considered a ‘tiyul’.


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


E. While it is permissible to purchase Seforim during the Nine Days, it is better to buy them beforehand. One should not give gifts, or even send flowers during the Nine Days, but one can be lenient with a Bar Mitzvah gift.


Pesakim of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky:


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


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


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


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


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


F. One should not begin painting his home during the Three Weeks. Similarly, one should not have ‘body work’ on his car during the Nine Days, if its purpose is to enhance the car’s appearance.


G. It is permissible for a woman to wear her regular, everyday jewelry during the Nine Days. It is best to be mechanech children to be ‘me’ma’ait BeSimcha’ during the Nine Days. For instance, they should not go to an amusement park or build a clubhouse. Generally, one should also not make a ‘birthday party’ during the Nine Days--but if there is a specific situation one should ask a Shaila.  One should not plant flowers for beauty’s sake during the Nine Days.



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


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

A) From the Seventeenth of Tammuz

B) From Rosh Chodesh Av

C) The week of Tisha B’Av

D) Tisha B’Av


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


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


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




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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


The Sephardic community is lenient and does not start this prohibition until the week that Tisha B’Av occurs (SA 551-3 & 12). [When Tisha B’Av occurs on Shabbos, many Sephardic communities take on this prohibition from Friday prior to Tisha B’Av (Ben Ish Chai Devorim-12, KH 551-68). Others are more stringent and start the prohibition from Rosh Chodesh Av, while others are not lenient and conduct themselves like the Ashkenazic community from the seventeenth of Tammuz (Yaskil Avdi Vol. 7-35).]


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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




18 Tammuz


WHO ARE YOUR PEERS? HaRav Yaakov Galinsky, Shlita, writes that in last week’s Parsha, Bilam did not appear shocked at all when the donkey talked to him.  How could this be so?!  He answers that Bilam related to the chamor as a peer and so he was not shocked at all when he was able to converse with it on a one-to-one basis.  This should stir us to consider who we talk to, who we relate to--we should act responsibly in order to avoid our talking to perhaps modern-day donkeys--and getting used to it!




Some notes for the Three Week period we are in:


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


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


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


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


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


B.  SO MUCH LIFE --because of the Galus and persecutions, so many millions of lives have been lost--all with such potential for growth and for long life.


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


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


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


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


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


9.  Reminder--Sever Panim Yafos!


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




17 Tammuz

FROM THE SEFER YEARNING WITH FIRE (ARTSCROLL):  Being metzapim l’yeshuah is not only mandatory, but especially essential now, because, as the Chofetz Chaim and the Michtav MeiEliyahu write, ‘all the signs pointing to Mashiach’s arrival have already been fulfilled’.  We are like people coming to the end of a long journey, who are told, Go over the bridge, pass two sets of traffic lights, and just keep going until you see the sign that says ‘Entrance.’ Then youre there.”  Would a person travel the entire way and then, just when he must start looking for the “Entrance” sign, give up the effort?  We have come so far, the Chofetz Chaim and Michtav MeiEliyahu are telling us. Now, more than ever, we must indeed keep our eyes focused on the horizon, trying to catch a glimpse of the rapidly approaching Mashiach.”  Hakhel Note:  How is one metzapeh l’yeshuahThat is what Yearning with Fire is about!  89 Day, 5 Minute Lesson-A-Day Program.  We urge you to begin the Program--it is extremely enriching--and we hope you will see the Yeshua before its completion!



OH--WHAT WE ARE MISSING! The Pasuk (Yirmiyahu 13:17 ) states:  VeDamoah Tidmah Veseirad Eini Dimah Ki Nishbah Eder Hashem…My eye will drip tears for the flock of Hashem….” Noting that the Pasuk mentions the word tear three times, Chazal (Chagiga 5B) teach that Hashem ‘sheds a tear’ over three things--the first Beis HaMikdash, the Second Beis HaMikdash, and the fact that K’lal Yisrael has been exiled from its place.  Chazal continue that some say that the third tear is not for the exile of K’lal Yisrael, but for bitul Torah.  The Gemara then asks--how can some say the third tear is for bitul Torah--when the Pasuk specifically says Ki Nishbah Eder Hashem--that Hashem’s tear is because we are in exile? The Gemara shockingly responds:  Keivan Shegolu Yisrael Memekomam Ein Lecha Bitul Torah Gadol Mizeh…being exiled from our place--there is no greater bitul Torah than this!” Can we not shed a tear over the resounding impact of our own bitul Torah, of the bitul Torah of all of K’lal Yisrael--the bitul Torah of the whole world?! Oh-- V’lirushalayim Irecha B’Rachamim Tashuv!



REMINDER--SEVER PANIM YAFOS! If possible…use the calendar that we provided yesterday to mark-off your success at least one, two or three times a day--or at least with those one, two or three people--showing true accomplishment in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro!




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


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


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


It is the custom of some to recite “Tikun Chatzos” during the Three Week period (see Rabbi Webster’s Halacha discussion below)--some even in the middle of the day.  We may not as yet be on this level.  However, we should remember that every day, three times daily in Modim, we thank Hashem “for the goodness given to us in the evening, in the morning, and in the afternoon.”  What goodness is it that Hashem gives us at these especially designated times?  We suggest that it is Tefillah itself.  We provide two suggestions that we have made in the past:


1. If we can conclude the Yehi Ratzon at the end of Shemone Esrei with Kavannah during the Three Weeks, three times a day, we will have sincerely davened for the Beis Hamikdash and our redemption more than 60 times during this short period!  Rather than wallowing in self-pity, we will demonstrate a renewal of our faith and have beautifully affirmed our supreme goals.


2. The Navi teaches: “VaEshtomem Ki Ain Mafgiah--I was stunned that no one was praying.”  We have to daven for the Geulah, even not in the course of our regular Tefillos, more and more and more.  Our relentlessness can demonstrate our sincerity and true need.  We accordingly, once again, provide the Tefillah Ahl HaGeulah (both in Hebrew and in English), for one to recite (hopefully at least daily)--with passion!  The Hebrew version is available by clicking here and the English version is available here.


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



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


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

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


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


2. The two daily sacrifices (Korban Tomid) ceased during the first Bais Hamikdash because the Kohanim were unable to find a lamb to offer as a Korban.  [Hakhel Note: It is no coincidence, as it never is, that we learned of the Korban Tomid in last week’s Parsha].


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

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


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


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


The fast commences at dawn on Tuesday morning and ends at nightfall.  If one intends to eat or drink early in the morning before dawn, one should have in mind to do so before going to sleep. If one normally drinks a hot beverage before Shacharis, it is not necessary to have it in mind before going to sleep that one will drink before dawn (SA 564-1, MA-3, CA 132-17, MB-6, KH-9).  One must consult with his Rav as to the time of dawn in his locality.

Men and women must fast (SA 550-1). Boys below the age of thirteen years of age and girls below the age of twelve years are not obligated to fast (ER 549). Parents should encourage their children (boys 9-12, girls 9-11) to fast for a few hours, such as delaying their breakfast by an hour or skipping breakfast until lunch. However, they should not be induced to fast an entire day (CA 133-6, MB 550-5, KH-9 & 554-23, BM Vol. 8-98).


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


One should try not to get angry on a fast day (ER 568-18).




16 Tammuz

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



























































      JULY 16





















Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 154 and 155:


154. Shelo La’asos Melacha B’Shemini Atzeres--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from performing prohibited work on Shemini Atzeres. This prohibition applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


155. Shelo Sechalelu Es Sheim Kodshi--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from doing anything which will lead to a Chilul Hashem. This prohibition is divided into three parts:


1. If it is a time of shemad, and the enemy is forcing a Jew to do any aveira so that he violates the Torah (no matter what the aveira is), or if the enemy is forcing one to violate one of the three cardinal sins--avodah zara, giluy arayos and shefichas damim--even privately and not in a time of shemad with the enemy doing so merely for his own pleasure and not with the intent of having the Jew violate the Torah--one must give up his life and not violate the Mitzvah, and if he does not give up his life, he has violated this prohibition--committing an act of Chilul Hashem. If this is done in front of ten people, then it is a Chilul Hashem B’Rabim, and a very grave sin.  This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


2. If a person performs an aveira not because he has any pleasure or desire to do so, but only to rebel and to remove Ohl Malchus Shomayim from himself, it is a violation of this prohibition--an act of Chilul Hashem.


3. If an important person does something which appears to be an aveira to the average person, even though what he did was permissible for reasons known to him, it is a violation of this prohibition--an act of Chilul Hashem.


The Chofetz Chaim concludes that the sin of Chilul Hashem is very great because even Teshuvah and Yom Kippur cannot effect a complete Kappara, and only missah can be fully mechaper.


This prohibition applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.



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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Hakhel Note: Yes you can!




13 Tammuz

WHAT IS THE BRACHA? According to the OU (which gives the Hashgacha), the bracha to be recited on Dolce De Leche Cheerios is Shehakol and Borei Nefashos.


Hakhel Note One:  This is true in spite of the fact that the primary ingredients include Whole Grain Corn and Whole Grain Oats! How important it is to investigate the bracha!


Hakhel Note Two: On the Cheerios box, the General Mills mission is set forth: “Our mission is nourishing lives”. If that is the mission of General Mills--what should our mission be?!



FROM THE SEFER SHA’AREI TESHUVA ON TA’ AVA : “The desire which is implanted in a man’s heart is the root of all his actions; therefore, if his desire is properly ordered, instead of being served by all of the body’s members, it will cause them to follow the dictates of intelligence, with which they will become allied and which they will serve, so that all of his actions will be rendered fit….”



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



OPPORTUNITY-- REAL OPPORTUNITY! The Mishnayos of Mesechta Tomid and Mesechta Middos help review for us a day in the life of the Beis HaMikdash. Together, Mesechtos Tomid and Middos have sixty-four Mishnayos. This means that if you learn just three Mishnayos a day starting this Sunday, you will have reviewed so many important Halachos regarding the Beis HaMikdash--during the Three Week period. This would be a beautiful demonstration--of what you truly aspire for!




Special Note One:  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:   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 Mishna 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 levatala and candles must be lit again with a brocha. Consult with a Rav for guidance in such situations, if possible.


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 Chaim, 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:   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 give 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, are we permitted to finish the meal before nightfall or do we have to finish it after nightfall? Do we 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 Mishna 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:  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 than  three tefachim (approximately 11½ inches) from the ground, one is forbidden to poke a stick into the tree or bushes, or to climb onto them or shake them.


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

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


QUESTION:  If 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 repellent on one’s hands?

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




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

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




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

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


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

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


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

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




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

ANSWER: The Klal is that if you have a little creature that can sting you and you are afraid that it will sting you, then you are allowed to capture it [not kill 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.



Special Note Two:  Points and pointers on this week’s Parsha:


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


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


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


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


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


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




12 Tammuz  

THE ANTI-KA’AS LINK : We provide by clicking here a compilation of our Tikkun Middas HaKa’as Series presented over the last week, as culled from the Sefer Haser Ka’as Milibecha, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita. May we urge to review it--implement it--and spread it on to others, especially prior to the Three Week period!


Hakhel Note: In the classic Sefer Tomer Devorah, HaRav Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, writes as follows (English translation from the Targum Press/Feldheim edition, by Rabbi Moshe Miller): “A person’s forehead (metzach) should display no harshness. Rather, one should emulate the Divine Willingness, accepting everything. Even though certain people arouse one’s anger, he should conciliate them and placate them with good will, for this is what Hashem does, placating the powers of severity that prevail in anger…one should extend his constant pleasantness towards all creatures, for if a person is harsh towards others, he will not find favor Above. This is the meaning of the Mishna (Avos 3:3): ‘Anyone with whom his fellow men are pleased, Hashem is pleased with him’....”



DAF YOMI REVIEW:  In the past we have mentioned the wonderful Daf Yomi Chazara website http://www.shaschabura.org.  We provide the Chazara program for Mesechta Pesachim beginning this Shabbos, and continuing through the rest of the Mesechta by clicking here.   We thank a reader who helped us with this important link. 




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 152 and 153:


152. Shelo Le’echol V’Lishtos BeYom HaKippurim--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from eating and drinking on Yom HaKippurim. If one eats or drinks the shiur within the prohibited time frame, then he is chayav kareis (if done intentionally). All edible foods add up to the Shiur of food, and all potable drinks add up to the Shiur of drink. If one eats or drinks less than the Shiur, he does not receive kareis, but does receive makkas mardus. There are other prohibitions on Yom Kippur which are MiD’Rabbanan--including washing and wearing shoes. If one violates them, he receives makkas mardus. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


153. Shelo La’asos Melacha B’Yom Rishon Shel Sukkos--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from performing prohibited work on the first day of Sukkos. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.



Special Note Two:  As provided in the past, the following are summer Shailos and Teshuvos--questions that we asked HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, 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:






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’da’ati, 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 hara.  A person should definitely keep his eyes away and it is not easy.  The designers of these advertisements do it in a very expert way, with the knowledge that their provocative appeals will be very difficult to ignore.  That is just the reason why we must thwart their enticements they swamp us with and try to float in front of our eyes.  One has to avoid these influences unless it is absolutely impossible to avoid them. In such cases, one should avoid looking directly at these enticements. While it is true that one may look ridiculous in the eyes of others, it is worth it, gaining many precious zechusim.  We must struggle to clear things away from our eyes that we shouldn’t be seeing.  It is best that if one sees something and one wonders whether or not such a sight is mutar or assur, one should refrain from taking a second glance.  Better to remain ignorant.  You won’t regret it!


Calling Someone Else’s Spouse by Their First Name


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

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

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


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.


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.


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.




11 Tammuz



1. According to the OU (which gives the Hashgacha), the bracha to be recited on Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws is Shehakol.


2. According to the CRC (which gives the Hashgacha together with the OU), the bracha to be recited on Gourmet Basics Mediterranean Herbs Pop Rings is Mezonos, but there is insufficient wheat after eating a one ounce bag to recite an Ahl HaMichya, and accordingly the bracha achrona would be Borei Nefashos.



FROM THE SHA’AREI TESHUVAH: “The righteous praise and honor men for every good quality that is found in them, while the wicked seek out a man’s faults and errors in order to lower him (Sha’arei Teshuvah 1:18).”



Now that the summer is very much upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, we present the following Shailos and Teshuvos--questions that we recently asked HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, and his responses.  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: On Shabbos, is one permitted to use a shopping bag to put garbage into, although he is then causing it to become Muktzah?

ANSWER: One is permitted to put garbage into a shopping bag, the same way one may use a regular garbage bag. Even with the garbage inside, the bag does not become ossur b’tiltul and therefore there is no concern of being mevatel kli meihaychano (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 310, seif 6; Siman 308, seif 34).


QUESTION: Due to the rain in the country people often get mud stuck to the bottom of their shoes. How can one remove the mud on Shabbos and avoid the issur of tochein?

ANSWER: The Mishna in Shabbos (142b) states: “Haysa Shel Ohr Nosnin Aleha Mayim Ad Shetichlah--if something made out of leather (or other similar non-absorbent material) had some dirt on it, one may pour water onto it until it dissolves.” As long as one just runs some water over the shoe without touching the mud with his hands, there is no problem of tochein (see Orach Chaim Siman 302, seif 9)


QUESTION: One drives up to the country early enough--but gets stuck in traffic. There is nowhere to go and he pulls over to the side of the road. Can the police take him to the police station?  If they do, what can he take along (challos, food etc.)?

ANSWER: One should not continue driving on the highway with the hope of ‘maybe I will make it’ when he sees that Shabbos is setting in. Instead, if it is already within a half-hour of shekiah he should make it his business to find the nearest motel and spend Shabbos there. One should always take along with him challos, wine, jarred gefilte fish, etc. Furthermore, one should not get into this situation in the first place, but rather leave in plenty of time for Shabbos.


QUESTION: Is one permitted to allow a child to ride a two-wheeler on Shabbos ?

ANSWER: If he does not understand the Kedusha of Shabbos, he can. If he understands there is such an idea of Kedushas Shabbos, he should not.


QUESTION: If there is a blackout in a bungalow on Shabbos and then the electric goes back on, is one permitted to use the food that is on an electric blech or in a crock pot?

ANSWER: As long as the blackout did not last long enough so that the food completely cooled (i.e., room temperature), the food is permitted for it is simply a continuation of the original shehiyah. If the food already lost all of its warmth and became room temperature, one should remove it.


QUESTION: If one has to take a child to the hospital on Shabbos and the child is discharged, and the child insists that he wants go back home--is one permitted to go home through a non-Jew, or does he have to stay at a bungalow colony next to the hospital because it is within the techum?

ANSWER: If the parent is needed back home to take care of the other children, etc., then they may return. Otherwise, he should stay with the child at the colony that is within the techum.


QUESTION: My child starts eating the meal inside the bungalow and then goes outside to finish what he is eating, does he have to make a new bracha?

ANSWER: If it is a place where people are accustomed to eating and picnicking, it can be considered one makom with the bungalow and no new bracha is required.


QUESTION: There is a grocery in my bungalow but his prices are higher than Wal-Mart or ShopRite-- do I have to buy from him or may one buy from Wal-Mart, etc.?

ANSWER: Practically, one should support the local grocer. The extra bit spent is worth it considering the tircha of an extended shopping excursion. He is almost always ready to accommodate any needs or orders that are requested, and the expedient service is well worth the price. This is an eitza tova aside from the chiyuv to support a fellow Yid.


QUESTION: Does one have to put up mezuzahs on a bungalow for the summer?  After the summer may one  take down the mezuzahs? Does it make a difference if he intends to come back next summer or not?

ANSWER: If one will be there for more than thirty days, a mezuzah is required. If one will be returning the next year, he should leave them up (they should be well wrapped within the case to protect them). If he will not return the next summer, they may be removed.


QUESTION: Is one permitted to do the laundry on Friday if they had no time to do so during the week?

ANSWER: Although Ezra HaSofer established a takana that kibbush begadim should not be done on Erev Shabbos so that people will be free to properly prepare tzorchei Shabbos, washing clothes in the washing machine is not nearly as consuming as kibbush begadim once was. Therefore, one is allowed to do laundry on Friday.


QUESTION: Is one permitted to wash cherry tomatoes that come in a basket that has holes--or is it borer? I would think that it would be assur because one is using it as a specialized tool, like a sieve.

ANSWER: LeMa’aseh, it is not a Kli HaMeyuchad LeBorer.


QUESTION: There are also grapes that come in a bag that have holes in it--and all you have to do is wash the grapes in the bag, and it seems that it is also being used as a sieve. Is the bag a kli borer?



QUESTION: There is a new appliance for consumers  in which you put washed lettuce into a plastic container and put on top of it a device that has an a spinner attached to it which separates the water from the lettuce--is this assur either due to borer or to uvdah d’chol ?

ANSWER: One should not use a spinner on Shabbos as it is a Kli HaMeyuchad LeBorer.




10 Tammuz

DAF YOMI! To those who may have so noted, yesterday’s Daf (Eruvin 101A) suddenly began to discuss Yerushalayim, and then even more suddenly stated: “This was true before Yerushalayim’s walls were breached and that was true after Yerushalayim’s walls were breached.” As we noted in yesterday’s Bulletin, yesterday, the ninth of Tammuz was the date that the walls of Yerushalayim were breached (according to the Pesukim both in Melachim Bais and Yirmiyahu) during the time of the First Bais HaMikdash. One who studies the Daf Yomi encounters these kinds of ‘KUHincidences’ and is wonderfully inspired by the clear Hashgacha Pratis evident in them. This Shabbos, Daf Yomi will begin Mesechta Pesachim--and it is an outstanding time to start or re-start the elevated task of studying a blatt of Gemara per day. For those who may say that we are nine months away from the coming Pesach and so it is not so practical--they should remember that there is also the very important concept of Torah Lishma--not only learning for the sake of immediately implementing that which one has studied, but also learning because it is Hashem’s Torah and Hashem wants us to study it for its own sake. For those who are already studying the Daf, one should begin to think of a way in which he can improve his Daf Yomi study-- as he begins his fourth Mesechta in the cycle--in less than a year!



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



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



We conclude a series on the Middah of Kaas, as culled from the Sefer Haser Kaas Meilibecha, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita. In doing so, we note the following pointed words of the Sha’arei Teshuvah (1:16) relating to Ka’as:  “The trait of the fool is characterized as the opposite of the wise man, for the fool becomes angry, but nonetheless is confident that sin or injury will not befall him. This is in the face of the fact that one who is inclined to anger is prey to sin and given up to injury, as the Pasuk says (Mishlei 29:22): “U’va’al Cheima Rav Posha--and a wrathful man abounds in iniquity”, and “Ihr Perutzah Ein Chomah…like a city broken down without a wall, so is he whose spirit is without restraint” (ibid. 25:28).”



A.  Once Rebbi Yisroel Salanter and those accompanying him were waiting for a train in the train station. Somebody heard a noise and called out: “It’s the train--the train is coming!” After this had happened several times with no train in sight, the people in the station began to yell and scream at this newfound ‘boy who cried wolf’. Rebbi Yisroel turned to his students and taught:  If one has presence of mind, he will come to the conclusion that there is nothing to be angry about in a situation such as this. The person obviously meant well, hoping that the train would come soon and trying to spread the good news to others. He was simply inexperienced, overly hopeful, jumping too-quick to conclusions, and not yet enough of a ba’al mussar to learn from his mistakes!


B.  HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl was asked: “Bameh He’erachta Yamim--in what zechus do you have Arichas Yamim?”  He answered: “From the day I reached understanding, I did not become angry at anyone or anything.”


C.  HaRav Lopian also explained that the most important test for a person’s anger is how he acts with the members of his household--as, after all, is he not the ‘head of the house’?


D.  HaRav Lopian would also add that it is not only on Erev Shabbos that a person’s temperament is tested--but on Shabbos itself--especially during the meals, when everything is not going as he had hoped or looked forward to.


E.  The Meiri writes in his Chibur HaTeshuvah: “Ki Lo Yerucham Machar, Asher Lo Teracheim HaYom--the one who does not have mercy today, will not be the subject of mercy tomorrow!”


F.  The Sefer Peninei HaChochma brings a startling contrast between Socrates and the leaders of our people. It is well-known that Socrates excelled in the trait of patience. He was married to an evil wife who constantly tried to upset him and make his life miserable. Once, for example, he prepared a plentiful party--and she entered and overturned the tables, turning the lavish settings into a big mess. He turned to all and said: “Has it not happened to you before that a rooster or other animal has reeked destruction in your house--would you be angry at the animal--no, that is its nature. Just as one should not be angry at an animal, so I am not angry at my wife."  On the other hand, Chazal (Yevamos 63A) record that Rebbi Chiya had a difficult wife. Rebbi Chiya told Rav how he views his relationship: “I look away from the difficulties and think of the good that she does for me...!” Let us contemplate the difference between the Greek philosopher who compared his difficult wife to a rooster or animal, and Rebbi Chiya whose wife put him in wrenching circumstances, and who nevertheless looked at the good that she provided him with--at least from time-to-time! When we are moved to anger in the immediate circumstance, we should instead transfer it to a feeling of recognition or appreciation for another situation --remember, it is a test that everyone can pass! 


G.  Finally, the story is told of Zalman Ka’asner--Zalman the Angry One. His time had come to leave this world, and the local townspeople heard and gathered about his house. Even a few little children jumped up on the windowsills, trying to peer in. Out of the corner of his eye, Zalman looked up and noticed the children on the windowsills. This preoccupied his mind over everything else--and he began to bang with his fists to get the children off the window sill. He left the world banging with his fists on the post of his bed. All present learned that if one does not teach himself to control his Middos (and especially his Ka’as) while he able to in this world...this is what he will take with him as he leaves this world…for eternity. On the other hand, if one begins to convert those middos ra’os with Ka’as near the top of the list into middos tovos with savlanus and simcha at the top of the list--imagine the everlasting nachas-filled existence of an Olam Haba that is forever and ever!




9 Tammuz

WHAT IS THE BRACHA? According to the OU, the bracha on Mini Pops: Air Popped Sorghum Grain is Ha’adama.




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 150 and 151:


150. Shelo La’asos Melacha B’Rosh Hashanah--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from performing prohibited work on Rosh Hashanah. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


151. Shelo La’asos Melacha B’Yom HaKippurim--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from performing prohibited work on Yom HaKippurim. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.



Special Note Two:  Today is the ninth day of Tammuz.  According to the Pesukim in Navi (Melachim II 25:3, Yirmiyah 39:2) today is the day that Nevuchadnetzar’s army, which had been besieging Yerushalayim, actually breached its walls.  King Tzidkiyahu and his Anshei Chayil fled from Yerushalayim that night, and were captured escaping through a cave in the Plains of Yericho.  Accordingly, today was a day of fasting during the 70 years of Churban Bayis Rishon.  Because the walls of the Second Bais HaMikdash were breached on the seventeenth 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 Seventeenth of Tammuz that the walls were breached even during the time of the first Bais HaMikdash, but the people were so confused and perplexed--there was such upheaval--that the populace mistook the day for the ninth of Tammuz, and accordingly the Pesukim reflected it that way for posterity.  Undoubtedly, if the people believed it was the ninth, and if the Pesukim in fact specifically refer to the ninth, the force and influence of the seventeenth must rest in and with the ninth, as well.


We posit that a day which has destruction inherent within it also has the concomitant power of building and healing contained within it.  The greatest example is the “Moed” of Tisha B’Av itself--which in the time of the Meraglim could have been--and ultimately and soon [hopefully this year!] 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, no matter how small 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 in the Beis HaMikdash.  Through sincere Teshuva--we will see the opening of the Ulam in the Beis HaMikdash itself!  (The source for the Kotzker Rebbe’s teaching is the Sefer VSheeNonTom, by Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Shlita).



Additional Note: As we learned in last week’s Parsha, when Bnei Yisrael complained about their difficult life in the Midbar (no water, no variety of foods), Hashem sent snakes to attack them. When Bnei Yisrael repented and came to Moshe Rabbeinu to daven for them, Hashem told Moshe to make a serpent and put it on a nes (a pole), and whomever was bitten would look at the serpent and be healed. The Mishna in Rosh Hashanah (29A) teaches that it is not the snake that kills, nor the serpent that heals--sin causes death and looking towards Heaven, returning to Hashem--heals. The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh asks why the snake was necessary, why could we not look towards Heaven directly? HaRav Meir Schuck, Z’tl, answers that when one does Teshuvah, Yiras Ha’Onesh--a realization of the gravity of the sin-- must underlie the process. Only after that can one return with Yiras HaRomemus.  Indeed, after all the great heights that Dovid Hamelech reached, he still exclaims (Tehillim 51:5) “Vechatosi Negdi Somid--my sins are before me always”. One first has to look at the snake--the gravity and punishment of every sin--and only later can he rise towards a higher level of closeness to Hashem!



Special Note Three:  We continue with a series on the Middah of Kaas, as culled from the Sefer Haser Kaas Meilebecha, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita:




A. If one realizes he is entering a situation (going to a place or about to meet a person) which may bring him to anger, he must not ignore the situation, but rather prepare for it. If one lets himself ‘be surprised’--it is much more likely that he will fail. How can one ‘prepare’? One can daven to Hashem for his assistance, and contemplate what he will do to avoid the situation of anger which will likely present itself in one way or the other. Hakhel Note:  The Sefer Chareidim brings that Rebbi Akiva would daven to Hashem every day: “Yehi Ratzon Shelo Echos Velo Achisecha--may it be Your will that I do not get angry, and that I do not anger You!”[This is already in Elokai Netzor in Nusach Sfard--and it can certainly be added into the personal tefillos of one who is reciting Elokai Netzor in Nusach Ashkenaz!]


B. There are certain other times when one must exercise special care--when one has not eaten for while; when one is in a rush to get to work; in the course of rushed Shabbos preparations; when one needs to make a plane, train or bus; when one is preparing for a Simcha, are some common examples of when a prior mental note is necessary in order to avoid the challenge of Ka’as--which will almost surely come up in one or more ways--and for which a special Tefillah, and a special ‘on-guard’ should be implemented!


C. If one is angered by a person who clearly has mental issues, one should rationally consider his verbal attacks or challenges not meaningful. On the other hand, when one is criticized by a wise person, one should more deeply contemplate what this person is saying to him--maybe he is right, at least in some way?


D. The Sefer Erech Apayim writes that one way to deflect anger is simply to think: ‘In the long run, will this really matter?’ Indeed, if it is really a short term issue, one can think: ‘Tomorrow, will this really matter?’


E. Another important technique to combat anger is for one to take upon himself, after his anger (in any situation) has been diffused, to commit to say something like: “Anything that I said about you should not come true” or “I was surely wrong in what I said.” If one knows that he will have to state words such as these, his own feelings of self-worth should help in diffusing the anger ab-initio.


F. A wonderful technique to avoid anger at someone is to instead give him a gift of some sort or praise him--as Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, generally teaches:  Im Ra’av Sonecha Hachileihu Lechem--if your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat….(Mishlei 25:21). Indeed, it is well known that Rebbi Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, would immediately react to somebody who attempted to incite him or harm him--not only by forgiving them, but by performing a beneficial act on their behalf or towards them. Rebbi Yisroel held that by doing so, he was fulfilling the Mitzvas Asei Min HaTorah of VeHalachta BeDrachav--following in the ways of Hashem--Who when people sin, continues to give them the gift of life and, moreover, fulfill their needs and wants! Hakhel Note: What an approach…overturning Ka’as into VeHalachta BeDrachav! We can all do it!




6 Tammuz

FROM A READER: “Apropos to your comment on selecting food at smorgasbords:  Someone once came over to Rav Nasan, Z’tl (the main Talmid of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov), to ask him a question.  Rav Nasan, Zt’l, was in middle of eating soup at the time.  When the person stated his question, Rav Nasan, Zt’l, looked at him, spoon in hand, and told him: You want an answer to your question?  I am still trying to decide if I really need to eat this next spoon of soup or not!”



LEKAVOD SHABBOS!  By clicking here, we provide moving stories provided to us relating to the Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl and HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, Z’tl, on the topic of bringing in the Shabbos early as a source of enormous bracha.



NO SHAVUAH!: In this week’s Parsha, we learn that after Moshe Rabbeinu hit the rock--Hashem immediately issued a shavuah, swearing that Moshe would not be able to enter Eretz Yisrael (Bamidbar 20:12). Rashi (ibid.) explains that Hashem did so only so that Moshe Rabbeinu would not be able to daven in order to overcome the shavuah. There is a great lesson to us here--unless Hashem takes a shavuah against it--our Tefillos are always open to being accepted!  In our times, we may be able to assume that there is no one whom Hashem would be taking a shavuah about.  Our role and goal should be to daven, daven and daven some more--Lishuasecha Kivisi Hashem! 




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


A. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 100-125 women.   This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 25 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


Hakhel Note:  The Shiur is from 10:00AM until 11:00AM at Agudah of 18th Ave , 5413 18th Avenue . Rabbi Webster is currently giving the Shiur on Hilchos Tochein….


26.  Is one permitted to peel an egg? Why?


We have previously stated that the first condition to make borer permissible is to take the ochel from the pesoles--the item that is wanted from the unwanted item. In a situation where this is not possible, such as peeling an egg, it is permissible to peel the egg, due to the fact that the only way to get to the ochel is by removing the pesoles. Therefore, in this case it is considered as Derech Achilah, the normal manner of eating--but one can only do so provided that the other two of the three conditions (for immediate use and done by hand, and not with the use of a specialized utensil) are satisfied.


27. Is there a prohibition of borer to remove the outer leaves of a head of lettuce?


Even though the outer leaves of lettuce are edible bisha’as hadechak (i.e., if one has no other lettuce), nevertheless, MiD’Rabbanan there is a prohibition of borer that relates to the outer leaves. Accordingly, one may remove the outer leaves provided that it is only for immediate use and done by hand, and not with the use of a specialized vessel.


Hakhel Note:  One would, of course, would have to ensure that there were no issues of bedikas tolaim relating to the subject head of lettuce.


28. If one has a mixture of peas and carrots on a plate and one will eat both of them, but one wishes to eat the peas before the carrots, is one permitted to remove the carrots and leave the peas to eat later?


There is a dispute among the Poskim. According to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, it is prohibited and one must remove the peas and leave over the carrots. However, HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Z’tl, held that since both items will be eaten in the same meal, it is permitted.


29. If one permitted to remove the bones in fish?


It is well known that the Brisker Rav Z’tl did not eat fish with bones due to the problem of borer but instead ate gefilte fish on Shabbos. However, those that want to eat fish with bones may eat it in one of the following ways:

1) Put the piece of fish with its bones into one’s mouth and remove the bones.

2) Remove the bones with some fish attached to it.

3) Use a fork /knife and remove only the fish and leave behind the bones. After the fish is removed, the bones are muktzah.


30. What is the best way for one to eat watermelon?


One is not permitted to remove the seeds from the watermelon, for by doing so one is removing the unwanted item from the food. See # 29 for one of the permitted methods. According to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, one is permitted to remove the seeds when preparing the watermelon for a small child (or for an elderly person who cannot do it themselves) because it is considered as Derech Achilah, the normal manner of eating, to remove the seeds before serving the child the watermelon. However, one must still satisfy the other two conditions (for immediate use and done by hand, and not with the use of a specialized vessel).



Special Note Two: Points and pointers on this week’s Parsha:


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


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


Hakhel Note:  In a related vein, we add that a person can be defined by what he talks about.  Try working on your Laymor--follow your speech, for it is a preeminent Torah principle--a Chukas HaTorah! Remarkably, the Chofetz Chaim writes that people look for all kinds of segulos for earning a livelihood. He writes that he believes that the greatest and most wondrous Segulah for Parnassah is…Shemiras HaLashon--what you say! Thus, according to the weighty words of the Chofetz Chaim, one can literally take Shemiras HaLashon--to the bank!


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


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


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



Special Note Three:  We continue a series on the Middah of Ka’as, as culled from the Sefer Haser Ka’as Meilebecha, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita:




A.  In this week’s Pirkei Avos ( 5:11 ), the Mishna teaches that there are four different types of temperaments. Of the four, the two ends are one who is difficult to anger and easy to appease, who is deemed a Chossid, and one who is easy to anger and difficult to appease, who is deemed a Rasha. HaRav Moshe Schick, Z’tl, explains that by the Tanna referring to these temperaments as Chossid and Rasha, he is teaching us that one cannot excuse himself by saying he was born with the nature of an angry person, for which there is no adequate correction possible. Rather, a person must appreciate that he can overcome this Middah--if he does not he is a Rasha--and if he does, he is a Chossid!


B.  Chazal (Eiruvin 65B) teach that a person can assess himself by his conduct in three areas: (i) koso (his drinking), kiso (how he deals in monetary matters); and (iii) ka’aso (controlling his anger). The Ben Yehoyadah (ibid.) explains that one does not drink all the time, nor is he engaged in monetary matters all the time--but the test of ka’as applies day and night, weekday, Shabbos and Yom Tov. Hakhel Note:  What a test to pass!  


C.  The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbi 50:1) teaches that after the Malochim who had visited with Avraham Avinu in Chevron left Avraham’s house, they waited hours until nightfall to actually enter Sedom.  This was because they were Malachei Rachamim--and were hoping that somehow those who deserved punishment could actually be spared. The Sefer Peninei HaSheleimus points out how nobly the Malochim had acted--they delayed going back to Shomayim and instead stayed in a foreign and inappropriate world for them, in order to help save a sinning city. All the more so must we react with patience and mercy to those who dwell in the very same world that we do!


D.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl, teaches that every day in Shemone Esrei we daven to Hashem “Borcheinu Avinu Kulanu K’Echad B’Ohr Panecha--Hashem please bless us together with the light of Your countenance.” If we truly seek Hashem’s Ha’aras Panim--how then, asks HaRav Yecheskel, can we show another anything but our light of countenance as well?!


E. HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Z’tl, the Alter of Slobodka teaches:  HaRagzan Makeh Es Atzmo Bishvil Ha’avlah She’asah Zulaso--the angry person hits himself--for what the other person does to him!”


F.  The Chidda writes that all Middos Tovos and Raos are impressed on a person’s palm. When a person performs a Mitzvah and gets angry as a result, the Chidda continues, the Mitzvah does not appear on his palm--but the aveira of anger does! Hakhel Note:  Maybe we can remember this from time-to-time as we glance at our palm!


G. The following are possible practical Eitzos for a person to purify himself from and purge his prior middah of Ka’as:


1. HaRav Chaim Volozhiner, Z’tl, teaches that if one feels that he cannot give rebuke or reprimand another without speaking in a harsh tone, he is patur from giving the tochacha, and should not do so.


2. HaRav Chaim Volozhiner also teaches that one should specifically daven to Hashem daily that he overcome the middah of Ka’as, and not be makpid at the affront of others. 


3. The Sefer Peleh Yoetz writes that remaining silent when one is angry is like pouring water over a fire.


4. The Sefer Erech Apayim gives various anti-Ka’as techniques, which include taking a drink before expressing anger or fining oneself money to tzedaka each and every time he loses control. Hakhel Note:  A related Eitzah given by the Sefer Tzidkas HaTzaddik is that when one realizes he is getting angrier or angry--he should leave the room that he is in or go out of the house. Hakhel Note:  A change of scenery!


5. A good friend may want to record another when he gets angry, and give him the recording the next day--so that an indelible impression is left upon him of how he sounds when he is angry. Every so often, one may listen to the tape to remind himself about the folly of anger.


6. The Shelah HaKadosh writes that if one feels that he is about to burst out in anger, or actually realizes that he is angry, he should pick up the corner of his tzitzis and look at it. Fascinatingly, the Gematria of Ka’as (150) is also the Gematria of Kanaf--the corner of the tzitzis!


7.  The Shela HaKadosh also teaches that the Gematria of Ka’as (once again 150) is the number of Kepitelech that there are in Tehillim--150! This literally gives us an idea of what we should be reciting when feelings of anger come on--Tehillim!




5 Tammuz

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



POPCORNERS OU WHOLE GRAIN CHIPS--WHOSE PRINCIPAL INGREDIENT IS SORGHUM:  What bracha does one make on this product? We look forward to your thoughts!



READING LABELS:  Many heimeshe brand products provide the appropriate bracha to be made on the product--with the bracha listed actually sometimes being surprising (mezonos on soy?).  However, not all times is the bracha achrona provided on the product.  This becomes especially important when the bracha rishona is listed as a mezonos, and the bracha achrona is not listed.  There are two issues: (1) Is the bracha rishona mezonos because of rice content, and not because of content of the five grains?; and (2) Even if the bracha rishona is mezonos because of grain content--will the shiur for a bracha achrona be eaten within the timeframe of k’dei achilas pras?  Even within two different types of the same product--the answer to this second question might be different, based upon the relative ingredients of the product.  The lesson:  Look for the bracha, study the ingredient panel…and ask any questions that may be necessary!  It is your life to succeed at!



THE SMORGASBORD TEST:  Within the next ten days, many may be attending chasunahs, before the Three Week period commences.  If one arrives early enough, he may be faced by elaborate or tempting delicacies at the smorgasbord.  While one of course should assure that he has the strength to participate actively in the Simchas Chassan V’Kallah, he should also ensure that he is not let being led astray by the free temptations that glitter before him.  May we suggest that before selecting an item from the serving trays, one give a second thought as to why he is eating it, and also make every attempt not to eat while standing, walking, or in a manner which appears even a bit undignified?  Just the thought process alone is a wonderful level of kvishas hayetzer.  Pass the test!





Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 148 and 149:


148. Shelo La’asos Melacha B’Yom Shevi’i Shel Pesach -- this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from performing prohibited work on the seventh day of Pesach. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


149. Shelo La’asos Melacha B’Chag HaShavuos--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from performing prohibited work on Shavuos. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.



Special Note Two:  We continue a series on the Middah of Ka’as, as culled from the Sefer Haser Ka’as Meilebecha, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita:




A. The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah 4:5) lists 24 items which are Me’akeiv Teshuvah--and being one who angers is one of the 24. Indeed, HaRav Shlomo Gavirol, Z’tl, writes in his Sefer Tikkon Middos HaNefesh (4:1), that one who is beset by a strong level of anger is actually ainenu rachok min hameshugaim.  Hakhel Note: Who wants to be in that category?


B.  One who looks at the face of one who is angry suffers from forgetting his learning, and forgetting in general (Sefer Chassidim 11:26 ).


C.  HaRav Chaim Vital, Z’tl, writes:  “My master, the Arizal, was more makpid with the sin of Ka’as than with all other aveiros.”  Indeed, it is forbidden even for the sake or in the course of a Mitzvah--as we find in this week’s Parsha with Moshe Rabbeinu and the Mei Meriva, on Moshe’s exalted level. The Ari would explain that Ka’as pollutes the entire neshama in a way that no other aveira does, and can cause other even more horrific results to the neshama (which he details) as well. One should simply understand that his one’s Lev is the Heichal HaShechina and that one who allows himself to get angry is allowing an idol to come into the Heichal--with the first result being that the Shechina departs. Indeed, the Sefer Reishis Chochma writes that there is nothing that voids one’s deveikus with Hashem more than Ka’as.


D.  When one attempts to rebuke, and does so in a tone of anger and loud voice--then, rather than fulfilling the Torah command of Hocheiach Tochiach, he has instead violated the Torah command of Lo Sisah Alav Cheit. Moreover, one who angers will many times violate the Mitzvas Asei of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha by hurting the person being addressed by word or action, and also violate the Mitzvas Asei of B’Tzedek Tishpot Amisecha by making the improper assumption and allowing himself to be angered as a result. 


E.  In the Igeres HaRamban, the Ramban instructs:  Tisnaheig Tomid LeDabeir Kol Devarecha B’Nachas Lechol Adam U’Vechol Eis.” In the Sefer Cheshbono Shel Olam, each phrase of the Ramban is explained, to demonstrate its meaning and application:


Kol Devarecha B’Nachas--all of one’s words should be calm. By this, the Ramban means that even if one has a complaint or claim against another person which could be delivered in a strong or angry tone--he should assure that it is softly stated.


Lechol Adam--to every person. Even to a person who is difficult or annoying, and who makes one feel unsettled, and even to a person who had initially consciously or willingly hurled hurtful or insulting words.


U’Vechol Eis--at all times. Even if one is tired, has not eaten, has no time, or is beset by difficulties or burdens--nevertheless he must be sure not to let his personal situation out for any reason on others.


F.  The Pasuk (Bamidbar 31:14) teaches “Vayiktsof Moshe”--and Moshe Rabbeinu was upset with the soldiers who had returned from the war against Midyan, for it appeared that they had left the women of Midyan alive. However, the Pasuk immediately continues (Bamidbar 31:15):  Vayomer Moshe”--and Moshe said to them--the word Amira--indicating a soft and gentle tone. The Sefer Aznayim LaTorah explains that the Torah is providing us with a great lesson here. Once Moshe realized his immediate reaction of upsetness, he remained silent--until his words would be not of Vayiktsof--but of Amira--the soft and gentle tone of the Torah Jew!




4 Tammuz

APPLIED CHOSHEN MISHPAT--ACROSS THE COUNTRY! An outstanding new program is being organized by experts in Choshen Mishpat, with the plan to establish night kollels or learning groups focusing on applied Choshen Mishpat, around the country. If you know of any shul, night kollel or learning group that may be interested in participating in this great endeavor, please click here for a detailed course outline, together with mareh mekomos.



RABBEINU TAM ’S YAHRZEIT:  The Luach Davar B’Ito notes that today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbeinu Tam (R’ Yaakov Tam B’ R’ Meir), who had suffered greatly because of the Crusades. The Luach urges us to study a teaching or teachings from the Rabbeinu Tam in Tosfos or from the famous Sefer HaYashar L’Rabbeinu Tam.


Hakhel Note:  For those who are students of the Daf Yomi--today’s Daf is 96, in which Rabbeinu Tam (Tosfos d’h V’Shamarta and d’h Dilmah) discusses Halachos relating to Tefillin and to Mitzvas Asei Shehazeman Gramma.  These are excellent places to begin!



CHECK THE ALARM CLOCK! When one is very tired late at night, he may believe that he has set his alarm--but he should in all events double check, so that he awakens on time.  Oversleeping is not a comfortable way to start one’s day--one can ensure it does not happen…the night before!



TZEDAKA! For those who have not yet commenced our daily Tzedaka program through Erev Rosh Hashana, if he starts today, he will have a full 86 days of consecutive Tzedakah. May the continuous and consistent giving serve to fulfill the words of the Pasuk (Tehillim 17:15 ): “Ani BeTzedek Echezeh Phanecha…I will greet you [applied here, on Rosh Hashana] with Tzedaka!”




Special Note One:  From yesterday’s study of the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah:


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


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


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



Special Note Two: FROM OUR READERS:


1. “I believe that I have the true source of the word ‘coincidence’--it is KUHincidence--all from Hashem!”


2. “In response to the concept of offering a short Tefillah whenever an emergency vehicle goes past with sirens blaring--that the person in the ambulance have a Refuah Shleimah: I am glad to hear that others do this, as well. Having experienced hospital life, surgeries, pain, procedures, fear of the unknown, etc., so many times, I can actually say a Kepitel of Tehillim for the person in the ambulance with a Kavannah that is so incredibly real that I actually shed tears each time, again and again.”


3. “In response to the concept of boker--pushing off the Yetzer Hara’s request or entreaty until the next morning: The idea of waiting until the next morning is an important eitza, especially when it comes to emails. Whatever their positive value (and I would like to think this email is one), emails can be a very effective tool of the Yetzer Hara. In the past, machlokes was often avoided because of the dislike of personal confrontation or because the many steps involved in writing a letter provided a cool down period. But angry emails can be composed and sent quickly and impersonally, with usually unpleasant results. Now when someone or something upsets me, I compose an email but don’t even consider sending until at least the next morning. Then, except in the rarest of circumstances, I don’t send it. This gives me the cathartic benefit of not holding my feelings in, but it also gives me a cooling off time to realize it was the Yetzer Hara behind my feelings. I’ve never regretted not sending an angry email. I almost always have regretted sending one. Now, instead of deleting the email, what I do is take the email out of the To Be Sent folder and put it into a folder I call ‘Chutz Lemachaneh’. My plan is, every Elul, to take a look at what I’ve written but not sent. I have no doubts I will be shocked to think about what I let upset me, embarrassed at looking at what I wrote and grateful for having overcome the Yetzer Hara.”


Hakhel Note:  We will continue in this important vein, with Special Note Three below.



Special Note Three:  We being today a series on the Middah of Ka’as, as culled from the Sefer Haser Ka’as Meilebecha, by Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita:




A.  The Rabbeinu Tam (whose Yahrzeit, as noted above, is today) teaches in the Sefer HaYashar:  Kol Hama’arich Apo Leolam Lo Yischareit--one who delays getting angry will never be sorry.”


B.  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim notes that to be Erech Apayim--slow to anger, is one of the Thirteen Middos of Hashem. Especially if one feels that his nature is predisposed to Ka’as, and still overcomes it--about him Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, writes (Mishlei 16:32):  Tov Erech Apayim MeiGibor U’Moshel Berucho MiLocheid Ihr--he who is slow to anger is superior to a mighty person, and one who controls his spirit is greater than the conqueror of a city.”


C.  The Sefer Yalkut Mei’am Loez pointedly writes:  “If you want to learn whether a person has seichel or not, see if he is able to control his temperament when others anger him.”


D.  The Sifri (Parshas Matos 48) teaches that: “Bah Lichlal Ka’as Bah Lichlal Ta’us--if one gets himself angry, he will lead himself to make the wrong decisions.”  Simply stated, Ka’as is the portal to mistake!


E.  Chazal (Nedarim 22B) teach about one who angers:  BeYaduah Sheavonosav Merubin Mizechuyosav--it is certain that his iniquities exceed his merits.”  Based upon this, the Chofetz Chaim concludes that ‘one with a brain in his head’ should run away from the Middah of Ka’as as one runs from fire--for this Middah will ‘do-him-in’ on the Yom HaDin. 


F.  Based upon the Zohar, Parshas Pekudei: A child knocks over (even intentionally) a $25 glass vase in the dining room, and breaks it. Would his father then throw a $500 piece of crystal at him and break that-- in order to show him what a dastardly deed he had done? When one--instead of throwing the $500 crystal--instead hurls out anger and rage, perhaps with caustic words and ona’as devarim on top of it all--he has hurled much more than a $500 crystal! One must use his head!


G.  Rebbi Yisroel MeiRozhin, Z’tl, makes the following fantastic comment:  Chazal (Shabbos 105B) teach that one who angers is as if he served avodah zara. Chazal do not exaggerate. Let us consider how rare or infrequently we are challenged with the aveira of avodah zara in our days. We may, however, often be challenged with the aveira of Ka’as. Based upon this Chazal, when one overcomes his anger in our days, he will obtain the same reward as if he had prevented himself from worshipping avodah zara!




3 Tammuz

IMPORTANT TEFILLOS!  A reader supplied us with a moving message and reminder of the short but powerful Tefillos from the Talmud Yerushalmi that the Chofetz Chaim (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 1:1 Bi’ur Halacha d’h Sheyehei) urges us to recite prior to Shacharis, Mincha and Ma’ariv.  The three tefillos are available by clicking here.


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



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



DON ’T FORGET THIS ABOUT ELEPHANTS!  In a recent Shiur on Emuna Daily, Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, pointed out that a study had been done in order to determine how much it costs a zoo to maintain an elephant on a monthly/annual basis. The conclusion: On an average it costs a zoo $5,000 per month, or $60,000 annually--in order to sustain an elephant!  Multiply this by the thousands upon thousands of elephants all over the world--and it gives us an inkling of how Hashem freely sustains the world and the universe!  In a similar Mashal, Rabbi Ashear related how a few crumbs of dry bread could turn an ant colony into ‘billionaires’. With our awareness of how Hashem sustains everything from the elephant to the ant without a whisk of concern, we should draw chizuk on how Hashem sustains and could sustain us--and that everything that occurs with regard to our sustenance as well as all else is B’Hashgacha Pratis--personalized for our life!


Additional Note on Ants:  Shlomo HaMelech teaches us (Mishlei 6:6):  Leich El Nemalah Atzel Re’eih Deracheha Vechachom--go to the ant, lazy one, see her ways and become wise.” Someone who ‘had previously owned an exterminating company’ shared with us an amazing insight. All of the other animals that he dealt with look for food, and when it finds food--takes it for himself, and himself alone.  However, the ant immediately takes the food that it comes upon and brings it to his fellow ants.  Shlomo HaMelech, then, may be teaching us that an atzel may not necessarily be a lazy person--but may be someone who acts--even energetically--but only for himself.  One is to study the ant in order to learn how he should act with alacrity, energy and enthusiasm--not only to help himself (for he may still be an atzel if he does so)--but to help others as well--as he helps himself!




Important Notes from last week’s Pirkei Avos:


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


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


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


D.  Chazal teach: “Yaffa Sha’ah Achas Shel Teshuvah U’Ma’asim Tovim…” ( 4:21 ) that one hour of Teshuva and Ma’asim Tovim in this world is yaffa--better than all of Olam Haba.  Let us contemplate the awesome nature of this statement.  One hour of good deeds in this world is greater than the goodness of a World to Come that is so great that our corporal being cannot even fathom or imagine it.  The Mishna does not qualify its reference as to an hour of good deeds by clarifying that it is referring to one hour of Rashi or the Ramban’s life, or the good deeds of Rebbi Akiva Eiger, the Vilna Gaon or the Chofetz Chaim.  Rather, it clearly refers to any one’s hour and any one’s good deeds.  Here, one is on common ground with the Gedolim of all previous generations and of his generation--he has the same potential to make the next hour shine more brilliantly than, using the Tanna’s words, ‘all of Olam Haba’.  Can we find at least one hour a day which we consciously choose to make more ‘yaffa’ --better than all of Olam Haba?  The greatness resounds within us --as we hoist up and elevate an Olam Hazeh that has sunk so low in the world all around us--to a very, very special place in the highest of heavens above.  When someone asks you: “Do you have a minute?”, you can answer, “I have even more than that--I have the hour!




2 Tammuz

RABBOSAI--IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO START THE VERY IMPORTANT PROGRAM FOR MEN AND WOMEN! As we begin the period of Tammuz/Av/Elul, we provide our readers with a noble and important project, which was provided last year as well, and for which we received an enthusiastic response from those who participated.  By clicking here we provide a Three-Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva by the Rabbeinu Yonah. With these short daily installments over a three month period--one will actually conclude the Sefer in graduated steps and in time for Rosh Hashana! Your undertaking this project indicates a real degree of sincerity in your Teshuva process this year. Please spread the word…and the link!


Hakhel Note: We provide below an excerpt from yesterday’s lesson (Sha’arei Teshuva 1:3); English translation from The Gates of Repentance (Feldheim 5736), which is available both in regular and pocket-size editions, and which provides the Hebrew with nekudos:


Deferment of repentance is found only among the ignorant, who lie asleep and do not commune with their hearts, and who possess neither the knowledge nor the understanding to hasten to save themselves. And among them there are some who are cast off from the Blessed One and who do not believe in the punishment of sins. Our Sages of blessed memory have said, “If you have seen a Torah scholar transgress in the evening, harbor no thoughts against him in the daytime, for he has certainly repented” (Berachos 19A).”


Hakhel Note: The Time is Now!



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

Hakhel Note: This bracha contains very powerful requests--and the Kavannah that we have should match the inherent potency of the bracha! We provide by clicking here our additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772.  May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the Praying with Passion Series (available free by email by contacting us), the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer, the Tefillah Tapes of Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, or other wonderful resources), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week.




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 146 and 147:


146. Shelo La’asos Bemaskoness Ketores--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from producing a ketores incense with the same ingredient composition as used in the Bais HaMikdash. This is also forbidden if one uses a ‘half or third’ formulation, if the proportions are the same as in the whole formulation. If one does so with the intention of using it as an incense (even without actually smelling it), he receives kares (if done intentionally), or must bring a korban chatas (if done unintentionally). If he does so only in order to learn how to make it, he is patur. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


147. Shelo La’asos Melacha B’Yom Rishon Shel Pesach--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from performing prohibited work on the first day of Pesach, and is related to Mitzvas Aseh 25, which is the Mitzvas Asei Lishbos B’Yom Rishon Shel Pesach. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.



Special Note Two: Let us not leave the Parsha without practical undertakings from its profound lessons:

A. 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 bring 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. Because they are so practical and meaningful, we once again provide for study the following brief notes on machlokes, as 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?


C. Remarkably, after the rebellion of Korach against the Kehuna (Aharon HaKohen) and Leviyim (Moshe Rabbeinu), the Parsha actually teaches the Matanos that they receive. From here, we should obtain great chizuk. From the bleakest nadir came magnificent and eternal glory and reward. As we witness the situation in Eretz Yisrael unfolding daily, we must realize and fulfill our part and role as taught by HaRav Shteinman, Shlita and HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita--Torah, Yiras Shamayim and Tefillah--and we too will come out of the darkness to the Ohr Gadol that will most certainly come--speedily and in our days!


D. Aharon’s mateh could have simply sprouted forth almonds without having to first produce a blossom and then sprout a bud (Bamidbar 17:23 ). After all, it was a miracle anyways--why go through the interim steps? A reader suggested that it was to teach that Aharon had earned his position through his efforts in Avodas Hashem--nothing came instantly or was instantly rewarded. Every stage counted--until it produced a glorious result--for him and all of his descendants!

Hakhel Note: Let us take the message and get going on the Sha’arei Teshuva Program --with earnestness and zeal!




29 Sivan

AS WE ENTER THE PORTALS OF TAMMUZ ON SUNDAY, we recognize not only that nine months of the year have passed, but that there are still three months left to go!  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 Hebrew, and both mean that our feelings towards drawing closer to Hashem should begin to intensify at this time.  We each can accomplish so much in the coming 3 months. 




I.  TESHUVA: By clicking here we provide a Three-Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sharei Teshuva by the Rabbeinu Yonah.  With these short daily installments over a three month period--one will actually conclude the Sefer in graduated steps and in time for Rosh Hashanah!  Your undertaking this project may indicate a real degree of sincerity in your Teshuva process this year.  Please spread the word…and the link!

Hakhel Note on the Study of Mussar: In the first of the Sidras Tikun HaMiddos Series, Rabbi Avraham Tovalsky, Shlita, provides the following teachings of Gedolim relating to the extreme importance of the study of Mussar:


A. Rebbi Yehoshua Tzvi Michel Shapiro, Z’tl, the Tzitz HaKodesh, once said to a young man who wanted to become his talmid: “Unless you learn the first Perek of the Mesilas Yeshorim twenty-two times, you cannot be admitted as my talmid.” 


B. HaRav Yitzchak Blazer, Z’tl (Reb Itzele Peterburger) taught:  “The key protection from the world’s influence is the study of Mussar; for unless one studies Mussar, even if he hides himself in the Aron HaKodesh, he will bring the foreign influences in with him there as well.


C. HaRav Leib Chasman, Z’tl, writes:  “Could there be Kapparah without Teshuvah?--’No!’ Could there be Teshuvah without the study of Mussar? The answer to this is also ‘No!’


D. The Chazon Ish once told Rebbi Aharon Cohen, Z’tl, Rosh Mesivta in Yeshivas Chevron:  Listen carefully to what I say--Mussar must be studied, for without it, one sinks into the mud of this world on a daily basis, each and every day.”


E. HaRav Eliyahu Dessler, Z’tl, taught:  The people who think that the study of Mussar brings one to sadness and despair are mistaken--as, to the contrary, it reveals to us the true light. What we must all strive for in this world is to act lishma, at least in some manner or way. Without the study of Mussar, lishma simply cannot be accomplished--for one’s life will be filled with the ‘business’ of money, the ‘business’ of Kavod, etc…. If two people perform the same act, the one who studies Mussar will be the one who performs it with at least an element of lishma. This will last him for eternity!


F.  The Brisker Rav, Z’tl, was a baki be’al peh in the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos and the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim. The Rav reported that his father, HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik, Z’tl, said that the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos was the Shulchan Aruch of Yiddishkeit. Hakhel Note: The grandson of Rebbi Pinchos MiKoritz, Z’tl, Rebbi Meir Shapiro, Z’tl, reported that Rebbi Pinchos learned the Sefer Chovos HaLevavos 1,000 times--and only then was he zoche to become who he was!


G.  Reb Yosef Tzvi HaLevi, Z’tl (the Av Beis Din of Yaffo), taught that in chutz la’aretz the Yetzer Hara is bebechinas evehn--considered tough and hard as a rock. In Eretz Yisrael, however, where the Kedusha is greater, the Yetzer Hara is even stronger, and it is bebechinas barzel--iron! Accordingly, one needs greater strength in Eretz Yisrael in order to manage and control it--and that is why one must study more Mussar in Eretz Yisrael!


H.  The G’ra writes that the Ikar Chiyus Ha’adam--the essence of one’s life is to break the bad middos that he knows he possesses--and if one does not work on it, what is life worth?!  Hakhel Note: Fascinatingly, Rebbi Elimelech MeiLizhinsk, Z’tl, in the Tzetel Koton, likewise writes that a person is created in this world in order to overcome bad middos and straighten and correct his ways.


I.  Rebbi Avraham Yaffin, Z’tl, writes that in earlier generations the Navi would reveal to a person his shoresh nishmaso. Today, it is Sifrei mussar which speak to a person and teach him what he is to accomplish in this world!


Let us bli neder start the Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva together this Sunday!


II. TEFILLAH: The entire Sefer Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, published by Artscroll, 2005), can be studied over its five-minute a day, 89-day cycle which begins on Sunday, as well…and concludes on Erev Rosh Hashanah.  Uplifting and upgrading your davening, and improving upon your bond with Hashem, is a great way to concomitantly conclude this year, prepare for the Yomim Noraim and grow in the coming year!  Praying with Fire, is one of Artscroll’s bestselling Seforim ever, and is available in large and even pocket-sized copies in your local Jewish bookstore.  Even to the many who have gone through the Sefer once and more than once, perhaps do it with some family or friends, or others, and try to discuss with them the short five-minute segments presented daily.


Hakhel Note on Tefillah:   Sometimes we forget the sheer potency of our Tefillos.  Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, in the name of the Alter of Kelm, brings this point home beautifully from this week’s Parsha, Parshas Korach.


In the Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu davens to Hashem about Koach’s gathering:  “Al Teyfen El Minchasan--please do not take heed of their offering to you” (Bamidbar 16: 15 ).  Why did Moshe Rabbeinu have to daven in this way--could anyone at all have ever thought in their right minds that Hashem would pay attention to the offering of the rebellious Korach and his cohorts?  Moreover, the “Pi Ha’Aretz”--the crack in the earth that swallowed up Korach and his group--had already been created in the Six Days of Creation (Avos 5:8)--so what did Moshe Rabbeinu have to worry about?!  The clear lesson to be gleaned is that the sincere entreaties, even of the wicked, even of the mutinous, are incredibly powerful.  All the more so, a well-enunciated, meaningful prayer.


One other point on this topic: Some may fall onto the habit of coming to davening a few minutes late, and “expertly” skipping in perfect order what one “may” skip, based on the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Chapter 52.  However, the Mishna Berurah (ibid, seif katan 1) writes that the Maggid warned the Bais Yosef to come to Shul early--so that he could daven in Shul without skipping--for one who davens with skipping is “MeHapech HaTzinoros”--harms the regular channels of Tefillah to Shomayim.


We should get to Shul on time--and before davening, we should take a moment to be conscious of the power of our Tefillos, and to the literal importance of every word--recited in order!


III . Tzedaka. If one starts on Sunday, and bli neder gives even a small amount to Tzedaka every day--he will have given Tzedaka for three consecutive months leading up to Rosh Hashanah! What a plan! What a program!


Hakhel Note on Tzedaka: If you start giving Tzedaka today, you will have started early!



HE IS THE EXCEPTION--NO, HE IS THE OPPORTUNITY Many may find themselves generally in control of their Middos--except when it comes to this person or that (who may be a son, daughter, or other close relative)--in which case one seems to act ‘out of character’, angering easily, speaking roughly, not being dan lechaf zechus, because that simply is the way that person has to be treated--he deserves it, he is so bad, he won’t learn any other way, all he wants to do is frustrate me and to make me seethe, he acts with such chutzpah....In reality, however, it is precisely this person who is testing the tensile strength and resilience of one’s middos, and who is the very person intended to bring him to a new and higher level of character. 


Hakhel Note:  This may be easier written about then accomplished. However, this week’s Parsha brings to mind a tactic of the Ba’alei Mussar against the wiles of the sophisticated Yetzer Hara.  The Parsha teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu advised the Adas Korach:  ’Boker VeYodah Hashem Es Asher Lo’ (Bamidbar 16:5)--let us pursue this further in the morning. As Rashi quoting Chazal explains, Moshe Rabbeinu was pushing them off in the hope that the time would put a damper upon the heat of the moment, and squash their rebellion.  Although the plan did not work with this wicked group, it is certainly a plan that can work for us. As we are about to lose ourselves again to that one [or two or three] person(s) -let us remember that special word of Moshe Rabbeinu in this week’s Parsha: “Boker--not now--I will react in the morning--until then, I will be myself, the person who I am to all others, and the person whom I know myself to be! Yetzer Hara--let’s revisit the situation tomorrow. Today--I will preserve my pristine middos!


Special Note One:   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!



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


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


B. The Sefer Peleh Yoeitz under the heading “Shabbos” emphasizes the need for proper speech on Shabbos.  He especially decries those who precede a financial discussion, or a discussion of what they intend to do after Shabbos, with the words “Nisht Auf Shabbos Gerret”.  Not only is this prohibited on Shabbos based upon the prohibition of “Vedaber Davar “(Yeshaya 58)--but it is sheker because he is in fact speaking these words on Shabbos!  To the contrary, he continues, what we should be using our mouths for is to speak about, learn and teach Torah--and especially the Halachos of Shabbos to others.  The Peleh Yoeitz actually refers to one who improperly uses his speech on Shabbos as a “Mechalel Shabbos”.  The converse would then seem to be true as well--for one who speaks words of Torah and especially the Halachos and Hashkofos of Shabbos--is a “Mekadesh Es HaShabbos!”


C. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Borough Park attended now by approximately 100-125 women.   This past winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Borer, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the answers to the first 20 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions. For tapes and CD’s of the Shiur, please call: 718-435-6974.


Hakhel Note:  The Shiur is from 10:00AM until 11:00AM at Agudah of 18th Ave , 5413 18th Avenue . Rabbi Webster is currently giving the Shiur on Hilchos Tochein….


21.  If one does not know exactly when her husband will return home from shul, when can she start her preparations for the meal?


She must use her judgment. If one’s husband usually comes home at11:30am and one needs one-half hour to prepare the meal, then she can only start the preparations for the meal starting at 11:00am. If her husband, in fact, came home later i.e., at 12:00pm, she has not transgressed the prohibition.


22. Is one permitted to daven after performing all of one’s preparations (including Borer) for the meal?


No, in order for it to be considered ‘immediately’ prior to the meal, one must perform the activity with the intention of deriving benefit from the work immediately. One may not prepare for the meal and perform acts of Borer with the intention of doing other activities (e.g. daven, relax) after one has finished the food preparation.


23. May one change from a housecoat into Shabbos clothing or dress the children after food preparation has been completed, in order not to get dirty while in the middle of preparations?


Yes, both activities are considered as part of the preparations for the meal. However, if one is not worried about getting dirty and wearing an apron will suffice, then one should get dressed before starting food preparations. The same applies with regard to dressing the children.


24. Is one permitted to do the preparations of food before going to Shul?


No, as we explained above. Therefore, all food preparation must be done after one returns from Shul even if this causes one to start the meal later. However, those activities that do not have fall under Borer may be done before going to Shul.


25. We have stated that in order for borer to be permitted, one must fulfill three conditions. Are there any situations that one may be lenient, and perform an act of Borer even though he does not fulfill all three of the conditions?


We have stated that the first condition is that one must take the good from the unwanted item. In a situation where this is not possible e.g. peeling a fruit/vegetable, peanut in shell the peel/shell is the unwanted item. However, it is permissible to peel the item due to the fact that in order to get to the food one must remove the unwanted item. Therefore, in this case it is considered as Derech Achilah, the normal manner of eating--but one can only do so provided that the other two conditions are satisfied.



Special Note Three:  We present several questions relating to Parshas Korach, and welcome your thoughts and responses:


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


B. The Torah teaches us that “U’Vnei Korach Lo Maisu” (Bamidbar 26:11)--the sons of Korach did not die in the unique earthquake of Korach.  It is interesting to note that this Pasuk--distinguishing them from their father and his followers is not found in Parshas Korach at all but later in Parshas Pinchos, 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?


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


D. Chazal teach us that Korach was extremely wealthy.  His followers had also obviously brought much wealth with them from Mitzrayim.  Why was Kol 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?!


E. 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 Beis 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 Leviim also receive a gift in consideration for their service in the Beis Hamikdash--Ma’aser Rishon, or 10% of the crop left over after Terumah has been given to the Kohen (Bamidbar 18:21-24).  However, this appears to be it--in comparison to the 24 gifts to Kohanim, the Torah immediately provides us with only one gift to be given to the Leviim.  The disparity appears very stark--both the Kohanim and the Leviim receive gifts from the people in recognition and in payment for their services in the Mikdash on behalf of the people, yet the Kohanim’s benefits appear much more diverse, if not much greater.  How can we explain this apparent contrast between the Kohanim and Leviim?



Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parsha, we find a series of remarkable Mitzvos relating to Shemiras HaMikdash--guarding the Beis HaMikdash.  To the uninitiated, the concept of a frail human being watching or guarding the House of Hashem, the earthly Abode of the Creator of this World, a Building which is actually mechuvan, parallel, to the Beis 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 Beis 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 Beis 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 in the Beis HaMikdash was not given an automatic ‘second chance,’ because a lapse in sanctity is a void in sanctity.  We have a special relationship with Hashem, and a special place to especially forge that relationship.  We should not allow ourselves to forfeit it to indiscretion, carelessness, and failure to appreciate and make the most of our opportunities.  Could you imagine one of the Queen of England’s honor guard yawning in front of a huge crowd?  Even if it only happened once, where do you think he would be the next day?  We are honoring Royalty of an infinitely greater nature, and we are more significant and capable than any man with a rifle in his hand.


Secondly, let us consider how we treat our wallets, our jewelry, and our “special papers” like birth certificates, passports and the like.  They are safely placed away in a specially-considered, or otherwise secure, place.  No one is spilling coffee on them, and no one is leaving them in his car unattended, or at least carefully locked away.  We should consider, in this vein, how our Shemira is for our spiritually valuable items.  Do we leave our Tallis and Tefillin in our cars, or overnight in Shul, exposed to any character or situation?  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 performing the job!



Special Note Five:  We received the following keen thought from a reader, as excerpted from HaRav Avigdor Miller’s Sefer Journey Into Greatness:


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


“Belief was no obstacle.


“But the test of Envy and the desire for Glory, this was overpowering.”


Hakhel Note:  These two related Middos--Envy and Glory seeking--comprise some of the core character traits we are tested on in this world.  The Torah, by presenting them in such a stark and powerful way in the 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!”




28 Sivan

KOL HACHESED! 718-705-5000 is a truly outstanding helpline which proclaims Me K’Amecha Yisrael. One should dial the number, listen to the menu, and think about how he can help others with the information. He can also then shep nachas from the fact that Hashem has children who are such Gomlei Chassodim!



THE LIST OF FORTY TWO!  We provide by clicking here a tremendous resource compiled by Rabbi Avraham Tovolsky, Shlita, Mechaber of the Sidras Tikun Hamiddos Series.  It is a Table of Middos which lists forty-two negative middos relating to which Dovid HaMelech taught Sur Meirah! (Tehillim 34:15) and the forty-two corresponding positive middos for which Dovid HaMelech urged us--Asei Tov!.  One can study the list and contemplate which of the middos he especially needs to work on--and formulate an action plan over the last calendar quarter of the year 5773! Success to us all!

Hakhel Note: The first step may be to print out the list and review it every day--or keep it securely on your desk!



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




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 144 and 145:


144.  Shelo La’asos Tzuras Adam--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from making the image of a human being, even as a work of art. The term ‘image’ here refers to a protruding object. If one makes such an image, he receives makkos. If the human image is sunken, or drawn with paint, it is permissible. It is also forbidden to draw the image of the sun, the moon, or other celestial bodies--and this is forbidden even on a flat surface which does not protrude. However, it is permissible to draw the image of other living creatures, trees and vegetation even if it protrudes. The Chofetz Chaim additionally notes here that it is forbidden to construct a building in the plan (including the dimensions) of the heichal, the ulam or the azarah, or a table or menorah with the appearance of the Shulchan or Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


145.  Shelo La’asos Shemen K’Shemen HaMishcha--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from producing an oil with the same composition as the anointing oil that was used in the Beis HaMikdash. If one does so with the intention of using it as an anointing oil, he receives kares (intentionally), or must bring a korban chatas (unintentionally). If he does so only in order to learn how to make it, he is patur. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.



Special Note Two:  When one arrives at work, he is usually beset by many obligations, such as phone calls to return, emails to respond to, customers to meet, bills to pay, work to do….  There is one thing that could help give a structure to the day at its outset--an awareness of Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis over us and over all of the occurrences of the work day. May we suggest beginning the day by reciting the first Pasuk or Perek of Shema--thereby being mekabel Ohl Malchus Shomayim upon ourselves and/or reciting the inspiring teaching of Ein Od Milvado from the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim--which we provide by clicking here



Special Note Three: We all must constantly be attentive to improving our brachos recitation. After all, how many other things do you do a hundred times a day? Improving one’s brachos recitation thus truly improves one’s actions throughout the day!  A practical suggestion may be to stop after the word ‘Baruch’ at each bracha and recall the different meanings and connotations it incorporates:


1. It is praise and thanks to Hashem, and a submission that if it was for ‘me alone’, I would not have the item that I am making the bracha on.


2. It connotes that Hashem is the makor--the Source of everything-- from the Shofar being blown to the Tefillin being worn, from the Swiss Alps to the Arizona Lulav…and from thunder and earthquakes to butter and bread!


3. Hashem’s blessing continuously flows as a natural spring, on a 24/7 basis.


4. Hashem’s blessing to a person need not remain in the same place--with the greater recognition of Hashem’s bracha bringing greater blessing along with it.


May we suggest that the extra moment that it would take to have these brief thoughts in mind will aid in empowering the bracha and filling it with the proper Kavannah!




27 Sivan

Special Note:  We provide the following lessons from the Sefer Orchos Yosher--a Sefer written by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, himself, relating essentially to Middos Tovos:




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


Hakhel Note:  Regarding our Special Edition of last Sunday requesting the kavannah-filled recitation of VeHu Rachum because of the current anti-Torah and anti-Chareidi troubles in Eretz Yisrael, a couple of readers actually expressed their ‘own views’ that the situation is not a bad one and actually makes sense--going against the Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael (including HaRav Kanievsky), and the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah in America , who view it as an Eis Tzara which requires our Tefillos and actions. In the words of a statement issued by the Agudath Israel of America on the topic:  “These policies, if enacted, would plunge large segments of the Charedi community into abject poverty, rob Charedi schools of their independence from intrusive governmental regulation, and pressure Charedim to radically change their religious lifestyle. This unprecedented campaign against Torah scholars and Charedi families is cause for deep concern and dismay....”  As Torah Jews, it is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE, as HaRav Kanievsky teaches,  that we not be guided by “it’s my opinion”, and “this is how I view it and that’s it “--but by the direction of our Torah Scholars, who are our living embodiment of the Torah itself!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




26 Sivan

POST-SCRIPT ON TZNIUS:  We live in a Galus that is void of essential Torah values. Rather than muddy ourselves, we should view it as our obligation to try to add tahara into the world with even our small actions.  Our dedication to Shemiras Ha'Ainaim, to Tznius (both men and women), to not going after the Chukos HaAkum in attitude, style, dress and thinking is our demonstration that even if we are not removing ourselves physically from the repulsiveness to our values--nevertheless, in our mindset, in our everyday thinking and way of life--it and they are as far away from us as the North or South Pole.  We are so far removed from them--that they are in Sodom, and we are together with Avrohom Avinu--spiritually and thoughtfully with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  Our goal then is to add tahara--by remembering that we will lead our lives with dveikus to Hashem, with true circumspection and with genuine care!  



POST-SCRIPT ON AUTOMOBILE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE TORAH JEW’: You are moving towards a traffic light, and you see it turn yellow. You know that it will turn red either right before or as you are traveling through the crossroads. You have to make a split second decision--go through the intersection (perhaps honking loudly to be on the safe side), or stopping for yet another one of those one or two minute lights keeping you from home, shopping, your appointment, your destination. The question we pose is –Is it really your decision, is it really your choice? After all, if you feel the Hashgacha Pratis in your daily life, isn’t the yellow light a message to you that the light is no longer green, and that you should be cautious?  Perhaps you are  really better off waiting at the light, then  being a mile down along the road…Is it really up to you to take matters into your own hands?! We do not bring any Halachic rulings on this matter--we simply raise the point for your consideration, and if warranted, discussion with your Rav.



MONEY VS. TIME:  The Chofetz Chaim provides a major difference between time and money. If one loses money on the street, the possibility exists that a good person will find it and somehow return it to the person who had lost it. Conversely, if someone takes another’s money, he can still have a change of heart and return it. Time is not the same. However, even if one can forcibly move the hands on his clock or watch backwards, it will not be telling the right time. Time lost is irreplaceable, there is simply no way to get it back. With this in mind, the necessity to study Torah every day in a meaningful way, to daven and recite brachos properly on a daily basis, or to perform acts of Chesed in a constant, consistent, second-nature manner is manifest to us all. Most certainly, one who takes of his time and thinks, speaks or acts inappropriately, must understand that he is abusing his most priceless of assets. One focused on Olam Hazeh will look back at his day and see how he did monetarily. One focused on his Olam Haba will look back at that very same day and study how he spent the time of his day--and perhaps how the following day can be an even better one!


Hakhel Note: A Rosh Yeshiva of the previous generation had the opportunity, when still a young boy to meet the Chofetz Chaim. He told his father that he was busy playing and would do so another time. That ‘other time’ never came. Every year in his Yeshiva, in his message before Ne’ila, the Rosh Yeshiva would relate this story to his Talmidim, perhaps in order to emphasize both not to give up the unique opportunities that present themselves, and also to utilize one’s mistakes of the past for constant future growth, so that the mistakes do not happen again. Let us not allow one day to slip by after the next without better focusing on how we may use the most precious commodity of all time--our time!



AN EVERLASTING PLAQUE: The Chofetz Chaim notes that if the Gedolei HaDor were collecting in trust donations for the building of the Beis HaMikdash, everyone would surely contribute whatever he could. The Beis HaMikdash Fund! In truth, however, the Gedolei HaDor are collecting donations for the Beis HaMikdash--but it is not in dollars, pounds or even shekels--it is in one’s distancing himself from the serious aveiros of Lashon Hara and Sinas Chinam, and clinging to the Middah of Shalom. One who does so, writes the Chofetz Chaim, will be known to all to be on the eternal “Builders Plaque” of those who built the Beis HaMikdash. The Chofetz Chaim points to the Pesukim in Sefer Nechemia (Chapter 3), which list for eternity the people who had a chelek in building the walls of Yerushalayim at the time of the Second Beis HaMikdash. Imagine, then, how the eternal chelek will be listed for those who actually build the final and lasting Beis HaMikdash itself. No further incentive is necessary!


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




Special Note One:  In his Sefer, Yad Eliezer: A collection of various Halachos, Mitzvos, and Minhagim pertinent to left-handers, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Shlita, writes as follows with respect to the Halachos of shoes and tying shoelaces:  The Torah extends more prominence to the right hand than it does to the left hand (see Mishna Berurah 2:5). However with regard to the act of tying, the prominence shifts to the left hand because Tefillin are usually tied on the left arm. Therefore, although both right-handers and left-handers put on their right shoe first (because of prominence to the right side), there is a difference with regard to tying their laces. The right-hander should tie his left shoe first (because it is on that side that he wears his Tefillin), whereas the left-hander ties his right shoe first (see Orach Chaim 2:4, seif katan 6). When one removes his shoes, he first unties and removes the one with less distinction…. The left-hander thus unties his left shoe first (less distinction for him with regard to tying Tefillin) and then unties his right shoe. However he removes his left shoe first (less distinction in general) and then removes his right one (see Orach Chaim 2:5 and Mishna Berurah 8 and Ba'er Moshe Vol. 2:3).”



Special Note Two:  We provide the following lessons from the Sefer Orchos Yosher--a Sefer written by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, himself, relating essentially to Middos Tovos:




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


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


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


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


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


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


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




25 Sivan

SUCCEEDING IN THE SUMMER! With the summer fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, the heat and humidity could pose a challenge to the most basic standards of Tznius.  In the past, we asked Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, who has given outstanding Shiurim for Hakhel and Bnos Melochim on the topic of Tznius, whether he could provide us with the minimum rules so that no one was nichshal c’v due to lack of knowledge, by regarding a real halacha as ‘only a chumra’. By clicking here, you can access the basic rulings of our Gedolim, and a previous appeal issued by the then Va’ad HaRabonim of Far Rockaway. Please spread the word! Hakhel Note:  See below for additional thoughts on VeLo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem V’Acharei Eineichem.



MULTIPLY THE MITZVAH! There are certain Mitzvos which are Mitzvos Shebegufo--relating solely to the person himself, such as Tefillin, Tzitzis, Achilas Matzah and Netilas Lulav.  There are many other Mitzvos which are personal, but in which one can include another (or others) quite readily--thereby exponentially increasing both the import and the impact of the Mitzvah.  Asking another to join in a Chesed one is performing or to recite a Kepitel Tehillim together with him, reciting a bracha with another present so that he can answer “Amen!”, sharing a Torah thought that is new to you with another…are all examples of how one can take the individual Mitzvah and turn it into an even more successful joint experience.  In the business world, lehavdil, we find concepts such as leveraging and syndicating--and we should know and appreciate that Olam Hazeh is here to give us ideas and serve us to build our Olam Haba.  Today when possible, be aware and make the effort to benefit yourself and those around you…by multiplying your Mitzvos!



NINETEEN WEEKS!  We are now in the sixth of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In the past two years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha.  This week’s Bracha is SelichaIn this bracha, we ask Hashem for selicha (Selach Lanu) and mechila (Mechal Lanu).  HaRav Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, explains that selicha refers to the complete extinguishment of the sin, while mechila still requires yissurim.  Accordingly, HaRav Eibeschutz continues, one should sincerely plead for selicha in this bracha--so that his sins are forgiven without having to suffer through difficult yissurim which would cause bitul Torah or Tefillah.  As in the bracha of Hashiveinu discussed last week, we plead with the words Selach Lanu Avinu--asking Hashem as our Father to mercifully wipe away our iniquity entirely so that we can begin our lives again without the hurt of yissurim and with fresh resolve and new dedication.  This bracha contains very powerful requests--and the Kavannah that we have should match the inherent potency of the bracha! We provide by the following link our additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer, the Tefillah tapes of Rabbi Berel Wein, Shlita, or other wonderful resources), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week.




Special Note One: We B’EH continue our Monday/Thursday study of the Sefer Mitzvos HaKatzar, with the Mitzvos Lo Sa’asei which the Chofetz Chaim writes are applicable in our times. Today, we present Mitzvos Lo Sa’aseh 142 and 143:


142. Shelo Leharbiyah Min V’She’eino Mino --this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibits one from mating animals or birds of different species together. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, and to men and women alike.


143. Shelo Lesareis Zachar--this is the Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh which prohibit neutering a male ba’al chai of any species at all. One who does so receives makkos. The prohibition extends to giving a ba’al chai a potion which would have the same effect as well. Likewise, one cannot instruct an akum to do so. This Mitzvah applies in all places and at all times.



Special Note Two:  In less than one week from today, 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 can be to improve the year’s final quarter, so that it ends more successfully, and starts 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 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:  We have received interesting and important comments from readers relating to the words found at the end of this week’s Parsha, Shelach, which many of us recite two and even three times a day: “VeLo Sasuru Acharei Levavchem V’Acharei Eineichem--And do not go after your hearts and your eyes” (Bamidbar 15:39).  Here is their food for thought:


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


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


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


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


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


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




24 Sivan



Because of the urgent nature of the current situation in Eretz Yisrael relating to the treatment of the chareidi public, we provide the following extremely meaningful teaching of HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, Mashgiach Ruchni of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York:


It is said in the name of Chassidic Rebbes that there are three types of Galus that we can experience: Galus at the hands of akum; Galus at the hands of other yidden; and Galus at the hands of ourselves.


With the situation in Eretz Yisrael, we are facing Galus at the hands of other yidden.

HaRav Erlanger brings the Sefer Zichron Yaakov, written by Rabbi Yaakov Lipschutz, Z’tl, the secretary of HaRav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector, Z’tl, who provides a history of the several decades that preceded him: In the 1780’s, the Austrian Emperor, Joseph II, decided to give the Jews ‘equal rights’ in his empire. Along with these ‘equal rights’, came the requirement for Jews to be conscripted into the Austrian army, and to receive a mandatory secular education. The Gedolim of the time, among them the Noda B’Yehuda [whose city of Prague was within the empire], directed the people in earnest davening and fasting to annul the horrible decrees that had befallen them. Their davening and fasting for a yeshua from the decree did not bear the fruits they had expected, and the decrees continued unabated. The Noda B’Yehuda was particularly upset that Jews in other countries (such as the neighboring Russia and Poland), did not sufficiently commiserate with the plight of the Jews in the Austrian Empire, and unify with them in fasting and prayer. In 1827, some 40 years later, the Czar’s cantonist decree was mercilessly flung upon Russian Jewry, requiring young men to remain in the army not for 2-3 years--but for 25(!!). The Russian Jews at the time viewed this as a direct retribution for their not properly conducting themselves when their brethren in the Austrian Empire were in a similar trouble.


What was the Noda B’Yehuda’s ta’anah (claim) against the Jews in the other countries? It was based on Chazal in Bereishis Rabba 76:3. There, Chazal comment on Yaakov Avinu’s strategy in going to meet Eisav. Yaakov divided the camp into two, saying (Bereishis 32:9):  Im Yavo Eisav El HaMachaneh Ha’achas Vehekahu, Vahaya HaMachaneh Hanishar Lifleitah--if Eisav comes to one camp and strikes it down, then the remaining camp shall survive.” Chazal there explain the Pasuk as follows: Im Yavo Eisav El HaMachaneh Ha’achas VehekahuEilu Acheinu Shebadarom--this refers to our brothers in Eretz Yisrael who are smitten. In this event, Vahaya HaMachaneh Hanishar LifleitahEilu Acheinu ShebeGalus--then their brothers in exile, even though they have been spared of the direct punishment of their brothers in Eretz Yisrael, will [take up their burden and misery and] fast for them on Mondays and Thursdays.


HaRav Erlanger points out that the message of this Midrash is even more poignant to us--as it relates specifically to Acheinu Shebadarom being hurt, and Acheinu ShebeGalus (Chutz La’aretz) reacting by fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. HaRav Erlanger understands that unlike our ancestors who may have commonly fasted on Mondays and Thursdays, we may not be in the same position to do so. Nevertheless, by virtue of the fact that we recite additional Tachanunim, Vehu Rachum--on Mondays and Thursdays--we know that these days are days in which we can be mehapeich--overturn a gezeirah of din to rachamim. HaRav Erlanger accordingly urges and concludes that for as long as this terrible gezeirah is upon us, we should at least follow the Midrash by reciting the Vehu Rachum Tachanunim on Mondays and Thursdays with greater feeling and Kavannah.


Hakhel Note One: See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 134:1, where the Mechaber writes of the significance of Vehu Rachu,  and the Mishna Berurah (ibid.) seif katan 2, who rules in all events that:  Vetzarich Le’amram B’Kavannah U’Vemitun VeLo BeMerutzah--the Vehu Rachum Tachanunim should be recited with Kavannah and slowly, and not hurriedly.”


Hakhel Note Two: As one recites Vehu Rachum he may want to focus on the number of times he recites the following phrase: “Vehoshe’einu Lema’an Shimecha--and save us for the sake of Your Name!”


Hakhel Note Three: In our discussing the anti-chareidi gezeiros in the recent past, we have suggested that in the Bracha of VeLamalshinim in Shemone Esrei we focus on the words “VeHazeidim MeheirahSachniyah BeMeheira VeYameinu…may those who want to do us harm be humbled speedily in our days.” We also suggested that in Elokai Netzor, we have specific Kavannah when reciting the phrase “VeChol HaChoshvim Alai Ra’ah Meheirah Hafer Atzasam VeKalkel Machshavtam--as for all those who design evil against me, speedily nullify their counsel, and disrupt their design.” Perhaps these two Kavannos can supplement the Monday/Thursday Kavannah of Vehu Rachum--which the Mashgiach heartfully pleads with us to have--based on none other than the direct words of the Noda B’Yehuda. Of course, everyone can daven on his own, establish his own zechusim for Acheinu B’nei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, and should most certainly look to his own Rav or Posek for immediate and important guidance and direction in this area. Let us not leave our brothers alone in their situation--remember, it is Hashem Who is Vehu Rachum--and can transform all situations of darkness…into light!

Acheinu Kol Beis Yisrael…!


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