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2 Tammuz

FROM THE DAF HAKASHRUS OF THE OU: The Coca Cola Company manufactures a wide range of concentrates which are used by 7-Eleven in the production of slurpees. These concentrates are under the supervision of the Orthodox Union. The Orthodox Union, however, does not certify slurpees sold at 7-Eleven stores. One of these concentrates is Fanta Pina Colada. This concentrate is certified OUD.  In some 7-Eleven stores placards for this product are on display. The placards contain an error in that the “Dairy” designation of the concentrate has been omitted. Corrective action is being taken.



WHAT IS THE BRACHA? We asked the OU for a listing of Brachos of Cascadian Farm cereals under their supervision and we are grateful for their reply.


The following Cascadian Farm Cereals are Ha’odama and Borei Nefashos: Fruit & Nut Granola, Berry Cobbler Granola, Cinnamon Raisin Granola, Oats & Honey Granola, Ancient Grains Granola, French Vanilla Almond Granola, Maple Brown Sugar Granola and Dark Chocolate Almond Granola.


The following Cascadian Farm Cereals are Mezonos and Ahl HaMichya: Honey Nut O’s, Purely O’s, Hearty Morning Fiber (on kezayis of wheat flakes otherwise Borei Nefashos), Multigrain Squares, Raisin Bran, Fruitful O’s and Chocolate O’s.”


Hakhel Note: As Rabbi Bodner, Shlita, has pointed out in the past, the after-bracha on granola is Borei Nefashos but this is not a simple issue, as according to Tosfos the after-bracha would appear to be Ahl Ha’adama V’Ahl Pri Ha’adama, and accordingly, the Mishna Berurah suggests that a Yirei Shomayim eat this product in the course of a meal which would be covered by bentsching.



A SUMMER HATZALAH TIP (FROM THE HATZALAH OF EDISON ): “If one has entered a tall grassy area, one should inspect his body to ensure that no ticks (which live in this environment) have attached themselves to him. They are usually discovered when itching is felt.

Removal should be done carefully to avoid having the tick break off, leaving its head and mouth in the skin.  Be careful not to squeeze the tick as you don’t want to help it inject any bacteria that it may be carrying.  Using a surgical tweezer (needle tip), grasp the head of the tick gently and as close to the skin as possible, and then pull straight up. It is a good idea to keep the tick frozen and take it to your physician to have it tested.  Ticks are carriers for many diseases.  This will aid your physician in determining how best to treat you.”



IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO BEGIN-- JUST STARTED YESTERDAY! As we begin the period of Tammuz/Av/Elul, we remind our readers of a noble and important project.  By the following link  http://tinyurl.com/pyhvfxp  we provide a Three-Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah by the Rabbeinu Yonah.  With these short daily installments over a three month period--one will actually conclude the Sefer in graduated steps and in time for Rosh Hashanah!  Your undertaking this Program indicates a real degree of sincerity in your Teshuvah process this year.  Please spread the word…and the link! 


Hakhel Note: At the outset of the Sha’arei Teshuvah, Rabbeinu Yonah teaches us: “Vehisba’er BaTorah Ki Ya’azor Hashem LaShavim Ka’asher Ein Yad Tivam Maseges, Veyechadeish Bekirbam Ruach Taharah Lehasig Ma’alas Ahavaso--and it is clear from the Torah that Hashem assists those who pursue Teshuvah even though they are limited by their very nature, and implants in them a spirit of purity whereby they may attain the level of loving Him…!”




Special Note One: Welcome to a new month, with new potential for incredible growth.  As we all know, if the Meraglim would have come back with the proper report, Tisha B’Av would have been marked as a day of eternal celebration, rather than a day which now lives in infamy.  In the time of Bayis Sheni, Tisha B’Av was, in fact, celebrated.  As it is referred to as a “Moed”, it will be certainly celebrated again--may it be this year.  As we noted on Erev Shabbos, the Meraglim set out on their journey on 29 Sivan--just three days ago.  Thus, these very days--i.e., the next 37 days ahead of us until Tisha B’Av, which are perfectly parallel to the Meraglim’s 40-day trip (as Rav Dessler, Z’tl, explains, they are more than points of recollection in time, but an actual reliving of these times), are full of the potential to bring us a happy Tisha B’Av, if we reframe and recharacterize these days into days of building rather than days of destruction; days of finding the positive instead of the negative; days of compliments and not of snide or hurtful remarks; days in which we show our love towards Eretz Yisrael and its inhabitants in some unique and special way. Like the Meraglim, we have a mission.  Let’s succeed with flying colors--it is well within our capabilities, and the benefits and rewards will far exceed the investment and effort--as we will see when the Moshiach comes, Bimheira VeYameinu.


Hakhel Note:  To get us started in the proper framework of positive outlook and appropriate speech, we provide below the following excerpt from “The Power of Words”, by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita:


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

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


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

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


Let’s get going--we have 37 days to move ourselves--and, quite literally, change the face of the world!



Special Note Two: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.






I heard that the battim should be “avodas yad” (handmade). What exactly does this mean?




As we have discussed in the past, many different steps are needed to create a bayis, starting with the ibbud (processing) of the hides.

Like klaf, battim have to be made lishmah (with specific intent). Just as many poskim are of the opinion that this can only be accomplished by hand when it comes to klaf, they take the same view regarding battim.

Many of the actions necessary for making battim can be done either by hand or by machine. Additionally, some of these actions are not considered to be an integral step in creating the bayis. These may be done by machine according to all opinions since lishmah is not required.

The most well-known example of avodas yad – as opposed to an action done by machine – involves the creation of the “ribua” (square shape of the battim).

Halachah requires the battim to be perfectly square. The square shape can be created in a number of different ways:


Avodas Yad (handmade)

1. The bayis can be cut and sanded by hand using no electric machinery at all. (This is extremely difficult and time consuming.)


2. A wheel (router), running on electricity, spins at high speed and the battim macher guides the bayis along until the right amount is trimmed off and is left perfectly square.

Since the person is the one doing all the work – and without his skill, the bayis could not become square – this is considered avodas yad.




29 Sivan

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


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


WHAT IS THE BRACHA? The following is the ingredient panel of a ‘Natural Tropical Mix’ marketed by a Heimeshe company: “guava, banana, mango preserved with sulfur dioxide”. We asked HaRav Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, Mechaber of Halachos of Brochos what the appropriate bracha or brachos would be on this product. He responded that more than one bracha may have to be recited--as the bracha on mango and guava is usually Ha’eitz, and the bracha on bananas, is, of course, Ha’adama. However, if any of the products are ground up and made into something like fruit leather then the bracha is Shehakol, because the fruit is unrecognizable. Importantly, he explained that this ‘Tropical Mix’ is not to be treated as a mixture over which only one bracha over the majority item is to be recited--as this is not to be treated as a single tavshil like a bowl of cereal or a salad. Each piece is eaten on its own accord. Hakhel Note: Thus, it is very possible that three brachos would have to be made on this mix--a Ha’eitz on the mango, a Ha’adama on the banana, and perhaps a Shehakol on the Guava, if it is not recognizable as such. We once again come back to one of our stalwart point as to brachos--before buying the product and bringing it home, consider well what the product is and if it will lead to michsholim to those uneducated in the halachos of brachos (whether they live in your home, are guests, or are friends attending a shalom zachor, party or the like). 



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



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




Special Note One: Notes on the portals of Tammuz:


A. As we enter into Tammuz on Sunday, we recognize not only that ten  months of the year have passed, but that there are still three months left to go!  As we have noted, “Tammuz” is an acronym (juxtaposed) for “Zeman Teshuva Mimashmesh U’Ba”--and likewise for “Zerizim Makdimim V’Osin Teshuva”--both spell “Tammuz” in the Hebrew, and both mean that our feelings towards drawing closer to Hashem should begin to intensify at this time. 


B. According to many, the first day of Tammuz is the date of the birth and petira of Yosef HaTzadik.  Chazal teach that Yosef was mekadesh shem shamayim b’seser--sanctified Hashem’s name in private--by not falling prey to the wife of Potiphar and withstanding this great test.  As a result, he was zoche to have a letter of Hashem’s name added to his name--and is known in Tehillim as “Yehosef” as well.  Accordingly, it would be extremely appropriate this Sunday 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. As on Shabbos Kodesh and on Sunday we will be reciting ‘Half-Hallel’, we note that during the recitation of Hallel, which involves the reading of contiguous chapters of Tehillim, unnecessary  interruptions are prohibited.  For instance, one may not answer “Boruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo”.  In addition, one should wait to recite Asher Yatzar until after Hallel. Most certainly, one cannot interrupt Hallel with words of conversation.


B. We continue our annual review of Summer Shabbos Shailos, with the Teshuvos of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, to us:








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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



Special Note Three: Points and pointers on this week’s Parasha, Parashas Chukas:


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


Rabbi Elias Schwartz, 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 wrongdoing.  Help someone become a better person.  Remember—Laymor--spread Ruchniyus by constantly talking about it to others.”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




28 Sivan



I. A reader requested of us to publish their names every day until their freedom, so that a Kepitel could be recited for them. Bli neder we hope to do so--may it be for a very, very short period. 


The names of the three bachurim are:


Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah

Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim

Eyal ben Iris Teshurah


II. As we had previously noted, it is important to pay attention to the Kepitel or Kepitelech of Tehillim you are reciting on their behalf--they are His sons, they are your brothers. Perhaps the most recited Kepitel on a daily basis (and perhaps even throughout our history) is Tehillim Chapter 130--Shir HaMa’alos Mima’amakim. Just a few points regarding this Chapter: 


A. As we have noted in the past, not all of the Sheimos in this Kepitel have the identical meaning, even though we pronounce them in the same way.  Three of the Sheimos are the Shem of Aleph-Daled which means that Hashem is the Master of All.  The four other full Sheimos are the Shem of Yud-Key-Vuv-Key, which means not only that Hashem is the Master of All, but that He Was, Is, and Will Be, and keeps everything in existence.  Unless we have memorized which Name of Hashem is where, it behooves us to look carefully in a Siddur or Tehillim as we recite the Chapter--so that we have the proper Kavannah at the proper time. 


B. The Metzudos Dovid on the first Pasuk Mima’amakim Kerasicha Hashem explains that “Mitoch Omek Hatzaros-- I am crying out to You from the depths of Tzaros!”


C. On the words Kivisi Hashem Kivesah Nafshi, Rashi points out that the apparently duplicative Kivisi-Kivesa is not at all redundant, but instead emphasizes that the supplicant has waited, waits and will reawait and reawait--until the Yeshuah comes. This is also the reason that Dovid HaMelech repeats the words Shomerim LaBoker, Shomerim LaBoker--to reaffirm that one will continuously wait for the Yeshua. “Ki Im Hashem [Hashem?] HaChesed”--for Hashem will perform Chesed for us--and He will continue to save us in spite of our past iniquities--until the final redemption itself actually comes!


III . Received from a reader: “Please pass the following information on: I spoke with Rav Havlin who is close to HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita.  He gave us  the Bracha of HaRav Kanievsky  and he said that we should continue with prayers and Hafrashas Challah at Kever Rachel. I told the families of the three bachurim that thousands of women from all the world participated with us with Tehillim and Hafrashas Challah for their boys. They were very excited and thanked me and asked to thank you and to continue to daven for them. This week you can join in Tehillim and Hafrashas Challah for the three bachurim at Kever Rachel,  or you can participate from home. We call on all the women of Am Yisrael to participate in a public prayer including Hafrashas Challah at Kever Rachel on Thursday, June 26th at 7.00 PM (Israel time) on behalf of the boys and pleading with Hashem that He now fulfill his Havtacha to Rachel Imeinu: V’Shavu Vanim Ligvulam. The following Perakim of Tehillim  will be recited: 13, 121, 130, 142, 143. Those who cannot go to the Kever Rachel can participate from home by saying Tehillim and/or doing Hafrashas Challah. Please let us know you joined by emailing: rachelam@017.net.il.”


IV. In addition to whatever other zechusim you may have from time-to-time performed or undertaken on behalf of the bachurim (such as Tzedaka, a Chesed), may we suggest what we can refer to as the ‘no extra piece of cake’ zechus. As we have noted in the past, the Ra’avad writes that quashing one’s desire and not fulfilling it is a tremendous Ma’aleh. Accordingly, as a zechus for the bachurim, one should consider whether taking the extra bite or the extra helping of this or that is really necessary--or whether one can instead conquer his desire. Thinking about another while helping yourself--is certainly a beautiful Middah--and a wonderful zechus.



FROM A READER: “I would like to share something particularly frustrating for me. I hear many times that when a Shaliach Tzibbur recites the words in Birchas Kriyas Shema of Shacharis: “Besafah Verurah U’vin’ima”--that he obviously does not know what the word Verurah means because he separates it from the word Besafah, which it modifies. This is particularly highlighted on Shabbos when there is more of a melody to the recitation of the words and the Chazzan stops for a moment after singing the word Besafah and then continues Verurah, apparently believing that just as Besafah means with articulation, Verurah must mean with rurah--whatever that may be. In fact, Besafah Verurah simply means with clear articulation--just as the Chofetz Chaim entitled his work the Mishnah Berurah to indicate that he was providing the clear Halacha. We really should take the time to look for words that we do not understand in davening--and learn their simple meaning!”



A SUMMER HATZALAH TIP (FROM THE HATZALAH OF EDISON ): “Regardless of the activity, it is important to maintain proper hydration.  Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can cause dizziness, fainting, change in mental status, cramps, etc.  Also, remember that although one’s inclination is not to think so, a person can get dehydrated while swimming.  One of the easiest ways to determine if a body is properly hydrated is by its liquid waste.  The body rids itself of everything it doesn’t need.  When the liquid waste is clear/almost clear, this indicates that the body is now ridding itself of excess water.”




Special Note One: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




The astute reader may be wondering why is it that heavy emphasis was placed on the importance of hechsherim regarding klaf factories, but not battim producers?


And the answer is as follows: It is very important for a klaf factory to have a reliable hechsher. It is equally important, if not more so, for a battim factory to have a reliable hechsher since many more steps are involved in the production process that require supervision.


As we have previously mentioned, private-battim are just that--private. There is no factory; there are no workers, just the battim macher himself (and sometimes an apprentice).


Many people in their own home keep to much higher standards of kashrus than what the hechsherim (even the very good ones) demand in food factories. Similarly, the good, private battim machers generally keep to a much higher standard of kashrus than what a hechsher would demand. Therefore, if you know the battim macher and trust him, a hechsher is not crucial.


It would be wonderful if every private battim macher were certified by a central committee, just as sofrim must be certified. However, in reality, no such system exists at present.




27 Sivan

REMINDER!  The Beis Din Maysharim of Lakewood, at www.shtaros.com is providing to lawyers, professionals, and educated laymen a collection of documents designed to address many Halachic issues that arise in standard contracts.  The documents have actually been drafted by Dayanim of the Bais Din.  Please note that these are not intended to replace any legal documents, and an attorney should be consulted before use.  Some of the documents are presented as ‘shareware’.  They may be downloaded at will, with the expectation that users will pay for their use, as described in the footers of each document.  We thank the Bais Din Maysharim for this invaluable resource!



FROM A READER:  “I read in the name of HaRav Mendel Kaplan, Z’tl, that real Chesed is what you think there is no reason to do--and the only reason you are doing it is because someone else wants it done!”



THE IPHONE AND YOU: We asked a computer expert what he felt the viable alternatives were to somehow limit the immediate and potential dangers inherent in an unbridled iPhone. These were his immediate brief recommendations:


OPTION #1- download a filter app. Works well, but only from within the app.

OPTION #2- go into restrictions, block the browser (safari), ability to install ‎apps (app store), downgrade the age level of apps (so that another browser can’t accidentally be installed or redownloaded)

OPTION #3- Venishmartem cloud filter. It’s a filter which filters the entire device. There is a monthly fee for this. It filters based on your needs. (Apple has a built in filter, but I don’t like it since to make changes you need the actual device, which is not very practical)


Hakhel Note: Anyone with an iPhone should recognize that with just a couple of easy movements of one finger, he can lead himself or others (who may be much younger) into the depths of depravity. Chazal teach that a wise person is one who is Ro’eh Es HaNolad--who considers the outcome of his actions. Accordingly, one must do his utmost to separate the pure from the impure, the holy from the profane, and the Torah Jew from the paths of the pagans and their like. Remember--it is your responsibility!


The phone number for TAG (Technology Awareness Group), which provides free information and assistance on internet filtering is 718-437-1824 (press 0 for assistance). For more information including office hours and locations, visit www.taghelpline.org.




Special Note One:  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 “Zerizin Makdimin V’Osin Teshuva”--both spell “Tammuz” in the Hebrew, and both mean that our feelings towards drawing closer to Hashem should begin to intensify at this time.  We each can accomplish so much in the coming 3 months.  For instance, the entire book Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita, published by Artscroll, 2005), can be studied over its five-minute a day, 89-day cycle which begins on Sunday, the first of Tammuz and concludes on Erev Rosh Hashanah.  Uplifting and upgrading your davening, and improving upon your bond with Hashem, is a great way to concomitantly conclude this year, prepare for the Yomim Noraim and grow in the coming year!  Praying with Fire, is one of Artscroll’s bestselling Seforim ever, and is available in large and even pocket-sized copies in your local Jewish bookstore.  Even to the many who have gone through the Sefer once and more than once, perhaps do it with some family or friends, or others, and try to discuss with them the short five-minute segments presented daily.



Special Note Two:  As we are now into the “Natural Events” season, we once again provide the following pertinent Halachos relating to the Brachos on these events--which serve to remind us that they are far from being ‘natural’.  The basis for the Halachos below is Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Chapter 227 and the Mishna Berurah there, the Sefer Shoneh Halachos and the Sefer Piskei Teshuvos on this Chapter in Shulchan Aruch.  We specifically note that one should, of course, consult with his Rav for the final Halacha.  We present the following for an understanding of the issues:


1.      When experiencing an earthquake, one recites the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis--Who makes the work of Creation”.  It is also permissible to make the Bracha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso Malei Olam--His strength and His power fill the universe”.  Piskei Teshuvos writes that the degree of the tremor is not necessarily relevant, as long as it is clearly felt.  HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, teaches that one should recite the Pasuk from Sefer Yeshaya (6:3) “V’Kara Zeh El Zeh V’Amar Kadosh…” three times, and the earthquake will cease.  Indeed, he brings that this Pasuk is specifically intended to cover the situation of an earthquake!


2.      On very strong winds, i.e., winds which uproot either heavy objects or items attached to the ground or to buildings which would not ordinarily have been uprooted, one makes an “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis”.  On a hurricane (killer type of wind), the Piskei Teshuvos writes that one can make the Bracha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso”, but HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, writes that in all events one should make the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis,” because we are not proficient as to the degree of wind that is necessary to make “Shekocho U’Gevuraso.”


3.      On lightning, and on thunder, one can make either “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis” or “Shekocho U’Gevuraso.”  However, the custom is to make the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis” on lightning, and the Bracha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso” on thunder.  We note that in many Sephardic communities, the custom may be to recite these brachos without “Shem U’Malchus” (i.e., skipping from Baruch to “Oseh” or Baruch to “Shekocho”).


4.      If one sees lightning and hears thunder simultaneously, he makes one bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis” on both (he would also be yotzei with the Bracha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso” on both as well).


5.      One does not make a Bracha on lightning which comes only from heat.  If one is unsure of the source of the lightning, he should wait until he hears thunder.  Then, he makes one Bracha--Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis--if he experiences them together (as noted in the previous paragraph).  However, if he does not experience them together--for example, if he then hears thunder without simultaneous lightning, he makes a Bracha of “Shekocho U’Gevuraso,” and then when he sees lightning (again) he makes the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis.”


6.      If one already had commenced making a Bracha on lightning and then, while making that Bracha, he heard thunder, he must make a second Bracha on the thunder later (once again, within two to three seconds after hearing the thunder).  The same would, of course, be true if he had already begun to make a Bracha on thunder, and then saw lightning--he would make a second Bracha on lightning within two or three seconds after seeing it again later.


7.       There is a Machlokes among the Poskim as to whether one has to see the actual lightning bolt in order to make the Bracha of “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis” (HaRav Dovid Feinstein, Shlita, for instance, holds that one must see the bolt).  Many Poskim (including HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, and the Tzitz Eliezer, Z’tl) rule that one need not see the bolt itself and that, accordingly, one can make the Bracha of “Oseh Maaseh Bereishis” when merely seeing the light flash--and not the actual bolt in the sky.


8.      Once again, one must make the Bracha within two to three seconds after seeing the lightning or hearing the thunder.  Accordingly, if one came out of the bathroom and washed his hands, and then saw lightning or heard thunder, he should immediately make the Bracha before reciting Asher Yotzar (usually one must be careful to recite the Bracha of Asher Yotzar immediately after coming out of the bathroom).


      Because one must make the Bracha so soon after experiencing the lightning or thunder, one may find himself in the midst of Tefillah, and an important issue becomes whether one should interrupt his prayers in order not to miss the Bracha and Hisorerus opportunity which will quickly pass.  Once again, one should consult with his Rav on any particular Shaila, we provide here Halachos as excerpted from the Siddur Kavanas Hashem (Yerushalayim):


Permitted interruptions in Tefillah to make the Bracha over lightning and thunder:


A.     During Pesukei DeZimra (except while reciting Baruch Atta Hashem Melech Mehulal Batishbachos, or Baruch Atta Hashem Kel Melech Gadol BaTishbachos…)


B.     In between (not during) Brachos of Kriyas Shema, or in between (not during) the first and second and second and third Chapters of Kriyas Shema.


Non-permitted interruptions in Tefillah to make the Bracha over lightning and thunder--i.e., do not make the Bracha at these times:


A.     After having made the Bracha on the Tefillin Shel Yad, and before completing placement of the Tefillin Shel Rosh.


B.     In the middle of one of the Birchos Kriyas Shema, or in the middle of any Chapter of Shema.


C.     In Shemone Esrei, and even in the middle of Elokai Netzor at the end of Shemone Esrei until after Yehiyu LeRatzon Imrei Phee.


D.     When in the middle Birchas HaMazon.


E.      When in the middle of a making a Bracha (even long Brachos such as Asher Yatzar or HaMa’avir Sheina)


9.      If one mistakenly made a Bracha over a flash of light or a thundering noise thinking that it was thunder or lightning (such as an airplane passing overhead at night), he would have to make the appropriate brachos when he actually hears thunder or sees lightning later.


10.  One can assume (unless there is a basis to believe otherwise) that one’s hands are clean, and he does not have to wash them in order to recite the bracha.


11.  Although not absolutely required by Halacha, it is preferable that one stands when making these two brachos.


12.  One makes the bracha over lightning and thunder only one time a day during the same storm.  If the sky completely clears up, and new storm clouds come in, then one makes new brachos over lightning and thunder even a second time during the day.


13.   If a storm had commenced the previous day or even the previous evening, and has still not cleared up by the time one arises the next morning, one would make new brachos the next morning after daybreak.  In other words, the evening and the next morning are considered two separate days for the brachos over lightning and thunder (just like Birchos HaTorah)--so that one would make new brachos upon hearing lightning and thunder when awakening the next morning.


14.  We should in all events remember that Chazal (Brachos 59A) teach that thunder was invented only to “straighten out the crookedness in the heart,” and thank Hashem for the ordinary and extraordinary events that take place every day--and for our ability to understand and appreciate them!




26 Sivan

TRUE HUMILITY! How can one truly demonstrate that he is humble? One method mentioned both in the Igeres HaRamban and in the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim (Chapter 22) is by always speaking gently with other people--not raising one’s voice, and not getting angry. This shows that one does not have the feeling that he knows best, nothing else matters and that his feelings or his opinion are the last, final and only word. Test your humility--today!




Special Note One: AHL MI LANU LEHISHA’EIN AHL AVINU SHEBASHOMAYIM: As the days pass by with hundreds of terrorists arrested--but with no apparent clue of the whereabouts of the bachurim, despite thousands upon thousands of the most highly trained soldiers being involved in the search, we all once again realize and internalize the absolute truth that “Ahl Mi Lanu Lehishaein Ahl Avinu Shebashomayim” (Sotah 49A)--we have no one to look to except to our Father in Heaven.” Thankfully, Hashem is not simply our King, our Creator, our Life-Giver--but He is also Avinu--our Father in Heaven--as the Pasuk explicitly teaches: “Banim Atem Lashem Elokeichem”--we are Hashem’s children, and He treats us as such.


One of the most well-known ma’asim involving HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, was when the Mirrer Yeshiva was about to recite Tehillim for the Jews kidnapped in Entebbe .  Before the Yeshiva began, HaRav Shmuelevitz urged everyone gathered to view the hostages as his own close family members--and to recite Tehillim with this view.  In yesterday’s Emuna Daily phone message regarding our current matzav, Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, provided a similar message--how would we react c’v if it really was our immediate family relative?  While we may not be physically or mentally capable of thinking this way for an entire day, or even for an entire hour, what we most definitely could do is to recite one or more chapters of Tehillim today and every day until the bachurim come home--with this feeling of complete closeness and oneness. It is not a fallacy at all--not only because it is the world against us, but because the Torah states that we all are Hashem’s children--and accordingly we all are brothers. What we are each asking Hashem to do is, as our Father, is to have mercy--the mercy of a Father--on His sons, who are our brothers.


In addition to having this feeling when reciting the one or more Chapters that we recite on the boys’ behalves, we should try to make the effort to learn a little bit more of the meaning of the Tehillim Chapter(s) being recited. Most may be reciting Tehillim Chapters 121, 130 and 142. Others, perhaps Chapters 79, 83 and 120. To whatever Chapters one’s Rav or Posek guides him, perhaps he should take a few moments to study Rashi, the Metzudos, the Radak or other meforshim. The Artscroll translation and commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Shlita, would also be an outstanding place to start.


Finally, we have unquestionably been strengthened in our Achdus during this trying period.  It is now the time to go beyond our past accomplishments in Emunah and Bitachon. We once again make available by clicking here a list of Pesukei Bitachon.  One can choose several of these Pesukim to reflect upon, look further into, or simply have available on his lips as he goes through the week.


In this vein, let us continue our focus on Rachamim--for the bachurim--and for K’lal Yisrael--as we emphasize to Hashem and to ourselves that it is only from Him that the Yeshua can and will come!



Special Note Two:  Notes on last week’s Pirkei Avos (Chapter 3):


1. Rebbi Nechunyah Ben Hakanah (3:5) teaches that: “Kol HaMekabel Alav Ohl Torah…one who accepts upon himself the yolk of Torah, he will have removed from him the yolk of government and the yolk of worldly responsibilities.” Rebbi Nechunyah then continues: “Vechol Haporeik Mimenu Ohl Torah…but if someone throws off the yolk of Torah from himself--the yolk of government and the yolk of worldly responsibilities are placed upon him.” Rebbi Nechunyah teaches us that there are but two alternatives--and not three, four or more. One either accepts upon himself the yolk of Torah, or throws it off.


In an almost identical fashion, Rebbi Chananyah Ben Tradyon (ibid. 3:3) teaches: “Shenayim Sheyoshvin V’Ein Beineihem…--if two sit together and there are no words of Torah between them, it is a moshav leitzim….” Whereas, “if two sit together and words of Torah are between them, the Shechinah rests between them”. Once again, there aren’t three or four choices--only two. Either the two sitting together recognize the significance of their being together and exchange words of Torah bringing the Shechinah into their midst--or they are like those attending a boxing match. Every person has a choice in life--as the Torah expressly sets forth (Devorim 30:15) “Re’eih Nasati Lifanecha Hayom…see I have placed before you today the life and the good, and the death and the evil…U’vacharta BaChaim--and you shall choose life!”


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




25 Sivan

LAMENATZEIACH LIVNEI KORACH MIZMOR (TEHILLIM 47): This Kepitel is recited seven times before we blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana. It is heartening, very heartening, to note that it is the Bnei Korach referred to at the outset of the Kepitel, who perhaps authored it as well. If we take a quick look, we will note that Kepitelach 42, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 85 and 88 also all begin with a reference to the Bnei Korach. Oh--how powerful Teshuvah, even at the last moment and even from the very depths really is! If we can achieve just a little bit of Teshuvah each and every day, how much purpose and meaning will we have infused into our lives!




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


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


Rabbi Miller, Z’tl, writes:


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


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


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


“Belief was no obstacle.


“But the test of 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 Parasha, is reminding us to work on them now.  In the coming week, we should try to work on these two allied flaws of character.  The Torah is presenting them to us--not only to read and be shocked by--but in order to improve ourselves in our personal lives in ways we are truly capable of.  Of course you believe in Hashem--but this belief must be evidenced and enhanced by how you view the wealth and talents of others--and of your own!



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. As we have noted in the past, 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 done 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! Accordingly, at this time, we provide a ‘heads-up’ to the three-month Sha’arei Teshuvah Program beginning Rosh Chodesh Tammuz (beginning this coming Sunday--and ending on Erev Rosh Hashana). Please spread the word…and the link!  http://tinyurl.com/2a8qjwj 



Special Note Three: We present several excerpts from A Treasure for Life by Rabbi Avraham Yachnes, Shlita (Feldheim Publishers) which provides an excellent translation, commentary, and insights into the classic Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim. Each of the following excerpts provides a real, practical, and poignant lesson which each one of us can use to grow from:


A. “It is told about HaRav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, Z’tl, that he was forever whispering to himself the words “Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid—I have set Hashem before me always”(Tehillim 16:8), to remind himself constantly that all of his actions and thoughts are always in the presence of Hashem.”


B. “If one were blindfolded and tried to walk through even the most familiar of rooms, he would certainly stumble and fall many times. Now imagine traveling through the uncharted waters of life, blindfolded by the desires and passions that have been allowed to rule over one’s wisdom. The more a person’s desires control him, the thicker the darkness--even to the point of being spiritually paralyzed.”


C. “People often say “I’m doing the best that I can.” What is considered doing the best that you can?  I remember  hearing from my Rebbi, HaRav Henoch Leibowitz, Z’tl, that on any  given day, when you feel that you have reached the level of doing the best that you can –that is you have invested all of your resources and every ounce of energy—then you should do a bit more . This way, when you begin the next day, your starting point is from that extra bit. Then there will be growth. Otherwise every day is a repeat performance of the day before with no real growth. This same concept was expressed differently by Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt, Z’tl, Rav of the Queens Jewish Center in New York . He said that when people work in a profession for ten years, they often claim to have ten years of experience. They need to understand that if they have been doing the exact same thing on the exact same level during those years, it does not mean that they have ten years of experience, it means they have one year of experience ten times. Only if there had been a broader commitment and a deeper level of responsibility every day during those ten years, can one say that he has ten years of experience.”


“A few years ago I had the opportunity to be a Kashrus supervisor at a soda bottling plant. Standing there in amazement, watching 3,200 soda cans filled and capped per minute, something interesting caught my eye. An inspector wearing a long, white coat, who was overseeing the operation, randomly plucked a can or bottle off of the speeding conveyer belt. I followed behind as he walked into a laboratory and began performing all kinds of experiments with the beverage. He placed some of the liquid in test tubes, poured some into a decoding machine, and also drank some to check the taste. Finally, I asked what all of these procedures were about. ‘I’m checking for the right amount of sweetener, the proper measure of syrup, and the correct balance of carbonation to flavor,’ he said.  ‘Quality control, Rabbi, quality control.’ It struck me like a ton of bricks. So much research, so much checking; so much investigation, effort, and exactness for quality control of a can of soda. How much more so must one measure the exactness of his thoughts and actions for the quality control of his Middos.”



Special Note Four: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




We are discussing the potential drawbacks of factory produced battim


Drawback 3 – Halachic standards


In many factories, various halachic leniencies are relied upon, which allow them to produce a greater number of battim. Particularly in the creation of the “shin” on either side of the shel rosh – which requires vast halachic as well as technical knowledge – leniencies come into play. Although these battim are certainly kosher, claims that they are mehudar may often be questionable.


These last three discussions represent just a sampling of some of the differences between factory-battim and private-battim, as well as the reason for the difference in price.


In summation; the working conditions of the private battim macher are conducive to producing mehudar battim, while the working conditions in battim factories are not so conducive.


Of course, this does not mean that every private battim macher produces battim that are of superior quality or of a higher halachic standard than those produced in factories.

In terms of physical quality, the factory-battim can be just as good as private-battim. And especially since the halachic standards of some factories are higher than others, the consumer must do his homework.


In short, the reliable, ehrlich private battim machers will generally produce a mehudar product while at a factory (even one with a hechsher), this is not always the case.




22 Sivan

QUESTION OF THE DAY Where in davening do we ask Hashem to help us avoid Machlokes?



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 Parasha brings to mind a tactic of the Ba’alei Mussar against the wiles of the sophisticated Yetzer Hara.  The Parasha 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 Parasha: “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 middos!



TOPIC FOR THOUGHT: If one had to pick a word to describe tomorrow’s Parasha it would be Mered--or rebellion. Although the term seems very stark and radical, in reality Maradnu--we have rebelled is one of the sins described in the Ashamnu prayer, which each and every one of us recite. Perhaps one can identify an area in which he is consciously lax or lackadaisical, in which he acknowledges that he is not thinking or acting as he truly should--and move himself to correct it based on his awareness, acknowledgement and affirmation that--as Moshe Rabbeinu exclaims in this week’s Parasha “Kel Elokei HaRuchos Lechol Basar--Hashem, You are the Hashem who knows the thoughts of each and every one of us!” (Bamidbar 16:22)



FROM A READER: “Regarding the kidnapped Bochurim: The Gemara says: “Ain Lecha Ben Chorin Elah Me Sheosaik Batorah.” We are davening for the cheirus of these boys, so perhaps a re-dedication to aisek in Torah (for example, not just ‘I did the daf’ level for example) thereby creating a ‘avir’ of freedom in the world--enabling them to I’YH be set free!”



A THOUGHT FROM A RAV: A Rav pointed out to us that in the Parasha in which the Bochurim were kidnapped, Parashas Shelach, Bnei Yisrael stated (Bamidbar 14:3): “Nasheinu V’Tapeinu Yehiyu Lavaz--our women and our children will be taken captive. We see from here how terrible words of evil are--they have ramifications even thousands of years later, and in fact, for eternity.



GUIDANCE FROM HARAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, SHLITA:  The Divrei Siach reports that a grandfather of one of the kidnapped Bochurim came to HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, for chizuk this week. HaRav Kanievsky gave him brachos of Sheyiheyeh Bracha V’Hatzlacha and Hashem Yeracheim. He then told him that men should learn and strengthen themselves in Hilchos Shemitah, and that women should accept Shabbos upon themselves early. When the grandfather left, HaRav Kanievsky, gave him an additional bracha: “Hashem Ya’azor Sheheim Yeitsu Bemeheirah Mitzara U’Mishivya”.


Hakhel Note One: The Divrei Siach then continues that HaRav Kanievsky importantly explains the apparent redundancy in the Pasuk in Yirmiyah (17:7): “Baruch HaGever Asher Yivtach Bashem Vehaya Hashem Mivtacho” to mean that the person who believes in Hashem--and that only Hashem can bring any and all Yeshuos--is the person who is blessed.


Hakhel Note Two: As we have seen in the past, and as we see today, HaRav Kanievsky is greatly emphasizing the study of Hilchos Shemitah. If one is not in possession of Seforim relating to Shemitah (Chazal provide us with Mishnayos Shevi’is in Talmud Bavli, and Mesechta Shevi’is in Talmud Yerushalmi and there are many other Seforim on Hilchos Shevi’is), then he should run to the Seforim store before he finds that Seforim are out-of-stock or out-of-print.


As a start, we provide below several questions in Hilchos Shevi’is that were presented to HaRav Kanievsky and his responses, which were published in the Divrei Siach:


QUESTION: We understand that there is an issur of Amira L’Akum in Shemitah. What is the source of this issur?

ANSWER: It is the same as the issur of Amira L’Akum on Shabbos.


QUESTION: With respect to issurei Shevi’is, is it better to say: “Mutav Yehihu Shogegim Ve’al Yehiyu Mezidin”?

ANSWER: No, we must reprove and warn about these issurim so that the tzibbur knows about them and is careful about them.


QUESTION: That which is said regarding Shevi’is that we were exiled from our land because we failed to keep it--is that true about our telling non-Jews to work land that they own in Eretz Yisrael during Shemitah?

ANSWER: Certainly this is one of the sins of Shemitah for which we are in exile.


QUESTION: Does eating Shevi’is produce cause Timtum HaLev?

ANSWER: Yes. Additionally, if a person drinks milk from a cow which ate Isurei Shevi’is, the milk itself will cause Timtum HaLev.


QUESTION: If people keep the laws of Shevi’is just to receive the bracha of Vetzivisi Es Birchasi--will they receive the bracha?

ANSWER: Certainly, yes.


QUESTION: Does the bracha of Vetzivisi Es Birchasi also apply to those who study the Mitzvah of Shevi’is and to those who help the farmers financially observe Shevi’is?

ANSWER: Yes, the bracha also applies to those who study the Mitzvah of Shevi’is, as well as to those who help the farmers financially!



THE ART OF LISTENING: We are familiar with the Chofetz Chaim’s daily Tefillah for Shemiras HaLashon. By the following link  http://tinyurl.com/ka6gmgo we provide the Chofetz Chaim’s daily Tefillah on Shemiyah--beseeching Hashem to assist one and guide one in proper listening.




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


A. Yesterday’s Daf Yomi (Ta’anis 8B) provided an outstanding teaching relating to Kavod Shabbos. Rebbi Yitzchak teaches that even in times of drought (such as in the times of Eliyahu HaNavi)--if it were to rain on Erev Shabbos, it would nevertheless be considered a Siman Klalah, a sign of curse--as it would impair people’s ability to prepare for Shabbos. Earlier in the Mesechta, Chazal taught that a day of rainfall is tremendously great--as the day of Techiyas HaMeisim, as the day of Matan Torah, and perhaps even greater… Yet, here Chazal teach that if rain disturbs our ability to properly fulfill Kavod Shabbos--even in a time of drought--it is a Siman Klalah! Oh, how we must appreciate the opportunity of Kavod Shabbos each and every Erev Shabbos--and how unfathomably great Kavod Shabbos must be. Today, as we purchase items for Shabbos, or run around LeKavod Shabbos--let us remember and appreciate this Chazal!


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


D. This Shabbos, we begin our annual review of Summer Shabbos Shailos, with the Teshuvos of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, to us:






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

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


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

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


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

ANSWER: When Plag Hamincha is at 7:00PM , Mincha should be davened before then and Maariv afterwards. There is an (important) opinion which allows for both Mincha and Maariv to be davened after Plag Hamincha on Friday, but the 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 my husband goes to the early minyan can I still do Melacha? If so, until when?

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


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

ANSWER: It can be argued that licht bentchen is a melacha done for the husband to ensure Shalom Bayis and thus should be prohibited as above. You can rely on the lenient opinion but you should strenuously avoid lighting candles after the people come home from shul. This is an affront to kedushas Shabbos and surely not conducive to Shalom Bayis as it belittles your husband. Will the malochim 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, am I permitted to finish the meal before nightfall or do I have to finish it after nightfall? Do I have to eat a K’zayis after nightfall?

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


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

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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Three: We present several questions relating to the Parasha, 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 Parashas Korach at all but later in Parashas Pinchos, and that the actual names of  Korach’s sons, Asir, Elkanah and Aviasaf, are found back in Parashas Va’eira (Shemos 6:24).  What is the Torah teaching us by this?


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


D. Chazal teach us that Korach was extremely wealthy.  His followers had also obviously brought much wealth with them from Mitzrayim.  Why was Kol 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 Parasha, the Torah introduces us to the 24 Matnos Kehuna--the 24 different gifts given to the Kohen (Bamidbar 18:8-20), 10 of which were in the Beis HaMikdash, 4 in Yerushalayim, and the remaining ten in Eretz Yisrael and some even beyond in chutz la’aretz.  Immediately following the Matnos Kehuna, the Torah teaches us that the Leviim also receive a gift in consideration for their service in the Beis Hamikdash--Ma’aser Rishon, or 10% of the crop left over after Terumah has been given to the Kohen (Bamidbar 18:21-24).  However, this appears to be 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 Parasha, we find a series of remarkable Mitzvos relating to Shemiras HaMikdash--guarding the Bais HaMikdash.  To the uninitiated, the concept of a frail human being watching or guarding the House of Hashem, the earthly Abode of the Creator of this World, a Building which is actually mechuvan, parallel, to the Bais HaMikdash Shel Ma’aleh, would seem superfluous and unnecessary.  Yet, we find no less than two Mitzvos (a positive commandment and a negative commandment)--in our Parasha relating to its absolute necessity.  The Sefer HaChinuch explains that watching or guarding something is a clear indication that the item has value to you.  The vigilance and attention you give to a place or thing attaches special importance and significance to it.  In the case of the Bais HaMikdash, it is actually Kohanim and Leviim who are given the noble task of providing the appropriate dignity and stateliness to the Holy Place .  They are obviously unarmed, boasting not even a bow or arrow, but Chazal teach that if they were caught asleep on their job at night they would be corporally punished (Mesechta Middos 1:2).


There are practical and important lessons for us here.


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


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




21 Sivan

HEICHAL HAZECHUS: The Chofetz Chaim (in the name of the Sefer Chareidim) explains that one who is melamed zechus on others is zoche to the light of a Heichal HaKedusha called the Heichal HaZechus--a place in Shomayim where the zechusim of Yisrael are mentioned.  Be among those who bask in this light!



40 DAYS OF FASTING: The Sefer Orchos Tzadikim in the Sha’ar HaTeshuva, quotes from the Sefer Rokeach as follows:  “How does one do Teshuva for Rechilus or the like?  Rechilus has no remedy, unless one asks forgiveness of the person offended, and one fasts for 40 days or more and receives lashes every day. [Furthermore], he should recall his misdeed by reciting Vidui every day, and he should focus upon all Mitzvos in general--and making peace between man and his fellow and man and his wife in particular.”  Although this type of Teshuva may be something beyond our realm, it is important for us to get an idea of how severe Lashon Hara and Rechilus really are.  If nothing else, we should shake ourselves before allowing that offhand quip, witticism or ‘can’t hold it in’ comment to leave our lips.  After all, is it worth what a Rishon (the Sefer Rokeach) tells us requires 40 days of fasting and more--in order to rectify?



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



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



AS THE SUMMER APPROACHES: The following great messages were supplied by our readers:


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


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




Special Note One: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




Factory battim

The goal of the producer of factory-made battim is to produce the maximum number of battim in the minimum amount of time.


This goal is achieved by having a different person doing each job, somewhat similar to an assembly line. While this system dramatically decreases the amount of time necessary to produce a pair of battim, it does, nevertheless, have its drawbacks:


Drawback 1 – The reliability of the workers


When purchasing battim from a private battim macher, the consumer knows and trusts the person who is making the battim. He can also rest assured that even if the battim are sent out to one or two other people for specific tasks, they, too, are recognized experts in their field.


In contrast, a factory has many workers as well as a turnover rate which can sometimes be high. Who are these workers? Are they experienced? Are they well-trained? Are they well-versed in the halachos? Are they Yirei Shamayim? There is one answer to all these questions: We hope so.


The unfortunate reality is that oftentimes, the workers in these factories may be ignorant of all halachos related to battim, and have only been trained for the specific job they have been hired to do. They may have never learned hilchos battim in their lives or even know which section of Shulchan Aruch these halachos are found in!


Drawback 2 – Attention to detail


Attention to detail is the most significant difference between factory-battim and private-battim. As previously stated, the goal of the factories is to produce more battim in less time. And indeed, the battim are treated accordingly. In contrast, when a (reliable) private battim macher is creating a bayis, each and every bayis is treated like an only child. It receives his full attention, care, and whatever time is necessary to craft a perfect product.


In a factory, everything moves at a much quicker pace. Consequently, if one of the workers invests too much time in a particular bayis, it can hold up production. This fosters a lack of attention to detail.


Therefore, just as with couches, cars, and clothes, an individually handcrafted product will usually be superior to a mass-produced item. We should be especially vigilant for this preference--in Tashmishei Kedusha!




20 Sivan

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




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


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


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


Additional Note: Let us return for a moment, however, to our departure from Kivros HaTa’ava on this day--why did it not become an auspicious time forever?  Why is this very day marked by such suffering, such torture, such pain?  Perhaps the answer belies the question.  It may simply be that we have not sufficiently left the ta’avos--the improper desires--that we began with. The story is told of a formerly wealthy man who was so beset by creditors that he could not leave the confines of his home for fear of his well-being.  His Rabbi came to visit and comfort him while the man was eating dinner, and noticed the finest wine on the table.  When asked about the wine, the man replied, “Rabbi, I crave it.  I simply crave it.  I cannot be without it.”  In truth, it is not the fine wine of this once-wealthy individual that should concern us, but our own similar behavior.  As we all know, the Ra’avad writes that breaking a desire is a key factor and display of Teshuva. We all recognize and agree with the Ra’avad’s teaching--but how can we actualize it in our daily lives? That extra helping of unhealthy food, that unnecessary electronic (adult) gadget, that extra this or additional that…are really serious mistakes, as they could (and probably will) mean the stunting of both one’s physical and one’s spiritual growth.  As Akavya ben Mehallalel taught, “I would rather be a fool in the eyes of all my entire life, rather than a rasha in the eyes of Hashem for one moment.”  Even the adage: “A second on your lips, forever on your hips” should ring true to our ears at the moment of temptation.  It would seem that if we can consciously combat one temptation daily--we will be on the road of taking ourselves out of the graveyard of temptation and its historic tragic aftermath--to the pinnacles of success.  How our world would have been different if Adam and Chava did not fall prey to the one temptation of the Eitz Hada’as….!



Special Note Two: Today, we conclude our listing of essential points from the outstanding work: The Laws of Honoring and Revering Parents, by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita. We thank Project D.E.R.E.C.H., a stellar organization dedicated to promulgating Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim, for its permission in allowing us to excerpt in detail these essential Halachos so meaningfully presented by Rabbi Biberfeld.  One must, of course, consult with his own Rav or Posek for a final Halachic determination relating to particular facts, circumstances and applications.




A. The Bais Yosef brings that one must be willing to give up all of the money in the world not to cause pain or distress to his parents. In fact, the Zohar writes that Rochel Imeinu was punished because she stole the idols from her father, Lavan, thereby causing him pain. Even though her intentions were good (i.e., to separate him from idol worship), her lack of sensitivity to her father’s distress brought her this fate. Hakhel Note: A person must be sure to consult with his Rav or Posek regarding any such issue.


B. Waking up one’s parent--even for what is ostensibly the parent’s good-- is not always a clear decision. It is preferable that someone else wake up the parent rather than the child himself.


C. When a child wishes to keep or take on a certain chumrah or a particular pious custom or act against his parent’s wishes, each case must be determined on an individual basis. It is reported, in fact, that the Arizal did not immerse in Mikvah in the winter, in compliance with his mother’s wishes. On the other hand, if a son wants to grow a beard or payos, and his parents object to this, he is not obligated to listen to them. Thus, each case must be separately reviewed and a Halachic determination made.


D. The obligation of honoring parents continues even after a parent has passed away. If one does so, it is considered as if he has honored the parent in his/her lifetime. In fact, the Chazal (Mesechta Semachos, 9) teach that when one honors a parent in his lifetime there may be some aspect of fear or monetary gain--whereas after they have passed away, it can only be L’Sheim Shomayim. Indeed, the Peleh Yo’etz writes explicitly: “V’Ikar HaKavod Hu Sheyehei Mechabdo B’Moso--the primary honor will occur after the parent’s death.” It is well known that after the Alter of Slobodka (HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Z’tl) passed away, he came to his son (HaRav Leizer Yudel Finkel, Z’tl) in a dream and said to him: “Shik Mir Peklach--send me packages.” He was referring to ‘packages’ of Torah and good deeds, saying Kaddish and learning Mishnayos. The honor given is a deeply spiritual one.


E. A child may never contradict or disagree with his parent, even if he knows that he is absolutely correct. For instance, he should not say outright: ‘What you did was forbidden’. Rather, he should correct his parent’s action in a manner that will not embarrass the parent; e.g., he should do so in question form--”Aba, doesn’t the Torah say…?”, or he may speak in a respectful way--”We learned it with a twist like this.” However, if the parent asks the child for his opinion (either in Torah related matters or general topics), the child may give it, even if it is not in agreement with the parent’s.


F. When a child is asked his parent’s name (such as when being called up for an aliyah), he should say “Avi” or “Avi Mori”. One can likewise precede the parent’s name with the word “Reb” or the word “Mister”.  It is, however, permissible for a child to write his parent’s name.


G. Chazal (Kesuvos 103A) teach that there is an obligation to honor an older brother for as long as he lives, unless he is a wicked person. An older brother may be mochel on his honor. There is, however, no obligation to fear him, so that one may call him by his name and disagree with his opinion. According to some Poskim, the obligation only applies towards the oldest brother (even if he is not the first born). However, many Poskim rule that it applies to all brothers who are older. The degree of honoring an older brother is disputed among the Poskim. Some Poskim say that the honor is just like that towards the father. However, most Poskim say that the honor one must give is not the same. Rabbi Biberfeld writes that he heard from HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, that the honor due is ‘Ketzas Pachos MeiHa’av’. Likewise, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, writes that the honor due is “Lo Mamash K’Aviv V’Imo--not exactly like the honor due to a father and mother.” HaRav Ovadia Yosef, Z’tl, writes that the obligation is just to stand up when he comes within four amos, and to honor him with words.


H. Some Poskim say that one is required to honor older sisters just like older brothers. Others say that there is no obligation, but out of Derech Eretz one may not speak before an older sister (as with any older person).


I. Chazal teach that a person must honor his grandparents. There is a dispute among the Poskim as to whether this is MiD’oraysa or MiD’Rabanan. The Poskim disagree as to the extent of the obligation. Some Poskim hold that the obligation is the same as that towards a parent. A second opinion holds that the honor due is a little less than that of a parent. A third opinion is that a person need only stand up for a grandparent when he comes within four amos and remains standing until the grandparent has passed; honor them with words; and generally to honor grandparents more than one would other people.


J. From the fact that Dovid HaMelech referred to his father in-law, Shaul HaMelech as ‘Avi’, Chazal learn that one is obligated to honor his in-laws. We also learn this from Moshe Rabbeinu who bowed and kissed his father in-law Yisro when he came into the desert. According to some Poskim, one must give his in-laws the same honor he would give his parents. However, most Poskim say that it is not equal, but it is greater than the honor one gives towards other people. The honor due would include standing up for them, and honoring them with words. The Yerushalmi relates that Yehuda, the son of Rebbi Chiya would go to visit his father in-law every Erev Shabbos and inquire about his welfare. If one’s parents command him not to honor his in-laws, he may not listen to them. However, he should not try to show a close relationship with his in-laws while his parents are present.


K. Kibud Horim is the stepping stone to the service and fear of Hashem, guarantying the accurate transmission of our mesorah. The Halachos of Kibud Av V’eim cultivate the attributes essential to Kedusha such as humility, sensitivity, appreciation and self control. While it is true that parents are permitted to forgo their honor in order not to overburden their children (for example, they need not insist that their children always serve them or stand for them) the Chazon Ish cautions against regularly adopting this attitude, as it eventually leads to laxity in the child’s general performance of the Mitzvah. Rather, by giving his child the opportunity of Kibud Av V’Eim--the child may thereby be zoche to the Torah’s bracha of one who honors his parents--”L’Ma’an Ya’arichun Yamecha”--length of days (as explicitly set forth in the Aseres HaDibros--both in Shemos 20:12 and Devarim 5:16)!



19 Sivan

MI K’AMECHA YISRAEL!: May the Achdus and the innovativeness of our people in developing zechusim for our three bachurim bring them home--and also be the last unifying step for us all in this long and painful Galus. We must always be strengthened by the words of HaRav Feivel Cohen, Shlita, who taught during the Intifada many years ago that even as all seems hopeless in our fight against a terrorist malevolent enemy--we must know: Ezri Me’im Hashem Oseh Shomayim Va’aretz--our help comes from Hashem Who created the heavens and the earth. Since He created the heavens and the earth--He can solve and resolve any and all circumstance and situation for He is in full, absolute and unfettered control of all people, all things and all time! Let us remember this essential, undeniable and incontrovertible fact as we continue to recite our Tehillim, learn, give Tzedakah and do other meritorious acts on their behalf.




Special Note One: Today, we highlight important points from the outstanding work: The Laws of Honoring and Revering Parents, by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita. We thank Project D.E.R.E.C.H., a stellar organization dedicated to promulgating Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim, for its permission in allowing us to excerpt in detail these essential Halachos so meaningfully presented by Rabbi Biberfeld:




A. As a preliminary matter, we must realize that Kibud Av V’eim is much more than a social requirement. It is a Mitzvah, and as any other Mitzvah, there are many Halachos that pertain to it. In fact, the Gemara tells us that Kibud Av V’eim is an extremely hard Mitzvah to fulfill. However, we all know the Mishna in Avos which tells us Lefum Tza’ara Agra--the reward is in proportion to the effort. Thus, we can understand that when a child fulfills this Mitzvah properly, he is rewarded accordingly. 


B. Chazal teach: “There are three partners in the creation of every person: Hashem, his father and his mother. When a person honors his father and mother, Hashem says: ‘I consider it as if I live amongst them and they honor Me.’ Indeed, the Sefer Masok MeD’vash writes that Hashem’s placement of the Mitzvah of Kibud Av V’eim into the Aseres Hadibros clearly teaches us that this Mitzvah is Chaviva B’einav--precious in Hashem’s eyes. Conversely, if a person does not honor his parent’s properly, it is as if he is causing pain to Hashem Himself.” (Kiddushin 31A)


C. There is no limit to this Mitzvah--the more a person honors or fears his parents--the more he fulfills the Mitzvah. In fact, one of the reasons given as to why a bracha is not recited on this Mitzvah is that it is required to be fulfilled continuously--as there is no time that a person is exempt from the Mitzvah.


D. A parent is allowed to be mochel (pardon) the honor that is due to him. However, this mechila only exempts the child from punishment if he does not honor his parent. Should the child, nonetheless, choose to honor his parent, he is fulfilling a Mitzvah and earning length of days even though the parent was mochel.


E. A parent who was once mochel a child can retract his mechila. If a parent never explicitly instructed his child to honor or fear him regarding a specific law (e.g. the parent never told the child that he must stand up for him), this does not indicate mechila. It may simply be that the parent is unaware of the Halacha.


F. If a parent wants to serve or assist his child in any way, the child may, generally speaking, accept the offer. This is because Retzono Shel Adam Zeh Hu Kevodo--fulfilling the will of a person is honoring him.


G. It is essential to recognize that the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents is manifested in three areas--thought, speech and action.


Important Examples of Thought:


1. A child must reflect upon the good points that his parents possess, and think about areas in which his parents excel (see Chayei Adam 67:3, and the famous shmuz of HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Z’tl, as published in Sichos Mussar (5731:22)).


2. A child should anticipate his parent’s needs--and not merely be reactive.


3. When performing an act of honoring parents, a child should do so B’Sever Panim Yaffos--with a cheerful attitude.


Important Examples of Speech:


1. When a child speaks to his parents, he must do so in a gentle manner and with respect, as if he was talking to a king.


2. One should in no event speak harshly, disparagingly, or in a manner that indicates that one is displeased in having to do what he is doing.


3. If one speaks Lashon Hara against a parent, the Chofetz Chaim writes that he has violated the Mitzvas Asei of Kibud Av, in addition to many other possible Mitzvas Asei and Lo Sa’aseh. Additionally, the Chofetz Chaim writes that one who speaks ill of a parent is subject to the curse of Arur Makleh Aviv V’Imo--accursed is one who degrades his father or mother (Devarim 27:16).


Important Examples of Action:


1. In addition to serving them with food and drink, and assisting them with their personal or physical needs in any way possible, Chazal (Kiddushin 31b) relate how Avimi, despite having five capable sons, used to run to open the door when his father came to his home. While running to the door, he would call out enthusiastically: “I’m coming to open! I’m coming to open!”


2. If one wishes to leave his house for an extended period of time, and thus will be unavailable to honor his parents, he must request permission from them--as we learn from Yaakov Avinu being away from his parent’s home and the results thereof.


3. One who truly wants to honor his father and mother properly should be involved in Torah study and good deeds--for people will then say: “Fortunate are the parents who raised such a child.”


H. Chazal (Kiddushin 31B) relate that when HaRav Yosef would hear his mother’s footsteps, he would say: “I shall stand up before the Shechina”. The obligation to stand for a parent begins when a child hears or sees his father or mother coming, or entering the room he is in, and continues until the parent is out of sight, sits down, or arrives at his destination. Stopping to talk to someone is considered arriving at his destination. It is proper that it be noticeable that a child is standing to honor the parent. Therefore if the child has to walk away right then, he should first wait until he would be ready to sit down and then leave. There is a disagreement as to how many times during the day the obligation is to stand. Some Poskim hold that the obligation is to stand twice a day (in the morning or at night), as well as any time there are newcomers present. Others say that one is required to standup even 100 times a day. The accepted view is the more lenient one (HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, and HaRav Scheinberg, Z’tl, both held this way).



Special Note Two: We received the following warm and enlightening insight from a reader:


“In the womb of a pregnant woman two embryos are talking. One of them is a believer, the other a non-believer:


Believer:  What an incredible world we are going to!


Non-believer:  What! Do you really believe in life after birth?


Believer: Yes, sure. Of course there is life after birth. We are only here in order to prepare and ready ourselves-- for what is awaiting us after this.


Non-believer: This is stupidity! There can’t be any life after birth! Can you even imagine what that kind of life could look like?


Believer: I dont know all the details, but I believe that there will be more light and we will walk by ourselves and eat with our own mouths.


Non-believer: Such nonsense! It’s obviously impossible to walk by ourselves and to eat with our mouths! It’s simply ridiculous! We have an umbilical cord which feeds us. You know, I want to tell you that it is impossible that there will be life after birth, because our life, that is, our umbilical cord, is simply too short.


Believer: I’m sure that it’s possible. Everything will be a little different. It is possible to at least imagine.


Non-believer: But nobody from there came back! Life simply ends with birth. And, generally, life is one big suffering in darkness.


Believer: No, no! I don’t know exactly how our life will look like after birth, but, in any case, we’ll see our mommy and she will take care of us.


Non-believer: Mommy? You believe in mommy?  And where, do you think, she is?


Believer: She is everywhere around us, we are in her and thanks to her we are moving and living, without her we simply cannot exist.


Non-believer: It’s totally nonsense! I don’t see any mommy, and that’s why it’s obvious that she simply doesn’t exist.


Believer: I can’t agree with you, because sometimes, when everything around is silent, it’s possible to hear her singing and to feel how she is patting our world. I firmly believe that our real life will start only after birth.”


Hakhel Comment: Thank you, may we all prepare well--and may we all soon see the great light that even we--as believers--cannot even fathom or imagine!  




18 Sivan

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




Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrzeit of HaRav Yerucham Levovitz, Z’tl, the renowned Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva from 1910 until his passing in 1936. His talmidim included HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Z’tl, HaRav Dovid Povarsky, z’tl, HaRav Shlomo Volbe, z’tl, HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, and HaRav Shimon Schwab, z’tl. HaRav Levovitz was known for his great seder--organization. He taught that “if a knot that ties a string of pearls falls apart, the entire necklace falls apart with it—and the pearls are lost!” If a person is organized (or makes himself organized), his Torah study, his Tefillah, and his Mitzvos are performed in a timely manner and with care, and are safely guarded and secured.


HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, related that when he first met HaRav Levovitz, he studied how the Mashgiach ate a meal -- not because he wanted to be rude or intrusive--but simply in order to understand how a Mashgiach treats the entire eating process.  For a short while, he was puzzled.  There was something that was different about the way the Mashgiach ate, but the young R’ Nosson could not put his finger on it.  The physical motions appeared a bit different, but the food did enter the mouth and was swallowed.  What was it that the Mashgiach was doing different? Then, it dawned on him--he realized what was singular and special about the manner of eating!  When HaRav Levovitz ate, it appeared as if he was not feeding himself--but that a third person was feeding him.  It was as if his soul was the party in action-- doing the Chesed of feeding his body, to which it was so connected, and in appreciation of the dedicated lodging provided to the soul in this world.


While we obviously cannot approach the great thought processes and levels of accomplishment inherent in HaRav Levovitz’ daily meals, we should at least from time to time recognize that our act of eating, which to most of the world is unfortunately only a ‘same-action-as-animal’ time, can be lifted to a more exalted plane, simply by putting some thought into what one is doing before and while he is doing it.  The recital of Kepitel 23 before the meal, slow and caring brachos on foods, a dignified rather than ravenous approach, a brief thought as to what you are eating and why, can raise the bar for you and those around you. You may not be a Mashgiach, but you certainly can distinguish yourself as a noble human being.



Special Note Two: Why do we cover our eyes when we recite the first Pasuk of Shema?  At a Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita taught that with their closure, our eyes are taken out of the virtual reality of the world around us, and are brought to the inner reality of who we are, and what we are to accomplish.  As the Sefer Tomer Devorah teaches (Chapter 2 ), the eyes are not meant for us to learn and absorb the negative from the world around us: “One’s eyes should not gaze at all at anything despicable Rather, they should always be open to watch over unfortunates and have as much mercy upon them as possible…One should  distance himself from noticing evil [by employing proper safeguards to avoid the ‘wrong’ places, or keeping one’s line of vision in a different direction], just like the Supernal ‘Eye’, which is open, and forever sees only good.


The Yetzer Hara, Rabbi Lieff continued, works through sudden impulse, temporary confusion, and quick compulsion. If we can likewise ‘close our eyes’ for but a moment to recognize and realize who we are and what our job is, the Yetzer Hara will be summarily surmounted and overcome. The Komarna Rebbe, in a Sefer of instruction to his children, importantly taught them that when a person feels an urge, a desire, a seemingly  irrepressible need, he should tell himself (read: the Yetzer Hara within him)—OK, but before I do it--I just need  an  instant of ‘Yishuv Ha’Daas”, a moment of cogent thinking. With this response, the Yetzer Hora will flee-- to a more naïve and susceptible client.


As we move closer and closer to the summer months, months in which the rest of the world ‘lets their guard down’, it is a time when we put our guard up--we close our eyes at least three times daily at Shema (we can do so more often, if we would like) to appreciate the true reality, and we proceed with a Yishuv Ha’Daas known only to those with a special mission and purpose in this world-- and a true goal to accomplish it!



Special Note Three:  Some additional points on Shemiras HaLashon relating to last week’s Parasha:


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


B.  The Chofetz Chaim gives a fitting mashal as to why a mouth that has spoken Lashon Hara cannot be used for effective Tefillah or Torah study:  A person goes into a first-class restaurant, orders the most expensive meat and accompanying delicacies, is served by a top waiter in meticulous attire--takes one bite and begins to chew and savor it until the color of his face changes and he quickly gags a bit and spits out the food. What could the explanation be--after all, the chef must be a top one, the meat must be the finest cut, and the garnishments must be fitting as well--what could have gone wrong? The most likely explanation is that the pot used to prepare the food was not cleaned from the previous food prepared in it--the taste of any further food prepared in it--no matter how special or valuable--would be spoiled by the dirty pot that it was made in! Hakhel Note:  The Chofetz Chaim’s lesson also obviously works conversely--imagine a mouth in which words are spoken with care. The words of Tefillah and Torah that emanate from them come from a utensil that is pristine and perfect for the job!


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


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



Special Note Four: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





Tefillin battim (literally, houses) are boxes made from leather in which the parashiyos are contained. The parashah shel yad, which is written on one long piece of klaf, is rolled up and placed in the single, large compartment of the bayis shel yad. The parashiyos of the shel rosh, written on four individual pieces of parchment, are placed in the four compartments of the bayis shel rosh.


When purchasing battim, one can purchase what are known as factory-made battim or privately-made battim. It is important to understand the differences between them.


Creating a bayis involves quite a few different steps: 1) The hides have to be formed into the general shape of tefillin. 2) The tefillin then must be made perfectly square. 3) The shins of the bayis shel rosh need to be created. 4) The battim then have to be painted. And of course there are many other smaller steps along the way.

Private battim

Private battim means that one individual toils for many, many hours on each and every step involved in creating a pair of battim. The process is not rushed, all halachic requirements are fulfilled, and--most importantly--unwavering attention to detail is expended.


Even when some private battim machers send out their battim to various specialists to complete the job (most frequently to a merabei’a, who makes them perfectly square, or to a tzovei’a for painting), these specialists are chosen only after careful consideration.

The reason for the battim macher’s discrimination in choosing a merabei’a or tzovei’ah is obvious. People are paying more money to a private battim macher because they are supposed to be getting a better product made with much more attention to detail. Clearly, the workmanship of the merabei’a or painter will reflect on, and affect, the reputation of the battim macher.


Consequently, there are a number of master merabei’os and painters whose services are used by many battim machers because of their expertise and attention to detail.




15 Sivan

WELCOME TO DAF YOMI MESECHTA TA’ANIS! UTILIZE THE NEW OCCASION TO BEGIN DAF YOMI REVIEW:  In the past we have mentioned the wonderful Daf Yomi Chazara website http://www.shaschabura.org.  We provide the Chazara program beginning today (Ta’anis 2), and continuing through the rest of the Mesechta by the following link  http://tinyurl.com/macvnhv  We thank a reader who helped us with this important link. 



WHAT A DAF YOMI RESOURCE! An important and valuable service is available to the Daf Yomi community worldwide:  Daf Notes (www.dafnotes.com), which produces a wonderful daily review of the Daf, also takes questions by email relating to the Daf Yomi Mesechta being studied and responds--as yet another one of its outstanding free services.  To correspond with Daf Notes, or to ask any questions that you like relating to the Daf or the Mesechta contact info@dafnotes.com



THE ACRONYM OF TEFILLAH! In a recent Emuna Daily Shiur, Rabbi David Ashear, Shlita, pointed out that the word Tefillah is an acronym for Tefillah Po’eles L’Shanos HaTevah--through Tefillah one accomplishes changing nature.


Hakhel Note: Are you missing out?! The Emuna Daily three minute daily phone or email message is a powerful and consistent source of strengthening oneself in the Nisyonos that one faces in daily life. For those who do not yet benefit from this essential, short daily inspiration, we urge you to contact:  emunadaily@gmail.com.  To dial into the phone message dial (605) 475-4799, access code 840886# and then # again.



FROM A READER ON THE PARASHA OF TZITZIS AT THE END OF THIS WEEK’S PARASHA:  I know that you sometimes write about correct pronunciations. This is something that I hear many people say incorrectly. When kissing tzitzis during Shema, they pause after saying tzitzis, then say hakanaf pesil techeiles together as one phrase, whereas tzitzis hakanaf should be said together, the tzitzis should then be kissed, and the appropriate next phrase is pesil techeiles.”



TIMELY ADVICE! In this week’s Parasha, Rashi (Bamidbar 13:2) provides a stark realization: “Reshaim Halalu Ra’u VeLo Lakchu Mussar”--the Meraglim were evil--they saw what happened to Miriam and they did not take the simple and practical lesson from it. We most definitely--especially in this turbulent and truly precarious Galus--must take this lesson to heart and to mind. We provide two very practical and straightforward undertakings to demonstrate that one is truly trying to accomplish in Shemiras HaLashon:


1. Recite the Tefillah of the Chofetz Chaim for Shemiras HaLashon daily--preferably in the morning after davening/before work, as provided by the following link  http://tinyurl.com/mmegy7w   (this is an abridged version).


Note: We understand that although other Poskim permit it, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, holds that this Tefillah should not be recited on Shabbos.


2. Learn two (2) Shemiras Halashon Halachos at each of the Shabbos meals. This would definitely discourage inappropriate chatter which may more readily happen when people at the table are in a “laid-back” or more pleasant mood. The English Sefer Guard Your Tongue by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, may be an excellent choice for your needs. If you do not own, or do not have time to purchase Guard Your Tongue today or do not have any other appropriate Sefer available, we provide the following from the Sefer Hilchos Lashon Hara U’Rechilus by Rabbi Kalmen Krohn, Shlita, to allow you to begin this Shabbos:


A.  Even if one’s father or Rebbi--or even if a king--keeps on insisting that one relate a piece of information to him, and it involves even ‘only’ Avak Rechilus, it is forbidden to do so.  


B.  Even if one heard somebody speak about his parent or his Rebbi, and because he is very pained about the insult to their honor wants to reveal it to them, it is assur.


C.  One has committed an issur even when he starts walking to relate Lashon Hara or Rechilus, as the Pasuk states “Lo Seileich Rachil BeAmecha.


D.  One should not sit in a group of people who are speaking about the Gedolei HaDor, because it will inevitably lead to an ill-willed person speaking Lashon Hara.


E.  It is forbidden to speak words which others will feel is Lashon Hara, or will cause others to suspect him of speaking falsehood (even if otherwise permitted). 


F.  If one agrees with or consents to the words of Lashon Hara of another, it is considered as if he spoke them and he is deemed to be a Mesaper Lashon Hara.


G.  It is forbidden to show another a letter or other writing (including email!) in which it is clear that the writer is not a wise person.


H.  Even when one is permitted to hear Lashon Hara LeTo’eles, in most cases it is only to be choshesh (the allowance of a suspicion). This means that one cannot believe the words as being true or even to have a safek about their truth, for one is required to keep a person in his chezkas kashrus. 


I.  If one learned something from his friend about his friend’s business matters, and was not told to ‘keep it confidential’, it is still forbidden to relate it to others if it could cause damage or pain to his friend.  Even if it would not cause pain or damage to the friend, it is a Middah Tova not to reveal anything of the sort that his friend told him without his friend’s permission. 


J.  Lashon Hara by ‘hinting’ is full-fledged Lashon Hara.  Similarly, it is forbidden to respond to a question posed about another with the words:  “I don’t want to speak Lashon Hara against him by giving you an answer.”


IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER!  One does not ordinarily associate Lashon Hara with a horrific crime. The cheit of the Meraglim teaches otherwise. The Chofetz Chaim points out that when the Kohein Gadol comes into the Kodesh HaKadoshim for the first time on Yom Kippur he must light the ketores--to remove the cheit of Lashon Hara from K’lal Yisrael--before he undertakes any other Kapparah process. Without doing so--the process simply cannot begin and no Kapparah would be accomplished!! The Chofetz Chaim then turns to those who cannot appreciate this clear lesson and pleads simply with them as follows (we paraphrase): One has only a certain amount of time in this world from which he gains eternity which is infinite. It is silly enough to waste moments which could be used for eternity on foolish chatter. It is terrible to do so on words of sin…. Let your mouth be your greatest tool to achieve eternity!




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



ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK:  As we quiver from the details of this week’s Parasha, we provide several questions, and would very much welcome your responses: 


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


2.  After realizing what they had done in listening to the Meraglim, the people admitted that they sinned with the word “chatanu”-and even were apparently ready to be moser nefesh and battle their way into Eretz Yisrael, going up the mountain to do so.  Why was their Teshuva not accepted?


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


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


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




Special Note One:  Today is the birth day of Yehuda, the son of Yaakov Avinu.  We all know what his mother Leah exclaimed upon his birth--”Hapa’am Odeh Es Hashem (Bereishis 29:35)--this time I will gratefully praise Hashem!”  Rashi comments that Leah expressed this because she knew that she had received more than she was otherwise entitled to.  Today is an especially auspicious day for us to express our humble appreciation and gratitude to Hashem for that which we do not deserve as well.  Thank you Hashem! Thank You Hashem! should be an important hallmark of the day.  Additionally, if you have a moment, the Luach Davar B’Ito suggests that one take the favorable occasion to read the Brachos given to Yehuda in the Torah --in Parashas Vayechi and in Parashas Vezos HaBeracha--perhaps with the prayer that today be a special ‘eis ratzon’ for the brachos to take effect.



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


1.  As sunrise gets earlier as we head towards the summer, we caution those who daven later on Shabbos morning to make sure that they have recited the full Kriyas Shema before the Sof Zeman Kriyas Shema. 


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Three: We learn an all-pervasive lesson from this week’s Parasha: When a challenging situation or event presents itself--a person is faced with a choice. One can rise to the occasion, or sink from it. The Meraglim teach us how devastating not rising can be. Let us take a step back. Even before leaving Mitzrayim, we were advised that Eretz Yisrael was an “Eretz Zavas Chalav U’Devash” (Shemos 3:17 ). The Bnei Yisrael then witnessed the Makkos (and Bnei Yisrael’s salvation from them), the miracles at Yam Suf, Matan Torah, the miracles in the desert, the Mishkan….All the Meraglim had to do was take their mission as the next, very logical step. Instead, they toppled.  From them, we should learn that the challenges to our Emunah and Bitachon, whether daily or uncommon, whether ordinary or extraordinary--must be overcome and rejected as nonsense and out-of-hand--as we rise to the occasion in each and every instance!



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



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


Hakhel Note: There is another great inducement for us to act with Chesed. Let us take a look at Hashem’s Chesed to us: When we see a baby or child so small and helpless, we may reflect upon how much Chesed Hashem bestows upon this infant in keeping it alive, in finding loving family members to care for it, in taking care of all of its needs-- although it can offer nothing in return. It appears, in fact, that the Chesed of Hashem is inversely proportional to the age of the child—the smaller he is, the greater the Chesed, and the older he is –through adulthood—the lesser the Chesed.


In reality, however, and upon reflection, it may very well be that the baby, the small child, the toddler actually serves as a great lesson for us. Hashem provides the young child—unsullied, untainted, and closer to the Ruchniyus of the previous world, with Chesed that is clear for all to see.  Imagine, then, each of us--who may have heard a word of Lashon Hara in passing, who may have missed davening with the  Kavannah he was capable of, who may have not behaved properly to a family member, who may have missed or abused a clear chesed opportunity…-- how much more so do we experience the Chesed of Hashem with every life-filled moment. Is it you who ‘can take of yourself’ because you make your own meal, buy your own clothes, go to your own shiur, put yourself to bed—or is it Hashem who bestows much greater Chesed upon you than He bestows upon a young child--as He keeps you alive and running despite some really noisy skeletons in your closet—in order for you to have the opportunity to accomplish your role, and fulfill your true potential and purpose in this world of opportunity.


Chesed to the baby—for sure. Chesed to you—incredible! Now it is your turn--to share the wealth with others!



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


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


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


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


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


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


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




14 Sivan

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


8.  As provided in the past, by clicking here, you will find one of his most famous writings in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim--a Segula Gedolah VeNifla’ah on the topic of Ain Od Milvado.  Try to go through the day today with a special emphasis on everything happening around you based only in Ain Od Milvado--it is all Hashem’s Will and no one else’s; no other consideration, no other force--not an army, not a dictator, not a pronouncement, not a decree is of any independent meaning or consequence!



Special Note Two: We continue with our special emphasis on Shemiras HaLashon for the week. The Chofetz Chaim brings that Moshe Rabbeinu realized why the Bnei Yisrael were in Galus in Egypt by the hurtful words spoken to him. Hearing the negative words--he exclaimed: “Achein Nodah HaDavar--now, it is known to me” (Shemos 2:14 ). The Chofetz Chaim asks: Could it really have been just because of negative words that millions of people were suffering in Mitzrayim? After all, was it not more plausible that they were punished for worshipping idols, for assimilating in the Egyptian culture and for other really heinous crimes? The Chofetz Chaim answers, based upon the Zohar, that even if there were other terrible sins that Bnei Yisrael were guilty of, they simply would not have been held accountable for them without the initial cheit of Lashon Hara. This is because the satan can only prosecute--can only speak against us for our sins (no matter how bad they may otherwise be) unless we empower him to do so through our own negative speech! Surely, we must take this lesson in our current Galus--if we can eradicate Lashon Hara--person by person--then there will simply be no sinful basis for us to be here any longer. Let’s get going--each and every one of us must do his part!



Special Note Three: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




We continue our discussion of hiddurim in Sta”m


Shimusha Rabbah Tagin


All STA”M items contain letters with tagin (crowns). The letters shin, ayin, tes, nun, zayin, gimmel, and tzaddi (known collectively by the acronym sha’atnez getz) each have three tagin. The letters beis, dalet, kuf, ches, yud, and hei (known collectively by the acronym bedek chayah) each have one. The sources for all these tagin can be found in Chazal.


Our minhag (custom) is to place these tagin on all such letters in STA”M. However, the Shimusha Rabbah (written by an unknown scholar in the Gaonic period – circa 6501040 C.E.) states that sha’atnez getz only applies to specific letters in a mezuzah. Tefillin, on the other hand, have no such requirement. Instead, he provides a list of other letters which require varying numbers of tagin, and adds that tefillin missing these tagin are pasul.


Therefore, although we make tagin on all sha’atnez getz, many people consider it a hiddur to add the “Shimusha Rabbah tagin.” This custom is especially prevalent – almost standard--among those who write Kesav Arizal. Nevertheless, the prevalent custom when writing Kesav Beis Yosef or Kesav Velish parashiyos is not to include these tagin. A number of reasons are given to explain their omission.


  1. Many sources mention lists of tagin, but none of these lists (even the ones which are “copied” from the Shimusha Rabbah) are identical. They differ both with regard to which letters have tagin as well as how many tagin should be added.


If one would want to make all the tagin which are mentioned in all Rishonim, it would come to 288 extra tagin!


  1. If even one of these tagin is detached from the letter upon which it was written, the kosher status of the entire set of parashiyos is in doubt.


  1. By including so many extra tagin, the sofer can very easily ruin the correct shape of a letter, thereby causing it to become pasul.


  1. A number of the Sephardi Kabbalists are quite forceful in their opposition to the addition of these tagin.




13 Sivan

PLEASE WRITE THIS ESSAY: The topic for your essay is “From Challenge to Success!--Utilizing the Facts and Circumstances of Today’s Times to Become a Ben Olam Haba.” We would very much appreciate your submissions to us!



ONE - MAN RACE : As we look around us, we will notice that there are those whose Ruchniyus in life appears to be greater, and others whose Gashmiyus seems more expansive, than our own. We can well understand that each and every person has his own Nisyonos and his particular purpose and mission in life. What is more difficult to fathom, however, is when to accept, and when to reject, the advice, the guidance and the direction of others. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, provides the following parable, which he believes to be an ancient and time-tested one: “Once a father and son were traveling, with the father riding on a donkey and the son accompanying alongside, walking on foot. Soon after setting off, a passerby looked up to the father and said: ‘Is this how you treat your son--have you no mercy on your own progeny?!’ The father quickly alighted off the donkey and put his son on it instead. Soon after, a second passerby looked up to the son riding high and shouted: ‘Is this your Kibbud Av?!’ The son reacted quickly, urging his father to join him for the ride on the donkey’s back. Traveling a bit further, they encountered a third pedestrian who looked up at them and shouted: ‘Have you no mercy on this poor donkey?!’ They promptly both descended from the donkey and walked alongside it. A short while later, a fourth passerby looked at the scene and said to his friend--loud enough for all to hear: ‘Look at this--three donkeys walking next to each other!’ The father and son realized there was only one other alternative left--they jointly took the donkey and put it on their shoulders, carrying it for the remainder of the trip!” This is the end of a person who takes each and every person’s influence as to how he should lead his life, what he should be accomplishing-and how and what he should be doing. One cannot be influenced by all of his surroundings, and all those that surround him. Does he need this or that because it is indispensable to the next person, or because ‘there is no other way to live’ according to that person. Instead, he should look into himself, understanding who he is and who he should be, take the suggestions and advice of others--and look to direction from his Rav or Posek to guide his needs, his conclusions and his actions!



FROM A READER: On the point we recently made regarding standing during Sheva Brachos at a Chasunah--a reader pointed out that it is very questionable as to whether one should stand when the Chasan (and certainly when the Kallah) enters the Chuppah room. Accordingly, one should likewise seek the guidance of his Rav or Posek in this area--either to determine that the act is a justified or justifiable one--or is a Minhag with no real foundation.



A TZIBBUR! Chazal (Megillah 23B) derive that a Tzibbur consists of ten men from the fact that the Meraglim who spoke disparagingly against Hashem consisted of ten men (i.e., to the exclusion of Yehoshua and Kaleiv). At first blush, it is astounding that the basis for ten people reciting Kaddish, Kedusha or Barchu together is derived from the deed of these Reshaim--which became one of the most despicable acts in all of Jewish history. How can we explain this--how/why do we learn the Halachos of a Tzibbur for Devarim Sheb’kedusha--from the Meraglim?!




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



Special Note Two: Rabban Gamliel Rabinovitch, Shlita, made the following fascinating observation relating to the incredible nature of Chasunas:  A wedding is a time of unique Ahavas Yisrael, represented by the uniting of both the Chasan and Kallah, and of two families previously (usually) unrelated and independent.  Moreover, when everyone at the Chasuna joins together in Simcha below, Hashem and the Malochim with Him join together in the Simcha above.  Finally, at the Chasuna, when the Chasan and Kallah are married, the Shechina joins together with them.  Each partner therefore owes the other unremitting and unrelenting love and respect because his/her partner, by joining together with him/her, has actually brought the Shechina Itself into his/her life!



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


1.  When reciting the Posuk “Pose’ach Es Yadecha”, one should have in mind that Hashem is the ‘Mashgiach Al B’riosav U’Mefarnesam’ (Mishna Berurah 51; seif katan 15).  The Dirshu commentary brings from Rabbeinu Bachya that one should also recognize the Niflaos HaBorei and His chasadim when reciting these words.


2.  It is more important to recite Kriyas Shema and Shemone Esrei with Tefillin on than to daven B’Tzibbur without Tefillin (Mishna Berurah 66; seif katan 40).


3.  If two Chazanim are otherwise equal, than a Kohein comes before a Levi, a Levi before a Yisroel, and a Talmid Chochom comes before an Am Ha’aretz, even if the Am HaAretz is a Kohein (Mishna Berurah 53; seif katan 36).


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


5.  If there is a Machlokes as to who should be the Sheliach Tzibbur, one should not Daven even if someone who is not haggun will Daven instead (Mishna Berurah; 581; seif katan 11).  Hakhel Note: !!!


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


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


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




12 Sivan

One More Reminder--You Owe It To Yourself!  With the advent of Shavuos, Bikkurim can now be brought in the Bais HaMikdash!  Accordingly, it is a particularly propitious time for the daily study of Mishnayos Mesechta Bikkurim.  Mesechta Bikkurim is a short Mesechta (only three perakim)--actually the last Mesechta in Seder Zeraim--and one can demonstrate his real will and desire to bring Bikkurim today (u’neshalma parim sefaseinu, as well) by learning the Mesechta.  Moreover, since one has until Sukkos (or, the latest, Chanukah) to bring the Bikkurim--and we certainly hope the Bais HaMikdash will be here by then--we will each know much more about what we have to do and how we have to do it--and it is always better to be learned than (unnecessarily) unlearned!  Let us accomplish--Zerizin Makdimin!




Special Note One:  As the Shivas Yemei Miluim draw to a close, we must be sure to have the effects of Shavuos continue with us --even as we may have now caught up on our sleep, or finished the last vestiges of milichig delicacies.  One practical, easy and important suggestion is to think about the Ma’amad Har Sinai--in which we incomparably ‘heard’ the lightning and ‘saw’ the thunder, the continuous and unrelenting Shofar blast, the literal shaking of the hills and mountains, the fearful and wondrous awe, the stillness of creation, the fire pillaring from Har Sinai into the heights of heaven--all so that we would forever realize and appreciate the moment of Hashem revealing Himself to man in this world--and the eternal gift and inestimable privilege we thereby received forever.  Every morning--no matter how tired we are, how many things we have on our mind, how much we have to do in the morning alone, and even if we are terribly late--we must remember that those few short moments of Birchos HaTorah are the moments that we have to testify that we recognize and truly value that we are a precious and irreplaceable part of the most valuable chain that the world has ever known--conveying Hashem’s personal and direct message as to the purpose of man and the meaning of life.  We owe it to ourselves to treasure these few moments, in great appreciation and thanks, as we visualize the event, and dedicate ourselves to Torah and Mitzvos in the day ahead in a manner befitting the grandeur and glory--and unparalleled importance--of the most precious of heavenly possessions that was gifted to us then--and is gifted to us anew every single day!



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



Special Note Three:  Chazal (Brachos 6B) teach that one should run to Shul (at least when he is in close range), citing the pasuk (Hoshea 6:3):  “VeNaidah Nirdefa Loda’as Es Hashem--let us know, let us be chased to know Hashem...:”  There is a great lesson here.  The Navi does not merely tell us to run (‘narutza’) to know Hashem--but to put that extra effort, that extra gas into the Mitzvah--as if you were not only running-- but ‘nirdefa’-- as if being chased.  It is that little bit of extra effort that makes one among the first to be in Shul, or among the first to be at the Shiur, or among the first to help.  It is more, though, than a ‘numbers’ game of being among the first or earliest,--it is the quality of the Mitzvah that is being performed--a Mitzvah with an especial zeal, a real striving, a Mitzvah of added desire, respect and longing.  Even if one has difficulty physically running at the ‘being chased’ level, or even running at all, one can demonstrate his alacrity and eagerness with his timeliness, zest and enthusiasm.  It is said in the name of the Chofetz Chaim that as part of one’s lot in life he may have to be subjected to ‘redifos’--to being chased.  Instead, the Chofetz Chaim suggests, of being chased, c’v, by tzaros, or by monetary matters, or by the Yetzer Hora, one may attempt to replace the redifos with chasings by and of Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim.  At the end of one’s day, an important question that he can ask himself is--what chased me today?  If one needs to fix it the next day--may we suggest beginning with the way he arises out of bed and/or the readiness in which he prepares for and begins his morning Tefillos.  If a commoner quickens his pace when he nears the bar or restaurant--what should we do when we draw near to Shul or the place where we will be helping someone?!


Additional Note:  Although one moves quickly as he draws near to the Shul or the place where he will daven, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Introduction to Chapter 46) writes that before actually entering the Shul, one should pause and wait a little in order to feel and appreciate the fearsomeness, the awe and the majesty of the place, and of the moment.



Special Note Four:  As bli ayin hara we are in Chasuna season before the complete onset of summer, we once again provide below several informative questions and answers from HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita (Sefer Derech Sicha ), relating to Chasunahs:


Q:  Does a Chassan who is “Domeh LeMelech” have to nevertheless stand up for his father?

A:  Yes--for even a King must stand up for his father.  In fact, according to Rav Elyashiv, Z’tl, a Chassan must also stand up before a Talmid Chacham, even though a Melech does not.  This is because a Chassan is only “Domeh LeMelech--like a king”, but is not fully a king!


Q:  Does the Chassan have a mitzvah to be MeSameach himself?

A:  It appears that it is a Machlokes Tanoim (based on a Sugyah in Meseches Avodim Chapter 2)


Q:  In order to properly fulfill the Mitzvah, must one be MeSameach both the Chassan and the Kallah?

A:  No--being MeSameach either one fulfills the Mitzvah and brings all of the reward.


Q:  Is it permissible to turn down a Kibbud at a Chasunah?

A:  Yes, one can only not turn down the offer to lead Birkas HaMazon.


Q:  In the order of “Ailu Devarim She’Adam Ocheil Peiroseihem BaOlam Hazeh” that we recite every morning, we recite “Bikur Cholim, Hachnosas Kallah, U’levayas HaMeis.”  Why is Hachnosas Kallah placed in between Bikur Cholim and a Levaya? 

A:  In the name of his father, the Steipeler--this teaches us that if one who is sick gets involved in Hachnosas Kallah, it can literally save his life.


Q:  Should a Chassan avoid going to Shul during the Sheva Brachos week, because if he goes, the Tzibbur will not say Tachanun?

A:  The Mishna Berurah states that a Chassan should not go to Shul, so that the Tzibbur will say Tachanun.  However, the Chazon Ish states that this is not the Minhag--and that Chassanim should go to Shul [for a discussion as to the Mishna Berurah’s intent here, see Piskei Teshuvos Vol. II, p.74].




11 Sivan

AMAZING! We are still in the Shivas Yemei Tashlumin for Shavuos, and we therefore present the following timely question: There are four (4) Parashios in the Torah in which Shavuos is referred to--Mishpatim, Emor, Pinchas and Re’eh. Each of the four refer to Shavuos by a different name--why?

Hakhel Note One: One important, practical and effective thought that we can take with us from Shavuos is: “Ki Hashem Yitein Chochma MePiv Da’as U’sevunah” (Mishlei 2:6)--ultimately the Torah knowledge that we have is gifted to us by Hashem--as Chazal echo the thought “Le’ukmei Girsa Siyata Min Shamaymah Hi” (Megillah 6B). In addition to our dedication and important toil and efforts--we must simply demonstrate our yearning and ask--really plead-- with Hashem to make the Torah a part of us and make us one with the Torah. One special place that we can do this every day, three times a day is in the bracha of Atta Chonein L’Adam Da’as--reciting it with this Kavannah in mind. It is certainly the hallmark of the Torah Jew to, rather than waste opportunities, successfully and meaningfully utilize them!


Hakhel Note Two: HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl notes that the only bracha in the brachos of request in Shemone Esrei which does not begin directly with a  bold request of ours --but instead  first describes Hashem’s power in that area-- is the bracha of “Atta Chonein L’Adam Da’as”(You graciously endow man with wisdom). Why does this particular bracha begin in this way? Based upon the words of HaRav Pincus, we may suggest that it is because when it comes to Torah study, we must first recognize that not only is the Torah Min Hashamayim, but that our ability to study it is only because Hashem infuses us with the  ability  and the wherewithal to do so. LeHavdil, unlike other teachings and disciplines, we have no separate teacher and separate textbook—Hashem is the Author and He is the Melamed and the Nosain --giving us the ability to study, understand and absorb the words of Torah into our very being. We must pray in Atta Chonein to Hashem based upon this realization--whenever, however, and whatever we actually study daily —young and old, man and woman-- and we must daven to Hashem that He guide us and maximize for us that which we do learn so that we truly aspire to our potential in Torah study. Once again, we have the Source of eternal blessing on our side —it is up to us to have the sechel to use it!



B’KOL! At the end of the first Perek of Mesechta Avos, the classic Mishnayos commentary Tiferes Yisrael provides general Kelalim for Hatzlacha in Torah study. One of the very important points he makes is that Kol--studying aloud causes foreign, side-tracking thoughts to disperse--focusing oneself entirely on the Torah before him.  Moreover, adds the Tiferes Yisrael, learning aloud makes a special Roshem B’Nefesh--which causes one to better remember his learning as well!


Additional Note:  The Mincha Chadasha  learns that because the Mishna (Avos 1:2) teaches that the world stands on three pillars--Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasodim--one should therefore try to accomplish all three as soon as possible every morning to do his/her part in keeping the world going!  One’s ‘Avodah’ can be accomplished by his/her Avodah of the heart--i.e., davening, the pillar of ‘Torah’ is accomplished by especially learning even if only for a few moments before or after davening--and the pillar of Chesed can be performed by making sure to perform some act of Chesed (for an individual or if you are in Shul for the Tzibbur) before you leave your ‘davening time’ or otherwise start your day.  Avos teaches us at its very outset that each and every person should keep the world going --and we can all easily do our part as we start the day ahead of us!



OBSERVATION!  The Sefer HaChinuch writes that Vidui is a separate requirement in the Teshuvah process because through orally admitting his sin, one demonstrates that he believes that Hashem knows all of his thoughts and actions and one cannot hide from Hashem, or even pretend that Hashem does not see him. Additionally, when one verbally expresses his sin and his remorse, it will aid him to not return to his previous misdeeds. We are now less than four months…to Yom Kippur! If we know of a sin that we have committed, why wait until then, when we can purify ourselves today. Most certainly, whenever we realize we have sinned (whether it be Bein Adam LaMakom or Bein Adam LeChaveiro)--the order of the day…and the order of the hour should be the immediate Vidui!



WHAT TO DO AT A CHUPPAH: When one attends a Chuppah, he finds most people sitting, and some standing along the sides. What should one do--after all, is not one witnessing a Mitzvah, and should not one stand in the presence of one performing a Mitzvah?  The Be’er Heitev (Even HaEzer 62:1) does indeed rule in the name of the K’nesses HaGedolah that one is chayav--one is obligated to stand during sheva brachos at a Chuppah.  One should in all events consult with his Rav or Posek as to the proper conduct in this regard.




Special Note One: In last week’s Parasha, Beha’alosecha, the pasuk teaches: Vaya’as Kein Aharon, Ehl Mul Pnei HaMenorah He’eloh Neiroseha--Aharon did as he was commanded and he lit the three lights on the right, and the three on the left all faced inward--as the pasuk further specifies Ehl Mul P’nei HaMenorah Yo’iru Shivas HaNeiros. HaRav Meir Schuck, Z’tl, suggests that by Aharon doing so, he taught us a great and lofty ideal. Man’s deeds must always have a spiritual uniting force (Lechavein Kol Dovor Ehl Hashoresh). Our actions have to be focused to the center, to the central purpose in our lives, to serve Hashem. We don’t work or eat or engage in any activity for a trivial purpose or for its own sake, but rather to be able to get to our goal which is Avodas Hashem. Without this central connective link, our actions may be empty, and our lives suffer the same fate. To the contrary, when we face towards that central point--our thoughts, our actions and our lives are--quite literally-illuminated!



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



Special Note Three:  We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




We continue our discussion of hiddurim in Sta”m:


R’ Chaim (“Nisht ariber gein” – “not going [writing] over”)


It is written in the name of HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik, Z’tl, that when writing tefillin or mezuzos, the sofer must make sure that once he has begun writing any particular letter, never to “go back” and touch up an earlier letter. For instance, once the sofer has begun writing the ayin in the word Shema, he may not go back and touch up any part of the shin or mem – not even the tagin.


The logic behind this is the following: R’ Chaim suspected that when ink is added to a letter, only the upper layer of ink has halachic validity, while the original layer “disappears” (from a halachic perspective).


Many people feel that even according to R’ Chaim, if ink is added alongside the original ink, instead of on top of it, the mezuzah or tefillin remains perfectly kosher since the original mem was kosher, and none of it has “disappeared.”


Be that as it may, “R’ Chaim’s chumrah (stringency)” has not been generally accepted, and many earlier poskim (including the Shulchan Aruch itself) have ruled otherwise. As a practical matter from a sofer’s perspective, it is a very difficult chumra to follow, as parashiyos do almost inevitably need some kind of ‘touching up’ before being handed over to the customer. There is typically a loose tag (crown) or a letter which needs a bit of ink added to make it just a bit more black; or a vav which needs a bit of ink added to make it just a touch longer, or any one of a long list of possibilities. A sofer who is writing “R’ Chaim parashiyos” will not make these corrections later because he does not want to nullify the parashiyos based on R’ Chaim’s chumrah. Accordingly, one should be sure to consult with his Da’as Torah before making request of this special shita of HaRav Chaim.




8 Sivan

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



DETERMINATION!  HaRav Tuvia Goldstein, Z’tl, teaches that there was one trait that brought about the Malchus Beis Dovid--which will lead us to Moshiach.  That trait is revealed in the Pasuk that we read in Rus over Shavuos:  Vateireh Ki Misametzes…she was determined to go” (Rus 1:18 ). When Na’ami realized how determined Rus was to follow her, she let her come along…and Dovid HaMelech was born just a few generations later. On the other hand, Orpah was not as determined, and turned back, with her progeny to be Golias instead. A great lesson we are to take with us from Shavuos, then, is dedication, drive and determination in Torah and Mitzvos….For if it will bring about the Moshiach--it will certainly help each and every one of us in our daily lives! (Heard from Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita)




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


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



Special Note Two:  We provide the following post-Shavuos notes to our readers:


1.  In our Erev Shavuos Bulletin, we had mentioned that the term “Simcha” is used two times by the Torah relating to Shavuos, and suggested an explanation.  A reader noted a related explanation.  He writes that Rav Pam Z’tl would always emphasize that Limud HaTorah was always to be B’Simcha, with appreciation and joy for the opportunity.  Accordingly, one “Simcha” in the Torah could refer to the joy of Torah study on Shavuos itself, and the other “Simcha” to the joy one should feel and experience when studying Torah daily.


2.  We had discussed the concept of Shavuos being only one day, to emphasize the importance of even one day of Torah study.  A mashal provided by Rav Yaakov Neiman, Z’tl further enlightens us in this area.  Before navigation systems (and even street lights) were invented, a Jew traveled at night along a dark highway, hoping to reach his important destination peacefully.  He came upon a fork in the road, and a sign in front of it.  However, because it was the middle of the night and rain clouds blocked the light of the moon, he could not even read the sign.  Suddenly, a bolt of lightning shot forth and illuminated the sign for a very brief moment.  Success!!  He now knew where he was going.  The road to the right was his path.  He needed no further instruction.  Shavuos provides us with that incredible illumination.  All we need to do now is keep ourselves on the road.  Hashem has done what He had to do--it’s now up to us.


3.  Chazal (Shabbos 88B) teach that the Malochim protested Hashem’s gift of the Torah to mankind, for the Torah was so divine, it belonged only in Heaven.  Moshe Rabbeinu was able to best them by showing that the Torah’s Mitzvos and prohibitions were (at least on a simple level) directed to human beings--do not steal, do not kill, do not speak Lashon Hara, etc…. The Malochim knew this, but they still believed that there was no place for the holy among the profane.  So how was Moshe Rabbeinu able to win his debate?  The Darchei Mussar (p. 332) explains that Moshe Rabbeinu was able to convince them that while the Torah remaining in Heaven would make Heavenly life more beautiful, the Torah on Earth was much more than that--for it was as essential to life on this planet as the very air we breathe.


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


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



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


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

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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Four: As we noted above, having Kavannah in the Tefillah of “Ahava Raba/Ahavas Olam” every morning is important advice for retaining our Torah knowledge.  In fact, Rav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, points out that the ma’alah of Tefillah is not listed by Chazal as one of the 48 ways to acquire Torah (Avos 6:6).  He explains that this is because Tefillah is so vital to acquire Torah, that it is needed for, and is a part and parcel of, each and every one of the 48 ways.  In fact, the Mishna in Brachos (28b) provides that we are to recite a Tefillah every morning prior to study and a Tefillah in the evening after the conclusion of our studies.  This is brought L’Halacha in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim (110:8).  One can likewise daven before any study session that his learning be as sweet and successful as possible.  In contrast, one can (and should) daven if he is having difficulty in studying, listening or understanding.  Indeed, it is said in the name of Rav Chaim Sanzer that the reason the Ketzos HaChoshen became such a highly accepted Sefer in the Torah world, was because prior to learning, its author would go into a special room and cleanse himself with tears and Tefillah.  Torah is not a field of academics; as Chazal (Megillah 6B) teach:  Even after all the effort is put in, we require “Siyata D’Shmaya”--actual Heavenly assistance to retain our learning.  This is why a proper attitude--and heartfelt Tefillah--is so important in attaining what Shlomo HaMelech (the wisest of all men) called our most precious treasure (see Mishlei 3:15 ).



Special Note Five: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. The following Halachos relate to the consumption of sushi on Shabbos. Of course, by these Halachos, we do not mean to advocate at all the consumption of sushi, as this is an issue for which one would seek his own Rav’s or Posek’s guidance. The halachos have been edited by, and are published with the permission of Rabbi Yisroel Hisiger, Shlita, Executive Secretary, Kashrus Information Center (KIC), and were written by Rabbi Heshy Kahan, Chaver HaKollel of the Manhattan Beach Community Kollel, originally published in its publication The Stieble.


Eating sushi on Shabbos

Q: May one roll his own sushi on Shabbos?

A: Since there are those who hold that, if one is creating a food entity for smoothing for aesthetic purposes, one would be transgressing boneh (building), one should ask a halachic authority whether one may rely on those who are not concerned with “building” this kind of food on Shabbos. 


Q: Is raw fish considered muktza?

A:  Although raw meat and raw fish is in general muktza and may not be moved under most normal circumstances, if the fish is designated to be used for sushi before Shabbos, it is completely permissible to move and there are no muktza concerns.


Q: Are there any halachos that are relevant to opening up a packet of soy sauce on Shabbos?

A: 1) Although one may not make a k’li on Shabbos, if it is a package that will be immediately discarded, it is not considered to be a k’li and may, therefore, be opened.


     2) While one may not tear things to an exact measurement because of the melacha of mechataich (in the mishkan, sometime after smoothing the skins, they would cut them down to an exact size, hence doing this on Shabbos is prohibited), since one has no interest in taking off an exact sized piece of the wrapper, there is no issue of transgressing any melacha and, in fact, one need not avoid doing so.


     3) The actual tearing is non problematic, because one is ripping in a destructive manner in order to get to a food item, hence then the melacha of koraya (tearing) does not apply.


     4) One should be careful to avoid ripping through the words, as tearing a word in half would put one in the category of melachas mochek (erasing).


Q: Is one permitted to make wasabi on Shabbos?

A: Since combining a solid and liquid to make a thick mass is prohibited under the melacha of losh (kneading), one would be prohibited to make this kind of mixture on Shabbos.  If one were to turn the wasabi into a loose mixture by adding more water than usual and employ two shinuim by:  (i) switching the order of what usually goes in first, and (ii) mixing it in a crisscross motion, then it would be permitted.


Q:  Is it permitted to break apart chopsticks on Shabbos?

A:  Since one is unable to use the chop sticks prior to breaking them apart one, is in essence, completing the last step towards making it a functional k’li.  This concept is placed under its own melacha in the category of makeh b’patish (the final hammer blow)--similar to ripping apart two pages of a book or sefer that are still attached and had not been cut by the printer.  Since one would now be making these pages fit to be read, it is as if he has completed the final act of “creating” these pages.  It is very possible that, by opening these chopsticks, one may be transgressing an issur min hatorah, therefore, one should make all effort to make sure that they are separated before Shabbos (or just use a fork instead).


Q: May one have a non Jew come to a simcha to set up a sushi stand if there will be some issurim that will be transgressed in the interim?

A: Assuming the rice was cooked before Shabbos and the non Jew is doing melacha on his own accord and not because the Jew asked him to, then it would be permitted.  For example, if one tells the caterer that he would like a sushi stand and the chefs, themselves, build a showcase (i.e. umbrellas, sushi paraphernalia, etc.) in order to enhance their presentation, this would be of no halachic concern as the non Jew is doing melacha to fulfill his wishes, not the Yisrael who hired him.  The fact that the Yisrael appreciates this is of no consequence. Hakhel Note: It may be easy to rationalize here--be careful!



Special Note Six:  In this week’s Parasha, Parashas Beha’alosecha, we are taught that Aharon HaKohen performed the Hadlakas Haneiros of the Menorah’ ‘Ka’asher Tzivah Hashem Es Moshe (Bamidbar 8:3) --as Hashem had commanded Moshe Rabbeinu that it should be done. Rashi, quoting the Sifri, writes that this constitutes a praise of Aharon, who did not change or deviate from Moshe’s instructions.  Upon reading this Rashi, everyone asks--I myself  wouldn’t change what Moshe Rabbeinu told me that which Hashem had commanded---why would--how could--the great Aharon do otherwise—why would he even consider such a thing?


We may suggest an answer based upon the apocryphal story of the woman who petitioned the court for a divorce after 64 years of marriage. “Mrs. Stein” said the judge—”you have been married for 64 years and you want to get divorced?!” “Your Honor”, she responded, “Enough is enough!”


Aharon HaKohen, although older than Moshe Rabbeinu, and the leader of Bnei Yisrael prior to Moshe coming back from Midyan (See Rashi to Shemos 4:13 ), initially greeted Moshe upon his return to Mitzrayim with joy of heart (ibid, 14). However, after two years with his younger brother, Moshe Rabbeinu, as the ultimate leader and in charge of Kriyas Yam Suf and Kabbalas HaTorah, and after finally getting the opportunity to be a leader on his own as the Kohen Gadol, Aharon might have wanted to demonstrate that he was a somebody too—by lighting the Menorah in some special or distinctive way (which would not even have contradicted any of the specific instructions of Moshe). Nonetheless, Aharon followed the instructions of Moshe to the letter—without adding, subtracting, modifying or deviating from his word.


There is a great lesson here for us. We may have accustomed ourselves to act and speak properly and/or with patience with a particular person, understanding either that the person has his own idiosyncrasies, or that the person is a close relative, and that peaceful family relations, calmness and breaking one’s middos is of paramount importance. Every once in a while, however, a person may have a feeling to let loose—after all, I have controlled myself dozens or scores of times—now it’s my turn! An infrequent indulgence, a brief ‘lesson’ to him, a rare demonstration of what you are otherwise capable of….Aharon HaKohen, who was the role model for us in Ohaiv Shalom VeRodeph Shalom—in perfection of human relations—teaches us not to let it happen --even once!


 It is interesting to note that the Torah gives us no temporary dispensation for any aveira. One could make the argument that if he was given one day a year to do any and all aveiros that he wanted to for the year to get it out of his system—that he would have 364 days of real control and to greater success in Kiyum HaMitzvos.  Even if all aveiros weren’t permitted—maybe a day without Kashrus or without Lashon Hara restrictions would take care of the animal within him, and allow the vast majority of the year to be celebrated in Ruchniyus. Yet, in fact, the Torah makes no such allowance. Quite to the contrary, the Torah provides for one day a year of greater Ruchniyus--Yom Kippur--to raise our level for the coming year. What a perspective! We are not to look down for the one-time capitulation—but to look up for those special one-time opportunities for growth.


Rabbi Shlomo Yisroel Gelber, Z’tl, taught that “A Mensch Darf Altz Hubben Seichel Far Zich”—a person has a full-time obligation use his mental abilities to benefit himself. If he turns away--even temporarily—he is disregarding his capabilities as a human being, and the true potential for greatness that he really does have.


The Torah goes out of its way to praise Aharon HaKohen—not deviating even for a good purpose, a real reason, just that one time….. By doing so, the Torah teaches how we can, and should, follow in his footsteps consistently and at all times in those circumstances, situations, relationships and challenges that give us the good opportunity to do so!



Special Note Seven: Chazal give the reason that Parshas Beha’alosecha concludes with the Chait of Miriam speaking against Moshe Rabbeinu and Parshas Shelach begins with the Chait of the Meraglim.  It is to teach us that “Reshaim Halalu Ra’u Veloh Lakchu Mussar--these Reshaim saw what happened to Miriam and did not take the Mussar lesson from it.”  HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, points out that although the key Aveira of the Meraglim was Lashon Hara--it all began to roll downhill for the Meraglim (and for K’lal Yisroel) because they did not take the Mussar that they should have from the event.  It all starts with the proper study of Mussar….


When the colossal Aveira was concluded, it was ultimately one of Lashon Hara.  In order to better perceive and understand the  pervasive and encompassing nature of this Aveira, we provide by clicking here a one-page listing of the 17 Mitzvohs Lo Sa’aseh, 14 Mitzvohs Aseh, 4 Arurrim--and their applicability to the speaker and the listener.  This chart may serve a person best if placed near a phone, framed near a table or otherwise put in a position where it could otherwise help save a person (especially you!) from a wrong remark once or even several times a day!




5 Sivan

60 MINUTES:  We provide by the following link http://tinyurl.com/oknj8nt   a wonderful guide entitled Shavuot in 60 Minutes (Or Less) published by Partners in Torah to enhance your Yom Tov-and enhance yourself. Enjoy!



STOVES AND OVENS: We provide by clicking here an extremely helpful article, written by Rabbi Tsvi Heber, Shlita and reviewed by Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, on stove and oven issues on Yom Tov. After reading this brief article, at the very least one should be able to ask his Rav the right questions!



LEARN FROM ACHISOEFEL!  In last week's Pirkei Avos (6:3) we learned that Dovid HaMelech showed special respect to Achisofel because he taught him two things--the first being that when one walks into Shul, he should not enter in an upright position--but bowed --as Dovid HaMelech learned to exclaim (Tehillim 5:8):  "V'Ani Berov Chasdecha Avo Veisecha Eshtachaveh Ehl Heichal Kadshecha B'Yirasecha--as for me, because of Your abundant kindness I will enter Your House, I will prostrate myself toward Your holy sanctuary in awe of You." It is certainly our turn to take this lesson now from Dovid HaMelech--reciting this Pasuk each and every time we enter our Mikdash Me'at in a contrite and meaningful way!



LEKET YOSHER: The Leket Yosher writes in the name of the Terumas HaDeshen that one should make the effort to get a Sefer, rather than swing around his chair or swivel a table--for the extra effort exerted will bring about a greater Kiyum in the Torah one is learning. The effort invested in Torah--that is what it is all about!



SIMCHA! As we take Heaven’s treasure tomorrow, we should remember that the Torah uses the word “simcha” twice in discussing the holiday of Shavuos.  Our joy is twofold, for we not only received the Torah on that great day more than 3,300 years ago, but we commit to take this remarkable gift, compared to water and fire, to bread and wine, to milk and honey, and use it as our daily guide to navigate the pathways of Heaven on Earth.  A real Shavuos inspiration should bring us to remember this primacy throughout the year--especially at those very times when the Heavens feel oh so distant.  A Torah bite at lunch, a shiur on CD in the car between errands, a vort before going to sleep, sharing a Torah thought with a friend while exercising, all serve to remove those roadblocks, eliminate the weighty sandbags, and raise us up very high--as we see the Earth meeting our Heaven!




Special Note One:  The following monumental words are excerpted from the classic Shaarei Teshuva (3:156) by Rabbeinu Yonah:


“Included among the apikorsim are those who say, “‘Of what use to us are the scholars with their studies?’  Is there anything about which they say, ‘See this is new? They have never permitted us to eat raven, nor forbidden us to eat a dove.’”  People such as these have not heard, nor known, nor opened their ears to the values that lie in occupation with Torah.  Because of this, occupation with Torah is lowly in their eyes; they have become rebels against the light of its nobility, and have no share in the World to Come.  We have, therefore, been obliged to teach the sons of Yehudah the values that lie in occupation with Torah….those who do not have the ability to learn--let them recognize the beauty of the honor of occupation with Torah, and let them acquire merit through this realization.”


This appears to be Rabbeinu Yonah’s 700 year old comment on those who disapprove of Kollel study.  We now present you with a more recent perspective.


An outstanding story is brought about Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’TL, who spent significant time with a simple, elderly poor man advising him of all the merits of learning in Kollel.  Rebbe Yisroel was questioned by his students as to the necessity of talking to him about this--after all, the man was poor and could not support anyone in Kollel, and was simple and elderly and himself not prepared for Kollel study.  Rebbe Yisroel responded beautifully as follows:  “I wanted this man to have a feeling and a desire, a longing, to learn in or support a Kollel.  Obviously, he does not have the actual means to do either, but to HaKadosh Boruch Hu, he has fulfilled whatever he could by his feelings, desires and longings.  It is for this reason that I spent the time I did with him.”


At this time of year, as we move closer to our receiving the Torah anew, let us give special consideration, thoughts, and appreciation for those who study Torah day and night, and who keep the world going with their Torah study.  Perhaps one way we can demonstrate our feelings is by providing some new or additional support or charity to an:   institution of Torah learning.  Why not write that check today-- on Erev Shavuos!



Special Note Two: The Ramban (Devorim 4:9) writes that the Torah provides such great detail as to Ma’amad Har Sinai (please review the vivid Pesukim referred to in yesterday’s bulletin) in order to impress upon us the absolute need to constantly visualize and envisage this unparalleled event in our minds--and permanently plant it in our hearts.


Indeed, just as we believe in the “Splitting of the Sea” in all of its detail, so, too, must we realize that, among all the other miracles that took place at the time the Torah was given, the mountains actually shook (“Heharim Rukedu K’Ailyim”, Tehillim 114:4), Har Sinai itself was literally burning with fire up to the heart of the heaven, and Hashem Himself spoke to us (which is otherwise unimaginable) from the midst of the fire.  It is so important for us to remember the Ma’amad that the Torah very unusually writes, “Rak Hishamer Lecha U’Shemor Nafshecha Me'od (Devorim 4:9)--only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul lest you forget the things that your eyes have beheld and lest you remove them from your heart all the days of your life” [that which you saw at Har Sinai].


The Ramban writes that our recollection of the Revelation at Sinai as described in this Pasuk actually constitutes the fulfillment of a Mitzvas Asei (in remembering the Event) and a Mitzvas Lo Sa’asei (in not forgetting It).


How can we properly fulfill the Torah’s teaching here?  HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, brings the words of the Tur and the Bach (Orach Chaim 47) to guide us.  The Tur writes that there are, unusually, two Brachos on the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah that we recite every morning.  This is because the first Bracha refers to the Mitzvah of learning Torah, while the second Bracha reflects upon the Ma’amad Har Sinai itself.  The Bach in explaining the Tur writes that the second Bracha is, in fact, not a Bracha on the Mitzvah of learning Torah, but a Bracha of praise and thanks to Hashem for giving us His special treasure in such a phenomenal fashion--no other nation ever claimed or could claim such a revelation from Hashem Himself, with the explicit details of the Event passed on from generation to generation.


Every day, then, when reciting the Birkos HaTorah in the morning, we must awaken ourselves from our slumber and put our heart and feeling into visualizing and appreciating the stature, the legacy, and the enormity of the relationship of Hashem, the Torah and Bnei Yisroel, as we re-experience Sinai!



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


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


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


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


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


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


Special Note Four: Perhaps one of the most popular questions raised regarding the Giving of the Torah, is why it was given in the desert.  You probably could count five answers on one hand with what you have heard over time.


HaRav Shimshon Pincus, Z’tl, looks at the question from a different perspective.  HaRav Pincus asks not why the Torah was actually given in the Midbar, but rather why the Torah was **not** given in Eretz Yisroel.  After all, does not the very air of Eretz Yisroel itself make one wise?  Wouldn’t the intense Kedusha of Eretz Yisroel per se have a unique and special effect on those receiving the Torah?  Is not the complete performance of the Mitzvos dependent on their performance in Eretz Yisroel in any event?!


HaRav Pincus answers that we must put the Giving of the Torah in its proper perspective.  On Pesach, HaKadosh Baruch Hu chose us as his Kallah, as his bride.  The Shidduch was made, and we celebrate our new relationship over Pesach.  The days of Sefirah are the equivalent of the engagement period--between the Vort and the Chasuna itself.  Shavuos is then, the Great Wedding, where Hashem came out to greet us as a Choson steps forward to greet his Kallah.  The period after Shavuos is the time in which the newfound relationship was to be firmly and eternally established.


We can now understand why the Torah had to be given in the desert.  The proverbial Choson and Kallah needed time with each other, without any distractions whatsoever--not even holy or important ones--in order to form an eternal bond.  Giving the Torah in Eretz Yisroel would be the equivalent of getting married in a kitchen, even if it was Glatt Kosher LeMehadrin--as soon as the Chupa was over, the Choson would soon be learning how to use the Shabbos Clock, and the Kallah would start figuring out how to make cholent!  Just as the Yichud room follows immediately after the Chupa so that the newlyweds can focus on each other and only on each other, so, too, did we need our special time to be separated from everything else and unite with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.


Baruch Hashem our relationship started off properly.  We had the proper Yichud, our connection with Hashem was developed without interruption or disturbance.  As a result, our potential for dveykus--for a close and tight bond--with Hashem is, and always will be, at a maximum level.


So, we are now like the Choson and Kallah a day before the Chupa.  The anticipation, the last minute preparations, the prayers that everything goes right…but we must also remember that the goal to be achieved when Shavous arrives is not only the marvelous and incomparable moment of the Wedding itself, but also the raising of our own personal ever-special and eternally-lasting relationship that must follow, as expressed by the love that we have for Hashem, the improved way in which we study His Torah and the devoted manner and especially warm care with which we perform His Mitzvos!



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


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


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


C.  It is well known that HaRav Elyashiv, Z'tl, teaches that one should daven for a Refuah Sheleima when the Aseres HaDibros are read on Shavuos morning--as B'nai Yisroel were healed then and we are re-experiencing that very Matan Torah anew!  A Rav advised us that he feels one can actually think about the Refuah Sheleima needed at the time the Aseres HaDibros are themselves being read.  If you would like to utilize the Eitzah of a Gadol HaDor in our generation, you may want to consult with your Rav or Posek in advance as to his opinion on the optimum time and method of accomplishing this great task!  Bracha VeHatzlacha!




4 Sivan

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




Special Note One: We provide below several notes relating to the approaching Yom Tov:


A. A few simple reminders:

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


F. Simply understood, the reason Shavuos especially requires Lachem--enjoying the physical aspects of the Chag, is because we must demonstrate that the Torah guides our lives not only in matters of Ruchniyus, but in matters of Gashmius as well—and that one’s physical existence can, and must, be sanctified. Accordingly, we provide the Halachos of the Brachos –on cheesecake:


HaRav Binyomin Forst, Shlita, in The Halachos of Brachos (Artscroll) writes that the bracha on cheesecake with a crust added for flavor “as is generally the case” is a Borei Minei Mezonos. However, if the crust is added solely to hold the cheese, then the bracha on the cheesecake is Shehakol. HaRav Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita in The Laws of Brochos (Feldheim) writes that if the cheesecake is made with a thin layer of dough which is being used merely to enhance the appearance of the cake, then the bracha is Shehakol. However, if the dough is being used for substance or flavor, the bracha is Borei Minei Mezonos. The after-bracha on cheesecake will usually be Borei Nefashos and not Al HaMichya, as one can eat a kezayis combination of cheese and flour within a kedai achilas peras of three minutes, but it is unlikely that one will consume a kezayis of Mezonos within the three minute span. In sum, on cheesecake, one bracha rishona is recited, which may likely be a Shehakol, but even if a Borei Minei Mezonos is recited, the bracha achrona will in ordinary circumstances be a Borei Nefashos! If you are in doubt as to the appropriate brachos on the cheesecake you will be consuming—why not bring two to your Rav—one for the Shaila—and one to him for Shavuos!


Hakhel Note: A reader wrote that if the cheesecake crust is made not from mezonos but from corn flakes, the bracha would still be Shehakol, as the corn flakes would be considered tofel to the ikar, which is the cheese cake. This appears correct, but if one has this issue, he should consult with his Rav to confirm—especially if the corn flakes are there because he especially enjoys their taste.



Special Note Two: The following are important Halachos relating to moving flowers, by Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita:


1. There are a number of issues that come into play regarding moving cut flowers from one place to another. The first issue is whether or not there is a problem of muktza on such flowers. The Shulchan Aruch states clearly that branches of a tree are muktza unless designated for a function on Shabbos. The Mishna Berurah rules that branches that were cut to enhance and beautify one’s home are not muktza. The fact that they were designed to decorate and beautify one’s home is in itself a function, which precludes it from being muktza. A second issue relates to moving flowers that have not yet fully opened. As will be discussed below, one of the issues of placing flowers in water on Shabbos or Yom Tov is the fact that doing so causes the flowers to open. Although zoreya [planting or facilitating growth] is limited to items attached to the ground, nonetheless the Rabbanan forbade placing flowers in water as it can be perceived as facilitating growth. The issue arises as to whether moving flowers and causing the water level to rise would in fact cause them to open sooner and be included in this Issur D’Rabbanan. The Poskim rule that one may move even unopened flowers on Shabbos or Yom Tov (HaGaon HaRav Y.S. Elyashiv Z'tl). There are, however, Poskim who maintain that one should be stringent and move the vase slowly to avoid causing the water level to rise (See Sefer Shalmei Yehuda 3-10)


2. Once a flower is detached from the ground it is no longer a living plant. Consequently, there can no longer be an issue of planting with detached flowers. However, the Rabbanan forbid the placing of flowers in water on Shabbos. Firstly, as to flowers that have not yet fully opened, placing them in water would cause them to fully open which can be perceived as planting because of its similarity (O.C. 336:11). Additionally, the Rabbanan forbid the actual filling up or adding of water to a vase of flowers since they felt this involves undue exertion which can detract from the aura of Shabbos and resembles weekday activities (M.B. 336-53). Based upon the second reason, one may not fill up a vase even for flowers that are fully opened. There is a dispute among the Poskim whether one may place fully opened flowers into a vase that was filled before Shabbos began. If one forgot to place his flowers in a vase that was filled before Shabbos, he may rely on the lenient opinion and do so on Shabbos (Sha'ar Hatziyon 336:48). According to all opinions, one may return fully opened flowers into water where they had been and were subsequently removed (M.B. 336:53). There is a slight difference between Shabbos and Yom Tov in this matter. As mentioned above, one may not even add water to a vase with flowers on Shabbos. On Yom Tov, however, one may add water to a vase containing opened flowers (Neshamas Shabbos 3-242). Nevertheless, one may not empty out and refill the vase with fresh water (see O.H. 654).


3. We are familiar with the concept that one may not take pleasure from this world without first reciting a blessing and thanking Hashem for the item. This rule applies to smell as well. However, the Halacha is that one only recites a blessing when the item was placed in that location for the purpose of giving off a scent. If there was a different motive, even though the item may emit a pleasant fragrance no blessing is required (Based on O.C. 217:1, M.B. 1). However, if one takes it into his hands to smell it then a blessing is required. (See however Chazon Ish O.C. 35-1) Flowers generally are placed in the home for their pleasing appearance, rather than for their scent. Hence, unless one took the flower into his hand with the intention of smelling it, no blessing is required. If one did take hold of the flower to smell it, the following blessing would be recited. On leaves or flowers of trees the blessing is Borei Atzvei Bisomim. This would include roses, carnations, jasmine and honeysuckle. On grasses, herbs or flowers that grow from the ground the blessing are Borei Isvei Bisamim.



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


It could happen to any one of us.


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


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


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


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


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



Special Note Four: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




We continue our discussion of hiddurim in Sta”m


The “Chayei Adam”

The famous ruling of the Chayei Adam (which is quoted by the Mishnah Berurah) concerns the halachah known as “chak tochos.” Literally translated, this means to “scrape the insides.” The practical application in terms of Hilchos STA”M is that a letter must be created by writing, but not through scraping or erasing.


In other words, should there be a blotch of ink on the klaf, a sofer would not be permitted to merely scrape away parts of the ink and thereby create the form of a letter; rather, the form of the letter must be written.


There are literally hundreds of details which come into play in applying this general halachah. And the details relate to a great many applications.


Since the specific halachos are so detailed and complex, and include many differing opinions among the poskim, the Chayei Adam felt it best to stipulate with his sofer that the tefillin written for him may not include any scraping and erasing of any sort.


Note that this is not a halachah or even an opinion mentioned by any of the poskim. Consequently, it is difficult to even term this practice of the Chayei Adam as a halachic hiddur. And practically speaking, it can be quite difficult to find a sofer who will agree to write with such a condition. It could also cause the sofer to write the letters spaced too far apart because he is afraid of two letters touching – which he would then be unable to separate. Nevertheless, if the STA”M item has been written in such a fashion, one can rest assured that at least there will be no possible problem of chak tochos.



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