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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin

JUNE 2015 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE

 

13 Tammuz

REMINDER! SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We continue our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes. In the alternative, one can chart his own improvement course on a weekly basis as well.

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Respond to a news item, objective situation or personal circumstance with the words “Ain Od Milevado”, and look up to Shomayim (as K’lal Yisrael did in last week’s Parasha)

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Perform an unrequested Chesed before breakfast

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Do not ‘lose your cool’ even though it appears justifiable and may be even correct to do so (as per Shimu Nah HaMorim in last week’s Parasha)

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

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

31. If one has no cup to wash one’s hands what should one do?

 

L’chatchila one must use a cup, but if one does not have a cup, then as long as he can wash with a ‘koach gavrah’ then the washing is a netilah. This means that if one washes one’s hands from a vessel which is controlled by a spigot or faucet then one should open and close it and reopen and close it in between each washing of each hand. It is insufficient for one to leave the faucet open and just move one’s hands underneath it.

 

32. After using the bathroom, how many times does one need to wash his hands?

Some wash one time on each hand, while others wash three times on each hand.

 

33. After using the bathroom, how much of the hand needs to washed?

One should preferably wash his hands up until the wrist. If one cannot do so, then one should wash at least until the knuckles.

 

34. Does one need to wash negel vasser after taking a bath or shower?

Yes, but no bracha is recited. Therefore, a person must wash his hands after immersing in the mikvah.

 

35. After a person takes a haircut or cut nails does he need to wash negel vasser?

Yes, he should wash his hands as soon as possible--even if only one nail was cut. If a woman had also polished her nails, she can wait until her nails dry.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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12 Tammuz

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We continue our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes. In the alternative, one can chart his own improvement course on a weekly basis as well.

 

WEEK 3--PARASHAS BALAK

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Respond to a news item, objective situation or personal circumstance with the words “Ain Od Milevado”, and look up to Shomayim (as K’lal Yisrael did in last week’s Parasha)

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Perform an unrequested Chesed before breakfast

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Do not ‘lose your cool’ even though it appears justifiable and may be even correct to do so (as per Shimu Nah HaMorim in last week’s Parasha)

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

31. If one has no cup to wash one’s hands what should one do?

 

32. After using the bathroom, how many times does one need to wash his hands?

 

33. After using the bathroom, how much of the hand needs to washed?

 

34. Does one need to wash negel vasser after taking a bath or shower?

 

35. After a person takes a haircut or cuts his nails does he need to wash negel vasser?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 2

 

The Fourth Middah we are to emulate is Leshe’eris Nachalaso. With this Middah we are taught to value our relatives. Hashem considers us His relatives and loves us as such. We too must feel our Ahavas Yisrael with a view towards our all being united together as relatives of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. It is important as a first step to show special affection to one’s direct relatives, and through this one will acquire a chiba to his ‘more distant’ relatives as well. HaRav Salomon remarkably points out that the basis for the Moshiach is two Yibum-like acts (Yehuda and Tamar, and Boaz and Rus), and explains that this teaches us that the Geulah will come through the chesed pashut of acting properly to our relatives--especially when we have no personal benefit or ulterior motives. Hashem, in turn, will provide us with the chesed pashut based on our relationship with Him. Let us start now to be mekareiv es keroveinu--making our immediate family more close-knit--and bringing together our farther relatives as well--so that we can all soon become the great, happy family that we so long for!

 

 

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9 Tammuz

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

PART II

 

CHILDREN ON SHABBOS

 

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 Beis HaMikdash now instead.”

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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8 Tammuz

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

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

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

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

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

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

26. How much of the hand must be washed?

L’Chatchila one must wash his entire hand (palm, back of hand and all sides of the fingers, including the internal sides) up to the wrist. If one cannot wash up to the wrist, one must wash at least up to one’s knuckles.

 

27. If one cannot wash both hands (for example, he has a bandage on one) what should one do?

One should wash the exposed hand three times

 

28. Is one permitted to wash a child’s hand before his own hands?

No, they should wash his hands first and then his child’s hands.

 

29. Is one permitted to use water for negel vasser that was used for another purpose?

No, one may not use water for negel vasser that was used for another purpose e.g. washing dishes, floor, food. One may also not use water that was used to warm a baby’s bottle in the middle of the night.

 

30. May one wash one’s hands in the bathroom?

There is a dispute among the poskim regarding washing in the bathroom. According to many poskim one is permitted but one should dry them outside of the bathroom. Others only permit this if one has no other choice, for example when on a plane or train.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

 

 

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7 Tammuz

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

 

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

 

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

26. How much of the hand must be washed?

 

27. If one cannot wash both hands (has a bandage on one) what should one do?

 

28. Is one permitted to wash a child’s hand before their own hands?

 

29. Is one permitted to use water for negel vasser that was used for another purpose?

 

30. May one wash one’s hands in the bathroom?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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Special Note One: We continue today a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

PART 1

 

A. The First Middah we are to emulate is Me Keil Kamocha. This Middah represents Hashem’s savlanus--His great patience in dealing with those who have acted improperly. We need only remember that Hashem could stop the sinner in his tracks, if He so willed it--as Hashem did to Yeravam, whose hand froze in midair. It is Hashem’s will to do Chesed with people--permitting them to have free choice so that they can obtain eternal reward, and then compounding that with allowing them to do Teshuvah by tolerating the affront of sin to Hashem, and allowing it to continue. One can emulate this Middah of Savlanus by reacting to a person who has caused him pain or hurt with patience and tolerance, and even doing Chesed to that person. The first yesod in V’Halachta B’Drachav is for one to do good to another who has actually hurt or antagonized him.

 

B. The Second Middah we are to emulate is Nosei Avon. There is a remarkable teaching brought in the Sefer Toras Avrohom, by Rabbi Avrohom Grodzinksi, Z’tl: Chazal teach that the Torah begins with Chesed and ends with Chesed. The beginning of the Torah’s Chesed, Chazal continue, is that Hashem made clothing for Adam and Chava after their cheit. This is difficult to understand--after all, aren’t there many, many acts of Chesed in the Torah found prior to that? The entire world was built on the principle of Chesed (Olam Chesed Yibaneh). Man was then given authority over all of the other creatures with the ability to think, reason and speak, was situated in Gan Eden and was being served by the Malachei HaShareis (see Sanhedrin 59B), Chava was given to Adam…. Why is providing clothing to Adam and Chava on a one-time basis singled out as the beginnings of Chesed in the Torah? HaRav Grodzinski answers that Hashem’s act in providing clothing to those who had openly rebelled against Him is the epitome of Chesed that the Torah describes and wants us to learn from. This is why it is the ‘first Chesed’ in the Torah. After all, punishment for rebellion by ‘human standards’ would be very, very severe. The Torah is teaching us that these ‘human standards’ should not be our standards. It is for this reason that the seemingly minor act of providing clothing after the sin of Adam and Chava overshadows the creation of the world itself. This provides a great and important lesson to us: Just as Hashem’s patience extended to the period after the sin--even when the sin’s effects continue to exist, so too, must one’s Middos Tovos be displayed to a person who wronged him--even when that wrong continues to exist. When one does so, he follows in this Middah of Nosei Avon--and merits that in Shomayim his sins will be forgiven as well, Middah K’neged Middah.

 

C. The Third Middah we are to emulate is Oveir Ahl Pesha. Hashem not only causes a sin to be forgiven--but moreover He Himself forgives the sin. If we take a step back, we would realize that in addition to the sin itself that has been brought into the world, a ruach hatumah--an impure stench of the aveirah that was created becomes part of the person and his world. When one does Teshuvah, he spares himself from punishment--but he still needs a great Chesed for Hashem to remove the ruach hatumah, the stench of the sin from its presence in the person and in the world. Through our effective Teshuvah, we are able to accomplish even this--for Hashem Himself will wipe the dirt away. The Mashal can be given to a dirty diaper on a child. When a stranger passes by, he would have no thought of cleaning the child, and instead would only hold his nose and try to get away as soon as possible. A mother, on the other hand, will kiss the child as she changes the diaper. When Hashem cleanses us upon our Teshuvah, He does so in this manner and with this love--not only absolving us of punishment, but purifying us and the world around us. We should visualize sin in this way--as a dirty diaper, and understand Hashem’s closeness to us as He Himself loves us, helps us and cleanses us. We can emulate this in other simple ways as well--for instance, cleaning up another’s spill or returning Seforim that someone has failed to return in the Beis Midrash. One acts as Hashem--in that He too cleans up the mess that another has made out of love. This essential Middah may also be extended to reacting to those who abhor Torah observant Jews--by personally davening on their behalf that they return to Hashem. We too can--and should--be Oveir Ahl Pesha!

 

 

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6 Tammuz

REMINDER--SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, writes that when one recites a bracha, he can consciously perform four Mitzvos: Ahavas Hashem, Yiras Hashem, U’Le’avdo Bechol Levavchem and U’Ledavka Vo. Before reciting a Birkas HaNehenin have in mind these four Mitzvos!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Look at another person whom you are familiar with, and think about how much behind him there is that you really do not know--his Mitzvos, his life’s experiences, and the reasons he may react to situations and circumstances in ways that are different from you. Then, judge him favorably in something particular that occurred (or keep it in mind for the future).

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Before reciting Shema at night, make sure your last activity of the day is one of Ruchniyus--either the study of Torah (even for only a short while), an act of Chesed, or the performance of a Mitzvah.

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

21. Is a nursing woman who has not washed negel vasser permitted to touch the mouth of her infant while she is nursing the infant in the middle of the night?

 

No, one is not permitted to touch any body orifices (e.g.  mouth, nose, ear, eyes, or other open body parts) before washing negel vasser. Similarly, one must be careful when changing a baby’s diaper or taking a temperature during the night, not to touch any orifice unless one has washed negel vasser.

 

22. Is one permitted to make or give a baby a bottle in the middle of the night?

 

One is permitted to make a bottle for a baby, but one must make sure not to touch the milk when making the bottle.

 

23. If I have a non-frum woman helping me with food preparation can I eat the food--for she did not wash negel vasser?

 

Every Jew is required to wash negel vasser and food that was touched by someone who did not wash negel vasser should not be eaten unless it was washed first, if it is possible to do so. The food should be washed three times and then it may be eaten. However, food that cannot be washed (a sandwich, bread, etc.) is not considered forbidden to eat. Food that is packaged, wrapped or in a container are not bound by this Halacha. Note: HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z’tl, teaches that one should ask/require the worker to wash his or her hands--even if it is only a one-time situation. 

 

24. What is the correct procedure for washing negel vasser?

The way one washes one’s hands in the morning is different than washing one’s hands for bread. For negel vasser the hands are washed alternately three times each starting with the right hand (right, left, right, left, right, left). One should place a cup in his right hand, fill it with water, pass it to his left hand and pour the water over his right and continue. Some poskim state that one should pour a fourth time on both hands.

 

25. Is there a difference if the person is a lefty?

No, one washes in the same manner as a righty.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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5 Tammuz

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! We continue our Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes. In the alternative, one can chart his own improvement course on a weekly basis as well.

 

WEEK 2--PARASHAS CHUKAS

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, writes that when one recites a bracha, he can consciously perform four Mitzvos: Ahavas Hashem, Yiras Hashem, U’Le’avdo Bechol Levavchem and U’Ledavka Vo. Before reciting a Birkas HaNehenin have in mind these four Mitzvos!

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Look at another person whom you are familiar with, and think about how much behind him there is that you really do not know--his Mitzvos, his life’s experiences, and the reasons he may react to situations and circumstances in ways that are different from you. Then, judge him favorably in something particular that occurred (or keep it in mind for the future).

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Before reciting Shema at night, make sure your last activity of the day is one of Ruchniyus--either the study of Torah (even for only a short while), an act of Chesed, or the performance of a Mitzvah.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

21. Is a nursing woman who has not washed negel vasser permitted to touch the mouth of her infant while she is nursing it in the middle of the night?

 

22. Is one permitted to make or give a baby a bottle in the middle of the night?

 

23. If I have a non-frum woman helping me with food preparation can I eat the food--for she did not wash negel vasser?

 

24. What is the correct procedure for washing negel vasser?

 

25. Is there a difference if the person is a lefty?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl:  718-435-5793.

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REMINDER! The Chofetz Chaim teaches that one who is consistently not careful with his words…has ‘earned’ much more than a few enemies in this world. In what way? The Chofetz Chaim chillingly responds that even if such a person is zoche to arise at Techiyas HaMeisim, it will be as someone who cannot speak--as the Pasuk states: “Yachreis Hashem Kol Sifsei Chalakos.” (Tehillim 12:4). The Chofetz Chaim then pleads with all who will listen: ‘Who can gauge the great tza’ar of such a person--whose disgrace will be eternal, as he will be unable to speak forever?! From this we must understand how severe this sin is and how it affects a person in this world and the next!’ (Sefer Shemiras HaLashon II:7)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Special Note Two: We begin a series with thoughts from HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (may he have a Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer Tomer Devorah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chaim (based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Dinkel, Shlita:

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Alter of Kelm, Z’tl, referred to the Sefer Tomer Devorah as the Shulchan Aruch on Hilchos Middos. In Kelm, they would study this Sefer between Kabalas Shabbos and Ma’ariv. Through the Sefer one can come to an understanding of the greatness of a human being--and the Kochos HaNefesh that one truly possesses. The Sefer begins by teaching us to follow in the thirteen middos of Hashem--and provides examples of how we can do so. When one follows the thirteen middos of Hashem, he not only fulfills the Mitzvas Asei of V’Halachta Bidrachav--but also through his proper conduct teaches the way of Hashem in the world, and is Mekadeish Sheim Shomayim B’Rabim.

 

 

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2 Tammuz

MORE ON STARBUCKS! The following is excerpted from the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society (Number 61--Spring 2011) in an Article entitled cRc Guide to Starbucks Beverages by Rabbi Sholem Fishbane and Rabbi Dovid Cohen. The Article provides outstanding research and detail on the Starbucks operation and equipment, and prior to attempting to find ‘kulos’ in certain situations, provides the following cautionary words: “Important Note: Before proceeding it is worth noting that the proper way of running a Kosher kitchen is not to rely on leniencies and complicated reasons to justify the presence of non-Kosher ingredients or the cross-using of meat and milk equipment. For example, no conscientious Jewish housekeeper would wash a plate used for ham in her Kosher sink, regardless of all the reasons a Rabbi could present why it would not affect her dishes. This proper attitude towards Kashrus, coupled with the realities of a modern-day coffee house, leads many individuals not to drink anything at Starbucks or any other store unless it is Kosher certified. We commend anyone who adopts this policy and encourage consumers to consult with their personal Rabbi [in all of these matters].”

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

 

A.  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!

 

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

 

PART I

 

KABBALAS SHABBOS

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

Special Note Two:  We received the following keen 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 Kinah and the desire for Kavod, this was overpowering.”

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Special Note Four: 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 HaRechush--all of this great wealth--(Bamidbar 16:33 ) swallowed up in the earthquake?  After all, the wealth didn’t sin--couldn’t it have been given to Tzaddikim, to the Mishkan, or used as a fund for a very good purpose?!

 

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

 

 

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

 

There are practical and important lessons for us here.

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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1 Tammuz

STARBUCKS ALERT! Kashrus agencies have warned that ‘full service’ Starbucks which serve non-Kosher sandwiches and the like wash non-Kosher dishes together with brew baskets and milk pitchers. There are other issues with Starbucks products as well. A reader, for instance, sent us to the Star-K website which actually provides a chart of Starbucks items that it deems acceptable, and those that it deems non-acceptable. Different Kashrus agencies may have different approaches to what is acceptable in these non-certified establishments. Accordingly, we caution that before making any purchase in this kind of establishment, one properly consult with his Rav or Posek for practical guidance in this area.

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A QUICK MOVEMENT: We were advised that the Sefer Toldos Aharon writes that if one finds himself suddenly wanting to turn his head in a direction other than the one he was facing, it will invariably be the Yetzer Hara which is urging the head’s movement in order for the person to commit an aveirah. Consequently, if one abruptly or unexpectedly feels that he must turn his head or look in  another direction--he should withhold himself from doing so--beating the Yetzer Hara at its own game!

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

16. If one wakes up before chatzos and will not go back to sleep, does he wash negel vasser with a bracha?

 

We have learned that a person who sleeps more than a half-hour must wash his hands  (without a bracha). Accordingly, he should wash his hands (without a bracha). After alos hashachar, he should go to the bathroom or touch a part of the body that is covered, at which time he should wash negel vasser and recite a bracha.

 

17. If one wakes up after chatzos but before alos hashachar and will not go back to sleep, does he wash negel vasser with a bracha?

 

The answer is the same as number 16. This situation comes up not only if one wakes up in the middle of the night and stays up--but also may apply when one wakes up to daven vasikin, or to

learn before davening, or during selichos time.

 

18. If one wakes up in the middle of the night and wishes to go back to sleep in an hour or two does he need to wash negel vasser ? What if the person wants to learn?

 

In such a case one should wash his hands without a bracha, or rub them in one’s blanket, whereupon one is permitted to think Torah thoughts. In order to recite words of Torah, one would definitely have to recite Birchos HaTorah.

 

19. If one wore gloves during the night (e.g. someone with eczema who needed to put cream on his hands), does he wash negel vasser in the morning? If yes, does he recite a bracha?

 

The Poskim rule that he should go to the bathroom, wash negel vasser, and recite the bracha.

 

20. At what age is a child required to wash negel vasser?

 

A child who has reached the age of chinuch should be taught to wash negel vasser. Some Poskim are of the opinion that one should wash negel vasser with a child from the day the child is born.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl:  718-435-5793.

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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30 Sivan

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

 

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

 

Hakhel Note Two: For those who would like to utilize a new English translation of the Sha’arei Teshuva--a new Feldheim version is available.

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IMPORTANT REMINDER--INNOVATIVE LEARNING PROGRAM BY EMAIL

JOIN THE THOUSANDS!

As a zechus for a complete and speedy recovery for

Chaya Malka Bas Bas-sheva, an 18 year old girl who fell into a coma

Each week, receive one page with a few practical and relevant Hilchos Shabbos you may not have been aware of.

Many people have read the papers at the Shabbos table and their Shabbos has been transformed.

All Halachos are reviewed by HaRav Yaakov Forcheimer, Shlita,

Posek Bais Medrash Govoah Lakewood.

 

Join in by

Call 732-901-4170

Email learnshabbos@gmail.com

Or text your email address or dedicated fax number to 732-573-5869

 

If you cannot print your email leave your name, number and address to receive a booklet in the mail.

 

Sephardic versions and Yiddish versions are also available upon request

 

Change your Shabbos.

Change your life.

Change hers.

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REMINDER--SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

 

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

 

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

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

16. If one wakes up before chatzos and will not go back to sleep, does he wash negel vasser with a bracha?

 

17. If one gets up after chatzos but before alos hashachar and will not go back to sleep, does he wash negel vasser with a bracha?

 

18. If one gets up in the middle of the night and wishes to go back to sleep in an hour or two does one need to wash negel vasser ? What if the person wants to learn?

 

19. If one wore gloves during the night (e.g. someone with eczema who needed to put cream on his hands), does he wash negel vasser in the morning? If yes, does he recite a bracha?

 

20. At what age is a child required to wash negel vasser?

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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

 

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

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THE KUNTRIS PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE! In the most recent issue (Sivan 5775) of The Kuntris, we discovered a most penetrating Publisher’s Message--a message which must certainly be spread as far and as wide as possible--and also reach the deep and inner recesses of our hearts:

 

“Recently the US Senate voted to approve legislation allowing Congress to review a nuclear deal with Iran in a 98-1 vote. While that sounds like it is a good thing, as I will explain, it is far from it.

 

Before this bill, any nuclear-arms agreement with any adversary—especially the terror-sponsoring Islamist Iranian regime—would be submitted as a treaty and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to approve it.

 

In other words, had the Senate not passed this bill, the “deal” with Iran would have never passed.  This is because it would have required 67 Senators to approve it, which was highly unlikely. However, with the current bill, 67 Senators will be required to vote to stop the deal, which is never going to happen.   

 

It actually gets worse. Several Republicans wanted to make amendments to the bill making it contingent on Iran stopping to sponsor terrorism in the United States and recognizing Israel ’s existence. I actually heard with my own ears the White House spokesman say he hopes no one will dare make such a request from the Iranians [to stop sponsoring terrorism in the United States for 60 days] and risk ruining this bipartisan bill. The president would definitely veto a bill with such an amendment.     

 

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell filed a motion to end debate after Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton tried to force a vote on an amendment requiring Iran to recognize Israel ’s right to exist as part of a final deal. He later explained that he did not want the president to veto the important legislation.

 

Experts are baffled as to why the Republican-run Senate would essentially surrender its powers to the president. It has seemingly given Mr. Obama the full authority to negotiate any deal he so pleases with the Iranians. “It defies all logic,” said one expert. “It is as if the president is blackmailing them.”

 

In truth, it does not make sense. However, we know that lev melachim v’sarim b’yad Hashem. Iran is posing an incredibly real threat to millions of Yidden. The purpose of this is to awaken us to do teshuvah, and realize Who is the only one that can save us. While I do not believe that anyone takes security in the president of the United States, perhaps we have too much confidence in our Republican Congress. Hashem is removing this nisayon. Let no man feel that he can place his trust in the US Congress. In an unprecedented act, Congress completely stripped itself of any power to prevent Iran from getting the bomb R”l. 

 

We must come to the realization that Hashem is showing us that there is no other security that we can rely on. That is the only explanation for the passing of this bill.

 

Yehi ratzon that we hear the message that Hashem is sending us through the parashah of Iran , while it is still in the negotiations stage. And through this hakarah may we take the necessary steps to bring the geulah sheleimah b’meheirah b’yameinu, amen.”

 

Hakhel Note: We thank The Kuntris (TheKuntris@gmail.com) for its permission to reprint this message. Let us make no mistake about it--the time for our Teshuvah and our Tefillah is today--let us make it on time!

 

 

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29 Sivan

REMINDER--SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM!

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Say “Thank you Hashem!” with appreciation when opening up the refrigerator and seeing inside the various nourishing, essential, and even not-so-essential food and drink that Hashem has provided you with.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Smile at someone (especially someone who could use it), or cause someone else to smile.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Rather than taking out a cell phone when walking on the street or traveling, spend time with yourself.

 

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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)

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AMAZING RESOURCE! The Torah Communications Network provides an outstanding array of Shiurim over the phone including Dial-A-Shiur in Halacha, Parashas HaShavuah, Tefillah, Tehillim, Mishna Yomis, Mishna Berurah and has the Daf Yomi available both in one hour per-Daf format and B’Iyun. For further information please click here for a flyer.  To sample a program, please call 718-436-3846.

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

11. If one takes a nap during the day does one need to wash negel vasser and does one need to recite another bracha?

 

Besides the requirement to wash negel vasser after sleeping through the night, one is required to wash again if one takes a daytime nap. However, a bracha is only recited after one awakens in the morning. One does not recite a bracha after a daytime nap. There is a dispute among the poskim as to the parameters of a daytime nap. HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, state that sleeping in a bed for more than a half hour is considered as a sound sleep and one needs to wash his hands when upon awakening. The Klausenberger Rebbe, Z’tl, washed his hands even if he took a nap for less than a half hour.

 

 

12. What are the reasons that one needs to wash his hands in the morning?

 

There are four reasons why we wash our hands upon awakening in the morning.

 

A. The Rosh was of the opinion that when a person sleeps during the night one may have touched parts of one’s body that are normally covered, thereby impurifying one’s hands and making them unfit for reciting Hashem’s name.

 

B. The Rashba was of the opinion that when one awakens in the morning it is as if he is created anew and one is considered as a Briah Chadasha-- just like a Kohen in the Bais Hamikdash washed his hands before performing the Avodah each morning.

 

C. The Orchos Chaim was of the opinion that when a person sleeps sixty breaths--a general impurity--a ruach ra’ah rests over one’s hands and body during that time. Therefore one washes his hands in the morning to remove the ruach ra’ah.

 

D. The Zohar states that when a person sleeps his soul leaves him whereupon a ruach hatumah rests on his body. Therefore, in the morning one washes his hand to remove the ruach hatumah.

 

13. What are some differences between the reasons?

 

Some differences are:

 

A. If one wears gloves while sleeping, need he still wash?

B. If one is awake all night, need he wash?

C. Does one recite a bracha over washing?

 

14. If one is awake all night does one still need to wash one’s hands in the morning?

 

According  to the Rosh if one is awake all night one does not need to wash one’s hands because they are clean for one did not touch uncovered parts of one’s body. However, according to the Rashba one is required to wash one’s hands because he is still a Briah Chadasha.

 

15. If one wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom does one need to wash negel vasser?

 

If one will go back to bed afterwards then one is not required to wash negel vasser. However, one needs to wash one’s hands to recite Asher Yatzar. Some Poskim are of the opinion that one should wash negel vasser but without a bracha.

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl:  718-435-5793.

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Special Note One:  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 Yisrael).  Now is the time to prepare for a positive turn of the tongue.  Today especially, is a particularly propitious time to undertake this new, fresh attempt in the area of Shemiras 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!

 

 

Special Note Two:  As we enter the portals of Tammuz on Thursday, we recognize not only that nine months of the year have passed, but that there are still three months left to go!  As some write, “Tammuz” is an acronym (juxtaposed) for “Zeman Teshuva Mimashmesh U’Ba”--and likewise for “Zerizim Makdimim V’Osin Teshuva”--both spell “Tammuz” in 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 three 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.

 

 

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28 Sivan

SUMMER IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM! As we move towards the last quarter of the year which to those in the Northern Hemisphere is the summer (to many, a challenging time), we intend to present a Summer Improvement Program, with simple suggestions, on a weekly basis, in each of the areas of Bein Adam LaMakom, Bein Adam L’Chaveiro, and Bein Adam L’Atzmo. Of course, these are only suggestions--but every person has the opportunity to join with others who will be attempting the same successes. In the alternative, one can chart his own improvement course on a weekly basis as well.

 

WEEK 1--PARASHAS KORACH

 

Bli neder, at least one time a day during this week, consciously do the following:

 

Bein Adam LaMakom:

Say “Thank you Hashem!” with appreciation when opening up the refrigerator and seeing inside the various nourishing, essential, and even not-so-essential food and drink that Hashem has provided you with.

 

Bein Adam L’Chaveiro:

Smile at someone (especially someone who could use it), or cause someone else to smile.

 

Bein Adam L’Atzmo:

Rather than taking out a cell phone when walking on the street or traveling, spend time with yourself.

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

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

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

11. If one takes a nap during the day does one need to wash negel vasser and does one need to recite another bracha?

 

12. What are the reasons that one needs to wash his hands in the morning?

 

13. What are some differences between the reasons? When does the reason of ruach ra’ah take effect ? Does the night cause the ruach ra’ah or does the sleep cause the ruach ra’ah? If one does not touch his body (i.e., wearing gloves) does one still need to wash one’s hands?

 

14.If one is awake all night does one still need to wash one’s hands in the morning?

 

15. If one wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom does one need to wash negel vasser?

 

Hakhel Note: CD’s of all of Rabbi Webster’s Shiurim are available by calling Rebbetzin Berl: 718-435-5793.

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KOSHER ICE CREAM TRUCK ALERT!  As the summer months approach, frum neighborhoods have now begun to  hear the musical sounds ​of “Kosher Ice Cream” trucks moving slowly through the streets. One must be careful not to allow his amazement at this new phenomenon to overcome his common sense. When it comes to any new food store or establishment, one should determine the Hashgacha and its standards--the ice cream truck should be no different.

  • Is there a Kashrus certificate?

  • If there is one--is it for this truck (or a photocopy)?

  • Is it current?

  • Are there crossouts and smudges?

  • Is the operator’s name stated? 

  • What is being certified?

One most certainly cannot think of simply relying on the unknown driver of the truck to answer your questions in a responsible manner. It would make sense for the Hashgacha to be called and asked:

  • Do you actually spot check the trucks--or do you just supervise the warehouse that they depart from?

  • Whose soft ice cream or yogurt mix is it?

  • When it comes to slush--what is its source?

  • What is the source of the fruits in the smoothies? Note that some fruits definitely  require bedika.

One should definitely allow his intellect to overcome his desire before purchase...advise your neighbors and friends!

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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25 Sivan

FOR MEN--THE INCREDIBLE MISHNA DAILY PROGRAM:

BEGAN ITS SECOND MESECHTA--PE’AH YESTERDAY!

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

B.   From the Sifrei Chofetz Chaim:

 

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

 

2. By one remaining silent, he silences those who want to prosecute against K’lal Yisrael in the Heavens above.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

7.  A person can also merit the whole world remaining in existence because he had remained silent during the time of dispute--as the Pasuk teaches:  Toleh Eretz Al Belimah”--Chazal interpret to mean that the world exists (Toleh Eretz) in the merit of those who do not speak when they otherwise could justifiably have done so (Al Belimah--because they swallow their words). 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

C.   In this week’s Parasha, we find the Meraglim’s complaints against Eretz Yisrael.  Chazal teach that while the Meraglim were gathering their information, Kalev went to be ‘Mishtateiach’--spread himself out on the Kevarim of our Avos.  HaRav Chaim Boruch Faskowitz, Z’tl, teaches that Kalev spread himself out on the land so that he could get a greater appreciation of it--so that he could develop a chiba --an endearment--of it in a way which was more than that of a spy or just a visitor.  He thus demonstrated to us for all time that we should develop a special love for Eretz Yisrael--seeing only its goodness, as the Pasuk teaches “ U’Re’ah BeTuv Yerushalayim--and you should see the good of Yerushalayim.”  Especially in our time when Eretz Yisrael and its residents are maligned and scorned, we must strengthen ourselves in always feeling its goodness, and projecting this steadfast and unwavering feeling to others. We should not allow the world’s treatment of Acheinu Bnei Yisrael to c’v affect our Ahavas Yisrael.

 

Let us now focus on something about the Land that we recite daily-in the bracha of Ahl HaMichya.  In this bracha, we ask that Hashem bring us up to Yerushalayim and gladden us in its rebuilding.  We continue with the words “V’Nochal MiPirya V’Nisba Metuva--and we will eat from its fruit and be satisfied with its goodness.”  The Tur in Orach Chaim Chapter 208 brings the opinion that these words--”V’Nochal MiPirya V’Nisba Metuva” should not be recited.  The reason for their deletion--is this the reason that one wants to come back to Yerushalayim---to be satiated by its fruit!?!  The words appear inappropriate.  The loftiness and supernal holiness of Yerushalayim cannot simply be converted into a stated desire to partake of delicious grapes or outstanding apples and oranges!

 

Yet most, if not all, of us do recite the words “V’Nochal MiPirya V’Nisba Metuva” in which we categorically proclaim that we wish to be returned to Yerushalayim to enjoy its bountiful produce.  So what do we mean by these words?  The Bach in his commentary to the Tur wonderfully explains their true meaning.  He teaches that the Holiness of the Land, which flows from the Holiness above, directly affects--and is actually imbibed by--the fruits of the Land, as well.  Incredible as it may sound, when one is nurtured by the fruits of Eretz Yisrael, he is actually being nurtured, as the Bach writes, by the “Kedushas HaShechina” which dwells within the Land itself.  When the Land is defiled, the Shechina resting within the Land itself departs, as well, and we eat fruit missing the Kedushas HaShechina within it.  We pray, then, to return to Yerushalayim--a Yerushalayim in which we can literally ingest the Kedushas HaShechina which has returned.  In this way, we will eat of its fruits and be satiated from their goodness.  This is what we truly look forward to, and this what we mean.

 

As we specifically request in the Ahl HaMichya-- may we become so satiated “Bimeheira VeYameinu”—speedily and in our days!

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

1.  One reader commented that she heard in a Shiur that the Mitzvah of not following your eyes applies only to men.  She added on her own--that is why this Mitzvah is in the 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 into yourself and not out to the mistakes of those around you. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Special Note Six:  Notes on this week’s Pirkei Avos (Chapter 3):

 

1. Rebbi Nechunyah Ben Hakanah (3:6) 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 teaches 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!

 

 

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24 Sivan

TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

Today we provide Questions 6-10, with their respective proposed answers:

 

6. Is one permitted to recite Modeh Ani before washing Negel Vaser when one awakes in the morning?

 

Yes, due to the fact that it does not have Hashem’s name in it, one is permitted to recite it even if one’s hands are dirty. Some, however, do not recite it until after their hands are washed.

 

7. Is one permitted to recite Reishis Chachma before washing Negel Vaser?

 

No, because it contains Hashem’s name in it and one is not permitted to say Hashem’s name when one’s hands are tomei.  

 

8. Is one permitted to recite Modeh Ani while lying in bed?

 

Yes, it can be recited either while one is lying down in bed or when one is standing.

 

9. Does one recite a bracha on the Netilas Yadayim that is performed when one awakens?

 

Yes

 

10. When is this bracha recited?

 

Most Poskim are of the opinion that the bracha should be recited right after one washes one’s hands. Others wait to recite it later when they recite all the morning Brachos.

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

 

 

Special Note Two: We provide the following words of instruction from the Steipeler Gaon, HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, Z’tl, from his Sefer Chayei Olam:

 

PART 2

 

A. In last week’s Parasha (Bamidbar 12:3), we learned that Moshe Rabbeinu was “Anav Me’od Mikol HaAdam. What is Anavah--the Torah’s definition of humility? It is the true and actual awareness that all of one’s wisdom, talents and possessions are not owned, but borrowed for a set period of time from Hashem--for one to use for free to the best of his abilities. Just as a poor person who borrows a wealthy person’s clothing for a simcha knows that they are not his--and that he must return them in excellent condition, so should a person’s real attitude be towards his abilities and acquisitions in this world. With this ‘humble’ realization--a person brings upon himself a Ruach Tahara. If one does not allow himself to develop this awareness--which, once again, we must remember, is the trait that Moshe Rabbeinu was praised for in the Torah, he will surely feel saddened by his inability to achieve this or that goal, and disappointed about his lack of possessions or other ‘successes’. If one needs guidance or assistance to reach the important goal of Anavah, he should study the classical Mussar Seforim which teach what a person is and what he should strive to be--and he should also daven to Hashem to achieve this awareness. Chazal teach that one who works on himself and attains Anavah: (i) will have his Tefillos answered; (ii) is considered on the level of one who has brought all of the different kinds of Karbanos possible[even without a Bais HaMikdash!], and (iii) will be zoche to have a Kiyum of his Torah. Hakhel Note: The effort is certainly worthwhile!

 

B. Even though Chazal teach that the sha’arei tefillah have been closed--this does not at all mean that one should not daven--for Chazal teach that if one sees that his Tefillos have not been answered, he should continue to daven and daven, again and again. Indeed, even if many days and even years have passed with one’s Tefillos seemingly not being answered, one should nevertheless not stop davening. In the end, one will see that his Tefillos Ho’ilu Lo Me’od--helped him very much! Even on the simplest level--one must realize that his situation could have been much worse--and his Tefillos allowed him to be in his current position. One should always remember that one of the ikarim of Tefillah is for one to be a Mevakesh Mamash--one who pleads with Hashem to grant his request--recognizing that the request is being made to the Only One Who Can Really Grant It!

 

C. Birds that walk on two legs are still bent over when they walk and look down. The reason that man’s head does not face downward, writes the Rabbeinu Ta’am (in the Sefer HaYashar) is because he has the ability to reach great levels in the service of Hashem, and he is the epitome of the world’s creation. All of the other creatures were created to help man achieve his goal. Man’s great asset of his Koach HaDibur enables him to serve Hashem by praising Him, pouring out his heart to Him, learning and teaching Torah, and to move others to Avodas Hashem with his words. As this is man’s great goal--he should be conscious of his daily opportunities to reach and maximize his potential!

 

 

 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 unchartered 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!

 

 

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23 Sivan

THE SIXTH BRACHA: As we especially dedicate ourselves to the Sixth Bracha of Shemone Esrei this week, we provide the following words of instruction: The Machzor Kol Bo teaches that this bracha begins with a Samech and ends with a Ches which in Gematria totals 68--the Gematria of Chaim, and this is to teach that one can be forgiven for his sins in the zechus of his Torah--which is called Chaim (“Toras Chaim”). How exact are the Brachos of Shemone Esrei--even the first and last letter of our Bracha is especially determined to convey a message!  We note that, just as in the prior Bracha of Hashiveinu in which the terms Avinu and Malkeinu were used in the first two phrases of the Bracha, so too, do we follow the same order again in the first two phrases of this Bracha--”Selach Lanu Avinu Ki Chatanu, Mechal Lanu Malkeinu Ki Fashanu. We ask Hashem, as ‘Avinu’, to forgive us for our chataim--which are usually taken to mean unintentional sins.  By this, we ask Hashem to look upon our sins--no matter how they may have originated--as unintentional--just as a Father looks with a loving eye upon His children.

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TEFILLAH TEST! We continue our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. In order to most successfully take this test, we recommend that you seriously consider the answers prior to your reviewing the answers tomorrow. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak. 

 

Today we provide Questions 6-10:

 

6. Is one permitted to recite Modeh Ani before washing Negel Vaser when one awakes in the morning?

 

7. Is one permitted to recite Reishis Chachma before washing Negel Vaser?

 

8. Is one permitted to recite Modeh Ani while lying in bed?

 

9. Does one recite a Bracha on the Netilas Yadayim that is performed when one awakens?

 

10. When is this Bracha recited?

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ONE WORD: The Chofetz Chaim (in the Sefer Chofetz Chai--Mitzvas Asei 11) teaches that all of the Mitzvos are not equal to one word of Torah. The phrase: “Talmud Torah K’neged Kulam” is not simply a special adage or an inspirational phrase--it is a remarkable fact which provides essential guidance for one’s conduct in life. If all of the Mitzvos can’t equal one word of Torah--the Chofetz Chaim writes, then how could one even think of wasting his time with chatter or matters of non-consequence--and all the more so how could one speak Lashon Hara or Ona’as Devarim?! The Chofetz Chaim continues that if a person loses some money--he can hope to either find it, or gain money from another source. If one loses time, however--he will never, ever find it again. Accordingly, the Chofetz Chaim concludes: “Ashrei Mi Sheyisbonein Bazeh VeOdo BeChaiav--fortunate is the person who thinks about this  in his lifetime”.

 

Hakhel Note: Obviously, the Chofetz Chaim means not only thinking about it--but acting upon it!

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‘STEALING’ SLEEP? Is there actually an aveirah of gezel sheinah--stealing someone’s sleep?  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, writes that since sleep is not tangible one cannot really be oveir stealing sleep, which requires something tangible.  Rabbi Dovid Castle , however, notes that the Lo Sa’aseh of Lo Sonu--not aggrieving our friend would include stealing his sleep as well, for by doing so one is hurting or at least disturbing his fellow. 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Special Note Three: We provide the following words of instruction from the Steipeler Gaon, HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, Z’tl, from his Sefer Chayei Olam:

 

PART 1

 

A. K’lal Yisrael is blessed with a general assurance Shelo Tishtakach HaTorah--no individual, however, has this assurance. Rather, every person has to make the election of “U’Vacharta BaChaim--you shall choose life”!

 

B. A short Tefillah that every person should constantly request is Lehinatzeil MiKol Machshavos Ra’os--to be saved from bad thoughts. Purity of mind is essential to success in life.

 

C. Hashem created every creature with its own teva--rabbits are afraid, doves protect their mates, ants are always in a rush, the ox knows its master, and the donkey its feeding trough. They are born with all of their instincts in place. Man is different. When he is born, he has no body of knowledge or understanding--that he is responsible to attain during his lifetime. He can have the best character or the worst character--be arrogant or humble, merciful or cruel, loving or spiteful, bashful or brazen, angry or calm, generous or stingy, quick to act or lazy, jealous or happy at another’s success, afraid or courageous, empty-headed or always striving to learn. It is man’s choice, and it will center around his awareness that it is not this world that is the ikar--but the next world. The more one works on himself, the more he, quite literally, is a Ben Olam Haba.

 

D. Occurrences in the physical world can be viewed from a spiritual perspective. When one is thirsty or hungry, for instance, he should consider how thirsty or hungry he should likewise be for Torah knowledge and Avodas Hashem. One must live with a feeling of Ruchniyus--for however he expresses himself in this world will be how he conducts himself in the next. The Sefer Shomer Emunim brings that he became acquainted with a Ba’al Teshuvah who was originally very far from Judaism for many years. He became a Ba’al Teshuvah because he decided to join a cult practicing necromancy--and learned that the deceased who communicated could only speak in the language that they spoke in their lifetime. He thus realized that life in this world is meaningful forever and must be treated accordingly!

 

E. At first glance, it is almost unbelievable that--after Makkas Bechoros--K’lal Yisrael still found favor in the eyes of the Mitzriyim, and they were given silver and gold vessels and expensive clothing. However, upon reflection--the reason is very simple. The Pasuk records: “VaHashem Nassan Es Chein Ha’am B’Einei Mitzrayim--and Hashem made us graceful in the eyes of the Mitzriyim.” While a person can do his hishtadlus--ultimately everything--including finding favor in the eyes of a ruthless enemy--is in the hands of Hashem. The Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar HeBechina, Chapter 5) writes that if one would like to see how closely Hashem watches over us in our time--he need only consider how we are able to exist among the overly vast majority [Hakhel Note: billions!] of people in the world who do not want us here. Yet, in truth, we not only exist but Hodu LaShem--thrive because of His Hashgacha Pratis!

 

Hakhel Note: Imagine how much greater the Hashgacha Pratis will be felt upon the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu--let us pine for it in our Tefillos--and in our thoughts!

 

 

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22 Sivan

TEFILLAH TEST! We continue today our series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. B’EH, we will provide 100 questions and their suggested answers provided by Rabbi Webster, in the following format over the next several weeks: 5 questions for your thought on Mondays and Wednesdays, and their respective answers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In order to most successfully take this test, we recommend that you seriously consider the answers prior to your reviewing the answers tomorrow. One additional note: Some of the answers to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak.

 

1. What is the purpose of Tefillah?

 

Hashem created man to show His Chesed. The greatest Chesed that Hashem did was to give man a relationship with Him. If Hashem would give us everything good we would forget הקב”ה for one would never need to get close to Him.

 

2. How does one develop a relationship with Hashem?

 

Tefillah is a natural way through which one creates a relationship with Hashem. One should talk to Hashem--for He listens to every word we say. There are times that He gives us what we ask for and there are times when His answer is “no”. A person should never feel that one’s Tefillah is for nothing, because sincere Tefillah accomplishes one of the purposes of life--Deveikus B’Hashem!

 

3. From which of the Imahos do we learn from her suffering what Hashem wanted?

 

Each of the Avos and Imahos taught us this. Sara Imeinu, Rivka Imeinu and Rochel Imeinu were unable to bear children, but in the end through Tefillah Hashem granted them their desire. One can never give up no matter what their situation is. Whether for Parnassah, Shidduch, children, health, etc.

 

4. From whom did K’lal Yisrael learn how to daven to Hashem?

 

Chana taught us how to daven. Many of us have a memory of our grandmother davening in a corner with her torn Siddur or Tehillim, the pages filled with tears. Chana taught us that each and every person has a Koach HaTefillah, and the importance of having Kavannah when one davens. The Gemara in Brachos tells us many halachos that we learn from Chana. It is the way she davened that became an inspiration for all generations.

 

5. What should a person daven for?

 

One should daven for both physical and spiritual needs. Physical needs include the needs that one needs now, tomorrow and all of one’s needs for the future. There is a second, essential element of Tefillah--Shevach V’Hoda’ah--expressing true thanks to Hashem. HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, Z’tl, suggests that a person take a stethoscope and listen to his heart. Do you hear the continuous beating--life-giving blood pumping throughout one’s body without missing a beat. What a miracle!! What a gift from Hashem!! Chazal instituted Tefillah and brachos to remind a person not to take life, health, parnassah for granted. From the moment we wake up, we thank Hashem for returning our Neshama and granting us another day.

 

Hakhel Note: The Divrei Siach brings that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, 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!

 

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

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Special Note One: 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: Yes.

 

Hakhel Note One: There is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether the Torah’s bracha for those who are Shomer Shevi’is applies even in our time, when the Mitzvah of Shemittah according to most Poskim is D’Rabbanan. Some Poskim rule that the bracha accordingly no longer applies. The Chazon Ish, Z’tl, rules that it does. HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, Shlita writes in his Sefer Ayeles HaShachar on Chumash that the very p’sak of the Chazon Ish brings the Torah’s bracha--even if the halacha is like the other Poskim!

 

 

Hakhel Note Two: Additionally, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky rules that the bracha also applies to those who study the Mitzvah of Shevi’is, as well as to those who help the farmers financially!

 

 

Special Note Two: We conclude our short series from the Sefer Kuntres Chaim V’Chesed by HaRav Kolodetsky, Shlita, of Bnei Brak.

 

PART 4

 

A. One should attempt to provide helpful advice to others--especially advice that has worked for oneself. A bachur once went to a Rav and told him that he did not really feel a ta’am in his Tefillos. The Rav told him that he should first try to have Kavannah in short brachos (such as Birchos HaNehenin--having in mind to thank Hashem for providing this need and that need, and so many benefits). He also told him that he should accustom himself to feel that he was talking to Hashem (see Test Question 2 above). With these words, the Rav attempted to provide ‘tried and true’ ways to help the young man advance in Tefillah. 

 

B. When HaRav Shach, Z’tl, would pass in between benches in the Beis Midrash, he would pick up Seforim to his right and to his left and reshelve them. Others understood from his conduct that Chacham Lev Yikach Mitzvos--one should not let the obvious Mitzvah opportunities get by....

 

C. The Chofetz Chaim once sent a student of his to be a Ba’al Tefillah for the Yomim Noraim in a town close to Radin which had no Chazzan. The student told the Chofetz Chaim that he preferred to daven in Yeshiva for the Yomim Noraim. The Chofetz Chaim responded that a person is not born to take care of his selfish needs--but to do as much good as he could to others. [This was the determination of the Chofetz Chaim for this particular bochur; one would, of course, have to ask a Shailah on a case-by-case basis.]

 

D. In his Sefer Ahavas Chesed, the Chofetz Chaim points out that one who has a Gemach of any kind should not feel burdened by the constant phone calls and ‘knocks at the door’. Just as a store owner would not be upset on someone coming to make a purchase or to otherwise inquire as to a particular product--so too, should the person providing his Gemach realize that with every knock, with every call, he fulfills a Mitzvas Asei D’Oraysah.

 

E. The Alter of Kelm, Z’tl, asks what Nochum Ish Gamzu’s fault was in telling the poor person that he would have to take a moment to alight from his donkey in order to give him some food--after all, what more could he do? He certainly was acting with alacrity! The Alter answers that Nochum realized that he should have had some food more readily available. One should think about others--before they ask!

 

 

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21 Sivan

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

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TEFILLAH TEST! We begin today a new series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. B’EH We will provide 100 questions and their suggested answers provided by Rabbi Webster, in the following format over the next several weeks: 5 questions for your thought on Mondays and Wednesdays, and their respective answers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In order to most successfully take this test, we recommend that you seriously consider the answers prior to your reviewing the answers tomorrow. One additional note: Some of the answers as to the upcoming Halacha Shailos may be specific to women. In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any Shailah he may have for a final p’sak.

 

1. What is the purpose of Tefillah?

 

2. How does one develop a relationship with Hashem?

 

3. From which of the Imahos do we learn from her suffering what Hashem wanted?

 

4. From whom did K’lal Yisrael learn how to daven to Hashem?

 

5. What should a person daven for ?

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Special Note One: We continue our short series from the Sefer Kuntres Chaim V’Chesed by HaRav Kolodetsky, Shlita, of Bnei Brak.

 

PART 3

 

A. HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, would often say that reciting the bracha of Asher Yatzar with Kavannah is a Segulah for Briyus HaGuf. He would teach his students how important it was to realize that the health of the body was a nes like Yetziyas Mitzrayim. It is important to make others aware of just how important the proper recitation of Asher Yatzar really is.

 

B. HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, once visited his Rebbi, HaRav Eliyahu Dessler, Z’tl, at lunchtime. HaRav Friedlander reported that after HaRav Dessler finished lunch, he turned to his wife and said: “Thank you so much for the delicious meal that you provided to me.” HaRav Friedlander pointed out that he learned from this that a person cannot rely on an intermittent ‘thank you’, but must show HaKaras Hatov on a constant basis. On another occasion HaRav Dessler entered a bus and a child stood up for him and gave him his seat. HaRav Dessler turned to him and said: “Ani Me’od Modeh Lecha MiKerev HaLev--I thank you from the depths of my heart.” Those accompanying HaRav Dessler asked him why he needed to express such strong words of thanks. HaRav Dessler responded: “Vechi Atem Rotzim She’ehiyeh c’v Mushchas B’Middos Ra’os--do you want me c’v to be a mushchas in Middos Ra’os?!”

 

C. The Chofetz Chaim once traveled to the home of the Rav of another city. The Rebbetzin was very excited with such an honored guest, and together with her maid prepared a very special meal. Unbeknownst to her, the maid had already salted the soup, and so she salted it as well. The Rav tasted the soup, winced, and was about to go into the kitchen to tell the Rebbetzin how oversalted it was. The Chofetz Chaim took the Rav’s hand and asked him to finish the soup together with him--”What is the point of making her upset, let her take pleasure in having served us delicious soup!”

 

D. The following are practical suggestions for Chesed B’Ruchniyus:

 

1. Try to make sure that not even one day passes without the conscious performance of an act of Chesed.

 

2. Say a Perek of Tehillim for those who are not well.

 

3. Learn Mishnayos for Neshamos (especially those who have no known relatives).

 

4. For one taking a trip together with others--to bring along some additional small Chumashim or Tehillim for the trip, and to prepare some Divrei Torah so that all can perform the Mitzvah of U’V’lechtecha Vaderech.

 

5. Helping others with Mitzvos--letting them know about Shiurim, pointing out to another that his Tefillin moved out of place, etc.

 

6. If one is the last one in Shul or in another public place, making sure that all the lights are out and the doors are locked--for safety and to save the Tzibbur’s money. Hakhel Note: How many paper towels does one really need to use outside of the Shul’s restroom or in the Shul’s kitchen?

 

7. The Chofetz Chaim would place a sign in his Yeshiva on Erev Yom Kippur that a way to make the fast easier was to drink a glass of tea composed of a half a cup of sugar and half a cup of water and tea, and then to drink a regular cup of tea--as sugar helps alleviate weakness from the fast. One should give eitzos to people to help make their lives easier!

 

 

Special Note Two: Chazal give the reason that last week’s Parasha, Parashas Beha’alosecha concludes with the Chait of Miriam speaking against Moshe Rabbeinu and Parashas 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 Yisrael) 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!

 

Additional Note One: 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 Hara, 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!

 

Additional Note Two: One must certainly take leave of the lesson from Miriam with some real and practical method of improvement. For those who do not yet recite the short Tefillah on Shemiras HaLashon composed by the Chofetz Chaim--we once again provide the Tefillah by clicking here for your recital at the beginning of the day!

 

 

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18 Sivan

QUESTION OF THE DAY : In tomorrow’s Parasha, we learn much about the importance of the Levi’im. We know that one of their essential avodos in the Beis HaMikdash was their Shir and musical accompaniment. In preparation for the Binyan Beis Hamikdash why isn’t everyone who is a Levi now actively involved in improving his musical talents?

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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: We continue our short series from the Sefer Kuntres Chaim V’Chesed by HaRav Kolodetsky, Shlita, of Bnei Brak.

 

PART 2

 

A. Chazal (Shabbos 67A) bring that the custom was for someone whose tree was sick and whose fruits were prematurely falling would be for him to hang a red string on the tree, as a sign for all to understand that the tree had a problem. When passersby would see the red string they would then stop and pray for the health of the tree. Similarly Chazal (Mesechta Semachos, Chapter 6) teach that if one had lost an object in Yerushalayim--he would stand in a certain, designated spot in the Beis HaMikdash, so that all who pass-by would give him a bracha that Hashem return the item to him. The Mabit concludes that one who has the ability to daven for another and does not do so can be compared to one who has a storehouse full of grain in a time of famine--and leaves it locked, rather than opening it for others to benefit from its plenty.

 

B. HaRav Boruch Ber Lebowitz, Z’tl, once said: “When I come to the Olam HaEmes, and they ask me if I have Torah V’Yirah--then if I say I have Torah, the Beis Din Shel Ma’alah will respond--’Is this Torah?’ If I say that I have Yirah--they will say--‘Is this considered Yirah?’ However, I will be able to make one legitimate claim--that I have Ahavas Yisrael. When I walk and see a Yid on the street, I have feelings of love and hope that brachos will be heaped upon him!”

 

C. When one passes by a sign or a notice, or reads an advertisement, relating to someone who needs a refuah or yeshuah, one should take the moment to stop and daven for that person--after all, if someone has gone to the extent of publicizing the situation, the person is probably in a hospital bed attached to different kinds of equipment or taking various serious medications. Most certainly, if one was asked to go to the pharmacy to help a sick person--he would run to do so even if he didn’t know the person. All the more so, when he can help with a Tefillah directly to the Rofeh Cholei Amo Yisrael.

 

D. Similarly, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, teaches that when one passes by a hospital or hears an ambulance, one must daven for the sick. HaRav Yecheskel Sarna, Z’tl, adds that if Tehillim was said B’Tzibur for one who was ill, one should remain in Shul until after the Mishabeirach is concluded, in order to answer “Amen!”.

 

E. The Tur in Hilchos Brachos brings that in the time of Dovid HaMelech 100 bochurim were dying every day, and so Dovid HaMelech instituted that 100 brachos be recited daily--and the mageifah ended. We are to derive from this that reciting 100 brachos every day with Kavannah is a segulah nifla’ah to annul gezeiros ra’os.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Special Note Four:  In this week’s Parasha, Behaalosecha, we are taught that Aharon HaKohen performed the Hadlakas Haneiros of the Menorah’ ‘KaAsher 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 58 years of marriage. “Mrs. Stein” said the judge—”you have been married for 58 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 that it would be appropriate to ‘let loose’--after all, I have controlled myself dozens, scores, even hundreds 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.

 

As we have noted in the past, Rabbi Shlomo Yisroel Gelber, Z’tl, (whose Yahrzeit is Shabbos, 19 Sivan) 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!

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

  1. Moshe was her younger brother;

  1. She loved him dearly;

  1. She actually raised him;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B.  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!

 

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

 

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 Standard Time.  In Europe: HaRav Yaakov Wreschner, Shlita (Manchester) is available between 9:15AM and 10:15AM and between 1:15 and 2:15PM. His mobile number is 07980641399. Dayan Aharon Dovid Dunner, Shlita, is available at 02088008555 (no set hours).Avoid any doubt--say it right!

 

 

Special Note Six:  Sunday (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 Tosafos Yom Tov, HaRav Yom Tov Lipman Heller, Z’tl, attributed the Cossack Massacres to talking in Shul.  He accordingly composed a special Mi She’Berach to be recited on behalf of those who refrained from talking in Shul, which is recited to this very day.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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17 Sivan

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

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IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR US!  Although the Internet and cell phones have been years in the running, and many of us realize that we have occasionally overstepped our bounds in the past (whether intentionally, recklessly, negligently, or innocently), we can take all of our negative experiences over the years and rebound from them through our proper actions now.  As we focus on the bracha of Teshuvah this week, we emphasize that Hashem is a Rotzeh BisShuvah.  He anticipates and awaits our corrections and, if necessary, our turn-arounds.  Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, quotes the Satmar Rav, Z”tl, who explained the statement “Shuvu Bonim Shovavim Chutz MeiAcheir--everyone can do Teshuvah except for Acheir” to mean that everyone can do Teshuvah except for someone who considers himself someone else--too far gone--a different person.  Heaven forbid for anyone of us to consider ourselves too far gone--a different person than the person we were before the technology explosion began.  We should learn from a contractor’s dumpster, placed in front of a home that is being renovated.  Perhaps thousands of pounds of rubbish and undesired material are thrown in, and the carting company truck comes and with powerful but sure effort lifts the thousands of pounds up and carts it away.  It is each and every person’s turn to renovate his home!

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Special Note One:  The Navi (Hosheiah 2:22) brings a touching Pasuk:  Vieirastich Li BeEmumah VeYada’at Es Hashem…[Hashem says:] I will betroth you to Me with Emunah, and you will know Hashem.”  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, brings a fantastic Malbim on this Pasuk.  The Malbim explains that as a result of the Emunah that we demonstrate in this world, we will be zoche to ‘know Hashem’--He will reveal to us signs and wonders, and will cause the Shechina to dwell amongst us, so that we will no longer believe in Hashem, but rather will have a yedi’ah berurah--a tangible knowledge--felt and understood by our senses--of Hashem.  We will no longer have a Kabbalah, a tradition, regarding Hashem’s existence.  Instead, we will have a personal, clear, and direct awareness of His presence at all times.  Let us daven that we need not wait much longer! 

 

 

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

 

 

Special Note Three:  B’EH next week we will be beginning a series of questions and answers on Tefillah, based upon the Tefillah Shiurim series given by HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, to women in Boro Park over this past year. Today, we provide the following important reminders relating to Tefillah, as excerpted from the Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berura:

 

1.  Whenever reciting the Posuk “Pose’ach Es Yadecha”, one should have in mind that Hashem is the ‘Mashgiach Al Briosav U’Mefarnisam’ (M.B. 51:sk15).  The Dirshu commentary brings from Rabbeinu Bachya that one should recognize the Niflaos HaBorei and his Chassadim when reciting these words.

 

2.  It is more important to recite Kriyas Shema and Shemone Esrei with Tefillin on than to Daven BeTzibbur without Tefillin (M.B. 66:sk40).

 

3.  If two Chazzanim are otherwise equal, than a Kohein comes before a Levi, a Levi before a Yisrael, and a Talmid Chochom comes before an Am HaAretz, even if the Am HaAretz is a Kohein (M.B. 53:sk36).

 

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

 

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

 

 

Special Note Four: Remarkably, the Rabbeinu Yonah (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:15) writes that the cheit of not performing Gemilas Chesed is worse than stealing as is demonstrated by the Pasuk (Yecheskel 16:49): “Hinei Zeh Haya Avon Sedom Achoseich…VeYad Ani V’Evyon Lo Hichzikah”. According to Yecheskel--Sedom’s sin was not theft--but rather was not helping those in need. The clear message to us is that just as we daven and learn every day, we must be sure to perform Chesed every day as well. As we learned in last week’s Perek (Avos 1:2) Shimon HaTzaddik teaches that the world stands on three things: Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasodim. We daven every morning thereby touching upon Avodah. We then learn for at least a few minutes after davening to fulfill the words of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 155). After such a successful beginning to the day--Torah and Avodah, it should behoove us as well to perform an act of Chesed before one partakes of breakfast or otherwise gets involved in his regular day-to-day activities. That act of Chesed could simply be a Kepitel Tehillim for one designated person, a special gift of Tzedaka, a short conversation with someone who needs Chizuk or taking care of something for someone else. In order to strengthen our Chesed--in anticipation of the summer months when there is a tendency in the world-at-large to become more self-centered, we will be providing a short series from the Sefer Kuntres Chaim V’Chesed by HaRav Kolodetsky, Shlita, of Bnei Brak.

 

PART 1

 

A. If one has a child in another city who he knows is having some difficulties, he would certainly want someone in that city to assist his child through his situation. Hashem is our Father--and His children are here walking, working and living side-by-side. It gives great Nachas Ruach to Hashem when He sees you trying to quell the distress of another, and certainly when you bring him into a more joyful mood!

 

B. Hashem did not need to create the world with some in-need and some not in-need. The world exists in this form in order for Chesed to be performed--which in turn will arouse Hashem’s Chesed from the heavens--certainly infinitely greater than the Chesed we provide!

 

C. When a person comes over to others in the morning with a hearty “Boker Tov/Good Morning!” and a smiling face--especially in his own home--he promotes harmony and happiness among his family and/or among his people, and helps provide a positive direction to the day for others.

 

D. When one makes it a goal to conduct himself pleasantly and happily with his family, he fulfills a separate Mitzvah of U’MeBesarecha Lo Tisaleim. Accordingly, Chesed to one’s family takes precedence over all other Chesed.

 

E. When a person gives the bracha of “Shalom” to his friend, he is blessing him with the name of Hashem which is “Shalom” (Gittin 61A, Rashi d’h V’Sho’alin)--enabling the Beis Din Shel Ma’alah to agree to the blessing. Additionally, when a person sees somebody engaged in work or in some other activity--he should give him a bracha of “Titzlach Melachtecha”--or the like. These words of direction were, in fact, given by Hashem to Moshe Rabbeinu when he came to Shomayim to receive the Torah! (Shabbos 89A, Rashi d’h L’Azreini)

 

 

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16 Sivan

FROM DAF TEST: START DAF TEST FOR THE NEW MESECHTA! By clicking here, you will find for Daf test. and by clicking here, you will find very detailed chazara questions on each daf also from our Bochen - Rabbi Berman from Kollel Reshet Hadaf. You can get daily summary questions by emailing him at  rbsa613@gmail.com The test can be taken online and will be graded by going to: http://goo.gl/bQu4Ib Use code 0613 to get the test.”

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DEBT COLLECTION, DEFAULTS, AND HALACHA: We are privileged to provide by clicking here an outstanding article on Debt Collection, Defaults, and Halacha; A Practical Guide To Hilchos G’vias Chov, By Rabbi Ari Marburger, Shlita, Dayan in Lakewood.  We have permission for our readers to distribute this important article further.

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FROM A READER: Further on the point on standing at Chuppahs: “Many think/say that it is because of Choson Domeh L’melech that they stand up for the Chosson. Yet, they should be aware that to my knowledge, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, never stood because he used to say, “Doi-meh (L)melech NOT (Ke)melech”. HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Z’tl, stood but for a totally different reason. The questionof L’melech or K’melech never entered into consideration as the “Chosson” is not a true Chosson until AFTER the Chuppah. Rather, HaRav  Yaakov stood purely because of the Mishna in Bikurim (3:3), that discusses the bringing of Bikurim and the rule of standing “Lif-Nai Oisei Mitzva” and since the Chosson is entering into a Chupah which will enable him to be mekayeim the mitzvah of Pe’ru U’revu, we stand…As to why we don’t stand for everyone doing a mitzvah, it’s for a mitzvah that is mei-kama zman l’zman, not a regular occurrence….The question remains as to a justification for why people stand for the Kallah since she is not K’Malka (see HaRav Moshe and HaRav Yaakov above) and is peturah from Mitzvas Peru U’revu. HaRav Avraham Kamentsky, HaRav Yaakov’s son, told me that one can say that since the Chosson cannot be mekayeim the mitzvah without her, she has a chelek in the mitzvah and thus qualifies for Lif-Nai Oisei Mitzvah.”

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FROM A MASHGIACH RUCHNI IN ERETZ YISRAEL: “To help further our appreciation of Matan Torah, try and express both at the start and close of your Torah study: ‘I am learning the Torah’s Hashem and this is Dveikus in HaKadosh Baruch Hu.’ The world at large instinctively attempts to connect and identify with their heroes whom they hope to emulate--we want to fulfill our spiritual selves, and feel close proximity to Hashem. For further study, see Sefer Nefesh HaChaim, Sha’ar Daled, Perek Vav. We may not reach exalted levels with fire swirling over our heads, but it is certainly still worthwhile to constantly alert ourselves that the Torah connects us with Hashem--it is as if we are learning B’Chavrusah with the Borei Olam!”

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REMINDER: We had previously noted that the Ba’al Shem Tov advised the Toldos Yaakov Yosef that it was revealed to him Min HaShomayim that the reason Moshiach was delayed was that K’lal Yisrael was not spending enough time on the Bracha of Ahavas Rabba. Let us re-focus and re-energize ourselves on this bracha--if not now--then when?!

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

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A POWERFUL POINT: This week’s Parasha especially highlights the Mitzvah of Shemiras HaLashon with the ma’aseh of Miriam and Aharon. In the Sefer Shemiras HaLashon, the Chofetz Chaim spends much time pointing out that the Mitzvah of Shemiras HaLashon is found in many Parashios of the Torah. The Chofetz Chaim notes that after 120 years a person will be asked: “Did you observe the Torah?” If he responds in the affirmative, and then is made to review lesson after lesson in Shemiras HaLashon on a Parasha after Parasha basis--he will be more than shame-faced, but shocked and dumbfounded by how unsuccessful his life had been. On the other hand, if in fact one was superbly careful in Shemiras HaLashon--those very same Parashios--Parasha after Parasha after Parasha--will stand in his great stead!

 

Hakhel Note: The choice is ours--compounded for eternity!

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THE TORAH’S VIEW OF YOUR SENSES!  We remind everyone of the following powerful and practical guidance is provided by HaRav Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl, in Chapter 2 of the Sefer Tomer Devorah.  The English translation is by Rabbi Dov Fink and Rabbi Shimon Finkelman (Tomer Publications): 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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15 Sivan

D’VEIKUS!:  We have the great ability to connect and establish our deveikus with HaKadosh Baruch Hu through our Tefillos. May we suggest that each of our readers today make a greater effort to daven for everything--from the current Matzav in Eretz Yisrael, to acting properly towards one’s family and close friends, to reciting brachos in a respectful way, to learning Torah with greater clarity and success….We all know and acknowledge in our minds that everything, every single thing is in the hands of Hashem--why not absolutely and definitively directly express it to our Maker as well?!

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Special Note One:  Some parting thoughts as we leave Parashas Naso: 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

T.  The Shelah HaKadosh writes that one should leave a little bit of bread from his HaMotzi to eat at the end of his meal so that he is left with the taste of the ‘HaMotzi’ in his mouth (ibid. 167, Mishna Berurah seif katan 97).  Hakhel Note:  On Pesach there is the taste of the Afikoman, the rest of the year there is the taste of the HaMotzi.  What a great lesson!  For the Torah Jew--the taste we are to be left with--is the taste of Mitzvos!

 

 

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14 Sivan

NINETEEN WEEKS!  We are now in the fifth of the nineteen week period prior to Rosh Hashana. In past years, we have proceeded weekly, Bracha by Bracha, through Shemone Esrei with a special emphasis on Kavannah on that week’s Bracha.  This week’s Bracha is Teshuva.  How fortunate we are that we think of Teshuva every day --at least three times a day--and that we can actually ASK FOR HASHEM’S ASSISTANCE in doing Teshuva!  The Sefer Olas Tomid notes that both in this bracha and in the next bracha of Selach Lonu-we approach Hashem as Avinu--asking for that extra level of mercy that a Father can grant.  Accordingly, we should be sure not to skip over the words quickly--but instead stop and recite the bracha with the kavannah that it deserves!  Rebbi Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash writes that when reciting this bracha, a person should ask Hashem to extend His hand--His sharvit hazahav to accept one’s Teshuva, and plead that even if one’s Teshuva is tested, Hashem will assist him the second time as well.  The Ya’aros Devash adds the Teshuva we are being mispallel for is not only our own--but that of all of K’lal Yisrael.  Let us think of our brethren--relatives and friends and those across the globe who have to be brought closer to Avinu--our Father--each in his own way. We provide by the following link our additional notes to the Nineteen Brachos for the years 5771 and 5772 http://www.hakhel.info/TefillahArchive.html May we highly recommend the Nineteen Week Program again this year--either based upon your own study (such as by utilizing the magnificent Rav Schwab on Prayer or another similar work), or by utilizing the link provided on a daily basis throughout the week. 

 

Additional Note: It is no coincidence, at it never is, that the Mitzvah of Vidui was found in last week’s Parasha. Let us implement last week’s Parasha in a measurable way this week! 

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YOU’RE NOT GETTING OLDER YOU’RE GETTING BETTER! Rabbi David Ashear’s Emuna daily messages thrive and inspire. After hundreds of messages already recorded (which can be accessed), Rabbi Ashear continues to provide wonderful and meaningful essential Emuna lessons on a daily basis. To join and for further information contact:  emunadaily@gmail.com.  The recording is available via telephone as well:  Dial (605) 475-4799, access code 840886#.

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

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UPDATED LIQUOR LIST!  For an update on the current status of acceptable Kosher liquors based upon the most recent findings of the Association of Kashrus Organization, one may click here.

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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 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, clicking here is a link to one of his most famous writings in the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim--a Segula Gedolah VeNifla’ah on the topic of Ain Od Milevado.  Try to go through the day today with a special emphasis on everything happening around you based only in Ain Od Milevado--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 have entered the period between Shavuos and Rosh Hashana, which is our next Yom Tov, pending the Bais HaMikdash being rebuilt.  Fascinatingly, the Torah, in the Parashas HaMoadim (in Emor 23:22) presents the following singular Pasuk as the bridge Pasuk between Shavuos and Rosh Hashana:  U’Vekutzrechem Es Ketzir Artzechem…LeAni VeLaGer Ta’azov Osam, Ani Hashem Elokeichem--when you reap the harvest…for the poor and the Ger shall you leave them, I am Hashem your G-d.”  Rashi (ibid.) brings Chazal who explain that the reason this Pasuk (which seemingly related to charity) is precisely placed here in the Parashas HaMoadim is to teach that if one gives gifts to the poor properly, it is considered as if he himself had built the Bais HaMikdash and brought Karbanos in it--he has in a sense made his own Mo’ed!  Let us take this great lesson from Chazal--and ensure that this period between Shavuos and Rosh Hashana is marked by proper Tzedaka giving--so that we will in all events build our own Bais HaMikdash and brought our Karbanos--well in advance of Rosh Hashana!

 

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