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6 Tammuz

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



PEARLS OF CHESED: “Most workers need their salary for their basic livelihood. Therefore, it is wrong to delay the payment they need to buy food. Hashem commanded us with this mitzvah in order to accustom us to the trait of kindness and mercy. We must learn to give everyone what they need, when they need it, so that we too may merit to receive Hashem’s kindness, which He longs to bestow upon us.” [Excerpted from The Concise Ahavas Chesed The Classic Work of the Chofetz Chaim Adapted to a Daily Learning Schedule in English by Rabbi Asher Wasserman, Shlita]



ON SHAVING AND SHAVERS: In a recent OU Kosher Halacha Yomis Issue, HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, was quoted on the topic of shaving. By the following link

http://tinyurl.com/y8c5a23n, we provide the OU Halacha Yomis revision, which better demonstrates the Halachic Issue relating to shaving with contemporary shavers.





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





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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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





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!



THIS WEEK’S PIRKEI AVOS:  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!



5 Tammuz

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)]



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 Avrohom 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!



DAILY KIDDUSH HASHEM: Each one of us is given the opportunity to sanctify our existence by being M’Kadesh Shem Shomayim in our daily life at home, on the street, while shopping and while at work. We heard of one baal habayis who kept his own private “Kiddush Shem Shomayim Log”. Men have two additional, special opportunities to be M’Kadesh Hashem every day. The Mishna Berurah (Orach Chaim 125:4) writesOne must apply his mind ardently when he says Kedusha to sanctify Hashem … through the merit of this, Hashem will rest His Holiness upon him from Above. (During Kedushah,) one should have in mind to fulfill what is stated ‘…And I will be sanctified among the Children of Israel (“V’nikdashti b’soch B’nei Yisrael”).’ The Arizal would urge this strongly.” Translation courtesy of the Feldheim edition, Volume1(D), page 345. We urge those who can, to read the electrifying original Hebrew text of the Mishna Berurah relating to Kedusha (125: 4,5).



IMPORTANT INFORMATION! 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)



NOT JUST ONE TIME: We are advised of the following story relating to Rav Shach, Z’tl: One zeman, HaRav Shach established a nighttime Seder once a week with an American bachur. At some point into the zeman, HaRav Shach advised him that he would not be able to learn with him for the next several weeks. The bachur--curious as to what HaRav Shach would be doing during this time followed him out of the Yeshiva that evening, onto a public bus to a suburb of Tel Aviv and saw him enter an apartment and stay there for approximately an hour. HaRav Shach then got back onto a public bus to the Yeshiva. The bachur who was following him could not contain himself and on the way back sat down next to his Rosh Yeshiva on the bus, apologized for the chutzpah and asked whether he could explain to him where he went and why the chavrusah was cancelled for the next several weeks. HaRav Shach shared with the bachur that a man who had been married for more than 30 years had come to him with Shalom Bayis issues. After speaking with him, HaRav Shach realized that he needed to speak to his wife as well, and he further realized that not enough would be resolved in one sitting with the husband and one sitting with the wife. It was for this reason he forewarned the Talmid that the chavrusah would have to be cancelled for the next several weeks--as he would be traveling to their home on a weekly basis until he was satisfied that the issues were well along the way of being resolved.


Hakhel Note: If a Gadol HaDor with such limited time did not excuse himself by providing advice for a few minutes, an hour, or even an hour to each spouse--how much more so must we realize that our acts of Chesed must be true and complete--and not merely only the beginnings, or a nice gesture!



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!



PISKEI HARAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, SHLITA, ON HILCHOS TEFILLAH: We provide several pesakim from the Sefer Da’as Noteh (Volume 1), of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, as published by his son Rav Yitzchok Shaul Kanievsky, Shlita.  Every person should consult with his own Rav or Posek as to the application of these Halachos on a personal basis:


1.       The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 90, seif katan 8) writes that if one finds that his Kavannah is faltering, he should raise his eyes to Shomayim (through the windows in Shul or at home) to arouse one’s Kavannah. May one also study an Adam Gadol (such as a Rav) while he is Davening, in order to arouse one’s Kavannah.  A.  This appears to be appropriate.


2.      What is the difference between the word ‘Elokeinu’ and ‘Elokim’?  A:  The Kavannah one should have when reciting ‘Elokim’ is explicitly stated in (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim Chapter 5).  When reciting ‘Elokeinu’ one should additionallyhave in mind that that we have accepted His kingship (Malchus) over us.  Similarly, when one recites “Elokai’ he should have in mind that he is accepting Hashem’s Malchus over himself.  Reciting “Hashem Elokeinu” in the first Pasuk of Kriyas Shema is Kabbalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim.  When we recite the words “Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak” (such as in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei) we likewise should have in mind that they accepted Hashem’s Malchus as well.


3.      Can one make a personal request two times in Shemone Esrei--for instance once in Shomea Tefillah and once in Elokai Netzor?  A:  It is not proper to do so, for one would not ask something of the King, and then go back and ask it again later in the same audience, however, within one bakasha, one can engage in continuous entreaty, just as Eliyahu HaNavi exclaimed “Aneini Hashem Aneini”.


4.      When reciting the word ‘Modim’ in Shemone Esrei what Kavannah should he have?  A:  The word ‘Modim’ indicates HaKaras Hatov, and this is the Kavannah one should have.


5.  When one recites Tehillim should he have in mind as if he is making personal requests, or that these are the words of Dovid HaMelech?  If a Tzibur is reciting Tehillim, is it better to recite with them Pasuk by Pasuk, or to recite another Pasuk on your own?  A:  He should have both his personal requests, and that these are the words of the Mechabrei Tehillim in mind.  There is a special Ma’aleh when a Tzibur recites a Pasuk together.



4 Tammuz

A READER’S ENLIGHTENING THOUGHT: The word “Mishpacha”, family, spelled -mem, shin, pay, ches, hey and the word “Simcha”, happiness, spelled -sin, mem, ches, hey, are different only in that the word “Mishpacha” has the letter Pay (spelled pay-hey).  Namely, it is how we use pay-hey, our mouth, that will determine if our family is happy or not!”



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



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]



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! 



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




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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



Overcoming Summer Time Nisyonos


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

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



3 Tammuz

TODAY:  Today marks the twenty-third Yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, z’ya, whose remarkable influence continues to reverberate around the globe.  Chabad Houses in far-flung areas of the world, and on college campuses, have introduced tens of thousands of Jews ignorant of their heritage to Torah.  The Rebbe’s unwavering Ahavas Yisrael has had a profound effect on Torah observance worldwide.



PEARLS OF CHESED: “King Shaul did not actually kill the Givonites, but he was held accountable as if he did so, since he destroyed the city of Nov, from which the Givonites earned their livelihood. If King Shaul was held accountable for the indirect damages of his sin, how much more so are we credited with the indirect benefit of our mitzvos. A person who does a favor that enables someone else to earn a livelihood is credited with all the benefit enjoyed by that person’s family from then on.” [Excerpted from The Concise Ahavas Chesed The Classic Work of the Chofetz Chaim Adapted to a Daily Learning Schedule in English by Rabbi Asher Wasserman, Shlita]







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, once-a-day spend time with yourself.



IMPORTANT TEFILLOS!  A reader supplied us with a moving message and reminder of the short but powerful Tefillos from the Talmud Yerushalmi that the Chofetz Chaim (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 1:1 Biur Halacha dh Sheyehei) urges us to recite prior to Shacharis, Mincha and Ma’ariv. We provide them by the following link: http://tinyurl.com/kd6qbos


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



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



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


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





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


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


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


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



2 Tammuz

IT’S NOT TOO LATE!  SPREAD THE WORD! VERY IMPORTANT PROGRAM FOR MEN AND WOMEN:  As have just begun 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 the following link http://tinyurl.com/pyhvfxp we provide a Three- Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei 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: Be mezakeh your Shul by printing this out in card form.



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 our annual 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:

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, once-a-day spend time with yourself.



THE CHESED OF KIRUV:  “A Jew’s trait of chesed should be related to his desire to spread Emunah among his fellow human beings. It should pain him to see the vast majority of mankind living their lives in spiritual darkness, totally unaware of Hashem. His middah of Chesed should compel him to devote time to spreading belief in a Creator, thereby pulling people out of their spiritual darkness. Rav Pam recalled a news article he had seen in his youth. It depicted the awe-inspiring scene of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A man stands at the crest of the canyon, surrounded by stunning scenery; the reflections of the rays of the setting sun, the spectacular changing colors, the breathtaking view of the mountains in the distance. However, the man sees nothing. His back is turned from this awesome scene and he is totally engrossed in reading the comic strips of the Daily News ... In a world filled with myriad examples of the Hand of Hashem, people are totally oblivious to G-dliness. What could be a greater chesed than to remove the shutters of spiritual blindness that engulf the world and allow the brilliant light of the Creator to shine on His creations? In our time there are countless opportunities to bring the light of Torah to those living in spiritual darkness. It is the task of this generation to do so.” [Excerpted from Kiruv Begins at Home And Other Insights On Kiruv Kerovim And Kiruv Rechokim From Moreinu Harav Avrohom Pam, Z’tl, by Rabbi Sholom Smith, Shlita]



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!

---------------------------------------------------------- cleardot


THOUGHTS ON THE NEW MONTH: 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 explains that the Meraglim set out on their journey on 29 Sivan—just three days ago.  These very days—i.e., the next 37 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 37 days to move ourselves—and, quite literally, change the world!



29 Sivan

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



TODAY!  The Vilna Gaon writes to his close family in the Igeres HaGra:  “Kol Regah V’Regah 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 Lashon 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!



SUNDAY--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 the following link http://tinyurl.com/pyhvfxp we provide a Three- Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei 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: Be mezakeh your Shul by printing this out in card form.





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


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



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


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



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





A. As on Shabbos Kodesh and on Sunday we will be reciting ‘Half-Hallel’, we note that during the recitation of Hallel, which involves the reading of contiguous chapters of Tehillim, unnecessary interruptions are prohibited.  For instance, one may not answer “Boruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo”.  In addition, one should recite Asher Yatzar after Hallel. Most certainly, one cannot interrupt Hallel with words of conversation.


B. 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!


C. This Shabbos, we begin our annual review of Summer Shabbos Shailos, with the Teshuvos of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, to us:






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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

ANSWER: You should preferably eat at least a K’zayis of challah after tzais hacochavim and do not rely on leniencies, as explained in the 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!



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



PARASHA QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION: We present several questions relating to the Parasha, and welcome your thoughts and responses:


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


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


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


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


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



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


There are practical and important lessons for us here.


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


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



28 Sivan

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 the following link http://tinyurl.com/pyhvfxp we provide a Three- Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei 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: Be mezakeh your Shul by printing this out in card form.



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


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


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


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


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


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



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!



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



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!



GRASSHOPPERS?  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!



27 Sivan

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



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


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



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


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



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



MIDDOS TOVOS:  The following are lessons from the Sefer Orchos Yosher--a Sefer written by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, himself, relating essentially to Middos Tovos:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



26 Sivan

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


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



KIBUD AV VA’EIM L’MA’ASEH: Today, we conclude our listing of essential points from the outstanding work: The Laws of Honoring and Revering Parents, by Rabbi Yechiel Biberfeld, Shlita. We thank Project D.E.R.E.C.H., a stellar organization dedicated to promulgating Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim, for its permission in allowing us to excerpt in detail these essential Halachos so meaningfully presented by Rabbi Biberfeld:




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



25 Sivan

LESS THAN ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! In less than one week from today, we will celebrate Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, inaugurating the last three months, or final calendar quarter, of the year. In a financial framework, the last quarter of the year is a time when people begin a review of the year, think about tax planning techniques, and consider what can be to improve the year’s final quarter, so that it ends more successfully, and starts the next year off on the right footing and in a positive mode and direction.. All the more so, of course, should we prepare ourselves for the last quarter of the pivotal year we are living in. We have a week to ponder and reflect—what have we accomplished thus far; where our goals are; what can/should we attain in the coming months. It is no coincidence that as the world slackens off in the summer, we energize ourselves and achieve—for our calendar--and our agenda, is simply very different!



IT IS FINALS TIME:  As young men and young women in Mesivtas and High Schools around the country busy themselves in preparation for finals, regents, papers and the like, we must realize that there is a real and definite reduction in Torah study throughout the country and perhaps throughout the world.  Those of us who are out of school should join in to ‘find some extra time’ to pick up the slack on behalf of our brethren.  We must remember that our Torah study serves not only as our own personal eternal connection to HaKadosh Boruch Hu, but that it is also Magni and Matzli--it protects and saves us from the most calamitous events reckoned against us.  The extra Mishnayos, the extra mefareish, the extra five minutes before and/or after a learning session--any added zechus possible is literally a Chesed to all of Klal Yisrael for which one cannot be repaid.  Please consider this plea, and pass it on to others as well. 



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



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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Important Examples of Thought:


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


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


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


Important Examples of Speech:


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


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


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


Important Examples of Action:


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


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


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


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



22 Sivan

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



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



GETTING READY FOR THIS WEEK’S PARASHA:  As we quiver from the details of this week's Parasha, we provide several additional questions, and would very much welcome your responses: 


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


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


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


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


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


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





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


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


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


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


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


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


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





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!





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!



A TIMELY NOTE FOR THE SUMMER MONTHS: 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!





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!



21 Sivan

FROM A READER:  “Regarding last week’s Parasha, Beha’alosecha, Rabbi Menachem Zupnik, Shlita, Rav of Bais Torah U’Tefilah of Passaic, stated that the posuk “V’HaIsh Moshe Anav Me’od MeKol HaAdam” (Bamidbar 12:3)--Moshe was very humble, more than any person on the face of the Earth”, describes the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu in that he did not respond to Miriam’s claim against him. Indeed earlier in the Parasha we find another great example of Moshe Rabbeinu’s humility.  In Bamidbar 10:31, Moshe Rabbeinu begs his father-in-law, Yisro, to travel with B’nei Yisrael, stating that Yisro “will be our eyes.”  Imagine the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu, who, as seen in Bamidbar 9,8, can call upon his Teacher, Hashem Himself, at any moment to answer a question, yet Moshe tells a recent convert whose level of Torah knowledge is incomparably minute in comparison, that he has so much to learn from him!  This is truly a prime example of Pirkei Avos (4:1) of Aizehu Chacham, HaLomed MeKol Adam.”



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



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



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



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



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


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


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



PUTTING CHESED INTO PERSPECTIVE: We conclude our short series from the Sefer Kuntres Chaim V’Chesed by HaRav Kolodetsky, Shlita, of Bnei Brak:




A. One should attempt to provide helpful advice to others--advice that has worked for himself. A bachur once went to a Rav and told him that he did not really have 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. With these words, the Rav attempted to guide the Talmid in Yiras Shomayim. 


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 on the door’. Just as a store owner would not be upset on someone coming to make a purchase or to otherwise bring him wares to sell--so too, should the Gemach Owner 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 just have 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!



20 Sivan

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





A. Today 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.


B. A reader has made us aware of the following: “The 20th of Sivan is 100 days before Rosh Hashana. It is known that 15th day of Av is 45 days before Rosh Hashana, which is alluded in the Posuk “Ve’ata, Mah (45) Hashem Shoel Mimcha”. However, Chazal say, Al Tikra “Mah” elah “Mei’ah” (100), which is a remez to commence preparation for Rosh Hashana on the 20th day of Sivan!”



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




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!



19 Sivan

COMPOUNDED FOR ETERNITY: Last 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!



TANGIBLE EMUNAH:  The Navi (Hosheiah 2:22) brings a touching Pasuk:  “Vieirastich Li BeEmunah 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! 



SEU MAROM: When one leaves Shul (or his/her home) in the morning, it is a time of transition, and especially in the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere a time of r’l potential downfall. We accordingly suggest that as one leaves Shul or his home in the morning, he lift his eyes to the heavens, thanking Hashem for His wonders (as the Pasuk teaches (Yeshaya 40:26): “Seu Marom Eineichem U’re’u Mi Vara Eileh”)--and davening to Hashem that his day is a successful one both spiritually and materially!



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 Toras 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!”



AHAVA RABBA: It is said 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 Ahava Rabba. Let us re-focus and re-energize ourselves on this bracha--if not now--then when?!



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



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




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 passby 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.



THE TORAH’S VIEW OF YOUR SENSES!  We remind everyone of the following powerful and practical guidance 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 all 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!



18 Sivan

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In last 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.  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? 



ON THE 81ST YAHRZEIT OF HARAV YERUCHAM LEVOVITZ, Z’TL:  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’s 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!


UPHILL INSTEAD OF DOWNHILL: 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 the following link -- http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/LoshonHarahChart.pdf -- 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 the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TefillahL%27ShemirasHaLashon.pdf

for your recital at the beginning of the day!



PUTTING CHESED INTO PERSPECTIVE: 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. In Pirkei 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, we once again emphasize that 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.




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)



15 Sivan

THE BIRTH DATE OF YEHUDA:  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!





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. 



ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA:  In this week’s Parasha, Beha’alosecha, 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 suggest the following:


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.


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!



THE CHATZOTZROS: In this week’s Parasha (Bamidbar 10:10) the Torah teaches us that the Kohanim were to sound special Chatzotzros (trumpets) on Shabbos, the Moadim, and Rosh Chodesh.  In describing Shabbos in this Pasuk, the Torah actually uses the phrase “U’Veyom Simchaschem--on the day of your joy.”  Rebbe Tzadok HaKohein explains that the sound of the trumpets, which you might otherwise expect to elicit fear, actually elicit joy based upon our realization that we are leading correct and proper lives in fearing Hashem and performing the Mitzvos.  Moreover, he suggests that the tekios which were once blown on Erev Shabbos (see Shabbos 34, and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Chapter 256) --which today in some communities is replaced to some extent by a loud siren-- may be intended to evoke this very response--entering into Shabbos with Simcha because one fears Hashem and is accordingly leading his life guided by the Torah’s Halachos and Hashkafos.



CIGARS FROM PARIS?  The following meaningful story is brought in Pathways to the Prophets by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita.  A Gerrer Chassid came into the Chiddushei HaRim (the Gerrer Rebbe in pre-war Poland) to tell the Rebbe that business obligations would take him to Paris for a few weeks.  ”I hear that they have extraordinary cigars in Paris,” the Rebbe replied.  ”When you are there, find the best cigars you can, and bring me a box of them.”  The Chassid was puzzled by the bizarre request but bid the Rebbe farewell and set out on his journey.  After all, we don’t question a Rebbe!  Three weeks later, the Chassid returned to the Rebbe with a box of cigars from Belgium.  “Rebbe,” he explained, “I was so busy in Paris that I forgot all about the cigars.  However, I remembered during the train trip on the way home. I stopped in Belgium and picked up a case of fine cigars.  I assure the Rebbe, they are as fine as anything I could have found in Paris!”  The Chiddushei HaRim expressed his disappointment.  “Do you think that I need your cigars?!  It was my hope that during the three weeks you were in Paris, you would be on the lookout for my cigars.  In this way, you would not forget that you have a Rebbe ....”


At the end of this week’s Parasha, we learn the importance of having a Rebbe and teacher to guide one’s life, and of always demonstrating the utmost respect and trust in that Rebbe.  Yehoshua was stunned by the words of Eldad U’Maidad and asked Moshe Rabbeinu to not allow their prophecy to continue.  Chazal derive from here that one’s reverence for his teacher should be as the reverence of Heaven (Avos: 4:15).  In contrast, Miriam at the Parasha’s end did not appear to display this same type of reverence, and was punished in a way which the Torah commands us forever to “Remember what Hashem did to Miriam when He took you out of Mitzrayim.”  This Shabbos, based upon the stark contrast and lesson of the Parasha, we should take the opportunity to strengthen ourselves in the Kavod, in the dignity, and in the reverence that we have for our teachers, our Rabbonim, our Poskim--keeping their guidance and guidelines in our minds even as we go to Paris…or otherwise conduct our regular ordinary and every day activities--in which we so much need to follow their advice, instruction and lessons!



A POTENT LESSON FROM THE PARASHA:  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;

2.  She loved him dearly;

3.  She actually raised him;

4.  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;

5.  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);

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

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

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

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

10.  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 friend 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 undo 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, and on Sunday mornings from 10:30 am till 12:00 noon, EST. 



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



14 Sivan

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#, and then press # again.



BETWEEN SHAVUOS AND ROSH HASHANA: We are in 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!



ON THE YAHRZEIT OF HARAV CHAIM VOLOZHINER: 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 impact 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, the following link http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/SegulahGedolah.pdf

is 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!



IMPORTANT HALACHOS OF TEFILLAH:  We provide the following important points relating to Tefillah, as excerpted from the Mishna Berurah, and the Dirshu commentaries:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



13 Sivan

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



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



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





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


B. One practical, easy and important post-Shavuos recommendation is to think about the Ma’amad Har Sinai --in which we unfathomably ‘heard’ the lightning and ‘saw’ the thunder, the unrelenting Shofar blast, the literal shaking of the hills and mountains, the fearful and wondrous awe, the stillness of creation, the fire pillaring from Har Sinai into the heights of heaven--all so that we would forever realize and appreciate the moment of Hashem revealing Himself to man in this world--and the incomparable gift and inestimable privilege we thereby received forever.  Every morning--no matter how tired we are, how many things we have on our head, how much we have to do in the morning alone, and even if we are terribly late--we must remember that those few short moments of Birchos HaTorah are the moments that we have to testify that we realize that we are a precious and irreplaceable part of the most valuable chain that the world has ever known--conveying Hashem’s personal and direct message as to the purpose of man and the meaning of life.  We owe it to ourselves to treasure these few moments, in great appreciation and thanks, as we visualize the event, and dedicate ourselves to Torah and Mitzvos in the day ahead in a manner befitting the grandeur and glory--and sheer unparalleled importance--of the most precious of heavenly possessions that was gifted to us then--and is gifted to us anew every single day!


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


D.  HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, [Matisyahu Chaim Ben Ettel, may he have a Refuah Sheleimah Bekarov] explains why the particularly moving Niggun for Mussar is different than the tune that we otherwise use when studying.  The Niggun for Mussar is intended to especially penetrate into one’s heart so that the Yiras Shomayim is deeply implanted there.  The Yiras Shomayim generated then serves to open one’s heart to his Torah studies. 


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



AN APPRECIATION OF CHESED:  Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, relates what he believes was the last story he had heard from HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl:  HaRav Berenbaum recalled that when he was a young boy there was a wagon driver who would take passengers and products from city to city and in this way earned his living. He would do Chesed from time to time--taking the destitute who were going in his direction, when there was room to do so. On one such occasion, as he was traveling to another city, he took an indigent person and told him to simply lie down on the shmattas that he was transporting to that city. As he arrived in the inn at the city outskirts, a businessman saw the poor man disembark from on top of the shmattas and asked the wagon driver if the man had paid for his ride. The driver responded “No, I did it as a Chesed. It was really pretty effortless.”  The businessman then asked him whether he could purchase the Mitzvah from him. The driver laughed it off, but the businessman insisted that he was serious, and offered him a pretty sum (perhaps something like 50 rubles) for the Mitzvah. The driver was both surprised and happy with the offer--and accepted it! When he arrived home the next day, he told his wife how he had made a tidy sum-’easy money’--by selling the Mitzvah he had performed in bringing a poor man to the other city. His wife was outraged--”How can you sell a Mitzvah? Are you crazy?! I don’t even know how you can remedy this--I demand that you go to the Rav right now and ask him what to do.” The husband agreed, for, after all, he knew that the Rav was a ‘sensible person’, and his wife would be assuaged. He assuredly related the entire story to the Rav. At the conclusion of the story, the Rav stood up and told him:  “Your act was a heinous one! You were mezalzel in the Mitzvah of Chesed. You must pay ten times the amount you received to Tzedaka as a penalty for your horrible deed!”


Hakhel Note:  We sometimes forget the greatness and inestimable spiritual benefits that we bring onto our guf and neshama by our daily acts of Chesed--acts which may not even cost us much time or money. We should, nevertheless, appreciate them for what they are--Olam Chesed Yibaneh--literally what the world is built on today and every day! Just as one makes it a point to properly daven and study Torah daily, he must likewise make it a point to properly cherish and complete the third leg of our table--Gemilas Chassodim on an unrelenting, constant and consistent daily basis. There is no ‘standardized’ Chesed--everyone has the responsibility and the privilege to personalize his daily meaningful acts to his situation and the circumstances of those with whom he shares his life! Let us not be mezalzel--but be mechabev these great opportunities of life!



12 Sivan

WILL YOU BRING A KARBON TODAY?  If the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt, then one certainly would hope to!  We add, however, that there is still something we can attempt today--even without a Bais HaMikdash standing.  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 167:5) writes as follows:  “It is a Mitzvah to bring salt to the table before one makes Hamotzi, because the table is like a Mizbe’ach and eating is like consuming a Karbon--and the Torah teaches that we should put salt on all of our Karbanos.”  The Mishna Berurah (ibid., seif katan 31) explains that the reason ‘eating is like consuming a Karbon’ is because a person eats to strengthen himself in order to be healthy and strong to serve Hashem.  We can well understand, then, why many have the custom of reciting the words:  “Hineni Rotzeh Le’echol V’Lishtos Kedei She’eheyeh Bari VeChazak LeAvodas Hashem Yisborach--I am about to eat and drink in order to be healthy and strong for the service of Hashem Yisborach.”(See also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 231, Mishna Berurah, seif katan 5 in which this exact nusach is brought)  Hakhel Note:  Remember--Achilah KeKarbon--today and every day!





A.  The Bracha of Ahavas Olam is especially significant in that it movingly begins by describing Hashem’s love for us in giving us the Torah and the Mitzvos.  It continues by us, in turn, expressing our dedication to Torah as we exclaim:  “Ki Heim Chayeinu V’Orech Yameinu U’Vahem Ne’hegeh Yomam Valaylah--for they [Torah and Mitzvos] are our life and length of our days….”  Because of the significance of this Bracha, HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, gives a phrase-by-phrase explanation of it in his Sefer Matnas Chelko.  One important post-Shavuos Kabbalah (bli neder) would be to recite Ahavas Olam with feeling--no matter how tired or rushed one may be.  A Hiddur Mitzvah would certainly be to convince the Ma’ariv Minyan at which he davens at to do likewise--rather than rush through this beautiful bracha to get to Shema.  How many times a day do we have the opportunity to formally declare together with other members of K’lal Yisrael  “Ki Heim Chayeinu”?!


B.  At a Hakhel Shiur,  Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, Shlita, beautifully explained what he believed to be Rebbi Akiva’s greatest legacy to us:  Looking back, what was it that turned around Rebbi Akiva’s life from being an am ha’aretz who ‘wanted to bite Talmidei Chachomim’ to a Talmid Chochom of such massive and world-changing proportions.   Rabbi Rietti teaches that when Rebbi Akiva saw the water dripping on the rock, and the cavity that had been dug by the drips, he came to the great realization that every drop--every single drop--made a perhaps unnoticeable--but real difference.  No drop was insignificant.  Although one could not tell what any particular drop had accomplished, nor the difference between one drop and another--it was clear that without every single drop, the large hole in that mighty rock would not have been carved out.  As a result of what he saw and understood, Chazal teach:  “MiYad Chazar Lilmod Torah--he immediately decided to leave his status as an am ha’aretz and go to study Torah.”  From the powerful sight and through his powerful vision, Rebbi Akiva understood for himself and taught the world forever after that every effort makes a difference--and that $1 million is not a gross number--but one million times one.  While a person in a real depression would say that nothing he ever does makes a difference, that nothing he ever does counts--Rebbi Akiva understood that to be the opposite of the real truth--for it all counts.  One should never, ever give up--for there is no such thing as a wasted smile, a wasted good word, or a wasted effort.  As we take leave of the Sefira period and will soon even conclude the Shivas Yemei Tashlumin after Shavuos--let us remember this great teaching of Rebbi Akiva--and drive ourselves forward with every additional Pasuk, every additional Mishna, every additional Dvar Torah, so that we can reach the depths of the wonderful and powerful natural spring within us--drop by drop by drop! 



MEGILAS RUS--PRACTICAL POINTS AND POINTERS: How can one not be overawed by the tremendous lessons contained in the short Megilah known as Megilas Rus? In only 85 Pesukim, one can glean so many practical and vibrant lessons. We provide below 15 short thoughts. We encourage our readers to make their own list of teachings and share them with us, for there are oh, so many! We note that we read Rus in public on Shavuos after having read Shir HaShirim on Pesach. Perhaps if we can take and apply that which we have learned--we will prevent the need for the next Megilah reading which would have otherwise been Eicha on Tisha B’Av.


1. Why does the Moshiach need to come from two unions which are so similar to Yibum: Yehuda and Tamar beget Peretz and Boaz and Rus beget Oved? HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, brings from the Chasid Ya’avitz that the Geulah will come from simple Chesed performed to family members. When Hashem sees Chesed performed because of one’s feelings of closeness and not necessarily based on another’s merits, Hashem too will provide His Chesed to us not based upon our zechusim--but based upon His feeling of closeness to us. The act of Yibum is the epitome of this kind of familial Chesed---when one knows that the progeny born will be attributed to the deceased, and is accordingly a selfless act of the one performing the Yibum on behalf of a family member.


2. Chazal teach that the name Rus was appropriate, for her descendant would be Dovid HaMelech who would provide so many Shiros V’Sishbachos to Hashem. We see two things. Firstly that one’s purpose in life, which is symbolized by his name can be fulfilled generations later, and secondly that the great accomplishment of Dovid HaMelech was his Shiros V’Sishbachos to Hashem.


3. What a difficult beginning Rus had--her husband passing away; leaving her native land penniless; accompanying an elderly woman who was also penniless and bereft of her family; starting off in a new land taking charity. Yet, there was never any inkling of despair at any point--only courage and determination. All beginnings are difficult. It is the end that counts.


4. Chesed pervades Megilas Rus. All of the Chesed that Rus performed to Na’ami and the Chesed that Na’ami performed towards Rus--directing her to the right husband and ultimately to Moshiach. Then there is the Chesed that Boaz performed to Rus in the course of her gleanings from his field, and directing his workers as to how to deal with her. There is also the Chesed of Rus to Boaz--as Boaz himself states ( 3:10 ): “Heitavt Chasdeich Ha’acharon Min HaRishon Levilti Leches Acharei HaBachurim--in not looking for a younger husband, but in taking him”. In contrast, there is the apparent lack of Chesed shown by Elimelech in leaving the land when the people seem to need him. All of this is codified in Megilas Rus. Perhaps this is to teach us that Chesed is not a social requirement, a social skill or a social ambiance to the Torah Jew, but is very much part of the Torah itself. As we recite in Eishes Chayil--it is Toras Chesed Ahl Leshona.


5. The Megilah spends time to teach us that Bo’az greeted his workers with the words (2:4): “Hashem Imachem”, and that his workers responded: “Yevarechecha Hashem”. We must take the time to bless others. It is not only a Chesed, but also has practical effects in bringing the bracha. Note that both Bo’az and the workers used the name Hashem in their bracha. The Rashbam in last week’s Parasha (on Birkas Kohanim) explains that one should bless another saying: “Hashem should bless you”--recognizing the Source of blessing--within the bracha itself.


6. While the name Rus indicated much about her, Orpah, who decided not to accompany Na’ami seems to have her name based in the name Oref--which means back of the neck. She turned her back on Na’ami. The consequences of what she did were disastrous--not only for herself, but for her descendant, Galyas. Before turning your back on anyone, for any reason--think twice or three times!


7. We know that Na’ami and Rus returned because the famine stopped, and the crops returned to Eretz Yisrael. What caused this to occur? The Targum to Rus emphasizes several times that it was the Tefillos of Bo’az. We see the incredible power of one person’s Tefillos. One person can leave a nation in a time of crisis, and one person can save the nation at the very same time.


8. The Megilah (3:8) records: “Vayehi Bachatzi HaLailah”--Bo’az realized Rus’s presence at midnight. This is identical to the Torah’s description of Makas Bechoros, which was also Vayehi Bachatzi HaLailah. Geulah begins to burgeon at the epitome of night. Let us be especially aware of this in our times--and conduct ourselves accordingly!


9. Upon Rus taking leave of Bo’az, he gives her food for Na’ami--explaining (3:17): “Ahl Tavo’i Reikam Ehl Chamoseich”. Although this was a tremendous moment--Bo’az was about to be involved in the geulah of his uncle, Elimelech’s Nachalah and the Yibum-like marriage of Rus--he did not forget about the needs of others.


10. We learn that Tov or Ploni Almoni told Bo’az that he could not marry Rus (4:6): “Pen Ashchis Es Nachalasi--lest I destroy my inheritance”. The Targum explains that he was worried that taking on a second wife would cause marital strife with his first wife. Rashi explains that he was unsure whether one could marry an Amonis. Either way, he lost one of the opportunities not only of a lifetime, but of the world’s entire existence. When making important decisions, one cannot rely on his own thinking and rationales--but must consult Da’as Torah. It is life-changing--and life-giving!


11. The Pasuk (4:13) records: “Vayitein Hashem Lah Heirayon--and Hashem gave her [Rus] conception”. In the Sefer Let There Be Rain, the story is brought of a young man who had a baby girl and went to tell HaRav Shach, Z’tl. HaRav Shach asked him if he had made a Kiddush and he responded that he had not yet thought about it. HaRav Shach told him that if a person had to wait eight years before having a child--he surely would have thought about it. All the more so should a person who did not have to wait, think about a Kiddush--giving appropriate prompt thanks and recognition to Hashem!


12. We are familiar with the naming of the baby with the words (4:14): “Veyikarei Shemo (or Shemah) B’Yisrael”. This does not simply mean that his or her name will be ‘called’--but is a bracha that the baby become great--as the Targum (ibid.) puts it--may his name become great-may he be known as one of the Tzaddikei Yisrael. Let us keep this in mind when responding Amen at a bris--or to the Mishabeirach upon the naming of a baby girl.


13. The baby born to Rus was named Oved (4:17). This would appear to be a surprise--after all was he not to be named after Rus’s first husband-Machalon? The Targum (4:21) explains that the word Oved means that he served Hashem with a full heart. For one to be called after the name of the deceased is not ultimately what is significant--it is to fulfill one’s purpose in life, which is to be an Oved.


14. The Megilah refers to Bo’az as a “Gibor Chayil” (2:1) and to Rus as an “Eishes Chayil” (3:11). The common denominator is, of course, Chayil--that they served Hashem with all of their strength and all of their capabilities. The effect of doing so not only turns them into great people-- but brings greatness to future generations and to all of K’lal Yisrael.


15. Na’ami provides us with a tremendous example of the Koach HaTeshuvah. From the lowest depths of an impoverished and embittered widow in a foreign land--she is brought to the heights of “Yulad Ben L’Na’ami”. The progenitor of Moshiach is named after her! Hakhel Note: Let us each have a Hirhur Teshuvah--and act upon it!



11 Sivan

REMINDER! Let us not forget to redeem any Yizkor pledges that were made, before thoughts of summer (and summer spending) come upon us. We especially note that in Pirkei Avos (6:9), Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma reminded us all--Li HaKesef VeLi Hazahav--the silver and gold is Hashem’s…. By giving Tzedaka when we are supposed to--we are truly fulfilling our agency. For those who Boruch Hashem did not need to recite Yizkor--they may give Tzedaka for that alone! For an easy fulfillment, visit www.yadeliezer.org. In the comment section, if you so choose, you can write: For Amalei Torah--for those who toil in Torah!



SHIVAS YEMAI TASHLUMIN! We continue today enveloped in the Shivas Yemai Tashlumin--the Seven Days immediately succeeding Shavuos during which Korbonos which were not offered on Shavuos could still be brought before Hashem.  We must not lose sight of the fact that this period is especially charged now, as well.  Just because the Bais HaMikdash is not here, does not mean that the extra-special level of holiness imbued within these Days is not tangible and real.  If someone is in the hospital, it does not mean that the world does not continue to exist around him--his sense of reality is only temporarily distorted.  So too with us, while our immediate situation in Galus may not be normal, the sanctity of the Days we are in--in the true world around us--must be especially appreciated.  To mark these days, many communities do not recite Tachanun.  Whether or not one is a member of these communities (and perhaps especially if one is), one should elevate these days by choosing one item in Torah or Avoda and making it your week’s special project.



DID YOU KNOW I STOPPED SMOKING?  Most of us are familiar with what HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, did when he learned that smoking was dangerous to one’s health.  He immediately stopped completely, although he had previously been a heavy smoker.  In order to assure that he would remain ‘smoke-free’, whenever he had an urge for a cigarette, he would approach someone and tell him:  “Do you know that I have stopped smoking?”  Saving himself the embarrassment in then lighting up a cigarette would overcome his urge to do so.  Here is our post-Shavuos application of this lesson.  Many of us felt inspired over Shavuos to improve or heighten our Torah studies or Torah observance in some way.  How can we help ourselves along after the initial inspiration and intention to improve?  One way may be to tell others--not out of haughtiness--but simply to help yourself stay committed bli neder to: [learn one Mishna a day until Rosh Hashana] [review the previous day’s daf once before learning the new daf] [be Ma’avir Sidra no later than Shabbos morning and preferably on or by Friday] [fill in here what you were inspired to do or what is appropriate for you].  In this way, not only will you have activated yourself by verbalizing a commitment to others--but you will also inspire them as well! Hakhel Note--remember the Mishnayos Bikkurim suggestion!



OBSERVATION!   In last week’s Parasha we find Mitzvah 364, the Mitzvah of Vidui--verbally confessing to Hashem that one has sinned. The Chidushei Harim points out that the Mitzvah of Vidui is found in the Parasha in the course of discussing a stolen item (Vehisvadu Es Chatasam--Bamidbar 5:7) because whatever the sin might be--when one sins he is stealing--stealing Hashem’s aspirations of him, and stealing from his own potential!  The Sefer HaChinuch writes that Vidui is a separate requirement in the Teshuvah process because through orally admitting his sin, one demonstrates that he believes that Hashem knows all of his thoughts and actions and one cannot hide from Hashem, or even pretend that Hashem does not see him. Additionally, when one verbally expresses his sin and his remorse, it will aid him to not return to his previous misdeeds. We are now less than four months…to Yom Kippur! If we know of a sin that we have committed, why wait until then, when we can purify ourselves today. Most certainly, whenever we realize we have sinned (whether it be Bein Adam LaMakom or Bein Adam LeChaveiro)--the order of the day…and the order of the hour should be the immediate Vidui!



AMOR LAHEM: The Midrash Tanchuma (Bamidbar 6:23) explains that the word “Amor” in the Parasha of Birchas Kohanim is written with a Vav, when it could be written and pronounced without the Vav as well. The reason? It is to teach us that whenever we give a bracha to another person it should be maleh--a full and complete bracha. Let us take the lesson!



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


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





A.  Something to keep in mind:  The Bartenura (Rus 3:13) writes that in every generation there is a person born from the zera of Yehuda who is ra’ui--perfectly fit--to be the Moshiach for K’lal Yisrael! 


Hakhel Note: The new outstanding Sefer on Tefillah VaTispallel Chana brings an essential thought from the Toldos Yaakov Yosef, a student of the Ba’al Shem Tov: The Ba’al Shem Tov related to The Toldos that the reason for Moshiach’s delay was revealed to him Min HaShomayim--and it is that K’lal Yisrael does not have sufficient Kavannah in Ahava Rabba when pleading to Hashem to bestow Torah knowledge upon us (V’Sein BiLibeinu Binah Lehavin U’Likhaskil Lishmo’ah Lilmod U’Lelameid…). Additional Note: This would appear to be relatively easy for us to do--bli neder let us take it up as a commitment!


B.  In his Sefer Matnas Chelko, HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, points out that there are certain Mitzvos which appear to be absolutely counter-intuitive.  For instance, “Lo Sikom VeLo Sitor--do not take vengeance and do not harbor a grudge.”  Why not--this person did something so dastardly to me, it is natural and normal for me to dislike him?!  Similarly, “Es Kaspecha Lo Sitein B’Neshech--do not take ribis”.  Why not, it is a simple and reasonable business technique--I rent cars, I rent boats, I rent houses…I rent money?!  HaRav Matisyahu explains that this is why the other nations of the world who were offered the Torah rejected it--when they heard that there were Mitzvos which went against their nature, they simply stated it could not be accepted.  We, Bnei Yisrael, on the other hand, exclaimed:  “Na’aseh V’Nishmah”--putting the word ‘we will do’ ahead of the word ‘we will hear’.  With this, we expressed our understanding that Hashem Who was giving us the Torah would also give us the strength to fulfill its words.  We did not act hastily at all--as the other nations of the world claimed we did.  Rather, we acted with the understanding that through our acceptance of the Torah, Hashem would give us the fortitude and ability to overcome our frail human instincts and humanity and abide by the Torah’s divine and eternal teachings and guidelines.  The strength for us not to hate, not to take revenge, not to take interest…would come from none other than Hashem Himself--imbued directly to us and instilled directly within us.  The Torah is the Gezeiras HaMelech--and Hashem Himself imparts us with the ability to adhere to and fulfill the very words that the Malochim fought for to remain in the Heavens--and that Moshe Rabbeinu struggled to be brought down to us--to elevate us back up to the Heavens!


C. Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita, points out that at the end of Shemone Esrei we recite:  “Pisach Libi BeSorasecha--open my heart to Torah”.  What do we mean by this phrase?  Everyone’s heart ‘opens’ from time-to-time by different events in life, or perhaps by a piece of music that he has heard or work of art that he has seen.  We ask Hashem that our heart--which represents the core of our existence--be opened ‘for Torah’.  Indeed, we make this request three times a day--at the end of each Shemone Esrei--because we do not want to lose sight of the importance of our heart opening for this most premiere reason.  We need Hashem’s help here to make sure that we do not become distracted by the wiles of the Yetzer Hara as he waves Olam Hazeh in our path to eternity.  Each time we open our heart to Torah--we open it forever and ever!


D. Torah is compared to both gold (Hanechemadim Mipaz) and to pearls (Yikara Hi MiPeninim). The Sefer Otzros HaTorah explains the need for both comparisons. Gold is valuable even in incomplete form, such as in gold dust. Pearls are, however, valuable only as finished products. When one studies Torah, whether or not he completes a topic or fully understands it--he nevertheless experiences its preciousness as one appreciates gold even when in particle form. When one does complete a sugyah, a mesechta, or even a thought in Torah, he experiences the unique and special beauty of the finished pearl. When one does so many times--he can rejoice in the many ‘pearl necklaces’ that he has created!



8 Sivan

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



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



A REFINED UNDERTAKING!  Sometimes when removing one Sefer another Sefer which is adjacent to or on top of it gently drops because it is no longer being held or supported in the same way.  Perhaps one can hold on to the second Sefer to ensure that it is properly placed or moved into its new position--rather than letting it fall or be moved on its own....



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


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





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


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


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


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


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



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



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


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


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


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


Every day, then, when reciting “Asher Bochar Banu” in the morning, we should awaken ourselves from our slumber and put our heart and feeling into visualizing and appreciating the stature, the legacy, and the enormity of the relationship of Hashem, the Torah and Bnei Yisrael, as we re-experience Sinai!



WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES: We begin a discussion on practical situations which could involve the Melacha, of Lisha, or combining substances to form a new mass:


A. One may mix large pieces of potato with mayonnaise to make potato salad on Shabbos, as this is not considered to be a new combined mass--because the potatoes were and remain ‘Chatichos Gedolos’, separate and identifiable, and accordingly there is no new combination of any foods. 


B. One cannot mix peanut butter and jelly together into a peanut butter and jelly mass.  One may, however, spread peanut butter on piece of bread, spread jelly on top of that, and then put another piece of bread on top to make a sandwich, as one is not mixing the two items together but is simply putting one item on top of the other. 


C. Any item which melts or dissolves into the other is not considered a new combination.  Thus, sugar dissolving in a liquid or a pill dissolving in water does not create a Lisha issue.


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


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


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


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


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





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


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


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





A.     The Mishna in Sotah (37B) provides a list of differences between the Birkas Kohanim as we know it today and the Birkas Kohanim in its pristine form in the Bais Hamikdash:


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


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


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


 Thus, even what we can do now will simply be performed on a more sublime and supernal level when the Bais Hamikdash returns.  We have much to look forward to!


B. The first word of Birkas Kohanim is Yevarechecha, which Rashi (quoting the Midrash) explains as referring to monetary blessing. As a primary matter, we must remember the Source of even all of our physical and worldly blessings. This very same bracha ends with VeYishmirecha--it is one thing to have a bracha--it is another thing to have it safeguarded and preserved. We must remember that this too comes from Hashem--and only from Hashem!


C. Finally, Rashi emphasizes that the word Emor--tell the Kohanim to give the bracha is spelled maleih--with a vav. This teaches that the bracha should not be given quickly and in haste--but B’Kavannah U’V’Lev Shaleim--with feeling and a complete heart. Oh, how we should remember these words when we give a bracha!



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


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