Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
JUNE 2018 DAILY EMAIL ARCHIVE
The heart sears. The neshama is near empty. Another Shiva Asar B’Tammuz in
Galus Mar. Galus Mar is not a trite term but a bitterness of eternal
proportion. Agony of all kinds, spiritual, emotional, physical of the
individual and of the tzibbur. Left in an incomplete world like a store open
for business without its most important products. So who is responsible for
all this? Not me, no not me, not me. It must be the forefathers, the frei,
the insincere. I am perfect, almost. But the Navi does not let me go--Hineni
Nishpat Osach Ahl Omreich Lo Chotosi! It is in the singular-- IT IS ME! I
cannot point to him or her, she or them. I realize, I understand, (even) I
can be better. I am mekabel, and, after thought, bli neder, will personally
do the following___________-- getting myself and the world along with me
closer to the perfection of Geulah!
Please remember to give Tzedaka on the Ta’anis for as Chazal teach ‘Igra
DeTa’anisa Tzidkasa’. If you need an address--we provide
yadeliezer.org --which has been helping
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Add the Navi’s teaching that “Veshaveha BiTzedaka--those who return
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on this very significant day!
NOTE FOR SHIVA ASAR B’TAMMUZ:
We typically remember that the first frightful event that happened on Shivah
Assar B’Tammuz was Moshe Rabbeinu’s breaking of the Shnei Luchos which
contained the Aseres Hadibros, as a result of the sin of the Golden Calf.
If only the people had shown enough faith to wait one more day for their
venerable and venerated leader, their happiness and dancing would have
resulted in the greatest Simchas Torah ever(!). Instead, we still feel the
pain from the torturous event.
fact, there was one prior significant event on this fateful day which
preceded the breaking of the Luchos. The Luach Dovor B’Ito writes
that the Yona, the dove sent by Noach out of the Ark, could not find a place
to land and so returned to the Teiva (Bereishis 8:8). The obvious question
is, why would Noach bother sending the dove out without any indication
whatsoever (from Hashem directly, or otherwise) that the waters had
receded? Was he taking a stab in the dark? We may posit that Noach sensed
or knew that the day was right for renewal and joy. The fact that the dove
returned indicated to him that it was he and his family, representing all of
mankind, who were the ones not ready for this renewal. The same lesson
carried through on this date to the Golden Calf, and thereafter the
subsequent tragedies on this day in which our people’s spiritual growth was
stunted rather than cultivated.
Three Weeks in front of us should not be viewed as a burden to be overcome,
evidenced by our expression to others to have ‘an easy time of it’. Instead,
it should be a meaningful and important time in which we hope, pray and take
action. Depression and despair should not be the hallmark of these days,
for they may evidence a breach or lack of faith which is the antithesis of
spiritual growth. We should learn from the gift of gravity that Hashem has
given us to always keep both feet firmly on the ground despite the forces
working against us.
the custom of some to recite “Tikun Chatzos” during the Three Week period
(see Rabbi Webster’s Halacha discussion below)--some even in the middle of
the day. We may not as yet be on this level. However, we provide a
suggestion that we have made in the past--If we can conclude the Yehi Ratzon
at the end of Shemone Esrei with Kavannah during these three weeks, three
times a day, we will have sincerely davened for the Beis Hamikdash and our
redemption more than 60 times during this short period! Rather than
wallowing in self-pity, we will demonstrate a renewal of our faith and have
beautifully affirmed our supreme goals.
merit of our prayers, may we see with our own eyes the ultimate redemption
at the beginning of the short period of special, focused thought that lies
HALACHOS OF FASTING:
HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan--Sha’arei Mishpat, and
author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel
Halacha Shiur in Boro Park. We provide below a review by Rabbi Webster of
the Halachos of fasting. As with all Halachos, in case of one’s particular
circumstances, he/she should consult with his/her own Rav or Posek:
tragedies occurred on Shivah Assar B’Tammuz (Ta’anis 26b, Rambam Hilchos
The walls of the second Bais Hamikdash were breached by the Roman
general Titus. (The Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anis 4:5) maintains that the
breaching of the walls during the first Bais Hamikdash occurred on the
seventeenth of Tammuz. The Talmud Bavli (Ta’anis 29a) however, maintains
that the breach of the walls of the first Bais Hamikdash occurred on the
ninth of Tammuz).
two daily sacrifices (Korban Tamid) ceased during the first Bais Hamikdash
because the Kohanim were unable to find a lamb to offer as a Korban.
[Hakhel Note: It is no coincidence, as it never is, that we learn of the
Korban Tamid in this week’s Parasha].
The first set of Luchos was broken when Moshe Rabbeinu descended Har Sinai.
Prior to the destruction of the second Bais Hamikdash, Apostomus, a Roman
officer, r’l burned the Torah.
idol was r’l erected in the Bais Hamikdash (Some say it was erected
by Apostomus, others say it was Menashe, the idolatrous king of Yehudah
during the first Bais Hamikdash ) (Ta’anis 28b, Rambam 5:2, Talmud
Yerushalmi Ta’anis 4:5, Rashi Ta’anis 26b).
these five tragedies occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz, Chazal
designated this day as a fast (Rambam, SA 649-1). The purpose of the
fast day is to stir our hearts and do Teshuva-repentance for our own deeds
and those of our forefathers (MB 549-1, KSA 121-1, Rabbi Chaim Brisker
ZT”L see TV Vol. 3-154, Moadim B’Halacha). One should not make a mistake
and think that by just refraining from eating and drinking one fulfills this
requirement and the purpose of the day. Just the opposite, one must search
one’s soul and repent for any sins that one may have committed, if one just
sits around and wastes the day without contemplating one’s deeds one has not
fulfilled the purpose of the fast. Similarly, one should not go on a
pleasure trip on a fast day (CA 133-1, MB-1, KSA 121-1, Sefer Erech
Apayim). In a situation that one does not need to fast (e.g. a sick
person), one nevertheless is required to do Teshuva (TV Vol. 3-154).
did not prohibit all types of pleasures on this fast day as they did on
Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur. On this fast, only eating and drinking were
prohibited. Washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes and marital relations
are permitted (SA 550-2, K’sav Sofer OC Vol. 100, see Likutai Hoaros on the
K’sav Sofer). Some are stringent upon themselves in the other prohibitions,
and only allow wearing leather shoes (MA 550-3 in the name of the Shelah, CA
133-7, MB-10), however, many do not follow this view. Washing for medical
purposes is permitted according to all opinions, even with hot water (MB
550-6, KH-13). Although washing with cold water is permitted and therefore
one is permitted to go swimming on this fast day, some Poskim are of the
opinion that one should not go swimming on this day (BM Vol. 3-77). Other
Poskim permit one to go into the water to cool oneself off if it is a hot
day or for health reasons (Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 1. 363 (1), BM). Some are
stringent and do not eat meat or drink wine before or after a fast (Marshal
92, ER 558-4, KH 564-12).
fast days other than Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, an ill person should not
fast even if the illness is not life-threatening (MB 550-4, KH -7). One
should consult with his Rav in all situations.
Poskim are of the opinion that a pregnant woman or nursing mother should
fast. If she is suffering or is very weak, even if there is no danger to her
life, she should not fast (SA 554-5, MB-5, YO Vol. 7-49). Other Poskim
disagree, and rule that a pregnant woman or nursing mothers are not required
to fast (Nitai Gavriel 2:6). The Steipler Rav ZT”L held that if she is a
little weak she does not need to fast on this day (Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 2
that are not required to fast should not indulge in sweets and candies. Even
young children above the age of six years old, if they understand the
meaning of the fast, should not be given chocolate and cake, but only that
which is necessary for their sustenance (MA 550-2, DT 550, MB-5, Nitai
Gavriel 2-4, KH 550-9, BM Vol. 8-98). If a child takes items by himself,
then one is not required to stop him (BM).
permitted to brush one’s teeth with a dry toothbrush on all minor fast days
except Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av. If this causes discomfort, it is
permissible to brush one’s teeth with toothpaste and water, (except for Yom
Kippur and Tisha B’Av). However, one must be careful not to lean one’s head
back so as not to swallow any water (MB 567-11, AH-3, BM Vol. 8-94, Minchas
Yitzchok Vol. 2-109). One is permitted to swallow one’s saliva (MB 567-13,
see CA 132-22, Bais Meir, ME 612-7).
permissible for an ill person to take medication on minor fast days. A pill
or bitter-tasting liquid medicine should be taken without water, if
possible. If one needs water, only a small amount should be taken. Some add
salt or other substance to the water to make it somewhat bitter (Halachos
Ketanos Vol. 2-97, KH 554-34, Igros Moshe OC Vol. 3-91, TE Vol. 10-25 Chap.
22, Yalkut Yoseph, Daas Torah 567-1).
made a mistake and recited a bracha and then remembered that it is a fast
day, one should not taste the food but rather say “Boruch Shem K’vod
Malchuso Leolam Vaed” (ST 568-1, MH 7-80,TV Vol. 1-329, YO Vol. 2 YD-5).
made a mistake and ate something on the fast day, one should nevertheless
continue to fast. One is not obligated to fast another day (Matai Ephraim
602-23, Maharsham Vol. 4-20, MB 549-3 & 548-8, KH 549:7, YD, TV Vol. 1-328).
One should make the special effort not to get angry on a fast day (ER
should not be intimidated by the enormity of one’s sin, committed either at
one time or over time. The Sha’arei Teshuvah writes that the enormity
of the sin is matched by, and demonstrates, the enormous tzedaka of Hashem
in forgiving him for it.
CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
continue our annual review of Summer Shabbos Shailos, with the Teshuvos of
Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, to us:
CHILDREN ON SHABBOS
QUESTION: May children
play with toys that make
noise on Shabbos?
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.
under this age are
permitted to play with
toys (e.g., 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
QUESTION: Is a child
permitted to play in a sandbox on
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
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?
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?
children may ride on bicycles, tricycles, Big Wheels
and the like, however, older children
should be discouraged from doing so on
QUESTION: Are children
under Bar or Bas Mitzvah permitted to
play ball on Shabbos in an
area containing an Eruv? What about Ping
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
QUESTION: If a ball gets stuck in the tree on
Shabbos, may one knock it out of the tree with a broom or other
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?
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
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?
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
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?
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?
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
POINTS AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA,
A. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, observes that Bilam is more
severely criticized than Balak. Why is this so?
After all, was it not Balak who started the whole
process? Was he not the one who instigated Bilam, inducing him to come, and
moving him from one mizbe’ach to another? Yet, Balak
counts Rus as one of his descendants, while Bilam’s name lives in infamy
forever. HaRav Kanievsky explains that Balak acted
in fear--having observed first-hand what happened as a result of the wars of
Bnei Yisrael against Sichon and Og. Bilam, on the other hand, was a
non-party to all of this, and joined in only because of his Middos
Mushchasos--his destructive or rotten Middos. HaRav Kanievsky notes
that all of those listed in the Mishna in Sanhedrin (90A) as not having a
portion in the World to Come, lost their portion because of Middos
Mushchasos. With this, we can understand the great contrast provided in
the Mishna in Avos (5:22--studied this week, the week of
Parashas Balak!) between the students of
Avraham Avinu and the students of Bilam HaRasha. The differences: Ayin
Tova vs. Ayin Ra’ah, Ruach Nemucha vs. Ruach Gevoha, and Nefesh Shefalah vs.
Nefesh Rechava should therefore be especially focused upon this week.
Chazal are incredibly telling us that above and beyond their differences in
Torah, Tefillah, and Emunah, what rests at the heart of the distinction
between Avraham Avinu and his future generations, and Bilam HaRasha and his
followers are (as explained by Rabbeinu Ovadia M’Bartenura):
a. Ayin Tova-- being satisfied with what one has and not
desiring the money or possessions of others. Example: You do not need
a summer home, and if you have one, you do not need his or her
b. Ruach Nemucha--humble spirit. According to the Sefer
Sha’arei Teshuva, this includes a person not being
Machazik Tova to himself, and not seeking Kavod for the honorable things
that he does or accomplishes.
c. Nefesh Shefalah--deemphasizing the desires of this
world. Indeed, there is a story of one of the Gedolim, who tasted ice
cream once and was so impressed with its good taste that he elected never to
eat it again.
B. “Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov Mishkenosecha Yisrael”. We
recite this Pasuk upon entering Shul every morning. The Chasam Sofer notes
that there are two kinds of unacceptable behavior when it comes to one’s
relationship with his Bais HaKnesses or Bais HaMidrash. Some are hesitant
to go to Shul, claiming that they can learn better at home, or accomplish
more in their office. To them, the Shul is only an Ohel. To another who
frequents the Shul or Bais Midrash, the Shul may appear to lose a tad of its
sanctity, as he talks loudly across the Shul, walks around with food or
drink in his hand, and even engages in friendly conversations on all kinds
of topics here and there. Thus, he slightly abrogates the Mikdash
nature of the Makom Kadosh, although leaving it as a Mishkan--the
place that he frequents. It is for this reason, the Chasam Sofer continues,
that we immediately recite the next Pasuk (from Tehillim 5:8) “Va’ani
BeRov Chasdecha Avoh Vaisecha--Hashem, I know that it is only because of
Your great Chesed that I can enter”; moreover, “Eshtachaveh El Heichal
Kadshecha BeYirasecha--I bow towards the Holy Heichal in fear of You.”
With these important words, we demonstrate our appreciation, and our
inestimable value of the Makom that we are about to enter.
Hakhel Note: As we have mentioned in the past, although Mah Tovu is
only recited when one enters Shul in the morning, many recite the Pasuk “Va’ani
BeRov Chasdecha” (in a bowed position) when they enter Shul and other
times during the day as well. We can now understand why!
C. Another aspect of Mah Tovu is Bilam’s special awareness on how
Klal Yisrael treats the right of privacy of others--as he noticed how the
entrance ways to each person’s tent was carefully positioned not to face
another’s entrance. There are many ways that we can inculcate this into our
daily lives: When walking by a house with a door open or the shades up, one
should not look in simply based upon the theory that they have left their
door open or windows uncovered--so they must not care so much about it.
Indeed, one should be careful not to do so even absentmindedly. As noted in
the past, in our day and age, we may also include peeking in to someone’s
car as they are driving (even if they have pulled up next to you at a
light). We can also add to the list listening in to the conversation
between two people which is obviously between them--even if they have not
asked you to leave so as not to shame you. Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, in
his Sefer Love Your Neighbor, adds: Because of our obligation to
respect the privacy of others, Rabbeinu Gershom placed a Chairem on reading
someone else’s mail without permission (Be’er HaGolah, Yorah Deiah
334:123). Even parents should not read the mail of their children without
permission (see Rav Chaim Palaji, p. 18). We update this a bit by adding
finally that Mah Tovu also reminds us not to look at the emails of
others without their permission--and all the more so when you have received
an email for someone in error. Curiosity was never claimed as one of the
great Jewish traits, and we should not start the Minhag now.
provide the following essential teaching from Growth Through Torah,
by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita (pages 350-352). Although the general
concept described below may be familiar to us all, we note the important
conclusion--which is there for all of us to put into daily practice:
“Chazal (Makos 10b) take note that Hashem initially told Bila’am not to go
with Balak’s messengers, who requested that he accompany them to curse Bnei
Yisrael. Hashem later told Bila’am that: ‘If these people came to call
you, arise, go with them.’
From here Chazal derive the principle, “In the way a man wishes to go, he is
a person wants to do evil, he will be able to do so. Of course, he will have
to pay a heavy price for the successful completion of his evil wishes.
Conversely, someone who wishes to study Torah and fulfill Hashem’s
commandments will be successful. For this, he will be greatly rewarded. When
you wish to travel along the proper path in life, you will be Divinely
assisted. Nothing stands in a way of a strong will. There are many things
that you may wish for half-heartedly, but when you strongly set your mind on
a particular goal, you will have the strength and abilities necessary to
meet that goal. What a person truly wants in life, he will usually obtain (Alei
Shur, pages 120-121).
Rabbi Avigdor Miller (Rejoice O Youth, page 1) comments that Hashem guides
that person who seeks wisdom, and the amount of guidance is in proportion to
the earnestness of the seeker.
When you feel a strong need for something, you will not feel the
difficulties which you encounter insurmountable, even though you might have
to work very hard to accomplish your goals. On the other hand, when you are
not strongly motivated to do something, you will procrastinate and it will
take you a very long time. Moreover, you will not do a very good job (Chochmah
U’Mussar, Vol.2, p.180).
is up to you to intensify your will to do good. The stronger your will, the
more you will actually accomplish. Lack of spiritual accomplishment does not
come from lack of ability, but from lack of will. Work on developing a
strong desire for spiritual growth and you will be amazed at the positive
changes you will experience.
Rabbi Ben Zion Yadler used to quote the Alter of Navardok, ‘There is no such
thing as ‘I cannot.’ What happens is that a person is missing the will and
then he claims that he cannot’ (Betuv Yerushalayim, p.116).”
Note: Yes you can!
THE PARASHA’S ENDING:
The Parasha this week ends with the sad event of Bnei Yisrael
falling prey to the Bnos Midyan and their deceit. As with all sin--we must
get to its root, its source. What caused this sin? How did the Bnei
Yisrael get involved with the Bnos Midyan at this late stage of their
encampment in the desert, after so many years of extraordinarily miraculous
living in the Midbar--as they were soon to approach their destination--Eretz
Yisrael? Rabbi Shmuel Smith, Shlita, brings the words of the Pasuk (Bamidbar
25:1) “Veyeishev Yisrael BaShitim…--and Bnei Yisrael camped in Shitim”.
This can be interpreted to mean, Chazal teach, that they went out into the
foreign environment (Shatu) of the gentile nations to see how they
lived. Rather than appreciating the extremely important lessons that Hashem
taught them--how they could be successful and live an extraordinary
existence if they remained separate and distinct--they ventured out to see
how the people around them lived--what these people did and how they did
it. The tragedy that resulted was transgression compounded by
transgression--as they first sinned with the daughters of Midyan and went on
to worship Avodah Zara. Incredibly, what Bilam could not accomplish with
his expertise and mastery at sorcery and cursing--the people brought
upon themselves by leaving the protection and confines of their
Torah environment. As we reel from the ruling of the Supreme Court of the
United States, requiring its residents (as preeminent representatives of the
western world) to legalize immorality, and combine this with the summer
months (in the northern hemisphere), in which we are subjected to terribly
inappropriate settings, surroundings and atmospheres--we must take the
lesson from the Bnos Midyan event--and lean much to the side of Pinchas Ben
Elazar--who went far out of his way to combat what had quickly become the
Sometimes a little bit of something is good. Here, however, the
Vilna Gaon (Even Shelaima 1:7) in his great wisdom notes: “A man
should never say, ‘I will follow my physical lust and inquisitive desires a
little and afterwards will withdraw from them.’ For as a man begins to draw
toward them he becomes busy and forfeits his eternal life completely. For
it is very difficult to withdraw from them. Even the man who fears Hashem,
who is versed in the Torah, and observes the mitzvos, when he draws toward
lust, he will lose all.”
To reiterate the practical teaching HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Z’tl, to
those working in the city: “To the extent possible, put your head down, and
walk in a determined manner to your destination.” Similarly, for women,
extreme caution must be exercised as to where one goes, what one sees, and
how one dresses. One should not allow himself the excuse that what is around
us is the “norm” way of the world, and that we cannot get around it. It
cannot be a ‘norm’--if it is not acceptable. Instead, what is--or should
be--considered normal is the way Hashem wants us to conduct ourselves.
Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, reiterates this with the following essential
teaching: A Kiddush Hashem is not doing what people like or think is
right--but what Hashem says is right.
The task is a difficult one--both from the Yetzer Hara within, and
the Yetzer Hara without. Chazal teach that according to the effort is the
reward (Avos: 5:26). We are in Galus, a bitter Galus. Rabbi Smith concludes
that if we really want to leave this Galus and achieve Geula, we must
demonstrate that we are different, and that we conduct ourselves by a
different set of rules.
It is “hand-to-hand combat” out there for each and every one of
us--but what greater victory can there be than each of us doing more than
our part in bringing the Geulah!
Additional Note: On Motz’ai Shabbos, we recite the words of
Havdala:”HaMavdil Bein Kodesh Lechol, Bein Ohr Lachosech Bein Yisrael
La’Amim Bein Yom HaShevii LeSheishes Yemei HaMa’aseh--Who separated the
holy and the profane, the light from the darkness, Yisrael from the other
nations...”. Rabbi Smith said that he heard from a Rav that these words
teach us that the same Havdala---the same separation--that exists between
the holy and the profane, between the light and the darkness--is the
separation that exists between K’lal Yisrael and the nations. It is our
mandate and our duty--to live it on a daily basis--until the Geulah Sheleima
may it come speedily and in our day--today!
REMEMBER--SEVER PANIM YAFOS!
the Three Week period, one of a person’s great accomplishments would
be true improvement in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. As the Chofetz Chaim
outlines at the outset of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, the Second Beis
HaMikdash was destroyed because of the aveira of Sinas Chinam/Lashon Hara.
HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim, writes that
Sever Panim Yafos--meeting and reacting to a person with thought, care and
pleasantness would be a great accomplishment resulting from the Three Week
period. Even when not meeting someone in person, HaRav Friedlander
continues, one should talk over the phone in a way in which the person on
the other end feels the smile. To aid in the sometimes difficult task, no
matter how busy or preoccupied you may be, we once again provide a check-off
calendar for the Three Weeks, starting Sunday. If you feel that the constant
obligation to do so is too difficult, may we suggest that you undertake this
goal consciously, one or two or three times a day, or perhaps with one or
two or three specific people a day (could be family members or difficult
people to work or deal with!). We wish everyone Hatzlacha in this endeavor,
and may the Geulah Sheleimah be before us all!
PRACTICAL NOTES IN PREPARATION FOR SUNDAY’S TA’ANIS:
provide the following points and pointers regarding Sunday’s Ta’anis, as
culled from the Mishna Berurah (Dirshu Edition). Of course, one should
consult with his own Rav or Posek on any question of Halacha that he may
a person wants to eat or drink by waking up early before the Ta’anis, he
must so verbally state before going to sleep. It does not help for a person
to make this verbal statement one time (such as at the beginning of the
year)--and for it to work for many fasts. If a person recites Hamapil and
then remembered that he did not so state, the Ohr L’Tzion rules that
if it is necessary one may be lenient and so state even after reciting
Hamapil (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 564, Dirshu Note 4).
reason that the Shaliach Tzibbur recites Aneinu between the brachos of Go’el
Yisrael and Refa’einu is because of the Pesukim in Tehillim which are
juxtaposed: “…Hashem Tzuri V’Go’ali” (end of Kepitel 19) and “Ya’anecha
Hashem B’Yom Tzara…” (beginning of Kepitel 20) (ibid. 566 Mishna Berurah
seif katan 1).
the Shaliach Tzibbur forgot to say Aneinu between the brachos of Go’el
Yisrael and Refa’einu, then he should recite Aneinu in Shema Koleinu (as an
individual does at Mincha). If he did not remember to recite it then
either--even if he did not yet begin Retzei, then he should not go back to
recite it, but instead says it after completing Shemone Esrei and does not
conclude with a bracha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 565, Mishna Berurah seif
katan 3, Dirshu Note 4).
an individual reciting Shemone Esrei mistakenly concludes Aneinu with the
bracha of Baruch Atta Hashem Ha’oneh B’Eis Tzara rather than
Baruch Atta Hashem Shomei’ah Tefillah--HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach,
Z’tl, and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky rule that he must recite the bracha of Shema
Koleinu again. HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Z’tl, rules that he does not (ibid.
Dirshu Note 5).
reason that we lein Parashas Vayichal on a Ta’anis is because the
Inyan HaYom is to plead for Selicha and Rachamim, and in this Parasha
Moshe Rabbeinu asked for Selicha and Rachamim on behalf of all of K’lal
Yisrael. Additionally, we show our hope that just as Hashem forgave us for
the Cheit Ha’eigel and gave us the Luchos Sheniyos--so too do we hope that
Hashem will forgive us for our sins and return the Beis HaMikdash to us! We
then repeat the leining again at Mincha because it is a special Eis Ratzon
(ibid. 566, Dirshu Note 1).
the course of the leining, the Ba’al Kriya stops and the Tzibbur begins to
recite the 13 Middos, beginning with the words “Hashem, Hashem”,
which is in the middle of a Pasuk. How can we start in the middle of a Pasuk?
The Sha’arei Ephraim answers that we may do so because we are not
reciting it as a Pasuk but as a Techina U’bakasha. The Chazzan does
not, however, recite the words with the Tzibbur--but instead waits for the
Tzibbur to finish, and then recites the Pesukim. This is because he is in
the middle of leining--and it is inappropriate for him to make a bakasha at
this time (ibid. Dirshu Notes 4 and 5).
Shulchan Aruch expressly writes that one who is engaged in a Ta’anis should
not conduct himself in a leisurely way, nor be lightheaded--rather, he
should be solemn and serious, as the Pasuk says: “Mah Yisonein Adam Chai”.
The Mishna Berurah adds that especially on a Ta’anis when one may be more on
edge--he should be sure not to get angry, and if he must do business he
should be sure to do so with faith and serenity--so that he does not come to
anger at all (ibid. 568:12, Mishna Berurah seif katan 50).
H. In all events, as the Mishna Berurah expressly instructs: “Ve’ein
HaTa’anis Elah Hachana L’Teshuvah--a Ta’anis is only a preparation for
Teshuvah” (ibid. 549 Mishna Berurah seif katan 1). Let us remember this--let
us prepare ourselves!
TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT:
Chofetz Chaim writes that the first place to start with Teshuvah is with
dibbur--as the Kohen Gadol on Yom Hakippurim demonstrates by bringing the
Ketores (which Chazal teach is mechaper on Lashon Hara b’chashai) upon
entering the Kodesh HaKedoshim!
THE DAN L’CHAF ZECHUS IMPERATIVE:
Rashi in this week’s Parasha (Bamidbar 24:1) gives us a very important
lesson: Bilam wanted so badly to curse K’lal Yisrael, but was unable to. He
realized, however, that there was one way in which he could ‘sneak-in’ a
curse. That was “Azkir Avonoseihem V’Haklalah Ahl Hazkaras Avonoseihem
Tachul--I will mention their sins, and the curse will be able to affect
them through the portal of their mentioned sins.” There is a great lesson
here. When we judge another unfavorably, viewing that which he has done in a
negative light, we are allowing r’l for Klalah to make its way in. As
a zechus for all of K’lal Yisrael we should focus strongly and well on being
Dan L’Chaf Zechus in all situations--from the average Jew through the
Talmid Chochom and Tzaddik.
THE GREATEST TEACHER:
Although each of us should have his Rosh Yeshiva, Rav, Posek, Rebbe, whom he
closely follows and whose guidance he adheres to, Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita,
points out in the name of Gedolim that our first and most prominent teacher
is Avraham Avinu himself--as the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:22) teaches:
“Whoever has the following three traits is among the disciples of Avraham
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 the teachings of our first and foremost Rebbi!
At a Hakhel Yarchei Kallah, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, pointed out that
a striking fault of Bilam was his shocking inability to be moved by the
events around him. Bilam had so many indications that Hashem was displeased
with his intentions, yet in one way or another Bilam continued to resist and
ignore the lessons. His failure to be moved, to be inspired by the messages
around him to modify his intentions and goals--ultimately resulted in his
death at the hands of Pinchos. Rabbi Reisman called this a Lev Ha’even--a
stone heart, which becomes a person’s own self-imposed punishment upon
himself. There are times every day, Rabbi Reisman explains, which a person
should utilize to assist himself and be inspired to modify his thinking,
change his behavior--and do what is right under the circumstances.
Indeed, Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Shlita, in his Shiur on Keeping the Faith
in Troubled Times, brings the ma’aseh of Rebbi Chananyah Ben Tradyon who
asked Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma whether he would be a Ben Olam Haba.
Rebbi Yosi Ben Kisma asked Rebbi Chananyah to describe something he had done
so that Rebbi Yosi could make the determination. Rebbi Chananyah told him
that he had once mistakenly mixed Purim Tzedakah money together with his
other money and as a result he gave the whole amount to Tzedakah. Rebbi Yosi
thereupon responded that he would be a Ben Olam Haba. Let us take a step
back for a moment, Rabbi Frand suggests. What was the greatness in Rabbi
Chananyah’s deed that earned him great, everlasting reward? Rabbi Frand
suggests that it was not simply giving a nice amount of Tzedaka one time,
and the avoidance of any doubt as to how much he should give. Rather, it was
Rebbi Chananyah determining that the monies got mixed together for a reason,
and that Min HaShomayim he was being told that he has to give it all
away to Tzedakah. It was this sensitivity, this understanding that
demonstrated the personality of Rebbi Chananyah that made him a Ben Olam
Haba. Rabbi Frand notes therefore that we too must look at daily events and
understand their messages--we must be sensitive, open and ready to respond
to the tap on the shoulder.
As a primary recent example of this, Rabbi Frand cites the Chofetz Chaim
who, when hearing thunder would exclaim: “Vus Vill De Tatteh--why did this
happen?” The Chofetz Chaim realized that thunder is not simply a ‘natural’
phenomenon, but that if he heard it--there was a reason and purpose for
Likewise, Rabbi Frand learned from HaRav Elyah Svei, Z’tl, that this
reaction need not be limited to the great Tzaddikim of the world--but to the
average man as well. HaRav Svei recalled that when he was a young boy in the
Lithuanian town of Poltava he walked into the Shul and heard Tehillim being
recited with tremendous fervor and cries. Stunned, he asked one of the
participants what had happened. A person told him that they heard that there
was an earthquake somewhere on the other side of the world and that people
were killed. They knew this meant that the Ribono Shel Olam was upset and
that they needed to do Teshuvah and sincerely plead with Hashem for
On the other side of the spectrum, Rabbi Frand added, was the famous
encounter between HaRav Chatzkel Levenstein, Z’tl, and the chiloni cab
driver. The cab driver, seeing that HaRav Chatzkel was obviously a chashuve
Rav asked him if he could tell him a story. HaRav Chatzkel [realizing that
everything was B’Hashgacha] responded that he surely could. The driver said
that after he finished the Israeli army he backpacked with two of his
friends across Africa. At one point he heard shrieks in the middle of the
night at a close distance which woke him up. As it turned out--one of his
friends was being squeezed to death by a python. No amount of beating would
help--so one of the three recalled the Pasuk of Shema Yisrael, which they
all exclaimed together. The python promptly released his hold and scurried
off into the night. “My friend then took upon himself to become religious
upon his return to Eretz Yisrael, which he did--and he now lives a fully
religious life.” HaRav Chatzkel turned to the driver and said: “…and what
about you?” The driver said: “Kevodo Aino Maivin--Rabbi--you
understand the story. The snake was wrapped around him--not around me!”
We have to make sure that we do not make the grievous mistake of this
foolish cab driver, as world shaking events unfold around us on a daily
basis. For those who do not know, residents all the way in Ramat Beit
Shemesh were forced into bomb shelters yesterday. The situation cries out
for our action--not only the action of those living in Sderot, Ashdod, Be’er
Sheva, motorists in Yehudah and Shomron or Yerushalayim. In Kelm, the
students were urged not to have Kelbene Hispa’alus--a calf’s
reaction. What is that? It is that of a young cow eating grass in the
field that hears a tremendous roar above, lifts up its head for a moment to
see a jet streaking by and then quickly lowers its head to continue eating
React we must in our thoughts, in our Tefillos, in our Tehillim and in our
MORE ESSENTIAL ADVICE FROM THE
CHOFETZ CHAIM IN BEIN ADAM L’CHAVEIRO:
a buyer knows that the article he wishes to buy has increased in price and
the seller is not aware of this, the buyer must advise him of the increase
in price (Likutei Amarim, Chapter 2).
the seller knows of any blemish in the material, he must so advise the
buyer, whatever his nationality (ibid.).
cheat somebody in weights, measures, or count is prohibited, in respect of
anyone even if it is less than the share ona’ah (1/6th) (ibid.).
one wants to hire a worker or service provider, he must set a price with the
worker up-front, for if one doesn’t, it is very likely that he will end up
being termed a gazlan or an osheik sechar sachir according to Torah law.
One hires many workers in the course of a year, and unless he maintains this
as a hard and fast rule, one will ultimately end up with a disgruntled party
who will either not be Mochel him B’Lev Shaleim or will actually end up in a
disagreement or fight with him. Even if one shortchanges another by one
peruta he is called a gazlan according to the Torah. The
only real alternative if one has failed to predetermine the cost, is to pay
whatever the worker asks for, which is also very difficult. The Chofetz
Chaim adds that if the employer is considered a Talmid Chochom, then the
terrible aveira of Chillul Hashem could be added to the mix, with the worker
claiming that “a Talmid Chochom stole from me.” Remember--set the price
in advance! (Sefas Tamim, Chapter 5)
Monetary matters must be kept in a proper perspective. Just as one would
not put a piece of meat into his mouth unless he knew it was Kosher, so too,
should it be with money--not bringing money into his possession or keeping
it with him unless he knows that it truly belongs to him. In this regard,
the Chofetz Chaim writes that anyone who is a “Yerei Elokim L’Amito”
and wants to be involved in business must learn Choshen Mishpat, Cheilek
Sheini, which contains many of the practical Halachos of business. Before
beginning to learn the Halachos, the Chofetz Chaim continues, one should be
guided by the rule that anything that one doesn’t want others to do to him
(i.e., something which is ‘not right’ or ‘appears unfair’, etc.) he should
be sure not to do to others (Likutei Amarim, Chapter 2).
It is fascinating to note that Chazal teach that when one uses his money
wisely--acting with justice and giving charity, he will bring about the
Geulah which we all so long for--as the Posuk teaches “Tzion B’Mishpat
Tipadeh V’Shaveah B’Tzedaka” (Shabbos 139B). Let’s use our money
properly and wisely--and bring about the Geulah!
TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT:
There are many levels of Teshuvah,
in accordance with which one draws near to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. One may
understand it in the same manner as a garment that needs washing. A little
washing will suffice to remove the surface dirt, and with more and more
washing will it become cleaner, until it becomes entirely clean.
YOU WILL AFFECT HIS FUTURE! The Chofetz Chaim writes that
if one listens to Lashon Hara--even with the specific intent not to believe
it--he is Nosein Yad L’Poshim--he is spreading intentional
sin. Why? Because if a person speaking sees that his Lashon Hara is being
listened to today, then he will try again tomorrow--with you or
someone else. On the other hand, one who responds by saying: “I do not
want to listen to this” or “This is not for me” will discourage the
speaker from speaking Lashon Hara in the future--to you and to others.
Thus, by stopping the wrongdoer--you are not only protecting yourself with
the proper response, the Chofetz Chaim teaches, but you may be helping the
person who started to speak improperly--for the rest of his life--and all
to your credit! Hakhel Note: We remind our readers that if one has
heard Lashon Hara before he had the chance to stop it, or before he realized
what was coming--he still has a way out of the issur. One should
immediately search for a zechus regarding the one spoken about--which
has the effect of undoing the Lashon Hara that was theretofore
spoken. This is one of those rare instances--like Teshuvah--in which one
can actually undo that which may have been done. Remember to use
it--and to tell others about it!
ANA HASHEM HATZLICHA NAH:
The following essential teaching is excerpted from Growth Through
Tehillim by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, on the Pasuk of Ana Hashem
Hoshiah Nah, Ana Hashem Hatzlicha Nah--please Hashem save now, please
Hashem bring success now (Tehillim 118:25):
“The two halves of this
verse are separated in Hallel, and are usually said with great fervor. Let
these two phrases be on your lips whenever you need Hashem’s help. When you
are faced with a difficulty of any kind, call upon Hashem to save you. Even
when you need fellow human beings to come to your rescue, ask Hashem to send
the right help at the right time. A fire engine or ambulance needs to arrive
at the correct destination safely, to be of help. If you ever need their
services, say this short prayer. If you need to ask someone for financial
assistance, say this short prayer. If you are in a highly challenging
situation, remember to ask Hashem for help. You might have an emergency that
needs immediate attention. The words of this verse take only a brief moment
to say with feeling. Call upon the Omniscient and Omnipotent One to save
When you repeat the second
half of this verse--Ana Hashem Hatzlicha Nah, you are asking Hashem
to make your efforts successful. We may say what we think needs to be said
for success. We may take the actions we think need to be taken for success.
We may make great plans and have ambitious goals. We may mentally visualize
ourselves being successful. We may use affirmations and auto-suggestion. We
may learn from the most successful role models that there are. We may hire a
personal coach. We may network and gain rapport with all the right people.
We may read the best-selling books on success, and listen to the latest
audio programs. We may attend success seminars. Ultimately, however, whether
or not we will be successful will depend on the Almighty’s Will. If He
wishes, we can be successful even if we do not do everything that success
experts advise us to do, and if Hashem does not want us to succeed, we will
not--even if we make all the proper efforts. We need to do our part, and we
should take the advice of experts and learn from those who have been
successful--but uppermost in our minds should be our connection with our
Father, our King, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Repeat this verse
whenever you need success: “Please, Hashem, bring success now.” Together
with whatever else you are doing, you are adding the most important
ingredient for success. Throughout your life you will strive for major
goals. Your entire future may seem to depend on whether or not you will be
successful. Ask Hashem for success. In addition, there are relatively minor
goals where you will want to be successful. Even a relatively mundane thing
like going to the store to buy groceries, needs success. The same applies to
many things that we often take for granted: Making a routine telephone call.
Asking someone for directions to get somewhere. Buying or selling any item.
Requesting a small loan. Arriving on time for an appointment-- even getting
the appointment in the first place. The impact of many of these things
might not be great, but your success in your endeavors will enhance your
life, while not being successful could cause distress. When you realize that
your success is absolutely dependent on the will of Hashem and you connect
with Him by asking for His blessing of success, the spiritual impact of what
you are doing increases the value of your success. You are already
successful, regardless of how the specific details ultimately unfold!
I was talking with someone who tended to panic easily. When faced with
he generally lost all sense of perspective. He viewed molehills
as soon as anything would go wrong,
he immediately pictured the worst possible outcome. His extreme anxiety
prevented him from thinking clearly.
When he was calm,
he was able to come up with highly creative solutions.
But his intense stress created such static,
that his thinking process shut down. Anxiety blocked his ability to use his
and he certainly could not think creatively - even obvious
solutions were overlooked. I suggested that he pray to Hashem for Divine
assistance. Simply knowing that he had
the number for emergency help”
was likely to help him become calmer. Then he would be able to think more
clearly. Even if he himself couldn’t
think of what to do, Hashem has many ways to assist him.
am in my panic state,
I cannot pray,”
he said. I recommended that he recite this verse,
as his prayer. I told him he should practice saying it, when he is
he could visualize himself being in his panic state.
as he was aware that he was experiencing panic,
he should repeat this verse
a number of
and then he should see himself becoming calm.
many times. Every time you visualize this,
you are making these pictures stronger and stronger in your brain’s
With enough practice, eventually - without any conscious effort:
on your part-- you will automatically start asking Hashem to save you and
calmer state and with the power of prayer, you will find solutions faster
than ever before.
This has worked for many,
is very likely that it will work for you.
or not he persisted until
can choose to put this into practice.
All those who have done
so - since
first time these words were
Note: Let us review this teaching a second and a third time--and strive to
implement it in the most practical ways in our daily lives!
ESSENTIAL ADVICE FROM THE CHOFETZ
CHAIM IN BEIN ADAM L’CHAVEIRO:
Set forth below, we provide some essential points of advice from the Chofetz
Chaim in areas of Bein Adam LeChaveiro:
A. The more one supports a Torah Scholar, the greater one’s portion in the
reward of his Torah is. One must be careful to always give the support
BeSever Panim Yafos--with the same feeling as one gives to one’s partner in
business who has made many great deals on his behalf with the money that has
been given to him (Sefer Ahavas Chesed, Chapter 20).
B. One should recognize that Dibur, the power of speech, is the ‘Chaviv
MeKol Chaviv’--so precious because with this power one completes his
Tzuras HaAdam. Therefore, just as one who has much silver, gold, and jewels
carefully secures and protects it, so too, should one carefully guard his
mouth and that which comes out of it (Sefer Shemiras HaLashon 2:2).
C. Only after Hashem made man out of dirt from the ground did he instill in
his nostrils a Nishmas Chaim (“Vayipach Beapav Nishmas Chaim”)--unlike all
the other animals who were created with their body and life spirit
simultaneously. There is a great lesson in this for us. We too, must take
the Afar Min HaAdama, the Gashmiyus of this world--and instill into
it a Ruach Chaim through our thoughts and words. Our life’s goal is to make
the physical spiritual. Look what we can do with our mouths--we can say
about a piece of wood, a stone, livestock or anything else that it is
“Kodesh LaHashem”, and with these words alone, one who violates the Kedusha
created would violate the laws of Me’ilah and could even c’v be liable for
Kareis (such as by shechting a Korban outside the Bais HaMikdash). One does
not, however, have to be in or near the Bais HaMikdash to apply this concept
of Vayipach Beapav Nishmas Chaim. When one, for instance, has the proper
thoughts and intents before eating--to be healthy in Hashem’s service and to
fulfill one’s role and potential in this world; when one has the proper
thoughts when engaged in his business or profession--so that he earn an
honest living without taking that which belongs to others, etc., then one
has breathed the breath of life into his daily activities. There is a great
difference between a person who works hard or toils with a Cheshbon
in mind throughout the day, and a person who merely goes from one daily task
to the next until he puts his body into a bed and goes to sleep. Before
beginning any activity--no matter how mundane--think of the Nishmas
Chaim that you intend to breathe into it! (Sefer Toras HaBayis,
TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT:
As the Mishna Berurah writes (Orach Chaim 115, seif katan 1) when reciting
Attah Chonen L’Adam Da’as, have in mind your Tefillah to Hashem that
He give you the seichel--limos b’ra’ah v’livchor b’tov--to
despise evil and choose good.
VISITING ERETZ YISRAEL?
If one intends to visit Eretz Yisrael this summer and davens Nusach Ashkenaz
in Chutz La’aretz--does he recite Morid HaTal in Shemone Esrei like the Bnei
Eretz Yisrael--and does he skip Boruch Hashem LeOlam Amein V’Amein at
At a Shiur in Flatbush, a Rav who realized that most, if not all, in his
audience were in some way utilizing the Internet and its services advised
that while the Internet can be an extremely valuable and even at times
necessary tool, one should be careful that his Internet usage not become
Intercheit. When does it become Intercheit? This is a fine line
which one can easily step over as the use of this amazing technology becomes
abuse--either because of the content, the addiction, or simply the wasted
time in searching, reading and rereading, and of the misinformation that one
may come across. One of the great rules of the Chofetz Chaim’s in the area
of Shemiras HaLashon was--if one is unsure whether to say something or not--the
proper choice is not to say it, for which one would not be faulted in
the next world. Applying this thought, may we suggest that before going on
to the Internet, or moving from one site to another, one ask himself the
question: “Is this Internet or Intercheit?”, and if one is not sure….
FROM A READER:
Sefer Shulchan Gavo’ah brings from the Chofetz Chaim that one who
recites the bracha of Asher Yatzar with Kavannah has the ability to quash
many sicknesses. A Talmid Chochom of a previous generation relates that he
once visited the Chofetz Chaim and noted that when the Chofetz Chaim recited
Asher Yatzar he did so from a Siddur, moving his finger from word to word as
he recited it.” Hakhel Note: If a Gadol HaDor can do this--perhaps we can
try to do so as well!
AN OUTSTANDING QUOTE (IN
HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, is quoted as follows: “Zerizus is Nisht in
De Fis, Zerizus is in De Kup--the middah of alacrity is not based on the
reaction of one’s feet--but on that of one’s mind.” HaRav Ezriel Erlanger,
Shlita, explains that Zerizus is really an attitude--it is
a mental alertness to accomplish one’s mission and goals expediently and
efficiently. Hakhel Note: Everyone can work on Zerizus--it is an
HYDRATING! Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of
Brachos, advises as follows: Drinking water to hydrate
creates questions as to whether brachos are applicable. The best advice is
to drink juice and recite a bracha rishona and achrona. A better suggestion
from a practical as well as halacha standpoint is for one to drink his
favorite flavored sport drink (e.g., Gatorade) with electrolytes before a
fast. It will hydrate, and there will not be any
bracha shailos as a bracha rishona and achrona will definitely be required.
ON NOT PAYING WORKERS ON TIME:
A. An employer who entirely refuses to pay, or deducts even one perutah (the
smallest coin of value) from the money he owes his workers, is considered a
thief and is invalid to testify in court; In doing so, the employer violates
five Torah prohibitions and one positive commandment.
B. When hiring a worker, one should set a price before the worker begins the
job. Otherwise, the worker might finish the job and demand a price higher
than the employer is willing to pay. The employer will then face a difficult
choice between risking cheating his worker, who does not wholeheartedly
agree to compromise, or paying whatever a worker asks.
C. A Torah scholar should certainly be careful to set a price with his
workers, since a chillul Hashem could arise if there is a debate about
[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]
THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC:
Chaim was at the wheel and
Yisrael was his passenger. They sped along the highway paying no attention
to the speed limit. Yisrael peeked over at the speedometer and said, “Chaim
we’re hitting 90. Better slow down!” But Chaim wasn’t concerned. “I’m going
with the flow of traffic,” he replied. “As long as everyone else is going
90, I won’t get stopped.” Moments later, Chaim noticed a police car
closing in on him. He pulled over, and waited anxiously as the officer
approached. “Do you know you were going 91 miles an hour?” The policeman
asked him. “I’m sorry, Officer.” Chaim replied. “I wasn’t watching the
speedometer. I was just going with the flow of traffic.” The policeman
sympathetically answered, “Yeah, that happens, but you were still speeding.”
The ticket for going 27 miles an hour over the limit was a whopper. Chaim
felt persecuted, but he had no real defense. This story precisely
illustrates what happens when we’re in a group of people who are engaged in
Lashon Hara. Even if we’re aware that we’re doing something wrong, we hope
that we won’t be deemed blameworthy. Why should we be expected to be better
than everyone around us? And if all these other nice, well-meaning people
don’t feel constrained, maybe the conversation isn’t Lashon Hara after all!
But just as there’s no law on the books allowing people to speed even if
everyone else is, neither does the Torah make such an allowance for Lashon
Hara. Those around us may give us a challenge, but they don’t give us
justification.” [Excerpted from Master Your Words Master Your Life,
page 55 (Artscroll, A Project of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation)]
TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT: Spend the rest of the day consciously
trying not to violate tzararnu--causing pain to others.
According to the daughter of HaRav Elchanan Wasserman, Z’tl, H’yd, he was
killed Ahl Kiddush Hashem on either the 12th or 13th
of Tammuz in 5701 (1941). HaRav Elchanan teaches that the words “Nachamu
Nachamu Ami” refer to a double nechama--the first nachamu
for the disasters and suffering experienced by the world at large that we
live through and experience together with them, and a second nachamu
for the punishment meted out directly against us. Let us daven to Hashem
that He provide the double nechama that we all need without
the need of any further reminders, tribulations or harm.
WONDERFUL TEACHING FROM RABBEINU YONAH:
advantage accruing to one who breaks a physical desire is that if at a later
time his Yetzer Hara urges upon him the commission of a wicked deed or
transgression, he will reasonably think to himself: ‘I did not grant my
desire for what is permitted; how, then, could I stretch forth my hand for
what is forbidden?!’” (Sefer Sha’arei Teshuvah 1:32)
PEARL 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
[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]
WITHIN 30 DAYS:
following is excerpted from the foreword by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita
(Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Ettel L’Refuah Sheleimah), to the Sefer Yearning
with Fire by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita:
among us mourns for Yerushalayim? Who among us appreciates what we are
missing? Who among us pleads with Hashem for a rebuilt Yerushalayim because
he feels an aching need for it? Who among us exclaims in complete
sincerity, “If I forget you, O Yerushalayim, may my right hand forget its
power”? The Yerushalayim for which we long so desperately and whose loss we
have mourned for thousands of years - it is not the land and the buildings
of Yerushalayim that we miss. It is the supreme connection with Hashem that
Yerushalayim represents. Recreating Yerushalayim in our imaginations as a
conduit for our prayers is the best available to us right now, but it is no
comparison to a rebuilt Yerushalayim, crowned with a shining Temple in which
the Divine Presence will dwell forever. Only when we appreciate what
Yerushalayim represents and what we have lost can we grieve over its
destruction….Deep in our hearts, we must recreate the exalted idea of
Yerushalayim, of unity among all Jews in the quest for ever greater
closeness to Hashem. If only we can do this, Hashem may just decide to let
us see Yerushalayim rebuilt speedily in our days!”
Note: Chazal teach that within thirty days of a Yom Tov, we are to begin
learning about that Yom Tov. As we know, Tisha B’Av is referred to as a ‘Mo’ed’--and
it would behoove us to begin thinking the thoughts during these thirty
advance days of Yerushalayim and the need for our Geulah. In his masterful
work, Yearning with Fire, Rabbi Kleinman explains how one can do his
part in fulfillment and accomplishment of Tzipisah LiShuah. This
clear and movingly written Sefer is divided into 5-minute a day segments, to
study over an 89 day period. If one starts today, he will finish
approximately on Yom Kippur. Hopefully our Geulah will have taken place
well before then--while one is in the process of longing for it! In all
events--after 120 years one of the questions a person is asked is ‘Tzipisah
LiShuah--did you truly anticipate the redemption?’ If one has read the
Sefer, he certainly has the beginnings of a good answer…and if one applies
what he learned from the Sefer--he will have even a better answer.
KNOCK AT THE DOOR:
HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl was well known for the famous Mashal of a
very ill person in the home for whom the doctor had been summoned. Every
time there was a knock at the door, every time the phone or doorbell rang,
the family members jumped—was it the doctor?! Even though it turned out to
be a well wishing neighbor, a repairman, or someone else, the family was
courteous and did not despair—the doctor would still come with the next
knock—and would come in time, for he had to, they knew it because they
believed it. This, HaRav Levenstein taught, should be our anticipation for
Moshiach--even though the knocks on the door until today have not been what
we have been waiting for--the real knock will most certainly come--and
hopefully at the earliest possible next moment. The Six-Day War and no
Moshiach, the Yom Kippur War and no Moshiach, the Lebanese War and no
Moshiach, the Gaza War and no Moshiach--and now a new Gaza War is before
us--is this it?!
very well known that the Brisker Rav was heard to say the three-word
Pasuk---LiShuasecha Kivisi Hashem (Bereishis 49:18) …For Your
salvation do I long—several times throughout the day. It is no coincidence
(as it never is) that this Pasuk is placed in the Siddur at the end of the
13 Ani Ma’amins that we recite daily.
know that the redemption will come—this is part of world history,
established by Hashem at the time of the world’s creation. Our thoughts and
our Tefillos should be permeated by a sincere and unrelenting want and
desire that we ourselves be zocheh to see it—”Bechayechon U’Vyomeichon”—in
your lifetimes, and in your days. We owe it to ourselves and to our destiny
to be able to answer the Question: “Tzipisa LiYeshua?” with a clear
and truthful--better yet--a resounding and resourceful: “Yes –LiShuasecha
Note: We don’t know when the knock will be the real one. B’EH if we are at
that point--here is our reminder as to the four brachos that (it is said in
the name of HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl) are said upon the arrival of
(i) Baruch Chacham Harazim (over the 600,000 that will be present);
(ii) Shechalak Meichachmaso LiReiav (over the Moshiach as Gadol HaDor); (iii)
Shechalak MiKevodo LiReiav (over the Moshiach as king); and (iv) Shehechiyanu (over
reaching the Moshiach’s arrival). We note that according to HaRav Chaim
Kanievsky, Shlita, the bracha of Shehechiyanu over the arrival of
Moshiach is mei’ikar hadin.
FOUR IMPORTANT POINTS ON OUR
A. Regarding the Posuuk Va’ani Berov Chasdecha…Eshtachaveh El Heichal
Kadshecha, a reader pointed out that the Radak on this Posuk (Tehillim
5:8) writes that the term Heichal Kadshecha refers to the Heichal of
the Bais HaMikdash, “for when one bows towards Hashem he should envision the
Bais HaMikdash in front of him and bow to Hashem in front of it (!).”
B. The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 61:14) writes that when reciting
the first Posuk of Shema, one should stop in between Hashem and Elokeinu,
and then again between Elokeinu and the second mention of Hashem so that
one understands the Posuk to mean “Hear (Understand) Yisrael that
Hashem Who Is Elokeinu He Is the One and Only Hashem. One
should then pause for a moment before reciting Boruch Shem, because one’s
Ikar Kabalas Ohl Malchus Shomayim is in this first Posuk of Shema.
C. The Mishna (Brachos 34B) relates that Rebbi Chanina Ben Dosa could tell
whether his particular Tefillah was going to be accepted or not. The Gemara
explains that it was the FIRST bracha--the bracha of Avos--that is
determinative. If this bracha was recited well and without disturbance or
difficulty, and he felt that the bracha flowed from his heart, then he took
this as a sign that his Tefillah was acceptable and wanted. If, however,
the first Bracha did not go well, with the words not coming forth smoothly
and other thoughts causing him tirda, then he knew that the remainder
of his Tefillah was going to be problematic and c’v unanswered. We
believe that there is a great lesson here for each and every one of us. It
is extremely important that we focus on the First Bracha of Shemone Esrei,
putting in our strong efforts to make it Kavannah-filled and successful. If
we do so, then B’EH, it will be a Siman Tov for the rest of our Shemone
Esrei! Hakhel note:
D. Chazal (ibid.) conclude that a person should not Daven in a room unless
it has windows. This is based on the Posuk in Sefer Doniyel, which
specifically states that “Windows were open in his attic” as he davened
towards Yerushalayim. Rashi explains that the windows are essential, for a
person looks up towards Heaven and humbles himself, which should greatly
assist his Kavanna in Tefillah. This serves as a lesson to us--we should
lift up our eyes to the Heavens, recognizing not just our humanity and
humility--but Hashem’s vastness and greatness!
TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT: Stop and recite the Pasuk Shivisi Hashem
L’Negdi Samid at least two times today, attempting to feel Hashem’s
NINTH DAY OF TAMMUZ:
Today is the ninth day of Tammuz. According to the Pesukim in Navi (Melachim
II 25:3, Yirmiyah 39:2) today is the day that Nevuchadnetzar’s army, which
had been besieging Yerushalayim, actually breached its walls. King
Tzidkiyahu and his Anshei Chayil fled from Yerushalayim that night, and were
captured escaping through a cave in the Plains of Yericho. Accordingly,
today was a day of fasting during the 70 years of Churban Bayis Rishon.
Because the walls of the Second Beis HaMikdash were breached on the 17th of
Tammuz, we have fasted on that day since the Churban Bayis Sheni. The
Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anis 4:5) records that it was actually on the 17th of
Tammuz that the walls were breached in the first Beis HaMikdash, as well,
but the people were so confused and perplexed--there was such upheaval--that
the populace mistook the day for the 9th of Tammuz, and accordingly the
Pesukim reflected it that way for posterity, as well. Undoubtedly, if the
people believed it was the 9th, and if the Pesukim in fact specifically
refer to the 9th, the force and influence of the 17th must rest in and with
the 9th, as well.
posit that a day which has destruction inherent within it also has the
concomitant power of building and healing contained within it. The greatest
example is the “Moed” of Tisha B’Av itself--which in the time of the
Meraglim could have been--and ultimately and soon will be--a time of great
celebration. Even though we will not be fasting today, we can certainly
find it within ourselves to pray for the building of the Beis HaMikdash, and
act in a manner which demonstrates that we truly desire its rebuilding. In
this regard, we provide the following thought:
teach that “Pischu Li Pehsach…”--open for Me an opening the size of
the point of a needle, and I will open for you an opening which is the size
of the Ulam’s opening in the Beis HaMikdash (the Ulam’s opening was 40 Amos,
or at least 60 feet, tall and 20 Amos, or at least 30 feet, wide). The
Kotzker Rebbe comments as follows: Hashem asks of a man to open his heart
to the extent of a needle’s point. However, small as this may be, it must
still be a needle’s point--needle-sharp--piercing through the material in
its entirety. Whatever Teshuva we do must pierce through the very insides
of our being--it must penetrate through and through. Hashem, in turn, will
help us, so that our Teshuva will become more profound--to the point of an
Ulam! We add simply that the opening of the Ulam is not only the largest
opening that we can think of--but it is also the largest opening of the Beis
HaMikdash. Through sincere Teshuva--we will see the opening of the Ulam in
the Beis HaMikdash itself! (The Kotzker Rebbe’s teaching is brought down in
the Sefer VSheeNonTom, by Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Z’tl).
CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
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?
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?
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?
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
QUESTION: If my husband goes to the early minyan can I still do
Melacha? If so, until when?
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?
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
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?
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!
POINTS AND POINTERS ON THIS WEEK’S PARASHA, PARASHAS CHUKAS:
A. At the outset of this week’s Parasha, the Torah writes “Zos Chukas
HaTorah Asher Tzivah Hashem…this is the law of the Torah which Hashem
has commanded,”--and then the Torah adds, “Laymor, to say.” The
Chasam Sofer teaches that there is a remarkable lesson here. The chok--the
decree--of the Torah is Laymor--to say it, repeat it, tell it
over. Whatever Hashem commands, Laymor, say it, tell it, and
proclaim it to others. We are taught to not sit quietly at home and worry
only about our own personal spiritual elevation--but instead to aid and
guide those who transgress, and to assist others in coming closer to the
words of Hashem.
Rabbi Elias Schwartz, Z’tl, 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:
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 learn “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!
Today’s Teshuvah Moment Is: Find three good things about the next person
that you meet.
FROM THE LUACH BNEI YAAKOV:
“Today is 30 days before Tisha B’Av. The general principle is that we begin
to ask and learn about a Chag 30 days in advance. What should we do in
preparation for Tisha B’Av--should it be Hilchos Ta’anis, the laws of the
Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av--or Hilchos Yom Tov as Tisha B’Av is to be a day
of Sason and Simcha? The most appropriate suggestion would appear to be--to
learn Hilchos Teshuvah, which is applicable in either event, and most
certainly something that we can benefit from over the next 30 days!” [Quoted
in the Luach Davar B’Ito]
that the summer is very
us in the Northern
Hemisphere, we provide
the following Shailos and
Teshuvos are questions that
asked Rabbi Yisroel
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.
SHAILOS PART 2
Calling Someone Else’s Spouse by
Their First Name
QUESTION: We have all been in the same
bungalow colony for the last ten years. Is there anything wrong with
referring to somebody else’s spouse on a first name basis?
way the question is worded, there is an implication that something is not
correct about calling somebody’s spouse by his or
her first name if you have only known them for eight or nine years--but that
ten years is different, and at that point, a first-name basis would be
permissible. However, the opposite is true. The longer one knows a person
of the opposite gender, the less likely you should call him or her by
his or her first name. There is more danger in such
situations when you become very familiar with
another person’s spouse. Tznius is something that has to be
learned. The best way is to promote an elevated level of tznius in
the relaxed, summer setting, whether in the bungalow
colony or elsewhere. During the weekdays, when women are alone in the
country, they should still not go out to the swimming pool from their
bungalow without the proper outerwear attire. Tznius should be an
important issue at all times. A person should use chachma and
seichel and not put themselves into potentially harmful
situations. We live in a world where
everyone else considers normal those activities that we
recognize as to’aivah (abominations). Therefore, you have to be
careful that you behave and talk in a manner that reflects tznius and
self-control. These tiny breaches if not controlled can be the openings for
Use of One Sink for Both Milk and
QUESTION: My kitchen in the bungalow has only one sink. In the
past I used a separate rack in the sink for milk and
a second rack for meat. Is there anything else I need to do since I wash my
dishes with hot water?
there is absolutely something that you can and must do. Throw out the racks
and get large dish pans (shisselach). Rabbosai, racks are not
a good system. Whenever someone tries to use racks, there is cutlery (i.e.
forks and knives) that slip through the holes in the racks. The bottom of
the sink has a fine layer covering of fleischig schmaltz combined
with cheese and cream, butter and who knows what else. It is almost
impossible to control. There will be backups and the water will rise and
maybe it will be a k’li sheni. The backup will get all over the
dishes and it will be an impossible situation for you to wash off all the
dishes. You shouldn’t use racks. If you want to use a rack, put it under a
dish pan. The stores have plenty of these plastic dish pans in every color
or shape to fit your particular need.
QUESTION: My husband goes shopping on Thursday night and oftentimes
some neighbors want to go along. Sometimes it is just one woman. Is there
a problem of yichud?
answer is yes! It can become a yichud issue when you travel on a
dark country road late at night that is not well-traveled. Again, even if
it is something that is done once, it is a problem.
QUESTION: Sometimes I have to go to the City during the week and
stay late at night. I would like a female counselor to stay overnight in
the bungalow to watch over the children. What is the best thing to do to
ensure that there will not be a problem with yichud?
the female counselor is going to stay in the bungalow with a nine year-old
boy, there is really no way to get away from the problem of yichud.
If the child is seven or eight years old, young enough to not have an active
yetzer hara, it might be permissible to have the counselor stay
overnight to watch the children.
Am I Required to Help a Stranded
QUESTION: If I see someone pulled over to the side of the road with
car trouble, am I required to stop and help? Does it matter if I have my
family with me and my stopping will inconvenience and make it harder for
them? What if my wife is expecting me home?
is a very serious question and you have to utilize a
lot of judgment. To help someone and yet in the process cause a lot of
tza’ar (hardship) and hurt others is not a simple thing to do. One must
think very carefully and make a judgment. I was
once driving up to the country and it was a very
difficult ride. It was very hot outside and there
was a major traffic jam just north of the City. There was a Yid who
was stuck changing a tire on a very crowded spot on
a little traffic island, surrounded by traffic on both sides. There was no
place to park. I decided it would be better to drive on to the toll booths
which was another five minutes away and inform them that there was a
motorist stuck and that they should send an official vehicle to help him
out. As I was driving, a goy pulled up to me and stated loudly, “You
didn’t stop to help your brother!”
Removing Yarmulkes and
QUESTION: May my son take off his
yarmulke when playing ball?
one is playing ball or engaged in any sport, G-d forbid that he should
remove his yarmulke, for this leads to
lightheadedness and stems from a lightheaded attitude. One who fears that
his yarmulke might fly off should attach it
with bobby pins or the like.
QUESTION: May I take off my Tzitzis when going to the pool?
ben Torah should walk to and from the pool wearing tzitzis (and
when playing ball). Tzitzis should not be the clothing which
we show we are more lax in
during the summer months. If you are going in the
swimming pool and take off your tzitzis for more than an hour’s time,
you must make a new brocha when putting them back on. When taking
off the tzitzis for only a half-hour, no new brocha is
needed. If the tzitzis are off from anywhere between a half-hour and
an hour, you should not make a new brocha based on sofek brochos
Food-Related Items Under Bed
QUESTION: My wife and children say that because of lack of space in
their bungalow/bunk in camp, they would like to store snack foods, drinks
and plastic eating utensils underneath the beds. Is this permissible?
One should not use the space to store food or drinks, but utensils may be
kept there. If you mistakenly left food or drink there, you may use them.
THE FOLLOWING IS AN AUDIO LINK TO HARAV ELYA BRUDNY’S OUTSTANDING TAMMUZ
SHIUR FOR MEN (30 MINUTES):
WE ARE NOW WITHIN THREE MONTHS…:
As we begin more intense hirhurei Teshuvah in the three month period prior
to Rosh Hashana, we provide the following
background to Teshuvah, digested from thoughts of HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon,
Shlita (Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Etel--L’Refuah Sheleimah), on the Sefer
Sha’arei Teshuvah, as presented in the Sefer Matnas Chelko
(based on his Va’adim), written by Rabbi Yechiel Bieberfeld, Shlita. By way
of introduction, we point out that HaRav Mattisyahu teaches that the details
of Teshuvah have already been provided to us by our Nevi’im. The Sefer
Sha’arei Teshuvah itself, HaRav Mattisyahu teaches, is ‘Divrei
Nevi’us’--because it explains the words of the Nevi’im, often mentioning
several Pesukim in each paragraph:
A. The Mitzvah of Teshuvah is a special gift given by Hashem to His
creations, and accordingly when one does Teshuvah he should be in a state
of Simcha. Teshuvah is not an Ohl Kasheh (a difficult
burden)--but quite to the contrary is an extra-ordinary gift from Hashem
afforded to us so that a person can still reach his full potential in spite
of past sins. People are mistaken when they think that the approach to
Teshuvah is one of sullenness--after all, do we not recite a Shehechiyanu on
the night of Yom Kippur in celebration of the outstanding ability we have to
return to Hashem! True, there are aspects of Teshuvah such as Charata--feeling
bad over what one has done, and Yagon--truly appreciating the depth
of one’s aveirah--but nevertheless, one’s Simcha Gedolah in returning to the
will of his Maker should never be attenuated. If one is in the process of
healing, he may have to do strenuous exercises to get there--but still does
them with the realization that they will lead to a sweet and much sought
B. The real time to do Teshuvah is immediately after one
recognizes that he has done something wrong. Any delay is a delay in the
Zeman HaEmes--the true time to accomplish one’s Teshuvah. The
Sefer Michtav MeiEliyahu (I: p. 240) brings from Radvaz that one
violates the Mitzvas Asei of Es Hashem Elokecha Tirah if he does an
aveirah and does not immediately attend to doing Teshuvah. On the other
hand, one who does Teshuvah promptly--even if it is out of fear of
sin--fulfills the Mitzvah of Es Hashem Elokecha Tirah(!).
C. If a person repeats an aveirah, Chazal teach that it is
Na’aseis Lo K’heter--he views the aveirah as if it is really something
permissible. If he indeed views it as something permissible--then how can
he do Teshuvah--for one cannot do Teshuvah on a permissible act?! The only
eitzah, HaRav Mattisyahu teaches, is that one who finds himself prone
to a particular aveirah must first view it as ‘Ois Heter--no longer
permissible’, in order for him to do Teshuvah. For instance, one
cannot say: ‘I will do Teshuvah--I will not eat chazir today’.
Rather, one must recognize that chazir is always treif and put
himself in the mindset to always stay away from it. The same
would be true, for instance, for one who has found himself speaking or
listening to Lashon Hara on more than one occasion. It is not the
acceptance of a temporary respite or provisional inaction that affects
Teshuvah--it is a clear and dedicated mindset on a going forward basis that
elevates one’s body and purifies one’s soul--for now, and for eternity!
Teshuvah Moment: B’EH we begin a new daily momentary Teshuvah insight, on a
daily basis. Today’s Teshuvah Moment Is: One time today, do not say
something questionable that you had intended to.
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.
SHAILOS PART 1
QUESTION: Until what age is a woman/man permitted
to take her young son/daughter to the pool?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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
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?
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.
POST CHIPS AHOY:
have been advised by the OU that the correct bracha combination to recite on
the cereal Post Chips Ahoy is Mezonos / Borei Nefashos (one will not eat
enough fast enough to say al hamichya.)
A READER’S ENLIGHTENING THOUGHT:
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!”
DAILY KIDDUSH HASHEM: Each one of us is given the opportunity to
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) writes “One
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).
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,
90, seif katan
8) writes that
finds that his Kavannah
is faltering, he
his eyes to
Shomayim (through the
windows in Shul or at home)
to arouse one’s
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
he have? A: The word ‘Modim’ indicates HaKaras
Hatov, and this is the Kavannah one
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.
FROM THE SEFER SHAILOS U’TESHUVOS YAD MOSHE:
The Sefer Shailos U’Teshuvos
Yad Moshe contains the questions asked by Rabbi
Yaakov Dardac to HaRav Moshe
Feinstein, Z’tl. The questions were presented both in personal meetings,
and in letters. Set forth below is a sampling of the questions and answers
presented. Once again, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to any
Shailah he may have for a final p’sak.
If one came late to Shul, and skipped some of Pesukei DeZimra, can he recite
the Pesukei DeZimra that he missed during Chazaras HaShatz, if he is worried
that later he will not remember to recite the Pesukei DeZimra that he
It is better to listen to Chazaras HaShatz than to recite the Pesukei
DeZimra that was skipped. Hakhel Note: It is, of course, always
best to simply come on time--or early!
2. Q: How should a Shaliach Tzibur recite the words in Kedusha of ‘Kadosh,
Kadosh, Kadosh’ and ‘Boruch Kevod Hashem Mim’komo?
He should recite them loud and clear enough for the people not yet finished
Shemone Esrei to hear--as they will be Yotzei Kedusha by listening to his
Kedusha, based upon the principle of Shome’ah K’oneh. If necessary,
he should delay his recitation of these words so that his recitation can be
3. Q: If a guest comes into Shul, and the Gabbai does not know whether
he is Shomer Shabbos--can he be given an Aliyah without asking him whether
he is Shomer Shabbos?
Yes, one does not have to ask--and, in fact, if the person says he is a
Kohen or Levi and there are no other Kohanim in Shul, one is obligated to
give him an Aliyah. However, if, r’l, it is known that he is not
Shomer Shabbos he should not be called to the Torah even if he is a Kohen or
4. Q: Should a Ba’al Kriah look carefully for mistakes in the Sefer
The Ba’al Kriah should read regularly without focusing on finding mistakes.
He should not, however, intentionally gloss over matters and must act with
5. Q: Because traveling by air is so common today, should one still
recite Birkas HaGomel after a flight?
Yes, one should--for Chazal instituted Birkas HaGomel to be recited when one
had been in a circumstance in which under ordinary circumstances he cannot
live--in the desert, in the water, and certainly in the air! Hakhel Note:
At this point, Rabbi Mordechai Tendler, Shlita, adds
that HaRav Moshe traveled to Montreal to his grandson’s Chasunah by
plane--and recited Birkas HaGomel upon his return to New York, as he
considered the round trip as if it was one flight.
6. Q: The Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 2:17) rules that a Siddur
that was printed involving Chilul Shabbos is Ma’us L’Dvar Mitzvah and
should not be used. Does one have the duty to investigate if the
printer of his Siddur/Sefer is Shomer Shabbos?
No, there is no obligation, as it is not common for a printer to be open on
Shabbos--even if the owner is Mechalel Shabbos. Moreover, even if the
printer is open on Shabbos, perhaps the Siddur being used was not printed on
Shabbos and we can apply the rule of Kol D’Parish Mei’Rubo Parish--that
the Siddur was printed as the majority of Siddurim were--on a weekday.
7. Q: Does one recite a bracha of Tevilas Keilim on aluminum pots--as
after all ‘aluminum’ is not mentioned in the Pasuk?
Yes, one makes a bracha of Tevilas Keilim on all metals--as they should be
no worse than glass, on which a bracha is recited.
8. Q: If one is unsure whether the factory that produced utensils is
owned by Jews--should he recite the bracha of Tevilas Keilim?
One can assume that any utensils
made in Japan, China or Europe should be toveled with a bracha, because most
factories are owned by non-Jews. If one is unsure about a utensil (for
instance, made in America) he should try and find out--but if he cannot, he
should tovel it without a bracha [or, tovel it at the same time with another
utensil that definitely requires a bracha and have it in mind as well].
9. Q: When one borrows money from a bank [or credit card company], and
then lends it to someone else, can one pass along the interest as a ‘pass
along charge’--or does one need a Heter Iska?
One cannot charge the borrower even the ribis that he is being
charged--and accordingly must prepare a Heter Iska.
10. Q: Must one leave his Mezuzos for the next resident (tenant or new
owner who is Jewish), even if he knows that the next resident will promptly
take them off in order to paint or do construction?
Yes, one must leave them up, but prior to leaving he may take off the
expensive Mezuzos that he was using in his home and replace them with less
expensive Mezuzos--provided that he immediately puts up the expensive
Mezuzos in his new residence. Of course, it is best to discuss and resolve
the situation with the new tenant or owner directly--as a new resident may
not want the Mezuzos, or may want to pay for the more expensive Mezuzas.
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
Hakhel Note 1:
In English, the first two letters of Shemiras HaLashon spell SH!... In
Hebrew, the first two letters spell SHA! Isn’t that enough for us to get the
Hakhel Note 2:
HaRav Yecheskel Levenstein, Z’tl, points out that Emunah needs chizuk every
day, and if one is not mechazeik himself in it, then his faith is
weakened. We may suggest that this is true because of the great need for
Emunah in one’s spiritual life--and the consequent Yetzer Hara attack
against it. In the Bein Adam L’Chaveiro realm, Shemiras HaLashon may be of
similar high level of importance. It is certainly essential for us to be
mechazeik ourselves in this every day as well. Even after reading the Sefer
Chofetz Chaim or Sefer Shemiras HaLashon, we need to resolve not to fall
prey to the Yetzer Hara’s thrusts and guile!
ALLOWING HAKARAS HATOV TO PENETRATE:
The following story is excerpted from the The Maggid at the Podium,
by Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn, Shlita (Artscroll/Mesorah). The story and its
lesson is brought in Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman,
Shlita, and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, Shlita (Artscroll/Mesorah):
“An owner of a major construction firm charged one of his employees with the
task of submitting a bid to a city council for a major project. The bid was
the price the company would charge to undertake and complete the project.
This company submitted a bid that was two million dollars less than
that of any other company, and was hired by the city.
The estimator was troubled by the fact that his bid was so much lower than
the others…and then he realized why. He had submitted a price for an
incomplete project. The bid could not be rescinded. He had cost the company
a two million dollar loss.
He was sure that his boss would be furious, and rightfully so. The next day,
he tearfully told the boss what he had done, and submitted his resignation.
But the boss would not accept it. He said, “Yes, you made a serious error,
but you’ve been a great worker since you joined our company, and I am
positive that you will never again make such a mistake. So I want you to
If we used this approach in our personal relationships, especially within
the home, our lives would be tranquil and free of strife.
Let’s keep Hakaras HaTov in our subconscious so that we will focus on the
good in others and recognize the good in our lives.”
DON’T FORGET THIS ABOUT ELEPHANTS!
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
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!
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!
Tomorrow marks the twenty-fourth 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
THE RABBEINU TAM:
The Luach Davar B’Ito
notes that Sunday 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.
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
Where in davening do we ask Hashem to help us avoid Machlokes?
TOPIC FOR THOUGHT:
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)
WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
1. 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!
following Halachos are P’sakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, which are excerpted
from the monumental work, Sefer Ashrei HaIsh (Hebrew) published by
HaRav Yechezkel Feinhandler, Shlita.
the Bracha of Mai’ein Sheva in Shul on Friday night, one bows at the outset
as if he is beginning Shemone Esrei.
The Mishna Berurah brings two opinions as to whether women are obligated to
Daven Mussaf. The first opinion (T’zlach) brought by the Mishna Berurah is
that women are exempt from Davening Mussaf. The Mishna Berurah then
continues with the words “but the Magein Giborim rules that women are
obligated to Daven Mussaf.” HaRav Elyashiv states that the rule of the
Mishna Berurah is that when he first quotes one opinion, and then states
‘Avol’ or ‘Achein’ (but) and brings a second opinion, the Mishna Berurah
rules in accordance with that second opinion. Accordingly, women are
obligated to Daven Mussaf (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 106; Mishna Berurah
seif katan 4).
is permissible to praise the Ba’las HaBayis for the Shabbos food that she
prepared, even if it is not tasty, and it is indeed a Mitzvah to do so.
one does not have whole loaves of bread, he can take whole cakes. If one
has only pieces of bread, he should take two pieces, with each one being at
least a K’zayis.
is permissible to use a frozen Challah for Lechem Mishna, even if it may not
defrost during the Seudah.
One should not discard a Havdalah candle directly into the garbage. Rather,
to show Kavod for the Mitzvah, one should first wrap it.
a lense or a sidepiece broke off one’s glasses, the glasses and the pieces
are Muktzah, because one may come to fix them on Shabbos. If, however, a
piece broke fully or was totally destroyed, the glasses are not Muktzah if
they can be otherwise used as is--because we are not worried that you will
come to fix a piece that is totally broken or destroyed.
person can place a Siddur or Sefer on table in order to ensure that the
table will not become a Bosis to the Shabbos candles. However, it is a
Bizayon to the Sefer if one takes it only for this purpose and puts it on
the table. Rather, one should learn from the Sefer a bit, and then one may
leave it on the table.
There is no problem utilizing thin, plastic tablecloths, plastic cups and
other plastic utensils, or tissues, on Shabbos even though they are used
once and discarded. This is not considered to involve “Bitul Kli
MeHeichano” because this is the object’s purpose to begin with. However, an
object that could be reused should not be used on Shabbos for something that
will require it to be discarded. For instance, a dirty diaper should not be
placed into a bag that could be reused and was not otherwise set aside for
this specific purpose. Accordingly, it would be advisable to set aside bags
for this purpose on Shabbos, so that there is no issue of “Bitul Kli
telephone book is not Muktzah, for it can be used to look up addresses.
THE SHOCK AND AFTERSHOCK:
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:
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)
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,
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)
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)
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
GUARDING THE BAIS HAMIKDASH:
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).
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!
IMPORTANT NOTES FROM THIS WEEK’S PIRKEI AVOS:
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!
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!
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!
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
IMPORTANT TEFILLOS! A
us with a moving
message and reminder of the
powerful Tefillos from the
Talmud Yerushalmi that the
Chofetz Chaim (Shulchan
us to recite
prior to Shacharis,
Mincha and Ma’ariv. We provide them by the following
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!”
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]
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!
FIRST OF TAMMUZ:
According to many, the first day of Tammuz is the date of the birth and
petira of Yosef HaTzadik. Chazal teach that Yosef was Mekadesh Shem
Shamayim B’seser--sanctified Hashem’s name in private--by not falling
prey to the wife of Potiphar and withstanding this great test. As a result,
he was zoche to have a letter of Hashem’s name added to his name--and is
known in Tehillim as “Yehosef” as well. Accordingly, it would be extremely
appropriate this Rosh Chodesh to remember Yosef--and memorialize the day--by
performing a Kiddush Shem Shamayim B’seser--by undertaking an act of
Kiddush Hashem that only you know about. We leave it up to you!
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!
previously noted, the Targum Yonasan on last week’s Parasha explains
that the Meraglim set out on their journey on 29 Sivan—just two days ago.
These very days—i.e., the next 38 days ahead of us until Tisha B’Av are
full of the potential to bring us a happy Tisha B’Av, if we reframe and
recharacterize these days into building rather than destruction; days of
finding the positive instead of the negative; days of compliments and not of
snide or hurtful remarks; days where we show our love towards Eretz Yisrael
and its inhabitants in some unique and special way. We know better. We know
what we have to do. Like the Meraglim, we have a mission. Let’s succeed with
flying colors—it is well within our capabilities, and the benefits and
rewards will far exceed the investment and effort—as we will see when the
Moshiach comes, Bimheira V’Yameinu.
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:
“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?”
“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
“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.”
“I realize how frustrating it must have been to have made an entire meal and
then had it ruined because someone forgot to turn off the oven. Most people
would feel upset. But I noticed that the guests still enjoyed. Nobody went
hungry--the substitute food was fine. For sure, it wasn’t as good as your
cooking, but it served its purpose. Everyone had a very pleasant evening. I
even heard a few people comment on what a fine hostess you were. They were
impressed by how well you dealt with the entire situation.”
Let’s get going—we have 38 days to move ourselves—and, quite literally,
change the world!
STARTING TOMORROW! VERY IMPORTANT
PROGRAM FOR MEN AND WOMEN--THE FIRST DAY OF TAMMUZ!:
As B’EH we will soon begin the period of Tammuz/Av/Elul, we remind our
readers of a noble and important project. By the following link
http://tinyurl.com/pyhvfxp we provide a
Three-Month Calendar, providing a short daily dose
of the classic Mussar Sefer, Sefer Sha’arei Teshuva by the Rabbeinu
Yonah. With these short daily installments over a three month period--one
will actually conclude the Sefer in graduated steps and in time for Rosh
Hashanah! Your undertaking this Program indicates a real degree of
sincerity in your Teshuva process this year. Please spread the
word…and the link!
Hakhel Note: This Program is for women as well--and there are
fine English translations of the Sha’arei Teshuva readily available
in Seforim stores.
As we enter the portals of Tammuz tomorrow, we recognize not only that nine
months of this year have passed, but that there are still three months left
to go! We each can accomplish so much in the coming 3 months. For instance,
the entire book Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Shlita,
published by Artscroll, 2005), can be studied over its five-minute a day,
89-day cycle which begins tomorrow the first of Tammuz and concludes on Erev
Rosh Hashanah. Uplifting and upgrading your davening, and improving upon
your bond with Hashem, is a great way to concomitantly conclude this year,
prepare for the Yomim Noraim and grow in the coming year! Praying with
Fire, is one of Artscroll’s bestselling Seforim ever, and is
available in large and even pocket-sized copies in your local Jewish
bookstore. Even to the many who have gone through the Sefer once and more
than once, perhaps do it with some family or friends, or others, and try to
discuss with them the short five-minute segments presented daily.
SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM THE CHOFETZ CHAIM:
teach that one should weigh the ‘loss’ one may suffer in performing a
Mitzvah against the reward to be received, and the immediate ‘reward’ of an
aveirah against the loss for performing it. The Chofetz Chaim provides a
practical and meaningful explanation on these famous words of Chazal: The
reward for a Mitzvah is not immediate, but instead will be eternal--and that
eternal reward will not be a status of minimal bliss, but instead a
Ta’anug Norah--awesome pleasure in Olam Habba which outweighs all of the
luxuries and pleasures of this world. In contrast, the ‘reward’ for an
Aveirah is short-lived in Olam Hazeh and trifles in significance to the
eternal punishment that one may receive for its performance. Picture, for
instance, a scale in front of you--on one side of the scale is written the
words: ‘Loss from Mitzvah Performance’, and on the other ‘Reward for Mitzvah
Performance’. The scale will be so uneven that one will not even be able to
recognize it as a scale. The opposite is true of the Aveirah Performance
Scale--where one side is labeled ‘The Pleasure from the Aveirah’, and on the
other side stand all of the Mashchisim who have been created as a
result of the Aveirah to attack and hurt the one who performed it. We simply
have to use our common sense to make the right decision--each and every
Note: The Chofetz Chaim points to the Pesukim in Nechemia (Chapter 3) which
provide specific names of the men who helped build the wall around
Yerushalayim at the time of the Bayis Sheini. If the builders of the
temporary wall around the City are named--all the more so the builders of
the Third and Everlasting Beis HaMikdash itself!
PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL
LESSONS FROM THE SEFER
SEFER WRITTEN BY
KANIEVSKY, SHLITA, HIMSELF,
RELATING ESSENTIALLY TO
1. 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 Hara, 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)).
2. 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
3. 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!
4. 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!
5. 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....
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!
TRY IT TODAY! At least once a day, rather than taking out a cell phone when
walking on the street or traveling, spend time--with yourself!
The Torah Communications Network provides an
outstanding array of Shiurim over the phone including Dial-A-Shiur in
Halacha, Parashas HaShavuah, Tefillah, Tehillim, Mishna Yomis, Mishna
Berurah and has the Daf Yomi available both in one hour per-Daf format and
B’Iyun. For further information please see the following link for a flyer -
http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TCNFlyer.pdf. To sample a
program, please call 718-436-3846.
AVIGDOR MILLER, Z’TL:
“Man’s mind is only
a vessel by which Hashem transmits knowledge to the world. It is not an
independent source of wisdom. Hashem is the Source of all understanding and
wisdom.” (Ohr Avigdor, Sha’ar HeBechinah)
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 Loshon Hara on Tisha B’Av,
commences today, on the 29th day of Sivan (the day the Meraglim
left for Eretz Yisrael). Now is the time to prepare for a positive turn of
the tongue. Today especially, is a particularly propitious time to
undertake this new, fresh attempt in the area of Shmiras HaLashon. If
the Malachim have no part in this reserved Hidden Light, then let us at
least consider and act upon the special opportunities we have at certain
moments during the day!
As tomorrow 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.
LESSONS FROM THE
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
C. One who makes it his practice to be mevater, spares
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 (Brachos 19A) teach that Tzurba MaiRabbanan HaKadosh Baruch Hu
Tiba’i Yakrei--When it comes to a Talmid Chochom, Hashem cares about and
seeks out his honor. HaRav Kanievsky teaches that this is because
‘Kol Kiyum HaTorah Talui BiShemiya LeChachomim, VeIm Ain Mechabdin Ossan,
Batel Mora’an Ve’asida Kol HaTorah Libatel Chas Veshalom--the
continuance of Torah among our people is dependent on our following the
words of our Chachomim, and if we do not honor them properly, we will not
have the proper reverence for them and the entire Torah c’v would be
voided.’ HaRav Kanievsky goes on to explain that this is the very reason
that Moshe Rabbeinu in this week’s Parasha asked for Korach and his cohorts
to be punished. It was not c’v any vindictiveness--it was simply
necessary for the Kiyum HaTorah itself!
Hakhel Note: As Torah Jews, it is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE, as HaRav Kanievsky
teaches, that we not be guided by “it’s my opinion”, and “this is how I view
it and that’s it”--but by the direction of our Torah Scholars, who are our
living embodiment of the Torah itself!
Additional Note: Rabbi Kanievsky also brings Chazal (Koheles Rabba 1), who
teach that “Yiheye BeEinecha Dor Sheba Kedor Shehalach”--one must
view the leaders of his generation as equal to the leaders of the prior
generations--and one simply cannot say “if Rebbe Akiva
or Rebbe Yochanan...or
the Rashba, or the
G’ra or the Chasam
Sofer had said it, I would surely listen, but....”--because our Gedolim
were placed into this world at this time for this reason--to be OUR gedolim!
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
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:
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
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.
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!
Hashem’s blessing continuously flows as a natural spring, on a 24/7 basis.
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
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
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
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
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!
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).
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.
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.
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 Carmell, Z’tl, 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.
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?
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
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!
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
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
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
3. 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 ?
4. 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?
5. Why was Rochov zocha to house the Meraglim, save herself and her
family and even eventually marry Yehoshua Bin Nun?
WE CONTINUE WITH OUR EREV SHABBOS--HALACHOS OF SHABBOS SERIES:
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!
following remarkable lesson is found in the Sefer Nichusah Shel Torah
(the teachings of HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, Z’tl): Chazal (Shabbos 10B)
teach that Hashem refers to the Shabbos as a “Matana Tova--a Good
Present”. What meaning should this have to us? The following is a true
story that happened in the Shul in Petersburg, Russia, in which the members
were all extremely wealthy contractors for the Czar in various industries.
It was Yom Kippur, and Pesicha L’Neilah was being sold to the highest
bidder. The bidding opened at the high sum of 500 rubles. Baron Ginsberg
decided to put an end to the bidding--announcing that he bid 2,000
rubles--which was an astronomical sum--the equivalent of hundreds of
thousand dollars in today’s terms. The hushed crowd immediately assumed that
the bidding was over. However, suddenly another voice was heard--it was that
of Baron Pollak, who was a Jew who only attended Shul ‘three times a year’:
“I bid 2,500 rubles!” Silence. Baron Pollak won the bid! The crowd was
stunned. Pesicha L’Neilah was being sold for what was the equivalent
of many hundreds of thousands of dollars--to a Jew who attended Shul only on
the Yomim Noraim! If that was not enough, Baron Pollak then turned to his
neighbor and said: “What is Pesicha L’Neila?” His neighbor,
incredulous, asked him: “You bought Pesicha L’Neilah for 2,500
rubles--and you do not even know what it is?!” Baron Pollak responded: “All
I know is that if a seasoned merchant and businessman like Baron Ginsberg
bid 2,000 rubles for it--it is well worth the 2,500 rubles that I spent!”
Now let us turn to the Chazal: Hashem Himself calls Shabbos a Matana
Tova. Who knows better than Hashem, the Creator, Master and Controller
of everything in the World what a good present is?! Oh--how we should
appreciate the Shabbos! HaRav Shapiro adds that in the Shabbos davening we
recite: “V’Lo Nesato Hashem Elokeinu LeGoyei Ha’aratzos--Hashem did
not give Shabbos to the nations of the world.” What is the chiddush
in this? After all, the nations did not receive any of the 613 Mitzvos in
the Torah that are directed to the Jews?! The explanation, Rav Shapiro
teaches, is that aside from the Mitzvah, the nations do not benefit
MiSegulasah U’Mishefa Birchasah U’Kedushasah--from the abundance, the
bracha and the Kedusha of the Shabbos in and of itself--which we bask in for
free each and every Shabbos. What a treasure! What a gift!
One other lesson-filled incident from the Nichusah Shel Torah: When
HaRav Shapiro was visiting Lakewood one year, thousands of Bnei Torah came
to greet him at a Shabbos Kiddush. HaRav Shapiro made Kiddush and would not
proceed any further until he was absolutely assured that his Rebbetzin had
received wine from Kiddush. Literally thousands of people were waiting to
make sure that the Rebbetzin received the wine! HaRav Shapiro noticed that
those around him were very surprised--why was this so important, why should
thousands of people be waiting just to make sure that this happened? HaRav
Shapiro explained: “Do you think that the requirement to honor one’s spouse
that is found in Chazal is simply that--only a requirement? That is not
Chazal’s intent--simply to impose an obligation of honor. No, the
explanation is that a person must have such strong feelings of Hakaras HaTov
to his spouse, that it should emanate from the depths of his heart--and he
should recognize that everything that he has is in his spouse’s zechus.
When Rebbi Akiva said (Nedarim 50A): ‘Sheli V’Shelachem Shelah He--that
which we have belongs to her’--he was not speaking in a metaphor--he meant
it! Hakhel Note: After HaRav Shapiro would cut the challah every Shabbos, he
would stand up from his seat, walk over to where the Rebbetzin was sitting
and place the challah in front of her--not using a basket, a plate or
someone else to do so. Such was his feeling of Hakaras HaTov to her! Shabbos
Kiddush and the Shabbos Seudah can be a place for each and every one of us
to express our heartfelt Hakaras HaTov to our spouse and others as well in
many beautiful ways!
IMPORTANT NOTES ON PARASHAS SHELACH:
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
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
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.
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!
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.
specifically request in the Ahl HaMichya-- may we become so satiated “Bimeheira
VeYameinu”—speedily and in our days!
PARASHA CONCLUDES WITH THE MITZVAH OF TZITZIS. WE PROVIDE BELOW SEVERAL
REMINDER NOTES WITH RESPECT TO THIS WONDROUS MITZVAH (BASED UPON SHULCHAN
ARUCH, ORACH CHAIM 24):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
NOTES ON THIS WEEK’S PIRKEI AVOS (CHAPTER 3):
Rebbi Nechunyah Ben Hakanah (3:6) teaches that: “Kol HaMekabel Alav Ohl
Torah…one who accepts upon himself the yoke of Torah, he will have
removed from him the yoke of government and the yoke of worldly
responsibilities.” Rebbi Nechunyah then continues: “Vechol Haporeik
Mimenu Ohl Torah…but if someone throws off the yoke of Torah from
himself--the yoke of government and the yoke 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 yoke of Torah, or throws it off.
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!”
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!
FACE THE FACTS!
The Chofetz Chaim (Sefer
Ahavas Chesed, Chapter 12) brings from the Zohar HaKadosh
that the days of a person’s life in this world do not disappear into the
next day--but remain alive forever--meaning that each and every day that a
person lives in Olam Hazeh creates a Briah Ruchnis--and in the future
each day will live on as to the accomplishments attained that day.
Accordingly, the Chofetz Chaim implores everyone to make sure that he
infuses every day with Torah and Mitzvos. Unlike money, the
Chofetz Chaim writes, where today’s loss can be made up tomorrow--the
Briah Ruchnis of each day has its own independent and eternal worth and
existence--it is not only invaluable, it is irreplaceable!
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.
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!
PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING WORDS OF INSTRUCTION FROM THE STEIPELER GAON, HARAV
YAAKOV YISRAEL KANIEVSKY, Z’TL, FROM HIS SEFER CHAYEI OLAM:
last week’s Parasha (Bamidbar 12:3), we learned that Moshe Rabbeinu was “Anav
Me’od Mikol HaAdam”. What is Anavah--the Torah’s
definition of humility? It is the true and actual awareness that all of
one’s wisdom, talents and possessions are not owned, but borrowed for a set
period of time from Hashem--for one to use for free to the best of his
abilities. Just as a poor person who borrows a wealthy person’s clothing for
a simcha knows that they are not his--and that he must return them in
excellent condition, so should a person’s real attitude be towards his
abilities and acquisitions in this world. With this ‘humble’ realization--a
person brings upon himself a Ruach Tahara. If one does not allow
himself to develop this awareness--which, once again, we must remember, is
the trait that Moshe Rabbeinu was praised for in the Torah, he will surely
feel saddened by his inability to achieve this or that goal, and
disappointed about his lack of possessions or other ‘successes’. If one
needs guidance or assistance to reach the important goal of Anavah,
he should study the classical Mussar Seforim which teach what a person is
and what he should strive to be--and he should also daven to Hashem to
achieve this awareness. Chazal teach that one who works on himself and
attains Anavah: (i) will have his Tefillos answered; (ii) is
considered on the level of one who has brought all of the different kinds of
Karbanos possible[even without a Bais HaMikdash!], and (iii) will be zoche
to have a Kiyum of his Torah. Hakhel Note: The effort is certainly
Even though Chazal teach that the sha’arei tefillah have been
closed--this does not at all mean that one should not daven--for Chazal
teach that if one sees that his Tefillos have not been answered, he should
continue to daven and daven, again and again. Indeed, even if many days and
even years have passed with one’s Tefillos seemingly not being answered, one
should nevertheless not stop davening. In the end, one will see that
his Tefillos Ho’ilu Lo Me’od--helped him very much! Even on the
simplest level--one must realize that his situation could have been much
worse--and his Tefillos allowed him to be in his current position. One
should always remember that one of the ikarim of Tefillah is for one
to be a Mevakesh Mamash--one who pleads with Hashem to grant his
request--recognizing that the request is being made to the Only One Who Can
Really Grant It!
Birds that walk on two legs are still bent over when they walk and look
down. The reason that man’s head does not face downward, writes the Rabbeinu
Ta’am (in the Sefer HaYashar) is because he has the ability to reach
great levels in the service of Hashem, and he is the epitome of the world’s
creation. All of the other creatures were created to help man achieve his
goal. Man’s great asset of his Koach HaDibur enables him to serve Hashem by
praising Him, pouring out his heart to Him, learning and teaching Torah, and
to move others to Avodas Hashem with his words. As this is man’s great
goal--he should be conscious of his daily opportunities to reach and
maximize his potential!
TREASURE FOR LIFE:
present several excerpts from A Treasure for Life by Rabbi Avraham
Yachnes, Shlita (Feldheim Publishers) which provides an excellent
translation, commentary, and insights into the classic Sefer Orchos
Tzaddikim. Each of the following excerpts provides a real, practical,
and poignant lesson which each one of us can use to grow from:
is told about HaRav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, Z’tl, that he was forever
whispering to himself the words “Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid—I have
set Hashem before me always”(Tehillim 16:8), to remind himself constantly
that all of his actions and thoughts are always in the presence of Hashem.”
one were blindfolded and tried to walk through even the most familiar of
rooms, he would certainly stumble and fall many times. Now imagine traveling
through the uncharted waters of life, blindfolded by the desires and
passions that have been allowed to rule over one’s wisdom. The more a
person’s desires control him, the thicker the darkness--even to the point of
being spiritually paralyzed.”
“People often say “I’m doing the best that I can.” What is considered doing
the best that you can? I remember hearing from my Rebbi, HaRav Henoch
Leibowitz, Z’tl, that on any given day, when you feel that you have reached
the level of doing the best that you can –that is you have invested all of
your resources and every ounce of energy—then you should do a bit more .
This way, when you begin the next day, your starting point is from that
extra bit. Then there will be growth. Otherwise every day is a repeat
performance of the day before with no real growth. This same concept was
expressed differently by Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt, Z’tl, Rav of the Queens
Jewish Center in New York . He said that when people work in a profession
for ten years, they often claim to have ten years of experience. They need
to understand that if they have been doing the exact same thing on the exact
same level during those years, it does not mean that they have ten years of
experience, it means they have one year of experience ten times. Only if
there had been a broader commitment and a deeper level of responsibility
every day during those ten years, can one say that he has ten years of
“A few years ago I had the opportunity to be a Kashrus supervisor at a soda
bottling plant. Standing there in amazement, watching 3,200 soda cans filled
and capped per minute, something interesting caught my eye. An inspector
wearing a long, white coat, who was overseeing the operation, randomly
plucked a can or bottle off of the speeding conveyor belt. I followed behind
as he walked into a laboratory and began performing all kinds of experiments
with the beverage. He placed some of the liquid in test tubes, poured some
into a decoding machine, and also drank some to check the taste. Finally, I
asked what all of these procedures were about. “I’m checking for the right
amount of sweetener, the proper measure of syrup, and the correct balance of
carbonation to flavor,” he said. “Quality control, Rabbi, quality control.”
It struck me like a ton of bricks. So much research, so much checking; so
much investigation, effort, and exactness for quality control of a can of
soda. How much more so must one measure the exactness of his thoughts and
actions for the quality control of his Middos!
WORD: The Chofetz Chaim (in the Sefer Chofetz Chai--Mitzvas
Asei 11) teaches that all of the Mitzvos are not equal to one word of Torah.
The phrase: “Talmud Torah K’neged Kulam” is not simply a
special adage or an inspirational phrase--it is a remarkable fact which
provides essential guidance for one’s conduct in life. If all of the Mitzvos
can’t equal one word of Torah--the Chofetz Chaim writes, then how could one
even think of wasting his time with chatter or matters of
non-consequence--and all the more so how could one speak Lashon Hara or
Ona’as Devarim?! The Chofetz Chaim continues that if a person loses some
money--he can hope to either find it, or gain money from another source. If
one loses time, however--he will never, ever find it again. Accordingly, the
Chofetz Chaim concludes: “Ashrei Mi Sheyisbonein Bazeh VeOdo BeChaiav--fortunate
is the person who thinks about this in his lifetime”.
Note: Obviously, the Chofetz Chaim means not only thinking about it--but
acting upon it!
there actually an aveirah of gezel sheinah--stealing someone’s
sleep? HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, writes that since sleep is not
tangible one cannot really be oveir stealing sleep, which requires
something tangible. Rabbi Dovid Castle, however, notes that the Lo
Sa’aseh of Lo Sonu--not aggrieving our friend would include
stealing his sleep as well, for by doing so one is hurting or at least
disturbing his fellow.
23RD OF SIVAN:
Today, the 23rd day of Sivan, is one of those special days especially
mentioned in Tanach. Many of you may remember where. In Megillas Esther
(8:9), the Pasuk records that on the 23rd day of the 3rd month--“Hu
Chodesh Sivan” (which is the month of Sivan)--the king’s scribes wrote
all that Mordechai had dictated to them. While we may not have the exact
text of what was written other than that the Jews could destroy their
enemies, we do know that Achashveirosh had permitted them to write in the
letters--”Katov Be’eynechem--whatever is favorable in your eyes, in
the name of the King...”
Luach Davar B’Ito writes the following about this very special day:
should try to recite the relevant Pesukim in Esther (Esther 8:3-17)
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!
1940, the Russian Government told thousands of Jewish refugees in Eastern
Galicia that they could register as Russian citizens. Rebbe Itzikel of
Antwerp, Z’tl, advised them not to register. On the night of the 23rd of
Sivan, the Russians exiled to Siberia all those who had not registered as
Russian citizens. The exiled thought this to be a horrible decree, but the
Rebbe told them that the 23rd of Sivan is “Muchan L’Tova--prepared
for the good,” and that no bad would come out of their exile. A year later,
in Sivan 1941, the Nazi’s YM’S, invaded Eastern Galicia and killed the Jews
who remained--the exiles to Siberia remained alive.
harness the powers inherent in this day, through our own personal Torah,
Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka so that the King writes beautiful letters on
our personal behalf, and on behalf of all of K’lal Yisrael!
Note: Hakhel Note: One may question why it took 70 days--from the 13th
of Nissan when the First Letters were issued, to the 23rd of
Sivan--when the Second Letters which nullified them, to be issued. After
all, was not Haman hanged on the sixteenth of Nissan--just several days
after the First Letters were issued. What took so long?! Why were the Jews
still subject to the scary decree for over two months after Haman was taken
fact, Chazal (Yerushalmi Sotah 8A) answer the question, somewhat
enigmatically. Chazal there explain that the 70-day period in which the
First Letters were extant was Keneged--seemingly, in payment or exchange
for--the 70 days that the Egyptians performed Chesed with Yaakov Avinu--from
the time he was Niftar and all the way through the time they escorted him to
his final burial in Meoras HaMachpaila.
Chazal requires elucidation. What do the Mitzriyim have to do with the
decree by the Persians? What does the Chesed of Yaakov Avinu have to do
with our nation being in danger and fear for 70 days? What is the
significance of 70 days? We welcome your insights and explanations!
PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING WORDS OF INSTRUCTION FROM THE STEIPELER GAON, HARAV
YAAKOV YISRAEL KANIEVSKY, Z’TL, FROM HIS SEFER CHAYEI OLAM:
K’lal Yisrael is blessed with a general assurance Shelo Tishtakach
HaTorah--no individual, however, has this assurance. Rather, every
person has to make the election of “U’Vacharta BaChaim--you shall
short Tefillah that every person should constantly request is Lehinatzeil
MiKol Machshavos Ra’os--to be saved from bad thoughts. Purity of mind is
essential to success in life.
Hashem created every creature with its own teva--rabbits are afraid,
doves protect their mates, ants are always in a rush, the ox knows its
master, and the donkey its feeding trough. They are born with all of their
instincts in place. Man is different. When he is born, he has no body of
knowledge or understanding--that he is responsible to attain during his
lifetime. He can have the best character or the worst character--be arrogant
or humble, merciful or cruel, loving or spiteful, bashful or brazen, angry
or calm, generous or stingy, quick to act or lazy, jealous or happy at
another’s success, afraid or courageous, empty-headed or always striving to
learn. It is man’s choice, and it will center around his awareness that it
is not this world that is the ikar--but the next world. The more one
works on himself, the more he, quite literally, is a Ben Olam Haba.
Occurrences in the physical world can be viewed from a spiritual
perspective. When one is thirsty or hungry, for instance, he should consider
how thirsty or hungry he should likewise be for Torah knowledge and Avodas
Hashem. One must live with a feeling of Ruchniyus--for however he expresses
himself in this world will be how he conducts himself in the next. The Sefer
Shomer Emunim brings that he became acquainted with a Ba’al Teshuvah
who was originally very far from Judaism for many years. He became a Ba’al
Teshuvah because he decided to join a cult practicing necromancy--and
learned that the deceased who communicated could only speak in the language
that they spoke in their lifetime. He thus realized that life in this world
is meaningful forever and must be treated accordingly!
first glance, it is almost unbelievable that--after Makkas Bechoros--K’lal
Yisrael still found favor in the eyes of the Mitzriyim, and they were given
silver and gold vessels and expensive clothing. However, upon
reflection--the reason is very simple. The Pasuk records: “VaHashem
Nassan Es Chein Ha’am B’Einei Mitzrayim--and Hashem made us graceful in
the eyes of the Mitzriyim.” While a person can do his hishtadlus--ultimately
everything--including finding favor in the eyes of a ruthless
enemy--is in the hands of Hashem. The Chovos HaLevavos (Sha’ar
HeBechina, Chapter 5) writes that if one would like to see how closely
Hashem watches over us in our time--he need only consider how we are able to
exist among the overly vast majority [Hakhel Note: billions!] of people in
the world who do not want us here. Yet, in truth, we not only exist but
Hodu LaShem--thrive because of His Hashgacha Pratis!
Note: Imagine how much greater the Hashgacha Pratis will be felt upon the
coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu--let us pine for it in our Tefillos--and in our
PREPARATION FOR ROSH CHODESH:
week, we will celebrate Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, inaugurating the last three
months, or final calendar quarter, of the year. In a financial framework,
the last quarter of the year is a time when people begin a review of the
year, think about tax planning techniques, and consider what they can do to
improve the year’s final quarter, so that it ends more successfully, and
they can start the next year off on the right footing and in a positive mode
and direction. All the more so, of course, should we prepare ourselves for
the last quarter of the pivotal year we are living in. We have a week to
ponder and reflect--what have we accomplished thus far; where our goals are;
what can/should we attain in the coming months. It is no coincidence (as it
never is) that as the world slackens off in the summer, we energize
ourselves and achieve--for our calendar--and our agenda, is simply very
AN EARLY START:
an essential lesson of this week’s Parasha, is the disaster that the sin of
Lashon Hara wreaks upon the person and the community. Accordingly, we
provide the following important guidelines:
the Sefer Hilchos Lashon Hara U’Rechilus by Rabbi Kalmen Krohn,
1. Even if one’s father or Rebbi--or even if a king--keeps on
insisting that one relate a piece of information to him, and it involves
even ‘only’ Avak Rechilus, it is forbidden to do so.
2. Even if one heard somebody speak about his parent or his Rebbi, and
because he is very pained about the insult to their honor wants to reveal it
to them, it is assur.
3. One has committed an issur even when he starts walking to relate
Lashon Hara or Rechilus, as the Pasuk states “Lo Seileich Rachil
One should not sit in a group of people who are speaking about the Gedolei
HaDor, because it will inevitably lead to an ill-willed person speaking
is forbidden to speak words which others will feel is Lashon Hara, or will
cause others to suspect him of speaking falsehood (even if otherwise
one agrees to or consents to the words of Lashon Hara of another, it is
considered as if he spoke them and he is deemed to be a Misaper
is forbidden to show another a letter or other writing (including email!) in
which it is clear that the writer is not a wise person.
Even when one is permitted to hear Lashon Hara LeTo’eles, in most
cases it is only to be choshesh (the allowance of a suspicion). This
means that one cannot believe the words as being true or even to have a
safek about their truth, for one is required to keep a person in his
one learned something from his friend about his friend’s business matters,
and was not told to ‘keep it confidential’, it is still forbidden to relate
it to others if it could cause damage or pain to his friend. Even if
it would not cause pain or damage to the friend, it is a Middah Tova
not to reveal anything of the sort that his friend told him without his
Lashon Hara by ‘hinting’ is full-fledged Lashon Hara. Similarly, it is
forbidden to respond to a question posed about another with the words: “I
don’t want to speak Lashon Hara against him by giving you an answer.”
One does not ordinarily associate Lashon Hara with a horrific crime. The
cheit of the Meraglim teaches otherwise. The Chofetz Chaim points out that
when the Kohein Gadol comes into the Kodesh HaKadashim for the first time on
Yom Kippur he must light the ketores--to remove the cheit of Lashon
Hara from K’lal Yisrael--before he undertakes any other Kapparah process.
Without doing so--the process simply cannot begin and no Kapparah would be
accomplished!! The Chofetz Chaim then turns to those who cannot appreciate
this clear lesson and pleads simply with them as follows (we paraphrase):
One has only a certain amount of time in this world from which he gains
eternity which is infinite. It is silly enough to waste moments which could
be used for eternity on foolish chatter. It is terrible to do so on words of
sin…. Let your mouth be your greatest tool to achieve eternity!
There is an especially moving S’forno (Bamidbar 1:2) who writes that not
only did the Jewish people suffer from the sin of the Meraglim, but that the
Canaanim, who were the then inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael, suffered immensely
as well--for if Bnei Yisrael would not have sinned at that time, they would
have entered the land immediately, and the Canaanim would simply have been
chased out, as their sins had not yet reached the level for which they
deserved death. As a result of the 40-year delay, their sins continued to
accrue and compound, and, as a result by the time of Bnei Yisrael’s arrival,
they (except for the Girgashi) all deserved to be killed. Because they were
killed, all of their future generations were never born into the world.
Thus, the S’forno concludes, Lashon Hara destroys not only the lives of
those immediately involved, but by its very nature, destroys the world.
Similarly, the S’forno writes, because the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed as
a result of Lashon Hara, the entire world fell spiritually, and continues to
exist in a spiritually-bereft state.
is one additional, important and very beneficial point we can make. The
Chofetz Chaim writes that if one has spoken Lashon Hora, and the Lashon Hara
has been accepted, then the speaker must ask forgiveness from whom he has
spoken about (i.e., the victim) in order to do Teshuva. HOWEVER, if the
person listening does not accept, and in fact, rejects, the words of Lashon
Hora, then the words have had no damaging effect, and the sin remains one of
Bain Odom L’Makom, so that the Teshuva process need not include the
embarrassment of asking a victim of Lashon Hora for forgiveness (see Sefer
Chofetz Chaim, Hilchos Lashon Hara 4:12). It behooves us, then, to
always be on the alert not to be Mekabel—not to accept, and in fact,
reject--Lashon Hora so that you not only avoid hurting the victim, but
actually eventually help the former culprit in his Teshuva process as well!
ADDITIONAL POINTS AND POINTERS ON THE PARASHA:
A. When a challenging situation or event presents itself--a person is faced
with a choice. One can rise to the occasion, or sink from it. The Meraglim
teach us how devastating not rising can be. Let us take a step back. Even
before leaving Mitzrayim, we were advised that Eretz Yisrael was an “Eretz
Zavas Chalav U’Devash” (Shemos 3:17). The Bnei Yisrael then witnessed
the Makkos (and Bnei Yisrael’s salvation from them), the miracles at Yam Suf,
Matan Torah, the miracles in the desert, the Mishkan….All the Meraglim had
to do was take their mission as the next, very logical step. Instead, they
toppled. From them, we should learn that the challenges to our Emunah and
Bitachon, whether daily or uncommon, whether ordinary or extraordinary--must
be overcome and rejected as nonsense and out-of-hand--as we rise to the
occasion in each and every instance!
teaches us that the Meraglim began their argument with something true (the
land is “Zavas Cholov U’Devash”), for without some truth the falsity
could never have taken root (Bamidbar 13:27). If only the Meraglim had
continued with the truth…world history would have been so different--imagine
(in fact, it is beyond our imagination) all the wars, tzaros, strife and
travail we have gone through for over 3,300 years. What can we do now to
stop it? Many things are possible. Here is a simple suggestion which you
may not have tried before--pick a day (today or tomorrow, so as not to
forget) in which you will be especially careful to speak the truth--and only
the truth--no exaggerations, no stretches, no “you know what I mean,” and
certainly no white-lies. Perhaps we can do our part to demonstrate to
Hashem that, once and for all we want to overturn the Chait HaMeraglim--and
get us all out of this Galus. See how you do--and--thank you from all of
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!
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!
During this pivotal week, we provide a few thoughts on
strengthening ourselves in Shemiras HaLashon:
1. 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 is. 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?
2. In The Power of
Words, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, provides the following outstanding
guidance: “If you were to see a painting that was considered to be
masterpiece painted by one of the most famous artists of all time, you would
not be able to throw mud at it. Your respect for the artist and his
painting would not allow you to soil his work of art. Having an awareness
that each human being is the creation of the Creator of the universe will
give you a similar respect for people. Keep asking yourself, “If I were to
sincerely view this person am now talking to as created in the image of the
Almighty, how would I speak to him?” The next step is to actually try this
out. Even if you haven’t as yet reached this level, act for a while “as if”
you were. After speaking this way for a period of time it will become
natural to you. This is especially important to do with those people you
presently do not talk to as you should. Make a list of people you will do
3. Positive Word Power, produced by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation,
provides the following potent, contemporary guidance: “In the age of email,
the challenge of restraining one’s words has become enormous. The
spontaneous nature of the medium makes people far looser in their verbiage
and far quicker to respond. At the click of a mouse, their diatribe can
travel through cyberspace, and one can assault another person’s dignity
within milliseconds. The time needed for composing a ‘snail-mail’ letter,
including printing, addressing and mailing can serve as a cooling-off
period, at the end of which a person can decide that it is better that the
letter not be sent. With email and text messaging, this barrier is gone.
There is no ostensible time for second thoughts. When used properly,
however, writing can offer tremendous help in curbing ill-conceived
communication. Even email is less spontaneous than verbal dialogue. The
writer can, in fact, take his time in framing his interaction or reaction.
He can review his words and think about how they will be received. He can
erase and rewrite. Someone whose goal it is to address a problematic
situation while avoiding insult to the other has every opportunity to do so
when the written word is the medium.”
4. The Pasuk (Shoftim 6:14) teaches us that Hashem told Gideon: “Leich
Bechochacha Zeh Vehoshata Es Yisrael--go with this strength and you will
save the Bnei Yisrael.” What was this strength? Chazal explain that it was
his Limud Zechus on Klal Yisrael--he asked Hashem to look at things in their
favor, and not blame them for what they had done. In this zechus, he was
chosen to lead Bnei Yisrael out of the Midyanite oppression! We understand
from this important teaching of Chazal just how important it is to be
melamed zechus on our family members, our friends and on others. We, too,
can help to be a Moshi’an Shel Yisrael!
Additional Note: 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 one of those who bask in this light!
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.
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!
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
this week’s Parasha, Moshe Rabbeinu is described as “Anav Me’od
MeKol HaAdam” (Bamidbar 12:3)--Moshe was very humble, more
than any person on the face of the earth. In Avos, however, teaches that:
“Me’od, Me’od Hevei Shefal Ruach--one should be
very, very humble. Why was Moshe only very humble,
while Chazal implore everyone to be very, very humble?
COMPOUNDED FOR ETERNITY:
This week’s Parasha especially highlights the Mitzvah of Shemiras HaLashon
with the ma’aseh of Miriam and Aharon. In the Sefer Shemiras
HaLashon, the Chofetz Chaim spends much time pointing out that the
Mitzvah of Shemiras HaLashon is found in many Parashios of the Torah. The
Chofetz Chaim notes that after 120 years a person will be asked: “Did you
observe the Torah?” If he responds in the affirmative, and then is made to
review lesson after lesson in Shemiras HaLashon on a Parasha after Parasha
basis--he will be more than shame-faced, but shocked and dumbfounded by how
unsuccessful his life had been. On the other hand, if in fact one was
superbly careful in Shemiras HaLashon--those very same Parashios--Parasha
after Parasha after Parasha--will stand in his great stead!
Note: The choice is ours--compounded for eternity!
FROM A READER:
“Regarding the Parasha, 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.”
UPHILL INSTEAD OF DOWNHILL:
Chazal give the reason that the Parasha 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 --
-- a one-page listing of the 17 Mitzvos 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
for your recital at the beginning of the day!
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
40 DAYS OF FASTING:
The Sefer Orchos Tzadikim in the Sha’ar HaTeshuva, quotes from
the Sefer Rokeach as follows: “How does one do Teshuva for Rechilus
or the like? Rechilus has no remedy, unless one asks forgiveness of the
person offended, and one fasts for 40 days or more and receives lashes every
day. [Furthermore], he should recall his misdeed by reciting Vidui every
day, and he should focus upon all Mitzvos in general--and making peace
between man and his fellow and man and his wife in particular.” Although
this type of Teshuva may be something beyond our realm, it is important for
us to get an idea of how severe Lashon Hara and Rechilus really are. If
nothing else, we should shake ourselves before allowing that offhand quip,
witticism or ‘can’t hold it in’ comment to leave our lips. After all, is it
worth what a Rishon (the Sefer Rokeach) tells us requires
40 days of fasting and more--in order to rectify?
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 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
IT’S NOT TOO
LATE FOR US! Although the Internet and cell phones have been years
in the running, and many of us realize that we have occasionally overstepped
our bounds in the past (whether intentionally, recklessly, negligently, or
innocently), we can take all of our negative experiences over the years and
rebound from them through our proper actions now. As we know, Hashem
anticipates and awaits our corrections and, if necessary, our turn-arounds.
Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Shlita, quotes the Satmar Rav, Z”tl, who explained
the statement “Shuvu Bonim Shovavim Chutz MeiAcheir--everyone can do
Teshuvah except for Acheir” to mean that everyone can do Teshuvah except for
someone who considers himself someone else--too far gone--a different
person. Heaven forbid for anyone of us to consider ourselves too far
gone--a different person than the person we were before the technology
explosion began. We should learn from a contractor’s dumpster, placed in
front of a home that is being renovated. Perhaps thousands of pounds of
rubbish and undesired material are thrown in, and the carting company truck
comes and with powerful but sure effort lifts the thousands of pounds up and
carts it away. It is each and every person’s turn to renovate his home!
The Navi (Hosheiah 2:22) brings a touching Pasuk: “Vieirastich Li
BeEmumah VeYada’at Es Hashem…[Hashem says:] I will betroth you to
Me with Emunah, and you will know Hashem.” Rabbi Yosef Eisen, Shlita,
brings a fantastic Malbim on this Pasuk. The Malbim explains that as a
result of the Emunah that we demonstrate in this world, we will be zoche to
‘know Hashem’--He will reveal to us signs and wonders, and will cause the
Shechina to dwell amongst us, so that we will no longer believe in Hashem,
but rather will have a yedi’ah berurah--a tangible knowledge--felt
and understood by our senses--of Hashem. We will no longer have a
Kabbalah, a tradition, regarding Hashem’s existence. Instead, we will have
a personal, clear, and direct awareness of His presence at all times.
Let us daven that we need not wait much longer!