Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Gemach List

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings


Audio-Visual Resources


Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin




18 Tammuz

A SUBMISSION:  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!



TZEDAKA! 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 the poor in Eretz Yisrael for decades with true honor and real distinction.  Add the Navi’s teaching that “Veshaveha BiTzedaka--those who return to Tzion will return with tzedaka” to the need to give on a Ta’anis itself --and we appreciate how much we can accomplish with some well placed funds on this very significant day!



A 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.


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


The Three Weeks in front of us should not be viewed 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.


It is the custom of some to recite “Tikun Chatzos” during the Three Week period (see Rabbi Webster’s Halacha discussion below)--some even in the middle of the day.  We may not as yet be on this level. However, we 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.


In the 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 ahead.



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:


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


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


2. The two daily sacrifices (Korban 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].


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


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


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


Since these five tragedies occurred on the seventeenth of Tammuz, Chazal designated this day as a fast (Rambam, SA 649-1).  The purpose of the fast day is to stir our hearts and do Teshuva-repentance for our own deeds and those of our forefathers (MB 549-1, KSA 121-1, Rabbi Chaim Brisker 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).


Chazal did not prohibit all types of pleasures on this fast day as they did on Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur. On this fast, only eating and drinking were prohibited. Washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes and marital relations are permitted (SA 550-2, K’sav Sofer OC Vol. 100, see Likutai Hoaros on the K’sav Sofer). Some are stringent upon themselves in 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).


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


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


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


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


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


If one made a mistake and recited a bracha and 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).


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


One should make the special effort not to get angry on a fast day (ER 568-18).



16 Tammuz

TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT: One 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.





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





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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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





A.  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 summer home.


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


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


B.  “Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov Mishkenosecha Yisrael”.  We recite this Pasuk upon entering Shul every morning.  The Chasam Sofer notes that there are two kinds of unacceptable behavior when it comes to one’s relationship with his 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. 



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


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


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


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


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


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


Hakhel Note: Yes you can!



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 ‘acceptable’ standard.


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


To reiterate the practical teaching HaRav Yisroel Belsky, 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! Over the Three Week period, one of a person’s great accomplishments would be true improvement in Bein Adam L’Chaveiro. As the Chofetz Chaim outlines at the outset of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, the Second Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of the aveira of Sinas Chinam/Lashon Hara. HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim, writes that Sever Panim Yafos--meeting and reacting to a person with thought, care and pleasantness would be a great accomplishment resulting from the Three Week period. Even when not meeting someone in person, HaRav Friedlander continues, one should talk over the phone in a way in which the person on the other end feels the smile. To aid in the sometimes difficult task, no matter how busy or preoccupied you may be, we 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: We 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 have:


A. If 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).


B. The 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).


C. If 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).


D. If 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).


E. The 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).


F. In 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).


G. The 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!



15 Tammuz

TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT: The 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!



REACTION! 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 this.


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 Rachmanus.


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 the grass.



React we must in our thoughts, in our Tefillos, in our Tehillim and in our change!




1.  If 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).


2.  If the seller knows of any blemish in the material, he must so advise the buyer, whatever his nationality (ibid.).


3. To 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.).


4.  If 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)


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!



14 Tammuz

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 you.


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 difficulties, he generally lost all sense of perspective. He viewed molehills as mountains, and 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 common sense, 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 dialed 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 couldnt think of what to do, Hashem has many ways to assist him. “But when I 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 calm, and then, he could visualize himself being in his panic state. As soon as he was aware that he was experiencing panic, he should repeat this verse a number of times, and then he should see himself becoming calm. Keep imagining this, many times. Every time you visualize this, you are making these pictures stronger and stronger in your brains neurons. Be patient. With enough practice, eventually - without any conscious effort: on your part-- you will automatically start asking Hashem to save you and make you successful. With your calmer state and with the power of prayer, you will find solutions faster than ever before. This has worked for many, and it is very likely that it will work for you.


Whether or not he persisted until this worked for him, you, the reader, can choose to put this into practice. All those who have done so - since the first time these words were written in Tehillim --have benefited spiritually, emotionally, and practically!”


Hakhel 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, Chasimas HaSefer)



13 Tammuz

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 Ma’ariv?



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



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



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.





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 payment.


[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)]



12 Tammuz

TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT:  Spend the rest of the day consciously trying not to violate tzararnu--causing pain to others.



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



A WONDERFUL TEACHING FROM RABBEINU YONAH: “An 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 us.” [Excerpted from The Concise Ahavas Chesed The Classic Work of the Chofetz Chaim Adapted to a Daily Learning Schedule in English by Rabbi Asher Wasserman, Shlita]



WITHIN 30 DAYS: The 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:


 ”Who 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!”


Hakhel 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.



THE 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?!       


It is 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.


We all 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 Kivisi Hashem!!”


Hakhel 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 Moshiach: (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.





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!



9 Tammuz

TODAY’S TESHUVAH MOMENT:  Stop and recite the Pasuk Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Samid at least two times today, attempting to feel Hashem’s Presence.



THE 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.


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


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





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






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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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





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: “Yehi RatzonSheyehei Aisek Zeh Li LeRefuah Ki Rofeh Chinam Attah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 230:4) is recited before taking medicine, going to a doctor, and the like.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



THIS WEEK’S PIRKEI AVOS:  In this week’s Pirkei Avos (5:10), we 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!



8 Tammuz

TESHUVAH MOMENT: 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]



SUMMER SHAILOS Now that the summer is very much upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, we provide the following Shailos and Teshuvos are questions that we had asked Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Ztl, 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.




Calling Someone Else’s Spouse by Their First Name

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

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

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


Use of One Sink for Both Milk and Meat


QUESTION: My kitchen in the bungalow has only one sink.  In the past I used a separate rack in the sink for milk and a second rack for meat.  Is there anything else I need to do since I wash my dishes with hot water?

ANSWER: Yes, there is absolutely something that you can and must do.  Throw out the racks and get large dish pans (shisselach)Rabbosai, racks are not a good system.  Whenever someone tries to use racks, there is cutlery (i.e. forks and knives) that slip through the holes in the racks.  The bottom of the sink has a fine layer covering of fleischig schmaltz combined with cheese and cream, butter and who knows what else.  It is almost impossible to control.  There will be backups and the water will rise and maybe it will be a k’li sheni.  The backup will get all over the dishes and it will be an impossible situation for you to wash off all the dishes.  You shouldn’t use racks.  If you want to use a rack, put it under a dish pan.  The stores have plenty of these plastic dish pans in every color or shape to fit your particular need.


Yichud Issues


QUESTION: My husband goes shopping on Thursday night and oftentimes some neighbors want to go along.  Sometimes it is just one woman.  Is there a problem of yichud?

ANSWER: The answer is yes!  It can become a yichud issue when you travel on a dark country road late at night that is not well-traveled.  Again, even if it is something that is done once, it is a problem.


QUESTION: Sometimes I have to go to the City during the week and stay late at night.  I would like a female counselor to stay overnight in the bungalow to watch over the children.  What is the best thing to do to ensure that there will not be a problem with yichud?

ANSWER: If the female counselor is going to stay in the bungalow with a nine year-old boy, there is really no way to get away from the problem of yichud.  If the child is seven or eight years old, young enough to not have an active yetzer hara, it might be permissible to have the counselor stay overnight to watch the children.


Am I Required to Help a Stranded Motorist?


QUESTION: If I see someone pulled over to the side of the road with car trouble, am I required to stop and help?  Does it matter if I have my family with me and my stopping will inconvenience and make it harder for them?  What if my wife is expecting me home?

ANSWER: This is a very serious question and you have to utilize a lot of judgment.  To help someone and yet in the process cause a lot of tza’ar (hardship) and hurt others is not a simple thing to do.  One must think very carefully and make a judgment.  I was once driving up to the country and it was a very difficult ride.  It was very hot outside and there was a major traffic jam just north of the City.  There was a Yid who was stuck changing a tire on a very crowded spot on a little traffic island, surrounded by traffic on both sides.  There was no place to park.  I decided it would be better to drive on to the toll booths which was another five minutes away and inform them that there was a motorist stuck and that they should send an official vehicle to help him out.  As I was driving, a goy pulled up to me and stated loudly, “You didn’t stop to help your brother!”


Removing Yarmulkes and Tzitzis


QUESTION: May my son take off his yarmulke when playing ball?

ANSWER: While one is playing ball or engaged in any sport, G-d forbid that he should remove his yarmulke, for this leads to lightheadedness and stems from a lightheaded attitude.  One who fears that his yarmulke might fly off should attach it with bobby pins or the like.


QUESTION: May I take off my Tzitzis when going to the pool?

ANSWER: A ben Torah should walk to and from the pool wearing tzitzis (and when playing ball).  Tzitzis should not be the clothing which we show we are more lax in during the summer months.  If you are going in the swimming pool and take off your tzitzis for more than an hour’s time, you must make a new brocha when putting them back on.  When taking off the tzitzis for only a half-hour, no new brocha is needed.  If the tzitzis are off from anywhere between a half-hour and an hour, you should not make a new brocha based on sofek brochos l’hakel.


Food-Related Items Under Bed


QUESTION: My wife and children say that because of lack of space in their bungalow/bunk in camp, they would like to store snack foods, drinks and plastic eating utensils underneath the beds. Is this permissible?

ANSWER: One should not use the space to store food or drinks, but utensils may be kept there.  If you mistakenly left food or drink there, you may use them.



7 Tammuz






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 after outcome! 


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.



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




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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



Overcoming Summer Time Nisyonos


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

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



6 Tammuz

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



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



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


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


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


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


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


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



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. 


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

A:  No, there is no obligation, as it is not common for a printer to be open on Shabbos--even if the owner is Mechalel Shabbos.  Moreover, even if the printer is 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?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



5 Tammuz

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


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 message?!


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 stay on.”


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


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



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


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



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



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!



2 Tammuz

TOMORROW:  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 observance worldwide.



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





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!


2. The 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. 


A.  In the Bracha of Mai’ein Sheva in Shul on Friday night, one bows at the outset as if he is beginning Shemone Esrei. 


B.  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).


C. It 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.


D.  If 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.


E.  It is permissible to use a frozen Challah for Lechem Mishna, even if it may not defrost during the Seudah.


F.  One should not discard a Havdalah candle directly into the garbage.  Rather, to show Kavod for the Mitzvah, one should first wrap it. 


G.  If 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.


H.  A 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.


I.  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 MeHeichano”.


J.  A telephone book is not Muktzah, for it can be used to look up addresses.




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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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



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


There are practical and important lessons for us here.


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


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





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


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


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


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



1 Tammuz

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


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



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



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



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

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


THE 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!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



30 Sivan

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.



ENTERING TAMMUZ! 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.



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


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

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






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 faith.


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....


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



29 Sivan

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!



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



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



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


While we all may be very familiar with this quote, we should make an extra special effort to energize the quote and actually apply it in everyday life.  Imagine enjoying and benefiting from a light that even an angel cannot appreciate and attain.  If we do not use this phrase to combat our Yetzer Hara at least once a day in an at-home or at-work situation, we may be acting in a very remiss manner--against ourselves!  The 40-day preparatory period which led to the Meraglim’s world-wrenching and generation-affecting 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.







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


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


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


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


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


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


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


H.  Chazal (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!



28 Sivan

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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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



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



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



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



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


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


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


Rav Dessler, Z’tl (Michtav M’Eliyahu 4:98) writes that “Mazal” is a person’s utilization of his “nature and nurture”--his innate talents and particular surroundings-- to realize and fulfill his mission in life.  Rav Aryeh 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.


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


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


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



25 Sivan

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



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



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


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


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


3.  Why 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?





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


B. The 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!


C.  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!





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


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


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


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


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


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





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


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


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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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





1. Rebbi Nechunyah Ben Hakanah (3:6) teaches that: “Kol HaMekabel Alav Ohl Torah…one who accepts upon himself the 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.


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


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



24 Sivan

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. 



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







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


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


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



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


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


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


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


“A few years ago I had the opportunity to be a Kashrus supervisor at a soda bottling plant. Standing there in amazement, watching 3,200 soda cans filled and capped per minute, something interesting caught my eye. An inspector wearing a long, white coat, who was overseeing the operation, randomly plucked a can or bottle off of the speeding 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!



23 Sivan

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


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



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



THE 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...”


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


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


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


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


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


Hakhel 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 care of?!


 In 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.


This 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!








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


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


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


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


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


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



22 Sivan

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



GET AN EARLY START:  Such 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:


A.  From the Sefer Hilchos Lashon Hara U’Rechilus by Rabbi Kalmen Krohn, Shlita:


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 BeAmecha.


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


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


6.  If 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 Lashon Hara.


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


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


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


10.  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.”


B.  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!


C. 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. 


There 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!





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!


B. Rashi 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 us!



21 Sivan

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



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 this with.”


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!



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



18 Sivan

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



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!


Hakhel 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 -- http://tinyurl.com/22tuarx  -- 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 http://www.hakhel.info/archivesPublicService/TefillahL%27ShemirasHaLashon.pdf

for your recital at the beginning of the day!



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



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



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 street!”



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!



TANGIBLE EMUNAH:  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!


Other email archives