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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin




Special Note One:  A new important and valuable service is now available to the Daf Yomi community worldwide.  Daf Notes (www.dafnotes.com), which produces a wonderful daily review of the Daf, will now take questions by email relating to the Daf Yomi Mesechta being studied and respond--as yet another one of its outstanding free services.  To correspond with Daf Notes, or to ask any questions that you like relating to the Daf or the Mesechta contact info@dafnotes.com



Special Note Two:  There is a disagreement between Rebbe Yehoshua and Rebbe Eliezer as to the date on the calendar upon which man was created.  Tosfos explains that according to Rebbe Yehoshua, who holds that man was created on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, it would mean that the first day of Ma’aseh Bereishis--the day the world began--is today, the 25th of Adar!  What a great day it is to start something new.  A new Mitzvah, a new project, a new goal, a new accomplishment.  Each and every one of us has the ability to--and should strive to do so.  In this regard, we provide the following insights--from Dovid HaMelech himself in the extremely poignant and instructive Chapter 119 of Tehillim:


a.  Dovid exclaims (Tehillim 119:164):  ‘Sheva Bayom Hillalticha Ahl Mishpetei Tzidkecha...Seven Times a Day I have praised you for Your righteous ordinances’.  Rashi (ibid.) explains that these Seven Times are in fact the Seven Brachos that we recite every day which relate directly to Kriyas Shema--Three Brachos in Shacharis (two before Kriyas Shema and one after), and Four Brachos in Ma’ariv (two before Kriyas Shema and two after).  What a great new goal it would be if we would especially recognize the tremendous importance and significance of these Brachos--rather than viewing them only as portals to Kriyas Shema or Shemone Esrei--and put some real Kavannah into their recitation.  Seven focused Brachos a day--revolving around our fundamental daily Kriyas Shema--truly a phenomenal accomplishment.  Dovid Hamelech expressed it clearly--Sheva BaYom Hillalticha--and this is what he meant!


b.  Dovid pleads (Tehillim 119:18)  ‘Gal Ainai Ve’Abita Niflaos MiTorasecha--unveil my eyes that I may perceive wonders from Your Torah.’  The Torah is so deep and there is so much for us to know.  One may dejectedly ask:  Is the task really possible?  This is definitely not the appropriate question--a more telling query for oneself is--what am I really doing to gain as much Divine Knowledge as I can?  Beyond my set or daily Torah study, am I steadfastly and actively seeking Hashem’s guidance--am I asking Hashem for help daily--for eye-opening understanding in what to study, how to study--and in the study itself?  When stuck or stymied on a point, when tired or unclear, when unsure how to next proceed--do I ‘turn off’--or instead do I recite this very Pasuk that Dovid Hamelech recited when he was in his own similar situation (on his level)?!  Hashem as the Source of all Torah can most certainly assist you to acquire more and more of it.  Commit the Pasuk to memory--and use it very sincerely--and very freely!


c.  Dovid teaches (Tehillim 119:129)  Pela’os Eidvosecha Al Kain Netzarasam Nafshi--Your testimonies are wonders, therefore my soul has guarded them.  Rashi (ibid.) comments that the enormity of Mitzvah accomplishment is hidden from us--as an example, he cites the Mitzvah of Shi’luach HaKan--which appears so simple, quick and costless--yet has Arichus Yomim attached to it in and of itself.  With this in mind, no Mitzvah should be downplayed, underrated, skipped, or skimped upon.  Chazal teach that HaYom La’Asosam--our Mitzvah performance is limited to our time in this world, and so no G-d Given opportunity should be forsaken.  Moreover, one should actively seek to perform Mitzvos that he has not had the opportunity to perform before.  Dovid (Tehillim 119:19) actually expresses it clearly with the words :  Ger Anochi Va’Aretz Al Taster Mimeni Mitzvosecha--I am a sojourner in the world, hide not Your Mitzvos from me’.  If one views each day as a fountainhead of burgeoning opportunities--if he sees the events in his life as true occasions for eternity, if one actively looks to uncover and achieve new sources for his soul’s satisfaction--then he is taking the teachings of Dovid HaMelech to heart.  The Chayei Odom devotes an entire Chapter (Chapter 68) to appreciating and accomplishing Mitzvos.  If possible, one should study it, and even review it again from time to time.   Hashem has given and continues to give us gifts of immense proportions daily--let us try hard to appreciate, to rejoice in, and make the most of these Heavenly gifts.  We can than ask for more and more--which He will be happy to give--and which will give Him nachas!  A new, devoted effort to appreciate and strive for Mitzvos daily-- What opportunity!  Thank you--25 Adar!



Special Note One:  The Minhag among all of K’lal Yisroel is not to recite Tachanun in all of Chodesh Nisan (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 131:7).  [Some already do not recite Tachanun, as we are in the Yemei Milui’m--see next note].  Mondays and Thursdays are known as special Yemei Ratzon, and we recite the expanded version of Tachanun, VeHu Rachum, on theses days.  We should especially focus tomorrow and Monday on the special techinos and bakashos in this beautiful prayer--as we will not be reciting them again for a full month.  It is indeed stirring to realize how many times during this Tefillah that we plead with Hashem “VeHoshiainu LeMa’an Shemecha--Save Us for the Sake of Your Great Name!  May our heartfelt, Kavannah-filled last pleas of Tachanun before Nissan fully and finally bring the Geulah Sheleima--so that this Pesach we are involved in celebrating more than one Geulah!




Special Note Two:  The following is excerpted from the always timely and relevant Sefer HaToda’ah by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, as translated and known as The Book of Our Heritage (Feldheim Publishers--available in pocket size as well!).  “The last Seven Days of Adar, from the Twenty-Third until Rosh Chodesh Nisan, are called the Yemei HaMiluim--the ‘days of dedication.’  It was then that Moshe Rabbeinu consecrated the Mishkan after its construction.  Every day he would actually erect the Mishkan; offer the Korbanos of the Miluim; eat the sanctified portions; perform all of the services of the Kohen Gadol; and then take the Mishkan apart.  These days of dedication of the first Mishkan are destined to be repeated when the Moshiach comes.  It is said that his coming and the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash will take place in the month of Nisan.  Thus, the days of dedication serve as a memorial to the Mishkan made by Moshe, as well as a time of prayer for the final redemption and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash in which the Shechina will dwell eternally.”  Hakhel Note:  Do we get the message--do we appreciate the times--will we properly appreciate--and utilize--the next few days until Rosh Chodesh Nisan?  We do have the choice--we can be complacent or proactive--be satisfied with the status quo--or yearn for the Geulah with especially dedicated Tefillos.  To use an Olam HaZeh analogy, it is as if the lottery is about to be drawn, and you have been awarded four out of the five numbers for good behavior an hour before the drawing--you have only to successfully choose the fifth number.  Would you bother taking the time and making the effort to select it?!  Let us take the times as seriously and as wonderfully as they really are!



Special Note Three:   In this week’s Parsha, we find the difference between a Metzorah Musgar, who is someone locked away in order to determine whether he really has a definite Tzora’as affliction, and a Metzora Muchlat, who is someone who definitely has Tzora’as.  The person who is suspected of Tzoraas and is put away for a week or two, and then pronounced Tahor, clean, need only take himself and his clothes to the Mikvah.  However, the Metzora Muchlat, the definite Metzora, must live separated from people, letting his hair grow, with his clothing torn, screaming to people that he is tamei so that they do not get near him, and eventually, if and when he becomes Tahor, he must go through an entire purification process.  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Zt’l, explains that the Metzora Musgar, who was merely locked away for a week or two recognized that he needed to rectify that which he was doing wrong and quickly did Teshuva for his actions.  As a result, he was spared much shame, pain and ordeal.  On the other hand, the Metzora Muchlat didn’t respond to his Tzoraas with a quick turnaround of Teshuva, and, as a result, had to wallow deeply in the mire of his avaira.


There is a great lesson here for all of us.  When one realizes he has done something wrong, he must not wait until tomorrow to rectify his misdeed or misbehavior.  Just as when there is a great sale at a store, one does not wait until the second day of the sale to get to the store, so too, does it not make sense **at all** to wait to do Teshuva.  This point is so vital that the Rabbeinu Yona actually begins his entire classic work Shaarei Teshuva with the great fallacy one commits against himself if he delays or pushes off even slightly Teshuva on something he knows must be rectified.


It is interesting to note that the Chofetz Chaim counts the negative prohibition of “HiShamer B’Nega Tzoraas--beware of the affliction of Leprosy”--as one of the negative prohibition that one currently violates if he speaks Loshon Hora.  While we may not have Tzora’as in its physical form in our day, we certainly do have the great lessons to be gleaned from it!


REAL OPPORTUNITY !  Mishna Berurah Yomi Audio Shiurim are available by the internationally renowned Rabbi Yitzchok Berkovits, Shlita.  The entire five year cycle is available on one disc--1,750 Shiurim of 10 minute each--each providing an explanation of the Mishna Berurah and Halacha LeMa’aseh for everyday use.  The Chicago Center for Torah and Chesed is making the disc available for $18.00.  To order, or for more information, call the Chicago Center at 773-761-4005, or email mby@thechicagocenter.org


Special Note One:  From PROJECT KAVEY (Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita):  How do you get a 19,000 pound killer whale to jump 22 feet in the air?  The trainers at Sea World have accomplished this amazing feat by helping the ‘whale not fail.’  Initially, a rope was held under the whale so that the whale could not help but go over it.  Every time the whale would go over the rope, it was given a significant dose of positive reinforcement so that it would continue to go over the rope.  Over time the rope was raised, bit by bit, until it reached a height of 22 feet.  If you want your child to succeed, set him up for success.  Focus on what your child is already doing right – in the very area in which you are not pleased with his or her performance.  Even if your child achieves only minimal or partial success; even if it’s not precisely what you had wanted; even if it’s only an effort; even if it’s nothing more than a lack of negative – acknowledge it!  The more you catch your child doing it right, the more he will do it right.  If you would like to join a live parenting line or would like more information, contact tips@kavey.org, or call 646-504-1016 ( US ), 020-7043-5619 ( UK ), 082-441-2713 (SA), 052-769-7588 (IL)



Special Note Two:  As the Chag approaches, we once again provide an important link to The Kosher Haircut Guide Poster by clicking here.  We urge you to distribute this link, in order to help many others in your community as well.  To obtain a free large and laminated poster for placement in a barber shop, or permanent placement in Shul, Yeshiva, or other institution, please call: 718-253-5497.



Special Note Three:  Hakhel’s Tefillin Hanacha KeHalacha Program has had great success in the New York Metropolitan Area.  Qualified Sofrim check the individual’s placement of the Shel Yad and Shel Rosh, as well as the exterior of the Batim and Retzuos as a free service.  For those who would like their Shul to participate in the Program, please email shelrosh@comcast.net.  By clicking here, we provide a useful guide to adjusting the size of your Tefillin Retzuos.  Imagine if you learn the skill--and help another properly adjust his Shel Rosh--saving him from hundreds or thousands of brachos levatala, as well as allowing him to put on Tefillin properly.  Especially when a person ‘borrows’ someone else’s Tefillin, or borrows his Shul’s Tefillin, does the proper placement of the Shel Rosh become a real issue.  For hard copies of this handy card, please call 718-375-9657. The cards are also available in Hebrew, and posters are available in English, Hebrew and Russian.



Special Note Four:  A reader wrote to us that, when he visited Florida , he was particularly moved by the motto of the Winn Dixie Stores:  Getting Better All The Time’--and took it on as his calling in a much more spiritual sense.  Hakhel Note:  The 15 Kepitelech of Tehillim from 120 through 134 are known as the Shir HaMa’alos--the Songs of Ascent, because they represent the 15 Steps in the Bais HaMikdash that led up from the Ezras Noshim to the Ezras Yisroel, and upon which the Leviim recited these poignant Chapters. It is telling that the steps are referred to as Ma’alos, although in contemporary Hebrew steps are referred to as ‘Madreigot’. Only is an elevator referred to as a Ma’alit--presumably because it gets you to your destination faster and without much effort.  Dovid Hamelech, however, knew better.  If we are to ascend in life, it has to be at a sure and steady pace--and with effort.  Teshuva BeChol Yom is our way of Getting Better All The Time--our very own and personal Shir HaMa’alos! For the next three weeks until Pesach--let us be sure that we ascend not on Madreigot--but on Ma’alos!



Special Note Five:  We received the following from a reader:  “And the servant [Eliezer] ran toward her and said, Please let me drink some water from your pitcher.” (Bereishis 24:17)  Rashi quotes a Midrash that says Eliezer ran toward Rivka because he saw that when Rivka drew water for herself, the water rose towards her of its own volition.  Yet, the Ramban points out that when Eliezer later asked Rivka to draw water for him, the Pasuk says:  ‘[Rivka] herself drew all the water for his camels.’  This time, the water did not rise up to greet he; on its own. 


The Kedushas Levi explains that when Rivka went to draw water for herself, Hashem accommodated her and made the water rise toward her since she was a ‘Tzadekes’.  However, since Eliezer had requested water from her, she would now be fulfilling a Mitzvah.  Hashem did not want to ease her burden, since doing so would lessen her reward.  Therefore, He made her work as hard as any other person in order to accomplish the Mitzvah.


Hakhel Note:  What a wonderful thought!  During this short and sometimes pressured period between Purim and Pesach, we sometimes may wish that things could be a bit easier, and could go just a tad more smoothly.  That might not always happen, but we should most definitely be encouraged and energized by the fact that Rivka Imeinu did not have it easy either--and that was especially so--so that the sweat and toil involved with the Mitzvah in the here and now could go a very, very long way in the forever and ever.  As you perform your tasks in preparation for the Chag, remember that whatever you are doing is not for the day or for the week, but for the eternal and everlasting thereafter!


Reminder--Please Participate in the Hakhel Matching Funds!




Although we do have much more to discuss, we are devoting this Bulletin to a singular cause because of its EXTREME IMPORTANCE NOW .  The Rambam in Hilchos Rotzeiach (12:15) writes that Doniel was punished with the Nisayon of being placed into the Gov Arayos, the Lion’s Den, because of the great advice that he gave to Nevuchadnetzar the Rasha.  Based upon Doniel's advice and the punishment he received, the Rambam rules that it is forbidden to give good advice to one who is undeserving (see there).  What was the advice that Doniel gave to Nevuchadnetzar that was so great that made Doniel so culpable?  The Rambam writes that he advised Nevuchadnetzar that he could save himself from the dire events of the dream Nevuchadnetzar had seen by giving Tzedaka to deserving people.


As many of you know, Hakhel is affiliated with Yad Eliezer, an internationally recognized Tzedaka organization in Eretz Yisroel.  Yad Eliezer has sent the following two paragraphs to us.  Please read carefully:


Purim and Pesach come in such rapid succession and don’t give you a lot of time to savor past successes.  This Purim, Yad Eliezer gave out almost $400,000 which was the most we’ve ever done.  The Hakhel community raised $4,126 in a single day and this was matched by the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills.  $8,252 was given to Melamdim and Talmidei Chachachim on Purim because of your generosity.   We chose families who literally cannot put food on their table because they haven’t gotten paid in months.  Hungry families do not make good Rebbes – so your tzedaka has, in addition to simple goodness, a long range effect on Klal Yisrael.


Pesach presents us with a whole new set of challenges.  Food and clothing are astronomically expensive for all of us, but for Melamdim and  Almonos and Yesomim, it is especially difficult.  Most of the joy of Yom Tov is dissipated by the fear that “we just won’t make it”.

The Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills has agreed to give Yad Eliezer another match.  If we can raise $20,000 for this specific group – Melamdim and Almonos, they will give us the same amount.  Which means that every dollar we raise, will be enough to give $2 for Tzedaka. We are giving this matching opportunity to Hakhel.  It’s a phenomenal opportunity to increase the power of your Tzedaka funds.  Chag Kasher V’Sameach. 


Hakhel Note:  We would like to take this opportunity to PLEAD with our readers to help provide chickens, vegetables and Pesach needs to these Melamdim, Almonos and Yesomim. Every dollar is worth two.  If each reader will give $18.00, we will far exceed the matching funds--and JOINTLY will have raised far in excess of $40,000.00 for Tzedaka LeMa'aseh in one day--and in enough time to provide some Pesach Joy to those who so desperately need it.  If you are not employed or can not afford $18.00, then please give $10.00 or even $1.00--but PLEASE PARTICIPATE.  If you can give more--please do--so that we can reach our goal today.  PLEASE!  You can go to the Yad Eliezer website--  www.yadeliezer.org  (Please place the words “Hakhel Pesach Matching Funds” in the notes section of the donation page) or call Mrs. Tropper--718-258-1580 with your donation.


Can we at all imagine what effect this Tzedaka will have in Shomayim?  If Doniel's advice to a Rasha to give Tzedaka in order to save himself from punishment was so potent that Doniel was punished with the Nisayon of the Lion's Den--imagine how much the ACTUAL GIVING OF TZEDAKA to the Truly Needy for Pesach will shake the Heavens! May it really and truly stand as a Zechus For Your Families and all of K'lal Yisroel in these turmoil-filled times, and may it bring the final Geulah--when we will all be filled with Joy-- oh so much closer.


There are so many Mitzvos involved here. Please do whatever you can--but PLEASE JOIN IN TODAY!



Rabbi Gershon Bess, Shlita, has now made available the 5771 Passover Guide to Cosmetics and Medications.   You may obtain a hard copy by calling 323-933-7193, and  further updates can be found on the following website:  www.kehilasyaakov.org  To reach Rabbi Bess with a shaila, you may email rgbess@hotmail.com  Pesach is really coming! May it bring Simcha to all of K’lAl Yisroel!


Special Note One:  The Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, brings the words of the Zohar as follows:  “Although Yissocher was born before Zevulun, Zevulun merited receiving Brachos FIRST both from his father (in Parshas VaYechi) and from Moshe Rabbeinu (in Parshas VeZos HaBracha) because “he took bread out of his mouth and put it into the mouth of Yissocher”.  From this, the Zohar teaches, we learn that one who supports a Torah Scholar receives Brachos from above and from below, and is Zoche to ‘two tables’--wealth in this world and an indescribable portion in the next world.”


The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 429, seif katan 3) teaches that it is a Minhag  (from the time of the Gemara--and actually Medina DeGemara) to give Ma’aos Chittim to Torah Scholars before Pesach in a special way so that all can enjoy Pesach.  We should especially have the Zohar in mind as we generously give to Torah Scholars during this great and propitious period.



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


1.  One final point on ‘Maharu Es Haman La’asos Es D’var Esther’. We received the following comment from a Rav as to how Purim finds its way into our Shabbos Zemiros:  “It could be, as we see from the continuation of the piyut, a lesson regarding one’s attitude to the Seudos of Shabbos. Just like Esther, when she ordered a royal banquet, did not sit down to calculate the expenses - so too we should do the same. Our Shabbos meals are a royal banquet no less that Esther’s was!


2.The following Halachos are excerpted from The 39 Melachos (Feldheim), the great four-volume work by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita:


a.  Although discussing and even planning a Mitzvah-related project is permitted, finalizing any deals or transactions (even verbally) is not permitted even for the sake and purpose of a Mitzvah. Completing a business deal or any transaction is forbidden on Shabbos even though nothing was written or signed.  Example:  One may inquire about a private tutor or Rebbe for his  son on Shabbos, and even pursue tentative arrangements.  However, they may not agree on a specific salary, nor may they finalize the agreement in any way.


b.  One is not permitted to cause himself or others  any anguish or emotional distress on Shabbos, as this disturbs the peaceful spirit of shabbos. For example, one may not tell depressing stories or recount troublesome events to a friend who might become dejected as a result.


c.  One should not use a brush to remove lint, hair, etc. from a suit or garment because this is an Uvda DeChol.  Moreover, brushing dark colored garments is forbidden under the melacha of Melabein.  One is, however, permitted to remove lint or hairs by hand.


d.  Talking on the telephone with a non-observant Jew in another country (e.g., Israel ) where it is already Shabbos is forbidden because this is equivalent to deriving benefit from Shabbos transgression (i.e., the Shabbos transgression of the non-observant Jew in Israel ).  It is similarly forbidden to tune into an Israeli radio station broadcasting when it is already Shabbos in Eretz Yisroel.



Special Note Three:  A PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT was recently issued by many Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel and America .  The lead signature is HaRav Wosner, Shlita, and among the other 20 plus signatures of Gedolei HaRabbanim are HaRav Shteineman, Shlita, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, HaRav Dovid Feinstein, Shlita, HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita, HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, and HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita.  While the Announcement as we have it is actually in Lashon HaKodesh, we provide a summary translation of the text as follows:  B’vais Elokim NeHaleich B’Ragesh--into the house of Hashem we go with trepidation. With the onset of cell phone use, and with a person carrying a cell phone with him wherever he goes, there are some people who come into Shul to daven without powering off their phone.  Certainly if the phone rings out loud it is a Zilzul Chamur BiChvod Shomayim, but even if the phone only vibrates so that a person can tell that someone is trying to contact him, it is an Issur Chamur Me’od, for ACCORDING TO HALACHA a person is obligated to remove and cast aside all items and matters which are a ‘Matrid’, which can adversely affect his Kavanna in Tefillah.  Most certainly, the cell phone has a great adverse effect on Kavanna BaTefillah and it is a Bizayon Gadol Me’od that for the short amount of time that a person stands before his Creator that he cannot separate himself from the Havlei HaOlam.  It is therefore a Chova, an obligation on each and every individual before entering Shul to turn off his cell phone.  Through this thoughtful act, may the concluding words of our Shemone Esrei (Malachi 3:4) “VeArvah LeHashem  Minchas Yehuda VeYerushalayim-- then the offering of Yehudah and Yerushalayim will be pleasing to Hashem… be fulfilled speedily and in our day.”  The signatures of the Rabbonim then appear.  Hakhel Note:  On top of the Halacha Pesuka cited by the Rabbonim themselves--Mitzvah Lishmo’a Divrei Chachomim!



Special Note Four:  At the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Shemini, we find that Moshe Rabbeinu first “called to Aharon...” and only afterwards “spoke to Aharon.”  HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, Z’tl, notes that when one wants to speak with a person, he should call him specifically by his name, and only then continue with a conversation.  Mentioning someone’s name can create a special level of endearment and closeness, a human bond.  Moshe Rabbeinu may very well have learned this very beautiful Middah from Hashem Himself, Who at the outset of Sefer VaYikra (1:1) first “calls to Moshe”, and only afterwards begins “speaking to him.”


May we suggest that over Shabbos (i.e. the week-end) and Sunday (i.e., the week-beginning), you take the lead of Hashem--and of Moshe Rabbeinu--and call to a person by name before starting a conversation.  May this serve as a source of Brocha in enhancing all of our personal relationships.



Special Note Five:  The following Teshuvos relating to this week’s Parsha are given by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, in the Sefer Derech Sicha (Vol. I: p. 345,346):


Shailah:  If a person has dry or chapped lips, and as a result when he eats some of the skin enters the mouth and gets eaten together with the food--is there any Issur involved--is it like eating the skin of a person?


Teshuvah:  The Tosefta (Nega’im, Chapter 2) as brought by the Rambam (Hilchos Tumas Tzara’as 6:1) rules that the lips are treated as the inner body, and accordingly it would be treated just as blood within the inner body (like a bleeding gum when the blood remains inside the body) which is permitted.


Shailah:  A young man was doing well in Yeshiva, learning well--and suddenly stopped understanding his learning so well--what can be done?


Teshuvah:  Perhaps he ate Ma’achalos  Asuros--and so he should accept upon himself extra special care--’Shemira U’Zehirus’-- in this area.


Shailah:  A young man went off the Derech and has returned to the Torah way of life, what can he do about the Timtum HaLev that he brought upon himself by the Ma’achalos Asuros that he had consumed while not a Shomer Mitzvos? 

Teshuvah:  He should learn the Halachos of Ma’achalos Asuros.


Shailah:  If one ate Ma’achalos Asuros unintentionally (Beshogeg), and then realizes it, can he be saved from Timtum HaLev by disgorging the food, or does the act of eating the food already cause Timtum HaLev?


Teshuvah: It is the eating that causes the Timtum HaLev, and accordingly merely disgorging the food will not remove the Timtum. The food does not have to enter the blood stream in order for the Timtum HaLev to occur. Even if one acted B’Shogeg there is an element of Aveirah involved. However, if the eating was by Oness or for Pikuach Nefesh purposes no Timtum HaLev will occur, unless there was an alternative means to avoid the Issur.  If there is  a way to avoid the Issur--then even then Timtum could occur.


Shaila:  Is there a source in Chazal for not staring or looking closely at an unkosher animal?


Teshuvah:  In Sifrei Kabbalah this concept is mentioned (see Sefer Kav HaYashar, Chapter2), but it is not currently the accepted practice.



Special Note Six:  Last week, we reached the half-way point of Torah in Pesukim.  This past week, we reached the midpoint of the year in days and months--as we are now in the second six and one-half months of the year. This Shabbos, too, we reach the midpoint of the Torah in letters.  Let us be sure to take all of the reminders to ensure that the second half of our year is both more refined than our first half! 


The Kotzker Rebbe, Z’tl, provides a potent teaching for us in this week’s Parsha which can really guide us in this regard.  The Pasuk (Vayikra 9:6) teaches: “VaYomer Moshe Zeh HaDavar Asher Tzivah Hashem Ta’asu VeYairah Aleichem Kevod Hashem--And Moshe said--this is what Hashem has commanded you to do--then the Glory of Hashem will appear to you.”  The Kotzker comments that many believe that they are very much ready to reach ‘Madreigos Gevohos--lofty heights in their lives.’  Moshe Rabbeinu, however, advises us: Do you truly want to attain Madreigos, do you truly wish to elevate yourselves--then do what Hashem wants you to do--work on removing the Yetzer Hora from your heart. How? Think About, Focus on, What Hashem wants You To Do in the Particular Situation, Circumstance or Event You are in--and do not focus on the Yetzer Hora and his myopic, temporary and destructive whims, fancies and attitudes.   If you work at this, if you move towards accomplishment in giving--not the Yetzer Hora--but Hashem the Nachas of your doing His Will--then the Glory of Hashem will appear to you, and all of the Madreigos that you sought will fall gently and everlastingly into place. Let us take the Kotzker’s words with us in the second half of this year--by making sure as often and as resolutely as we can to follow the words of the Pasuk--Asher Tzivah Hashem Ta’asu--so that VeYairah Aleichem Kevod Hashem--the Glory of Hashem appears TO US--forever, and ever and ever!



Special Note One:  After concluding many essays relating to The Three Weeks, The Nine Days, and Tisha B’Av, HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, (in the Sefer Sifsei Chaim) writes that at the very least we should walk away with a feeling of improved Bein Adom LeChaveiro--at least showing Sever Panim Yafos--a pleasant countenance to all.  Most certainly, then, after a Holiday like Purim should our Sever Panim Yafos be enhanced!  Indeed, as HaRav Moshe Cordovero teaches in the Sefer Tomer Devorah, that our face should always express an “Ohr Pnei Melech Chaim--a light which especially emanates from one (you!) who is a spark of the Living King!”



Special Note Two:  HaRav Shlomo Brevda, Shlita, in his Sefer The Miracles of Purim provides the following essential insight:  “The Medrash teaches, that not with weapons or shields, but rather with prayer and pleading (to Hashem) did Mordechai and Esther take over Haman’s estate (meaning, did the Jews triumph over Haman).  The Medrash asks--where in the Megillah does it actually say that they engaged in prayer?  The answer-- it says, “sackcloth and ashes were spread to the many,” what remedy or benefit is there in sackcloth and ashes without prayer!  We may ask--if prayer was imperative and the crucial factor in their Yeshuah, why was it not mentioned explicitly in the Megillah?  The sacred name of Hashem Yisborach is also not mentioned explicitly in the Megillah.  Various reasons are given by the Meforshim.  May we suggest that since Hashem Yisborach’s name is not mentioned, the word prayer in also not mentioned.  If prayer was mentioned without mentioning Hashem, it would “open the door” for misguided people to misinterpret the nature and basis of prayer.


HaRav Brevda continues:  The Chazon Ish writes (Igros,Vol.1), “K’lal Yisroel are favored, they need no mediator; every person has the power to attain good through prayer…prayer is a mighty staff in every man’s handas much as one places one’s trust in Hashem Yisborach, so shall he rise and so shall he succeed!  A significant number of my students, have, over the years, discussed their problems with me.  Most often, I composed for them a short prayer appealing for Rachamim from Hashem Yisborach, a prayer to be added at the end of Shemone Esrei.  Many have seen remarkable results.  Prayer works! Generally, I publicly tell my listeners, that when faced with a problem or a matter of importance, which may entail making a phone call etc., prior to making the call say a chapter of Tehillim. (for example, Chap.121, all chapters are fine), and then go ahead with the call.  If you must make a number of calls, recite the chapter again, before each call. People have reported positive results from this, even in very difficult issues. But, more significant is the fact that getting used to offering a short prayer before every important action, creates a true believer out of a person.  One begins to live with Hashem Yisborach.  Prayer is Emunah in practice, not just in theory!”


Hakhel Note:  Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, additionally teaches that the three days of fasting and Teshuva by Klal Yisroel at Esther’s behest were intended to represent the three Tefillos that we recite each day.  One cannot and should not underemphasize the tremendous power and impact of each and every Kavanna-filled Shemone Esrei.  Rabban Gamliel added that a proper Shemone Esrei, as established by the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah, was more important than additional Tefillos that one may want to add such as Perek Shira or Parshas HaMon.  These additional Tefillos are, of course, important and significant, but the Shemone Esrei is the absolute essence of our daily Tefillah.  As we see from recent tragic events in Eretz Yisroel, our enemies are still very much out to fulfill “LeHashmid LaHarog U’LeAbeid.”  Make no mistake about it--there is no difference to them between any person to whom this Bulletin is addressed and anyone living in Be’er Sheva or at a bus stop in Yerushalayim.  Just as our energized Tefillos brought our Yeshua then, may it bring our Yeshua now.  May it be speedily, in our days, in these days between the Geulah of Purim and the Geulah of Pesach!



Special Note Three:  Chazal teach that Aveira Goreres Aveira--one sin leads to another (Avos 4:2).  While we may all be familiar with this saying from our youth, it is important for us to utilize this important teaching in our daily life.  First, let us reflect for a moment upon its real meaning.  One Aveirah brings another Aveirah--meaning that there is at least a doubling of the negative effect involved unless one takes action to cut off the Aveirah and not let it continue to the next step.  When one realizes, for instance, that the conversation that he has just started is not going as he would have hoped because it somehow started in an improper tone or an improper manner--whether it be with an opening word of Ona’as Devarim or an opening sentence of Lashon Hara--then, rather than letting it go because it is a ‘farfalen’ or lost conversation, one should instead gird himself and rephrase the next words out of his mouth to deflect and block the continuing failure--and instead convert the initial misguided words into a corrected success.


It is the Yetzer Hara’s goal to further handcuff us when we are already trapped.  Hashem, however, has given us the ability to actually get out of the original trap to freedom--what it takes is the will power to do so.  Don’t ever be the one who fulfills the axiom of Aveira Goreres Aveira--when you can be the one who fulfills Chazal’s words of Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah instead!



Special Note One:  If one would start today to learn three Mishnayos of Mesechta Pesachim per day, he would make a Siyum on the entire Mishnayos Pesachim before the end of Pesach.  As we all know, one must ready himself not only physically for Pesach, but also spiritually as well!



Special Note Two:  As we are in full swing of the lofty time period between Purim and Pesach, we realize that it is perhaps the most monetarily “expensive” time of year.  Beginning with Matanos L’Evyonim on Purim, continuing with Pesach shopping (matzos, food, clothing, household needs, trips, etc.), continuing further with Maos Chittin…and finally…taxes due for many on April 15(!).


The Torah does give us great guidance in meeting the huge tests presented by money and Parnassah.  We provide below several very valuable Torah insights in this regard, excerpted from the outstanding Artscroll collection entitled Torah Treasury, which would prove a significant addition to everyone’s home.


Crazy over Money.

Man’s obsession with money and its hold over him is amazing.  The Kohen Gadol was among the most spiritually elevated people in the nation.  He was also the wealthiest of the Kohanim (see Yoma 18a).  Despite this, the Torah warns Aharon HaKohen--even the Kohen Gadol--and tells him not to allow the fact that he will not eat of the olah’s meat (because it is offered totally on the Mizbe’ach) to affect his service.  Will a little bit of meat affect the saintly--and wealthy--Kohen Gadol?  Yes, says the Torah.  Money’s hold over man defies logic.  Though a man of spirit and of means, one can be unduly influenced by financial considerations and must be on constant guard (R’ Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl).


First In, First Out.

An insightful Rosh Yeshiva was once discussing marriage prospects with one of his students.  The young man foolishly believed that the key to his remaining dedicated to Torah learning lied with his marrying the daughter of a wealthy man.  The Rosh Yeshiva offered the following advice: “While there are obviously exceptions to this, let me tell you what my experience has been.  You can marry a girl from a wealthy home or marry a young woman whose father is not wealthy but who is a Talmid Chacham.  As long as the financial climate is good, you may be better off with the rich man’s daughter.  However, if the financial climate deteriorates, you will likely be the first one laid off the rich man’s payroll, but the last one off the Talmid Chacham’s.”


Head Above Water.

The Gemara (Kiddushin 29a) states that a parent is obligated to teach his child a trade, so that the child will be able to support himself and his family, and he must teach him to swim.  What is the connection between the two?


The Kotzker Rebbe explains that involvement in a trade can easily take over a person’s life.  To maintain proper balance, it is imperative for a person to take a cue from swimming.  When one swims, his entire body is immersed in the water--but survival depends on his ability to keep his head above the water.  The same is true in business.  While one might throw himself totally into commerce, to spiritually survive he must keep his head out of it.


Dovid HaMelech teaches us (Tehillim, 128:2), “When you eat the labor of your hands you are praiseworthy, and all is well with you.”  ”You are praiseworthy and all is well when your labor is limited to your hands,” commented the Kotzker.  “When your head and heart get totally immersed in your business, all is not well.” 


Hakhel Note:  The Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, (Sha’ar HaTorah Chapter 5) provides the following great insight when it comes to money:  Many times a person will think about doing a Mitzvah, and the Yetzer Hara within him will advise: ‘Why should you do this Mitzvah, as it will cost you money---instead of giving the money to another, give it to a family member.’  The advice of the Yetzer Hatov, is:  ‘Give for the sake of the Mitzvah.  Shlomo HaMelech teaches “Ki Ner Mitzvah” (Mishlei 6:23 ).  Just like when a candle is lit you can light thousands of candles from it and it still retains its own light--so too one who gives for the sake of the Mitzvah will not reduce his own wealth.  This is the true way to view a Mitzvah--as a flame which lights so many others and stays in perfect tact.  One considering expending money on a Mitzvah, remember the Chofetz Chaim’s advice--Ki Ner Mitzvah!



Special Note Three:  Rashi (Taanis 29A) describes the incredible period we are in as “Yemei Nissim Ailu LeYisroel, Purim U’Pesach--these are days of miracles.”  We must  at least begin to understand the import of Rashi’s words.  This period between Purim and Pesach is a time of miracles as established and dating all the way back to Yetzias Miztrayim!  We must focus, for the nature of this incredible period recurs every year at this time.  Picture the rainiest part of the year in the spring, the hottest part of the year in August, and the snowiest part of the year in January.  Now translate this into more spiritual terms--and we have the most miraculous time of year from the time that Adar enters through Pesach!  Just as one prepares and tries to be ready for each season with the umbrella, with the sun visor, with the boots, or with whatever else he may need--all the more so should we be engaged and involved in Kavanna-filled davening, acts of Chesed, and unrelenting adherence to Torah study despite time pressures, and so many commitments and tasks to take care of.  One small suggestion:  Perhaps we can especially look for and focus on references to Nissim in our daily Tefillah.  For example, how many times and where do we refer to Nissim in Shemone Esrei?  Additionally, perhaps we can recite the Tefillah Al HaGeulah, as provided by the following links--  click here for the Hebrew version and click here for the English version.


Now is certainly an especially auspicious time for Nissim--let us put in that especial effort--and may we see the wondrous acts with our very eyes!



WE HAVE REACHED THE HALFWAY POINT OF THE YEAR!  with six and half months that have passed, and six and half months to go.  Let each person’s individual Teshuva Bechol Yom be his great call and accomplishment for the second half of the year!


Special Note One:  Imagine how you would feel the day you won the lottery!  It would make no difference whether it was $45 million, $161 million or $276 million.  A spirit of overflowing glee and insurmountable joy would exude from every part of your being.  Undoubtedly, the unquashed, exuberant feeling would last for at least a day or so, and would only slightly wane over the next several days and weeks.  In a more spiritual vein, the feeling of pristine spiritual purity attained after Yom Kippur likewise continues with us in the days that follow as we try to not let go of our elevated plane.  The days after Purim are unique in that they combine the thrill of our physical lives being spared together with the spiritual elevation attained from an understanding of the Megillah’s events, and the profound lessons to be learned from the Mitzvos performed on Purim day.  At the very least, we should now be experiencing the joy of being alive--and of having the zechus of making the most of our precious life through the study of Torah and performance of Mitzvos. 


The Megillah relates that after Haman was advised that he was the only minister to be invited to an exclusive party with the King and Queen, he felt especially “Sameach V’Tov Lev” (Esther 5:9)--happy and glad of heart.  Why was he so happy and glad of heart?  Because there was no other person in the world like him--it was the King, the Queen…and him alone!


Rav Eliyahu Schneider, Shlita, explains that we, too, should feel this same elation in that we have been especially chosen--chosen like no other nation--to be Hashem’s standard bearers for the world by dutifully performing the Torah and Mitzvos.  He incredibly points to the words of the Tochacha (the reproof) in the Torah which unequivocally teaches, in an almost identical language, that the reason we will suffer the Tochacha’s fate, is “because you did not serve Hashem “happy and glad of heart”--i.e., that we did not properly appreciate and bask in our own uniqueness (Devarim 28: 47)!  Furthermore, in contrast to Haman, however--who lived only for himself and for his position in this world--we live for infinitely greater purposes and for eternity.


Winning the state lottery compared to the enormity of what we can accomplish would be like telling a short joke at a four-hour long Purim Seudah!



Special Note Two:  It is fascinating to note that Rav Amram Gaon writes that the Minhag in the two main yeshivos during the time of the Geonim, Sura and Pumbedisa, was to actually recite Tachanun on Purim--“for it is a day of miracles, and upon which we were redeemed, and so we must ask for mercy that we will be redeemed in the end in the same way that we were initially redeemed.”  As we enter the portal between the Geulah of Purim and the Geulah of Mitzraim, a time in which for the next two weeks we will all be reciting Tachanun and/or other prayers for Geulah, we should be very mindful to recite them with strong and special Kavannah because, without mincing words, it is, simply stated, a time of Geulah.  Everyone should try and keep a daily record, or at least a real mental note, of the special and sincere prayers he has made for the Geulah during this auspicious period.



Special Note Three:  Esther related the plot of Bigsan and Seresh to kill the king “BeSheim Mordechai--in Mordechai’s name.”  Chazal derive from this that one who repeats a matter in the name of the one who said it, brings redemption to the world (Avos 6:6)--for the Jewish people were saved because of Achashveirosh’s understanding of Mordechai’s deed.”  What was so special about Esther’s act, and why does it produce such great reward?!


The commentaries explain that repeating something in the name of someone else when you could have just as easily ascribed it to yourself, and even when you in fact on your own had the same thought, remark or teaching indicates a high degree of ‘Ayin Tova’--good naturedness and a good eye towards others which deserves special recognition and special Bracha.  Indeed, the Middah K’Neged Middah is obvious--if one acts with an Ayin Tova towards others even if there is good and reasonable basis not to be so effusive in this Ayin Tova, Hashem, in turn, will act with an Ayin Tova even if there is a basis for him not to do so.  It is, therefore, the Midda of Ayin Tova which permeates everyone’s Purim--giving Mishloach Manos to others, distributing Matanos LeEvyonim to each and every person that asks, and joining together for a Purim Seudah.  It is this pristine Middah of Ayin Tova--looking away at self and graciously helping another--which we can take with us on a daily basis after Purim.  Remember--Chazal teach that it brings Geulah to the world--so let’s get seriously going.  At the end of each day, you may want to ask yourself did I act with an Ayin Tova today--did I help bring the Geulah for us all?!



Special Note Four:  Although we take leave of the Megillah for the time being, we must always remember the words of the Chovos HaLevavos (Shaar Cheshbon HaNefesh)--“Ki HaYamim Megillos--for each one of our days are scrolls,” we must write upon them that which we should [be proud to] remember about them.  Each one of us is important, and each page, each scroll, of the book of our life, is filled with potential that only we--and no one else--can achieve.


We should be as elated every day with the results of our own personal Megillah, as we are with the outcome of the Megillah on Purim!


 Special Note Five:  One Final Word:  Kiymu V’Kiblu--energize yourself with these words when you study!



Special Note One:  Let’s try to keep the spirit of Purim with us as long as we possibly can:


A.  One of the most prestigious Megillahs that one may own is a “HaMelech” Megillah, which has the word “HaMelech”, or the King, as the first word of every column in the Scroll.  Obviously, this is to continuously remind us as we proceed through the Megillah that the King, Hashem Himself, is running through and controlling each and every one of the Megillah’s events and personages.  One may try going through the day and at various points realize and even exclaim “HaMelech!”, or perhaps one may try finding each and every one of the times that the word Melech appears in Shacharis while davening (if you think this may be too much at the outset, then begin with Mincha, continue to Maariv, and then go to Shacharis).


B.  A very relevant insight on Al HaNissim:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky was asked why we thank Hashem in Al HaNissim for “Al HaMilchamos”--the wars.  Wouldn't it have been better for there not to be these wars at all?  He responded that this statement provides us with a great lesson that we must always remember: “Milchamos Ani Asisi She'neemar Hashem Ish Milchama”--Hashem says “I am the One who makes wars.” It is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, the nations of the world that control their fate and enter into conflict or even war.  It is Hashem who is in control of the world and of all of the people in it.  Our role is to pray and work for Shalom--which is another name of Hashem--and is the ultimate in blessing, as with this we conclude in Birchas Kohanim, Birchas HaMazon, Shemone Esrei, the Siyum of every Mesectha.  May the message ring clear to us, and with it may we stave off all future wars, and thank Hashem for **not ** having to make war, and blessing us with peace!  Hakhel Note:  Two wars, it would be fair to add earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and nuclear reactor leaks.


C.  One other point in Al HaNissim--we specifically mention “U'Shelolom Lavoz”--that the evil Haman wanted to loot the possessions of the Jews.  The question is pellucidy clear:  if no Jew would be left alive any longer, what difference would it make to the deceased if their property was taken as booty or not?  In response to this question, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita provides two alternative answers.  Firstly, these words teach us how wicked Haman designs were--to obliterate any trace of the Jewish people--even their property would not be remembered--and thus how great our yeshua--salvation--really was.  Secondly, these words teach us that, because the Gentiles had a vested interest in killing the Jews, they could have well only “believed” the first letters ordering the destruction of our People, and ignore the second ones, in our favor.  Nevertheless, the miracle was so pervasive and so resoundingly complete that the nations favored the second letters over the first, even though with it they lost their incredible opportunity to plunder what was the equivalent of billions and billions of property, assets and possessions.  Hakhel Note:  One of our readers actually provided their own insight into this question:  “Perhaps an answer to the question relates to the importance of the possessions of Klal Yisroel--it would have been quite negative if the possessions of the Jews that were used for kodesh purposes had been plundered and used by the Nations of the World for secular purposes--and perhaps for purposes worse than that.”  This is a lesson to us for us to appreciate how special even our possessions are--when we wear a clean shirt to Shul (or otherwise!), shine our shoes for Shabbos, or eat our food with dignity, we simply elevate all of our property in a way that no other nation can!


D.  Some Poskim write that the Mishloach Manos that we give on Purim--two gifts to one person, is based upon Achashveirosh giving to Esther two gifts--his Royal Ring, and the House of Haman.  Thus, we remember these very, very significant gifts with gifts of such items as hamantashen, wine, challah, snacks from all over the world, and various assorted trifles and dainties.  Perhaps we can take this “gifted” lesson through the year, and every time that we receive a gift, whether large or small and whether tangible or in the form of a compliment or other intangible item, and be sure to pass on that gift in some form to someone else.  The gifts one receives and that one gives may not necessarily be comparable at all, but in more cases than you may think, they may be just as memorable.


E.  Our Kaballas HaTorah on Purim differed from our Kabalas HaTorah on Shavuos, in that our acceptance of the Torah on Purim came out of love rather than fear.  How does one express this new-found love?  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 61; seif katan 2) quotes a Yerushalmi which identifies each one of the Aseres HaDibros in different phrases in Kriyas Shema.  The words “V’Ahavta Es Hashem--and you shall love Hashem”--at the outset of Krias Shema alludes to the second of the Aseres HaDibros--not to take Hashem’s name in vain.  Thus, one very practical way to demonstrate his love for Hashem is to be very, very careful  with reciting Brachos, as these are the crucial moments of the day that we are privileged to actually recite the name of Hashem.  If one is unsure whether or not he made a Brocha Achrona or has made an Asher Yotzar, he must realize that he is not being careful enough, and should undertake some form of correction, at least on a temporary basis, to demonstrate that he really does love Hashem.  You may have other ways to demonstrate your love--and they may all well be within the Purim Spirit!  We welcome your thoughts.



Special Note Two:  We provide here a thought in Shushan Purim that we believe is poignant, which we have provided in past years:  Yerushalayim is remembered on Shushan Purim, by our observing Purim on that day in its environs in order to increase its honor.  With the honor and glory of Yerushalayim so much at stake in our time, we provide the moving words of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim 122: “Sh’alu Sha’lom Yerushalayim Yishlayu Ohavoyich…--pray for the peace of Yerushalayim; those who love you [Yerushalayim] will be serene.”  The Radak in his commentary to this Pasuk teaches that these are the words that Jews must utter in Galus--Pray to Hashem for the peace of Yerushalayim.  What is the “peace of Yerushalayim?”  The Radak (almost prophetically) writes that this can only be attained with kibutz galios--the ingathering of the exiles--because there will not be peace as long as the “Arailim” and “Yishma’aylim”--the Christians and Arabs--war over the City.


In his commentary to this very same Pasuk, HaRav Avrohom Chaim Feuer, Shlita, brings the following Chazal (from Meseches Derech Eretz Zuta):  “HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to Bnai Yisroel: ‘It was you who caused the Bais HaMikdash to be destroyed and My children to be driven into exile.  All I ask is that you pray for the peace of Yerushalayim and I will forgive you!’”


Based upon the teaching of Dovid HaMelech, as explained by Chazal and the Radak, it is incumbent upon us to do what we can at this pivotal point in our history.  We cannot place the blame on this Israeli politician, or that foreign Head of State, on this Arab terrorist, or that Arab terrorist, and be satisfied that we are doing all that we can.  After all, Haman was a Rasha, and Achashveirosh was a Rasha and/or a fool, but ultimately it was the Jews at that time that got themselves into that mess and had to get themselves out of it.  The responsibility for Yerushalayim--for our kibutz galios--which is so imminent, falls squarely on our minds and hearts.  We must hold ourselves accountable, not as a matter of guilt, but as a matter of responsibility--to ourselves, our families, and our people.  We cannot afford to sigh once or twice a day, and otherwise be callous and indifferent to the grave situation at hand.  Dovid HaMelech gives us the key to unlock the door- “Sh’alu Sha’lom Yerushalayim Yishlayu Ohavoyich”--Daven!  Daven!  Daven!


If one does not feel he has any more time to recite additional Tehillim during the day, let him at least be sure to recite the brocha of “Vl’Yerushalayim Ircha”--which he is reciting in any event three times a day in Shemone Esrei--with purity of mind and heart.  For the next four weeks until Pesach, let us use our Power of Prayer--for the sake of Yerushalayim, which is oh so much for the sake of ourselves, for the sake of K’lal Yisroel--and for the honor of Hashem!!



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


1.  When Haman complained about the Jew People to Achashveirosh, Chazal say he said “they spend their years with statements like ‘Shabbos HaYom, Pesach HaYom’, and are thereby not loyal to the king.”  The Chasam Sofer explains that Haman meant to indicate with these words that the Jewish people were so attached and enamored to their past and to their ways, and so dedicated to Hashem, that every Shabbos they felt as if it was truly ‘Shabbos HaYom’--the first Shabbos ever, and that every Pesach was ‘Pesach HaYom’--that this was the first Pesach ever.  They would, accordingly, never be loyal subjects for they had their own set of priorities.  In honor of his marvelous ‘accusation’ let us truly feel the excitement of the ‘Shabbos HaYom’ on Shabbos! 


2.  We had asked what the phrase in the Zemiros of Shimru Shabsosai of “Maharu Es Haman La’asos Es Dvar Esther” had to do with Shabbos.  The Eitz Yosef (in the Siddur Otzar HeTefillos) writes that Shabbos is referred to as ‘Esther’ in the Zohar and Tikkunim--so that this phrase in the Zemiros in actuality is referring to us preparing the Shabbos meals with alacrity in honor of Shabbos.  The nexus between Shabbos and Esther deserves further reflection.  On a simple level, both Esther and Shabbos represent our recognition and awareness of Hashem’s presence in the ‘hidden’ and natural events of every day of our existence.  It is on Purim and on Shabbos especially that we have a greater Hargasha, a greater experiential sense, of this feeling.  Your additional reflections would be very much appreciated.


3.  In preparation for the annual Mitzvah of reading Parshas Zachor (Devorim 25:17) tomorrow, we provide the following important points:


A.  The opportunity to read Parshas Zachor this Shabbos is of such great significance that, according to the Mishne Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 685, seif katan 16), if one can only come to hear either Parshas Zachor or the reading of the Megillah, one should go to hear Parshas Zachor.


B.  There is a Mitzvas Aseh, a positive Torah commandment, to “always remember the wicked deeds of the people of Amalek and their attack upon us, to arouse our hatred of them”--as they were the first to attack us without fear after the nations quaked and trembled over us (as described in Oz Yoshir, the Song of the Sea).  See Rambam Hilchos Melachim 5:5, SMAG Mitzvas Aseh 115, Chayei Odom 151:2.


C.  The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 603) writes that one of the purposes of this Mitzvah is for us to recognize that one who causes pain to K’lal Yisroel is despised by Hashem, and according to the level of enmity against K’lal Yisroel is their level of destruction.  Since Amalek’s enmity of us was greater than that of all other nations, they are to be completely obliterated.  Indeed, the Ramban (end of Parshas Ki Setzeh) writes that we should “teach our children and future generations--so did the Rosha to us, and that is why we have been commanded to erase his name.”


D.  There is a Mitzvas Lo Saseh, a Torah prohibition, of “Lo Tishkach”--not to forget the deeds of Amalek.  This means that we should not forget to despise them despite the passage of time, and to remember that Hashem saved us from them, and that we will eventually avenge their deeds and eradicate them.  See S’mak 53 and Sefer Yereim 189.


E.  One should review the words of Parshas Zachor (with Rashi and/or other meforshim) before the laining.  We suggest reviewing it at the Leil Shabbos Seudah in order that you and/or others are prepared for the laining, since the Mitzvah is to arouse within us both a strong reaction to their despicable deeds, and our obligation to eradicate them.  Indeed, the Maharam Shick writes that we do not make a special Brocha on this Mitzvah because we do not make a Brocha on Hashchosa--acts of destruction.


F.  The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 6:4) writes that an Amaleki who makes peace with K’lal Yisroel and accepts the seven Mitzvos B’nei Noach is not to be hurt.  In fact, some learn that the reason that the descendents of Haman “learned Torah in Bnei Brak” (Gittin 57B) is because they were the descendents of those sons of Haman who did not fight against K’lal Yisroel (Sefer Adar U’Purim p. 68).


G.  The Mitzvah of Mechias Amalek, eradicating the Sonei Hashem and Sonei Yisroel--those pure haters of Hashem and His people--began with Moshe Rabbeinu and Yehoshua, continued in the times of Shaul HaMelech, Dovid HaMelech and in the times of Purim, and we will be Zoche to complete it in the times of Moshiach (S’mag-Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh 226).  As these are days of Nissim and Geulah--miracles and redemption, may we be Zoche to do all the Mitzvos of Hashem with Moshiach leading and teaching us, speedily in our days.


H.  For further detail see Sefer Adar U’Purim by HaRav Yoel Schwartz, Shlita, upon which this note is based.  For the enlightening words of the Ramban on the relationship between the war against Amalek and the end of our current Golus Edom , see the Ramban in Shemos 17:9.



Special Note Two: Final Important Purim Points and Pointers:


1.  Mikrah Megillah:  GREAT AND IMPORTANT REMINDER:  When following the Megillah Reading at night and in the morning your are urged to point from word to word in order to keep yourself actively involved in following Kriyas HaMegillah. 


2.  Mishloach Manos: 


A.  Mishloach Manos must just consist of two **different** portions of food--they can both be meat, or any other type of food or drink (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 695:4 and Mishne Berura there).  Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, brings that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Braun, Shlita, ruled that one may cut a pineapple in half, put the two halves on a plate and be Yotzei the Mitzvah!  Not all would agree with this P’sak, and would require two different items.  See, for example, Aruch HaShulchan, Orach Chayim 695:14.


B.  Several people can ‘partner’ together for Mishloach Manos as long as there are enough portions (two per giver) i.e., 12 people can jointly send 24 items to one person and all be Yotzei the Mitzvah!  (Sefer Halichos Shlomo p. 337)


C.  According to the Rambam (Hilchos Megillah 2:17 ) it is preferable to increase the amount of  Matanos Le’Evyonim that you give over the amount of Mishloach Manos. See the moving words of the Rambam there.


3.  Matanos Le’Evyonim: 


A.  One can be Yotzei the Mitzvah with a check if the poor person can use it in the store.  (Sefer Halichos Shlomo p. 342)


B.  The Sefer Pele Yo’etz provides the following moving words regarding Matanos Le’Evyonim:  “It is befitting to have mercy on them, and for one to realize that just as money comes in it goes out--for the eyes of the poor look to those who are wealthier--and the eyes of the wealthier look to Hashem who will give more if the person gives more.  Accordingly, if one feels weak or weakened by so much giving, he should realize that ‘Birkas Hashem Hi Ta’ashir--the Bracha of Hashem will make one wealthy’, and he should strengthen himself by saying “Gibor Ani”--I am a Gibor to help those whom Hashem want me to help--and Hashem will help them--and you!”


4.  Seudas Purim:   


A.  For those of you will be making a Siyum on Mesechta Megillah or Mishnayos Megillah as part of our daily program--Mazel Tov and Many More!!


B. The Rema (in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 695:2) writes that the Seudas Purim, the festive Purim meal, should commence with Divrei Torah.  The Mishna Berurah (in Orach Chayim 429, seif katan 2) rules that one must begin learning about Pesach on Purim--which is exactly 30 days before Pesach.  Accordingly, putting the Rema and Mishna Berurah together, it is therefore a custom to commence the Purim Seudah with a halacha about Pesach.  In this way, one also connects the Geulah of Purim to the Geulah of Pesach (see Taanis 29A, which states that the reason we should increase our simcha to such a great extent in Adar is because it is the commencement of both the miracles of Purim and Pesach).

C.  Some have the custom of eating Zaronim at the Purim Seudah, in remembrance of the food that Esther, as well as Doniel, Chananya, Mishael and Azarya had to eat while in the Royal Court.

D.  If a father tells his son not to get drunk on Purim, the son should listen to him--for he can be fulfill the Mitzvah of drinking through drinking a little more than usual and going to sleep--and still beautifully fulfill the Mitzvas Asei DeOraysa of Kibbud Av Va’eim!  (Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita) Hakhel Note:  For a listing of Rabbi Pearl’s Shiurim visit www.SeeTorah.com


E.  Let us remember an essential result of Purim--’Kiymu VeKiblu--the Jewish People reaffirmed their voluntary commitment to the Torah.’  Rashi (Shabbos 88A) importantly explains that the reason that we uniquely reaffirmed our commitment after Purim was ‘MeiAhavas HaNeis SheNa’aseh Lahem’--from the love, from the deep appreciation of the miracle that was performed on their behalf.  HaRav Henoch Leibowitz, Z’tl, teaches that if we truly appreciate Purim--if we too have an Ahavas HaNeis--then each and every one of us should undertake his own Kiymu VeKiblu.  At the Purim Seudah itself--one may want to Bli Neder take on his own Kiymu VeKiblu in Torah--and perhaps encourage others to do so as well.  Here as an example is a simple suggestion:  In the Iggeres HaRamban, the Ramban writes that when one completes his studies he should search for something that he can take with him and apply or fulfill.  Make it a part of each study session--before you “close the book… or mp3 or cd” think about something that you learned and how and will it have a daily Kiyum in your life.  With this you can take the Kiymu VeKiblu with you every day of the year!



Special Note Three:  As we move through Purim Day, we should remind ourselves of the words of the Arizal (found in the Pri Eitz Chaim) that EVERY Purim the Neis of Mordechai and Esther is re-aroused.  What a day--what an experience!



Special Note Four:  A Purim Bonus Below!


The following Questions and Answers are Kosher for Purim and Year-Round use:


QUESTION:  In what year of the Jewish calendar did Purim occur?

ANSWER:  According to Yalkut Meam Loez, Achashveirosh came to power in the year 3392, and Haman was hung in 3404.


QUESTION:  How many years did Purim occur before Chanukah?

ANSWER:     Approximately 216 years (Sefer Targum Sheini by Rav Tzvi Dov Cohen, Shlita).


QUESTION:  Why isn’t the Shaim Hashem in the Megillah?

ANSWER:    Many answer because Hashem’s presence is hidden in the in the subtle events of the Megillah.  We may suggest that this is to teach us that we should not fool ourselves--the final battle with Amalek was not then fought.  Only when the final battle is fought before the building of the Third Beis HaMikdash will Hashem’s name become complete.  Hakhel Reminder:  Chazal teach that whenever the term ‘HaMelech’ is used in the Megillah in lieu of HaMelech Acashveirosh that it also LeHavdil refers to Hashem (Esther Rabba 3:10).  Look out for it and think about how!


QUESTION:  How many wars between Bnei Yisroel and Amalek are mentioned in Tanach?

ANSWER:  Actually, there were at least eleven (11) battles with Amalek in Tanach, in one form or another. In the Torah--3 BATTLES: a) Shemos 17: 8 and Devorim 25:17; b) Bamidbar 14:45; and c) Bamidbar 21:1 and 33:40.  In Neviim--6 BATTLES : a) Shoftim 3:13; b) Shoftim 6:3;  c) Shoftim 6:33; d) Shmuel Aleph 14:48; e) Shmuel Aleph 15:3; f) Shmuel Aleph 30:1.  In Kesuvim--2 BATTLES: a) Divrei HaYamim Aleph 4:43…and of course b) MEGILLAS ESTHER!  It is clear that this nation has really been out to get us--but in the end we will prevail!


QUESTION: Who was the king before Achasveirosh?

ANSWER:  Coresh-see first Rashi to the Megillah.


QUESTION: Who brought Mordechai from Bavel to Shushan?

ANSWER:   Coresh--see Targum to Megillah 2:6.


QUESTION: Mordechai was the tenth generation to which great personage?

ANSWER:  Shaul HaMelech (Targum Sheni 2:5)


QUESTION:  What other name was Achashveirosh known by in Tanach?
ANSWER:  Artachshaste, mentioned in Ezra 4:7.  Chazal (Esther Rabbah 1:3) note and interpret each name.

QUESTION:  Can you give at least three reasons why Achashveirosh made his incomparable Mishte at the outset of the Megillah?

ANSWER:  1.  Because he stopped the building of the Beis HaMikdash, and he was sure the Bais Hamikdash would no longer be rebuilt.  With the party, he wanted to happily demonstrate his final and complete rulership over the Jews (based upon the Alshich).  2.  In honor of his birthday (Medrash Aba Gurion).  3.  It was his wedding feast with Vashti, and this is why Vashti also made a party (see Targum Yonasan, Ibn Ezra, and Kad HaKemach).


QUESTION:  Why does the Megillah go to such great lengths to describe the wealth of Achashveirosh’s palace and party?  Why do we care?!

ANSWER:  It is to teach us that if this is what those who anger Hashem receive--Kal Vachomer to those who do Hashem’s will!  The G’ra (Al Derech Hapshat) adds that it is to teach that--if this is how grand Olam Hazeh is – imagine how great Olam Habah will be--after all, an hour of Olam Habah is worth all of Olam Hazeh of all time!  


QUESTION: Why didn’t Achasveirsosh force people to drink to join in his joy--why was there no “Oness” to drink?

ANSWER:   The Megillas Sesorim (Megillah 1:8) explains that Achashveirosh wanted the Jews to sin willingly--”Kedi SheYehenu Beratzon.”


QUESTION: What did Mordechai do during the seven days of Achashveirosh’s party?

ANSWER:    He served as a Sar HaMashkim, as did Haman (see Rashi to Megillah 1:8).  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that he did this in order to save Bnei Yisroel from Ma’acholos Asuros.  However, the Targum teaches that he wasn’t there and that he davened, and did not eat and drink, for the seven days of the party (Targum Esther 1:10 ).



QUESTION:  One of the especially named attendees at the Mishte were the ‘HaPartemim’(Esther 1:3)--what does ‘HaPartemim’ mean?
ANSWER:  Some form of rulership.  The Me’am Lo’ez writes that they ruled over areas near the
Euphrates , the Pras River --hence the letters of the word Peih Reish Tes Mem Yud Mem.


QUESTION:  According to the opinion that Memuchan was Haman:

(A) why was it, BeHashgacha,  that he had to give the advice to kill Vashti?; and (B) Also, al pi hatevah--why would he want to kill Vashti--what did she do to him already?!
ANSWER:  (A) So that he himself should be the cause for Esther to marry Achashveirosh--so that she could kill him and his sons.  (B) He saw through sorcery that a queen would kill him and he thought it would be Vashti. 


QUESTION: What is the significance in the fact that the Gematria of Haman and HaMelech are the same?

ANSWER: One may suggest that that this is to signify that both Achashveirosh and Haman had the same feeling of hatred towards Bnei Yisroel.


QUESTION:  Why didn’t Esther relate where she was from?
The easy answer is, because Mordechai instructed her not to--as the Pasuk clearly states (Esther 2:20).  As to the reason for Mordechai’s instruction, various explanations are given--including a recognition by Mordechai that perhaps some disaster was going to threaten Klal Yisroel and her royal position would be the means of their salvation--identifying herself now as a Jew could mean an early end to her position.  The Gemara (Megillah 13B) additionally indicates that, even if there was not an absolute directive by Mordechai to hide her identity, Esther herself did not want to reveal to Achashveirosh her royal ancestry (she was a descendent of Shaul HaMelech)--because of her tznius and anava.


QUESTION:  Why was Mordechai sitting at the Sha’ar HaMelech not a ‘give away’ as to where Esther was from?
 ANSWER:  Daniel appointed his friends to high positions, and appointed Mordechai to be one of the people in the Sha’ar HaMelech before Esther was taken as queen (Ibn Ezra). 


QUESTION:  Instead of blatantly not bowing to him, why didn’t Mordechai simply avoid Haman and not go near him?

ANSWER:  There are various explanations for this.  The Chofetz Chaim learns that Mordechai was correcting the mistake of his ancestor Shaul HaMelech, who had compassion on Haman’s ancestor, the King of Amalek--Agag.  As a result of this misplaced pity, Haman was eventually born and issued his evil edicts.  Mordechai, therefore, was unyielding, and stood up to Haman like a pillar of iron  refusing to give even an inch for the sake of the honor of Heaven and the honor of Klal Yisroel.


QUESTION:  Why didn’t Mordechai and Esther let Achashveirosh be killed by Bigsan and Seresh so that Esther could be freed and go back to Mordechai and her people?

ANSWER:    She would have been taken as the queen by the next king anyways, and Mordechai and Esther understood that a special Hatzalah of Bnei Yisroel would result from the unique circumstance of her being taken as queen.


QUESTION:  Why didn’t Mordechai tell Achashveirosh of the plot of Bigsan Veseresh directly--why did he relate it through Esther?
ANSWER:  He wanted Esther to be more highly regarded and more influential before the king (Yosef Lekach).


QUESTION:  What was the sin committed by Bnei Yisroel that prompted the great gezaira against them?

ANSWER:  The Gemara (Megillah 11A and 12A) lists three reasons: 1) a laxity in Torah study and Mitzvah observance; 2) participating in Achashveirosh’s first party in which he used the Keilim of the Bais HaMikdash, and which he hosted in celebration of the Jews not being redeemed; and 3) bowing down to the tzelem (idol) of Nevuchadnezzar and/or Haman--, which violated a prohibition of Avoda Zara.  HAKHEL NOTE: We see how severe sin the first one really is, if it can be compared to such grievous sins as the second two!


QUESTION:  On what day did Haman make the “Pur”?

ANSWER:  The 13th day of Nisan (see Rashi to Mesechta Megillah 15A and Malbim to Esther 3:7).


QUESTION:  If the Megillah says that a ‘Pur’ is simply a Goral, a lottery, why is the term ‘Pur’ used at all?

ANSWER:  ‘Pur’ indicates a lottery for the bad, whereas Goral indicates a lottery for the good (HaRav Yaakov MiLisa).  Hakhel Note:  Thus we see the VeNaHafoc Hu in the name Purim itself!  Alternatively, the ‘Pur’ is a special name for the dice that Haman cast (Ya’aros Devash).


QUESTION:  Why was Achashveirosh’s notice to kill the Jews issued so far--almost a year-- in advance--didn’t he realize that this would provide ample time for the Jews to act?
 ANSWER:  It was done at Haman’s urging so that the king would not rescind the decree, for once it was sealed with the royal seal, it could not be recalled (Malbim Manos HaLevi).  Alternatively, one can suggest that Achashveirosh thought the Jews were powerless before Hashem, based on his miscalculation they were “not redeemed at the end of their 70 year exile.”


QUESTION:  The Megillah records that ‘Pas-shegen HaKesav’ (Esther 3:14 )--what does the word “Pas-shegen” mean?

ANSWER:  Rashi and the Ibn Ezra write that Pas-shegen means: the text, the nussach, the content.  Artscroll translates it as “copies” (of the document containing the decree).


QUESTION:  How many humps did the Achashdranim Bnei HaRamachim have?  How many legs did it have? 

ANSWER:  According to HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’TL (Megillah 18A), these were a unique type of camel with two humps and eight legs, and were accordingly, exceedingly fast.  Fascinatingly HaRav Emden notes that these camels were reportedly in existence in Persia even in his time.  According to others, the phrase refers to a special type of mule which was driven by expert riders. (See Ibn Ezra to Esther 8:11 and Rashash to Megillah 18A).


QUESTION:  In addition to his plan to kill all the Jews, what edicts did Haman immediately issue against them?

ANSWER:  Chazal (Megillah 16B) teach us what the other edicts were from the Pasuk “LaYehudim Hoysa Orah…” (Esther 8:16 ):  The additional decrees included prohibiting the study of Torah, the observance of Yom Tov, performing a Bris Mila and the wearing of Tefillin.


QUESTION:  The Megillah teaches that Esther told Mordechai that not only should the Bnei Yisroel not eat and drink for three days--but that she and her Na’aros would also fast.  Yet, she said “Gam Ani Ven’aarosai Atzum Kein”--Atzum is in first person singular.  What happened to her maidens--weren’t they supposed to fast as well?  

 ANSWER: Rav Shlomo Kluger, Z’tl, in the Sefer HaChaim explains that Esther could only state what she knew to be the truth--that she would fast.  She did not know what her Na’aros would do privately and she would not say something that she did not know for certain to be the truth.


QUESTION:  Why did Esther initially refuse Mordechai’s request to appear before the king?

ANSWER:  She thought that she did not have to put herself into danger without first being called by Achashveirosh, as there would be ample time over the year to speak to him, and she would probably see Achashveirosh soon as she had not seen him in 30 days.


QUESTION:  Why did Mordechai emphasize to Esther that she should not be silent “Baeis Hazos”--at this time? 

ANSWER:  Because it was Nissan, the time of Geulah, and one should not wait for a different time.


QUESTION:  Why did Esther ask first that the people fast for her, and then state that she and her maidens would also fast--wouldn’t it have been Derech Eretz for her to say that she would fast--and then ask them to fast too. 

ANSWER:  Chazal (Bava Kama 82A) teach that if one Davens for his friends and needs the same thing, then he is answered first.  She therefore asked them to fast for her, so that they would be answered and saved first (Maharal).


QUESTION:  Why did Esther ask that everyone fast for three days?

ANSWER:  We provided the Ben Ish Chai’s answer earlier in the week.  Alternatively, Chazal teach that Kinah (jealousy), Ta’ava (desire), and Kavod (honor seeking) take a person out of this world.  Thus, one day was designated for each of these Middos, as the Zohar HaKadosh teaches that Yamim represent Middos--these three Middos that had to be corrected (Pri Tzaddik, Parshas Chukas). 


QUESTION:  Who in the Megillah was smitten BeSanveirim (illusions) and how was he cured?

 ANSWER:   The Sefer Orah VeSimcha brings the Medrash that Achashveirosh was suffering from Sanveirim--but when Esther came to the Chatzer, Gavriel tilted the king’s head towards her and he was healed.  Achashveirosh therefore put out his golden scepter to bring her closer since he was healed by seeing her.


QUESTION:  Why did Esther invite Haman to her party with Achashveirosh?  The Gemara gives 12 reasons and Eliyahu HaNavi (as quoted in the Gemara) confirms that Esther had all 12 of them in mind.  Can you name at least three? 

ANSWER:  The Gemara may be found in Megillah 15B.  Here are several reasons: a) she wanted Achashveirosh to suspect that she and Haman were plotting together against him; b) she wanted the Jews not to be overconfident with her political abilities to get them out of their life threatening situation--by her inviting Haman to the party(!), they would daven with even greater intensity;  c) she wanted all the other ministers to be jealous of Haman and so unite against him; d) she wanted Haman to be available to trip himself up in some way ; e) so that Achashveirosh would not realize that she was Jewish prior to the party ; and f) so that Hashem would have special mercy on her--seeing that she, a Nevia and a Tzadekes, would have to be in the same room with this arch-enemy of the Jews.


QUESTION:  At the first Mishte--Esther’s request was that Achashveirosh and Haman come back for a second Mishte--why couldn’t she accomplish her goal at the first Mishte?

ANSWER:  Esther did not sense any change that had occurred in Klal Yisroel’s situation at the time--and she was expecting to see a sign that the Tefillos and fasts were accepted.  Indeed, the next morning brought Haman parading Mordechai through the streets of the capital--the sign was there! (Ibn Ezra)  Alternatively, the Chasam Sofer explains that Amalek is defeated by “Machar”--you wait until ‘tomorrow’ in order to defeat them (see Rashi to Shmuel I 30:17). 


QUESTION:  According to Chazal, how many students was Mordechai learning with when Haman came in to take him on the royal horse?

 ANSWER:  Twenty-two Thousand.  This is equivalent to the number of Malochim who escorted Hashem to Har Sinai.  This perhaps demonstrates the new Kabalas HaTorah by Bnei Yisroel of Kimu VeKiblu…we replaced the Malochim when we accepted to Torah of our own free will!


QUESTION:  Why did the tree that Haman had prepared for Mordechai have to be 50 Amos tall?

ANSWER:  Haman was afraid that the noose would break, and that Mordechai would thereupon be free of the death penalty (as is the custom in all kingdoms), he thus wanted to ensure that Mordechai would die from the fall in all events (Ben Dovid).  Alternatively, Haman saw Mordechai in a dream flying on top of his house.  He knew that dreams have substance, so he wanted the tree to be higher than his house to ensure that this was the meaning of the dream.  What the dream really meant would be (and was) that Mordechai was placed “Al Bais Haman--in charge of Haman’s house” shortly thereafter.


QUESTION:  Who killed his wife because of someone he loved, and killed someone he loved because of his wife? 

ANSWER:  Achashveirosh killed Vashti based on Memuchan’s accusation, and killed Haman based upon Esther’s accusation.  ....Yet another reminder that Hashem makes the world go around and around


QUESTION:  For how long was Haman hung on the tree?

ANSWER:   From 16 Nisan--until 14 Adar of the next year.  This was for the world to see that the Bnei Yisroel were not to be killed but respected.  Finally, on the 14th of Adar almost a year later, his sons were hung on the gallows below him (Shailos U’Teshvous Torah LeShma 321, based upon the Targum Sheni).


QUESTION:  Why is Haman specifically called an Agagi (8:3) when Esther pleads with Achashveirosh to reverse his decree after Haman was hanged?

ANSWER:    The Bnei Yissaschar explains that usually when a ruler dies, his decrees are nullified, as his death is viewed as a sign that the decree was inappropriate.  However, because Haman was an Agagi and not really from the ruling authority of Paras U’Madai, the decree was not nullified, and Esther had to make a special appeal.


QUESTION:  Agag and Haman each had a son with the same name--what was it? 

ANSWER:  Veyzasa (see Esther 9:9 and Targum Sheni).


QUESTION: Which son of Haman was hung on the lowest rung of the gallows, hanging just an Amah above the ground?

ANSWER:     Veyzasa (Targum Sheini 9:14).  There is a reason for everything--even as to how and where each of our enemies are punished--otherwise Chazal would not record it.  We similarly find at the Yam Suf that the Mitzriyim were punished in different ways (being treated in the waters as lead, stones, or straw, depending upon how they treated the Bnei Yisroel).  Everything has a Cheshbon--Everything!


QUESTION:  What was the special cause of VeHa’ir Shushan Tzhala VeSameicha (and the city of Shushan rejoiced)--how was Shushan’s Simcha different from the Jews Simcha of Layehudim Hoysa Orah VeSimcha...?
ANSWER:  Not only were the Jews happy, but those who respected true justice were happy as well.  When Haman’s decree was first issued, the city of
Shushan was Navocha--they were confused (Manos HaLevi).  This was a direct fulfillment of the Pasuk teaches “Birvos Tzaddikim Yismach Ha’am…when the righteous become great the people will rejoice, when the wicked men rule the people sigh.” (Mishlei 29:2)  Alternatively, the term “VeHa’ir Shushan” indicates that not only did the people rejoice, but even the inanimate objects of the city--the trees and rocks also rejoiced together with the rejoicing of Mordechai HaTzaddik.


QUESTION:  Why is Charvona “Zachor Latov”?

ANSWER:     Some learn that the officer Charvona is spelled earlier in the Megillah with an “Aleph”, and later in the Megillah with a “Hey” (when he tells Achashveirosh about Haman’s tree) because it is actually not the same person.  Earlier in the Megillah (1:10) he is an officer of Achashveirosh.  Later, it is Eliyahu HaNavi, merely posing as Charvona, who we remember for the good.  Others learn that the officer Charvona had Hirhurei Teshuva, and is thus remembered for the good.


QUESTION:  How many mishtaos, or parties, are mentioned all-told in the Megillah?

ANSWER:  Six--a) the Mishte of Achashveirosh for all of Perisa;  b) the additional Mishte which Achashveirosh made for seven days for just Shushan; c) the separate Mishte of Vashti; d) the Mishte made by Achashveirosh when Esther became queen; e) the first Mishte among Esther, Achashveirosh and Haman; f) the next day--the second Mishte among Esther, Achashveirosh and Haman. If that isn’t enough, the Megillah separately records that Haman and Achashveirosh sat down separately simply “to drink” when the King’s initial order against the Jews was sent out (Esther 3:15 )!


QUESTION:  How many people were hanged in the course of the Megillah?

ANSWER:  13--Haman, his ten sons, Bigsan, and Seresh.


QUESTION:  Name two evil people in the Megillah whose names rhyme.

ANSWER:  Zeresh and Seresh (Seresh, one of the infamous plotters whose plan was overheard by Mordechai).


QUESTION:  Why do the unwalled cities and walled cities have different days for observing Purim?

ANSWER:  The Shoel U’Maishiv brings the Ramban who writes that the walled city dwellers didn’t sense the miracle as much because they thought that they were secure in their walled cities--and Mordechai and Esther got them to understand that the miracle very much applied to them as well!  Do you think you’re secure because you have an alarm system?...


QUESTION:  If you rearrange the letters of “Shushan”, what does it spell?

ANSWER:  “Sasson”--or happiness!


QUESTION:  Identify six instances of Middah K’neged Middah that appear in the Megillah. 

ANSWER:  a) Vashti made Jewish girls who were her captives work for her unclothed--and so she was ordered to come before the king unclothed (Megillah 12B); b) Haman was hung on the tree that he prepared for Mordechai; c) Bigsan and Seresh wanted to kill the king, yet they were killed instead; d) The Jews ate and drank at Achashveirosh’s party, so they were forced to fast for three days; e) Haman wanted everyone to bow to him--at the penalty of death, and in the end Achashverosh ordered him to be killed--because he fell before Esther; and f) Mordechai put on sackcloth and ashes on his head over what Haman had decreed, and in the end, took over Haman’s position, wearing the royal apparel and a large gold crown.

The Rema (in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 695:2) writes that the Seudas Purim, the festive Purim meal, should commence with Divrei Torah.  The Mishne Berurah (in Orach Chayim 429, seif katan 2) rules that one must begin learning about Pesach on Purim--which is exactly 30 days before Pesach.  Accordingly, putting the Rema and Mishne Berurah together, it is therefore a custom to commence the Purim seudah with a halacha about Pesach.  In this way, one also connects the Geulah of Purim to the Geulah of Pesach (see Taanis 29A, which states that the reason we should increase our simcha to such a great extent in Adar is because it is the commencement of both the miracles of Purim and Pesach).


QUESTION:  What famous American object has the same gematria as “Amalek”?  What can you learn from that?

ANSWER:  Amalek has the same gematria as “dollar”--both have the numerical equivalent of 240.  As far as the lesson, we will only point to Amalek’s grandfather--Esav--and his passion for money and worldly goods.  We leave other lessons up to you.


QUESTION:  Which cities in Eretz Yisroel (and outside it) today would read the Megillah on two days--the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar because of a doubt as to whether they were walled from the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun? 

ANSWER:  Among the cities: In Eretz Yisroel:  Chevron, Yafo, Gush Chalav, Akko, Tzefas, Lod, Shechem and Teveria (which is a separate issue--See Megillah 5B).  In Chutz La’Aretz:   Damascus and Baghdad .  See Sefer Adar U’Purim by HaRav Yoel Schwartz, Shlita, for further discussion.


QUESTION:  What are the last five seforim in Tanach?

ANSWER:  According to the printed Tanach, the last five Seforim are the Megillos of Koheles and Esther, followed by Daniel, Ezra-Nechemia and Divrei HaYamim.  However, the Gemara in Bava Basra 14B-15A lists the following as the last Seforim of Tanach:  Eichah (describing the Churban), followed by Daniel, Megillas Esther, Ezra-Nechemia and Divrei HaYamim.  This second listing is, obviously, also chronological, as Sefer Daniel discusses periods prior to the events of Megillas Esther.


QUESTION:  Who in the Megillah sought after the peace of one person and was rewarded with being Zoche to seek the peace of his entire people?

ANSWER:    The Megillah teaches that Mordechai went “Lidrosh Es Shlom Esther” ( 2:11 ).  Chazal teach that Hashem said “You went to seek the peace of one person--in this merit you will seek the peace of your entire nation--Vedover Shalom Lechol Zaro.” (Esther Raba 6:6).  What a great lesson--how great it is to seek someone else’s peace--think about to where it can lead!  Perhaps our Mishloach Manos and Matanos LeEvyonim are to serve as our jump start in seeking the peace of others!





Special Note One:  We provide by clicking here a flyer relating to The Power of Purim that has been distributed for many years.  Please feel free to distribute and redistribute!

In a very similar vein, please Click here for a link to an important message that is being distributed by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.  Hakhel Note:  Dovid HaMelech teaches us in Hallel (Tehillim 116:1 et. al.) “Ahavti Ki Yishma Hashem Es Kol Tachanunai…Dalosi Veli Yehoshia--I love Him, for Hashem hears my voice, my supplications…I was brought low, but He saved me.”  Chazal teach that even when we are poor in Mitzvos Hashem saves us through our Tefillos--let’s get going!



Special Note Two:  Today is the 11th day of Adar--the first day mentioned in Mesechta Megillah (2A) that the Megillah could be read under certain circumstances.  Do you feel greater Simcha coming on?  If not…start working on it!



Special Note Three:  Thoughts for Ta’anis Esther:


1.  There is a special inyan to recite Tehillim Chapter 22 on Ta’anis Esther and Purim, for this is the Kepitel recited by Esther herself upon entering Achashveirosh’s throne room uninvited (See Kav HaYashar 97).  The Kav Hayashar adds that when we gather today in Shul to daven, we are considered to be in the “Chatzar HaMelech”--and “Bevadai”, surely through our Selichos and Tefillos we arouse Mordechai HaTzadik and Esther HaMalka--who will “certainly join” in our Tefillos.  Accordingly, he writes, that Ta’anis Esther is a day which is “MESUGAL ME’OD” for our tefillos to be accepted in the zechus of Mordechai VeEsther.  “One who needs mercy from Hashem should recite Tehillim Chapter 22, and then pour his heart out to Hashem for the mercy he needs--especially mentioning the Zechus of Mordechai and Esther in whose Zechus the Sha’arei Rachamim should be opened and his Tefillos should be accepted.”


Additional Note:  The G’ra holds that this Chapter is actually the Shir Shel Yom for Purim itself.


2.  In the past, a flyer with the Bracha of Rebbetzin Kanievsky which urged women on Ta’anis Esther to recite Tehillim Chapters 28, 32, 79, 92, and 22, followed by Acheiu Kol Bais Yisroel.  Hakhel Note:  The Chasam Sofer writes that the Megillah especially teaches that Mordechai expressed a “Tze’akah Gedolah U’Marah” when he heard the tragic news.  In the end, however, his pleas and the pleas of his people turned the decree 180 degrees.  This should teach us that whatever the situation, Hashem is in control, and the Tze’akah Marah can unbelievably change to Tzahalah VeSimcha!


3.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah (Sha’ar 12: Perek 3) writes that one should increase his Torah study on Ta’anis Esther…maybe you can learn just a little more in honor of this great day?


4.  When contributing Machatzis HaShekel today, one should say “Zecher L’Machatzis HaShekel”--this is the remembrance of the Machatzis HaShekel, so as not to leave the impression that this is an actual contribution to the Bais HaMikdosh, which was given at this time of year. (Luach Eretz Yisroel of Rav Tukchinsky Z’tl)


5.  The Mishna Berura (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 686, seif katan 2) writes the following about Ta’anis Esther:  “It is called Ta’anis Esther so that we remember that Hashem Yisborach sees and listens to each person in his time of trouble when he fasts and returns to Hashem with all of his heart, as was done at that time.”  We must not lose sight of the fact that Teshuva is a tremendously important part of the day today.  As we remain numbed by the shocking massacre in Eretz Yisroel last Shabbos, as we look at the troubled state of our brethren worldwide, and at the turbulent and tottering state of all of mankind, Teshuva should certainly be a high priority today--make it yours! 


6.  This is a tough request--so it is our third reminder:  on Purim, one should endeavor to give Mishloach Manos not only to his relative, his best friend or his neighbor, but also to someone whom you are a little bit “on the outs” with, or with whom you do not speak enough, or with whom you have a somewhat cool relationship for various reasons, or for a particular reason, or for no reason at all.  Now--today--is the time to think about who this person or those people will be…there is no better time to break the ice--or even to warm the cool water--by knocking on someone’s door unsolicited with a smile and a colorful Mishloach Manos.  What better way could there be to dispel the claims of Haman HaRasha that we are “a dispersed and separated people”?  Anyone who dislikes coolness, discord or dispute between two groups or even within one group of our people should also move to eliminate it from within himself and his family, as well.  So…get ready, practice and rehearse--knock on that door…and “PURIM SAMEACH”-“A FREILICHIN PURIM”-“HAPPY PURIM”!



Special Note Four:  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 690:17) writes “the children’s custom is to make an image of Haman HaRasha on sticks or stones, or to write the name of Haman HaRasha on them, and to hit them against each other, so that his name is erased…and from here comes the custom to make noise at the mention of the name of Haman HaRasha when the Megillah is read in shul--and one should not be Mevatel (nullify) a Minhag (custom) or make light of it.”


The Mishna Berurah there (seif katan 59) writes that this is not only the Minhag of children, but of adults, as well, and adds that the Chacham Tzvi would bang with his leg at the mention of Haman HaRasha.  Although many communities and Rabbonim objected to this custom as disturbing the Megillah reading and perhaps for other reasons, it is indeed reported that the Chofetz Chaim himself stomped with his foot when Haman HaRasha’s name was mentioned (Chofetz Chaim Chayav U’Poalo).  The Piskei Teshuvos (6:554) notes that this was the Minhag of other Gedolei Yisroel, as well.


The Piskei Teshuvos (ibid.) brings the explanation of the Chasam Sofer as to why we have noise and disturbance--so as to demonstrate that we do not want to hear his name.  We may add that we should feel the same way about other Reshoim--past and present.  After all, the Posuk in Mishlei 10:7 states, “V’Shem Reshoim Yirkav--the name of the wicked shall rot.”  It is one thing to take something into your mouth not knowing it was rotten, but would you let your mouth touch something knowing it was spoiled?!  This is something we would most certainly be careful about.  Our noise and stomping at the mention of his name are the equivalent of saying the words “Yimach Sh’mo” (we just do not want to talk during K’riyas HaMegillah)--which is like ejecting the rotten item out of your mouth.  See Sefer Avudraham 2:230-231.  We must recognize that Haman HaRasha’s despised name had to be written (in various ways) in the Megillah only for the very many lessons and reasons that the Anshei Knesses HaGedola determined with their Ruach HaKodesh.


Now, please make sure that you are sitting down for what you are about to read, for, although it is Torah about Purim, it is not “Purim Torah”:


The Piskei Teshuvos (ibid.) adds from the Ba’al Shevet Mussar, Z’tl, and Rav Chaim Pilagi, Z’tl, that when we hit at the mention of Haman HaRasha’s (and according to some Minhagim, his family members’) name, Hashem makes him actually feel these smites--so that he is in tremendous pain.  Why?  Because the miracle of Purim happened to every Jew in every generation--after all, if Haman HaRasha’s plan had been successful, R’L, we would never have been born.  Therefore, he must feel all of the smites of all Jews of all generations since Purim.


Let us appreciate Purim deeply--and literally rejoice in our salvation.



Special Note Five:  We provide three additional questions that are Kosher for Purim and Year Round Use--this time in honor of the One Hashem, and to thank His Two Agents--Mordechai and Esther--for our salvation:


  1. How many words are there in the “Al Hanisim” of Purim?  In Nusach Ashkenaz, there are 68.  HaRav Yaakov Emden in his Siddur writes that 68 is the Gematria of “Chaim”--and we thank Hashem for the life he granted us at that time--which has its life-bearing effects to this day, which will continue forever and ever!


  1. Why did Esther request of the king that the Bnei Yisroel be given an extra day to fight their enemies in Shushan (Megillah 9:13 )?  The Megillas Sesarim (HaRav Yaakov MeLisa--the Nesivos) writes that Shushan had more Kedusha in it because the Sanhedrin was there, and because Mordechai was a Navi.  When Haman’s Gezeira was put into effect the Kedusha was lost, and could not return until the Tumah was eradicated.  Esther saw that the Ruach HaKodesh had not yet come back, so she understood that the Tumah in the city was still there.  Accordingly, the 10 sons of Haman had to be hung, the other Amaleikim in the city obliterated--and the Kedusha then returned!


  1. What happened to Zeresh?  Well, first of all, we curse her every year--“Arura Zeresh Aishes Mafchidi”.  The Targum ( 9:14 ) writes that she ran away with 70 of her sons, and they became beggars.  A Rav taught that this was truly a tremendous punishment--for not only is an Ani considered like a Mais--but she lived to see Mordechai the Jew in control of all Haman’s property and possessions.


Special Note Six:  Chazal teach that Haman told Mordechai “Your Machatzis HaShekel contributions preceded and bested my offer of 10,000 talents of silver.  Indeed, even today we are sure to read the Parsha of Shekalim, and give a “Zecher L’Machatzis HaShekel” (a remembrance of the Machatzis HaShekel) every year before Purim.  This may very well be a reminder to us that we should be on the alert to give “Shekalim”, Tzedakah, in order for us to stave off and avert the designs and decrees of the Hamans of our generation.  We note that, in English, the first four letters of Haman and Hamas--write both of their names on the bottom of your shoe this Purim, Yemach Shemam to the both of them--are the same and there is never, ever, such thing as coincidence.  Let us remember, as we recite in the Hagadah, that “in every generation they stand up to destroy us and HaKadosh Baruch Hu saves us from their hand.”  With our Tzedaka, we will hopefully give HaKadosh Baruch Hu all the ammunition that He needs.


Additional Note:  In fact, HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, quotes the famous Rambam in Hilchos Megillah.  The Rambam writes that “it is better for a person to give more Matanos L’Evyonim than it is to spend money on a larger Seudas Purim or Mishloach Manos--for there is no Simcha Gedola U’Mefo’ara--there is no greater or more glorious joy--than one who makes the unfortunate happy.”  Indeed, HaRav Salomon notes, both the Nefesh HaChaim and the Zohar HaKadosh write that if one brings Simcha to the world; he is bringing Rachamim--mercy--into the world, and changing Din, the attribute of strict justice, to Rachamim, Heavenly Mercy--and there can be nothing better than that!  Our service, then, at this time of year, is to open the gates of Rachamim that we so desperately need opened so wide by bringing Simcha into the world through our own Simchas HaChaim, and all the more so by bringing others Simchas HaChaim--making others happy as well!



BRACHOS ALERT!  Yesterday we noted that Cheerios Brand Products are not necessarily Mezonos, as many “Cheerios” flavors no longer fall into the old saying of “Gotta have a bowl of them oats”--a true symbol of the fluidity and maneuverability of Olam Hazeh.  In any event, although we were advised that the general rule as to the Bracha on Cheerios products is to ‘look at the first ingredient’, we note that Multi-Grain Cheerios have the following six ingredients listed first:  Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Whole Grain Barley, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Rice....  Although the first ingredient is indeed corn, given that items 2, 4, 5, and 6 could be Mezonos, we called the OU, who advised us that the proper bracha combination on Multi-Grain Cheerios is Borei Minei Mezonos/Al HaMichya, because although the first ingredient is corn, the abundance of other Mezonos grains indicate their importance in this product.  Additional Note:  On Purim we will be receiving in Mishloach Manos many products we would not otherwise purchase.  Accordingly, we should be careful to check the Hashgacha on the product, as well as determine what the Bracha is--especially before giving it to a young child.  Additional Note:  We should be careful not to waste food (and also avoid only questionably fulfilling the mitzvah of Mishloach Manos) by giving thoughtfully prepared Mishloach Manos to the person receiving it--not sending caramel popcorn to an elderly couple; not sending non-Pas Yisroel products to your Rav.  The more the Mishloach Manos fits the person you are giving it to, the more beautiful and meaningful the mitzvah is!



Getting Megillah Ready:  Which name in the Megillah has the same Gematria as “Zeh Haman”?




Special Note One:  Rabbi Ari Marburger, Shlita, renowned expert in Choshen Mishpat and author of Business Halachah: A Practical Halachic Guide to Modern Business (Artscroll) has graciously provided us with a booklet entitled, Estate Planning, Wills, and Halachah: A Practical Guide to Hilchos Yerusha, which is available as a free download at the link below http://www.shtaros.com/media/153cbea9aab58bdcffff81deffffe41e.pdf



Special Note Two:  What happened to all of Haman’s possessions?  The Medrash (Shocher Tov 22) teaches that Haman’s money was distributed as follows: 1/3 to Mordechai and Esther, 1/3 to those involved in Torah study, and 1/3 toward reconstruction of the Bais Hamikdash.  What a V’Nahapoch Hu!



Special Note Three:  What did the G’RA send for Mishloach Manos?  The Sefer Ma’aseh Rav (249) provides the answer:  Cooked chicken and cooked fish, and similar ready-to-eat items.



Special Note Four:  The Sefer Halichos Shlomo, which contains the rulings of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt’l, writes that, according to HaRav Auerbach the definition of an “Evyon” for purposes of Purim is someone who does not have money “l’tzrochim hahechreichim l’farnes baiso--the funds which are necessary to provide for the necessities of one’s family.”  If you have not already done so, now is the time to give Tzedaka to those excellent organizations which distribute Matanos LeEvyonim to the poor on Purim.  Remember--we are required to give only one Mishloach Manos--but we are required to give two Matanos LeEvyonim (that’s twice as much)!  Additional Note:  In the Sefer Maaseh Rav, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked whether it was preferable not to give an Evyon directly on Purim just as, in Hilchos Tzedaka, it is preferable not to give an Evyon directly.  HaRav Kanievsky responded that here “lo mishane”--it does not make a difference and that either way is proper.



Special Note Five:  The following Halachos relating to Matanos L’Evyonim and Mishloach Manos for children have been distributed based upon the Sefer Halichos and Hanhagos and are the P’sakim of, HaRav Eliyashiv, Shlita:


  1. A father should give money to his young children in order for them to give Matanos L’Evyonim on Purim, as follows.  Childern ages 6-7 and older should “own” the money they give for Matanos L’Evyonim.  Accordingly, a father should give them money that he has designated **as belonging to them**, and that money should be used for Matanos L’Evyonim.  If a child is younger than 6-7, a father should simply give them money and direct them to give it to poor people.


  1. Young children should send Mishloach Manos to one another.  Older sons and daughters, past Bar and Bas Mitzvah are required to send Mishloach Manos.



Special Note Six:  The following is excerpted from the wonderful work “The Light of the Ben Ish Chai on  Megillat Esther”--the commentary of the Ben Ish Chai on the Megillah,  as translated by Rabbi Yerachmiel Bratt, Shlita:


“And Esther said, ‘Fast for me, neither eat nor drink, for three nights and three days’ (Esther 4:16 ).  Haman was a Gilgul of Esav and Mordechai a Gilgul of Yaakov.  Yaakov and Esav are always at extremes.  This is based on the Pasuk, ‘HaKol Kol Yaakov…--The voice is the voice of Yaakov and the hands are the hands of Esav.’ (Bereishis 27:22)  When the voice of Yaakov is strong (when Yaakov is immersed in Torah and Tefillah), Esav’s hands (strength) is diminished.  Esav is overcome when Yaakov asserts his Torah force.  In the time of Mordechai, the Jewish people re-accepted the Torah and thus re-established their connection to Hashem.  To awaken the Torah’s merits, K’lal Yisroel had to fast for three days.  The Torah affects a person completely and contains three primary components: thought, speech, and physical action.  These three activities embrace the gamut of human behavior.  Each day of fasting corresponded to one of the components, and thus to one aspect of Torah.  Esther specified that the fast should be for nights and days because she wanted to invoke all aspects of Torah--whereas the primary time to learn the written Torah is during the day, the primary time to learn Gemara is at night.  Additionally, three full days equals seventy two hours and this number is equivalent to the Gematria of Chesed.  Thus, the three-day fast was instituted to demonstrate our rededication to Torah study, and invoke Hashem’s Chesed upon us.



Special Note Seven:  At the recent Hakhel Shiur on Purim, Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, Shlita, urged everyone to prepare for Purim by reading the Megillah anew without the influences of his childhood thoughts--but as a Sefer of Tanach.  Rather than view King Acashveirosh as a roly- poly, fickle nitwit, we should realize instead Chazal’s teaching on the beginning words of the Megillah:  “‘Hu Achashveirosh’--Hu BeRisho Mitechilaso Ve’Ad Sofo--he is Achashveirosh--evil from the beginning until the end.”  Haman, then, could find no better partner to annihilate the Jews than him--for their annihilation was a great desire of his, as well.  It is very telling that even after the Neis Purim occurred, he still did not allow the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash for as long as he was king!  Yet, with all of his hatred for us, Hashem caused him to move his kingdom’s capital to Shushan, the place of the Jews, so that Mordechai would not have to burden himself in traveling any distance to his palace.  Hakhel Note:  With this in mind, let us take the time to study and appreciate the depth of every nuance and detail in the Megillah--and make many new discoveries this year.  We most certainly invite you to share your discoveries and original thoughts with us!



Special Note One:  At his Hakhel Shiur on the meaning of Purim, Rabbi Zev Smith, Shlita, made many great points, including the following:


1.  The essence of Purim is the realization that “Ain Od Melvado.”  This means that everything that preceded this world’s existence, that everything that currently exists, and that everything that will exist forever and ever is Hashem and His Will.  Indeed, the name of the Holiday Purim, indicates that something as “by chance” as a lottery is under the sole and complete jurisdiction of Hashem. 


2.  HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz, Z’tl, taught that one should not only give Mishloach Manos to friends--but to his “ex-friends” as well. 


3.  The Chofetz Chaim, Z’tl, writes in a published letter (Michtevei Chofetz Chaim 20):  “We all know very clearly that Hashem can bring the Geulah BeChol Regah V’Regah--at any moment--as in the times of Mordechai and Esther the complete Geulah happened overnight.  This is actually an explicit Posuk recorded in the last Navi, Malachi:  ‘Ki Pisom Yavoh El Heichalo--for He will suddenly come to His Sanctuary.’  We have to be ready always!”  Hakhel Note:  Teshuva Bechol Yom--for each and every one of us!


4.  An essential part of Purim Day is “Kiymu VeKiblu.”  This does not only refer to all of Klal Yisroel’s voluntary acceptance of the Torah--but to each individual’s rededication to Torah as well.  Every person should view it as part of his Simchas Purim, as part of his Purim mandate, to rededicate himself to Torah study.  Rabbi Smith cited two examples:  One--His favorite Siyum--a subway rider who was not capable of learning Gemara and who completed Mishnayos in English on his back and forth commute every day.  What an accomplishment!  Two--an elderly gentlemen who “did not have time” to come to a Shiur that Rabbi Smith was giving because he was studying with tremendous diligence for a Dirshu test.  Hakhel Note:  We will all be pressured for time over the next month, with many demands and obligations upon us.  The Chofetz Chaim notes that when one keeps his set time for study without fail, and in the case of a ‘Dochak Gadol’ makes up his studies within the day, then a “Kedusha Gedolah Venora’ah--a great and awesome Kedusha rests on him every single time he learns in this way.  Let us not forget this Kedusha Gedolah Venora’ah every time that we keep our set time for learning.  We suggest that our Kiymu VeKiblu this Purim involve a special effort in this regard.  Remember the words of the Chofetz Chaim--Kedusha Gedolah Venora’ah--on you!


For tapes or CD’s of the Rabbi Smith’s Shiur or Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier’s brilliant Shiur, please call 718-252-5274.



Special Note Two:  At a Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Shlita, related that HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, was once asked the following question:  All the abundance that we have today--is this a brocha--or a klala--a curse?  His response was that, in fact, it is neither.  Rather, it is purely a nisayon, a test for each one of us in life.  Every generation has its own tests.  Seventy or eighty years ago in the very same country the test may have been deprivation and even near-starvation.  Today, as we visit the supermarket, the clothing store, or any one of the “Depots” that abound, we must realize that our goal is to strike the proper balance--to thank Hashem with sincere and deep thanks for the bounty and choices that we have (as per the meaning of the Brocha of Borei Nefashos), and concomitantly not to blatantly or even discreetly engorge or overindulge in that which would not please Hashem.


One must be a proactive thinker while at a smorgasbord, on a weekend vacation, at the electronics store, or even in front checkout counter in the supermarket--to decide whether he really needs that new electronic gadget, pleasure, extravagance, or even just  the small extraneous item.  We can pass the nisayon--replacing excess and overindulgence with appreciation and gratitude!



Special Note Three:  We are currently in the thirteenth month of the year.  Thirteen may not have a positive connotation for sorcerers and the like.  Indeed, many office buildings do not have a “thirteenth floor”.  However, to us, the number 13 is very special, as it indicates our uniqueness (and this maybe another reason why the rest of the world may not like it).  It represents Hashem’s 13 Attributes of Mercy towards us, the 13 Attributes of Faith of the Rambam, the age of a Jewish man’s adulthood, and, of course, is the gematria of the word “Echad”--representing Hashem’s Oneness in this world and the entire universe.  We should truly rejoice in this thirteenth month for all of the exclusivity and distinctiveness that it represents.  How many times have you lived through a thirteenth month of the year in the secular calendar?


Very much related to this thought, we had received the following from a reader:


Purim = 80 + 6 + 200 + 10 + 40 = 336   3 + 3 +6= 12 -- 12 Shevotim joined together, Mishloach Manos, friendship

Mordechai = 40 + 200 + 4 + 20 +10 = 274   2 + 7 +4=13

Esther = 1 + 60 + 400 + 200 = 661   6 + 6 + 1=13

B’simcha =  2 + 300 + 40 + 8 + 5 = 355   3 + 5 + 5=13

Finally, Haman =  5 + 40 + 50 = 95  9 + 5 = 14 -- 14th day of Adar!



Special Note Four:  Some Questions for the Week:


a)  In a Posuk in the Megillah that many exclaim together ( 8:16 ), the Posuk records “U’Mordechai Yatzah Melifnei HaMelech…Mordechai left the king’s presence clad in royal apparel….”  The royal apparel listed includes, however, “Bootz V’Argaman--linen and purple wool.”  How could it be that Mordechai would wear both linen and purple wood together?  Isn’t there a Shatnez issue?


b)  Sometimes the Megillah refers to Achashveirosh as HaMelech Achashveirosh and sometimes just as HaMelech.  Why?


c)  Mesechta Megillah contains the famous Sugya in which scholars were asked:  “Bameh He’Erachta Yomim?--How did you achieve your length of days?”  What did you do right to achieve long life?  We know that Agadata in Shas is placed in a particular Mesechta because of its relationship to that Mesechta.  For instance, the primary Agadata relating to the Churban is in the Mesechta relating to divorce, Gittin, because it describes the temporary estrangement of Hashem from His people.  Why, is it, then, that Mesechta Megillah is the appropriate Tractate to discuss how one merits length of days?


d)  In the last Pasuk of the Haftarah for Parshas Zachor, Shmuel tells Agag, the King of Amalek the following before killing him:  “Just as your sword made women childless, so, too, shall your mother be rendered childless among women.”  If the only surviving member of Amalek was Agag, doesn’t this mean that his mother was already dead--so what was Shmuel referring to (Shmuel I 15:33 )?


e)  We recite Al HaNisim in both Birchas HaMazon and Shemone Esrei on Purim.  In Birchas HaMazon we recite the Al HaNisim in the second Brocha, which relates to thanks, and only afterwards, in the third brocha, do we pray for Yerushalayim to be returned to us.  Yet, in the Shemone Esrei, we first pray for the return of Yerushalayim in V’LeYerushalayim Ircha and Retzay, and only afterwards do we express our thanks to Hashem and recite the Al HaNisim.  Why is there a different order in Birchas HaMazon then in Shemone Esrei?


f)  In the Megillah (Esther, 9:25 ), when Esther comes to plead before her people, the Megillah records Achashveirosh’s response:  “Im HaSefer Yoshuv Mashachvto Hara…”--what is the meaning of the phrase “Im HaSefer?”  Note: One should go through the Megillah **now** to identify--and know the meaning of--the phrases he or she may not currently understand!


g)  In the Al HaNisim, we thank Hashem for saving us from the decree of “L’Hashmid L’Haarog U’LE’Abed--from the complete and utter destruction of the Jewish people,” who also, as this prayer of thanks records, would have also been subject to “U’Shlalam L’Voz--the plundering of their possessions.”  If the Jewish people would have been so totally destroyed, so utterly obliterated, what difference would it have made whether their possessions were plundered?  Who would have been there to care?  Why need we make specific and express mention of this in the Al HaNissim?



Special Note Five:  HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, (Rav Schwab on Prayer, Artscroll, p.526) poses a “I should have thought of that” question:  Why does the Megillah in some detail, and why do Chazal subsequently in Al HaNissim, spend the time and effort to describe that Haman was hung on a tree, and that his 10 sons were hung on the tree almost a year later?  Why do we have to remind ourselves of this every year in the Megillah and in the Al HaNissim so many times?  Indeed, Rav Schwab points out--even in the Maoz Tzur of Chanukah (!) we sing “Rov Bonov Vekinyanav Al Hoetz Tolisa--Haman and a good number of his sons were hung on the tree.”  What special significance does the tree have to this very special day of Purim?


Rav Schwab luminously suggests that Chazal (Chullin 139B) teach that Haman is alluded to in the Torah with the Eitz HaDaas--Hashem asks Adam:  “Hamin Hoetz Asher…--Did you eat of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?”  What is the relationship of Haman to the Eitz HaDaas--is it merely a play on words of Haman and Hamin?  Obviously not.  There is a great lesson here.  Haman intended to commit the most heinous crime imaginable--the genocide of an entire people.  The aveirah of Adam and Chava seems to be of no comparison whatsoever.  After all, they wanted to grow spiritually--to know the difference between Tov and Ra (Beraishis 3:5)--it was an aveira for them to eat only because Hashem did not want them to grow in this way at this time.  They succumbed to the appeal which the fruit had to their senses--albeit a supernal and lofty one.  As Rav Schwab teaches: “This was the most exalted form of an aveirah ever committed.”  Nevertheless, the Megillah and Chazal teach that the worst possible aveira known to man--genocide--had its origins in the sublime and elevated desire of Adam and Chava.  This is the route of aveira, this is the path of the Yetzer Hora.  Those “worst kind” of aveiros start somewhere--they have their origin in the slightest of aveiros.  Haman’s aveira only began…because of the “Hamin” that engendered it.


So, when we read and refer to--and even pray about--the Tree of Haman this Purim, let us make sure that we glean its great lesson.  We will tell the Yetzer Hora, “No, I am not going to begin--the one word of Lashon Hora, the one bite of questionable food, picking up the muktza item because maybe it is a “mitzvah” to do so, not paying the worker what he asks because you want to teach him a lesson…all of the good intentions, all of the “practically no aveira” of what you may be thinking, doing or saying--remember that particular 50 amos-high tree--look up to its top--and to the Shomayim which lies beyond!



Special Note Six: 




THE POWER OF A TZIBBUR:  Any Tzibbur, acting together, can bring about Refuos and Yeshuos (healings and deliverances) that all of K’lal Yisroel, acting individually, may not necessarily accomplish.  The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (18A) teaches that Hashem is ready to accept the Teshuva of a Tzibbur the whole year the same way that he accepts the Teshuva of an individual in the Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah.


In the Megilla, we learn from the words of Lech K’nos ( 4:16 ) that Mordechai and Esther elected to gather all of the Jews in Shushan to daven, instead of asking everyone to do something on his own.


THE POWER OF TEFILLA:  The power of Tefilla is immeasurable.  It can break the harshest of decrees.  Our cries brought about Yetzias Mitzraim.  Moshe Rabbeinu’s pleas broke the decree of destruction at the time of the golden calf and brought us victory against Amalek.  In fact, our Tefillos broke Haman’s decree to destroy the entire Jewish people during this time of year.


OUR GOAL:  HAVE KAVANA IN THE FIRST BROCHA OF SHEMONE ESREI:  According to the Shulchan Aruch (101:1), one is required to have Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei.  According to the Mishna Berurah, this means that one should not daven at all until he feels that he will have Kavanna in the first Brocha of Shemone Esrei.  This is how important the first Bracha is.


Our goal is to activate the power of Tzibbur and the power of Tefilla together by asking each member of the Tzibbur to have Kavanna in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei when davening each day from today, through Purim.  Please especially have Kavanna when reciting the words “Ozer” (Helper), “U’Moshia” (Savior), “U’Magen” (Shield):


  • Ozer--a Helper, who thwarts an existing immediate danger from overpowering a person (example:  you have already been attacked and the attacker is defeated);

  • Moshia--a Savior, who cancels danger threatening to overpower a person (example:  prior to his attacking, the attacker runs away);

  • Mogen--a Shield, who prevents trouble from reaching you in the first place (example:  the attacker never leaves home).

            See Michtav M’Eliyahu 4:65 as brought in Praying with Fire (page 117).


IMAGINE THE Z’CHUSIM:  The z’chusim which can be created by the thousands of us getting together to have Kavanna--in the first Bracha of Shemone Esrei, are literally astounding.  Davening properly, that is, having Kavanna for the simple translation of the words of the first Bracha, which we are all capable of doing with little effort, can convert a Shemone Esrei that perhaps should not have been said, into a true prayer to Hashem.  The results will B’EH be Refuos and Yeshuos for K’lal Yisroel.


IMPLEMENTATION:  It is recommended that you B’EH make a daily notation in the calendar provided below.



9 Adar II






10 Adar II






11 Adar II






12 Adar II






13 Adar II






14 Adar II





Hatzlacha--to all of us!



Special Note One:  Klal Yisroel is still in shock over the massacre of Rabbi and Mrs. Fogel and their three children, H’YD, on Leil Shabbos Kodesh.  This is too obviously a Tzarah for all of us.  Rabbeinu Ovadiah MeBartenurah to the Mishnah in Megillah (3:6) writes:  “Al Iskei HaCheit Ba’ah Puranus LeOlam--VeYachaziru B’Teshuva VeYenatzlu Metzarasam--punishment comes to the world because of sin, and if we do Teshuva we will be saved from our Tza’ar.  There is something that we can do in the wake of this great tragedy.  It is Teshuva--at least on one item or in one area--today. 



Special Note Two:  With the recent succession of gasp-worthy events in Japan , we are reminded day after day, with each additional event, and each additional discovery, that nothing--really and absolutely nothing--is to be taken for granted.  Until now, some may have recited the Bracha every morning of “Rokah HaAretz Al HaMayim--Who spreads out the earth upon the waters” as a giveaway, taken for granted, type of Bracha.  After all, we are on dry land, and as long as Hashem keeps the world going, that is where we remain.  At the very least, we should be awakened to recite each and every one of the Birchas HaShachar with focus, noting the Special Gift from Hashem in each Bracha. 


Additional Note:  It would be particularly appropriate for us to pay special attention to the Bracha of Gevuros (i.e., the Second Bracha in Shemone Esrei) this week, in recognition of the Gevuros Hashem.  In fact, there is a Remez to Purim that we discovered in the Bracha of Gevuros:  “Melech Maimis U’Mechayeh U’Matzmiach Yeshua--King Who causes death and causes life, and makes salvations sprout.”  In the Megillah, we see Haman put to death, Mordechai’s life spared and his rise in power (a Mechayeh!) and the Bnei Yisroel’s subsequent salvation….  It is interesting to note that the word “sprout” or “tzemach” is once again used in the Fifteenth Bracha of Shemone Esrei--”Es Tzemach Dovid.”  This teaches us that just as the salvation of Purim continued sprouting until it finally sprouted out in all its glory after so many years—so, too, is our Geulah sprouting each and every day.  We should very well appreciate this each and every time that we recite Es Tzemach Dovid!



Special Note Three:  We provide by the following link --  http://tinyurl.com/4zbs3a2  the “Chazak Inspiration Line Index” of personal stories in 99 different areas.  The Chazak Inspiration Line is an incredible and free service of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.  For further information, the general number of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation is 845-352-3505.



Special Note Four:  We once again make available by the following link a masterful Shiur in honor of Purim given for Hakhel by Rabbi Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Shlita, entitled “Shushan American Style”   http://tinyurl.com/4sv4oqn



Special Note Five:  We once again provide below a series of Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, relating to Purim as recorded (with his own approbation) by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, in Sefer Koveitz Halachos--Purim.  Of course, one must consult with his own Rav or Posek with respect to any particular Shailah that he may have:


1.                  Even if one is exempt from fasting because of illness, he should minimize the amount of food and drink that he consumes on the Ta’anis.  A pregnant woman and a nursing woman may consume regular amounts, as necessary.


2.                  If one intends to rise early on Ta’anis Esther and eat before Alos Hashachar, he must start his Seudah at least a half hour before Alos, although it is permissible to eat less than a Kebeitzah within the half hour period.


3.                  This Shabbos, a Megillah is not Muktzah (not even Machmas Chisaron Kis) for one can study Torah from it.


4.                  Before one touches his Megillah, he should wash his hands (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 147:1).


5.                  When Chazal teach that a person who does melacha on Purim will not see a siman bracha from it, this does not refer to permissible melacha--such as a dovor ho’avad (matters relating to preventing a financial loss) and melacha for simcha.  Additionally, one is permitted to cut his hair and nails and do laundry.


6.                  It is best if women go to Shul to hear the Megillah read BeTzibbur.  If one has a wife, a son who has reached the age of Chinuch, and a baby in the house--who should go to Shul--his wife, or the older child?  It would appear better for the wife to stay home (and hopefully hear the Megillah together with ten women later) and that he should bring his son to Shul to fulfill the Mitzvah of chinuch (BeRov Am).


7.                  If someone knows that he will not be able to hear every word in Shul, and will have to make up the words he does not hear from a Chumash (which is only B’dieved)--it is better to make a smaller Minyan in one’s home and be yotzeh lechatchilah by hearing every word from a Megillah.  However, if one will be forced to read or hear the Megillah without a Minyan, it is better to go to Shul and make up the words from one’s Chumash when necessary.


8.                  If one person didn’t hear the Megillah, and finds nine people who agree to listen again even though they were already yotzeh, it is still called Megillah B’Tzibur.


9.                  If a person senses that he lost his focus on the Megillah, he should read from his Chumash from the place where he lost his focus until he catches up to the Ba’al Kriyah.  This holds true for both men and women.  It is for this reason that it is best to have one’s own Kosher Megillah, and to lein the Megillah together with the Chazan.  Indeed, if one is uncertain whether he missed one word of the Megillah (either at night or during the day), he must hear the entire Megillah reading again.


10.              One should drink a little bit of wine at night of Purim and have candles lit at his Purim night meal, as well.


11.              One can be Yotzei the Mitzvah of Matanos LaEvyonim with a check even if it is postdated, because one can use the check in payment or otherwise negotiate it to someone else.


12.              A woman can be Yotzeis her Matanos LaEvyonim through her husband’s giving, but it is better for her husband to tell her that he is giving on her behalf.


13.              If a person sends Mishloach Manos before Purim and it arrives on Purim, he is Yotzei the Mitzvah.  Similarly, if one leaves Mishloach Manos at his friend’s door Purim night and his friend discovers it in the morning, one is Yotzei Misholach Manos.


14.              As brought in the Rema to Shulchan Aruch, one should learn Torah immediately prior to the Purim Seudah, since the Pasuk states “LaYehudim Haysa Orah VeSimcha”--the light of Torah must precede the Simcha of the meal because it brings a person to true Simcha.  It is not sufficient for a person to rely on his study of Torah in the morning.


15.              Women are equally as obligated in the Seuda as men.  Drinking should be done during the Seuda.  Women should also drink a little bit (a revi’is or less) of wine, and can also be Yotzeis with grape juice instead of wine.  However, there is no obligation for children under Bar/Bas Mitzvah to drink even grape juice.  It is, in all events, forbidden for anyone to become drunk.  The lesson is clear--our Seudah should be graced only by the Yetzer Hatov and the Torah atmosphere that Mordechai HaTzadik and Esther HaMalka were ready to give their lives for--and would be so proud of!



Special Note One:  We received the following from a reader in response to our question regarding the special word ‘Machar’ used in connection with our battle against Amalek:  “I heard an idea about destroying Amalek ‘tomorrow’--Eisav and Amalek are all about today, the instant obvious results of things, the impulse, the short term world--whereas K’lal Yisroel is about eternity and being able to see beyond the immediate.  That is why our tapping into this Koach of seeing beyond must be use in order to fight Amalek



Special Note Two:  More on the struggle of Shuls vs. cell phones:  We received word from a reader that in one Shul on the West Coast of the United States the Shul cell phone policy is that if it makes any audible sound--the charge is $18.00 right into the Pushka!



Special Note Three:  In a recent Shiur, Rabbi Dovid Finkelman, Shlita, provided the following important parameters with which someone giving criticism should be guided.  It may be useful to print these out, keep them in your wallet or your purse, and take them out and glance at them prior to giving criticism:


A.  Do not criticize out of anger.  Make sure you are calm and collected. 


B.  Say a Keppitel Tehillim


C.  No one likes to hear a long diatribe.


D.  Just like adults are people, teenagers and even little children are people too. 


E.  When Yaakov Avinu began to criticize the shepherds who were bringing in their sheep early, he started with the word ‘Achai’--you are my brothers (Bereishis 29:4).  Similarly, one should begin with an expression of warmth and caring. 


F.  The criticism should not be made or perceived as a personal attack.  Do not allow your personal Negios to make your way into your words.


G.  Each person is different, and your words cannot be ‘boiler plate’, but must be sincerely directed to the person, and the situation in front of you.



Special Note Four:  If you begin today, and study just one Perek a day of Megillas Esther (even with only one commentary or the Artscroll or the like), you will complete your study of the Ten Chapter of the Megillah on Purim--what an important and timely accomplishment!



Special Note Five:  Today, the Daf Yomi Cycle began Mesechta Menachos, discussing the Menachos, the flour offerings that were brought in the Beis HaMikdash.  It is fascinating to note that this Mesechta comes after Mesechta Zevachim (completed yesterday) which discusses animal offerings in the Beis HaMikdash.  One would have thought that the study of Menachos would come before the study of Zevachim, for after all, don’t we move up the ladder from a Tzome’ach, vegetation--to Chai, living creatures.  Upon quick reflection, however, we note that in this week’s Parsha (non-coincidentally discussing both Zevachim, animal offerings and Menachos, meal offerings), we find that the Parsha of Zevachim is taught to us in the Torah before the Parsha of Menachos.  Thus, the Torah She’Be’al Peh is simply following Torah She’Bechsav in its order.  The issue, however, returns--should not Menachos be presented first in the Torah--for as we see in the Sheishes Yemei Bereshis creation progresses from Domeim (like stone) to Tzomeach (like the Menachos)--and then to Chai (like the Zevachim)?!  We may suggest that there is a fundamental lesson here.  When we focus upon dedication to the service of Hashem to Torah and Mitzvos, we should also focus--at the outset and from the beginning on apportioning our very best.  We are taught to start with the best that we have to offer--the animals, and not the vegetable.  This appears, indeed, to be a great difference between the Korban of Kayin and the Korban of Hevel--with Kayin starting out by offering the lower level Tzomeach and Hevel demonstrating that this is not the correct approach, but that rather one should begin from “Mebechoros Tzono U’Meichelbeihen…from the first of his flock and from their choicest” (Bereishis 4:4).  Thus, the lesson is taught to all mankind at the beginning of the Torah and reiterated for us here in our more sublime service.  As Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita, teaches in his Sefer Journey to Virtue:  “Whenever performing a Mitzvah, whatever its form, it should be done with the best materials and in the finest possible fashion that one can.”  Likewise, the Sefer Orchos Tzadikim notes that Yaakov Avinu went back by himself to retrieve ‘Pachim Ketanim’--even small containers which he had left behind.  Yet, he was willing to give up all of the wealth he had acquired in the house of Lavan (which was, of course, enormous) in order to acquire Eisav’s portion in the Me’aras Hamachpeila.  By this, he demonstrated to his children forever the importance of knowing how and when to spend one’s money, and the importance of its proper apportionment in the performance of Mitzvos.


Additional Note:  We received the following moving event from a reader:  In 5689, during a Siyum on Zevachim in Vienna, Rabbi Meir Shapira, Zt’l, spoke about the murder of the Yeshivah students in Chevron, which occurred at that time:  “At the end of Zevachim we are told:  For you have not come till now to the rest and the inheritance; ‘the rest’ means the resting place of the ark; ‘the inheritance’ means a permanent inheritance.  The resting of the ark accompanies the permanent inheritance.  A permanent inheritance will come only after we see to a resting-place for the ark.  Irreparable gashes are being torn every day in the cities of Eretz Israel that have been destroyed.  We haven’t had the merit to come to our forefathers’ inheritance.  It is a troublesome time for Yaakov when those who bear the ark also don’t have a chance to rest.  With the loss of these boys, Sifrei Torah were burnt--the Torah with which they were supposed to light the darkness of the world.  Today, we finish Zevachim, we have had enough sacrifices!  We want to start Menachos–the resting (menuchah) of the ark and the permanent inheritance (menuchah)!” concluded Rabbi Shapira.  Hakhel Note:  May it come speedily and in our days!



Special Note Six:  As we will begin to learn in the coming Sefer Vayikrah of all the great Avodah that was done in the Bais HaMikdash, we can and should become HOMEsick.  However, there is a tremendous conciliation that the Targum (to Tehillim 84:8) provides us with.  The Posuk there states “Yeilchu MaiChayil El Chayil…--they should go from strength to strength.”  We typically understand this to mean that immediately after one davens, he should learn at least a little bit so that he goes from one strength--the strength of Davening--to the next strength of learning.  This is actually codified in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 155:1, where the MeChabeir rules:  “After one leaves the Beis Hakenesses he should go to Beis HaMidrash and have a set time for study, which he should not give up even if he thinks he will be able to make a large profit.”  So, then, what does the Targum to this Posuk add?  The Targum translates ‘MaiChayil El Chayil’ as ‘one should go from the Bais HaMikdash to the Bais HaMidrash’--clearly and incredibly indicating that the Bais HaMidrash is the strength one should pursue after leaving the Bais HaMikdash.  We must understand and apply from this teaching how great our House of Study truly is--one elevates himself even after leaving the Bais HaMikdash by going into the Bais HaMidrash!  As we continue through the Parshios of the Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash, and to the extent it is not rebuilt today or any time during Sefer Vayikrah, we should take note of the great importance of the Bais HaMidrash where we study in our times.  Indeed, Chazal (Berachos 8A) teach that “MeYom SheCharav Bais HaMikdash Ain Lo LeHakadosh Baruch Hu Elah Daled Amos Shel Halacha--from the time the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed Hashem’s treasure remains as the ‘Four Amos Shel Halacha’ that we study.  Over the next several weeks, we may be distracted with preparations and involvements--even for good things--but we should take the lesson of the Targum and remember the preeminent importance of the House of Study in our daily lives.  May we soon be zoche to follow the actual dictates of the Targum--to leave the Bais HaMikdash and go the Bais HaMidrash!



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


1.  In ‘Shimru Shabbsosai’, one of the beautiful Zemiros of Shabbos morning, we happily sing the following phrase: “Maharu Es Haman La’asos Es D’var Esther.”(Esther 5:5)  This is a Pasuk in the Megillah in which Achashveirosh instructs his servants to rush Haman to come to the first Mishteh that Esther has prepared on their behalf.  Why is this placed in the Zemiros?  How does Purim finds its way into our Shabbos table? 


2.  At a recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita, provided the following practical Halachos:


A.  One cannot ask any Jewish child to do anything on Shabbos that the adult himself cannot do, even if the child is under the age of Chinuch, unless: (a) The child, is, in fact, under age (under 4; over 4 begins to become a Chinuch issue); (b) one does not specifically instruct or gesture to the child to do the act (such as turn on a switch, move a knob, or plug in an appliance); and (c) the child must not be aware of the fact that he is doing something that will please the adult. 


B.  The term ‘Misaseik’ involves performing a Melacha without the intent to do so.  If one, for instance, carried out a tissue in his suit pocket without intending to, he would be a Misaseik in the Melacha of Hotza’ah.  We know, however, that the Halacha is “Chayav Adam LeMashmeish Begadav--a person must check his pockets before leaving his house on Erev Shabbos in order to avoid even inadvertent carrying on Shabbos.”  Thus, Rabbi Ribiat concludes, there is an obligation to avoid Misaseik as well.  The Teshuva to be done for someone who was Misaseik is to take precautions to avoid Misaseik in the future.  Additional Note:  Rabbi Ribiat pointed out that some actions may not fall under the category of Misaseik, but actually into the category of Shogeg.  For instance, if one flicks on a light switch on Shabbos, knowing that it is Shabbos and that it is Assur, but simply forgetting that he is not supposed to do so, this may be classified as a Shogeg.  This, would of course, would involve a very different kind of Teshuvah, and a person’s Rav or Posek should be consulted.


C.  If a lit candle falls on the table on Shabbos, one should simply pick it up and put it back into the Leichter.


D.  Live animals, including pets, are Muktzah Machmas Gufo, and accordingly cannot be moved or picked up.  However, a dead insect is considered to be a Graf Shel Re’ii.  It is for this reason that if one finds the insect, for example in one’s soup, he can lift it up together with a little bit of soup (so there is no borer issue) and dispose of it.  In a similar vein, if one’s garbage does not have non-Muktzah items within it, he can still move it when it is full and unpleasant based on the principle of Graf Shel Re’ii.  Hakhel Note:  The Poskim write that it is better for a non-Jew to move a Graf Shel Reii, if possible. 


E.  One cannot fix or spray a Shaitel on Shabbos because of Tikkun Manna issues.  If the spray is fragrant, there would be an Issur of Molid Reiach as well. 


F.  One is permitted to leave on an answering machine or a fax machine on Shabbos in order to receive a message or fax--for instance from a family member in Eretz Yisroel.  It is Shabbos wherever the person is physically located--so that for the person in Eretz Yisroel leaving the message or sending the fax, Shabbos has ended.  As far as actually physically picking up the fax page received, Muktzah issues are involved and a Rav should be consulted.



Special Note One:  We provide by clicking here a great resource entitled:  Ten Steps For Positioning the Head Tefillin”--you can print it out for yourself, and distribute it in your Shul and to others, as well.  If it helps even one person put on Tefillin properly, it can save thousands of Brachos Levatala over a life time--and bring thousands of properly performed Mitzvos into a person’s life!



Special Note Two:  A reader questioned as to why the word ‘Machar’ or ‘tomorrow’ is used particularly with respect to our battle against Amalek.  For instance, when Yehoshua went to fight Amalek, Moshe Rabbeinu told him:  Machar Anochi Nitzav Al Rosh Hagivah--Tomorrow, I will stand on top of the hill [and the battle will begin]...” (Shemos 17:9).  Similarly, Esther HaMalka told Achashveirosh:  Machar E’eseh KiDvar HaMelech”--Tomorrow, come back [with Haman] and I will do as the King requested... (Esther 5:8).  Why does ‘Machar’seem to be needed against Amalek?!   Your thoughts are very much welcome.



Special Note Three:  Two interesting insights--one relating to Mishloach Manos and the other to Matanos Le’Evyonim:


1.  A well known Rav is reported to have related in Shiur that a person should make a list of people who he wants to give Mishloach Manos to, then rip it up and give to everyone who was not on the list!


2.  As Purim approaches, one may feel that he has to be a little bit tighter with Tzedaka until Purim comes, and may also feel uneasy about all of the contributions on Purim as well.  There is a story related about R’ Itzele Petteburger, Z’tl, who reached into his pocket and gave a stranger Tzedaka.  After the person left, R’ Itzele remarked that he felt no difficulty, no hold-back, with his act of giving--so the Tzedaka in that case was probably not a true one.  The Yetzer Hara would only bring about hesitation and resistance when the Mitzvah was real--otherwise, he will let it go by with pleasure.  In a similar vein, the Torah in last week’s Parsha records that Moshe Rabbeinu gave an exact accounting of what happened with the Mishkan’s collections, because people would be or were suspicious of him otherwise.  What?!  Suspicious of Moshe Rabbeinu--who had brought them out of Mitzrayim and in fact had brought so much spiritual and physical wealth to them?!  Where did all of their money come from anyway?!  It must be, then, that the Yetzer Hara provides levels of friction and antagonism when it comes to true giving--which would not come about if one was spending the money on an expensive dinner, designer sweater, or on an extra pair of shoes or spare laptop.  So, if you are approached for Tzedaka within the next ten days--remember for the large part where your inner resistance is coming from.  Similarly, when giving Matanos Le’Evyonim--overcome the challenge and remember to give each and every person wisely--and B’Sever Panim Yafos!



Special Note Four:  Dovid HaMelech exclaims:  “Tashmieinu Sasson VeSimcha…Make me hear joy and gladness...” (Tehillim 51:10).  This Posuk teaches us that the increasing Simcha that we would like to attain this month is a gift from Hashem, and we should daven for it!  Indeed, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, notes that because we have a double Adar this year we can take 59 days of joy, add on a 1 representing the month of Adar Sheini, and attain 60.  We thus have a possibility of Bittul BeShishim--we have enough to be mevatel, to nullify an attitude and feeling of atzvus, sadness... for the rest of the year!


There are some great additional steps we can take towards attaining Simcha this month.  In a recent Shiur, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, asked everyone to study the concept of Simcha as related in the Sefer Mesilas Yesharim, Chapter 19.  There, the Mesilas Yesharim teaches that a person should recognize that the true Simcha is Simcha Shel Mitzvah, which is the recognition and appreciation of one’s entitlement and privilege to daven to Hashem who is all-powerful, to study Hashem’s Torah, and to serve him through the performance of Mitzvos.  Simcha Shel Mitzvah is not simply a Simcha that is contained in our life--it is the Simcha that actually sustains our life.  Indeed, the Kuzari writes that each Mitzvah opportunity should be viewed as an incredible invitation by Hashem Himself to be taken out of emptiness and squalor and instead to sit and eat at the King’s Table!  Moreover, the more Hashem wants to invite you to Olam Haba, the more opportunity of Mitzvah--the more invitations--he gives to you. Each such invitation brings you to a position at the table which is closer and closer to the King.  Remember, your ultimate stay at the King’s table will not be for a short meal or even a banquet--rather, your final position at the table--will be an everlasting one! 


HaRav Salomon brought one way in which one can determine whether in fact he experienced Simcha Shel Mitzvah.  He analogized to one coming home from a Chasunah.  How did you feel when you came back--”I had nothing to do”  “I was bored”  “I am still hungry”--or “I am so happy for the Chosson and Kallah”  “What a great Simcha”  “I felt real Achdus there.”  Your feelings after the Chasunah will give you the insight as to how meaningful it was for you.  Similarly, after you Daven, after you study Torah, or after you perform the other 611 Mitzvos--Do you feel uplifted? Do you feel happy? Do you feel accomplished?


One can help himself grow in attaining Simcha Shel Mitzvah with some Hachana, simple preparation before doing a Mitzvah.  Reflect for a moment--what a great opportunity doing this Mitzvah is--what a great right--what a great privilege--from Hashem Himself!  


Adar is an especially graced time for growth in Simcha Shel Mitzvah--for this is the Avodah of the Month.  Let us work on this great accomplishment together by taking a moment to reflect before we perform a Mitzvah--and then feel the joy after we have performed it…and forever thereafter!



BRACHOS ALERT!  We had asked the OU about the Bracha on Jolly Rancher candies.  They graciously responded as follows:  “We showed Rav Belsky the formulas for Twizzlers , Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosomes  and Young & Smylie Strawberry Licorice and after reviewing the formulas he said that the proper Bracha Rishona on all of these products  is Shehakol.  Even though they contain wheat flour, the flour is only Lidabek and is not added for Ta’am.  He said that he had heard this Psak from Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Zt’l, as well.”



Special Note One:  Once, after resolving a difficulty in a Rambam, Rebbe Yisroel Salanter, Z’tl, fainted.  “If I have such talent,” Rebbe Yisroel explained upon coming to, “I have a tremendous responsibility,” the Heavenly Court will demand of me:  “Why didn’t you get the whole world to do Teshuva?” 


Hakhel Note I:  We all have tremendous Kochos, more than we know. With these Kochos comes responsibilities, not only to ourselves but to others.  This year, Purim will be celebrated on a Sunday, which means that there is a greater responsibility to somehow and in some way involve those who you know who are not yet Torah observant in the meaning and importance of the day.  May we suggest that you go to the www.kiruv.com website and review the great possibilities that you have of bringing a brother closer to Torah.  Even if you simply refer an uneducated acquaintance to some inspirational websites, you will have accomplished a great deal.  These include:  ohr.edu, aish.com, simpletoremember.com, beingjewish.com, jewishresourcecard.com.  You don’t have to faint--and Hatzlacha Rabba! 


Hakhel Note II:  The Maharal explains that the reason Haman was so happy that the month in which he would kill the Jews came up as Adar was because it was the last month of the year, thus symbolizing that it was the month which would c’v be the end of Klal Yisroel’s existence.  He was so mistaken, because Adar as the last month, symbolized our existence beyond that of all of the other nations--we would continue and be last!  We each can do our part in not only keeping ourselves part of those that are ‘last,’ but bringing our neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. into the great ‘Adar Group’ as well!



Special Note Two:  As we learned in last week’s Parsha, when one entered the Kodesh, the Shulchan, or the table with the Lechem HaPanim on it was on the right and the Menorah was on the left.  The Shulchan, of course, symbolizes prosperity and blessing in this world while the Menorah represents the light of Torah and its study.  We would have better understood it if the Menorah was to the right and the Shulchan to the left.  After all, we attribute greater Chashivus to the right, and, moreover the right was north--which was the direction in which the Kadshei Kadshim--the most holy of Karbanos were brought.  In order to resolve this paradox, some commentaries explain that there is a great difference between our approach to attaining the ‘Shulchan’ and our approach to attaining the ‘Menorah’ in life.  What do we mean?  Chazal (Pesachim 50B) teach that Torah can first be studied She’lo Lishmah--not for its own sake, and that will eventually lead to Lishmah.  As Chazal especially express it:  “Mitoch She’lo Lishmah Bah Lishmah.”  With this, we can understand why we first begin teaching young children with candies and treats, prizes and more prizes.  As a person grows, however, he realizes that it is the Torah itself which is the eternal treat and the everlasting prize.  When it comes to the Shulchan, however, there is no room for She’lo Lishmah.  We cannot focus upon earthly passions, desires, goals, and attainments as an end in itself--even with the intent of eventually making one’s life more noble and elevated.  One should not ever place the emphasis on satisfaction of Olam Hazeh needs as an end in and of itself.  It is for this reason that the Shulchan must be on the right--for it must always be in the ‘Lishmah mode.’  What a great lesson!  Many times throughout the day when one finds the challenge arise as to a particular indulgence, gratification or desire, he should remember that the Menorah is to the left… but that the Shulchan always remains to the right!



Special Note Three:  This time of year represents and reminds us of the special level of Hashgacha that Hashem graces us with.  Sometimes it is clear to see, and sometimes we may not even realize how we were lead in a particular direction or on a specific path.  Indeed, some commentaries to Tehillim 117 explain that the reason we exclaim:  “Halelu Es Hashem Kol Goyim, Shabechuhu Kol HaUmim--praise Hashem all nations, praise Him all nationalities” is because we do not even know the nature or extent of the designs and schemes against us from which we were saved--and only they do.  On the other hand, with the Nes of Purim, it was clear for all to see Hashem’s tremendous ‘behind-the-scenes’ actions for many years--and that but for the great Hashgacha Pratis we would have been annihilated--as had actually happened to scores of nations previously in existence.  Indeed, the term “Megillas Esther” expressly affirms the dual nature of our Hashgacha--sometimes it is ‘Megillah,’ meaning thoroughly revealed--and sometimes it is ‘Esther,’ meaning wholly hidden.  It would certainly be an appropriate Avodah at this time of year to work on experiencing and appreciating the Hashgacha Pratis in each one of our personal lives.  “Why did I feel that I was coming down with a cold and then not get it?”  “Why did my cell phone break today?”  “How did I get involved in redding this Shidduch?”  “Why did I learn this today--is there some way in which I should be applying it?”...  Although one cannot go through an entire day noting this and noting that, it most certainly behooves us during the month of Adar to write down at least one Hashgacha Pratis incident of the day which you recognized as a clear indication of Hashem’s hand in your life.  It is no secret, and we have noted here before, that once a person recognizes the tremendous Hashgacha to which he is subject, the more Simcha he will feel in his closeness to Hashem.  Your own personal Adar 5771 Hashgacha Pratis Calendar--a marvelous goal and special achievement for what we hope will be a Simcha-filled month!

MISHENICHNAS ADAR MARBIN BESIMCHA!  HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, notes that there should be a progressive increase in Simcha with each day as we are propelled further into Adar.  We must also make sure to increase the spectrum of Simcha for others as well.  With the recent awakening of many prominent and political figures who have also urged the President to grant Yehonasan Ben Malka clemency, we may take it as a Siman that Min HaShomayim (although, of course, we are not Nevi’im) that we, whose actions really matter should take action for his release from incarceration, so that he too can experience the Simcha of Adar.  Please recite Tehillim 121, and call the White House Comment Line 202-456-1111 or 1414.  Readers have requested, that especially at this time of increased Simcha, we also daven for the release of the two Bochurim still incarcerated in Japan--Yoel Zeev ben Mirel Rissa Chava and Yaakov Yosef ben Raizel.  We must also remember Gilad Ben Aviva Shalit who has been languishing at the wicked hands of Sonei Yisroel so close to home.  May each one of them soon experience true Simcha...and what great Simcha we would feel with each and every one of them being released!



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  Dovid HaMelech teaches in Tehillim (110:10):  Reishis Chochma Yiras Hashem...--the beginning of wisdom is the fear of Heaven.”  Yet, his son, Shlomo HaMelech teaches in Koheles (12:13):  Sof Davar HaKol Nishma Es HaElokim Yirah…--the end of the matter, when all has been considered is to fear Hashem...”  So, how are we to understand this--is Yiras Shomayim the beginning and the end of everything?!




Special Note One:  From PROJECT KAVEY (Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita):  In past generations respect for authority dictated that children would accept our critique and adjust their behavior.  Today’s children are full of attitude and do not want to be told anything.  How can we raise children successfully if they have an aversion to following our guidance and accepting our directives?  The solution is to cultivate in our children the awareness that we are truly on their side and out for their benefit.  Perceiving us as ally rather than adversary will help our children accept our directives and follow our instructions even if they do not want to. 

 If you would like to join a live parenting line or would like more information, contact tips@kavey.org, or call 646-504-1016 (US), 020-7043-5619 (UK), 082-441-2713 (SA), 052-769-7588 (IL)



Special Note Two:  If you start tomorrow and learn just three Mishnayos a day (last week it was just two Mishnayos a day), you will finish Mishnayos Mesechta Megillah in time to make a Siyum on Purim itself.  Start today--to ensure that you have begun the Purim preparation process.  Remember, the power and potency of a Mitzvah is an expression of the thought and preparation that goes into it!


Additional Note:  Now would also be a good time to begin thinking about not only who you have to send Mishloach Manos to, but also who would be truly moved and appreciative for being remembered, thought about, or reconciled with-- through Mishloach Manos.  Rabbi Yechiel Spero, Shlita, in A Touch of Purity writes that in the phrase “Mishloach Manos Ish LeRei’eihu” both the word Ish and LeRei’eihu have the same Gematria (311) to indicate the level of identification, affection, and oneness that one should have with another--and that one can exhibit by thoughtfully giving! 



Special Note Three:  It is fascinating to note that the Sefer Chofetz Chaim in Chapter 4, Paragraph 11 provides significant detail as to how one should go about obtaining information from another regarding a Shidduch.  Then, in the very next Paragraph, Chapter 4, Paragraph 12 the Chofetz Chaim relates how one does Teshuva for all sins of Lashon Hara.  What is the connection of these two paragraphs?  We can make the significant inference that one must be especially and extremely careful regarding Shidduch information, so that he need not have the need to do Teshuva as a result of his actions.  This is obviously a particularly sensitive and delicate area, and one must be especially careful to navigate it properly.  The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation is therefore providing a great service to the community by distributing The Shidduchim Guide by email, free of charge, over the next several weeks (the first email began yesterday, 1 Adar Sheini) until the next Shemiras Halashon email cycle begins on April 5th.  In order to subscribe to this short daily Shidduchim Guide installment, please send an email to alessonaday@chofetzchaimusa.org


Additional Note:  Because last week was Parshas Shekolim, we did not have the opportunity to read the Haftara of Machar Chodesh.  However, the extremely powerful lesson the HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches from that Haftara can still be reiterated now.  Yehonasan and Dovid contrived a plan by which Dovid would get a message from Yehonasan as to Shaul’s feelings towards Dovid without actually meeting each other.  What benefit was there in initially avoiding the meeting by which Yehonasan would convey the necessary information to Dovid. After all, it was obviously a great to’eles relating to the saving Dovid’s life, and, as the Pesukim show, they ended up meeting anyway.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, answers that to the extent one can minimize Loshon Hora spoken--even if it is l’toeles (with a legitimate Halachic purpose)--nevertheless, to the extent it could be done in some other way--without directly impugning someone, this must be done.  Yehonasan did not want to utter one unnecessary negative word against his father--and when he met Dovid, he did not do so.  What Dovid learned, he learned from the “arrows” that Yehonasan shot.  The Navi is teaching us the great lesson of how far we must go to keep our tongue from any kind of evil--and even when Loshon Hora l’toeles may be spoken; it must be presented properly.  Accordingly, we urge you to sign up today for The Shidduchim Guide--even if you or your family member is not in the ‘parsha’ of Shidduchim, you may be involved in redding Shidduchim to others, or in being asked Shidduch-related information.



Special Note Four:  We continue to study the great significance of ‘firsts’ and ‘lasts’.  We conclude our Shemone Esrei with the moving Posuk from Sefer Tehillim (19:15) “Yehiyu LeRatzon Imrei Phi VeHegyon Libi Lefanecha Hashem Tzuri VeGoali--May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before you Hashem, My Strength and My Redeemer.”  The recitation of this Posuk is not only moving to us, however--but to Hashem as well!  The Mishna Berura (to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 122:2, seif katan 8) brings from the Seder HaYom who writes that this Posuk is “Mesugal LeKamma Inyanim”--it begins with a Yud, ends with a Yud, has Ten Words, and Ten Yuds, and a total of 42 letters (an allusion to Hashem’s Name of 42 letters), and adds that “Soddo Sod Gadol--it’s essence is very great.” Accordingly, the Mishna Berurah, a Halacha sefer, continues and concludes “one must recite the Posuk slowly and with Kavannah--and it will help much in one’s Tefillos being accepted and not being returned empty-handed.”  The outstanding efficacy of just one Posuk--let us keep our strength and our stamina--to recite it properly at the end of Shemone Esrei!



Special Note One:  With the third Yahrzeit of the Bachurim of Mercaz HaRav H’YD upon us, it behooves us greatly to do a special act of Chesed (including Tzedaka) in their zechus today; perhaps for those who are able--eight different acts of Chesed--one for each Holy Neshama.  With this, we affirmatively demonstrate to HaKadosh Baruch Hu that while they murder c’v in Your Name, we LOVE in Your Name…we wait for Geulah so anxiously when we can bring our LOVE of You and Your Creations to new and previously untold heights.  Let us also be especially kind and peaceful today as a reminder of who these prized Bachurim were.  May we be zoche to Besoros Tovos, Yeshuos and Nechamos--and to witness Techias HaMeisim in our days, as well.



Special Note Two:  The Torah (Shemos 12:2) teaches that “HaChodesh HaZeh Lochem Rosh Chadashim Rishon Hu Lachem Lechodshei HaShanah”--notwithstanding when the New Year begins--the First Month of our Year is Nissan, and Tishrei is actually the Seventh Month of the Year (see Mishna Rosh Hashanah 1:1 for further explanation).  Accordingly, with Adar Beis, we arrive at the last month of the Year--and this morning we have recited “UleChaparas Posha” for the last time this Leap Year!  On Erev Shabbos, we noted that last is not always a negative. As we learn from Yaakov placing Rochel and Yosef last in their greeting Eisav--Acharon Acharon Chaviv--the last can be the most precious.  Indeed, some even ‘save the best for last--for it to have a longer lasting effect’.  So, we can use this last month to great advantage--by cleaning up the spills of the past 12 months, and inaugurating Nissan on a new and smooth pavement.  Is it any wonder that the first Mishna in Mesechta Shekalim, and Parshas Shekalim that we read last week, REMIND US to prepare in the month ahead--to be ready and to donate the Shekalim on time?!  We too can accomplish and attain a successful Adar day by day--starting today.  We can begin today by determining if we have properly honored or can in some way improve in honoring Rosh Chodesh.  Will I have a Seudah today (especially women--as it is a special day for them in celebration of their not participating in the Chait HaEigel)?  Am I dressed properly for the day?  Can I learn a little more today?  Will my Mincha Shemone Esrei today be infused with more Kavanna--will I recite the awesome Tefillah of Ya’aleh VeYavo--in which I ask that my Tefillos pierce through the Seven Heavens and appear before Hashem’s Throne for Remembrance--slowly and with the expectation and drive that they are piercing through to the top?  Oh, what opportunity we have to take us out of the disappointment and dismay, out of the confusion and terror, of Galus through the powerful Tefillos gifted to us! 


Additional Note One:  With the advent of Adar Sheni, we continue our program of monthly advancement in the Foundations of Our Faith--as Adar Sheni is the Seventh Month since Tishrei, we commence the Seventh of the Ani Ma’amins.  This Ani  Ma’amin teaches that while all the words of the Nevi’im are true--Moshe Rabbeinu’s Nevuah was absolutely and irrefutably the greatest level of Nevuah that was ever and will ever be attained.  Accordingly, the Torah which he gave is immutable and irreplaceable.  As the Navi adjures: “Zichru Toras Moshe Avdi--Remember the Torah of Moshe, My Servant--for this is the One and Only Torah.  Imposters have attempted to impugn its teachings and especially its teachings as applied to later generations--but because you know it was given by the greatest Navi to ever live--you will always hold as Hashem’s One-Time Gift to Mankind for Eternity.  Let us especially affirm this belief every day as we recite this Ani Ma’amin.


Additional Note Two:  We have pointed out that the 13 months of the Year are reflected in the 13 praises of the last Chapter of Tehillim--Tehillim 150.  The 13th month is reflected by the repetition of the final Pasuk of all of Tehillim--“Kol HaNeshama Tehallel Ka HalleluKa”--Let all Neshamos, and as Chazal add Al Kol Neshima, for my every breath do I express--Praise to Hashem. Most certainly, our repeating this Pasuk a second time represents a more intense and dedicated affirmation of this climax and conclusion of Tehillim.  This month, as we recite and repeat this Pasuk in Pesukei DeZimrah we should especially note it and give it a special emphasis.  We should make sure to breathe in this message--dedicating ourselves to thanks and praise for Hashem’s eternal gifts to us now--and hoping for the day soon when all of Creation will be ‘in the know’ together with us!



Special Note One:  A reader provided this message to us from Rabbi Label Lam, Shlita:  “25 years ago my wife heard in a Shiur from Rebbetzin Fried and related to me a most beautiful explanation of a verse we say and sing often.  At the end of Shir HaMa’alos before bentching on Shabbos and other times too we recite the following words of King David, “Those who sow with tears harvest with joyous song!  Though he walks along weeping carrying the bag of seed, he will return with joyous song carrying his bundles!”  That’s the way the words are usually translated but they can be read otherwise. “Hazorim b’dima- b’rina”- There are two types of people that sow seeds! Those who sow with tears and those who sow with joy! “Yiktzoru”- they will both harvest! “Haloch yelech u’bacho”- one who goes along weeping and complaining- “nosei meshech hazarah” will bear a yield according to the seed (one for one)  Bo yavo b’rina” – One who goes about his business with joyous song, “Nosei Alumosav” will bear bundles!  Hakhel Note:  To subscribe to Rabbi Lam’s wonderful weekly Devar Torah on the Parsha, please send an email to rabbilabellam@yahoo.com



Special Note Two:  From a reader:  “I learned an invaluable lesson this morning.  I plopped down on the couch to daven, but without realizing it, I sat on a beautiful picture that we had just bought from R’ Yonah Weinreb for our cousin as a wedding gift.  It was OK, but it bent a bit and needs to be fixed up by their offices. I was very upset and started davening but not as well as I should have because I was upset at myself for always seeming to mess things up.  Then, I realized that this is what Teshuva is all about, you need to be upset about what you have done, resolve to fix it--and then start again.  I was thinking that’s what Teshuva BeChol Yom can be--you think about what you did wrong the day before, be upset over it, try to fix whatever possible (here, the picture!), and move on with a bit more awareness and drive to better yourself going forward (I’m not plopping on the couch in the future...).”  Hakhel Note:  Thank you for the beautiful and practical insight!


Additional Note:  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim writes that one of the principles of Teshuva isTo know the truth, that Teshuva is the Refuah Sheleima for aveiros;  if a person who is ill doesn’t believe that a medicine will heal him won’t take it--but if he knows for sure that it will help, he will take the pill or medication, no matter how difficult it may be.  If a person truly appreciates the truth--the efficacy of Teshuva, and its enormous healing ability--he should and will be extremely vigilant, extremely caring and careful--to take Hashem’s Medication--daily!



Special Note Three: As we conclude Sefer Shemos tomorrow, we recognize that there is a new beginning next week with Sefer Vayikra.  It is a momentous ending of the Sefer HaGeulah, and the inauguration of the aftermath of Geulah--the Toras Kohanim--service of Hashem on a higher plane in a Mikdash.  Non-coincidentally, the Daf Yomi will be concluding Mesechta Zevachim and commencing Mesechta Menachos--also emphasizing the necessity of broadening our scope in Avodas Hashem.  We are even ending the month and beginning anew early next week.  Most definitely, this should be a Shabbos of real reflection--what am I concluding--and what will I be beginning?  How will I utilize the opportunity?  Will I realize that when Purim arrives the year will be half over--and that it would truly be an accomplishment to Improve in Avodas Hashem before the second half of the Year--with a concrete improvement that I have been meaning to make --especially in Torah or Tefillah?  As we see the great work product of the Mishkan come to final fruition in Parshas Pekudei--let us practically and meaningfully take the lesson of its building to the meaningful next step--real and actual growth in Avodas Hashem.


Additional Note:  As we will be finishing the last Parsha of Shemos, and commencing the first Parsha of Vayikra; as we will conclude the last day of Adar I and start the first day of Adar II; as we will complete the last Daf of Zevachim and begin the first Daf of Menachos--it may also be a good time to review what we are FIRST or close to first to do and what we are LAST or close to last to do.  Where do we especially place our true Zerizus efforts and excel--and what do we particularly put off doing.  Is there any part of this that could or should change?  Where am I in terms of arriving in Shul for Minyan or a Shiur--at the head of the class, around the middle, or towards the end?  Is there anything that should I put off to the end?  We know that there must be some way that last is important--after all in the Ani Ma’amins themselves--we affirm our belief that Hashem is Rishon and Acharon--First and Last!  Here is a possible suggestion for what a person can do First or at the outset of every day--give Tzedaka (as the Pasuk teaches--”Ani BeTzedek Ecehezeh Ponecha), and perhaps a LAST thing to do every day--highlight the most successful and least successful part of the day passed--and think about how to rectify the ‘plopping’ (above)--and how to keep the successes coming!



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


 1.  A Muktzah item (e.g. raw fish or flour) in a refrigerator or freezer that is preventing one from removing a non-Muktzah item (e.g. Challah) which is needed on Shabbos may be moved in the following manner:  One should place one’s hands in the refrigerator or freezer and take hold of the non-Muktzah item (e.g. Challah).  While removing the non-Muktzah item a person may place his hands in the front of the Muktzah item to prevent the non-Muktzah from falling out.  In the event that this is not possible one may push the Muktzah item to the side (e.g. raw fish or flour) using with a Non-Muktzah object (e.g. a knife).  Notes:  (a) If a freezer broke and raw fish or meat will spoil (which would result in a serious financial loss), one may rely on the authorities that rule that raw fish or meat is not Muktzah on Shabbos. (b) Raw eggs are not considered Muktza as some people will use them in that state.  (Muktza: A Practical Guide, by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita--Artscroll Halacha Series).


2.  Last week, we brought the Yerushalmi Tzaddik’s recommendation that each Shabbos Seudah have a story to strengthen Emunah/ Emunas Chachomim.  For readers who requested, we once again supply the  email address for Shabbos Stories--a weekly free email compilation from a wide variety of sources--it is keren18@juno.com  Hakhel Note:  This will assist you with the story, but the Niggunim--no matter how tired or tone deaf you are--are up to you--and may be indicative in some way of just exactly how happy you are in celebrating the Shabbos.  In any event, remember that the Chitzoniyos is Me’orrer the P’nimius.  Chazal in Mesechta Megillah (12B) teach us the difference betwen the secular festive meal--such as that of Achashveirosh--and our festive meals--is that they immediately involve themselves in inanities, while we infuse and raise the Seudah with Torah and Zemiros... 


3.  On Leil Shabbos, if one is davening privately, or he finishes Shemone Esrei after the Minyan, he is still permitted to recite the paragraph of ‘Magen Avos BiD’voro until  the words Zecher Lema’aseh Beraishis “ privately  (Rema to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 268:8)


4.  Also on Leil Shabbos, the Mishna Berurah writes that if one did not succeed in reciting Vayechulu with a Minyan in Shul , he should find another person and recite Vayechulu together with him--so that together they recite Eidus--or testimony--that Hashem created the world in seven days.  However, there is  a question here--where do we find that Eidus--testimony is recited together---isn’t testimony to be  provided consecutively--one witness after the other--so that both voices can be heard and, moreover, one witness won’t listen to or be influenced by, the testimony of the other?  Rabbi Shmuel Smith, Shlita points to the Magen Avrohom who explains that there is an opinion that Eidus was in fact to be said together.  The Machatzis Hashekel  (an appropriate commentary to learn this week!) explains that since we are giving such important testimony about Hashem’s creation of the Heavens and the Earth-we are especially stringent to fulfill all Shittos--even this unique opinion that testimony is to be recited together!


5.  The Chofetz Chaim once convinced a Jew who was Mechallel Shabbos in his business to become Shomer Shabbos.  “The only thing, Rebbe, is that I need to work another one or two Shabbosim in order to straighten out all my books and records, and finish my Shabbos affairs,” he said.  The Chofetz Chaim lovingly looked at the man and said--” I am not the Ba’al HaBayis over Shabbos to be able to grant your request.  Shabbos belongs to Hashem--and he has already determined that each and every moment of each and every Shabbos is of great and untold significance and importance--so forget your cheshbonos--and rely on Hashem’s Hand to help you!”  Let us appreciate each precious moment of Shabbos--and make sure that we recognize and demonstrate through our especially sincere and sublime action that it is Hashem Himself who is the Ba’al Habayis over the day!


Special Note Five:  How could we conclude Adar I and be on the portals of Adar II without beginning with a few short questions on the Megillah?


1. What other name was Achashveirosh known by in Tanach?


2.  Can you give at least three reasons why Achashveirosh made his incomparable Mishte at the outset of the Megillah?


3.  What does the word HaPartemim mean?


4.  According to the opinion that Memuchan was Haman, why was it, BeHashgacha,  that he had to give the advice to kill Vashti?  Also, al pi hatevah--why would he want to kill Vashti--what did she do to him already?!


5.  Why didn’t Esther relate where she was from--why did Mordechai tell her not to?


6.  Why was Mordechai sitting at the Sha’ar HaMelech not a ‘give away’ as to where Esther was from?


7. Why didn’t Mordechai tell Achashveirosh of the plot of Bigsan Veseresh directly--why did he relate it through Esther?


8.  Why was Achashveirosh notice to kill the Jews issued so far--almost a year-- in advance--didn’t he realize that this would provide ample time for the Jews to act?


9.  At the first Mishte--Esther’s request was that Achashveirosh and Haman come back for a second Mishte--why couldn’t she accomplish her goal at the first Mishte?


10.  What was the special cause of VeHa’ir Shushan Tzhala VeSameicha--how was this Simcha different from Layehudim Hoysa Orah VeSimcha...?


Answers you want also?! 

Good Shabbos and Simchas Adar!


KASHRUS ALERT!  From the Star-K: Dole Value Added Coleslaw with added dressing packets are not Star-K certified.  The Star-K symbol appearing next to the sell by date code was labeled in error.  Corrective action is being taken.


Special Note One:  We received the following from a reader:  “A new disease has infiltrated our community--reading the Blackberry in Shul.  I think this is even worse than talking during davening. To me, one who consults his Blackberry during davening is ignoring Hakadosh Boruch Hu and disregarding Kavanna.  I know the Blackberry is tempting so I leave mine at home and don't bring it to Shul.  I teach a course in graduate school and one of rules of the class is no Blackberries as it is disturbing to the instructor and to the classmates--AL ACHAS KAMMA V’CHAMA LIFNEI MELECH MALCHEI HAMELACHIM in His Very Own Home.”  Hakhel Note:  We have previously mentioned this issue several times, most recently last week.  We are pleased to note that some Shuls have not only prohibited use of the cell phone in any manner within the Shul itself, but have even designated the hallways adjacent to the interior Shul entrances as absolutely and unequivocally “cell-phone free”.  Anyone taking an active role in his Shul or in assisting his Rav in this regard can undoubtedly earn much merit.  We additionally note that your Blackberry Takanos should apply while Bentching (put on silent, or turn off), or when studying anywhere--even at home.  Stay away from desire--keep your ears free and your hands free from the cell phone or similar devices during your special spiritual points of the day.



Special Note Two:  We received the following important observation from a reader relating to the Note yesterday on our relationship to gold and silver:  Following up on your point that Eretz Yisroel has no gold or silver, it is interesting that it has no black gold--oil--either, despite the fact that it is in the heart of the greatest oil deposits in the world.   Jordan, Syria and Lebanon also have no oil as large parts of each of those countries were also part of Eretz Yisroel.  There is definitely a message here, as well.”



Special Note Three:  Yesterday, we noted a Torah Prohibition--we are never allowed to remove the Badim, the staves, from the Aron.  This teaches that there is more than a connection between the Torah student and the Torah supporter--there is a oneness.  In amplification of this thought, and to spur further action in the beautiful and broad realm of Torah support, we provide the following meaningful passage from the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 8), by HaRav Moshe Cordovero, Z’tl:  “One should help students of the Torah and support them, whether with money or in deed, providing them with the things they require, preparing their food, and carrying out their wishes so that they need not cease their Torah study.  He should take care not to disparage their learning, lest they flag in their efforts to study.  He should praise their good deeds so that they gain strength in their service, and he should provide them with the books they need, a house of study, and so forth.  Anything that strengthens and supports those who toil in Torah derives from the Sefiros, the Heavenly attributes of Netzach and Hod.  Each person should contribute whatever he can, however little or much.  Ultimately, whatever a person can do to honor the Torah and strengthen its observance--whether verbally, physically, or financially--arousing people’s hearts to Torah and inspiring them to hold fast to it, is rooted in these two Heavenly attributes….”


Let us make a special effort today, and every day to encourage, support, aid, and assist Torah study.  We add that HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz, Z’tl, would advise his students that when they study with earnestness and zeal, without wasting time and with enthusiasm and energy, they influence the people studying near them to study with greater devotion and dedication as well.  The snow ball effect of honor and commitment continues to those studying near them and so on…and it all comes back to your original efforts, to your original passion and sincerity.  You can be a great Torah supporter while studying yourself--simply by the way you study!



Special Note Four:  The following useful questions and answers have been excerpted from The Guidelines Series, “Questions and Answers About the Laws of Brachos”, a two-volume practical and wonderful work by Rabbi Elozor Barclay, Shlita, and Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger, Shlita.  These excellent Seforim are published by Targum Press and are available in your local book store.


The questions presented below relate specifically to Netilas Yadayim before eating bread:


(a)  Which type of vessel should be used for Netilas Yadayim?

The vessel may be made from any type of material, e.g. metal, glass, wood, china, plastic, stone.  However, all of the following conditions must be fulfilled for the vessel to qualify:

-It must hold at least a Reviyis.

-It must be intact.

-It must be capable of standing upright without support.

-It must be designed to hold liquids.

-It must be shaped like a container.


(b)  What is meant by an intact vessel?

The vessel should not be chipped, cracked, or have a hole in its side or base.  In certain circumstances, a vessel with such a flaw may be suitable, but the details of these rules are complex.  It is therefore advisable to always use an intact vessel.


(c)  May one use a disposable cup?

Since opinions differ about this, it should only be used in emergencies.  The same applies to an empty juice carton.


(d)  What if the water has a cloudy appearance?

This phenomenon occurs when high water pressure creates air bubbles in the water.  If the water is allowed to stand in a vessel, the air bubbles rise, leaving the water clear.  Such water may be used for Netilas Yadayim, but according to some opinions, one should wait until the water becomes clear.


(e)  May one use sea water?

If the water is so salty that even a dog cannot drink it, one may not use it for NetilasYadayim.  Nevertheless, it is permitted to purify the hands by immersing them in the sea, despite its being extremely salty.


(f)  May one use seltzer?



(g)  What if a woman forgot to remove her rings before Netilas Yadayim?

If the rings are slightly loose, she does not need to wash again.  However, if the rings are well-fitting, she must remove them and wash again.  If she realized after reciting the Bracha, she should not repeat the Bracha.


(h)  May one say “nu” after having made the Bracha?

No.  It is forbidden to make any sound, especially one that has a well known meaning, such as “nu” or “sha”.  You are also not allowed to say “nu” or “sha” during Bentching.



QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  In the Torah’s description of the building of the Mishkan, the construction of each item is described with the word ‘Vaya’as--and he made’ (see, for example, Shemos 36:14, 20; Shemos 37:10, 17, 25; and Shemos 38:1, 8, 9).  The only exception is with respect to the construction of the Aron in which the Torah writes “Vaya’as Betzalel Es HaAron”--specifically naming him.  What is the significance of naming him here--only here regarding the Aron?!


Special Note One:  In last week’s Parsha, the Torah lists the three metals needed to build the Mishkan:  “Zahav Kesef VeNechoshes--gold, silver, and copper” (Shemos 35:5).  The Medrash Rabbah teaches that Nechoshes symbolizes Eretz Yisroel--for it has copper mines, and not gold or silver mines.  This fact, of course, provides us with pause for reflection.  Why is Eretz Yisroel not a haven for gold or silver?  The answer starts to get obvious.  It is no coincidence, as it never is, that the Torah instructs regarding the king “Kesef VeZahav Lo Yarbeh Lo--he should not have more gold and silver than he needs.” (Sefer Shenayim Mikrah in the name of the Maharzu).  While we must take care of our monetary and material needs, and while Eretz Yisroel is truly “Eretz Asher Lo Sechsar Kol Bah--a place from which nothing is missing”, we must remember that the intention of the blessings of this world is for them to bring blessings to the next world--and that the blessings here should not serve as ends in and of themselves.  For Eretz Yisroel to be the ‘South Africa of the World’ would send the wrong message to us all about what both we and Eretz Yisroel are all about.


Where, then, is Zahav and Kesef placed first?  In its donations to the Mishkan!  When performing Mitzvos, when spending money with the thought of ‘LeSheim Shomayim’ or ‘LeSheim Mitzvah.’  We are then using our greatest blessings her for even greater blessings in the World to Come.  Now, what if one is not blessed with a high degree of material wealth--what if one does not have the Zahav VeKesef to donate, to use for the right reasons?  Chazal (Kiddushin 40A) teach that when it comes to a Mitzvah, Hashem looks towards a person’s intent, even if he is unable to carry it out--and, remarkably in the Beis Din Shel Ma’alah it is viewed as if his intent was actually accomplished.  The Malbim writes that this great principle also applies when one wants to give much Tzedaka but is incapable of doing so--his lack of material wealth, with genuine intentions and with sincere aspirations, actually translates into great and everlasting, actual spiritual wealth!


Additional Note I:  We note that if one does intend to give a certain amount to Tzedaka, he should have in mind that it is Bli Neder until he actually gives the donation.  In other words, he should not be ‘Gamar BeLibo’, he should not have concluded in his own mind, that he is giving the money until he actually does so (see Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 258).


Additional Note II:  The Meshech Chochma points out that the Keilim in the Bais HaMikdash which were carried with Badim (staves) also had rings which the Torah describes as ‘Batim LeBadim’ (see for example, Shemos 36:14) or housings to the staves to hold them onto the particular Keilim.  There was one exception--the rings which held the staves of the Aron in place were not referred to as ‘Batim’, as housings, but simply as rings.  Why was the Aron different?  The Meshech Chochma explains that a Bayis, a house, is something that one enters and exits, comes and leaves from when needed.  So, too, the staves of the Shulchan, the Mizbeiach HaOlah, and the Mizbeiach HaKetores were all removed when the Mishkan encamped--the staves left their houses.  This was not true of the Aron in which the staves remained in place permanently--the Badim of the Aron actually took on the name of the Aron, becoming part of the Aron itself.  The Aron’s staves, of course, symbolize those who lift up and support the Torah and the study of Torah.  The Torah is teaching us that the supporters are not just ‘housing’ for the Torah, but actually are a part of the Aron itself.  The act of giving, the act of support and the study--become one!


Additional Note III :  Chazal (Shevi’is 10:3) teach that Hillel HaZakein instituted the concept of a Prozbul so that wealthier people would lend money to poor people without worrying about the Shemittah year wiping out the debt.  So, who would you say the Takanah of Prozbul was for--the wealthy person--or the poor person?  The Mishna (ibid.) actually and incredibly expressly states that the Prozbul was instituted for the benefit of the wealthier people so that they would not violate the Torah prohibition (“HiShamer Lecha…”, Devarim 15:9) of not lending money for the fear that the Shemittah year would absolve the debt! 


Remember, the next time your give Tzedakah--you may be giving the paper--but you are getting the gold!



Special Note Two:  HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, highlights the current importance of the Second Bracha of Shemone Esrei for us.  This Bracha, no less than five times, refers to Techiyas HaMeisim.  HaRav Miller notes that the time will soon come when Techiyas HaMeisim will have actually taken place, and this Bracha which we had recited with such zeal and anticipation will be evident before our eyes, and will involve no Nisayon whatsoever.  Accordingly, now is the time, HaRav Miller urges, for one to infuse his sincere and heartfelt Emunah into the Bracha--with the full knowledge and awesome awareness that each and every word of the Bracha will become wonderful and incomparable reality!


Special Note One:  Yesterday, we provided the moving initial words of Tehillim Chapter 99, which seems to squarely describe our current situation today and what we should do about it.  It may be telling that the very next Kepitel of Tehillim, Chapter 100, is “Mizmor LeSodah Hariu LaShem Kol HaAretz--a Song of Thanksgiving--let everyone on earth call out to Hashem in thanks and praise!”  If we can properly fulfill our role in Chapter 99…it would appear that we can shortly thereafter arrive at Tehillim 100!  May we accordingly suggest, that from time to time during the day, we think of the Keruvim--we look to Hashem, and Hashem looks to us.  This thought and focus can serve as a practical and beautiful stepping stone to a great mantra for our advanced times--Teshuva BeChol Yom!



Special Note Two:  This week, we will be concluding our presentation of imperative and essential insights from the classic Sefer Orchos Tzadikim.  We continue with the following extremely practical and meaningful thought from the Sefer:


“Kol Adom Nimshach BiSvarosav Achar Midosav--every person’s thoughts directly result from his Middos, from his personal character traits.”  Thus, an Atzel, a languid person’s, ambitions will be in consonance with his laziness; a hot tempered person’s thoughts will quickly lead him to anger; and a haughty or arrogant person will view matters from his (of course, the only!) perspective.  Likewise, a person who feels love towards others will think in a loving way, and a person who is critical and looks down upon others will understand events in that vein.  Therefore, the Orchos Tzadikim urges that if one truly wants to be an Eved Hashem, he must first work on eliminating his bad Middos, so that his thoughts and reactions will be led in the right--rather than the wrong--direction!  It would be appropriate for a person to make a list of the three or four key negative Middos that adversely affect him, and think of practical ways that can help him move away from them.  By doing so, one is merely not ridding himself of bad character--but is cleansing his thoughts, thereby improving and purifying his actions and deeds on an ongoing basis and an everlasting way!


To make it a bit easier, we provide the following brief list of possibly negative traits.  Identify a few key ones for yourself, and write down just a few ways in which you can improve upon each one of them.  It is not just a matter of Middos--it is a matter of the thoughts and the deeds for the rest of your life (moreover, your eternal life) that will so splendidly benefit!  1.  Ga’avah--being haughty or arrogant; It’s my way or the highway.  2.  Azus--being brazen and shameless; even the Chofetz Chaim felt that a student with too much of this destructive Middah could be grounds for being expelled from Yeshiva.  3.  Sinah--hating (check to see how often you use the word hate, despise, detest, abhor, disgusts or even dislike).  4.  Ka’as--how often do you feel anger surging and somehow overtaking you?  Are you able to ever control it even if it comes infrequently?  Are there some people who you especially feel it towards, and can this relationship or attitude be improved in some way?  5.  Kinah--he is healthier, richer, smarter, nicer looking, more successful, more accomplished, more fortunate, more talented, more...than me.  So, now what??  What does his Tachlis HaChaim, his rewards and punishments, his necessary tikkunim, have to do with yours?  6.  Atzlus--HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum, Z’tl actually once described this Middah as the source of all bad character traits--for if one does not appreciate his value and the value of his time and his accomplishments, then he may just as well say this, do that, etc.  Do I arrive on time to Tefillah and Torah study?  How many times have I had to skip some of Pesukei DeZimra this month because I came late to Shul?  Am I too tired to clean up after myself or pick something up off the floor (especially when ‘no one is looking’)?  Do my excuses always seem like excellent ones?  7.  Tzaikanus--stinginess--erring on the side of paying less when buying something for Shabbos, or when paying for a Mitzvah, or when giving Tzedakah.  8. Shichecha--negligent forgetfulness--not writing down what or how much you borrowed, forgetting to make the call to help someone else out (such as a shidduch call), not writing down or constantly recalling what you have to improve in... 9.  Chanifus--supporting or acquiescing to improper ways; letting the inappropriate joke be told; encouraging or complimenting one in a way which will allow him to justify or continue his behavior; smiling or nodding at someone because even though you know he is wrong, because he is rich or because he is considered a prestigious person.  10.  Sheker--falseness.  Even little openings of its darkness can have devastating results.  “Just tell him I’m not in the office” amounts to two people not telling the actual truth--the boss and the employee.  Avoiding all shades of lying.  The Sefer Orchos Tzaddikim writes that if one’s thoughts are always true, then even his dreams and visions in the night will be true--and he will even be able to understand events like angels.  In Kelm, where the Middah of Emes was a great hallmark, they placed great significance and weight on their own dreams--we can now understand why!


As we move towards the close of this month of Simcha towards the next month of Simcha--we can increase and develop, expand and enhance our personal joy--through the pleasure and happiness, through the elation--of our own personal accomplishment!  What a great time--and a great day--to begin!  Do you need a piece of paper?  Please start your great new Simcha--now!!


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