Daily Email Archives

Bulletin Archives

Summer Archives

Public Announcements

Shatnez Publications

Past Events

Hakhel Recordings


Audio-Visual Resources


Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin



Special Note One:  We have recently been beset by emotional, distressing and confusing times.  The Gedolei Olam who are sick and in the hospital, the bombs falling indiscriminately--almost wildly--in Eretz Yisroel, and now the horrifying murders of a Rebbi and young children in France, can lead us in one and only one direction--to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  In a recent Shiur, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen, Shlita, pointed out that HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, highlights the Pesukim in Hodu LaHashem Keru Bishmo that we recite each morning which are clearly intended to inspire our Bitachon.  Study the Pesukim “Ve’imru Hoshieinu Elokei Yisheinu…Vehu Rachum Yechaper Avon…Kel Nikamos Hashem...Hashem Tzevakos Ashrei Adam Botei’ach Bach…Hareinu Hashem Chasdecha…Kuma Ezrasa Lanu…VeAni Bechasdecha Batachti....”  Rather than reciting these key Pesukim at the outset of Shacharis in a sluggish or speedy fashion, perhaps one can take just a little extra time to recite these Pesukim slowly and with meaning (perhaps with a tear), even if this means for a men coming to Shul a few minutes early, or for women at home allotting a few extra minutes to their prayers. 


Let us remember that Karov Hashem Lechol Korav--Hashem is close to all those who call out to Him--and we need to feel his closeness so much now.



Special Note Two:  Let us take this point a step further:


Rabbeinu Yonah in the Shaarei Teshuvah (2:5) writes that a Bote’ach BaShem--one who trusts in Hashem--who is in the midst of a t’zara, a difficulty, or even only a challenge, must view the situation differently than the millions of people surrounding him.


The Posuk in Micha (7:8) as explained in Midrash Tehillim (22) teaches, “If I had not fallen, I could not now stand, if I had not sat in darkness, I would not now have light.”  The common perception that one “passes through”, “recovers”, “rebounds” or “survives” his suffering is foreign to the one who truly trusts in Hashem.  Rather, the one who trusts views his suffering as an opportunity ordained by G-d--only FROM THE FALL comes the rise, only FROM THE DARKNESS comes the light.


It is not the Ribono Shel Olam pushing him down, letting go, making it difficult for him--it is a fall created by Hashem Himself to enable him to rise, a pervasive darkness required in order to attain true light.


As we have noted in the past, Rav Matisyahu Salomon, Shlita, may Hashem bentsch him with a Refuah Sheleima BeKarov, explains that the Bote’ach BaShem does not say “Hashem will get me out of this” or “There is a light at the end of this tunnel.”  Instead, he acknowledges and understands that the purpose of the tunnel is for him to arrive at the light.  One must, as a given, acknowledge and understand that the All-Knowing, All-Present, Creator and Supervisor has intentionally designed the process by which one can attain the goals he is to reach in his lifetime.  The trials, tribulations, and difficulties are not established out of cruelty, disdain or indifference, but arise because He, in His Omniscience, knows (infinitely more than us) who are we are really and what we really need.


In this uplifting period between Purim and Pesach, we can understand this lesson both on an individual and a communal level.


Esther, a descendent of royalty, wife of a leader of the generation, and a Neviah in her own right, is forced to live in the most repulsive place imaginable, away from her family and her people--in a literal prison without walls--for nine (9) long years, without any seeming rhyme or reason.  What had she done?!  Can we fathom what her suffering could have been?  What emerged was the saving of all of K’lal Yisroel, and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdosh as a direct result of the few discussions she had with Achashveirosh, as recorded in the Megillah.


Similarly, in Mitzrayim, hundreds of thousands of B’nei Yisroel suffered from “Avodas Perech”--in all its definitions, systematic torture--for scores of years.  What went wrong?  How did all this happen?  And the Torah supplies a two-word answer--[We were placed in Mitzrayim as a] “KUR HABARZEL”--a smith’s oven, used to refine metal.  Why were they there under these horrific conditions?  So that K’lal Yisroel would survive and thrive from then on and through the Moshiach’s times and forever thereafter.


Rav Salomon points to the wine we drink on both Purim and Pesach.  Why is wine so crucial on these special days and why is wine the only food over which we recite the brocha “Hatov V’HaMativ”--Hashem is good and does good?


If we study the wine-making process, we note that luscious, edible grapes are stomped on or crushed before they would otherwise have been eaten.  Then, instead of drinking the resulting liquid, we watch in amazement as it ferments and becomes moldy and terrible tasting.  Are these people sadistic--spoiling such good grapes?  But then--after the wine ages and matures, it is filtered and what is produced is not a thirst-quencher, but an honorable beverage, which lifts up a person’s spirits.


To the Bote’ach BaShem, Rav Salomon continues, this is a microcosm of the Ribono Shel Olam’s Hanhaga--behavior--in this world.  Without the fermentation process--without the years of repulsive mold which seems irreversible--we could not have the brand, kind and taste of wine which a connoisseur could appreciate and savor.  We can now understand why we make “Hatov V’HaMativ” specifically on wine--because we realize that the process was necessary and intended by the world’s Creator and we acknowledge that it is for good--notwithstanding our original misconceptions.  The cup of wine that we drink has gone through an entire process and represents how we are to understand the Hashgachas Hashem in our world.


As we go through these days of Purim to Pesach, a time that is surrounded by intense suffering that led to sparkling redemption--as symbolized by the wine of which we partake--we, too, should become connoisseurs and remember that Hashem will take us out of all of our current t’zaros, individual and collective, just as the horribly soured wine is ultimately whiffed and savored by the most discerning of experts.



Special Note Three:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q.  When I make a brocha for lightning and thunder, how long is the brocha good for?


A.  The brocha for lightning or thunder is valid all day--until the next morning--for all the subsequent lightning and thunder of that thunderstorm (Shulchan Aruch 227.2).  If the storm continues overnight, one who wakes up the next morning to lightning and thunder should make new brochos (Mishna Berura 227.8).  Rav Shlomo Zalman, Z’tl, ruled that even if one wakes up before dawn of the new day, a new brocha should be made (Halichos Shlomo, Volume 1, page 267).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  Because we are so concerned that Hashem grant a Refuah Sheleima to our Gedolim Besoch She’ar Cholei Yisroel, may we suggest adding the following Kavannah in Asher Yatzar to the closing phrase of Rofei Chol Basar:  We do not make the bracha of Asher Yatzar before we take care of our needs, but afterwards, in order to remind us that not only did Hashem heal us in the rest room with the miracle that just took place, and not only does Hashem aid our digestive process--but Hashem is the Rofeh (present tense) constantly and continuously, on a 24/7 basis healing us--and not just one system of our body--but Chol Basar--all of the systems of our bodies!  What thanks are owed to Hashem!


Special Note Four:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #19


The following is excerpted from the outstanding work Journey to Virtue (Artscroll) by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita, a great handbook and guidebook-truly a necessity for every home:


Vows (Part 1)

The wisest policy is never to make vows of any kind so as not to risk violating a serious transgression by failing to fulfill them.  Therefore, if possible, one should not commit oneself to give; one should simply give. However, in a public gathering where each person is asked to pledge a certain amount, one should join in the public mitzvah. Nevertheless, he should still be careful to avoid vows by stating explicitly that his pledge is bli neder (i.e., does not have the

force of a vow). In such a situation, even though one does not actually verbalize a commitment, he still receives a reward for the statement since he joined the public mitzvah and encouraged others to pledge as well.


Chazal taught: If a person says he will give, and then he gives, he receives reward for the words and reward for the deed. If he didnt say he will give, but he tells others to give, he will be rewarded for those words. Even if he doesnt tell others to give, but he mollifies the impoverished with words he will be rewarded, because the Pasuk says (Devarim 10:15 ), For because of this davar (literally thing,but also explained to mean dibbur - words), Hashem will bless you.” (We learn that Hashem rewards words of tzedakah or any mitzvah, and it is therefore proper to say I will do a mitzvah.” However, in order to avoid a vow one should say he will do it bli neder” (without any force of a vow).



Special Note One:  Comments from readers:


A.  Just wanted you to know that I asked a poseik and he advised me not to join the Pidyon Peter Chamor group since this very large shutfus is ‘not what the Torah has in mind’, he said.”  Hakhel Response:  Thank you, everyone should always ask their own Rav or Posek regarding Halachic issues such as these.


B.  There are reliable rabbinical sources that disagree with Rabbi Bess on some Pesach--Chometz issues.”  Hakhel Response:  See response to A above.


C.  “On your note on VeChein LeMar--I think that it is not Mar but rather Mor-- with a komatz - like Moroh D’asrah.”  Hakhel Response:  This is who you should be asking!


Special Note Two:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.



Q:  In a recent Hakhel Bulletin you wrote that cereal made from rice flour is mezonos.  I did not understand that.  Shouldn’t the brocha be shehakol?  Even for bread made from rice flour the brocha is shehakol.

A:  You are partially correct in that the brocha for products made from “kemach shel kitniyos” is  shehakol. Kitniyos are beans, corn, millet, and the like (all the produce that we are noheg not to eat on Pesach). Indeed the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim (206:8) states that even for bread made from kitniyos the brocha is shehakol. Flax seed flour is a popular alternative in bread recipes for people who can’t eat wheat flour. If bread were to be made from flax seed it would be shehakol. However, the Shulchan Aruch clearly (208:7) states that products made from rice flour, including bread made from rice flour is subject to a borei mini mezonos, because, as the Mishna Berurah (208. 28) explains, rice and rice flour are satiating (minei mezonos means foods which satiate). The brocha achrona is Borei Nefoshos.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  Bracha Achrona: Is ice cream or ices a liquid or a solid?  The difference l’maaseh is whether you make a bracha achrona.  If ice cream or yogurt is considered a solid, you have up to three or four minutes to eat a k’zayis to make a borei nefashos.  If it is a liquid, you must consume a reviis in a K’dei Shesiyas Reviis (less than a minute), which is impossible.  The answer to this question is a great machlokes haposkim. According to Rabbi Aleksander Mandelbaum, Shlita, in Sefer V’zos HaBrocho, because of the machlokes, one should not make a bracha achrona on these items, but instead should preferably exempt these items with a Borei Nefashos on something else.  Rabbi Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, in The Halachos of Brochos follows the p’sak of Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Z’tl that ice cream is considered a solid, and if a k’zayis is eaten within three minutes, a Borei Nefashos would be required.  However, ices would be considered a liquid according to Rav Auerbach Z’tl because it is made only with water and flavors (and not with eggs or other ingredients) and no Borei Nefashos would be made.  Note that on the opposite extreme of temperature is plain hot water, clear chicken soup and broth, hot tea, coffee and cocoa. In these cases, the heat and not the cold render them extremely difficult to drink within the time frame permitted for a bracha achrona to be required.  Accordingly, one should allow a reviis of the beverage to cool off or make a Borei Nefashos on another food eaten at the same time and have in mind to exempt the hot liquid, as well.


Special Note Three:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #18


The following is excerpted from the outstanding work Journey to Virtue by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita:


“Although leitzanus (ridicule and/or cynicism) is strictly forbidden, legitimate humor can be of great value, such as that which creates a cheerful and enthusiastic frame of mind desirable for Torah study and other worthwhile activities.  The type of humor which cheers and encourages others is included in the mitzvah of doing acts of chesed (kindness).  However, jokes that only serve to belittle or are excessively light-headed are included in the prohibition against leitzanus. In summary, jokes are an excellent tool to help pass through life’s travails, provided they are neither at another’s expense, nor at the expense of one’s own soul.


Rav Beroka was in the marketplace talking with Eliyahu HaNavi, who pointed out two men as having a place in the World to Come.  Rav Beroka engaged them in conversation to find out what great merit had made them so worthy. “We are jolly people,” they said, “and when we see people who are depressed we speak to them and cheer them up.  Furthermore, if we see two individuals engaged in conflict, we try to restore peace through good cheer.”(Ta’anis 22A)


Special Note Four:  Concluding points from the Parshiyos of Vayakhel and Pekudei:


A.  In last week’s Parsha the Torah records that the people brought donations to the Mishkan “BaBoker BaBoker” (Shemos 36:3).  The Sefas Emes interprets the repetition of the word ‘Boker’ to mean that the people brought their gifts early in the morning, and explains that there is special power in doing something early, or first, in the morning.  It is for this reason, the Sefer Talilei Oros explains that the Vilna Gaon, Z’tl, would exclaim BeLev Shalom U’VeSimcha when he rose from bed:  Hareini MeKabel Alai Ol Torah HaYom!”  Likewise, the Siddur Siach Yitzchak (Siddur HaGra) notes that in the Bracha of HaMa’avir Sheina early each morning the first two requests we make following the Yehi Ratzon are “Shetargileinu BeSorasecha VeDabekeinu BeMitzvosecha--please accustom us to study Your Torah and attach us to Your commandments”--for the first efforts, the first requests of the day, have a special status and bearing.  In special fact, the Tefillah presented by the Zohar upon arising in the morning is “Yehi Ratzon…Sheyiheyeh Libi Nachon U’Masur BeYadi Shelo Eshkachecha--May it be Your Will that I be upright, and in control of my heart today, so that I don’t forget You.”  The Siddur Siach Yitzchak concludes that when one has a Haschala Tova in the morning, then “Az Yiheyeh HaKol Tov--everything will be good.”


As we arise in the morning and begin to ready ourselves for the day all kinds of new ideas and reminder bombard us--everything we have to do and even the order we have to do it in.  If we can take those first precious moments and focus them properly--”Shetargileinu BeSorasecha VeDabikeinu BeMitzvosecha”, “Sheyihiyeh Libi Nachon U’Masur BeYadi Shelo Eshkachecha”, and the Gra’s thought B’Lev Shalom U’VeSimcha to accept upon oneself the Torah and the Mitzvos--then we have the express assurance of the Siddur Siach Yitzchak that Az Yiheyeh HaKol Tov!


B.  The Pasuk teaches regarding Betzalel “U’Lehoros Nassan BeLibo--and the ability to teach was placed in his heart.  The Mefarshim explain that with these words we are taught the difference between Lilmod and LeLameid--to learn and to teach.  It is a great level to learn, and an even greater one to be able to teach.  It is for this reason that we request of Hashem in Ahava Rabba/Ahavas Olam that he please give us the ability Lilmod U’LeLameid--to learn and to teach.  Everyone really has to be a teacher--chavrusos one to the other, husband and wife, parent and child.  We must therefore be careful to daven daily to Hashem that He give us the ability not only to learn--but to be a good teacher as well!


C.  HaRav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Z’tl, provides a great question and a remarkable insight on last week’s Parsha. The Torah goes to great lengths to describe the Mishkan and its Keilim--both the instructions to build it, and the actual details as to its construction. We know the Mishkan was precious to Hashem, and that we gain special insight into the Dor HaMidbar with all of the detail. However, all of this detail is for a temporary structure that is supposed to be standing for only a short while--until the Bais HaMikdash is built. Remember that the Chait HaMeraglim had not yet taken place, so Bnei Yisroel were due to soon (within weeks or months) enter Eretz Yisroel and build the Bais HaMikdash shortly thereafter. Thus, the Mishkan was intended to function for perhaps a year or two (although ultimately it remained standing for 479 years). Yet, we see the detail which the eternal Torah provides for it--and the zeal, dedication, and effusiveness of the people towards a very short-term construction. The important and special lesson here is that our goal must be to accomplish. A Mitzvah may look to the eye as if it is fleeting--so why put in so much time, such difficult effort, and significant expense? This is absolutely not an appropriate cheshbon.  Our preparations can, and in many cases should, take longer than the Mitzvah performance itself--for in reality the Mitzvah lasts for eternity!  Time is a physical concept--and we must transcend it in order to attain our spiritual goals.

So, the next time you feel like you are spending so much time--whether it is trying to figure out what Bracha to make on a particular food or whether you can eat a particular item, waiting on a line long for a few, “last-minute” Shabbos items, davening or saying Tehillim for someone who is having surgery today, or talking with someone on the phone who always seems to need chizuk, remember…the “short-term” everlasting and eternal Mishkan!



Special Note One:  Based upon the teaching of Rav to Rav Huna in Megillah (27B), many are accustomed, after having received a blessing from someone to respond with the words ‘VeChein LeMar--so shall it be for you’ (in other words, may you receive the same blessing that you wished upon me).  Some individuals may be hesitant to use the phrase VeChein LeMar, based on the thought that the word Mar (as in Maror) means bitter, and that ostensibly the return bracha is not a positive one.  However, we may suggest that, in fact, Mar is really an acronym for Mori Rabi--my master, my teacher--and is really a term of great respect, in which the respondent calls one who has blessed him his master and teacher as well.  Indeed, the Gemara records that students referred to their Rebbi as Mar (Abaye, for example, referred to his Rebbi--Rabba as Mar).  The English word Mr. may perhaps have its source in our word MaR.  So, if somebody wishes you a VeChein LeMar--don’t take it with bitterness--but with great respect!



Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parsha, Vayakhel, we find the term Lev mentioned in various contexts--Asher Nisa’o Libo, Kol Nediv Lev, Chacham Lev, U’Lehoros Nasan BeLibo, etc.  It is a time to remind ourselves of the precious words of the Mesilas Yesharim (end of Chapter 16):

 “Chazal teach that Rachmana Liba Ba’i--Hashem wants us to serve Him with our hearts--for it is not enough for Hashem to see our deeds alone, such as our Ma’asei Mitzvah.  Rather, it is most important to Him that our hearts be pure to serve Him in truth.  The heart is the king of all the other parts of the body and leads them, as so if the heart is not focused on the service of Hashem, then the service of the other limbs and organs is not worth anything, for they will just follow the errant heart.  This thought is expressed clearly by Shlomo HaMelech (the wisest of all men) in Mishlei ( 23:26 ) “Tena Beni Libcha Li…my son give me your heart!”


We can now well understand why the Pesukim in discussing the construction of the Mishkan emphasizes the need not only for the physical and mechanical building of the Mishkan--but that our hearts be first dedicated to the task!



Special Note Three:  The following extremely meaningful quote is excerpted from Questions You Thought We Were Afraid You’d Ask, by R’ Moshe Speiser (Targum Press): “The concept of forever is amazing, if one thinks about it.  If one would receive a penny a day, forever, there would not be enough money in the world to cover it. If every win and loss [against the Yetzer] affects us for eternity, it sounds like there is an awful lot at stake here!”



Special Note Four:  We present the following synopsis of a Shiur recently given by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita (R’ Mattisyahu Chaim Ben Ettel) as a specific zechus for his Refuah Shleimah:


We are living in a tumultuous, confused world.  One leader after another had been deposed or is abdicating.  The world order is in upheaval.  Iran , as Haman, is threatening c’v Lehashmid Laharog....  One talks about Moshiach when times are dangerous--and it is not empty talk.  Ikvasa D’Mashicha means the footsteps of Moshiach.  As a person walks closer to you his footsteps become more audible.  The footsteps are definitely louder now than they were before; the world’s economy is asunder, people’s feeling of security is extremely low, governments are weak, and K’lal Yisroel is attacked physically and verbally by our enemies.  In a letter from HaRav Elchonon Wasserman, Z’tl, to HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, Rav Elchonon cautions that although the footsteps may be heard louder and louder, we will not know when the Moshiach arrives until he actually does so.  What we can do is to be Mechake Lo--not only believe that he will come--but also await him.  The Ba’alei Mussar explain it with the following test:  If our Emunah is strong, we should view the Moshiach’s coming as a situation similar to a person who loses a check for $1,000,000 in a room filled with cancelled checks.  If one is 100% certain that the check is there, he will not give up looking, for he knows that all of his searching will bring him closer to his desired goal.  So too, with Moshiach--if we are certain of his coming, then we know that time only brings us closer!  Because doing Teshuva after Moshiach comes will not be as effective, the time to do Teshuva, as part of our anticipation is now.  The day could be any day--so one must do what he has to today.  Rather than be nervous, upset and depressed--with the more fear that one may have should come the realization that the way out is Moshiach--and the more we prepare, the more we will benefit!



Special Note Five:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  I inadvertently made a borei pri hoetz on finely ground applesauce. Was I supposed to stop eating and make the correct brocha – shehakol?


A:  You are correct in that fruit or vegetables which are finely ground or mashed to the extent that they are no longer recognizable (i.e., I can’t tell by looking at it if it is ground apples , ground pears, or ground something else) is shehakol. Nevertheless, b’dieved, the borei pri hoetz is valid.


Hakhel Additional Note One on Brachos:  As a zechus for a Refuah Shleimah for HaRav Chaim Yisroel Belsky, Shlita (R’ Chaim Yisroel ben Chana Tzirel), we provide the following rulings of HaRav Belsky, relating to Tefillas HaDerech and brachos, as presented in Piskei Halacha of Rav Belsky, compiled by Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits, Shlita:


“The Maharam MiRottenberg notes that one should preface Tefillas HaDerech with a different brachah, to give it a status of brachah hasemuchah l’chaverta.  A brachah achronah on food or an Asher Yatzar should therefore be said followed by Tefillas HaDerech. If for whatever reason one cannot make either a brachah achronah or an Asher Yatzar, he may recite a brachah rishonah on food, eat, and then recite Tefillas HaDerech. If one is exempting someone else in the tefillah, then he may also have him in mind regarding the inyan of making a brachah before Tefillas HaDerech (either on food or an Asher Yatzar, etc.).”


Hakhel Additional Note Two on Brachos:  If one is seeking a particular, measured improvement in his Birchos HaNehenin, one possibility may be to recite the short bracha of Borei Nefashos from a Siddur or Bentscher daily.  Every time you do so--picture the potency of its last three words--Boruch Chei HaOlamim--blessed is Hashem Who is the Life-Giver of all worlds!



Special Note Six:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #17


The Pasuk in Micha (7:5) teaches:  Mishocheves Cheikecha Shemor Pischei Picha...guard the doorways of your mouth....  The Chayei Adam (end of Chapter 35) quotes the Zohar, which explains this Pasuk as follows:  A person’s Neshama ascends every evening to the Heavens and testifies on every deed that he did and every word that he uttered that day; in fact, the words as they are uttered throughout the day actually break through to the Heavens and remain there until the evening, at which time the Neshama ascends, takes the words and brings them before the King for judgment.  Hakhel Note:  Thus, while one believes that he is merely asleep, his words of the day (for the good and the bad) are making their mark! Each night, may we have a successful sleep!



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


A.  Chazal (Shabbos 118B) teach “If Yisroel would observe two Shabbosos according to Halacha, they would be redeemed immediately.”  In fact, the Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 25:16), reduces this guarantee to the proper observance of just one Shabbos.


Perhaps we can start the process in our own small way with the following suggestion:


In this week’s Parsha (Shemos 35:3), the Torah requires “Do not kindle a fire wherever you dwell on the day of Shabbos.”  Why is fire singled out as one of the 39 forbidden activities on Shabbos?  There is a disagreement between Rebbe Nosson and Rebbe Yossi on this very point in the Gemara (Shabbos 70A).  The Sheloh HaKadosh and the Akeida write that the “fire” singled out on Shabbos also refers to the fire of anger and of raised voices in the home, of anger, disagreement and machlokes, any and all of which are the antithesis of the Shalom Bayis to be brought into the home through the Neiros Shabbos.


As in previous years, we therefore urge that THIS SHABBOS--in which the Parsha specifically instructs us not to “kindle fire in our dwelling places”--we, bli neder, accept upon ourselves not to get upset and angry, not to raise our voice, and, instead, to override our sensitivity, our legitimate feelings and everything else in the way, to ensure that the Shabbos is and remains peaceful--with the only fire being relegated to the area under the blech.  To some, or perhaps many, of us, this may take a yeoman’s effort, but we will be taking an important step towards that “just one Shabbos” we so urgently and desperately require.


NOTE:  If we can achieve the seemingly impossible, and extend this “fire prohibition” to the hour before Shabbos, we will have additionally accomplished a level of “Tosefes Shabbos”--adding on to the Shabbos--perhaps never before imaginable.


ADDITIONAL NOTE:  Perhaps we can take our Shabbos success with us through the coming week, and work on the Middah of ‘not kindling a fire’--as we begin the new Sefer VaYikrah next week! 


B.  The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (75:2), relating to Neiros Shabbos rules as follows: “The candles should be long so that they burn until after the meal. One should seek to purchase fine candles.  Rav Huna teaches (Shabbos 23B): A person who is accustomed to lighting Neiros Yafos--attractive Shabbos candles--will merit sons who will be Torah scholars. The Pasuk (Mishlei 6:23 ) indeed states: “Ki Ner Mitzvah, VeTorah Ohr--for a Mitzvah is a candle, and Torah light”--i.e., the candle of Mitzvah will bring about the light of Torah.”



C. Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended now by approximately 150 women.  Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the questions to the first 75 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions.

76. Is one permitted to put a pot of uncooked food on a stove if one would like to eat it Friday night and one is making early Shabbos?


No. Since a person has his mind on this food from the time Shabbos begins, Chazal were concerned that one may stir the coals [adjust the fire] in an effort to maintain that the food should be hot.


77. Is it permitted to put a towel over a pot that is sitting on a hotplate before Shabbos?


If one just drapes a towel over the pot than it is permitted for it is not Hatmana. Otherwise, it is prohibited.


78. Is one permitted to use a thermos on Shabbos?


Yes, as it is not considered Hatmana.


79. In # 78--what about a hot water bottle?


A hot water bottle is used either to warm one’s bed in the winter or is placed on the abdomen to ease stomach pain. There does not seem to be any Halachic reason as to why one would not be able to use it to warm one’s bed. However, if we transport ourselves to a time when there were no pre-manufactured hot-water bottles and people would use an open vessel and place it on their stomach, we will understand what the following ruling in Shulchan Aruch is referring to:  The Mechaber (326:6) states  that it is forbidden to place a vessel with hot water on one’s stomach even during the week. The reason is because the water might be boiling hot and endanger the person.  Rashi (See Mishna Berurah 326:19) adds that on Shabbos it is doubly forbidden because the water might spill on one’s body resulting in a person bathing on Shabbos in hot water. We are referring to water heated on Shabbos and therefore one may not wash even a small portion of one’s body with this water. If the vessel is closed, like contemporary hot water bottles, there is no problem. However, according to Tosefos, one may not place a vessel with hot water on one’s abdomen because it is considered using medication, and even a closed hot water bottle is prohibited. Accordingly, when one’s intention is merely to warm one’s bed, one may use a closed water bottle.


What if the person has a stomach ache?  If a person is classified as ill, which means that he is either bedridden, or his entire body aches, he may use a hot water bottle. If one is not classified as ill, one may not use any medication, and since placing a HWB on one’s stomach is a type of medication one may not use it. However, in the winter months, where it is common that one places a HWB in one’s bed for warmth, one may do the same when one has a stomach ache. This is based on a rule, which says that one may administer medication when it is something that healthy people do as well. For example, healthy people drink brandy, therefore one who has a sore throat or a toothache may drink brandy in the normal manner, even though one’s intention is to ease the sore throat. One may not gargle with the brandy because then it becomes noticeable that one’s intention is for medicinal purposes.  Hence, in the winter months one may place a HWB in one’s bed even when one’s intention is medicinal because healthy people do so as well.  One may nevertheless heat a towel and place it on one’s stomach, as that is not something associated with medicine.



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  Could you clarify the following: When I make a brocha and take a bite of an apple will the brocha cover other fruit that I will want to eat?


A: When a person makes a brocha he can extend his brocha to cover other items having the same brocha. He does this by having specific intention when he makes the brocha.  For example, if he makes a brocha on an apple and thinks “I want this brocha to be effective for any other fruit which might be brought” his brocha will be valid for all subsequent fruit.  If he does not have specific intent (or was spacing out) when he made the brocha, then he opens the door to an involved and complicated set of halachic issues regarding subsequent items. (This subject is explained in detail in Halachos Of Brochos Chapter 7). In your case, b’dieved, the brocha will be valid only for the same type of item – more apples. It will not be valid for other types of fruit. Mishna Berurah 206, and Shaar Hatziyon 206.20.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  The Piskei Teshuvos in his introduction to Hilchos Brachos (Chapter 202) writes as follows:  “The Gedolim of all generations advised about the importance of learning and reviewing the Halachos of Brachos.  Indeed, the Ritva writes that:  Techilas Kol Davarbefore everything, one must learn and teach his children and students the Halachos of Brachos, so that they do not commit me’ilah by reciting an incorrect bracha, which is a davar chamur me’od.  The Sefer Ya’aros Devash writes that if one is not familiar with the proper Birchos HaNehenin he is not BeToras HaAdam HaYisraeili(!)  Indeed, the Sefer Chut HaMeshulash writes that the Chasam Sofer from the age of six and onward for all of his life did not eat sugar by itself, because he felt that it was a safek bracha.  On the other hand, HaRav Chaim Vital writes that through the brachos on foods that are recited with Kavannah, one removes its kelipos, and prepares himself for Kedusha.  The Rabbeinu Bachya adds that one who is careful with Birchos HaNehenin demonstrates true Emunah, a purity of heart, and is referred to as a Chossid and a Yirei Chait.  Finally, the Shach adds that one who makes proper brachos on his food and drink elevates them into items which not only help him maintain his health--but actually serve to heal him.  Hakhel Note:  Oh, how so much bursts forth from within our brachos!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #16


The following is excerpted from the outstanding work Journey to Virtue by Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman, Shlita:


“It is required to criticize someone in private only if the wrong was done in private, but if it was done publicly, constituting a desecration of Hashem’s Name, then one must immediately do whatever is required to prevent any further desecration (Mishna Berurah 608:10).  However, the reprover is still obligated to speak as softly and gently as possible under the circumstances. It is forbidden to speak more harshly, or to cause the subject any more embarrassment, than is absolutely required to achieve the desired purpose.


The story is told that there was once a Purim shpiel in the Radin yeshiva in which Lashon Hara was said. Immediately, the Chofetz Chaim said in a soft tone, ‘Even on Purim Lashon Hara is prohibited.’”



Special Note Three:  At his recent Hakhel Shiur, Rabbi Dov Brezak, Shlita, urged us all to make short Tefillos throughout the day:  “Hashem help me with….”  “Hashem save me from….”  These short five-second Tefillos should be made even for personal and material matters.  Rabbi Brezak explained that he had long ago asked HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, whether this approach was proper, and HaRav Kanievsky answered:  “Azoi Firt Minn--Hashem zugt:  Harchev Picha VaAmaleihu--open wide your mouth and I will fill it (Tehillim 81:11)!”  It is the Yiddishe Minhag to daven for what you want.  Many people use this eitzah, for example, and ask “Hashem, Hashem, please guide me to a parking space.”  Rabbi Brezak concluded that many times one will see how he is answered--but even if he is not answered in the affirmative, he will certainly draw closer to Hashem as a result. 



Special Note Four:  The Sefer Chayei Adam (10:13) presents an astounding Halacha:  “Chazal have taught us that Amei Ha’aretz who do not study Torah on their own nor support the Torah of others, but who otherwise perform at least some Mitzvos, will receive their reward in Gan Eden as is befitting their accomplishments--but their bodies will not arise at Techiyas HaMeisim as it will be the light of Torah that arouses the person back to life (see Yeshaya 26:19).  Hakhel Note:  We can now better understand why the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah is greater than any other Mitzvah--it has the longest lasting effects--taking us through Gan Eden and into Techiyas HaMeisim!



Special Note Five:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the Noam Elimelech (R’ Elimelech B”R Eliezer Lipman) of Lizensk, Z’tl.  HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, teaches that when someone visits the Kever of a Tzadik, he connects with the Nefesh of the Tzadik, but when he studies from the Seforim of the Tzadik, he connects with the Ruach of the Tzadik.  For those who were unable to join the multitudes who traveled to the Kever of the Noam Elimelech today, may we suggest that one read/study  the famous “Tzetel Koton” published in so many Siddurim, and so practically instructive on how one should lead his life.



Special Note Six:  Points and Pointers relating to previous Bulletins:


A.  Mordechai told Esther:  Ki Im HaChareish Tachrishi Ba’eis HaZos--if you remain deaf at this time…”  Should he not have instead told her “Ki Im HaAleim Ta’alimi Ba’eis HaZos--if you do not speak up at this time…”?  Perhaps Mordechai was telling Esther that she had to ‘listen to her messages’--and only then could she act upon them.  Taking action without prior contemplation and understanding could definitely lead to the wrong result. 


B.  Regarding the importance of forgiving others for what they had done before going to sleep, Chazal point out that not being Makpid is a cause for Arichus Yamim--for a length of days (Megillah 28A).


C.  Fascinatingly, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (71:4) also points out that before going to sleep one should repeat the Pasuk Bechol Derachecha Da’eihu Vehu YeYasher Orchosecha--know Him in all your ways and He will direct your paths” (Mishlei 3:6) seven times before going to bed.  This teaches us that with the proper Kavannah even going to sleep is a way of ‘knowing Hashem’.  The Sefer Mikra’os Gedolos Mishlei (as translated by Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg, Shlita) provides the following annotation on this Pasuk:  “Rabbeinu Yona explains that a person must remember Hashem in all his undertakings, not only in his major undertakings.  In this way Hashem will direct his paths and make him succeed.”


D.  Relating to the ten Halachos of Lashon Hara from Rabbi Krohn’s Sefer, we add the words of Chazal in Mesechta Shabbos:  Kol HaMevazeh Talmid Chochom Ain Lo Refuah LeMa’akaso--if one shames a Talmid Chochom, he has no Refuah for the Ma’akah that he has created.”  Hakhel Note:  Perhaps the best way to avoid this is for one to go out of his way to show great respect to our Talmidei Chachomim!


E.  The Rema’s teaching regarding self-introspection in the Bais Midrash (Orach Chaim 165:1) itself teaches us that one need not go into the forest or an isolated place (although it may otherwise be helpful) in order to come close to Hashem.  Even if the noise of Torah or Tefillah resounds around him--one can still connect with and into his heart and raise himself personally closer to the Heavens!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: I saw that you wrote that an “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis” should be recited when one sees the Alps.  Our family will be going to the Grand Canyon , do we make that brocha when we see the Grand Canyon ?


A:  Yes.  The Shulchan Aruch states to make the brocha for seeing mountains and “geva’os (heights).  The achronim define this to mean when one sees an awe inspiring canyon. (Shulchan Aruch 228, Mor V’ktzeyah 228).  Two additional points:  Some claim that the Grand Canyon was formed after Ma’aseh Bereishis, as a result of a drying effect, in which event no bracha would be made.  Additionally, there is discussion among Poskim as to whether one would recite the bracha if the Alps or the Canyon was seen through the window of a plane.  Accordingly, one should consult his Rav or Posek.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  The Sefer BeRumo Shel Olam by Rabbi Mordechai Potash, Shlita, brings to light an important teaching of the Aruch HaShulchan.  The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 5) writes that the reason we recite the term “Baruch Atta” in all brachos is not chas veshalom because Hashem needs our brachos, but rather it is to reemphasize to us constantly that Hashem is like an Ohr HaChozer--a light that constantly returns to pour His brachos upon us, as Dovid HaMelech said (Shmuel II,7:29):  U’Mibirchasecha Yevorach Beis Avdecha LeOlam--and from Your bracha will my household be blessed forever.”  The reason that we must constantly reinforce this is because Dovid HaMelech teaches us as well (Tehillim 68:35):  Tenu Oz LeiLokim--it is our obligation in this world to attribute our blessings to Hashem, and in accordance with our deeds will the Heavens be aroused and the bracha come more and more upon us.  Hakhel Note:  Perhaps before making a bracha from time to time we can think of Dovid HaMelech’s three-word instructive-- Tenu Oz LeiLokim!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #15


The following notes are from the Sefer Hilchos Lashon Hara U’Rechilus by Rabbi Kalmen Krohn, Shlita:


1.  Even if one’s father or Rebbi--or even if a king--keeps on insisting that one relate a piece of information to him, and it involves even ‘only’ Avak Rechilus, it is forbidden to do so.  


2. Even if one heard somebody speak about his parent or his Rebbi, and because he is very pained about the insult to their honor wants to reveal it to them, it is assur.


3.  One has committed an issur even when he starts walking to relate Lashon Hara or Rechilus, as the Pasuk states “Lo Seileich Rachil BeAmecha.


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


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


6.  If one agrees to or consents to the words of Lashon Hara of another, it is considered as if he spoke them and is a Misaper Lashon Hara.


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


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


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


10.  Lashon Hara by ‘hinting’ is full-fledged Lashon Hara.  Similarly, it is forbidden to respond to a question posed about another with the words:   “I don’t want to speak Lashon Hara against him by giving you an answer.”   


Hakhel Note:  If we don’t watch our words--who will?!



Special Note Three:  The following Halacha is excerpted from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (71:3):  “Before going to bed, one should put in his heart to forgive all those who have sinned against him, so that they are not punished because of him.  Chazal (Shabbos 149B) teach that ‘A person on whose account another is punished [i.e., by not forgiving him] is not allowed into the mechitzah of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.  Instead, one should recite three times:  Shorei LeChol Mann Di Tza’aran--I forgive all those who caused me distress.” 

Hakhel Note:  Incredibly, the Kitzur then goes on to teach that after this one should still recite the tefillah of Ribbono Shel Olam HaReini Mochel….  In other words, it would appear that the Kitzur is requiring a specific stand-alone statement (to be repeated three times) before the tefillah of Ribbono Shel Olam to indicate the thoughtfulness and sincerity of the statement! 



Special Note Four:  What more is a Bais Midrash to be used for other than Torah study?  The Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 155:1) and Mishna Berurah (ibid.) write that while sitting in this Makom Kadosh one should look into his deeds, thinking about whether any of his business matters require fixing, and ridding himself of any aveiros such as gezel and the like.  The Rema adds that one should also try to bring Yiras Shomayim into his heart--especially before leaving the Bais Midrash in the morning and starting his day in the outside world!



Special Note Five:  Now that we have hopefully given Matanos LaEvyonim (and Ma’aser above the Matanos LaEvyonim) to a great extent, we provide the touching words of the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh in this week’s Parsha of Vayakhel (Shemos 35:21):  The Pasuk records:  VaYavo’u Kol Ish Asher Nisa’o Libo VeChol Asher Nadvah Rucho--every man whose heart inspired him came; and everyone whose spirit motivated him brought….”  What is the difference between an Ish Asher Nisa’o Libo and a person who is a Nadvah Rucho?  The Nadvah Rucho, explains the Ohr HaChaim, gives willingly and voluntarily, but within the determined means of what he deems himself to be capable of.  It is a beautiful Middah in that he does not feel pained in giving, but he is sure not to over-extend himself.  However, the Ish Asher Nisa’o Libo is one whose heart has raised him to give painlessly and effortlessly to give more than he can otherwise give--so that his Ruchniyus elevates his Gashmiyus to new and greater heights!  Hakhel Note:  Give again--today!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.



Q:  Q I take my lunch during my work break in a lounge which is adjacent to a bathroom.  Sometimes the bathroom door is opened when I make the brocha. Is there a problem with this?


A. No. As long as there is no odor, a brocha may be made (Igros Moshe, Even HaEzer, 1:114; Halachos of Brochos, page 20).


Hakhel Additional Note One on Brachos:  As a zechus for a Refuah Shelaima for HaRav Belsky, Shlita (R’ Chaim Yisroel ben Chana Tzirel), we provide his P’sak on Cookies and Cream ice cream, as explained in Shulchan HaLevi, p.24:  “The status of cookies crumbled into ice cream is unclear.  If the crumbs simply enhance the flavor of the ice cream, they are tafel, and the ice cream remains the single primary ingredient that defines the mixture. The bracha would therefore be shehakol.  If the cookie taste is desirable in its own right, than the cookie crumbs are also a primary ingredient, then the bracha would be mezonos.  Since the status of cookie crumbs is unclear, a separate mezonos should be made on a different item, followed by a shehakol on the ice cream.” 



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #14


The following is excerpted from the outstanding work Positive Word Power, produced by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation:


“In the age of email, the challenge of restraining one’s words has become enormous. The spontaneous nature of the medium makes people far looser in their verbiage and far quicker to respond.  At the click of a mouse, their diatribe can travel through cyberspace, and one can assault another person’s dignity within milliseconds.  The time needed for composing a ‘snail-mail’ letter, including printing, addressing and mailing can serve as a cooling-off period, at the end of which a person can decide that it is better that the letter not be sent.  With email and text messaging, this barrier is gone.  There is no ostensible time for second thoughts.  When used properly, however, writing can offer tremendous help in curbing ill-conceived communication. Even email is less spontaneous than verbal dialogue.  The writer can, in fact, take his time in framing his interaction or reaction.  He can review his words and think about how they will be received.  He can erase and rewrite.  Someone whose goal it is to address a problematic situation while avoiding insult to the other has every opportunity to do so when the written word is the medium.” 



Special Note Three:  Before Purim, we presented a reader’s question 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). the question:  Why does ‘Machar seem to be needed against Amalek?!


We have admittedly waited until ‘Machar’ to present some of the cogent responses that we received:


A.  “Rav Hutner, in Pachad Yitzchok on Purim, ‘Inyan 5’, page 40, has a fascinating discussion on this.  He explains that Esav’s shoresh is rooted in ‘today’ (Michra Kayom es Bechorosicha Le) and Yaakov’s shoresh is rooted in ‘tomorrow’, i.e Achrasis HaYomim (‘Ad Asher Avo el Adoni Seira’)”.


B.”I cannot find the reference to it, but I remember learning that if they had gone out to fight right at that time, it would have been more a physical (gashmiyus) war, lacking the needed spiritual (ruchniyus) component to succeed over Amalek, whose main job was to break our connection to HaShem. But by waiting until the next day, Moshe was able to get the people to pray, do teshuva, return to HaShem, and
daven b’kol raam to entreat HaShem and plead for His Heavenly guidance and assistance to help us so we could overcome Amalek.”


C.  “One of the big powers of amalek is to inflict safek or doubt into our emunah: eg ‘karcha’ is a loshon of mikreh all is coincidence-which is the opposite of Hashgacha. How do you counteract this? The gematria of machar is 248 the number of Mitzvos Aseh in the Torah. As the Sefer HaChinuch teaches--adam nifal kefi peulosav- a person becomes the way he acts. Ergo, the best way to counteract amalakian philosophy is not by engaging in theological discussions about Hashem--but rather to do the 248 mitzvos and the person will become a maamin.”


D.  “Amalek represents the Yetzer Hora.  It is very hard to deal head on with the Yetzer.  Our head and emotions play tricks on us.  Therefore, the best thing to do is to tell Amalek (the yetzer hara), “Tomorrow I’ll deal with you. Today, I am busy serving HaShem.” In this way we will stay focused on our true avoda and not get distracted by  today’s so-called needs.” 



Special Note Four:  As the missile threat continues to lurk over and threaten our people, we all know and realize that it is not with numbers, nor with might or armor that we will succeed.  The ‘Dome’, which in Hebrew means to be silent, is in fact the opposite of what we--Torah Jews the world over--should be doing at this time.  This crisis is most importantly occurring during the month of Adar--a month in which we celebrate that our Lech K’nos--our getting together in Tefillah and Teshuva--was able to save us--all of us--from annihilation.  Whatever our primary aveira was at the time, whether it was bowing down to avodah zara, eating from Achashveirosh’s feast, or our weakening in Torah study and Mitzvah performance--it was CURED through our Tefillah and Teshuva.  Now is NOT the time to be silent as we watch missiles flying in all directions, and as we recognize that blatant miracles have happened until this point and BE’H will continue to occur (how can we not specifically think of ‘thank you for these miracles’ in Modim?).  HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, Z’tl (Ohr Yecheskel 3: 195), brings the Midrash as follows:  “When Achashveirosh’s decree against the Jews was ordered, the Torah put on bigdei almanus and cried out before Hashem, and the Malachei HaShareis screamed and exclaimed--”If there will no longer be a K’lal Yisroel, what purpose do we have in the world?!  The sun and the moon were aghast and no longer shined bright.  Eliyahu HaNavi ran to the Avos and to Moshe Rabbeinu and shouted out “How can you remain silent?!”  The Avos responded--’if they have acted this way, there is nothing that we can do’!  Eliyahu HaNavi turned to Moshe Rabbeinu and said--”Moshe Rabbeinu, you saved them so many times--help them here!  Moshe Rabbeinu responded---if there is an Adam Kasher in the generation, let him daven and so will I--we will ask for Rachamim from Hashem together.  Eliyahu immediately went, and related Moshe’s words to Mordechai.”  HaRav Chatzkel explains the meaning of the Midrash to us--look at what the Torah was unable to accomplish, what the Malachim were unable to accomplish, what the sun and the moon were unable to accomplish, what the Avos were unable to accomplish--and what an Adam Kasher davening to Hashem can accomplish-nullifying and even reversing the decree in its entirety against us!  The power of Tefillah--our Tefillah--can change the world order!  Hakhel Note:  Let us together beseech Hashem for his immediate mercy to revoke any decree against us--and may our current state of Novocha, of confusion--in very much the same way as then--turn overnight into a time of Tzahala VeSameicha!



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q  As a businessman, I sometimes must attend a luncheon where I can not avoid facing a woman who is not properly dressed.  Am I allowed to make a brocha, or should I not eat?


A.  In cases where you can not avoid facing a woman who is wearing inappropriate clothing, you may close your eyes or face downward (perhaps make believe you are reading your notes) and make a brocha.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  The following is excerpted from the outstanding Sefer Power Bentching by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlita:  I am fond of telling the following story to illustrate a fundamental truth.  A man named Shmuel Yaakov lived to the age of eighty-six and then passed away.  When he faced Hashem for his final Din V’Cheshbon, his Heavenly reckoning, Hashem tabulated all of his mitzvos and aveiros and computed his eternal reward. Hashem showed him a huge wooden portal and told Shmuel Yaakov to pass through, and he would be escorted to his eternal reward. Shmuel Yaakov looked upward and saw a silver gate, a pearly gate, a golden gate, a titanium gate, and other gates with such brilliance that he could not even open his eyes to look at them.  Shmuel Yaakov timidly asked Hashem if he would ever be able to pass through those gates.  Hashem looked at him sadly and said, “I’m sorry, Shmuel Yaakov, but you just didn’t do enough with your life to merit those Heavenly portals. You didn’t bring with you enough Torah or tzedakah. You didn’t shine in your marital devotion or dedication to your children and parents.”  So Shmuel Yaakov passed through the wooden gate, comforted by the fact that there were many people in this Heavenly neighborhood whom he knew and recognized.  Everything was okay until a few years later when Shmuel Yaakov’s neighbor, Moshe Chaim passed away.  He too faced Hashem for judgment.  But, unlike Shmuel Yaakov, Moshe Chaim was promptly fitted with a jet propeller on his back and Shmuel Yaakov saw him zooming up through the other shining gates.  This was too much for Shmuel Yaakov to bear.  So he approached Hashem and asked Him: “I don’t understand. Moshe Chaim, my friend, was an average a person as I was.  How come he gets to pass through all of those Heavenly gates?”  And once again, Shmuel Yaakov looked up and saw the lights streaming out from those celestial gates, with heavenly music and fragrances wafting from them causing him to be green with envy.  Hashem answered Shmuel Yaakov, “Didn’t your Rebbe ever teach you what Chazal say so clearly--that whoever answers Amein with proper concentration-- all of the gateways of Gan Eden will open for him or her? Amein is the master key that opens all of these gates.  Shmuel Yaakov, while you were daydreaming in shul or talking with your friends, Moshe Chaim was concentrating on each blessing and answering with a meaningful Amein.”  This story should serve as a powerful incentive for us to make good use of the time we listen to the chazzan saying over the Shemone Esrei, and to be attentive when our friends make brachos over the Torah. In truth, it is not only in the Next World that we benefit from a meaningful Amein. The Gemara in Berachos (47A) teaches us that “Kol HaMa’arich BeAmein…Whoever pauses to concentrate on his Amein, will enjoy quality day and longevity.”  It is for this reason that we should also instruct our :family members to make their brachos out loud, in order to give the gift of Amein-- long life and eternity--to their loved ones!”



Special Note Two:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita teaches in the Sefer Derech Sicha on last week’s Parsha that that the ongoing calamity of the Cheit Haeigel  is due not as much to the sin of golden calf worship--as to the Mecholos--the dancing that took place in the wake of the sin  (See also Seforno to Shemos 32:19 in a similar vein).  After the sin, the people were happy with what they had done.  We can all take a great lesson from this.  If one realizes that he has sinned intentionally or unintentionally, accidentally or otherwise--he must immediately express remorse and disdain for what has happened and what he has done--and not ‘enjoy the benefits’ of the sin once ‘it has happened anyway’.  In this way, he cripples the Malach Ra, the Kateigor, that was created to do battle against him and his people in Shomayim--and INSTEAD begins on the path of Teshuva--immediately.  It is our choice--Mecholos--or Mechila!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”. Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.

A Word on Words:

Lesson #13


From Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita in The Power of Words:  If you feel someone is wearing something that is in poor taste, be tactful about how you mention this to him:

Insult:  “You look dreadful.”

Positive Approach:  “It seems to me you that would look much better if...”

Insult: “I don’t know how any normal person could choose what you did.  This is deplorable taste.  You look like a freak.”

Positive Approach:  I think it would be more appropriate for you to wear such and such.  That would enhance your appearance.” 

Oh, how our words can make the difference!



Special Note Four:  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 One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: May I ask what brocha to make on an ice cream sandwich?


A: First break off a piece of cookie and make a Mezonos and eat the piece of cookie. Then make a Shehakol and eat come of the ice cream without cookie. (Igros Moshe o”h vlm4 43) If a k’zayis of mezonos is eaten within 3 minutes (b’dieved within 4 minutes) make al hamichya. (Halochos of Brochos pg 247). If between the cookie and the ice cream you eat at least one whole k’zayis, but less than a k’zayis of Mezonos make a Borei Nefashos. (M”B 210.1).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  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 Berurah (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.  



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #12


The Sefer Chovos HaLevavos provides the following concise and life-bearing lesson.  The translation below is substantially excerpted from the outstanding Feldheim English translation Duties of the Heart:  Reflect further on the good which Hashem has bestowed on man by [granting him] speech and coherence of language.  Through speech he can express what is in his soul and innermost self, and can communicate with others.  The tongue is the heart’s pen and the mind’s messenger.  Without speech, a man would have no social relationship with his fellow, and would live the [solitary] life of an animal.  Through speech it becomes apparent that one man is superior to another.  Through speech, bonds of friendship are formed among men, covenants are made between Hashem and His servants.  Through speech a man turns, from his mistaken path and seeks atonement for his sins.  The way a man speaks is the best proof of his worthiness or unworthiness.  It has been said that a man [in essence] is his heart and tongue. Speech is the defining element of a human being, for a man is defined as a living, speaking, and mortal being; it is speech that distinguishes man from beast.”  Hakhel Note:  Consider how you can apply this life-bearing message in your life--daily!



Special Note Three:  Points and pointers from Purim: 


A.   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.


B. 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).


C. 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: To wars, it would be fair to add earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and nuclear reactor leaks.


D. A thought about 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 Four:  Every Wednesday HaRav Yisroel Dov Webster, Shlita, noted Posek, Dayan Sha’arei Mishpat, and author of The Halachos of Pregnancy and Childbirth, gives a Hakhel Shiur to women in Boro Park attended now by approximately 150 women.  Last winter he gave a series of Shiurim on Hilchos Bishul, and at the end of the series the women were given a bechina of 100 questions. We have previously provided the questions to the first 74 questions, and we will now continue with the goal of completing all 100 questions.

In this week’s Parsha, we are taught “VeSharmru Bnei Yisroel Es HaShabbos--Bnei Yisroel were careful with Shabbos.  The importance of our properly observing Hatmana is indicated by the fact that an entire Perek in Mesechta Shabbos is dedicated to BaMeh Tomnin--the enactment of Hatamana.


75. According to some Poskim, what is the problem of hatmana with regard to a crock pot?


A crock pot consists of a pot that is placed in a metal encasing which contains a heating element and cooks the food inside the interior pot. People commonly place food in the crock pot on Friday and leave it on, so that the food cooks through the night and is ready for consumption on Shabbos morning.


At first glance, although the use of the crock pot has become widespread, it appears to transgress the prohibition of “Hatmana.” After all, here, too, one encloses a pot of food in order to preserve its heat – the precise definition of “Hatmana.”


A number of Poskim are of the opinion that one may in fact use a crock pot for Shabbos in the manner described above, based on the combination of a number of factors. Firstly, two Rishonim, Rabbi Yeshaya Ha’rishon and Rabbeinu Simcha Gaon held that the prohibition of Hatmana applies only to food that one intends to eat on Friday night.  Since a person has his mind on this food from the time Shabbos begins, Chazal were concerned that one may stir the coals in an effort to maintain that the food be hot.  However, a person does not give too much thought to the food intended for Shabbos day.  Since there is plenty of time for the food to become warm, it is unlikely that one will stir the coals to keep the food hot.  Therefore they held that the “Hatmana” prohibition does not apply to the food intended for Shabbos day.  Secondly, the Rama’s opinion is that Hatmana means complete enclosing of the pot.  According to the Rama, one may enclose a pot to retain its heat if he leaves the top of the pot exposed.  This ruling would allow the use of a crock pot, since the heating element covers only the bottom and the sides of the inner pot, and not the top.  (The pot cover is considered part of the pot itself, and not part of the encasing.) There is some space between the heating element and the pot containing the food, and the Ramban and the Ritva held that “Hatmana” requires direct contact between the pot and the encasing. (This was the psak of my Rebbi, Hagoan Harav Tuvia Goldstein ZT”L and YBL”T Hagoan Harav Scheinberg (Otzaros HaShabbos pg. 519).)  I heard that Chacham Ovadia Yosef Shlita also paskened also that it is permitted as stated above, and added that one may also apply the principle of “Sefek Sefeka,” or “double doubt” to crock pots.  Since we have several factors that according to some authorities render this situation permissible, we may combine these factors to allow the use of a crock pot on Shabbos.


It should be noted, however, that if one uses a crock pot that has a dial to adjust the heat level, one must either remove or cover the dial before Shabbos, or turn the pot away from the person, so that he will not mistakenly adjust the dial on Shabbos


In order to understand the opposing opinion, I must explain the concept of Hatmana in a little more detail.


How much of the pot may be covered according to the Rama’s ruling without violating the laws of Hatmanah?  The Pri Megadim (259:3 in Mishbetzos Zahav) discusses whether it is sufficient that the top of the pot be exposed, or whether it must be exposed to a greater extent.  He demonstrates from a ruling of the Taz (258; however, cf. Taz 253:14) that one must leave most of the pot exposed to avoid violating Hatmanah.


The Taz (258:1) rules that it is only permitted (i.e., it is not Hatmana) if part of the sides is uncovered so that most of the pot is still left exposed.  If most of the pot is covered, he contends that this is prohibited, and the food that was in that pot cannot be eaten on Shabbos.  For this reason, the Taz prohibits immersing a cup of cold water on Shabbos in a pot of hot water even just to remove its chill, unless the cup is partly above the water level of the pot.


The Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Kuntrus Acharon 257:3) disputes the Taz’s ruling, contending that as long as the pot lid remains uncovered one may cover the sides of the pot.  He permits placing a basin into a pot of hot water before Shabbos provided that the lid of the pot is above the water level.  He would similarly permit wrapping a cholent pot on Shabbos with towels, provided the pot lid is not covered.


These Poskim would similarly dispute to what extent one may drape towels over an urn either before or on Shabbos.  According to the Taz, one may do this only if the sides of the urn are predominantly exposed.  According to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, it is sufficient if the sides are partially exposed.


Hagoan HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, ZT”L, and YBL”T Hagoan Harav Elyashiv, Shlita, are of the opinion that even the Shulchan Aruch HaRav prohibits using this crock pot since is a regular method of cooking (Orchos Shabbos pg. 542; (Otzaros HaShabbos pg. 517).  In their opinion, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav permits partial Hatmanah only when one does not usually cook this way, such as by draping towels over an urn or submerging a pot of cold water in hot water.  However, Chazal did not permit allowing food to cook on Shabbos by resting on a heat source.


Hagoan Harav Shmuel Vozner, Shlita, rules that according to the Rama and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav one may use the controversial crock pot.  He maintains that the halacha is like the Rav Shulchan Aruch that Hatmanah is prohibited only if the entire pot, including the lid, is covered.  However, if the warming substance covers the sides of the pot, but not its cover, then there is no prohibition in keeping the food heated this way on Shabbos.  As a result, although he agrees that there are poskim who prohibit this use of a crock pot since it covers most of the pot, the accepted halacha is to permit it (Orchos Shabbos pg. 543).


 Hagoan Harav Chayim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita, permitted the use of the crock pot as stated above.  He is also not concerned that we should prohibit its use since it is a regular form of cooking.  Rav Scheinberg reasons that although indeed this may be true, we see no evidence of Chazal prohibiting this on Shabbos and we do not create our own prohibitions today (Otzaros HaShabbos pg. 519).


Some suggest that according to Rav Shlomo Zalman one may line the area between the crock pot and the pot with some aluminum foil to permit this.  This is an error.  Although the aluminum foil might remind someone not to adjust the flame, there is no evidence that a reminder permits an activity that is otherwise prohibited because of Hatmanah (Orchos Shabbos pg. 113).  There is a method that permits use of the crock pot according to all poskim--by placing a piece of metal or stone inside the apparatus that thereby elevates the pot so that it no longer touches the sides of the heating part.  In the models I have seen, placing a stone or metal inside the heater raises the pot part so that it does not touch the sides anymore (Orchos Shabbos pg. 113).  This approach should permit use of the crock pot even according to the Shulchan Aruch that slight Hatmanah is prohibited and even according to Rav Shlomo Zalman’s approach that normal use of a crock pot is Hatmanah and prohibited as a regular method of cooking.  In our instance, the propping up of the pot avoids both problems since this is no longer the typical use of the crock pot and the apparatus no longer insulates the pot.



Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  I will be reading the Megillah at an early morning minyan and again a second time for a later minyan.  Since I will have been yotzei the brochos from the first minyan, should someone else make the brochos for the second minyan?


A:  Even if a baal koreh has already recited the brochos, nevertheless, the minhag is that he recites the brochos again at the second minyan in order to be motzi those listeners. (Mishna Berurah 585.5) Don’t forget when you recite the Shehechiyanu in the morning to be motzi the listeners for the mitzvah of Megillah as well as for the mitzvos of Mishloach Manos and seudas Purim (also matonos l’evyonim).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  As we partake of the Mishloach Manos and Seudas Purim--let us remember that we can express our thanks to Hashem for these wonderful Mitzvos through the sincere and Kavannah-filled brachos that we make over the Purim feast and gifts He has given us--oh how the day is blessed!  Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 139:14) expresses it so beautifully:  Odecha Al Ki Nora’os Nifleisi, Nifla’im Ma’asecha VeNafshi Yoda’as Me’od--I acknowledge You for I am so awesomely fashioned; wondrous are Your works and my soul knows it well!”



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #11


Many of us have the first words of the Megillah on the tip of our tongue--Vayehi Bimei Achashveirosh…but what are the last words of the Megillah?  The answer of course is:  VeDover Shalom Lechol Zaro--Mordechai spoke for the peace of his people.”  With these parting words, we leave the Megillah--as what Mordechai stood for.  What a great lesson to take away from Purim! 


Additional Note:  On Purim day itself, as we are approached by all those seeking charity, let us remember to try each and every time (no matter the personage) to respond with a smile, the bracha of “Hatzlacha!”, and if possible, a warm word.  Mordechai was Dover Shalom Lechol Zaro--let us follow his grand example on Purim itself!



Special Note Three: Thoughts for Ta’anis Esther:


1. As noted by the Agudas Yisroel above, 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, A’H, which urged women on Ta’anis Esther to recite Tehillim Chapters 28, 32, 79, 92, and 22, followed by Acheinu 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 learned of Haman’s decree. 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 Berurah (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.   Aswe 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 another 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, if you do not remember this from last year, 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: Chazal teach that Haman told Mordechai “Your Machatzis HaShekel contributions preceded and bested my offer of 10,000 talents of silver. Indeed,  today we are giving our “Zecher L’Machatzis HaShekel.  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 Haggadah, 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!



Special Note Six: Final Important Purim Points and Pointers:


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


2.  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). See our note at the outset about starting Mishnayos Mesechta Pesachim on Purim--what a great link of Geulah!


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 Seven: 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 Eight: Our Annual Purim Bonus Below!


                          (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?
ANSWER: 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 VeNaHafoch 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 (at least) 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.


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: How many words are there in the “Al Hanisim” of Purim?

ANSWER: 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!


QUESTION: 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 )?

ANSWER: 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!


QUESTION: What happened to Zeresh?

ANSWER: 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.


QUESTION: What happened to all of Haman’s possessions?

ANSWER: 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!


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:  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 Two:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.





Q:  Each year on Purim evening I go tzedakah-hopping to collect for a wonderful cause.  I have a big problem with brochos. I know that some brochos I make in the first house will not work for the next house, but others will work.  Can you give me a clear heads up on what to do?


A:  Good question.  Don’t be daunted, the subject of shinui mokom can be a bit complicated.  Ultimately you can get a good handle on the subject by reading Chapter 9 (page 133) in The Halachos of Brochos.  Meanwhile here are some guidelines for this Purim.


The best eitzah is to wash for a k’zayis of bread before you start, and have intention to continue wherever you go.  Eat and drink whatever you want in all of the stops you make.  Make a borei pri hagofen for the first drink of wine, a shehakol for the first candy and a hoetz at the first occasion of eating fruit (wine fruit and candy are not covered by the hamotzi that you made on the bread) and these brochos will cover all the subsequent wine and candy till the last stop - where you will need to eat a small bit of bread and then bentsch.


If it is not practical for you to wash, then the following is the second best eitza for bypassing many halachic uncertainties. (Based on Ram”oh and Mishna Berura 178, and Shevet Halevi volume 10, 41.3)


1- For cake or other mezonos, eat a k’zayis the first time, and have intention to continue wherever you go. This will cover you for mezonos at all subsequent stops.


2- For wine or fruit of the 7 species (e.g., grapes, raisins, dates, etc.) make a brocha at each stop, and have specific intention NOT TO COVER that type of item in any subsequent stop. Make a new brocha at each new location.


3- For candy, popcorn, potato chips, etc., make a brocha and have specific intention NOT TO COVER that type of item at the subsequent locations.


4- At the end, make only one al hamichya (include al hagofen in this brocha if you also had wine, and al hoetz if you also had fruit of the 7 species).  Make only one borei nefoshos for the candy, popcorn, potato chips, etc.  This eitza presumes that you had at least one k’zayis at any one of the locations and that you did not have a lapse of more than 72 minutes between eating.


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  Chazal (Brachos 20B) teach that Hashem is ‘prejudiced’ on our behalf because even though MiD’oraysa we are only obligated to bentsch when we are satiated, MiD’rabanan we bentsch even on a smaller amount.  Hashem therefore says:  “How can I not favor them when they are medakdek to recite bentsching for me even when they have eaten less?  Of all of the 613 Mitzvos which we perform, it is our Dikduk HaMitzvah in this regard that brings Hashem to treat us with special kindness.  Perhaps before we bentsch (which may be happening more often than usual because of Purim this week), we should reflect a moment on how important Hashem considers our bentsching to be.  As Chazal (ibid.) teach, our right to the words in Bircas Kohanim: ‘Yisa Hashem Panav Eilecha--May Hashem cause His countenance to shine upon us--is based on how careful we are in bentsching!



Special Note Three:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #10


In the Megillah, several not-so-nice adjectives are ascribed to Haman.  Among them are Ish Tzar, Oyev and Tzorer HaYehudim.  The Abarbanel explains that there is a difference between the term Tzar and Oyev, as Tzar refers to one who performs clear acts of hate, while an Oyev is whose enmity is hidden within him.  There is therefore one explanation that when Esther said Oyev, she was actually referring to Achashveirosh, whose hatred for us was more hidden.  When Haman is referred to as a Tzorer HaYehudim in the Megillah, some explain it to mean that he was Tzorer, or bound the Jews together in unity.  We suggest that the terms hate, detest, abhor, enemy, enmity, and their kind are very sensitive words, each with great underlying meaning, and that such terms must be used by the Torah Jew very circumspectly.  Even simply suggesting that one hates ketchup, abhors traffic, or that the fellow around the block is an enemy, should be thought through several times before actually uttering the word.  These terms and those like them are extremely serious ones, may have Halachic implications, and should be used under only the most appropriate of circumstances.



Special Note Four:  We provide by the following link -- http://tinyurl.com/yjsytzl  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, by the following link-- http://tinyurl.com/ysf6m7  you will find 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!  


Hakhel Note:  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 will soon enter the period 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 Five:  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, brand name sweater, or on an extra pair of shoes or additional 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 Six:  In preparation, BE’H, of our larger set of QUESTIONS and ANSWERS tomorrow, we present the following ‘getting-ready’ QUESTIONS and ANSWERS: 


QUESTION:  Why were two days of Purim necessary --Purim itself and Shushan Purim, after all, was not the majority of the miracle completed by the 14th of Adar?

ANSWER:  Perhaps the most common answer to this question is that with Shushan Purim we give special Kavod to the cities of Eretz Yisroel, as Shushan Purim is celebrated in cities walled from the time of Yehoshua ben Nun--which included many cities in Eretz Yisroel.  The Chasam Sofer, however, explains that since people are so busy with the Mitzvos of the day, there may not be as much Torah learning on Purim as there is on other days.  Accordingly, Purim is ‘split’ into two days--so that there will be Torah studied in one place, when it is not studied in another!


QUESTION: How could Mordechai ask Haman for a haircut, after all it was the 16th of Nissan--the first day of Chol HaMoed?

ANSWER:  The Maharatz Chayes explains that because Mordechai was wearing sack cloth and ashes, and was about to put on royal garments, he was treated as one who had just left the Bais HaAssurim--who is permitted to take a hair cut on Chol HaMoed! 


QUESTION: How can one fulfill the principle of Nosei BeOl Im Chaveiro by accepting Mishloach Manos?

ANSWER:  The Torah Jew generally does not like to receive gifts as that Pasuk teaches, Sonei Matanos Yichyeh.  Thus, by accepting another’s gift to help him fulfill the Mitzvah, one is overcoming his overall hesitancy to accept gifts!


QUESTION: Esther told Achashveirosh “She’eilasi U’Vakashasi”.  What is the difference between a She’eilah and a Bakasha? 

ANSWER:  Some explain that a She’eilah is for the short term, and Bakasha is for the long term.  It is for this reason that Esther later said “Nafshi V’She’eilasi VeAmi BeVakashasi” (7:3)--for it was the nation’s long term future that was at stake, not only the life of Esther. 


QUESTION: Why did Achashveirosh suddenly turn from a Jew-hater into a king who provided a royal decree helping the Jews to quash all of their enemies?

ANSWER:  The Sefer Ya’aros Devash explains that Achashveirosh, through necromancy, learned that his successor as king would be a Jew.  He bitterly hated the Jews for this reason, for he assumed that they would rebel against him and take over his throne.  When he learned that Esther was a Jew--he realized that his son Daryavesh--a Jew--would be the next king, and he was greatly relieved and pleased that the rulership would stay in his ‘family’.


QUESTION: Why do we refer to the giving of gifts as Mishloach Manos, and not merely as Shlo’ach Manos? 

ANSWER:  The letter mem means ‘from’.  The Pasuk states ‘Mishloach Manos Ish L’Rei’aihu U’Matanos LaEvyonim’ (Esther 9:22 ).  The goal is that from dedicated Mishloach Manos will result sincere Matanos LaEvyonim as well!


QUESTION: What is the source for the wearing of costumes on Purim?

ANSWER:  The Sefas Emes explains that after Achashveirosh’s second decree in favor of the Jews, many people dressed up as Jews (Misyahadim) in order to save their lives.  We dress up to remind ourselves of how they dressed up--to be like us!



READERS COMMENTED SIGNIFICANTLY regarding the Halachic question that arises if one gives Mishloach Manos in a new kli that requires tevilah.  As we noted, HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, holds that before one gives the item to his friend, he should be tovel the item with a bracha.  A reader pointed out that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl (in Halichos Shlomo), rules that one cannot tovel the kli before giving it away, and that the Minchas Yitzchak (Vol. VIII) and HaRav Wosner, Shlita (Kovetz M’Beis Levi), similarly rule that it should not be toiveled prior to it being given and one should advise on the tray that it has not been toiveled when it is given.  HaRav Shternbuch, Shlita (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos), writes that if the person buying the tray uses it a bit first, then toiveling it before giving it away would be appropriate, and this would resolve the issue.  Accordingly, it is imperative that one consult with his Rav or Posek regarding what should be done if he intends to give a new kli that otherwise requires tevilah to someone (whether as Mishloach Manos or otherwise).




Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q:  Is there anything I have to know or any special kavaanah to have when listening to the brochos before and after the Megillah and to the Shehechiyanu?


A: The most basic rule is that in order to be yotzei the brochos the baal koreh must have specific intention to be motzi the listeners and you must hear every word, and have specific intention to be yotzei.  Furthermore, when the baal koreh recites the Shehechiyanu he must have specific intention to be motzi the listeners with a Shehechiyanu for the mitzvah of Megillah as well as for the mitzvos of mishloach monos and seudas Purim (also matonos l’evyonim) since these mitzvos come but once a year. You, the listener, must have specific intention to be yotzei with the Shehechiyanu for all three mitzvos.


The best special Kavannah for Shehechiyanu (and for all brocha and tefillos) is simply focusing on the meaning of the words that we are saying. This is especially true when we acknowledge Hashem’s kindness in keeping us alive yet another year.  The Poskim explain that the term “Shehechiyanu” refers to Hashem’s act of kindness for keeping us physically alive. “Keyamonu” means He maintains our spiritual well-being and strengthens our emunah and ability to perform His mitzvos.  With these two great acts of kindness (sustaining us physically and spiritually), “heigeiyonu”, He enabled us to reach this time and to perform the mitzvah at hand correctly and sincerely. It is such a profound opportunity--one should not miss it by becoming distracted--and use it to its fullest extent to demonstrate your appreciation to Hashem!


Hakhel Additional Note One on Brachos:  By the end of a bracha’s recitation, one may be preparing for what he will be doing after the bracha.  An important part in enhancing one’s brachos, is making sure that one recites the entire bracha--even the last word or two--in the same manner as the entire bracha.  Thus, for example, it would be appropriate for one not to be moving his hand closer to his mouth with the food item, or starting to walk away after having said Asher Yatzar in a standing-still position, as he recites the last several words of the bracha.  Likewise, the last several words should not be recited quicker, and should be just as free of distractions. 


Hakhel Additional Note Two on Brachos:  Hoshe’ah HaNavi (11:3) brings the words of Hashem Himself:  VeAnochi Sirgalti L’Efraim Kacham Al Zero’osav VeLo Yadu Ki Refasim…I sent a letter to Efraim…and they did not know that I healed them.”  We may suggest that when we make an appropriate Asher Yatzar, we are indicating that we do recognize that Hashem has healed us--taking the words of the Navi to heart!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #9


In the Power of Words, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita, provides the following outstanding guidance: 


“If you were to see a painting that was considered to be masterpiece painted by one of the most famous artists of all time, you would not be able to throw mud at it.  Your respect for the artist and his painting would not allow you to soil his work of art.  Having an awareness that each human being is the creation of the Creator of the universe will give you a similar respect for people.


Keep asking yourself, “If I were to sincerely view this person am now talking to as created in the image of the Almighty, how would I speak to him?”


The next step is to actually try this out.  Even if you haven’t as yet reached this level, act for a while “as if” you were.  After speaking this way for a period of time it will become natural to you. This is especially important to do with those people you presently do not talk to as you should. Make a list of people you will do this with.”



Special Note Three:  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 Four:  Some additional points and pointers relating to Purim: 


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 Chag--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.  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!


5.  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.  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!


Special Note One:  We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.



Q:  I would like to know what the brocha is for Crisp Rice cereals.


A:  The main process for making Crisp Rice cereals is as follows: the rice kernels are cooked with sugar and flavorings. The rice kernels are then dried and slightly squashed.  They are then placed in an extremely hot oven for puffing, after which they are toasted.  In another process the rice is ground and made into a batter, then extruded into small pellets which are puffed and toasted. Cooked rice products are mezonos, and rice made into flour or ground and made into a batter and baked or toasted are mezonos. The brocha achrona is borei nefashos. (Halochos of Brochos, page 526).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos:  As noted yesterday, we usually have (at least) 100 bracha opportunities a day to advance our ruchniyus.  In this regard, let us for a moment consider the following:  How can a billionaire not be bored with money--how does he maintain his excitement?  We suggest that he is constantly thinking of new ways in which he can make more money, or more ways to spend it.  We should take a lesson from his continuously fond relationship--which is renewed daily with new ideas and new plans.  Every time we make a bracha, let us attempt to focus on a particular word or phrase--just to understand or perceive it a little bit better.  As we say the word Shehakol, or Minei Mezonos, or Chasadim Tovim, or Adon HaNiflaos--or whatever the bracha may be--make sure that you especially focus just for a moment on something in the bracha--using your insight to keep the bracha as your personal treasure which you never recite by rote--and instead in which you personally regale and marvel!



Special Note Two:  We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”.  Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives. 


A Word on Words

Lesson #8


In this week’s Parsha, we find that Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is not mentioned, and we understand that this occurred because--in his defense of B’nai Yisroel--Moshe Rabbeinu said to Hashem: “V’Im Ayim Mechaini Na… (Shemos 32:32) that in the event Hashem would not bear the iniquity of Klal Yisroel for the sin of the egel, then he should be erased from the Torah.  Because he said these words--even in our defense--his name was “erased” from this week’s Parsha.  We may suggest that although we may not be able to compare ourselves to Moshe’s Rabbeinu sublime and supernal madreigos and the chut hasa’arah to which he was held, there are certain words which we can also avoid in our own level and in our own way.  A few examples:  “My tooth is killing me. ”, “I am dead now.” or “I am finished.”, “I would give my right arm for that.”, “I am going to cheat a little bit on my diet.”…you can add a few others.  Let us keep our words precious--for they really are!



Special Note Three:  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.  We print them as Zechus for a Refuah Sheleima for him, R’ Yosef Shalom Ben Chaya Musha.


  1. A father should give money to his young children in order for them to give Matanos L’Evyonim on Purim, as follows:  Children 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 Four:  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 Five:  At a Hakhel Shiur relating to 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 Six:  We present below many Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, relating to Purim from the new and expanded version of Kovetz Halachos for Purim, by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita. 




A.  Mishloach Manos consists of two different species (as described yesterday), and should be of a Shiur which one usually honors a guest with in his home.  The food or drinks supplied should be a davar chashuv.  Even if one or a few chips or candies, would not be a davar chashuv, if one gives an entire bag or box, the individual items collectively given would be considered a davar chashuv.  The items being sent should be based upon the recipient--so one who is sending to a minor could give cake and candies, as these would be chashuv in his eyes.  Water or seltzer would not be considered chashuv, but other drinks could be.  Spices and condiments are not considered valid manos--for they are not eaten by themselves, but only used to aid other foods.  Thus, ketchup would not be a valid item for Mishloach Manos.  One can send a food item to his friend who may not be able to eat it because he is allergic, as other members of his family could eat it in his stead.  The items sent must be ready-to-eat, and therefore could not consist of raw fish or meat, a coffee jar, or tea bags, all of which require further preparation.  Both portions of the Mishloach Manos must be delivered at the same time, and cannot be delivered one after the other. 


B.  If one delivers Mishloach Manos to another who is not home and leaves it by the door and does not tell him--and the recipient returns home after Purim--he is not Yotzei the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manos with that person. 


C.  If one gives Mishloach Manos to a mumar who is Mechalel Shabbos, he has nevertheless fulfilled the Mitzvah.  If a person sends Mishloach Manos to a minor--even though the giver is an adult--he has nevertheless fulfilled the Mitzvah.


D.  If one buys a new metal or glass utensil to put the Mishloach Manos into, then before giving it to his friend he should be tovel the utensil with a bracha.  Hakhel Note:  Rabbi Kleinman in his notes brings that this is a Machlokes HaPoskim, as other Poskim hold that if a person purchases a utensil in order to give it to his friend as a present, it is considered as if the giver ‘is doing business’ with the utensil, and it does not require tevilah.  Indeed, according to the Taz, the giver cannot tovel the item--the tevilah does not help--and the bracha is a bracha levatalah, for it is the recipient as the end-user who must tovel the item.  HaRav Kamenetsky, however, holds that when one buys an object with the intent of giving it to his friend, it is considered as if he is buying it for himself and it is his--it is just that he intends in the future to give it to his friend. 


E.  Once a child has reached a basic level of understanding, then a boy should not be dressed in a costume as a girl, nor a girl as a boy.


F.  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 [such as at Yeshivas Mordechai HaTzaddik!].


G.  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 Seven:  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 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 One: Today is 7 Adar--and as we know 7 Adar is the Yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu.  We note a great lesson that our Chazal provide from 7 Adar: Chazal teach that Haman was elated when the lottery of the month in which he would annihilate the Jews fell upon the month of Adar--for this is the month of Moshe’ Rabbeinu’s Yahrzeit--which undoubtedly was a great calamity for K’lal Yisroel.  He concluded, therefore, that c’v the month was opportune for further Jewish catastrophe.  He was very much mistaken, Chazal continue, because he did not know that Moshe Rabbeinu was also born on 7 Adar, as Hashem completes the years of Tzaddikim to the day.  The month of Adar was then an incredibly successful one for K’lal Yisroel--for where would any of us be for all of eternity--without Moshe Rabbeinu coming into this world?!  He may have temporarily expired from Olam Hazeh, but he is still working hard for us in the upper world; he will be back soon in the Techias Hameisim of Tzaddikim (which some say will occur first before the general Techias Hameisim); and he left the legacy of ‘Toras Moshe Avdi’--for us all to live by generation after generation!  In reality, the month of Adar is a time of joy--a time very much befitting for the salvation of the Jewish people.  Most certainly, then, we unlike Haman, should recognize the inherent might and greatness of this month--and especially endeavor to fulfill the Mishna’s teaching: ‘MiShe’Nichnas Adar Marbin BeSimcha’ in whatever way that we can.  May we suggest that one begin by absolutely banishing sad, troublesome or disheartening thoughts that may enter his mind (Yetzer Hora, hard at work) and replace those thoughts with positive and appreciative realizations of the elevated and unique position any one reading this has in relation to the many, many billions of humans and other creatures on this planet?  Our elevated Simcha period will soon lead into the incomparably potent Geulah Period of Purim and Pesach--and hopefully along with it into the Final and Everlasting Geulah--so bring the Simcha in--and be sure let it out and share it with all around you as well!



Special Note Two: We continue our series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim). Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.




Q: Last week, we were about to wash for bread, and I made a shehakol and noshed a slice of salami while waiting for my turn to wash.  Someone said that was wrong.  Is that the halacha?  If so, why?


A:  According to many Poskim if the table is set and one is about to wash for bread he should not make a brocha for any food that will shortly be covered by the bircas hamotzi.  Doing so is called gorem brocha sheaina tzricha, causing a brocha to be made which could have been avoided (the salami would have been covered by the hamotzi.) (Mogen Avrohom 211.9, Mishna Berura 176.2 and Halachos of Brochos page 215).


Hakhel Additional Note on Brachos: When one recites a bracha, he is not only reciting a bracha--he is also performing, at the very least, a Mitzvah D’Rabbanan. Thus, assuming that one is not making a bracha MiD’Oraysa (such as bentsching or perhaps Birchas HaTorah)--if he makes 100 brachos a day, he is also fulfilling 100 Mitzvos D’Rabbanan!



Special Note Three: We continue with our series, “A Word on Words”. Since our communication with others forms such an important part of our lives, it is essential that we continuously enhance our words--so that we continuously enhance our lives.


A Word on Words

Lesson #7


When Yosef saw the distraught ministers of Paroh in prison, he asked: “Mad’ua P’neichem Ra’im HaYom--why do you appear downcast today (Bereishis 40:7)?” Yosef cared for everybody--even these Resh’aim. We all know what happened--as a result of Yosef trying to build their world--his world became built in an even greater way. With this thought, Rabbi Zev Smith, Shlita (at the masterful Hakhel Shiur that we have referenced several times in the past), explained that there should be no one in Shul left as ‘the quiet one who stands in the back.’ We must always recognize that whenever we try to encourage someone else--whether or not we succeed--we are fulfilling what we would want done to us if we were in that position. If one would be told:  “Here is $100,000 cash--do with it what you would like”, one would be hard pressed to respond: “I am very busy with other matters, and Hashem will forgive me because I am an ones--I simply have ‘no time’ to deal with all of this cash”.  So, too, we must understand that the situations which come our way or of which we have been made aware, have come before us in ORDER TO ACT--in a manner in which our Father in Heaven would be proud!





QUESTION: What does “HaPartemim” mean in the third Pasuk of the Megillah?

ANSWER: Rashi says it means ‘Shiltonim’, rulers, or noblemen.


QUESTION: Which of the 15 Simanim of the Leil HaSeder is mentioned in the first Perek in of the Megillah?

ANSWER: ‘Karpas’ (Megillas Esther 1:6)


QUESTION: Chazal (Megillah 9A) teach that there are two words of Targum (Aramaic) in the same Pasuk in the Megillah--which Pasuk is it, and what are the words?

ANSWER: The Pasuk is Megillas Esther 1:20. The words are ‘Pisgam (ruling or decree) HaMelech’ and ‘Yekar (honor or respect) Leva’aleihen’


QUESTION: When the letters were sent by Haman to r’l destroy the Jewish people, the Pasuk ( 3:14 ) reports ‘PasShegen HaKesav’, what does ‘PasShegen’ mean?

ANSWER: Rashi there explains that it refers to the Sippur-- the text of what was contained in the document.


QUESTION: How many times is Charvona mentioned in the Megillah?

ANSWER: Charvona is mentioned twice in the Megillah--once at the outset of the Megillah ( 1:10 ) (with an aleph as the last letter of his name), and once in the more popular place (7:9)--when he told Achashveirosh about Haman’s tree.  We may suggest that this symbolizes for us how the entire Megillah is one story throughout--and how evil can be turned to good!



Special Note Five: We present below many Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, relating to Purim from the new and expanded version of Kovetz Halachos for Purim, by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita, which is now available in Seforim stores.




A.  Women who are pregnant or have recently given birth do not have to fast on Ta’anis Esther. If a person does not feel well, and it is determined that he does not have to fast either, then he does not have to eat in measured quantities, and he can already eat in the morning--without having to wait until he feels weak before breaking his fast. In fact, all those who are exempt from fasting can eat as much as they usually do, but they should not eat special foods that make them happy.


B.  There is no prohibition on Ta’anis Esther against taking a hot shower, taking a haircut, or playing on musical instruments.


C.  The coins that are given for Machatzis HaShekel do not necessarily have to be made of silver and any ‘half’ currency can be used. The money used for Machatzis HaShekel can be given to any Tzedaka that one would like. If one has not given Machatzis HaShekel on Ta’anis Esther, he may do so until Rosh Chodesh Nissan.


D. Before touching a Megillah, one should wash his hands.


E. It is permissible on Purim to do Melacha which does not involve physical exertion or mental iyun, for physical exertion and mental iyun causes a person to forget about the Simcha of the day. Accordingly, it is permissible to wash clothing in the washing machine, to take a haircut, and to cut one’s nails on Purim.


F. If a person was unable to hear the Megillah at night, he cannot make it up by hearing the Megillah two times during the day.


G. If one is unsure whether he missed a word of the Megillah--whether at night or during the day, he must hear the Megillah read again, for the chiyuv of Megillah is MiDivrei Kabbalah, and so we do not apply the rule of Safeik DeRabbanan LeKulah.


H. If one person did not hear the Megillah, and nine people who have already heard the Megillah agree to join him--it is considered as if the Megillah was read BeTzibbur--which of course has the ma’alah of Pirsumei Nissah.


I. After the Megillah is read both by night and by day, one must recite the words Arur Haman Baruch Mordechai…Arurim Kol HaReshaim, Beruchim Kol HaTzaddikim. Accordingly, the Piyut of Shoshanas Yaakov should be recited both by night and by day.


J. One does not fulfill his Seudas Purim with a Seudah that he eats on Leil Purim. Nevertheless, at night, one should have candles burning, the table set, and eat a meal with bread--although he does not need to eat meat. One should also drink a little wine, but there is no Mitzvah at all at night to drink beyond that.


K. With respect to Matanos L’Evyonim, the Shulchan Aruch rules that we don’t look into who is asking. This refers to a person collecting for himself--and not to institutions. One fulfills a Matanos L’Evyonim if he Tzedaka to a Katan and if he gives Tzedaka anonymously. In a footnote, Rabbi Kleinman brings from the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah that one who gives freely on Purim makes ‘Tikunim Gedolim BeOlamos HaElyohim HaKedoshim’.


L. Each time one gives Mishloach Manos, he fulfills the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manos. The two items of Mishloach Manos must be of two different species--so that one would not fulfill the Mitzvah by giving the top and the bottom of a piece of chicken, a red and green apple, or white wine and red wine--even though they may have different tastes. A salad, even it contains several different vegetables, is considered one portion.


BE’H to be continued tomorrow.


Other email archives