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29 Adar II

HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A. The Mishna Berurah (Orach Chayim 436, seif katan 32) provides the following ruling to us for these days before Pesach:  “Kol Shloshim Yom Tzorich LeAyein Bechol Davar She’oseh She’lo Yishar Bo Chometz Be’ofen She’lo Yuchal Lehasiro BeKal--during the thirty days before Pesach one must be sure in everything that he does not to leave Chometz over in a way which in which it will be difficult to remove or dispose of”--the Housewife’s Vigilance is rooted deeply and firmly in the words of the Mishna Berurah!


B. What is gebrukt--L’Halacha? The following is culled from the excellent and need-to-have Sefer Halachos of Pesach (Feldheim), by Rabbi Shimon D. Eider, Z’tl:


1. Where matzah in any form (e.g. matzah meal, cake meal) came in contact with water [or other liquids], some communities have a minhag not to eat it on the first seven days of Pesach. Yet, we know that once matzah was baked, it cannot become chometz again. What then is the reason for this minhag? The Knesses HaGedolah explains that it was made as a gezeirah, that one should not, in error, come to use flour instead of matzah meal during Pesach. Another reason mentioned is that there is a possibility that some of the matzah flour was not kneaded well and when it will get wet it will become Chometz. Since the last day of Pesach is MiD’Rabanan, many of those who accepted this minhag did not accept it for the last day of Pesach because of Simchas Yom Tov.


2. Can one change his minhag? Since gebrukt is not considered in halacha as chometz and this minhag was not accepted by most communities, there are Poskim who hold that in case of necessity one may change his minhag. However, a Rav should be consulted as to whether Hataras Nedarim is required. A woman, upon marriage, assumes the minhag of her husband (see Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim I: 158 and III :64).


C. Hakhel Alert: As the saying goes, a fool learns from his own mistakes--a wise person learns from the mistakes of others! When one notices two or three Hashgachos on a product--one should look to make sure that the Hashgacha that he is relying upon is actually certifying it for Pesach near its insignia.  Unless the ‘Kosher L’Pesach’ insignia is next to the Hashgacha’s name--it does not mean that the Hashgacha is certifying the product as Kosher L’Pesach. An extra moment of purchasing caution--can save hours of kashering issues  (or at least moments of consternation or concern) later!  As Chazal teach Aizehu Chacham HaRo’eh Es HaNolad--the wise person looks into his actions and understands their ramifications.  We will be reading about the Chacham on the Leil HaSeder--let’s start practicing now!




Special Note One: The new cycle of Praying With Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Artscroll) begins tomorrow. The Torah teaches that our redemption from Mitzraim began with our outcries (Shemos 2:23-24).  We can demonstrate our recognition of the power of Tefillah, and how important improving our Tefilla really is, by beginning the incredibly successful 5-minute a day program in this powerful Sefer. For those who have studied the Sefer one or more times--Chazara always produces results! Hakhel Note: Incredibly, the new cycle of Sefer Yearning with Fire (by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, Artscroll as well), which relates to how we can bring the Geulah Sheleima, also begins tomorrow. Can there be anything more timely?



Special Note Two: As we are now planted in between the Parshios of Tazria and Metzora, it is important to demonstrate our serious intent and desire to live Lashon Hara-free lives. As a first step, each person can  inculcate the following Ten Rules of Shemiras HaLashon, as distributed by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation:


“Lashon Hara means the making of a derogatory or damaging remark about someone. The Torah forbids one to denigrate the behavior or character of a person or to make any remark that might cause physical, psychological or financial harm.


These are ten basic rules to remember:


1. It is Lashon Hara to convey a derogatory image of someone even if that image is true and deserved. (False derogatory statements are called motzi shem ra, slander.)


2. A statement which is not actually derogatory but can ultimately cause someone physical, financial, or emotional harm is also Lashon Hara.


3. It is Lashon Hara to humorously recount an incident that contains embarrassing or damaging information about a person even if there is not the slightest intent that they should suffer any harm or humiliation.


4. Lashon Hara is forbidden even when you incriminate yourself as well.


5. Lashon Hara cannot be communicated in any way, shape, or form (i.e., through writing, body language, verbal hints. etc.).


6. To speak against a community as a whole is a particularly severe offense. Harmful remarks about children are also Lashon Hara.


7. Lashon Hara cannot be related even to close relatives--including one’s spouse.


8. Even if the listener has previously heard the derogatory account or the information has become public knowledge and the subject will suffer no further harm by its repetition, it nevertheless should not be repeated.


9. R’chilus, which is telling one person a derogatory statement that another person said about them, is forbidden because it causes animosity between people.


10. It is forbidden to listen to Lashon Hara or r’chilus. If someone inadvertently hears Lashon Hara, it is forbidden to believe that it is true. One should give the person the benefit of the doubt--assume the information is inaccurate or that the person does not realize he is doing something wrong.


NOTE: There are times when Lashon Hara is permitted or even required. i.e.,  when warning a person about potential harm, for example, a potential business or marriage partner. On the other hand, secondhand information and baseless impressions have momentous implications. The questions of when you are allowed or even required to speak Lashon Hara are complicated. A Rabbinic authority with expertise in the field of Shemiras Halashon should be consulted in any of these cases.”


Hakhel Note: May we suggest doing something--making an advanced contribution--in the fight against Lashon Hara.  How about  memorizing the Seven Prerequisites that must be fulfilled in order to be able to speak (what may otherwise be considered Lashon Hara) for a constructive purpose?  How about putting to memory some of the Asehs or Lo Sa’asehs that a person could violate if he speaks Lashon Hora?  How about challenging oneself to a Lashon Hora free day--or to making sure that you compliment at least three people a day.  Let us LIVE the Parshios--Day after Day after Day!



Special Note Three: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





Other than as previously discussed (Part XXVIII), are there any “special” changes in Kesav Arizal from Kesav Beis Yosef?





Indeed there are two general changes: one is limited to tefillin, while the second applies to Sifrei Torah and mezuzos as well.


When writing tefillin parashiyos, there is a mesorah that has been passed down through the ages regarding the number of lines on which the Shel Rosh and Shel Yad should be written, as well as which words should begin each line.


Seven lines are written in the Shel Yad, while four lines are written in the Shel Rosh and specific words are listed to begin each line. The Arizal provides an alternate set of words with which to begin each line. Indeed, many sofrim, when writing Kesav Arizal, arrange the lines in accordance with his opinion.


The other change which the Arizal instituted in all STA”M items involves the writing of the Shem HaShem. When writing a Shem HaShem, standard STA”M requires that the sofer have specific (and, ideally, verbal) intent for the holiness of the Shem. The Arizal, however, introduced an entirely new approach to writing the Shem HaShem with regard to the kavanos (intentions and awareness) one should have when writing. He also insisted that the Shem be written according to a configuration of the letters described in the Zohar.


In spite of the fact that most sofrim nowadays are not on the spiritual level to understand the kavanos, the custom when writing Kesav Arizal remains to configure the letters of the Shem as specified by the Zohar in accordance with the Arizal’s opinion.


It should be noted as well that when writing Kesav Arizal, it is also customary to include Shimusha Rabbah tagin. (This will be addressed in a future discussion BE”H.)




26 Adar II

FROM A READER: “When Yaakov first meets Rachel, he is at a well with some shepherds, waiting for enough to come by to move the stone that protects the well. As she approaches, he asks the shepherds if all is well with his cousin Lavan, and they answer, “All peaceful, Vehinei Racheil Bito Ba’ah Im Hatzon — and here is Racheil his daughter, coming with the flock” (Bereishis 29:6).  A few pesukim later, “When he is still speaking to them, VeRachel Ba’ah Im Hatzon — and Rachel came with the flock that belongs to her father” (Ibid v 9). Notice that one time “ba’ah” is used to mean that Rachel was on her way, the other that she had arrived already. Rashi clarifies with a grammatical point; it makes a difference which syllable gets the trop mark and stress. The first usage was “ba’AH”, with the stress on the second syllable, meaning “she is coming”. The second, “BA’ah” — “she came”.


Everyone assumes that the line said at the end of Yom Kippur and the Pesach Seder is “Leshanah haBA’ah biYrushalayim — the coming year in Jerusalem ”. But the Satmar Rav, HaRav Yoel Teitelbaum, Z’tl, said this is a mistake.


We voice this desire at the close of Yom Kippur, shortly after the year began on Rosh HaShanah, and on Pesach, shortly after the beginning of the year of months, the beginning of Nissan. We say it when a year just arrived. The line should not be said with the stress as “ba’AH” but rather say “BA’ah” — We are speaking of the year that just came!


Leshanah haBA’ah biYrushalayim habenuyah!



YOUR TEFILLAH IS NOT TOO SMALL! The Mesilas Yeshorim (end of Chapter 19) writes that one should never say about himself “Who am I that my Tefillos should be answered to bring an end to this Galus?” Instead, one should daven for the Geulah with Kavannah, for it may be your very Tefillah that brings the Geulah! Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, Z’tl, in Shearim B’Tefilah (p. 94) in fact writes that Tefillah does not change nature or create miracles. Tefillah is simply the natural manner of modifying nature, built into creation in the same manner as grass, trees, fish and animals. Hakhel Note: The students of Daf Yomi may have noted that in the recent dafim, we have learned about the coming of Moshiach…. Some may view it as ‘coincidence’--others as Inyanei D’Yoma!



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach!  Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


Almost everyone purchases some kind of new utensil before Pesach. Accordingly, in order to give you plenty of time, we once again provide the Hakhel Tevilas Keilim Guidelines (reviewed By HaRav Yisroel Belsky Shlita).   Please note that Tevilas Keilim is an obligation (chiyuv), and if not done properly, a k’li may not be used until toveled correctly.


General Tevila Reminders:


A. All chatzitzos (i.e., dirt, glue and stickers or other items or markings not part of the k’li which neither the owner nor most people would use with this item on the k’li) must be removed prior to submersion.


B. The entire k’li (even if oversized) must be fully submerged all at once (not one-half first, then the other half immediately thereafter).


C. Do not hold the k’li tightly, so that the mikva water can reach everywhere. You can tovel the k’li by moving your hand to another part of the k’li while holding it below the water level; or you can dip your hand in the mikva first, and then take hold of the k’li and submerge it in the mikva.


D. All keilim should be submerged right side up or on a slant, but not upside down, so that no air is trapped in the utensil.


E. Submersion must be supervised only by an individual over bar/bas mitzvah. A child may be tovel keilim if an adult sees him do it.


F. Using baskets:


1. Items should be placed in the basket side by side and not on top of each other.


2. The basket may be submerged in water, and then you may drop utensils into the basket, so that each utensil is surrounded by water as it falls in.


G. The Bracha:


1. Brachos are made for metal and glass utensils only.


2. “Al Tevilas Keli” for one item, “Al Tevilas Keilim” for more than one item.


3. Hold the k’li in your hand (or basket) and be ready to tovel immediately after making the brocha.


4. When toveling storage utensils or utensils which come into contact with the food while it is not yet edible, no bracha is made.


Hakhel Note: Tevilas Keilim is such a basic, beautiful and simple Mitzvah to perform--let us take a moment out to make sure that we, and those around us, are performing it properly!  Please distribute further--and if you can, post these guidelines near your Keilim Mikveh!



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


A. As this Shabbos is Parashas Hachodesh, we were alerted to Chazal (Shabbos 147B) who teach that because he spent some time away from his regular Torah studies, Rebbi Elazar Ben Arach, the great student of Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai, was unable to read “HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem” (the beginning of Parashas HaChodesh) properly--and instead read it as “Hachreish Hayah Libam” (their heart was deafened). The lesson to us is clear: For the next two and half weeks, our Torah study will be placed at a great test--we will be tempted on many occasions to forgo or curtail our regular Keviyus Ittim LaTorah, our regular Torah accomplishments, our regular chavrusos. Chazal are teaching us that we must remember that it is HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem--a very special month coming up--but marked by a dedicated commitment and resilience to Torah study in the face of difficulties and challenges. We have to prove that for us--we want to make it HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem! If one needs guidance, he should speak to his Rav or Posek!


B. The following is excerpted from the new Zemiros Shabbos, by HaRav Tzvi Yavrov, Shlita, which provides insights of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, into various aspects of Shabbos:


1. L’Halacha, one may recite Hashem’s name when singing Zemiros on Shabbos, as when one thanks Hashem it is not considered to be using Hashem’s name in vain (see Sefer Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim 137:5 d’h kasav). The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, however, did not do so.


2. The reason that the songs we sing on Shabbos are not called Shiros or Sishbachos, but Zemiros is because Dovid HaMelech (actually, originally, Adam HaRishon) exclaimed: “Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbos”!


3. Hashem completed the world on Shabbos and thus ruled over it. It is for this reason that the Zohar refers to Seudas Shabbos as Seudasah D’Malka (Zohar, Bamidbar 179). Accordingly, we find the concept of Malchiyos in our Shabbos Tefillos--the many references to Malchus in Kabbalas Shabbos, Yismechu V’Malchusecha, Vesimloch Aleinu (in Kedusha), and the Pesukim of Malchiyos recited before taking out the Torah. Hakhel Note: Additionally, the Mishna Berurah writes that one should stand in Pesukei D’Zimra when reciting “Hashem Melech, Hashem Malach, Hashem Yimloch L’Olam Va’ed!”


4. The basis for the custom of parents blessing their children on Shabbos is that Shabbos itself is a Siman Bracha (see S’T Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim 23 and Siddur Ya’avetz).


5. Shabbos is referred to as a chok (‘Sham Sam Lo Chok U’Mishpat’) even though the Torah explains the reason for its observance--Hashem’s completion of the world. Nevertheless, it is a chok because it is so chamur, that its violation is compared to worshipping idols. Moreover, we must be careful of any thoughts which could dampen the Shabbos spirit.


6. The bracha of Kiddush is not a Birchas HaMitzvah, but is a Bracha of Shevach. It is for this reason that we do not say B’Mitzvosav V’Tzivanu, but B’Mitzvosav V’Ratzah Vanu.


7. On Shabbos, many recite Tehillim 23--Mizmor L’Dovid Hashem Ro’ee Lo Echsar. The reason that this is a custom is because although akum lack the ‘taste’ of Shabbos and its foods--as is evidenced by the ma’aseh with Rebbi Yehudah HaNassi and Antoninus--we lack nothing!


8. In bentsching we recite Retzei V’Hachalitzeinu. The simple meaning of V’Hachalitzeinu is strengthen us--we ask Hashem to give us the ability to properly observe and perform all of the Mitzvos of Shabbos.


9. Also in Retzei, we ask Hashem to show us Nechemas Tzion Irecha. The Sefer Avudraham writes that Nechemas Tzion will occur on Shabbos. HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, adds that according to the Yerushalmi if K’lal Yisrael observed only one Shabbos we would be immediately redeemed--and this really means immediately--on Motza’ei Shabbos!


10. HaRav Kanievsky, Shlita, also teaches that we conclude Retzei with a Tefillah for Geulah and the acknowledgement that Hashem can remove all of our anguish and bring us Yeshuos--for Hashem’s powers extend beyond the Shabbos and into the coming week--and the entire future ahead!



Special Note Two: We provide the following lessons from the powerful Parasha of Tazria:


A.  We learn of the terrible affliction of Tzora’as. Chazal (Arachin 15B) teach that if one speaks Lashon Hara, he will be punished with this dreaded ailment. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was asked whether the Lo Sa’aseh of Hishamer B’negah Tzara’as, still applies to Lashon Hara in our times--after all, no Kohen will pronounce any person tamei. HaRav Kanievsky answered that this negative prohibition does not require a declaration of tumah for the prohibition to exist. Tza’aras could exist, but for the fact that we lack the qualified Kohen to pronounce it. It is for this reason that the Chofetz Chaim counts Hishamer B’negah Tza’aras as a prohibition applicable to Lashon Hara--even in our day.


B. In a different vein, the Sefer Me’am Loez asks why it is that in our times we see people speak Lashon Hara--and yet they appear whole and healthy? He provides the following shocking response: “You should know that the Tzora’as referred to in the Torah could either afflict a person’s body or soul, and if it does not afflict his body, it will afflict his soul. Indeed, the Tzora’as of the soul is worse than the Tzora’as of the body, as the Zohar writes that in the Heavens there is a special place called ‘Negah Tzara’as’, where the Neshamos who spoke Lashon Hara are punished.”


C.  HaRav Refeol Shain, Shlita, provides the following insight: Why is it that a metzora becomes tamei only upon the pronouncement of a Kohen who views the blemish —after all, it may have been days or weeks for which a person was afflicted with the blemish prior to the Kohen seeing it—and for this entire period he is Tahor and can be with his family and not be considered ‘defiled or ‘defiling’ just because a Kohen didn’t utter the word ‘tamei.’ Rabbi Shain explains that a key cause of Tzora’as is Lashon Hara. With the pronouncement of the word “tamei’, the person is made to understand the power of just one word. Before the utterance of that word, his entire world was different one—a happy one, with friends and family, joined together with his community and able to reach the highest heights. Now, as a metzora, he is ostracized and alone, ashamed and secluded. That one word of the Kohen was in response to perhaps that ‘just one word’ he had uttered against his friend or neighbor, adult or child. Until his utterance of that one negative word, the world was different for someone else—and with the word uttered, his reputation has been tarnished, a shidduch ruined, a business deal suspended, or a friendship ended. We can create and destroy existential worlds—depending on that one word that we use. So, will it be “Uhh!” or “Ahh!” The bechira chofshis—that choice—is yours!


D.  HaRav Nachman M’Breslov is said to have taught: Children learn how to speak, while the elderly learn how to remain silent. Who should we better learn from--the children or the elderly?!  Chazal teach:  “Yofeh Shesika Lechachomim Kal Vechomer Letipshim--silence is beautiful for the wise all the more so for the unwise. As we take lessons from the Parasha of Tazria this week, we should do so with an uplifted sense of our power of speech--oh how it is important to use in many situations--and how important it is to refrain from using in many situations.  This is the perfect time to practice circumspection and judiciousness in our speech, particularly with regards to people with whom one has fallen prey to forbidden speech in the past.


Moreover, there are certain terms and phrases which may not constitute Ona’as Devarim against others, but could be hurtful to the individual himself, simply by virtue of uttering the very words. It is well known (as we have previously published) that HaRav Pam, Z’tl, objected to use of ‘whatchamacallit’, because it indicated that a person was not thinking before he spoke. There are other terms as well which simply do not take into account the Kedushas HaPeh that we all possess. Here are just a very few. Please feel free to add on to the list (and send to us, if you would like):


·         “I have done this a thousand trillion times.”--Although exaggeration may be permitted in general, the notion of a gross untruth could have a significantly negative impact on the person as a whole--especially if it becomes a habit.


·         In order to express frustration or difficulty, uttering a word which has the first syllable which is identical to that of a curse word.


·         “I know someone who is filthy rich”--what, after all, does ‘filthy rich’ mean--is one also ‘filthy poor’?  Isn’t it up to Hashem whether one is wealthy or poor--for whatever reason (whether it be a reward, test, etc.)--how could anyone refer to that r’l as filthy?


·         “I don’t care”--Even when not uttered to hurt another person, it can have an impact on a person’s attitude, goals or approach.


HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, (brought in the Sefer Sha’ari Orah) teaches that one should practice silence for a few minutes every day--the result is getting a better handle on one’s speech, and improving Yiras Shomayim-- through one’s awareness that one’s words are listened to--and do really mean something and count.


E.  TAKING THE TIME FOR THE EXTRA SHEMIRA:  A CONCLUDING THOUGHT.  After having STUDIED THE LESSONS of the Parasha of Tazria, we realize that Shemiras Halashon must play an essential part in our lives, and that we must always endeavor and strive for improvement in this area. For all those who study the daily two Halachos, or any other daily Shemiras Halashon Sefer--may we once again suggest reading the daily study aloud even to yourself (it can be softly!) and/or perhaps re-reading the lesson a second time--so that you demonstrate affirmatively that you want to use your mouth for the right reasons and in the right way!  We welcome any suggestions you may have as to how to strengthen others in Shemiras HaLashon. We also remind our readers about the outstanding resource known as the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s  Shemiras Halashon Shaila Hotline--718-951-3696 (M-Th nights and Motzei Shabbos 9-10:30 pm EST, and for emergencies)--where you can ask expert Poskim your Shemiras Halashon Shailos in the situation (business, shidduchim, friends) that you find yourself in.  What an opportunity to make sure that you do the right thing for all concerned!



25 Adar II

HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  The Mishna Berurah writes that it is a good practice to burn one’s Chometz together with the Hoshanos from Sukkos--since one Mitzvah was done with it, a second Mitzvah of Tashbisu should be performed with it as well. The Rema brings a different Minhag--to bake Matzos with the Hoshanos (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 445, Mishna Berurah seif katan 7, Dirshu Note 10).


B.  Can one take any leftover Chometz that he has and throw it into his trash can on the side of his house? HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:57) rules that even though one would not violate Ba’al Yeira’eh with Chometz disposed of in a trash can, nevertheless, one should destroy any Chometz by the time the z’man of biur arrives. Many Poskim, including the Minchas Yitzchak and Shevet HaLevi agree. The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, held that one should sell the Chometz in his trash cans, and reports that it was the Minhag of the Chazon Ish to burn the Chometz that was found in trash cans, and to wash the cans out with water. The Steipeler himself would pour kerosene into the cans in order to ensure that there was no leftover edible Chometz within them. HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, on the other hand, rules that when one throws trash into a trash can, it is no longer usable, and is the same as giving it to an akum, with no further action being required (ibid., Dirshu Note 22).


C. If c’v, one found Chometz in his home on Pesach--what should he do--after all, has he not sold it to an akum, and accordingly, it is no longer his to destroy? HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Z’tl, rules that, in fact, one should not burn it, but put it away together with other Chometz that he has sold. The Shevet HaLevi, rules that lechatechila one should make a fence around it--but if one cannot do so, then he can place it in the location of items that he sold to an akum. The Shevet HaLevi adds that it may very well be that it is permissible to burn this Chometz, for the akum would understand, is mochel, and not consider this to be problematic in terms of the sale (ibid., 446, Dirshu Note 2)




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


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


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


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



Special Note Two: We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




We have been discussing the ideal klaf to use for various Sta”m items.





The parashiyos of the tefillin shel yad consist of the same four parashiyos as the tefillin shel rosh. Unlike the shel rosh which is written on four separate pieces of klaf, the shel yad is written on one long piece of klaf. It is then rolled up from left to right, and placed into the bayis of the tefillin shel yad. Provided that the left side of the klaf is not especially hard or thick, this generally does not cause any problems. Therefore, one need not demand that the tefillin shel yad be written specifically on thin klaf.




Mezuzos are also rolled from left to right. However, unlike tefillin shel yad, it is extremely common to find cracked letters on the left side of a mezuzah.


It should also be noted that mezuzos often experience significant wear and tear when being inserted and removed from their cases. If the klaf is thick, it can dent and cause letters to crack, as opposed to soft klaf, which is flexible.


It is, therefore, very advisable to purchase mezuzos that have been written on thin, soft klaf. This does not mean that the klaf must be paper-thin, just not so thick or hard that seams and cracks develop.


It bears mentioning that when removing the mezuzos from their cases for checking, and subsequently reinserting them, supreme caution should be exercised to avoid ruining a perfectly good mezuza.




24 Adar II

BRINGING THE LESSON HOME!  Yesterday, we learned how Purim takes Tzedaka and elevates it to Matanos L’Evyonim. Pesach, then, takes this lesson a step further by showing that the money that we share with our brothers is Ma’os Chittim--money shared by brothers among each other. Ma’os Chittim is of EXTREME IMPORTANCE NOW .  The Rambam in Hilchos Rotzeiach (12:15) writes that Doniyale was punished with the Nisayon of being placed into the Gov Arayos, the Lion’s Den, because of the great advice that he gave to Nevuchadnetzar the Rasha. Based upon Doniyale’s advice and the punishment he received, the Rambam rules that it is forbidden to give good advice to one who is undeserving (see there).  What was the advice that Doniyale gave to Nevuchadnetzar that was so great that made Doniel so culpable?  The Rambam writes that he advised Nevuchadnetzar that he could save himself from the dire events of the dream Nevuchadnetzar  had seen by providing money to deserving people. 


If Doniyale’s advice to a Rasha to give money to help others in order to save himself from punishment was so potent that Doniyale was punished with the Nisayon of the Lion’s Den--imagine how much the ACTUAL GIVING to the Truly Needy for Pesach will shake the Heavens! May it really and truly stand as a Zechus For Your Families and all of K’lal Yisroel in these turmoil-filled times, and may it bring the final Geulah--when we will all be filled with Joy-- oh so much closer.




HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A. One fulfills the Mitzvas Asei of Tashbisu by appropriately removing Chometz from his possession. If one fulfills Tashbisu by burning his Chometz, he should burn the Chometz until it becomes thoroughly burned, like charcoal. The Rema writes that it is our Minhag to burn the Chometz, rather than dispose of it by throwing it into the water or flushing it away in the lavatory, and the Mishna Berurah explains that this is because there are some Poskim who rule in accordance with Rebbi Yehuda that the only way to dispose of Chometz is through burning (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 445:1; Mishna Berurah seif katan 1, 3 and 14).


B. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, rules that one should not pour kerosene or a similar flammable agent on the Chometz while burning it, because while doing so he renders the Chometz inedible to a dog, in which case there is no longer an obligation of biur. Accordingly, if one did so, he would not fulfill the Mitzvas Asei of Tashbisu. If one feels that he must quicken the process of burning the Chometz, then he should leave at least a kezayis to burn without the aid of kerosene. HaRav Nissim Karelitz feels that one can be lenient in this regard because the kerosene burns before the Chometz itself, and in any event HaRav Auerbach rules that if one does so, one need not rebuke him or perhaps one can view the entire act as one act of burning (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, Dirshu Note 8).


C. If one does dispose of it by throwing it into the water or into the wind in a public place, he should crumble it into small pieces, so that anyone who finds it cannot obtain any benefit from the Chometz (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 2).




Special Note One:  As last week the Parasha taught us about Kosher animals, birds and fish, we once again provide a brief summary on the kashrus of turkey, as excerpted from the Sefer Shaleiach Teshalach--A Practical Guide to the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKan, by Rabbi Naftali Weinberger, Shlita (Feldheim Publishers)--which notes that Israel today actually leads the world in turkey consumption(!): 


1. The Damesek Eliezer, the Knesses Hagedolah and the Shoel U’Maishiv all rule that the turkey has all of the signs of a Kosher bird-- a crop; a gizzard that is peelable by hand; an ‘extra toe’; and, even beyond these three core simanim,  the turkey is clearly not a ‘doress’--it does not have the characteristics of a predatory species. The Arugas Habosem writes that even the Rema, who requires a Mesorah for birds, would agree here that no Mesorah is necessary because of all of the turkey’s clear Simanim.


2. The Sefer Otzar Yisrael writes that while definitely today we would follow the Rema’s requirement of a Mesorah for birds --turkey is an exception because it was discovered approximately 50 years before the Rema was born, and did not lose its status once it had become accepted.


3. Other Poskim (See Bach and Magen Avrohom to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 79) hold that the Gemara (Yerushalmi Berachos 3:5) refers to a ‘red chicken’ which is really the turkey--which means it had its early sources in Eretz Yisroel... and somehow made its way to America!


4. A fourth possibility is that we rely on the Mesora of the Jews of India, who it is claimed had a Mesorah dating back to the times Moshe Rabbeinu that the bird was Kosher.  This is perhaps why we refer to the turkey as the ‘Tarnigol Hodu ‘--the Indian chicken, and in Yiddish as well it is referred to as the ‘Indik’--or the Indian bird.


5. The Netziv writes that when turkey was originally imported into Europe many questioned its Mesorah. Nevertheless, it became widely accepted, and this accepted status need not be Halachically removed unless there would be a compelling reason to do so--in short, turkey is treated L’Halacha as if it had a Mesorah! The Netziv actually suggests that if the turkey’s status had been called into question before it became so widely accepted as kosher, the poskim definitely would have declared it as non-kosher due to its lack of Mesorah.  Given the current situation, the Netziv favors maintaining the status quo.


Among the more contemporary Poskim, HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl discusses the permissibility of eating turkey on Thanksgiving, thus clearly holding that it is permissible to otherwise consume it.  Similarly, the Chazon Ish, Z’tl and the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl ate turkey (Orchos Rabbeinu III , p.72), and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita eats it as well.  HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Z’tl did not eat turkey because his Rebbitzen Itta Ettel came from Shavell , Lithuania , where the minhag of the whole town was not to eat turkey since it lacked a Mesorah. HaRav Yaakov accepted this upon himself, but did not require his family to do so. His son, HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, accepted his father’s practice and does not eat turkey--but his children and extended family do--for it was accepted only as a stringency, and not as a custom.


The above is of course only a short aspect of this important Sefer on the Halachos (and Hashkafos) of Shiluach Hakan,.  The Sefer is otherwise filled with unique and fascinating Halachos on how to properly perform the Mitzvah, contains the Shailos U’Teshuvos of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita on this Mitzvah--and a discussion of all of the segulos involved in its proper performance!



Special Note Two:  The following is based on a Shiur given by HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita, which we once again provide to enlighten and uplift our readers:


Rabbeinu Yonah in the Shaarei Teshuvah (2:5) writes that a Botei’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 Pasuk 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.


HaRav Salomon explains that the Botei’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 elevated 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 Yisrael, and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash 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 Yisrael 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 Mashiach’s times and forever thereafter.


HaRav 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 Botei’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.  We can perhaps do this best through constantly reminding ourselves of Hashem’s Hashgacha in our everyday lives--to the smallest detail--and our Bitachon can be especially reinforced by the dedicated way in which we recite our brachos--no matter how harried, time-pressured or distracted one may otherwise be!




23 Adar II

LET THE BUYER BEWARE! According to their customer service center, Dial soaps and body washes which are sold under the trade name “Dial Yogurt” may have both milk and meat sources in their ingredients.  Accordingly, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to the advisability of obtaining benefit from these products.



BRACHOS ALERT: According to the Star-K, the bracha to be recited on Puffins cereal (Barbara’s Bakery) is Shehakol and Borei Nefashos, notwithstanding any oat flour ingredients in it.



SHATNEZ NOTICE:  Hakhel received the following notice from the Vaad L’Mishmeres Shatnez:

Garments should be tested at qualified Shatnez laboratories only.  Professional Shatnez testing is vital in ensuring a garment is free of Shatnez.  Call the Vaad at 1-877-4-SHATNEZ for more information.



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! The following halachos are culled from the Sefer Halachos of Pesach (Feldheim), by Rabbi Shimon D. Eider, Z’tl. This Sefer is an outstanding resource in English for practical Halachos of Pesach. Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A.  We find throughout Hilchos Pesach the term Chumra D’Chometz. Since chometz is punishable with Kares, there are many Chumros accepted in dealing with chometz on Pesach which are not used in dealing with other prohibited foods (e.g. Chometz on Pesach is prohibited b’mashehu while other issurim are Batel B’Shishim). Because of Chumra D’Peasch, many minhagim were accepted, most of these have a basis in Halacha:


B.  Some communities did not eat dried fruit during Pesach.  The basis for this minhag is that flour was spread on the fruit during the drying process.  In addition, the ovens used for drying were also used for chometz. Where there is proper supervision, it is permissible.


C.  Some communities did not eat garlic during Pesach. Although the basis for this minhag is questionable (some say that the farmers would soak the garlic in beer), where there is proper supervision, most Poskim hold that even ground garlic is permissible.


D.  Some people use only unwashed eggs during Pesach. Their reason is that since the eggs were washed with the chicken feed (which may contain chometz) and with questionable detergents, chometz may have been absorbed by the eggs during the washing. Although most Poskim hold that it is permissible, the eggs should be rinsed before cooking.


E.  Because the Jewish people are a nation of Kedoshim and Chassadim and the Ari, Z’tl, said that one who is saved from violating even the most minute issur of chometz on Pesach is assured that the entire year he will not sin, individuals have accepted upon themselves additional Chumros for Pesach.


F.  Although some of these minhagim have no firm basis in halacha, one who conducts himself in this way and his intentions are purely L’Sheim Shomayim,the Sha’arei Teshuvah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 460) applies the Pasuk:  V’Ameich Kulam Tzaddikim (Yeshaya 16:21).



V’ASAF ISH TAHOR: In the Parasha of Parah Adumah that we leined last week, the Pasuk records V’Asaf Ish Tahor Es Efer HaParah--a pure man shall gather the ash of the red heifer (Bamidbar 19:9). The Ba’al HaTurim (ibid.) writes that in our day the Tefillah of Tzaddikim can act as our own personal Assaf Ish Tahor…. We must take the lesson--and ask Tzaddikim to daven on our personal behalves!



REALITY CHECK: HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, Z’tl, (Lev Eliyahu II: p.25) brings Chazal who teach that a tell-tale sign of the coming of Moshiach is ‘V’Hamalchus Teihafeich L’Minus--the kingdom turns to heresy”. One would think, continues HaRav Lopian, Z’tl, that this refers to the Russians, the Greeks or some other nation.  However, HaRav Lopian relates (from HaRav Yaakov Emden, Z’tl, in his commentary to Bava Metziah) that it also refers to the Malchus Yisrael that will exist B’Ikvasa D’Meshicha as well.  HaRav Lopian then almost prophetically immediately continues that in his time the Yeshivos are allowed to continue their full-time studies without being drafted into the army and for this he urges all to give thanks to Hashem and to acknowledge the fulfillment of ‘Ki Lo Sisashach MePi Zaro”.  Hakhel Note: Based upon the teaching of HaRav Lopian, we live in a time that is concomitantly extremely frightening and very much filled with the great hope that thousands of years of yearning will come to fruition in our times. One may think it strange that an event as great as the Geulah Sheleimah could happen in a generation under the intense influence of technology and burdened by the all-too-pervasive influence of the outside world. Yet, we have to face the reality--this very well may be it. It is not far-fetched to think that the Geulah that Purim this year is to be juxtaposed with is not the Geulah of Pesach--but with the Geulah Sheleimah before Pesach! We have to daven hard and daven well that the Geulah come speedily, and that it come B’Rachamim--with Hashem’s Mercy as the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah wrote with Ruach HaKodesh: V’Sechezenah Eineinu B’Shuvecha L’Tzion B’Rachamim--may our eyes see Your return to the Beis Hamikdash--with Mercy! Let us daven for this with all of our hearts.




Special Note One:  More food for thought: The following is excerpted from the always timely and relevant Sefer HaToda’ah by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, Z’tl, as translated and known as The Book of Our Heritage (Feldheim Publishers--available in pocket size as well!).  “The last Seven Days of Adar, from the Twenty-Third until Rosh Chodesh Nisan, are called the Yemei HaMiluim--the ‘days of dedication.’  It was then that Moshe Rabbeinu consecrated the Mishkan after its construction.   These days of dedication of the first Mishkan are destined to be repeated when the Moshiach comes.  It is said that his coming and the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash will take place in the month of Nisan.  Thus, the days of dedication serve as a memorial to the Mishkan made by Moshe, as well as a time of prayer for the final redemption and the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash in which the Shechina will dwell eternally.”  Hakhel Note:  It is extremely important that we understand the timely message--that we appreciate the times--and that we utilize them to their utmost, to their fullest.  The choice is now ours as to whether we will be busy with 100 other things--or whether we will not be satisfied with the status quo, and will be proactive--yearning for the Geulah with especially dedicated Tefillos.  To personalize and apply the thought with an Olam HaZeh analogy:  It is as if the lottery is about to be drawn, and you have been awarded four out of the five numbers for good behavior an hour before the drawing--you have only to successfully choose the fifth number.  Would you bother taking the time and making the effort to select it?!  Each and every one of us must take this incredible time period as seriously and as wonderfully as it really is!  It is the time of Miluim--the time of fulfillment!



Special Note Two: The following thoughts of HaRav Nosson Meir Wachtfogel, Z’tl, are presented in the Sefer Leket Reshimos, and provide timely lessons for us in this last week of Adar:


A. [Yes--an additional point on the headnote above, and Special Note One:] HaRav Wachtfogel brings Chazal (Ta’anis 20A) who teach that Nakdimon Ben Gurion asked Hashem “Hodah Sheyeish Lecha Ahuvim BeOlamecha-- Hashem show that You have beloved ones below and please do not allow daytime to turn into night--so that I can pay back the debt of water that I owe to the Roman.” Hashem listened to his Tefillah--and the sun remained standing. Nakdimon was not Moshe Rabbeinu, nor was he Yehoshua Bin Nun. We do not even find that he was among the Gedolei HaDor. Rather, he came to Hashem with Emunah Peshutah and poured out his heart before Him. We may sometimes wonder--in comparison to previous generations, how will we merit the Moshiach? The explanation is--when we realize that our relationship is only with Him, and that no one else can help, we too will cry out: “Hodah Sheyeish Lecha Ahuvim BeOlamecha--Hashem show that You have beloved ones below!Hakhel Note: HaRav Wachtfogel would speak often of the Moshiach, and urged his students to speak about the Moshiach coming to others, and to be misbonein in it.


B. On one of his visits to the Chofetz Chaim, HaRav Wachtfogel heard a Yesod Gadol: “One has to work and toil on his own--and that is what will help him in life.” HaRav Wachtfogel once instructed a student to go to sleep reflecting on the Pasuk (Yeshaya 11:2): “VeNacha Alav Ruach Hashem, Ruach Chochma U’Vina, Ruach Eitzah U’Gevurah, Ruach Da’as V’Yiras Hashem.” HaRav Wachtfogel would do so himself and relates that the next morning upon awakening there were times that he would find himself reciting the Pasuk.


C. According to Hashem’s laws of nature, only thorns and thistles and the like grow by themselves with no nurture and care. Likewise, no act of Torah Lishma or Mitzvah Lishma comes by itself, without toil and effort. No person becomes a Tzaddik without recognizing that he has a shelichus in life--personal directions and goals, which he must work on to achieve. One can get distracted by the many needs and events of life and constantly mix-up the ikar and the tafel. One must stay focused--his purpose in life is the ikar, and everything else is tafel. Accordingly, one must be clear as to what his purpose in life truly is.


D. If a person does not seek out the Hashgacha Pratis in his life--he will not find it, but if he does seek it--he will see it quickly, and continuously.


E. Chazal (Shabbos 31A) teach that the first question that a person is asked after 120 years is if he set aside set times for Torah study. HaRav Wachtfogel points out that a person is not asked--Did you become a lamdan? Did you become great...? He is asked whether he recognized the importance of Torah--by acknowledging that he dedicatedly kept designated times for its study. This is the key--to hold high the honor of the Torah and the honor of Who gave it to us.


F. As we continue through the period of Simcha in Adar, we must realize that the Kavannah of Simchas Adar is not to drink a ‘Lechaim’ every day--but to increase our Simcha in our learning and in our davening--even in the reciting of our Tehillim. HaRav Wachtfogel would say: “BeTefillah Mitoch Simcha Efshar Lishbor Es Kol HaGezeiros--with joyful Tefillah one can break all the decrees!”


G. The great lesson we are to bring with us from Purim through the rest of the year is our unity with the rest of K’lal Yisrael--as is evidenced by the Mitzvos of Purim day. Purim teaches us that when we give to a brother it is not just ‘Tzedakah’, but is Matanos L’evyonim--gifts to our brothers. We may think of the Mashal of a king with two sons--one who becomes the king in a neighboring country--and the other who becomes a working man. When the king makes a Simcha--they both come back, and both sit at the king’s table--for after all, they are brothers! Hakhel Note: Likewise, the monies that we give before Pesach are not called Tzedakah--but Ma’os Chitim--money for wheat--this time not even gifts to our brother--but simply handing over money (from our Father) to him!




22 Adar II

QUESTION OF THE DAY : What three words would you use to define Amalek? Hint: See Devarim 25:18. What does that tell you about what the definition of whom the Bnei Yisrael are to be? How can each and every one of us accomplish this goal?



THE HAKHEL MI’MAH NAFSHACH: The term Mi’mah Nafshach refers to a situation in which whichever way you look at it--the conclusion is clear. We live in times which appear so close to the times of Moshiach. Accordingly, we must look at the need for true accomplishment in our lives Mi’mah Nafshach--either we drive ourselves to true accomplishment--so that we can look back in our old age and clearly see the true achievements and successes--or greet the Moshiach with our accomplishments! It is a win-win situation. All we have to do--is accomplish! Hakhel Note: The first place to begin is…Teshuvah Bechol Yom!


FREE LARGE PRINT HAGGADAH: The Jewish Heritage for the Blind makes available free large-print Haggados (three editions to choose from, including Hebrew with English directions, full English translation and Braille). The Jewish Heritage also has other publications available, free of charge. One can download the Haggadah as well. For further information, please visit www.JHBinternational.org.



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A. The Kollel Los Angeles, under the leadership of Rabbi Gershon Bess, Shlita, has once again prepared 5774: A Passover Guide To Cosmetics And Medications, a detailed list of acceptable products that may be used on Pesach, which is available by contacting the Kollel at 323-933-7193. Rabbi Bess writes that HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, and yblch’t HaRav Wosner, Shlita, urged his continued publication of this listing--both for reasons in Halacha and in Minhag Yisrael. At the outset of the Guide, Rabbi Bess warns “no one should refrain from taking any required medication, even if it contains Chometz, without first consulting his/her physician and Rav.” Rabbi Bess also notes that the list (unless otherwise indicated) does not address whether a particular product is Kosher--but only its Chometz-free status. Something can, of course, be non-Kosher and Chometz-free.


B. Of particular note is that items in the Crest, Herbal Essence, Pantene, Mary Kay, Cortizone, Claritin and Amoxicillin lines do contain Chometz. Additionally, Lactaid remains a Chometz issue. Page 4 of the Guide provides a list of ingredients to be on the lookout for. Page 64 of the Guide provides a list of products to be on the lookout for.


C. For questions to Rabbi Bess regarding the Guide, one may email rgbess@hotmail.com.  In the upcoming weeks, for the latest updates (not yet updated for this year) to the Guide, we refer you to www.kehilasyaakov.org




Special Note One: Yesterday, HaRav Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, gave his 1,000th Sunday morning Halacha Shiur in Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin of Flatbush. In the course of the extremely moving Shiur, Rabbi Pearl made several tremendous points which each of us can apply in our daily lives:


A. When Rabbi Pearl was a young boy of seven or eight, he was enrolled in public school. There was a knifing in the school and a woman convinced his mother to send him to Yeshiva. Who was the woman--a Rebbetzin? No, she herself was a maskilah--she had one set of dishes and she was a non-believer. Yet, she had the zechus of convincing his mother--and 1,000 Sunday morning Shiurim (in addition to hundreds upon hundreds of others) resulted! Hakhel Note: If a maskilah can have such a zechus--how much more so must we utilize our opportunities to steer our brethren in the direction of Torah!


B. A person has to want to be somebody. Even if one is of average intelligence, he must recognize that with diligence, he will have the Siyata Dishmaya to accomplish in accordance with his talents and beyond. The essential first step in this regard it to be a Kove’ah Itim Latorah--even if there are many other important things to do, including ostensible other ‘family obligations’, one must view his dedicated time for learning with an especial loyalty and devotion. Every morning one recites V’Talmud Torah K’neged Kulam--he must demonstrate it!


C. An absolute essential to a Torah life is for a person not only to say that there is a Ribono Shel Olam in the world to Whom everything we have should be attributed--but to really believe it and to really mean it. Every day one should stand up and say aloud:  


Ain Od Milvado!

                                    I love You Ribono Shel Olam, I love You!

                                    I love You Ribono Shel Olam, I love You!

                                    I love You Ribono Shel Olam, I love You!

                                    Ain Od Milvado!


Hakhel Note: Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, in honoring Rabbi Pearl (who began working as a public school teacher and continued until his retirement at age 55) and his phenomenal accomplishments, noted that Chazal teach that the face of Moshe Rabbeinu was like the face of the sun, and the face of Yehoshua was like the face of the moon. With this teaching, Chazal convey Yehoshua’s greatness. He could not be Moshe--but he could be Yehoshua the student of Moshe, and so could have 599,999 other men. Yehoshua persevered--and he was zoche to be referred as the Pnei Yehoshua K’Pnei Hachama! Each and every person should follow in these footsteps!



Special Note Two:  We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




We have been discussing the ideal klaf to use for various Sta”m items.




Tefillin have two parts: The tefillin shel rosh (worn on the head) and the tefillin shel yad (worn on the arm).


Let us take a look at each one individually:


Tefillin Shel Rosh


The tefillin shel rosh is made up of four parashiyos, each written on its own piece of klaf, which are then placed into their respective compartments.


In order to fit each parashah into its particular compartment, the parashah must be folded numerous times and then squeezed in.


Perhaps the single most prevalent halachic problem discovered when checking the parashiyos of tefillin shel rosh are the letters in the folds which have cracked. The reasons for this occurrence are these: First of all, if the klaf is hard, the actual folding of the parashah – possibly even before it is placed in its compartment – can cause the letters to crack.


Second, the squeezing of the parashah into its compartment, and its remaining in such cramped quarters for extended periods of time, can cause the letters in the folds to crack if the klaf is thick – even if that thick klaf is soft.


When using soft, thin klaf, these two problems are often prevented. The first problem is avoided because the parashah can usually be inserted into its compartment merely by rolling it, without folding the parashah at all. This prevents the major cause of cracked letters. The second problem is also solved because the parashah can rest comfortably in its compartment without unnecessary pressure.


It is, therefore, highly recommended to request that the sofer use thin, soft klaf to write the tefillin shel rosh.


In the coming installment we will discuss the ideal klaf to use for Tefillin Shel Yad and Mezuzos.




19 Adar II

KOF -K KASHRUS ALERT: “a limited number of four-ounce bags of Kettle brand Baked Sea Salt Potato Chips (Diamond Foods), labeled KOF -K PARVE, were mistakenly exposed to a milk-based sour cream seasoning.  The affected product contains DAIRY ingredients and should not be treated as PARVE.  For further information, call: 201-837-0500 or email info@kof-k.org.”


Hakhel Note:  Shabbos Party Alert!



PARASHAS PARAH: The Dirshu Edition of the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 429, note 5) brings the words of the Shelah HaKadosh who teaches that it is appropriate to learn the Mesechta in Shas relating to the time period one is in at that time, so that on Pesach one should learn Mesechta Pesachim, on Sukkos one should learn Mesechta Sukkah--and on the Shabbos in which we read Parashas Parah--Mesechta Parah.  Tomorrow we will read Parashas Parah--seize the opportunity!  Hakhel Note:  Parashas Parah teaches us Taharas Yisrael--how we purify ourselves.  Fascinatingly, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, was once asked for an eitzah as to how one could attain Yiras Shomayim.  He advised that one should learn the Mishnayos of Seder Taharos--for the Pasuk (Tehillim 19:9) states:  “Yiras Hashem Tehorah Omedes La’ad”.



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! The following halachos are culled from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu Edition (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 433 and 434). Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A. As noted yesterday, one has no obligation to remove Chometz from behind heavy bookcases or cabinets which he would not otherwise move. Similarly, one need not open up a mixer and remove Chometz that he knows is present inside, and bitul in these cases would be sufficient. However, if one would move the bookcase or cabinet in order to get the Chometz after Pesach-- then he must move the cabinet and remove the Chometz as part of the Bedika process (ibid. 433, Dirshu Notes 25 and 28).


B. One cannot throw Chometz into his yard or into a community’s yard based upon the assumption that birds, squirrels, cats and the like will remove the Chometz. If one did so, he is obligated to do a Bedika and destroy any Chometz that he finds there. However, if one put his Chometz in the street or in a public place that is hefker--then it is no longer his Chometz to be concerned with (ibid. 433, Mishna Berurah seif katan 28).


C. If one appoints an agent to perform Bedikas Chometz for him, the agent cannot recite the language of bitul at the end of the Bedika unless he is specifically authorized to do so (ibid. 434, Mishna Berurah seif katan 14). In fact, there are those who hold that one cannot appoint a shaliach to perform bitul for him in any event. The Mishna Berurah rules that besha’as hadechak one can be maikil if specific authority is granted for bitul. However, without such authority, one cannot perform bitul even if it is a zechus for the person--to save him from having Chometz in his possession--as being mafkir another’s possessions is generally halachically ineffective (ibid.).




Special Note One: We continue with our Erev Shabbos--Halachos of Shabbos Series. The following Halachos are once again culled from the Mishna Berurah Dirshu Edition. Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A. Frozen food in the freezer which would be edible if one would defrost it is not Muktzah, even if one has no intent of defrosting it on Shabbos--because it is possible to defrost and use  (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 310, Dirshu Note 29).


B. Rain which falls on Shabbos in not considered to be Muktzah. With respect to snow, it not as clear: HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl and HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rule that it is not Muktzah and HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl (as brought in the Sefer Hilchos Shabbos) also rules that it is not Muktzah. However, from the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 5:22 , os 37), it appears that snow is Muktzah.


C. If after taking care of one’s bodily functions, he realizes that by cleaning himself blood will exude, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita, rules that it is nevertheless permissible to clean oneself because it is a pesik reisha d’lo neicha lei k’lal and it is Kavod HaBriyos to do so(Orach Chaim 312 and Mishna Berurah Note 4).


D. According to the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 4:78), a closed container (such as a milk or juice container which is opened by separating the folds) may not be opened on Shabbos, as we do not view it as something originally open which has been merely temporarily closed. This is due to fact that the seal is done very well--and the original opening is no longer existent.


E. One should be very careful not to hit another person (or an animal) in a way that will cause a wound (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 316, Mishna Berurah seif katan 30). The Ben Ish Chai rules that even hitting a friend in jest, ‘play fighting’ , or holding on to one’s or another’s flesh so that the skin reddens is assur (ibid., Dirshu Note 55)


F. The Chazon Ish rules that one may remove a fly from food [together with a portion of the food to avoid Borer issues] even though the fly is otherwise Muktzah, because this is not considered to be tiltul muktzah, but instead making the food edible. One cannot, however, kill spiders or other small insects on the pretense that they would be dangerous if they went into someone’s food. Instead, one should cover the food (especially if we do not know that they are, in fact, dangerous) (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 216; Mishna Berurah, seif katan 48).


G. If one owns a cat or dog, he can close the door in the room that they are in, as they are considered to be domesticated and living in the home and not subject to the Melacha of tzad--trapping (ibid, Mishna Berurah seif katan 53 and Dirshu Note 101).


H. HaRav Elyashiv and HaRav Nissim Karelitz rule that one should not tie any kind of knot in something which one does not intend to open again. For instance, when one has finished with a garbage bag--the fact that he has tied it up in any way and does not intend to open it again renders it a Kesher Shel Kayama (ibid 317, Dirshu Note 4).



Special Note Two: Points and pointers on this week’s Parasha, Parashas Shemini:


A. At the beginning of this week’s Parasha, we find that Moshe Rabbeinu first “Called to Aharon...” and only afterwards “Spoke to Aharon.” HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, Z’tl, notes that when one wants to speak with a person, he should call him specifically by his name, and only then continue with a conversation. Mentioning someone’s name can create a special level of endearment and closeness, a human bond. Moshe Rabbeinu may very well have learned this very beautiful Middah from Hashem Himself, Who at the outset of Sefer Vayikrah (1:1) first “calls to Moshe”, and only afterwards begins “speaking to him.”  May we suggest that over Shabbos (i.e., the week-end) and Sunday (i.e., the week-beginning), you take the lead of Hashem--and of Moshe Rabbeinu--and call to a person by name before starting a conversation. May this serve as a source of bracha in enhancing all of our personal relationships!


B. The Torah records that after Aharon and Moshe did everything they were supposed to do during the Yemei HaMelu’im, the Shechinah nevertheless did not descend onto the Mishkan. They did not despair. Instead, they taught us a lesson forever. The Torah (Vayikrah 9:23 ) records: “Vayavo Moshe V’Aharon Ehl Ohel Mo’ed.” Rashi (ibid., in one explanation) teaches that they entered together and asked for Hashem’s mercy--and the Shechinah then descended! We must realize the great importance--in addition to all our actions--of in the end asking Hashem for His mercy!


C. At the outset of the Parasha of Kashrus, Rashi (Vayikra 11:2), provides us with an explanation of why we were zoche to receive the laws of Kosher animals: “Zos HaChaya--this is the animal….” Rashi teaches that the word Chaya is related to the word Chaim, or life. Because we connect ourselves to Hashem Who is the source of life, Hashem gave us the laws which separate use from impurity, which He gave to no other nation. There is a great lesson to each and every one of us: When observing the lessons of Kashrus and being especially careful with proper Hashgachos and the products that he utilizes--one should not view this as a burden, a chore, a difficulty, a chumra --but as a special and unique privilege given to him by Hashem for we want a connection to Hashem--we want life--and this is how we achieve it! The more careful we are--the more we want life! Enjoy Life!


D. The Chasida, or the “Kind One”, is remarkably the name of a treife bird.  Many of us have heard as the explanation for this anomaly that although the bird does kindness--it is only with her friends and not with strangers or those that it does not know.  As in the past, we suggest another explanation.  The Chasida is treife because she does kindness with her neighbors--after all, she is known to all as the Chasida--but does not do Chesed with her own family, as she will win no special appellation in this regard.  This provides a great lesson to us.  We can improve ourselves from ‘treife’ to kasher by making the additional effort to do “unsung Chesed”--helping to clean up around the house in some additional way than before (going above and beyond the call of duty especially before Pesach!), doing something for a family member before being asked, taking the time out to think about and give a parent, sibling, spouse or child a thoughtful or creative idea geared just for them.  Ahavas Chinam doesn’t have to take place on the streets, in Shul or in the workplace--it can and should show its constant special presence-- beautifully housed--in your very own home.  Yehi Ratzon that in this zechus, we will be zoche to the end of the horrifying effects of Galus--speedily and in our days--may we make it happen!

E.  As we study the Parasha of Kashrus, as we review the animals that serve man in different ways, we recall the words of the Sefer Tomer Devorah (Chapter 3): “One’s compassion should extend to all creatures, and he should neither despise nor destroy them, for the Chochmah HaElyona extends to all of creation, inanimate objects, plants, animals, and humans. For this reason, our sages have warned us against treating food disrespectfully. Just as the Chochmah HaElyona despises nothing, since everything is created from there - as the Pasuk states, “You have made them all with Chochmah” (Tehillim 104:24), a person should show compassion to all the works of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. This is why Rebbi Yehudah HaNassi was punished when he had no pity on a calf that tried to evade slaughter by hiding behind him, and he said to it, “Go! For this purpose, you were created. Had he shown mercy, he would have been protected from suffering, which emanates from din.  Instead. he was forced to undergo suffering.  Then, when he later had mercy on a weasel, quoting the pasuk: “VeRachamav Ahl Kol Ma’asav…His mercies extend to all His deeds(Tehillim 145:9), he was spared from further suffering. Similarly, one should not disparage any creature, for all of them were created with Chochmah. Nor should one uproot plants unless they are needed or kill animals unless they are needed. And one should choose a noble death for them, using a carefully inspected knife, in order to maximize his compassion. This is the general principle: Having pity on all beings and not hurting them demonstrates Chochmah. However, if one intends to raise them higher and higher from plant to animal, and from animal to human - then it is permissible to uproot a plant and slaughter an animal, taking away from them in order to benefit them. “


F. The Torah (Vayikrah 11:44) teaches that “Vehiskadishtem Viheyisem Kedoshim”--if we attach ourselves to holiness we will be holy…and that if we defile ourselves (or even allow ourselves to be defiled) we contaminate not only our present physical bodies but our future spiritual existence.  In truth, the kind and degree of holiness and contamination varies from person to person. The G’ra teaches that a person can determine what his tachlis is in this world by understanding and studying the situations that: (a) he most frequently encounters--for they are new G-d given opportunities to succeed, and (b) the items and events that one has the greatest ‘cheshek’ --the greatest desire for--for these are his key life tests to pass, and if possible, excel at.  Just as our faces are different, so are our roads to Olam Haba--we are all on the same road with the same method of transportation, but will each get there in different ways, at different times, and will enjoy different lodgings.  The level of kedusha we each attain-- Vehiskadishtem--is the product of his desire to attain Viheyisem Kedoshim!



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


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




18 Adar II

FOLLOW-UP: Yesterday, we had referenced a moving Pasuk in Tehillim (40:6). A reader commented: “I believe that one should think of one thing that he is grateful to Hashem for when he repeats this Pasuk!”



HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! The following halachos are culled from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu Edition (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 433). Of course, one should in all events consult with his own Rav or Posek pertaining to his particular facts or circumstances:


A. If one lives in a condominium building, his obligation to check the stairway reaches only until his floor and his apartment. Even though one pays the common area charges for the entire building--that is just a matter of agreement of the parties (ibid., Dirshu Note 16).


B. In a house where there are children, one is obligated to check the bathroom and bath for Chometz--as although adults would not bring food into these areas, it is likely that children do so (ibid., Dirshu Note 18). However, with respect to places where the crevice is too narrow for one’s hand to enter (such as between a heavy bookshelf or a heavy cabinet and a wall), HaRav Nissim Karelitz, Shlita rules that one does not have to move away the heavy bookshelf or wall even if he knows that chometz is present--and instead can rely on his bitul. This is true even if one knows that if something valuable had fallen behind the cabinet he would expend the effort to move it and retrieve the valuable item (Dirshu Note 25).


C. In our times, when so much cleaning has occurred prior to the Bedika--one searches not only for chometz at the Bedika--but also inspects to make sure that the cleaning was done properly! (Dirshu Note 38).




Special Note One:  Today is the Yahrzeit of the Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah--(R’ Alexander Ziskind b’r Moshe, Z’tl). We present below several of his always-moving teachings:


1.  The ikar for which man is created it to give Nachas Ruach to Hashem. Accordingly, an essential dedicated focus in one’s life should be on ever-increasing Nachas Ruach to Hashem with all of one’s actions at all times.


2.  Dovid HaMelech exclaims (we recite it every day in Pesukei D’Zimra-- Tehillim 146:2): “Hallelu Es Hashem Bechaiyai Azamrah Leilokai B’odi--I will praise Hashem while I live, I will make music to Hashem while I exist.” One must realize that all of Tehillim was written with Ruach HaKodesh, and when one recites these words, he must express them with true feeling. How can a person mouth words such as these--Hallelu Es Hashem Bechaiyai--without meaning them?  In fact, we should know that Hashem actually has greater nachas when we recite words of thanksgiving and praise to Him than when Heavenly beings do!


3.  When one sees or hears something which is inappropriate it impacts upon his machshava, his thoughts--which emanate from a holy and higher world. Accordingly, when one’s thoughts below are impugned--then it incredibly also leaves a pegam, a negative impact in the higher world as well.


4.  When one realizes his mind is free of any other thoughts and cannot otherwise focus, he should think in great joy: “Hareini Ma’amin B’Emunah Sheleimah She’atah Yachid U’Meyuchad--I believe with complete faith that Hashem is One and Only.” Likewise, one can think (even in unclean places) about ways in which he can help his friend--in fact, even if one feels happy over the happiness of his friend or feels pain if c’v his friend is pained, he makes constructive use of his time--and actually fulfills a Mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha!


5.  Before beginning Shemone Esrei at Shacharis, a man should touch his Tefillin Shel Rosh and think: “Zeh Ha’os She’atah Yachid U’meyuchad V’Sheatah Hotzaisanu Mimitzrayim--this is the sign that You are One and Only and have taken us out of Egypt ”.


6.  Before beginning to learn a Mussar Sefer, one should clearly state why he is learning--in order to have Yiras Shomayim, to grow spiritually and properly perform the Mitzvos, and--once again-- ultimately to give nachas to Hashem. For the actual Nusach of the Yesod V’Shoresh Ha’avodah see Sha’ar Shishi--Kavanas Limud Sefer Yerei’im.


7.  If one realizes that he has sinned in some way--whether it be by action, word or thought--he should recite Viduy over it immediately, as the Zohar mentions in many places that the Vidui alone accomplishes much in the upper worlds.


8.  When one recites a Borei Nefashos, he should have in mind the specific items of food over which he is reciting it (for example, a fruit and a drink)--and not just take it as general words of appreciation. Moreover, when reciting the words Baruch Chai Ha’olamim at the end of Borei Nefashos, one should feel great joy that Hashem is the Life-giver to all worlds--and we benefit from this every second of the day. 


9.  When beginning the second bracha of bentsching--Nodeh Lecha Hashem Elokeinu, one should stop for a moment and not immediately rush into the next words.  Rather, one should feel joy over the gifts that Hashem has given him, and then begin to enumerate some of the great ones as actually listed in bentsching.  Similarly, when beginning the third bracha in which we ask Hashem to have Mercy--we should make sure to highlight each item for mercy separately--(i) Ahl Yisrael Amecha, (i) V’Ahl Yerushalayim Irecha, (iii) V’Ahl Tzion Mishkan Kevodecha, (iv) V’Ahl Malchus Beis Dovid Meshichecha, and (v) V’Ahl HaBayis HaGadol Ve’Hakadosh.


10.  In this week’s Haftarah--the Haftarah for Parashas Parah, one should appreciate the great consolations that are mentioned: “Venasati Lachem Lev Chadash”, “Ve’es Ruchi Etein Bekirbichem”. Indeed, one should strengthen himself by studying pesukim of consolation in Tanach such as Yirmiyah 31:30 et al.; Yechezkel 11: 17 et al., 37:21-28. One should also see the end of Sefer Amos, beginning of Micha Chapter 4, Tzefanyah 3:8 et al., Zechariah 8 and 14; the end of Sefer Malachi; and Yoel 3. Review all of these consolations--get chizuk--and do Teshuvah as soon as possible! Let us not be too late!



Special Note Two:  We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.






Is it preferable for klaf to be soft and thin?




Soft klaf and thin klaf are two different things. Klaf can be soft and thick, or hard and thin. First, let us explain the advantage of soft (but not necessarily thin) klaf, or – to be more precise – the disadvantage of hard (but not necessarily thick) klaf.


Imagine that you had painted a picture on a piece of paper, and then painted the same picture on a piece of cardboard. If you would try to roll the paper into a cigar-like shape by wrapping it around a pencil, you should be fairly successful, provided that the paint is not especially thick. If, however, you would try to do this with the cardboard, the odds are very high that cracks and slits would develop in the painting on the folds which would develop in the cardboard.


With this in mind we can now answer your question.


It really depends on which STA”M item you are buying:





When purchasing these (usually) large items, which are meant to be rolled and unrolled, it is not necessary to use especially soft klaf since these items are (usually) not rolled tightly enough to cause letters to crack. Of course, when rolling painted cardboard, even loosely, cracks and slits will develop in the painting. However, klaf – even relatively hard klaf – is not nearly as hard as cardboard. Therefore, with such items, even if the klaf is somewhat hard, everything should be all right. If the klaf is quite hard, however, it may well cause letters to crack.


Klaf which is especially hard or thick should never be used.


In the coming installments, we will examine the ideal klaf for tefillin and mezuzos.





17 Adar II

IMMEDIATE INSPIRATION FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR!  We urge you to take out a Sefer Tehillim and recite the words of Tehillim, Chapter 40, Pasuk 6.  How moving! How especially timely!  Keep the Pasuk handy!


HILCHOS PESACH: We continue to provide Halachos relating to Pesach in this especially spiritual period--less than thirty (30) days before Pesach! The following halachos are culled from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu Edition (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 432-433):


A. L’Halacha, if one undertakes Bedikas Chometz and actually finds no Chometz at all, the bracha of Ahl Bi’ur Chometz that was recited at the outset of the bedikah is not a bracha l’vatalah--firstly, because the Mitzvah is to check and search and if one does not find it does not matter; and secondly, the bracha actually refers to Bi’ur Chometz--which will occur the next day in the morning--which may consist of the leftovers of what he has eaten prior to the bi’ur. Nevertheless, the Chok Yaakov writes that the Minhag Yisrael of putting out ten pieces should not be stopped and gives reasons for it. The Arizal also provides a reason for the Minhag. In the words of the Ba’er Heiteiv it is a Sod Gadol. For those who have the custom--the Mishna Berurah cautions that one be careful not to lose any of the pieces (ibid., Mishna Berurah seif katan 12)! If one performs his bedikah before the night of the 14th (i.e., because he is going away for Pesach), there is a Machlokes HaPoskim as to whether he should keep his minhag regarding the ten pieces at the early bedikah. (ibid., Dirshu Note 17)


B. If one performs the bedikah by the light of a torch or other large fire, and not by the light of a single candle, the bedikah is ineffective and one must perform the bedikah again (ibid., 433, Mishna Berurah seif katan 10).


C. If one forgot to make the bracha of Ahl Bi’ur Chometz at the time of bedikah, there is a Machlokes Haposkim as to whether he can still make the bracha before burning the Chometz. The Mishna Berurah rules that if one wants to rely on those who hold that one may recite the bracha at the time of bi’ur, ain mochin bo--we do not rebuke him for doing so (ibid., Dirshu Note 5).




Special Note One:  As we have noted in the past, it is fascinating 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 have just entered the portal between the Geulah of Purim and the Geulah of Mitzraim, a time in which for the next two weeks we will all be reciting Tachanun and/or other prayers for Geulah, we should be very mindful to recite them with strong and special Kavannah because, without mincing words, it is, simply stated, a time of Geulah.  Everyone should try and keep a daily record, or at least a real mental note, of the special and sincere prayers he has made for the Geulah during this auspicious period.



Special Note Two:  The best opportunities are often free.  As we are now less than four weeks away from Pesach, may we recommend the study of the Sefer Mesilas Yeshorim--which can be completed in less than one month by dividing it into short segments (let us say five (5) pages a day).  The benefit of especially studying a Mussar Sefer at this time is twofold. Firstly, it will keep one in the right frame of mind during a period which could get stressful or pressured. Secondly, it will help ready you for the redemption that you yourself will experience on Pesach (and hopefully even sooner).  The spiritual preparation for Pesach should by NO MEANS play second fiddle to the physical preparations that so many of us have already (or wish they had!) begun.  The next few weeks will pass by quickly--don’t let them pass you by!



Special Note Three:  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!


Additional Note:  As we leave Purim, let us make a short list of practical lessons that we will take with us.  It is interesting to note that in the Al HaNissim, we highlight that Purim is in the ‘twelfth month of the year’. Why this emphasis?  We may simply suggest that --as it is the last month of the year, it is important to ensure that we take teachings with us into the first month of Nissan --and that we don’t start the first month empty-handed.  Hakaras Hatov, Ahavas HaBrios...and Ahavas Hashem itself are most certainly three of these great lessons we  should take with us in a practical and meaningful way!



Special Note Four: Let us take one additional look at Kiymu VeKiblu.  Before learning, simply take a moment to dedicate and devote yourself to the study or the Shiur itself--forgetting about work, old issues, new problems, the last phone call or email, what you still have to do today, the mistake you recently made and how you can correct it, how to do this or say that--and instead to wholly focus with joy only on Hashem’s Torah--because this is really what Hashem wants.  It is reported that the Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl, who heard so many of the world’s problems, said that the only way he could learn effectively with so much weighing down upon him, was by simply putting everything else out of mind and devoting the precious time in front of him to pure study.  A simple--but very effective--way for us to take Kiymu VeKiblu with us throughout the year!


In order for us to better appreciate the tremendous importance of any Kiymu VeKiblu Kabbalah (bli neder), we provide special insights from the Chofetz Chaim into the greatness of Torah (found in the Sha’ar HaTorah, Chapter 1, of the Sefer Shemiras HaLashon): 


1.  Chazal teach that there are 600,000 explanations of each Pasuk of the Torah.


2.  The light that emanates from the names of HaKadosh Baruch Hu above emanates for 420,000,000 parsa’os.


3. The reason that the Parashios of the Torah are not in chronological order is because if they would be--anyone who read them would be able to be mechayeih meisim and perform wonders. 


4.  A person should reflect upon the fact that if he was to receive a letter from the king which was difficult to read, or which required further study--how much time and effort he would put into understanding the king’s directive.  How much more so when it comes to the eternal teachings of the King of all kings--the Torah--of which we openly aver: Ki Heim Chayeinu V’Orech Yameinu--for it is our life and the length of our days!”


5.  The Pasuk (Tehillim 62:13) states:  “U’lecha Hashem Chosed Ki Atta Teshaleim Le’ish KeMa’aseihu--You Hashem are kind--for You repay a person according to his deeds.”  Many ask--what is the kindness that the Pasuk is referring to--after all, if a person does Mitzvos, isn’t it just for him to be rewarded for them?  The Chofetz Chaim answers with a potent Mashal:  If a person would invent a machine which could build an entire city in a day from scratch, and would bring this machine to the king, the king would surely reward him very handsomely.  The king, however, would in no event gift to him the cities that were built through the machine, or even name all of the cities by the inventor’s name. After all, it is the king who is building and outfitting the cities--and they are all within his province and domain. Not so with Hashem. Although it is Hashem Who is of course empowering creation at every moment, He in His chesed deems it as if the one studying Torah is the one who is empowering the world--for by doing so he is fulfilling the purpose of creation .  This is the incredible meaning of the word KeMa’aseihu in the Pasuk--Hashem treats the student of Torah as the one who is keeping the world going--as if he himself is continuously creating it! 


6.  The Zohar (Parashas Shelach) teaches that one who is oseik in Torah is considered as if he brought all of the Karbanos before Hashem, and Hashem provides multiples kisa’os for him in Olam Haba


7.  The Zohar (Parashas Vayeishev) also teaches that for one who is oseik in Torah, the gates preventing his neshama from going to higher locations break until it gets to its rightful place, and the Torah continues to protect him and is melamed zechus on him until Techiyas HaMeisim.


8.  Because the Torah is composed of the names of Hashem, one who is oseik in Torah is considered as if he is oseik in the Shem Hashem itself


9.  The Zohar (Parashas Pinchas) writes that there is no joy to Hashem but for one who is oseik in Torah--and if one stays up at night to study--his study is listened to by the Tzaddikim in Gan Eden, with Hashem’s presence in their midst


10.  The Zohar (Parashas Bereishis) writes that one who actually moves his lips reciting the words of Torah as he studies is considered like a Malach on earth--as the Pasuk (Tehillim 103:20) states:  “Barchu Hashem Malachav Giborei Koach..--blessed are you, the Malochim who do the will of Hashem...” 


Hakhel Note: Kiymu V’Kiblu--let us be sure to make it an essential part of our daily life!




16 Adar II

REMINDER!  As we are now less than 30 days before Pesach, we should try to learn the Halachos of Pesach (including the Halachos of the Seder) from a practical Sefer.  To some, it can be the Mishna Berurah or the Aruch HaShulchan; to others it can be an English Sefer such as The Halachos of Pesach, by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Z’tl.  The importance of studying the Halachos within the 30 days before Pesach is highlighted by the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 429 seif katan 1), who writes that the source for the 30 day study period is actually found in the Torah itself (see ibid.). As noted yesterday, we intend to provide two to three short Halachos per day. This should not of course serve as a replacement of one’s own study, but only as a supplement for our collective use. The following halachos are culled from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu Edition (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 432):


A. Bedikdas Chometz is the first step on Erev Pesach in ridding ourselves of Chometz possessions. Indeed, it is part of a large process of Biur Chometz--the destruction of Chometz. Accordingly, the bracha one recites at the outset of Bedikas Chometz is Ahl Biur Chometz. The Pri Megadim rules that if one recited the bracha of Ahl Bedikas Chometz--he is not Yotzei. We do not recite a Shehechiyanu at Bedikas Chometz, because its purpose is for Chag HaPesach itself--and we rely on the Shehechiyanu made on the Leil HaSeder (similar to one building the Sukkah who relies on the Shehechiyanu made on the first night of Sukkos). (Dirshu Notes 1 and 5)


B. Although one should not interrupt the bedika, if one needs to take care of his bodily functions during Bedikas Chometz, HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, rules that he recites an Asher Yatzar. HaRav Wosner, y’blcht, adds that one can even answer Amen and Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo to the brachos of others, and make brachos over thunder and lightning as well. (Dirshu Note 8)


C.  Accordingly to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, the obligation to check for Chometz in places where there is regularly Chometz is MiD’Oraysa if one is not mevatel his Chometz, but for places in which Chometz is not usually stored or used but where it is possible that Chometz may have been brought--even if one is not mevatel his Chometz, the chiyuv is MiD’Rabanan. (Dirshu Note 15)




Special Note One: Chazal teach that we learn from the words “Velo Yaavor” contained in the Megillah that if one had not read the Megillah by the 15th, he could not go beyond that date and read the Megillah on the 16th or at any future date in Adar.  From the fact that Chazal had to derive this teaching from a Pasuk, and that otherwise we would be correct in assuming that if we had not already done so, we could read the Megillah today, as well--we see that we are still very much within the spirit and verve of Purim and Shushan Purim.  Accordingly, we provide the following additional post-Purim points and questions for thought.  Your answers and comments are most welcome, as well as your novellae from Purim and the Megillah:


A.  As we know, Esther risked her life by going to the Chatzer Hapenimis--the inner courtyard in front of the king’s throne room.  The general consequence for one who did so without being called by the king was death.  Yet, a short while later, Haman came to see the king and simply went to the Chatzer Hachitzona--the outer courtyard, in order to ask the king to be allowed to hang Mordechai on the tree he had prepared.  The king asked:  Mi Vehchatzer--who is in the courtyard?”  Apparently, going to the outer courtyard was not punishable by death--as Haman did so and the king merely asked “Who is in the courtyard?” and let him in.  This being the case, why didn’t Esther simply go to the outer courtyard--instead of going through the life-endangering experience of appearing in front of the king in the Chatzer Hapenimis?


B.  The Pasuk (Esther 7:7) relates that when Esther told Achashveirosh of her request, and that it was Haman who was intending to exterminate her people, the king was “Kahm Bechamaso--he rose in a rage.”  What was his rage about--after all, did he not know about the decree against the Jews?  Had he not in fact granted this right to Haman--gratis?


C.  At the end of Shemone Esrei, prior to taking three steps back, many recite a Pasuk whose first letter is the first letter of their name, and whose last letter is the last letter of their name.  Fascinatingly, one whose name is Mordechai recites the Pasuk (Tehillim 119:97):  Mah Ahavti Sorasecha Kol HaYom He Sichasi--How I love Your Torah--it is what I talk about all day.”  Although Chazal teach that some members of the Sanhedrin separated themselves from Mordechai because of his governmental affairs, many may mistakenly believe that Mordechai was greatly diverted from his attention to Torah because of his involvement with the king.  We suggest that this Pasuk teaches us that Mordechai’s clear essence was Torah--and not even being second-to-the- king could change that.  Hakhel Note:  To follow suit, if your name is not Esther--it most certainly pays to look up the Pasuk for Esther and see how beautifully it applies to her role and her teaching as well! 


D.  Now that we are in the second half of the month of Adar, is Chazal’s teaching of Mishe Nichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha in the same force and effect as it was prior to Purim? Rashi (Ta’anis 29A) explains that the reason we increase our Simcha in Adar is because:  Yemei Nissim HaYu LeYisrael Purim U’Pesach--these are days of miracles for K’lal Yisrael--Purim and Pesach.”  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that the Mitzvah of Simcha continues all-the-way through Pesach because the common thread and theme is one of Nissim that Hashem performs on our behalf, and the Geulah that results.  A closer focus at this common thread, he continues, shows that our Yeshuah comes only from Hashem--and that the thought that our actions aid or assist in any way are both foolish and untrue.  In fact, HaRav Friedlander teaches, although there were still 11 months left before the decree against the Jews was to take effect, and although Esther could have waited until the king called for her rather than risk her life--Mordechai and Esther both wanted to demonstrate (each in their own way)--through the sack cloth, fasting, Tefillos and life-risking actions that they realized that everything was dependent on the Yeshuas Hashem.  We likewise read in the Haggadah that when Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim, it was Lo Ahl Yedei Malach, Lo Ahl Yedei Saraf, VeLo Ahl Yedei Shaliach--but Hashem in His honor and by Himself took us out.  Accordingly, in this period between Purim and Pesach, our joy should continue to build as we recognize that we are so especially and uniquely privileged to be in Hashem’s loving hands-and that He will likewise perform Nissim on our behalf to bring us the Geulah Sheleimah!


Hakhel Note:  For personal Chizuk in Emunah, we once again provide the number of the Daily Chizuk Hotline:  Dial (605) 475-4799, access code 840886#--which provides a thoughtful three-minute message daily--bolstering the awareness of Yeshuas Hashem in our daily lives!



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


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


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


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



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


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



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


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



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




15 Adar II

KIYMU V’KIBLU:  Today is the day to ensure that your Kiymu V’Kiblu thoughts turn into daily action, bli neder!  How will your Torah study be improved?:  Will you try to not only read the words but say them aloud--at least in one aspect of your daily Torah study? Will you be sure to learn at least one Halacha a day about Hilchos Pesach until Pesach and continue in some way from there?  Will you think about how beloved the opportunity to study Torah is--each time before beginning your Torah studies…?  We look forward to you sharing your Kiymu V’Kiblu commitments, bli neder, with us!



YOM HAKIPURIM:  In how many ways were you able to discover that Purim is really like Yom HakiPurim?  The lots are certainly a place to begin….  If you have not thought through the various possibilities--it is still Shushan Purim today--try to get a better understanding!



PUR-IM: Why is Purim called its name in the plural if it is, as the Megillah records--only “Al Shem HaPur”. Why is it simply not called ‘Pur’ or ‘HaPur’?  It may be that the plural teaches us the great significance of both days--Purim and Shushan Purim, for in actuality, the “V’nahafoch Hu”, the dynamic turnabout, continues today on Shushan Purim!



THE MIDPOINT! As Shushan Purim is the middle of the seventh month of this year (a leap year)--we have reached the fifty percent point--and accordingly we happily note that one has half of the year left for the Teshuva he undertakes today!



30 DAYS IN ADVANCE!  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 429:1) rules that starting 30 days before Pesach (which is Purim) we begin to study the Halachos of Pesach. Accordingly, we will bli neder briefly mention two to three halachos per day relating to Pesach during the upcoming month. This should not of course serve as a replacement of one’s own study, but only as a supplement for our collective use. The following halachos are culled from the Mishna Berurah, Dirshu Edition:


A. HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl rules that one may give Maos Chitim from ma’aser money. If one would like to be mekayem Maos Chitim behiduro, he should give those who need not only money for matzos, but money for food and other needs of the Chag (including clothing) as well (ibid. Dirshu Note 7).


B. If someone does not have money for his own needs, he is required to borrow money in order to give to others for Maos Chitim--for Maos Chitim is not only tzedaka--but a Halacha in the halachos of Yom Tov--as evidenced by the fact that its requirement is brought in Hilchos Pesach, and not in Hilchos Tzedaka (ibid. Dirshu Note 12).


C.  The Shabbos before Pesach is called Shabbos Hagadol because of the nes that happened on that day-- the Mitzriyim willingly allowing the B’nai Yisrael to prepare sheep--the god that they worshipped--for slaughter. Because the Shulchan Aruch specifically mentions Shabbos Hagadol as the name of this special Shabbos--there are those who learn that we should l’halacha specifically refer to this Shabbos in this special way and greet another with the phrase Shabbos HaGadol Shalom U’Mevorach! (ibid 230, Dirshu Note 5).



Special Note One: One of our favorite notes of the past: Whereas on other Yomim Tovim, the “second day of Yom Tov” is for the people in Chutz L’Aretz, on Purim the “second day”--Shushan Purim--is for Yerushalayim (and certain other formerly-walled cities, almost all of which are in Eretz Yisrael, in which a Second Day is only celebrated for reasons relating to a doubt as to the proper day to observe).  Why the turnabout?  Why is the “Second Day of Yom Tov” observed in Yerushalayim on Purim unlike all the other Chagim?  We suggest the following:  the ikar, the essence, of the celebration of the Shalosh Regalim--Pesach, Shavuos and Succos--is in Eretz Yisrael, which is why they are referred to in the Torah as the Shalosh Regalim--the three times a year we go up to Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash and bring sacrifices to rejuvenate ourselves through the open miracles seen there (see these miracles listed in Avos 5:5) and inculcate ourselves with the unique and sublime holiness of the people and the place (See Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 489, Bava Basra 21A and Tosfos there, dibur hamaschil Ki Mitzion).


The Nes of Purim, on the other hand, is the last of our miracles found in Tanach, and it is a miracle in a very different way, for it is a miracle taking place in Chutz L’Aretz, and occurring, not instantaneously, but over a nine-year period, all b’hester--concealed event after concealed event after concealed event--until we looked back and determined that an outstanding miracle had occurred.


Thus, unlike the Shalosh Regalim, which celebrated the open miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim, Matan Torah and the Ananei Kavod (the clouds of glory), and which were replete with the miracles of Yerushalayim in their observance, the miracle of Purim was a miracle for the Golus.  It teaches us how we are to lead our lives with Bnei Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael still in a state of defilement and impurity.  Indeed, the Gemara (Megillah 14A) teaches that on Purim we do not read the regular Hallel in order to rejoice in the remembrance of the miracle, but “the reading of the Megillah--this is the Hallel.”  The Megillah (the word is related to the Hebrew word “Megaleh”--to reveal) reveals to us Hashem’s hidden, rather than open and clear role, in our experiences, our successes and our sheer continuity in Galus.


On Purim, it is Yerushalayim that takes a “second day” because the miracle of Purim is to be our guiding light through the Nisim Nistarim of Golus which have occurred, primarily outside of Eretz Yisrael.  Our role is to uncover the Nissim, to recognize the hidden miracles of Hashem in our every day lives.  We can do this, overcoming the mirages, the illusions and our own delusions of a lifestyle which does not have Hashem accompanying and guiding us in our daily life, and replace it with a sincere and meaningful awareness that we should appreciate and thank Hashem for (as we recite in Modim three times daily):


·         Al Nisecha She’Bakol Yom Imanu-Your hidden miracles with us every day,

·         Val Nifleosecha-Your daily and natural wonders,

·         V’Tovasecha-Your daily kindnesses,

·         She’bechol Es Erev VaVoker V’Tzaharayim-which are not only with us daily, but throughout the entire day--evening, morning and afternoon….


If we can focus on these words three times a day, then we can demonstrate that we have learned this key lesson of Golus and we can once again merit the day when miracles are openly revealed to us and to all nations of the world.


The unique period between Purim and Pesach is the period of time which leads us from the hidden miracles of Purim to the revealed miracles of Pesach--Let us use this time wisely by coming to a proper appreciation of the lessons of Purim--which will lead us to Pesach--in Yerushalayim on the First Day of Yom Tov!



Special Note Two:  A thought about Shushan Purim that we believe is poignant.  As we all know, Yerushalayim is remembered on Shushan Purim, by our observing Purim today.  Dovid HaMelech cries out 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 Bnei Yisrael:  ‘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!’”


Let us honestly reflect:  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.  Dovid HaMelech instructs us:  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 Yisrael--and for the honor of Hashem!!  


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 “Velirushalayim 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 Three:  We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.



Styles of Writing


Three styles of writing are used for STA”M: Kesav Beis Yosef, Kesav Arizal, and Kesav Velish. (There is a fourth kesav used exclusively by [some] Chabad Chassidim.)


Kesav Beis Yosef


Kesav Beis Yosef is used by non-Chassidic Ashkenazim. This is the only kesav whose form is described in the works of the Rishonim and is the only kesav that is kosher according to all opinions.


Its name is derived from the fact that this kesav (also known as Kesav Ashkenaz) is the one mentioned in the Sefer Beis Yosef. (This is a bit ironic since the Beis Yosef – R’ Yosef Karo, was a Sephardi.)


Kesav Arizal


Kesav Arizal is used by Chassidim. It is the same as Kesav Beis Yosef, except for the letters aleph, vav, ayin, tzaddi, and shin, which are different in specific aspects of their composition.


It is named after the Arizal who maintained that these letters should be written differently for Kabbalistic reasons.


It should be noted that the mesorah regarding two letters in particular is not entirely clear. The two letters in question are the ches and the tes.


Some say the Arizal maintained that the ches and tes should be changed from its Beis Yosef appearance.


Although there certainly are exceptions, the generally accepted custom when writing Kesav Arizal is to change the ches to an “Arizal Ches” while the tes is left in its Beis Yosef form.



Kesav Velish


Kesav Velish is used by Sephardim.


Although it is endorsed by all Sephardi Acharonim, surprisingly, this kesav is not discussed by the Rishonim.


The Chida and other Acharonim write that various Sephardic communities have various styles of Kesav Velish, and there is no clear tradition regarding the particular components of each letter.




12 Adar II

A RECENT ADVERTISEMENT: The following notice appeared in an advertisement regarding Purim:  “On Purim, when Tzedakah collectors enter your home, from yeshiva bochurim to elderly Rabbanim, women should be extra vigilant in maintaining a modest, inconspicuous demeanor so as not to attract attention.  In the zechus of your extra vigilance in adhering to the laws of Tzniyus on this holy day, may you and your loved ones experience great blessing and reward!”



DISCOVERY!  HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, very importantly points out that Purim is a day of discovery--discovering Hashem’s Divine Guidance and protection in the Step-by-Step story of the Megillah. However, HaRav Erlanger adds, it is also a time to discover the inner beauty of our friends and neighbors as we share our Purim day with them. One should go beyond the outward differences and distinctions among us and seek to draw closer to the Neshamos of Acheinu Bais Yisrael…!




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


1.  When Haman complained about the Jewish 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.  What does the phrase of “Maharu Es Haman La’asos Es Dvar Esther” in the Zemiros of Shimru Shabsosai have 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. Fascinatingly, Chazal (Megillah 23A) teach that the seven aliyos we have on Shabbos correspond to the shiva ro’eh pnei hamelech. Rashi (ibid.) sites the Pasuk in the Megillah for this: “Shivas Sarei Paras U’madai” (Esther 1: 14 ). Every Shabbos--we are reminded of the Purim story!


4.  In preparation for the annual Mitzvah of reading Parashas Zachor tomorrow, we provide the following important points:


A.  The opportunity to read Parashas Zachor this Shabbos is of such great significance that, according to the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 685, seif katan 16), if one can only come to hear either Parashas Zachor or the reading of the Megillah, one should go to hear Parashas 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, S’mag 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 Yisrael is despised by Hashem, and according to the level of enmity against K’lal Yisrael 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 Parashas Ki Setzeh) writes that we should “teach our children and future generations--so did the rasha to us, and that is why we have been commanded to erase his name.”


D.  There is a Mitzvas Lo Sa’aseh, 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 Parashas 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 bracha on this Mitzvah because we do not make a bracha on hashchosa--acts of destruction.


F.  The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 6:4) writes that an Amaleiki who makes peace with K’lal Yisrael 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 Yisrael (Sefer Adar U’Purim p. 68).


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


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



Special Note Two:  In this week’s Parasha, Parashas Tzav, we learn of the Korban Minchas Chavitin--a Korban that the Kohen Gadol brought every day.  Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman, Shlita, explains (based upon a teaching of HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl) why the Kohen Gadol brought this Korban every day--while all other Kohanim brought this Korban Mincha only once in their lifetime--on the day that they were inaugurated into the Avodas Bais HaMikdash. The Kohen Gadol’s bringing it every day--one half in the morning and one half on the afternoon especially symbolized the need for a person of spirit and aspiration to be constantly renewing his energies, being aware and alert that each new morning and each new afternoon was OPPORTUNITY, NEW OPPORTUNITY that was presenting itself especially to him, and would not be available again on the morrow.  Each one of us, without actually having to bring the Minchas Chavittin, can alert ourselves to the invaluable and irreplaceable treasures that await us each morning and each afternoon in Torah, Tefillah, Chesed, and Middos Development.  Every day, we have our own OPPORTUNITIES, NEW OPPORTUNITIES--and we too can come before Hashem as a Kohen Gadol in his loyal, sincere and elevated service!



Special Note Three: Final Important Purim Points and Pointers:


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


2. Mishloach Manos:


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


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


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


D. The following are psakim of HaRav Elyashiv, Z’tl, relating to Misloach Manos, excerpted from the Sefer Yevakshu MiPihu, which contains hundreds of Pesakim of HaRav Elyashiv relating to Purim and is available in many Seforim stores:


(i).  Each portion given should be at least a kezayis, and should be something that is viewed as chashuv. One could not, for instance, give a slice of bread and an onion and be yotzeh the Mitzvah.  However, one could give chocolates or candies--provided that there is as least a kezayis of them.


(ii).  A roll and a container of butter (or jelly) are considered two portions and one has fulfilled the mitzvah with them--but if the butter or jelly has already been spread on the bread it is only one portion. Two kinds of meat (prepared with different spices, or one cooked and the other roasted) would also be considered two different portions.


(iii). One can be Yotzeh the Mitzvah by giving two kinds of wine, or two kinds of soda. However, one is not yotzeh the Mitzvah with water, soda water or mineral water.


(iv).One is not yotzeh the Mitzvah with tavlin such as a container of tea bags or coffee. [The mechaber of the Sefer surmises that one could not be yotzeh with a drink of tea or coffee--for that is only a combination of two items that you cannot be yotzeh with--water and the tavlin of tea or coffee].  One could be yotzeh with a container of sugar, since it is edible as is.


(v).  One is yotzeh the Mitzvah even if the food would taste better warmed up--as long as it is edible as is.


(vi).  It is better to give items which comport with the chashivus of the giver and the receiver--but this is not me’akev, as long as the other halachos (such as those above) are satisfied.


(vii). One can fulfill the mitzvah in giving to a parent--for one should be ‘BeRayus’  with them as well!


(viii).Children of age should give to their friends,  A child who is 13 years old may give to his 12 year old friend (although he is still a katan) and still be yotzeh the Mitzvah--as this is his Rayus. 


(ix).  One must know who sent the Mishloach Manos in order for the sender to be yotzeh (it can’t be anonymous!)--otherwise there is no increase in love and friendship.


(x).  The two portions do not have to be given at the same time--they can be given one after the other.


(xii).It is permitted to eat in the morning before performing the Mitzvah.  However, the Mitzvah of ‘Zerizin Makdimin’-- acting with alacrity when performing Mitzvos--applies to Mishloach Manos as it applies to all others!


3. Matanos L’Evyonim:


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


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


4. Seudas Purim:


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


B. The Rema (in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 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 Ta’anis 29A, which states that the reason we should increase our simcha to such a great extent in Adar is because it is the commencement of both the miracles of Purim and Pesach).


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


D. If a father tells his son not to get drunk on Purim, the son should listen to him--for he can fulfill the Mitzvah of drinking through drinking a little more than usual and going to sleep--and still beautifully fulfill the Mitzvas Asei D’Oryasah 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 Four: As we have noted in the past, 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 Yisrael, 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 Reshaim--past and present. After all, the Posuk in Mishlei 10:7 states, “V’Shem Reshaim 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 HaGedolah determined with their Ruach HaKodesh.


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: Our Annual Purim Bonus Below! Over the last two weeks, we have provided questions and answers, which have been culled together by clicking here.


In addition to the questions and answers provided by link, we provide for your Purim Pleasure our:



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


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

ANSWER: According to Yalkut Me’am 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 Amaleik was not fought then. 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 Achashveirosh 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 Yisrael and Amaleik 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 Achashveirosh?

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 Beis 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 (Midrash 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 Achashveirosh 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 Yisrael 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 K’lal Yisrael 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 tzniyus 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 Yisrael 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 Yisrael that prompted the great gezeira 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 Beis 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: 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 “Ba’eis 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, Parashas Chukas).


QUESTION: The Megillah teaches that Esther told Mordechai that not only should the Bnei Yisrael 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: Who in the Megillah was smitten BeSanveirim (illusions) and how was he cured?

ANSWER: The Sefer Orah VeSimcha brings the Midrash 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 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 Beis Haman--in charge of Haman’s house” shortly thereafter!


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 Yisrael of Kiymu V’Kiblu…we replaced the Malochim when we accepted to Torah of our own free will!


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 Beis HaAssurim--who is permitted to take a hair cut on Chol HaMoed! 


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 K’lal Yisrael’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 Amaleik is defeated by “Machar”--you wait until ‘tomorrow’ in order to defeat them (see Rashi to Shmuel I 30:17).


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


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

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


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

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


QUESTION: Why did Esther request of the king that the Bnei Yisrael 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 Midrash (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 Beis Hamikdash. What a V’Nahafoch Hu!


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 Achashveirosh 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 “Amaleik”? What can you learn from that?

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


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


QUESTION: What are the last five seforim in Tanach?

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


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

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


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 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:  True or false?  In order to fulfill the mitzvah of Mishloach Manos, you must give two different foods that have two different Brachos.

ANSWER:  False.  Mishloach Manos must just consist of two different portions of food--they can both be meat, or any other type of food or drink (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 695:4 and Mishna Berurah there).


QUESTION:  What did the G’ra send for Mishloach Manos?

ANSWER:  The Sefer Ma’aseh Rav (249) provides the answer: Cooked chicken and cooked fish, and similar ready-to-eat items.


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:  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: 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!



Special Note Six:  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!






11 Adar II

RESTATING THE OBVIOUS: Yesterday, more than 45 rockets were fired from Gaza in under an hour--and the draft law against Torah and those who study it was passed.  The enemies of Torah are extremely dangerous--for they endanger not only their own lives--but the lives of others.  It is up to us to daven for the Yeshuah! Please see more below.



THE POWER OF PURIM!  By clicking here, you can access an important message that has been provided to us by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.




Special Note One:  To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions (and answers!) relating to the events of Megillas Esther:


1.  QUESTION: Why did Mordechai not wait for Esther to be granted permission to enter the inner courtroom of Achashveirosh--after all there was still eleven months until the harsh decree would be enacted, and she would surely be called to see Achashveirosh before then. Why did Mordechai insist that she risk her life so early-on?


    ANSWER:  HaRav Elya Lopian, Z’tl, teaches that Mordechai was telling Esther that in order to overcome the gezeirah ra’ah--a special level of Mesiras Nefesh was necessary. Esther understood--and fulfilled Mordechai’s instructions. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, provides a different answer. He teaches that for as long as the decree was in force--the Jews would be in great pachad--in terrible fear. Mordechai paskened that it would be better for Esther to undertake this great Mesiras Nefesh than to leave the entire Jewish nation in fear for an undetermined period of time.


2.  QUESTION: Why do we not daven especially on Purim for Mechiyas Amalek?


    ANSWER: The Sefer Kav HaYashar (Chapter 99) writes that: “I have heard in the name of the Ga’on Moreinu HaRav Rebbi Heshel that when he wanted to try out a pen he would write the name Amalek or the names Haman and Zeresh--and then cross them out to fulfill the Mitzvas Asei of Macho Timcheh Zecher Amalek.” The Kav HaYashar then continues: “… we are obligated to daven for the obliteration of Amalek so that Hashem’s Name and His throne can become complete. We will then fulfill the words of the Pesukim: “…Vehisgadilti V’hiskadishti Besoch Ha’amim” (Yecheskel 38:23) and “Bayom Hahu Yiheyeh Hashem Echad U’shemo Echad.” (Zecharia 14:9)


3.  QUESTION: We recite Shehechiyanu twice over the reading of the Megillah--on Purim night, and on Purim day. Is there any other Mitzvah for which Shehechiyanu is recited twice  in the same day?


    ANSWER: We do not know of any--do you? How we should appreciate the Shehechiyanu of Purim! Hakhel Note: The Shehechiyanu in the morning also covers the other Mitzvos of the day--and one should be sure to have those in mind when  reciting or hearing the bracha at Megillah reading!


4.  QUESTION:We must try to understand what every word in the Megillah means. What does Achashteranim Bnei Haramachim (Esther 8:10) mean?


      ANSWER: The Ibn Ezra writes that they are mules which are the sons of female horses (mares). Rashi explains that they are types of camels that can run very swiftly.


5.  QUESTION: From what Pasuk in the Megillah do we learn that Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha applies to the whole month--including the balance of the month after Purim?


    ANSWER:  VeHachodesh Asher Ne’hepach Lahem Meyagon L’Simcha”--the month was turned from a time of agony to a time of joy! (Esther 9:22) (See gloss of Chasam Sofer to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 551:2)



Special Note Two:  The Midrash teaches us that Achashveirosh had a middah tova.  When someone did something good for him, he would write it down.  Thus, when Achashveirosh could not sleep that night, Mordechai’s good deed was read and rewarded…and we are here today as a result!  If Achashveirosh could maintain this midda tova--all the more so should we put it into use in our lives!



Special Note Three:  HaRav Chatzkel Levenstein, Z’tl, teaches that in our times we cannot fully obliterate Amalek--for even to begin with, we do not know with certainty all the people who constitute Amalek.  So, in our time, our ikar Mitzvas Mechiyas Amalek is to despise and destroy the Amalek, the evil within us--in preparation for destroying the Amalek from without--which as a result will hopefully take place in the very near future!



Special Note Four: Thoughts for Ta’anis Esther:


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


Additional Note One: The Kav HaYashar also brings that the days of Ta’anis Esther and Purim are days of Ratzon V’Ahava--let us utilize them to our utmost.


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


2. As noted yesterday, Rebbetzin Kanievsky, A’H,   urged women to recite on Ta’anis Esther Tehillim Chapters 28, 32, 79, 92, and 22, followed by Acheinu Kol Bais Yisrael. 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 HaMikdash, 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.   As we look at the troubled state of our brethren in Eretz Yisrael and worldwide, and at the turbulent and tottering state of all of mankind, Teshuva should certainly be a high priority today--make it yours!


6.  Because it 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 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, once again, 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. 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.


Hakhel 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!


Additional Note: If you have not yet given to the Torah students of Elad--remember yadeliezer.org!!




10 Adar II

LIQUOR ALERT:  Some readers pointed out that certain kinds of the ‘Glen…’ liquor are approved in the Star-K list.  Accordingly, if the liquor list relates to your needs, we recommend that you review the listing at http://www.star-k.com/cons-appr-liquor.htm


Of course, one should in any event consult with his own Rav or Posek.




Special Note One: To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions (and answers!) relating to the events of Megillas Esther:


 1. QUESTION:  If only Mordechai did not bow down to Haman--and the rest of K’lal Yisrael in Shushan Habira did--then why would Haman want them killed, after all, they were doing his will?


    ANSWER:  This is yet another example of a Sonei Yisrael showing his true colors!


2. QUESTION: What are the first letters of Yavo HaMelech V’Haman HaYom (Esther 5:4)--and what is their significance at this point in the Megillah?


    ANSWER: The letters are, of course, the letters Yud-Key-Vuv-Key--the Sheim Hashem that demonstrates Hashem’s great mercy for us. By putting herself at a feast with the horrible Achashveirosh and Haman, Esther was pleading with Hashem to override the Middas Hadin and bring upon K’lal Yisrael His Middas HaRachamim!


3. QUESTION: The Megillah is one of the Kisvei HaKodesh--which has rules as to how it is written and how it is read. Why is Megillas Esther referred to as an Igeres, and when read in public, is opened not formally like a Sefer Torah--but actually folded over like a letter.


    ANSWER: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that the Megillah contains three major Letters,  the Igeres that Achashveirosh initially sent out for men to rule in their homes--which cast some aspersion on the second Igeres of Haman to destroy the Jewish nation--and then the third Igeres, giving the Jews the opportunity to defeat their enemies. Because of the great importance of the ‘Igeres’ on Purim, the Megillah itself, albeit one of the Kisvei Kodesh, is also read like an Igeres. HaRav Kanievsky also points out that the reason that the Purim Mishteh plays such an important role on Purim day for us is because the many Mishta’os in the Megillah are such an important part of the chronology of the Nes.


4. QUESTION: Achashveirosh authorized the Jews to take the spoils of war from their enemies. Yet, the Megillah (Esther 9:15 ) teaches U’vabizah Lo Shalchu Es Yadam--that K’lal Yisrael refused to take any booty. Why?


      ANSWER: The Rabbeinu Bachya writes that the property of Amaleikim is assur b’hana’ah--so that there is no remembrance of Amaleik by someone saying this belonged to Amaleik or that belonged to Amaleik. If so--how, then, was Esther able to take over the Bais Haman and all of its assets (Esther 8:7)? HaRav Chaim Kanievsky explains that Haman had truly sold himself into slavery to Mordechai--and everything that belongs to a slave belongs to his master--so everything that Esther was taking really belonged to Mordechai!


5. QUESTION: Why is Purim not celebrated on the 13th of Adar--after all, was that not the day that the Ikar Neis occurred--the day that the Jews, c’v, were to be annihilated, turning into a day of the Jewish people defeating their enemies?


    ANSWER: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, suggests that on the 13th the Jews were not sure that the enemy had truly succumbed--and the possibility existed of a counter-attack on the 14th. When on the 14th the Jews were able to rest and did not face further conflict, they realized that Hashem had sent them a complete Yeshuah!



Special Note Two: Our Kabalas 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 Kriyas 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 Bracha Achrona or has made an Asher Yatzar, he must realize that he is not being careful enough, and should undertake some form of correction, at least on a temporary basis, to demonstrate that he really does love Hashem.  You may have other ways to demonstrate your love--and they may all well be within the Purim Spirit!  We welcome your thoughts.



Special Note Three:  We present below many Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, relating to Purim from the expanded version of Kovetz Halachos for Purim, by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita. 




A. 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 if it contains several different vegetables, is considered one portion.


B. Mishloach Manos 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.  In this regard, although one or a few chips or candies, for instance, would not be a davar chashuv--if one gives an entire bag or box, the individual items collectively, would be considered a davar chashuv.  The item being sent should be based upon the recipient--so one who is sending to a minor could give cake and candies, and 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.  Ketchup and mustard would likewise not be a valid item for Mishloach Manos.  One can send an 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 container, 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.


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


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


E.  It is a Machlokes HaPoskim whether a person who purchases a utensil in order to give it to his friend as a present is considered as if he ‘is doing business’ with the utensil, in which case it would not require tevilah while in his possession.  Indeed, according to the Taz, the giver cannot tovel the item--the tevilah does not help--and the bracha is a bracha levatalah, for the recipient 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 considered his--it is just that he intends in the future to give it to his friend.  Accordingly, he would be able to tovel the utensil, and give it to his friend. Hakhel Note:  Based upon this Machlokes HaPoskim, one resolution may be to put a sticker on the utensil stating that it is ‘Not Toveled’.  In all events, one should consult with his Rav or Posek as to the proper method for delivering Mishloach Manos--when giving a utensil with it. 


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


G.  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 V’Simcha”--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!].


H.  Women are equally as obligated in the Seuda as men.  Women should also drink a little bit (a revi’is or less) of wine, and can also be Yotzei 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.  Hakhel Note:  HaRav Kamenetsky’s 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!


Additional Note:  As Mishloach Manos time draws nearer and nearer, we are reminded not to forget the Bain Odom LaMakom when beautifully performing this great Mitzvah of Bain Odom LeChaveiro.  This means that especially meaningful brachos should be made upon the Manos received.  One point:  If you received a small cookie and a large, but sliced piece of cake, and you intend to eat both, which item would you make the Borei Minei Mezonos on?  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 168:1) rules that it is more chashuv to make a bracha on a shalem--on a whole, uncut item even if it is smaller--than to make a bracha on a non-whole item--even if it is larger.  One can also deduce the obvious mussar lessons from this as well!



9 Adar II

BE CAREFUL! Just because you may commonly see liquors at someone else’s Simcha, this does not mean that they are necessarily Kosher. For example, the Star-K Liquor List, lists the following among a group of Not-Approved Liquors: Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Glenrothes. The Star-K also cautions against use of flavored beers without a proper Hashgacha.



ESSENTIAL ADVICE:   By clicking here we provide essential advice to us all from Hatzolah and the Torah Safety Commission. Please spread the word!




Special Note One: To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions (and answers!) relating to the events of Megillas Esther:


1. QUESTION: What two words in the Megillah have the Gematria of 95?


ANSWER:  Both Hamelech and Haman. This may suggest that neither was a lesser enemy of K’lal Yisrael than the other one was! Fascinatingly, Rabbi Ozer Alport, Shlita, points out that 95 is also the Gematria of Keis Kah (Shemos 17:16), from which phrase Chazal teach that Hashem swore that neither His Name nor His Throne will be complete until Amaleik is destroyed. See Rashi (ibid). The phrase Keis Kah with respect to Amaleik may also teach us that Hashem’s Hand is hidden in the Megillah--there for us to discover.


2. QUESTION: Who was the first to do battle with Amaleik?


    ANSWER: Yehoshua Bin Nun (Shemos 17: 9). Some suggest that it is for the honor of Yehoshua that Chazal required cities walled from his time to read the Megillah on the 15th.


3. QUESTION: At the end of the Megillah, the Pasuk brings that Achashveirosh levied taxes on both the mainlands and the islands (Esther 10:1). Why does the Megillah need to teach us this--what is the connection to the events of the Megillah?


    ANSWER: HaRav Nosson Wachtfogel, Z’tl, teaches that although K’lal Yisrael was tremendously uplifted by the great miracles that had occurred--Achashveirosh did not raise himself spiritually at all, and he continued to focus on mundane and monetary pursuits--more money, more money…(Leket Reshimos, p. 113).


4. QUESTION: At the conclusion of the Purim miracle, Haman and later his sons are hanged. Why is there no Mitzvah on Purim that relates to Mechiyas Amaleik which was such a great part of the Purim salvation?


    ANSWER:  HaRav Wachtfogel, explains that Simcha Alein Makt Ouf Amaleik--a Jew’s Simcha itself destroys Amaleik--and that there is no greater mechiyas Amaleik than Simcha (ibid., p. 120).


5. QUESTION: If one, under the direction and guidance of his Rav, engages in Ahd Delo Yadah--then other than the actual Mitzvos HaYom, what must one be sure to do prior to Ahd Delo Yadah?


    ANSWER:  Teshuvah in Ahavas Reiyim and Ahavas Chaveirim in a real and substantial way (ibid., 136).



Special Note Two:  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 [see Question 1 above].  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 all of 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 Three:  We once again present below many Pesakim of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Shlita, relating to Purim from the expanded version of Kovetz Halachos for Purim, by his close Talmid, Rabbi Doniel Kleinman, Shlita. 





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


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


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


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


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


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


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


H. 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.  If one person didn’t hear the Megillah, and finds nine people who agree to listen again even though they were already yotzeh, it is still called Megillah B’Tzibbur, which is Pirsumei Nissah!


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


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


L.  In a footnote, Rabbi Kleinman brings from the Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah that one who gives freely on Purim makes ‘Tekunim Gedolim BeOlamos HaElyonim HaKedoshim’.  One fulfills Matanos L’Evyonim if he gives Tzedaka to a Katan and if he gives Tzedaka anonymously. 


M.  A woman can be Yotzei her Matanos L’Evyonim through her husband’s giving, but it is better for her husband to tell her that he is giving on her behalf.




8 Adar II

We provide by clicking here a link to the Tefillos recited at the awe-inspiring Kinus in lower Manhattan .  Anyone who could not attend can most certainly recite the Kepitelech of Tehillim today, to demonstrate his unity and oneness with his brothers in Eretz Yisrael and with the Torah HaKedosha itself. Whether one was at the Kinus or not, the week before Purim is most certainly a week to STRENGTHEN OURSELVES IN KAVANNAS HATEFILLAH. As we noted last week, perhaps we can bli neder make a special attempt to have special Kavanna for the meaning of the words at the end of each bracha of Shemone Esrei beginning with the words Baruch Attah Hashem...Magen Avraham, Mechaye Hameisim, HaKel HaKadosh during this MOST AUSPICIOUS PERIOD.


One Additional Point: The word “imanu-- with us” appears one time in Shemone Esrei--when we recite the thankful words of “V’al Nissecha She’bechal Yom Imanu--for all of the [hidden] daily miracles.”  So, you think that miracles of this kind happen only on Purim?!  The Hidden Miracles happen IMANU--with us every day as well!  Let us additionally remember to spend the week before Purim getting ready for the grand celebration by focusing in on thanking Hashem for the miracles that he bestows upon us every day of our lives--and let us especially remember to thank Hashem for that which we know about--but also the salvations that we don’t even know about (ranging from the heinous plans of our enemies or even ‘friends’ against us --to appreciatively being saved in the winter from a dangerous slip and fall).  Chazal teach that the days of Purim will never become botel (Yalkut Shimoni Mishlei 544)--so too should we never, ever cease to thank Hashem for all that He bestows upon us daily.



Special Note One: To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions (and answers!) relating to the events of Megillas Esther:


1. QUESTION: Why was Esther referred to as Esther?


  ANSWER:  One answer is because she was hidden (the root of Esther being seiser--hidden) in Mordechai’s house for 75 years after she was born (Targum and Targum Sheini) until she was discovered by the henchman of Achashveirosh so that the nes of Purim could occur.


2. QUESTION: What was Mordechai doing for the seven day feast that began after the 180 day feast was over (Megillas Esther 1:5)? 


    ANSWER: He understood the peril of this concluding party, and fasted and davened for seven days (Targum).


3. QUESTION:  How was Vashti put to death by Achashveirosh?


    ANSWER: Let us just say you could no longer give her a ‘heads-up’ (Targum).


4. QUESTION: After Haman’s decree, the Megillah ( 3:15 ) records V’hair Shushan Navocha-- and the people of Shushan were bewildered.  Why were they not happy--after all, can’t we assume that they were all Jew-haters?


    ANSWER:  Yes, you can assume that--Rashi (ibid.) explains that it was only the Jews in Shushan that were bewildered.  This is why it is so important to learn the Megillah BEFORE Purim with at least one basic peirush....


5. QUESTION:  We sing “Shoshanas Yaakov...Birosam Yachad Techeiles Mordechai.  What was the Techeiles of Mordechai all about?


    ANSWER:  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita suggests that when Mordechai was told to wear the king’s garments, he had to place tzitzis (with Techeiles) on the four-cornered ones, and as a result K’lal Yisrael realized that it was him and not Haman on the king’s horse!



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


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


So, when we read and refer to--and even pray about --the Tree of Haman this Purim, let us make sure that we glean its great lesson. We will tell the Yetzer Hora--”No, I am not going to begin—the one word of Lashon Hora, the one bite of questionable food, picking up the muktza item because there ‘must be some heter’, not paying the worker what he asks because you want to teach him a lesson… all of the good intentions, all of the ‘practically no aveira’ of what you may be thinking, doing or saying—remember that 50 Amos high tree-- look up to its top—and to the ‘little’ sapling!



Special Note Three:  We provide the following exceptional excerpt from “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 (as you give your Mishloach Manos with one hand, perhaps you can give this wonderful sefer to your friend with the other!):  “The Chida in the name of Rav Germiza stated that the gematria of the expression Mordechai HaYehudi (Mordechai the Jew) equals the name of Hashem as Shakai (shin dalet and yud; 314).  The name Shakai indicates that Hashem controls all and that He can completely up heave the powers of the spheres of the universe.  As a true Amaleki, after Haman told his family of his honor and fortune, he stated that all was valueless to him when he saw Mordechai HaYehudi.  Haman specifically referred to Mordechai as Mordechai HaYehudi because he was really referring to Hashem’s control over the balance of power in the universe.  In one fell swoop, Hashem could shift power from Haman to Mordechai.  Indeed, Zeresh and Haman’s advisors urged Haman to take swift action before the balance of power in the universe shifted in favor of Mordechai. Their human thoughts fell short and unaccomplished.  Shortly thereafter, Mordechai HaYehudi ascended to power while Haman and his sons were overthrown and hanged....”


Hakhel Note:  Is it no small wonder then that this name of Hashem--Shakai--is placed upon our Mezuzos to remind us Who is in control of all as we come and go!



Special Note Four:  We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.






I recently saw a stunning, illustrated megillah selling for a small fortune. I was thinking about saving up to buy it, and thereby enhance my fulfillment of Mitzvas Megillah.  My chavrusa claims that while it may be a nice piece of Judaica, in terms of Mitzvas Megillah, not only is it not a beautification, it is a disgrace.  I am rather offended by his position.  Could he possibly be correct?




Actually, he is correct. While disgrace may be a strong term, the rationale behind it is accurate. Megillas Esther is part of Kisvei HaKodesh (The Holy Writings), one of the twenty-four books of Tanach. The correct way of beautifying Kisvei HaKodesh is by fulfilling all the halachic requirements mandated by Chazal. To add to the physical megillah, however, is a kind of statement that the scroll lacks intrinsic beauty. This is quite an insult to the mitzvah since in fact, there is nothing more beautiful than a mehudar STA”M item. There is no need for us to add to what HaShem and Chazal find intrinsically beautiful.


Regarding the phenomenon of illustrated Megillos, Rav Elyashiv Zt”l was wont to say “ain ruach chachamim nocheh haimenu”, or loosely translated “the chachamim are not pleased with him”.


An external adornment such as a silver case is indeed befitting. It communicates: “I value my beautiful megillah [or mezuzah] so much that I want to store it in an appropriately beautiful case.”



5 Adar II

FROM A READER: “Learn online via video conferencing and be part of the 1st Seder Bais Medrash  experience.  No matter where you live, even in another time zone, find the class of highest interest to you or join for the entire morning schedule.  Log on from the comfort of your home or when on the road. Under the direction of Rabbi Uri Greenspan, 1st Seder is for men of any age or background who want a structured program of Torah learning in Mishnayos, Halacha, Gemara or Tanach.  It is all at your fingertips, just a click away.   1st Seder is blessed with a dynamic group of Maggidei Shiur who have studied in the prestigious Yeshivos of Mir Yerushalayim, Lakewood , Chaim Berlin , Sha’ar Hatorah and others. For more information on the class schedules and to sign up for live video learning, visit the 1st Seder website at: www.firstseder.org If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to call Rabbi Greenspan, Rosh Yeshiva, at 732-407-3178.”



FROM A READER: “Regarding your question as to why Mordechai is referred to as a Yehudi if he came from Shevet Binyomin: By the time of the Megillah we already have seifer Daniel (1:6 and elsewhere) using the term Yehudah as “survivor of Malkhus Yehudah”, i.e. “Jew” in the same sense of the word. And in Melakhim II 18:26 , during Chizqiyahu, the language is called Yehudit, in contrast to Aramit.”  Hakhel Note: You are mechavein to the words of the Ibn Ezra (Megillas Esther 2:5)!




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


A. Shabbos (6 Adar II) is the third Yahrzeit of the Fogel family--Mr. and Mrs. Ehud Fogel, and their three children, Yoav, Elad and Hadass H’YD. As we recite Av HaRachamim before Musaf--let us have in mind that we ask Hashem to recall them with compassion and that we anxiously await in our day for Hashem to avenge the blood of our people.


B. The following is excerpted from the outstanding pamphlet entitled: “Welcoming the Shabbos Queen”:


1.  The Midrash tells us that Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu, “I have a wonderful gift in My treasure house, called Shabbos. I would like to bestow it upon the Jewish people. Go and inform them of this.” The King of kings, Hashem Himself, attests to the fact that Shabbos is a wonderful gift. He sent Moshe on a special mission to tell our nation about it, so that we should appreciate its greatness and hurry toward it. Hashem has especial happiness when a person voluntarily adds time to Shabbos. In Kabbalas Shabbos, we say, “Let us go forward to greet Shabbos, for it is the source of all blessing.” This is a fundamental precept of Creation.


The Chofetz Chaim says that Hashem concentrated all forms of blessing into Shabbos Kodesh. Whoever observes Shabbos and honors it, welcoming it as it enters and seeing it out as it leaves, merits the wonderful blessings offered by Shabbos. The Chofetz Chaim was wont to say, “People are always seeking merits for success. Aren’t the mitzvos enough for them? Is there any amulet or segulah more effective than following Hashem’s commands? This is especially so regarding the mitzvah of Shabbos Kodesh, which draws down Heavenly blessing upon all the other days of the week.” Whoever merits honoring it by adding on time beforehand and afterward will surely receive the blessings inherent in Shabbos. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, advises those in need of salvation and blessing to strengthen themselves in the area of adding on time to Shabbos. He says this is a proven segulah for healing, livelihood, shidduchim, marital harmony, success in raising children, and all other matters.


2. The Sefer Meleches Shabbos states that receiving the Shabbos early is a merit for seeing blessing in one’s livelihood. The author of Sod Hashem writes that when a person brings in Shabbos early, Hashem treats him in a similar manner: The person expanded the boundaries of this exalted day, thereby minimizing the days of mundane activity. In turn, if he ever finds himself in a financial bind and he calls out to Hashem, Hashem will broaden his portion without boundaries. He will merit fulfillment of the pasuk, “Hashem has broadened our boundaries and we have multiplied in the land” (Bereishis 26:22).


3. It is written in the Aruch Hashulchan: It is a tremendous zechus to bring in Shabbos early. How fortunate is the one who exerts himself in this mitzvah. There is no end to his reward, and the Shabbos itself will speak in his defense.


4. Bringing in Shabbos early is a proven method for maintaining one’s shalom bayis. It is praiseworthy to have the Shabbos table set by midday on Friday and to welcome Shabbos as early as possible. The Zohar tells us that Shabbos is called Shalom, peace. On Shabbos, Hashem grants abundance of peace to all of Am Yisrael. He sends the angels of peace to every Jewish home, to bless them with peace. The earlier one accepts Shabbos, the earlier he receives this blessing of peace in his home. Commentaries offer a hint to this. The letters of the word Shabbos are an acronym for the phrases Shabbos B’Bayis Takdim (you shall bring Shabbos early into your home) and Shalom B’Bayis Tekabel (you will attain peace in your home). Chazal exhort us to speak softly with our family members on Erev Shabbos. It is worthwhile to increase words of encouragement and praise to one’s wife and children, for their help in preparing for Shabbos. It is appropriate to recite the following prayer: Master of peace, King of peace, bless me with peace and remember me and all members of my household and all Your nation, Beis Yisrael, for good life and peace.


5. The Mishnah Berurah quotes the Ba’alei Kabbalah who state that one should be extremely careful regarding his marital harmony on Shabbos. He must never allow the Satan to draw him into any sort of dispute or quarrel, especially late on Friday afternoon, when it is close to Shabbos. The tzaddik, Rav Hersh of Ziditchov, Zt’l, said that having the table set before chatzos on Friday afternoon is a segulah to invalidate the negative forces which arouse dissention in many homes on Erev Shabbos. It is known that Torah scholars are careful to spread a white tablecloth on the Shabbos table on Friday morning and prepare the Shabbos candles immediately upon returning home from Shacharis on Friday morning. There are those who straighten up the house and prepare the Shabbos table on Thursday evening.


6. The Mishnah Berurah (Siman 256) writes that one who encourages others to bring in Shabbos early, will be rewarded with children who are great Torah leaders in our nation. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, says that the Mishnah Berurah is not merely offering a nice segulah for righteous children, but is stating a halachic ruling, which is guaranteed.


7. Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, Zt’l, Rosh Yeshivas Be’er Yaakov, used to commend the practice of accepting Shabbos early. A Jew once approached him and said that he had gotten enmeshed in a difficult court case, with all the evidence pointed against him. Rabbi Moshe Shmuel advised him to take in the Shabbos one half hour earlier than usual. The man did as he was told, and within a short time, was pleasantly surprised to find the entire case turned over - in his favor. He was declared completely innocent.


8. One accepts Shabbos either with candle lighting or by the recitation of Mizmor shir L’yom HaShabbos or Lecha Dodi, which ends with the phrase, “Come, my bride, the Shabbos queen.” At the very least, one should say, “Gut Shabbos,” or, “Shabbat Shalom,” with the intention of bringing in the Shabbos. From this point on, all work prohibited on Shabbos is forbidden. The sefer Mishmeres Shalom suggests that one should say, “I am hereby bringing in the Shabbos early as Hashem has commanded us to add from the weekday to the Shabbos. Ribbono Shel Olam, allow me to merit observing Shabbos appropriately, and do complete Teshuvah.” It is admirable to dress in Shabbos clothing before lighting the candles. Also, one should precede lighting the candles with giving a few coins to tzedakah.


Hakhel Note:  Let us try, bli neder, week by week...!



Special Note Two: The Parasha begins (Vayikra 1:2) with the words “Adam Ki Yakriv Mikem Korban Lashem…Takrivu Es Korbanchem”. HaRav Meir Schuck, Z’tl, notes that the Pasuk starts in the singular (Adam) and ends in the plural (Takrivu), and explains that this comes to teach us that when one wants to get closer to Hashem, he should include the rest of K’lal Yisrael in his avodah. One’s goal should be to have everyone join together in Avodas Hashem--not to stand apart, but to be part of a united community--all serving the Ribono Shel Olam.


This lesson is especially true, HaRav Schuck continues, with respect to Tefilah. Our daily Tefilos are said in the plural. Our personal requests for health, wealth, and forgiveness include everybody in the Tefilah. When we daven for our elevation and growth in Avodas Hashem we also ask for our united growth. May we all see the return of the Avodah in the Beis HaMikdash--not just me, but everyone.  We daven that we should all have the good in life.


HaRav Schuck uses this fundamental idea in analyzing the difference between Kayin’s Karbon and Hevel’s Karbon. Hashem accepted Hevel’s Karbon and He did not accept Kayin’s Karbon. Many Meforshim have asked why, and various answers are given. HaRav Schuck provides a beautiful p’shat. With regard to Hevel, the Pasuk says “V’Hevel Hevei Gam Hu”. The word Gam indicates that when Hevel brought the Korban his intent was “Gam Hu”--that he is bringing the Korban not only for himself, but with others in mind as well. He wanted to thank Hashem together with everyone--and it was with this intention that Hashem found his Korban acceptable.

The same idea, concludes HaRav Schuck, is seen in the story of Purim. Esther says to Mordechai: “Lech Kenos Es Kol HaYehudim”--get everyone together and that way our prayers will be heard. Haman Harasha said the Jews are ‘Mefuzar U’Meforad’--spread apart and not united. His intention was to tell Achashveirosh that the Jews will not be protected by their G-d because they are not united. He somehow sensed that the only way the Jews can be helped by Hashem, is if they are united. To counter this, Esther showed the world (and maybe the Jews themselves) that we are all united and therefore deserve Hashem Yisborach’s help! 


Hakhel Note: With this absolutely essential lesson, we understand how vital it is for those in the New York area to try to participate in this Sunday’s Kinus in lower Manhattan . Even those who cannot physically attend and even those out of New York City should certainly try to participate by reciting Tehillim at that time. Perhaps shuls outside of New York could make a minyan at 2:00 ( New York time) and daven and recite Tehillim with special fervor as well. Let us take this great lesson of this week’s Parasha--and make it le’ma’aseh mamash this Sunday!



Special Note Three: We provide points and pointers on this week’s Parasha:


A. The Shulchan Aruch itself (Orach Chayim 98:4) lists the ways in which our daily Tefilah is compared to bringing Karbanos in the Beis HaMikdash. As the Shulchan Aruch rules, “Tefilah is in place of a Korbon and therefore one must be careful that it is like a Korbon:


·        In Kavannah, because improper thought invalidates a Korbon;

·        By standing when it is recited, as the Avodah was done standing;

·        In a certain place, as each Korbon had a specific place for shechita and Matan Dam;

·        With nothing interrupting between him and the wall, as with a Korbon where a Chatzizah could be Posul [Hakhel Note:  one may speak to his Rav regarding this point, if his seat in Shul is not near the wall]; and

·        It is befitting that a person has nice, special clothes, just as there were special Bigdei Kehunah for the Avodah.  Note : At the very least, one should not enter to daven in the same attire as if he were about to repair something around the house!


Hakhel Note:  As we have noted in the past, it is well known that deep knee bends are a recommended method to improve one’s physical flexibility.  Chazal, however, never prescribed this exercise, especially during davening.  When we bend our knees and bow our heads in Shemone Esrei, it is not intended as a physical exercise, but as a mental exercise.  As we bow, the sefer Shaarei Orah (p. 39) writes, we should feel a pure and complete submission or servitude to HaKodosh Boruch Hu.  This feeling of submission can be assisted by thinking about a specific benefit which HaKodosh Boruch Hu has bestowed upon you, which no one else can provide.



Special Note Four:  The following exceptional excerpt from Love Your Neighbor (by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Shlita), is based upon tomorrow’s Parasha, and is absolutely imperative in our every day life.

“The Parasha actually begins “VaYikra El Moshe…”--and He [Hashem] called to Moshe, and [Hashem] spoke to him from the Ohel Moed saying (Vayikra 1:1). The Gemara (Yoma 4B) states from the last word “saying” which denotes “say to others”, we learn that a person has no right to repeat what someone tells him, unless given explicit permission to do so.  Following are basic laws pertaining to secrets:

 1.      If someone tells you private information about his business or any personal matter, you are forbidden to disclose it to others.  Your doing so could cause the person who confided in you financial loss, embarrassment, or other damage.  Even if the speaker did not request that the matter remain secret, you are not allowed to repeat it.  It is self-evident that the speaker does not want such information to be divulged.  However, if the person related information concerning himself in the presence of three or more people and did not request secrecy, you are permitted to relate it to others.  Since the speaker related it to a group of three or more people, we can assume that he does not mind if the information will be known.  If, however, someone tells you about his wrongdoings, you are forbidden to spread that information to belittle him, even if he related it in the presence of three.  Although the speaker has shown that he does not mind if others know about his misbehavior, it is nonetheless forbidden for anyone to deliberately publicize someone else’s actions to harm or embarrass him (Chofetz Chaim, Chapter 2).


2.      When someone reveals to you seemingly harmless information in a manner which shows that he would like it to be kept secret, you are forbidden to repeat it to others even if he did not explicitly tell you to keep it secret.  In the Pasuk quoted above, Hashem related information to Moshe in the Ohel Moed, and the Torah teaches that it was permissible for Moshe to repeat the information only because of ‘Laymor’--Saying--i.e., because Hashem gave him explicit permission to relate it to others (Be’er Mayim Chaim 2:27).


3.      The Chofetz Chaim writes that it is a good habit never to repeat what people tell you unless they give you permission to do so.  In this way you will never relate information that might cause harm (ibid.).


4.      You have no right to repeat someone’s secret just because you add the phrase “Don’t repeat this to anyone else.”  The person to whom you related the secret might pass on the secret, also adding, “…and don’t repeat this to anyone else.”  In a very short time, the secret could become public knowledge and cause harm or embarrassment to the person who confided in you (Pele Yoetz, section on “Sod”).


5.      Husbands and wives have no right to tell each other secrets that someone told him or her in confidence (ibid.).


Finally, a person should be careful not to disclose his own secrets to others.  Before someone reveals a secret, he is the secret’s master.  But once someone reveals a secret, the secret is his master, for he lives in fear that it will become known to others (Menoras Hamaor 2:4).”


Let us apply the Parasha’s great teaching in our everyday lives--for everyone’s benefit!



Special Note Five: To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions (this time--and answers!) relating to the events of Megillas Esther, which have been culled from the Sefer Sifsei Chachomim, introduction to Mesechta Megillah, and other sources:


1. QUESTION: At what point in the Megillah did Michoel and Gavriel work together on behalf of the Jews?


    ANSWER:  After Haman ordered Doniel (who was bringing messages back and forth between Mordechai and Esther) killed, Michoel and Gavriel together took his place (Targum Sheini to Megillas Esther 4:12 ).


2. QUESTION: The Megillah records that when Achashveirosh saw that Esther had dared to appear before him without being called, he miraculously extended his sharvit towards her. The Pasuk (5:2) there spells sharvit with a yud. Later on in the Megillah (8:4), the Pasuk describes how Achashveirosh extended the sharvit to Esther again, but there the word sharvit is spelled without a yud. Why--what is the difference?


    ANSWER:  Chazal teach that when Achashveirosh extended the sharvit to Esther when she entered without permission it miraculously extended for a huge amount of amos--perhaps 200! (see Megillah 15B). We may suggest that then it was no small sharvit--it was as complete as it could get--a sharvit with a yud!                          


3. QUESTION: The word Purim is written five times in the Megillah--twice with a Vav and three times without a Vav--why?


    ANSWER:  The two times with a Vav (i.e., with the word complete) allude to the 14th and 15th of Adar, each of which are celebrated as Purim in all respects, only depending upon whether the city was originally walled or not. The three times Purim is written without a Vav represents the 11th, 12th and 13th of Adar, days upon which in certain circumstances in the past the Megillah could have been read (and Matanos L’Evyonim given)--but Simchas Purim was in any event even in these circumstances celebrated on the 14th. (Cheishek Shlomo)

Hakhel Note to Questions 2 and 3:  Oh, how much we can learn from the presence or absence of even one letter in the Megillah!


4. QUESTION:  Can you name at least three Nevi’im--other than Mordechai and Esther--who lived at the time that the miracle of Purim took place?


    ANSWER:  Baruch Ben Neryah, Sraya Ben Machsaya, Daniel, Chagai, Zechariah and Malachi. (Rashi to Megillah 15A)


5. QUESTION:  When was Haman hung? 


    ANSWER:  Haman was hung in the evening after the 16th of Nissan (i.e., the night of the 17th). (ibid.)


6. QUESTION:  Why does the Megillah refer to Haman’s lottery with the term “Hipil Pur, Hu HaGoral”(Megillah 3:7)-was is the difference between a Pur and Goral?  


    ANSWER:  The Meforshim (ibid.) explain that a Pur is a lottery which is intended to have a negative result, while a Goral is intended to have a positive.  Thus, Haman had intended for it to be a Pur for Klal Yisroel--however--the Megillah already testified at that time that it would be a Goral--a lottery in which we were the winners!


7. QUESTION:  On what day did the Ikar Neis of Purim occur?


    ANSWER:  The thirteenth day of Adar, when the major wars against our enemies were fought (Rashi to Megillah 2A). 


8. QUESTION:  What does the word Manos in Mishloach Manos refer to?


    ANSWER:  Although we commonly translate the term as portions, Rashi (Megillah 7A) defines Manos as Minei Ma’adanim, kinds of delicacies. 


9. QUESTION:  According to the opinions that one should give Mishloach Manos through a Shaliach, through an agent--can that agent be a monkey, or other person who would generally not represent you as your ‘Shaliach’?


    ANSWER:  The Chasam Sofer (in the Chidushei Chasam Sofer to Gittin 22B) writes that the Shaliach need only be competent when the matter to be performed really needs to be performed by the principal, but we just accept the Shaliach as his agent.  However, when the Torah requires that a Shaliach be sent--such as in Mishloach Manos, then one can even send a monkey or any other person who would be Pasul as a Shaliach to deliver the Shaloch Manos.  How is this for a novel idea for this Purim?


10. QUESTION: How does one fulfill the concept of Pirsumei Nissa on Purim? 


    ANSWER:  The reading of the Megillah publicizes the miracle--and as a result everyone praises (or should praise) Hashem in its aftermath!  As a matter of fact, the reason that we read the Megillah at night and during the day is to remember how K’lal Yisroel cried out to Hashem to be saved both at night and during the day--and through this we remember the Nes!


11. QUESTION: What should one be sure to do at the Purim Seudah?


    ANSWER: The Nehorah Shaleim writes that one should read the Parasha of Vayavo Amaleik (Shemos 17:8-16), and the Parasha three times of Zachor Eis Asher Lecha Amaleik. He should also have candles lit as on Shabbos, and speak of the Nisim that occurred.


12. QUESTION: The Navi (Yeshaya 43:18) writes that “Ahl Tizkeru Rishonos--once the great Geulah comes, we will no longer remember the Mo’adim that took place celebrating Yetziyas Mitzrayim.” Yet, Chazal teach that we will still celebrate Purim--how was the Nes of Purim greater than all of the Nissim of Yetziyas Mitzrayim?


    ANSWER:  In Mitzrayim we were not threatened with immediate annihilation of all--men, women and children, while Haman’s decree was from young to old, men and women--covering our entire people. It is thus the salvation of our entire people--oh how we must celebrate--and how we will--forever!


13. QUESTION: Why do the Jews who live in Spain and Africa have to celebrate Purim--if they were not under the rulership of Achashveirosh?


    ANSWER:  The Chida writes that on Purim every year great lights shine through the entire world--just as those that were revealed in the times of Mordechai and Esther, as the Pasuk says: “LaYehudim Haysah Orah V’Simcha”.


14. QUESTION: Esther’s name is mentioned three times in the Megillah as Esther Bas Avichayil. Why is her full name mentioned three times?


    ANSWER:  We do not know--sometimes that is also an answer! If you know of an answer, please let us know!


15. QUESTION:  What is the source for the concept of drinking on Purim to the point of not knowing the difference between ‘Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai’


      ANSWER:  The source is easy--Megillah 7B--but why?!  Once again, we look forward to your answer!




4 Adar II

MEGILLAH READING !  The Chovos HeLevavos teaches us:  “Ki HaYamim Megillos Kisvu Bahem Mah Shetachpetzu Sheyizacher Lachem--Everyone’s days are like Megillos--write in them what you wish to be remembered for.” (Sha’ar Cheshbon HaNefesh, Chapter 3). 



FOR WOMEN! We present by clicking here a moving Tefillah for women distributed by Bnos Melochim. To receive hard copies of the Tefillah, please call 845-425-9222.



PURIM COSTUME ALERT:  The Luach Davar B’Ito reminds all that Purim costumes (especially hats from Eastern Europe ) may contain Shatnez, and accordingly should be checked in advance of Purim to make sure that the costume is usable.  The Luach also strongly advises against using costumes which can scare others.  It also suggests that the child ‘tries the costume on’ in front of a parent so that it fits, is clean and no buttons are missing…to avoid any last minute consternation or disappointment. 




Special Note One: One may worriedly 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 Petterburger, 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 Parasha 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, warm sweater, or on an extra pair of shoes or spare laptop.  So, if you are approached for Tzedaka within the next ten days--remember for the large part where your inner resistance is coming from.  Similarly, when giving Matanos Le’Evyonim--overcome the challenge and remember to give each and every person wisely--and B’Sever Panim Yafos!



Special Note Two: To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions (this time--and answers!) relating to the events of Megillas Esther, which have been culled from the Sefer Sifsei Chachomim, introduction to Mesechta Megillah, and other sources:


1. QUESTION: We have stated that there are 40 generations from Yaakov to Mordechai. What is the significance of relating Mordechai to Yaakov?


    ANSWER:  The Midrash Talpios teaches that Mordechai’s neshama is rooted in the neshama of Yaakov. Hakhel Note: Chazal teach that there were only twenty generations from Eisav to Haman--their rishus was much closer to each other!


2. QUESTION: What was the name of Haman’s mother?


    ANSWER: Her name was Amasla’i (Bas Urvasi). Chazal (Baba Basra 91A) teach that the name of Avraham Avinu’s mother was also Amasla’i (Bas Karnevo).  One suggested reason for the two mothers having the same name is that whenever the name Haman ben Amasla’i is mentioned, it is me’orer the zechus of Avraham Avinu--just as when we mention even the city of Chevron , we are me’orer the zechus Avos (see Yoma 28B).


3. QUESTION:  What are the ten significant kingdoms that span all of human history?


    ANSWER: (i) Hashem when He created the world, and Whose Rulership was recognized by all; (ii) Nimrod, when he rebelled before Hashem in front of the world; (iii) Paroh Melech Mitzrayim; (iv) the kingdom of Ahm Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael; (v) Nevuchadnezzar, king of Bavel; (vi) Achashveirosh; (vii) Yavan; (viii) Rome; (ix) Moshiach; and (x) when Hashem once again is recognized by all as Ruler of the world, as the Navi teaches: “VeHaya Hashem LeMelech Ahl Kol Ha’aretz”.


4. QUESTION: We know that the Gematria of Boruch Mordechai and Arur Haman are the same. To what is the Gematria of Arurah Zeresh equivalent?


    ANSWER: Esther Livracha (Steipeler Gaon).


5. QUESTION: Why is Mordechai called an Ish Yehudi in the Megillah--if he was a direct descendant of Shimi Ben Geirah who was from Shevet Binyomin? 


    ANSWER: Chazal (Megillah 12B-13A) give different possible explanations. Following are several:


A. He did come from Binyomin--but it was an honor to be referred to as a Yehudi.


B. His father was from Shevet Binyomin, but his mother was from Shevet Yehudah.


C. Shevet Yehudah claimed the credit for Mordechai--as Dovid HaMelech did not kill his ancestor Shimi Ben Geira as he could have, thereby allowing Mordechai to be born.


D. The word Yehudi refers to someone who is kofer in Avodah Zara--and Mordechai did not bow down to Haman and anything that he may have been wearing. Hakhel Note: Be proud to be called a Jew!



Special Note Three:  We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.




One of the more sought after items this time of year is the famous “Gra Megillah”. Although many people know that they want it, few people actually know why they want it or what it is. And even among those who know that it is an 11 line Megillah, few know why it is so. Most people would be surprised to hear that the Gra himself never insisted on an eleven-line Megillah, nor did he ever own one. With all this in mind, let us explore the origins of “The 11 line, Gra Megillah”.


In the Talmud Yerushalmi, we find the following passage: “R’ Yosi, the son of R’ Bun, said [about writing the names of the ten sons of Haman]: The word ‘ish’ must be at the beginning of the page, and [the word] ‘es’ at the end of the page.” The Maseches Sofrim adds: “Ish at the beginning of the page, es at the end of the page, written on eleven lines, aseres at the end of the page.”


Some explain the words “beginning and end of the page” to mean the “top and bottom of the page.” According to them, even if the Megillah has many more than eleven lines, the names of the ten sons of Haman must be written on a separate page to allow the word ish to be the first word on the top of the page, and the word aseres the last.


The Gra disagrees with this interpretation and explains that “beginning and end of the page” means “beginning and end of the line.” According to him, then, the word ish needs to be at the beginning of the page – on the right side of the page, i.e., the beginning of the line. And the word es needs to be at the end of the line. The Gra does agree that the word aseres should be at the bottom of the page.


Practically speaking, what this means is that, according to the Gra, as long as the word ish is written at the beginning of the line, even if many regular lines are written above it, the Megillah has been written properly.


Moreover, argues the Gra, the Megillah should be written that way. The reason is that according to the other opinions – which place the word ish at the top of the page and the word aseres at the bottom – the aseres bnei Haman must be written in enlarged letters in order to fill up the page. For instance, in a twenty-eight line Megillah, the letters would have to be more than double their normal size. In a forty-two line Megillah the letters would have to be almost four times the normal size‼ Since we find no tradition that the names of the aseres bnei Haman should be enlarged, this practice is an obvious error. The Gra, therefore, felt that the aseres bnei Haman should be written as the last eleven lines of the column in regular-size print.


The other opinions argue that such a Megillah is not correctly written since other lines are written above the names of the aseres bnei Haman, and the word ish is not at the top of the page. A possible reason for having no clear tradition to make enlarged letters can be simply because, theoretically, one could write an eleven-line Megillah and not have to enlarge any letters – i.e., the only requirement is to have ish as the first word on the page and aseres as the last. There is indeed no tradition as to the size of the letters simply because this varies based on how many lines the Megillah actually has.


The custom in all of Klal Yisrael is in accordance with these other poskim who say that the Megillah should have the names of the aseres bnei Haman written on their own page. Hence, in order to accommodate the opinion of the Gra as well, the concept of an eleven-line Megillah was “created.” This way the aseres bnei Haman are on their own page with no lines above them while at the same time the print is the same size as the rest of the Megillah.




3 Adar II

MAY IT BE IN OUR DAYS AS WELL ! The Luach Davar B’ito records from Sefer Ezra (6:14-18) that today, 3 Adar is the specified day that K’lal Yisrael , led by Chagai and Zecharia, completed and celebrated the successful construction of the Bayis Sheini! The Luach accordingly suggests that one read these Pesukim in Sefer Ezra. May we re-live these events--through the completion of Bayis Shelishi, speedily and in our days! We are certainly in a mesugal period--as this is also the month of Geulah Purim--and as the well-known Chazal teaches us, we celebrate Purim in Adar Sheini so that we place the Geulah of Mitzrayim (Pesach) in close proximity with the Geulas Purim (and hopefully the Geulah Sheleimah this month as well!).




Special Note One:  To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions (and answers) relating to the events of Megillas Esther, which have been culled from the Sefer Sifsei Chachomim, introduction to Mesechta Megillah:


1. QUESTION: Why is the Megillah called Megillas Esther--and not Megillas Mordechai?


    ANSWER:  There are several answers given:


A. Mordechai was on the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah that approved the Megillah’s codification as one of the Sifrei Tanach. Referring to the Megillah as Megillas Mordechai could cause some to claim that Mordechai endorsed it because of his own honor, or as a remembrance as to how the king raised his position and accorded him great honor and wealth.” Indeed, it was Esther who requested of the Chachomim: ‘Kisvuni L’Doros--write down my story for future generations.’ (See Megillas Esther 9:29, and Megillah 7A).


B. Esther acted with greater Mesiras Nefesh, as she stated (Esther 4:16 ): “V’cha’asher Avadeti Avodeti.” Rashi (Shemos 37:1) provides a similar comment on the Pasuk: “Vaya’as Betzalel Es Ha’Aron--Betzalel made the Aron”. Because he did more than others, it was rightfully referred to by his name.


C. The ikar HaNes occurred through her (see Megillah 4A Tosfos d’h She’af).


D. Even though Esther was a yesoma and raised by others--nevertheless a Yeshua Gedolah for all of K’lal Yisrael came through her. This should provide a nechama to all those who are downtrodden to strengthen their bitachon in Yeshuas Hashem--which can come --through him or her--at any moment.


E. To remind us that because Esther reported in the name of Mordechai what Bigsan and Seresh intended to do to Achashveirosh she brought Geulah to the world--and that we too can bring Geulah to the world by fulfilling Chazal’s teaching (Avos 6:6): “Kol Ha’omer Davar B’sheim Amro Meivi Geulah LaOlam!


F. See Special Note 4 below for an additional suggestion!


2. QUESTION: Are there any cities in Chutz La’aretz that could have possibly been walled from the times of Yehoshua Bin Nun?


    ANSWER:  Possibly, Prague , Czechoslovakia and Temesvar , Romania --the Shelah HaKadosh writes that an individual should be machmir on himself in these cities and read the Megillah at night and in the day (without a bracha) on the 15th of Adar as well.


3. QUESTION: How much time passed between Vashti being put to death and Esther becoming queen?


    ANSWER:  4 years--for Vashti was killed in the 3rd year of Achashveirosh’s reign and Esther became queen in the 7th year of his reign.


4. QUESTION: How many generations were there from Mordechai back to Yaakov Avinu?


    ANSWER:  40 (see Targum Sheini to Esther 7:6 for a listing of Mordechai’s ancestry generation by generation)  


5. QUESTION: How many years had Mordechai been in Galus before the Nes of Purim occurred?


    ANSWER:  Mordechai went into Galus with Yechanya the king of Yehuda in the year 3328. The Nes of Purim occurred in the year 3405. This means that Mordechai had been in galus for 77 years prior to the Nes of Purim!  



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


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


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



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



Special Note Four:  This time of year represents and reminds us of the special level of Hashgacha that Hashem graces us with.  Sometimes it is clear to see, and sometimes we may not even realize how we were lead in a particular direction or on a specific path.  Indeed, some commentaries to Tehillim 117 explain that the reason we exclaim:  Halelu Es Hashem Kol Goyim, Shabechuhu Kol HaUmim--praise Hashem all nations, praise Him all nationalities” is because we do not even know the nature or extent of the designs and schemes against us from which we were saved--and only they do.  On the other hand, with the Nes of Purim, it was clear for all to see Hashem’s tremendous ‘behind-the-scenes’ actions for many years--and that but for the great Hashgacha Pratis we would have been annihilated--as had actually happened to scores of nations previously in existence.  Indeed, the term “Megillas Esther” expressly affirms the dual nature of our Hashgacha--sometimes it is ‘Megillah,’ meaning thoroughly revealed--and sometimes it is ‘Esther,’ meaning wholly hidden.  It would certainly be an appropriate Avodah at this time of year to work on experiencing and appreciating the Hashgacha Pratis in each one of our personal lives.  “Why did I feel that I was coming down with a cold and then not get it?”  “Why did my cell phone break today?”  “How did I get involved in redding this Shidduch?”  “Why did I learn this today--is there some way in which I should be applying it?”...  Although one cannot go through an entire day noting this and noting that, it most certainly behooves us during the month of Adar to write down at least one Hashgacha Pratis incident of the day which you recognized as a clear indication of Hashem’s hand in your life.  It is no secret, and we have noted here before, that once a person recognizes the tremendous Hashgacha to which he is subject, the more Simcha he will feel in his closeness to Hashem.  Your own personal Adar 5774 Hashgacha Pratis Calendar--a marvelous goal and special achievement for what we hope will be a Simcha-filled month!




2 Adar II

FROM THE CHOFETZ CHAIM A LESSON A DAY EMAIL LIST: Due to the fact that the next Shemiras Halashon Cycle begins April 1, it will be offering the popular ‘Shidduchim Guide’ in the interim.


 Hakhel Note: The first installment of the Guide started yesterday, and we present it for your convenience, so that you can pick up with the second installment by subscribing today. In order to subscribe to this short daily installment, please send an email to alessonaday@chofetzchaimusa.org


Shidduchim Guide




A Guide to Getting and Giving Information


The Chofetz Chaim said that, regarding a shidduch, people speak when they should be quiet, and hold back when they ought to speak up. The Soton, he explains, works both sides of the fence. In those who have important information that should be conveyed, the Soton stirs such a dread of speaking loshon hora that they hold their tongues. In those who are eager to pass on their fleeting negative impressions, he provides ample encouragement, warning them not to violate the Torah’s prohibition against “standing by as a fellow man’s blood is shed.”


Since each and every one of us may be called upon at any time to divulge information about an individual or a family in regard to a shidduch, it is obligatory for us to become acquainted with the halachos of what is permissible for us to say and what is not. Furthermore, it is essential to know how to properly transmit those details deemed Halachically appropriate and how to obtain critical information ourselves when the need arises. Finally, it is imperative to know when to convey information. What is permissible to relay in the early stages of the shidduch process may actually be prohibited further along in the procedure without permission from a Rav.


Since each and every one of us may be called upon to divulge information about someone for the purpose of a shidduch, it is crucial for us all to become familiar with the relevant halachos.



STARTING TO THINK ABOUT MISHLOACH MANOS: Now would also be a good time to begin thinking about not only who you have to send Mishloach Manos to, but also who would be truly moved and appreciative for being remembered, thought about, or reconciled with through the Mishloach Manos.  Rabbi Yechiel Spero, Shlita, in A Touch of Purity writes that in the phrase “Mishloach Manos Ish LeRei’eihu” both the word Ish and LeRei’eihu have the same Gematria to indicate the level of identification, affection, and oneness that one should have with another! 




Special Note One: We now intensify our feelings in the words:  Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha”.  In fact, HaRav Dessler, Z’tl, (Michtav M’Eliyahu, Volume 2, p. 125) writes that the Simcha we experience should be built upon day after day, so that it continuously grows through the month.  For true Simcha to be built upon, the joy must be more than a superficial experience.  As Rabbi Mordechai Becher, Shlita, pointed out at a Hakhel Shiur, depressed people can be tickled and will laugh, but will quickly return to their depression after the tickling has ceased. The Simcha we look to build upon over the course of this special month relate more to our Ruchniyus--specifically, to the Mitzvos we perform. As we have noted in the past, the Chayei Adam (68:13) writes that “HaSimcha HaGedolah B’Mitzvah--joy is the greatest [or at least one of the greatest] elements in performing a Mitzvah.”  He continues, based upon the Arizal, that the happiness one experiences when fulfilling a Mitzvah should really be more blissful than that experience when one finds a host of pleasures and precious jewels.  In fact, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 669:1, seif katan 11) writes in the name of the Arizal that the highest levels he reached came about through his great joy in performing Mitzvos.  It behooves us to take a Mitzvah that we perform daily, and put a little thought into it prior to its performance so that we can be truly joyful when performing the Mitzvah. Most certainly, the privilege and the ability to study Torah--Hashem’s direct words and instructions--should bring us to bliss.  Every time we sit down to learn we must appreciate the joy we bring to our inner selves--and the eternity that will result from it. Additionally, the opportunity to stand before Hashem in prayer, with the knowledge that the King of kings, the Creator and Provider is listening, should likewise provide nothing less than unbridled ecstasy.  Of course, the opportunity to perform each and every Mitzvah, large or small, easy or difficult is an opportunity of infinite Olam Haba right here in this temporal Olam Hazeh.  We should certainly not rob ourselves of an opportunity for true spiritual joy--at least once a day during this special month!  One should make sure to put forethought into at least one Mitzvah he is about to perform daily, sincerely appreciate and delight at the opportunity, and simply delight in its performance.



Special Note Two:  To help continue to arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha, we provide the following questions (this time--and answers!) relating to the events of Megillas Esther, which have been culled from the Sefer Sifsei Chachomim, introduction to Mesechta Megillah:


1. QUESTION: How many Pesukim are there in the Megillah?


    ANSWER: 166--corresponding to the number of words in Hallel HaGadol (Tehillim 136).  (Sefer Rokeach)


2. QUESTION: On what day and in what year did Haman intend to annihilate the Jews?


    ANSWER: 13 Adar 3405. Note: Achashveirosh only ruled for 14 years--from 3392 to 3406. Hakhel Note: Coincidence?


3. QUESTION: What Pasuk in the Megillah teaches us that we will celebrate Purim even in the days of Moshiach?


    ANSWER:Vimei HaPurim Ha’eileh Lo Ya’avru Mitoch HaYehudim Vezichram Lo Yasuf Mizaram--and these days of Purim will never cease among the Jews…” (Megillas Esther 9:28).


4. QUESTION: If when blowing the Shofar, we recite the bracha of Lishmo’ah Kol Shofar, then why when reciting the Megillah do we not recite the Pasuk Lishmo’ah Kriyas HaMegillah?


    ANSWER: The reading of the Megillah involves havanas halev--an understanding beyond just hearing, like Kriyas Shema (Sefer Avudraham).


4. QUESTION: Why is Hashem’s name not written in the Megillah?


    ANSWER: There are several answers to this question:


A. Since the Persians recorded the story as well, they would have replaced any Sheim with the name of their own false deity. Accordingly, it is an honor to Hashem for His name not to be mentioned (Maharil).


B. So that the unlearned people at the time would not mistakenly rationalize that they could intermarry, for after all, had not Esther done so?


C. Chazal (Chulin 139B) teach that the allusion to Esther in the Torah is from the Pasuk Ve’anochi Hastir Astir--and I will hide myself [at that time]. Accordingly, we learn that Hashem wanted His name to be hidden relating the events of Esther.



Special Note Three:  As we pointed out last week, the Ba’al HaTurim teaches that the 18 brachos of Shemone Esrei correspond to the 18 times in last week’s Parasha that the Pasuk records: “Ka’asher Tziva Hashem Es Moshe”.  The Ba’al HaTurim then continues with a second insight:  The word Lev appears 113 times in the Torah, which corresponds to the 113 words which end each bracha of Shemone Esrei--Baruch Atta Hashem Magein AvrahamBaruch Atta Hashem Mechayei HaMeisim….Baruch Atta Hashem HaKel HaKadosh….  The corresponding number of 113 teaches us that we are to especially have Kavannah as we recite the conclusion of each bracha of Shemone Esrei. In the now short period that we are in before Purim--this may be the ideal time to focus on having Kavannah in the concluding words of each bracha of Shemone Esrei…Baruch Atta Hashem Go’el Yisrael…Baruch Atta Hashem Rofeih Cholei Amo Yisrael…. Baruch Atta Hashem Sho’meiah Tefillah…. Baruch Atta Hashem Hamevareich Es Amo Yisrael BaShalom!



Special Note Four: As we take leave of the Mishkan and move in Sefer Vayikrah to the Karbanos that were brought there, HaRav Ezriel Erlanger, Shlita, brings an amazing teaching from the Ramban. The Ramban notes that when enough materials had been donated for the building of the Mishkan, those in charge of building the Mishkan reported this to Moshe and the people were told that there was enough and that they need not bring anymore. This demonstrates the greatness of K’lal Yisrael. If it was any other government or any other important person that was collecting funds, it would certainly have not stopped people from adding on to the treasury or to the coffers of what was certainly an important cause. By saying “we have enough” the leaders of K’lal Yisrael demonstrated that the emphasis on life is not hording or aggregating money without a distinct purpose and cause in mind. This lesson--so clearly recorded in the Torah-- was not only for the Dor HaMidbar--but for all future generations as well. Our passion and drive is not for money and more of it--but for Mitzvos and more of them!




1 Adar II



A. Today, being the first day of the month of Adar II, we begin the seventh month of the year(!) Yes, we still have the majority of the year in front of us to grow and accomplish. Shushan Purim is the midpoint of the year--what a wonderful midpoint! Let us each give ourselves a gentle wake-up tap on our forehead, and remind ourselves of our goals and hopes—and how we can practically accomplish them.


B.  If you start learning Mishnayos Megillah today and learn just three Mishnayos a day (after Maariv, with your son, etc.), you will complete the entire Mesechta on Purim, and if you then continue to learn Mishnayos Pesachim starting on Purim (it is a mitzvah to begin learning Hilchos Pesach on Purim (as brought in the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 429; Mishna Berurah seif katan 2), you will complete Mishnayos Pesachim before Pesach!


C. If you start today, and learn one perek of Megillas Esther a day, you will have reviewed the Megillah in time for its laining on Leil Purim.  Remember--the Torah Jew places special emphasis not only on the Mitzvah--but on the Hachana --the preparation for the Mitzvah!


D. The following contemporary Sefarim (Hebrew) are recommended by the Sefer Luach Davar B’Ito in preparation for Purim: Purim V’Chodesh Adar (HaRav Cohen); Yemei HaPurim (HaRav Schwartz); Nitei Gavriel--Purim (HaRav Tziner); and Yismach Yisrael (HaRav Dardik).


E. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR SHUL JOINS YESHIVAS MORDECHAI HATZADDIK THIS PURIM!  Yeshivas Mordechai Hatzadik, Torah study in Shul on Purim day, has hundreds of branches worldwide, with tens of thousands participating.  If your Shul does not yet participate in this noble project (Torah study on such a busy day--what a Zechus!), please contact Avos U’Banim (contact information below) to learn how you can join.  Most certainly, it is a special merit to contribute towards the prizes given to the children for learning on this day!  Avos U’Banim even supplies Shuls with a prize for every young man that attends at a significantly reduced cost.  For more information please contact Avos U’Banim’s US director, Rabbi Yosef Tenenbaum at 1-845-798-6637, or contact Avos U’Banim by e-mail at avotusa@kewnet.com


F. The mass Tefillah demonstration yesterday will B’EH show us how sincere, heartfelt Tefillos at this time of year open up the great gates of Heavenly Mercy for us! Each and every one of us should get involved in improving his Tefillos in at least one meaningful way over the next two weeks to Purim!


Hakhel Note:  We are advised that the Tehillim Chapters recited yesterday were 79, 80, 137, 55, 51, 90, 89, 95, 107, 96 and 86. If anyone would like to join in and recite these Kepitelech--showing his achdus with the Acheinu Bais Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael!


DOUBLE THE ZECHUS-- AND BE A MACHAZIK HATORAH ON PURIM! From Yad Eliezer: “The backwaters of Eretz Yisrael are often some of the strongest places for Torah and Yiras Shamayim.  It is worthwhile going to visit some of these places and seeing what learning totally Lishma is all about.  Elad gets almost no help at all.  It is a city filled with Avreichim of high caliber who learn and live in B’Tzimtzum Gadol. Yad Eliezer has an offer of a $40,000 match for Elad for Purim.  This will go to Avreichim who are extremely needy and it will be given out on Purim as Matanos L’Evyonim.  Every dollar you give will turn into a $2 gift to an avreich who needs your help desperately. Please donate at the Yad Eliezer website--yadeliezer.org--and note ‘Elad Match’ in comment section, or call 718-258-1580. May we all be zoche to Biyas Goel Tzedek!




Special Note One:  When is ga’avah good? One answer is that its letters--gimel, aleph, vav and heih, represent the days upon which Purim can fall--Tuesday, Sunday, Friday and Thursday! To help arouse the spirit of Mishenichnas Adar Marbim BeSimcha, we provide the following questions (this time--and answers!) relating to the events of Megillas Esther:


1. QUESTION: How long was Haman a barber for before he became Achashveirosh’s right-hand [or, perhaps, second-hand] man?


     ANSWER: He was a barber in K’far Kartzum for 22 years (Megillah 16A).


2. QUESTION: When Haman heard that Achashveirosh ordered him to take Mordechai around on the king’s horse--what did Haman suggest to Achashveirosh to do for Mordechai instead?


     ANSWER: He said that it would be enough to give him one village or one river (ibid.).


3. QUESTION: Name at least two acts that are attributed to the Malach Gavriel in the Purim story.


     ANSWER: He placed a tail on Vashti so that she would be too ashamed to appear at Achashveirosh’s feast (Megillah ibid. 12B). Also, when Achashveirosh could not sleep and he ordered that his Divrei HaYamim be read before him, Shimshi the king’s scribe and a Jew-hater kept on trying to erase the recording of how Mordechai had saved Achashveirosh’s life from Bigsan and Seresh--and Gavriel kept on re-writing it (ibid. 16A).


4. QUESTION: Can you identify a Pasuk in Tanach that Haman knew?


    ANSWER: Chazal teach that when Haman told Mordechai to get up onto the king’s horse, Mordechai advised him that he was too weak from fasting to do so.  Haman then had to bow down so that Mordechai could step on him to ascend onto the horse.  When Mordechai did so, he kicked Haman.  Haman responded: “Does it not state ‘Binfol Oyivcho Ahl Tismach’?” (Mishlei 24:17)?  Mordechai responded that the Pasuk does not refer to the enemies of K’lal Yisrael (ibid.)!


5. QUESTION: What gezeiros did Haman make against K’lal Yisrael, besides for his intent to ultimately r’l annihilate them?


    ANSWER: (i) He decreed that no one could purchase a Jew as a slave--so that no Jew would be protected at the time of the intended annihilation (ibid. 11A); (ii) From the Pasuk of “Laihudim Haysah Orah”--which teaches how the Jews celebrated after Haman’s plan was foiled, we learn what he decreed against: Orah--the study of Torah, Simcha--the observance of Yom Tov, Sason--Bris Milah, and Yikar--Tefillin.


Hakhel Note: Once again, the Pasuk reads: “Laihudim Haysah Orah V’Simcha”--we may learn from this that the prerequisite to Simcha is-- Orah--Torah! Certainly, one thing we should be doing now in preparation for Purim is learning more Torah--especially relating to Purim and the Megillah!



Special Note Two:  We continue an exciting Monday/Thursday series on the practical aspects of Sta”m, written by Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz, Shlita, author of Inside Sta”m--An Insider Reveals The Answers To All The Questions You Should Ask When Purchasing Or Maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah And Nevi’im.


For a fuller treatment of all topics to be discussed, we urge you to purchase the Sefer, which provides practical and meaningful information and ideas.





As Purim approaches (usually from Chanukah time!), every socher of St”am begins to receive phone calls inquiring about Megillos Esther. Often the potential consumer wants one for himself, while equally common is one who wishes to purchase the Megillah as a present for a son-in-law, husband etc.


It is therefore worthwhile to take some time out and explore some of what one should be aware of when entering the Megillah market.


1.      1.  Price. Many who are interested in purchasing Megillos are expecting to pay in the $700-800 range. It is important to understand that in the current economic climate it is difficult to find mehudar Megillos for under $1,200. The equation is simple. Most good sofrim charge no less than $100 per 42-line column. (Based on the current 3.5 shekel to dollar rate). Klaf for a Megillas Esther is no less than $150. Since a Megillas Esther is the length equivalent of ten 42-line columns, we have come to an $1,150 minimum – before checking and computer checking--and of course before the socher has added his fee.

I would like to be perfectly clear – I am not saying that a mehudar Megillah cannot be obtained for under $1,200. I am saying that the majority of Megillos sold for under $1200 are not mehudar.

2.      Kashrus. I have heard the following words many times from potential clients; “Oh that’s okay, I don’t need such a good Megillah, as long as it is kosher l’kriah that’s fine too.” What they are referring to is the famous halachah that only requires a Megillah to be 51% kosher. As long as this is the case one may lein from the Megillah. This however, is an error. Halachah clearly dictates that a Megillah be kosher. Only b’dieved, when no kosher Megillah is available may a Megillah with even a single pesul be used. The fact is that the majority of inexpensive Megillos (below $1,000) are written by below-average sofrim and rarely undergo a quality hagahah. Hence, such a Megillah should not be used to lein from unless it has been meticulously examined by a quality magiah.

3.  Melech. One of the most common phrases a socher hears this time of year is, “Do you have a nice HaMelech Megillah available?”  This is referring to the purported “hiddur” of HaMelech being the first word on each column.

The fact is that no such hiddur exists. How this “got in” as a “recognized” enhancement of Hilchos Megillah to the extent that it is often the first question asked by the potential consumer, remains an unsolved mystery!

One final point that is perhaps worth pondering:  Every year we see many people willingly and gladly parting with $1,000-2,000 for the privilege of owning their very own Megillas Esther. Yet these very same people are often not prepared to pay that price for their son’s Bar Mitzvah Tefillin.  Let us bear in mind that Tefillin is a mitzvas asei d’oraissa 300 days a year, while Krias HaMegillah is not a mitzvah d’oraissa and is only one day a year....


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